Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech, A Second Look


Virginia Tech Preview, Sept. 6th, 2014 at 8:00PM EST ESPN
Ohio Stadium

After a successful opening weekend for the Ohio State Buckeyes, it’s on to week two and their home opener against the Virginia Tech Hokies. Head Coach Frank Beamer just entered his 28th season at the helm for the Hokies. This certainly isn’t his most talented team, but Va Tech always plays sound and disciplined defense and fields great special teams units. The Buckeyes will have to play well if they expect to leave the “Shoe” with a victory.

As expected, Ohio State defeated Navy 34-17 in Baltimore to open their season. All things considered, JT Barrett performed well going 12-for-15 with 226 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception as the Buckeyes were knocking on Navy’s door step. His only real mistake was the interception. He also led the Buckeyes in rushing with 50 yards. I don’t expect this to happen again this season as the Buckeyes offensive line really struggled early in the game. Ohio State had balance with 226 yards passing and 194 yards rushing. The defense played a bend but don’t break style. They yielded 390 yards rushing (most of which came in the 2nd half) and 20 yards passing. When all was said and done they only gave up 17 points which is a far cry from where they were toward the end of last season.

Virginia Tech opened their season strong with a 34-9 victory over William & Mary. The Hokies are trying to break in new QB Michael Brewer who went 23-for-30 with 251 yards and 2 touchdowns. Their offensive attack was very balanced. They passed for 266 yards and ran for another 222. However, they turned the ball over twice and that could spell disaster if they do that in Columbus against the Buckeyes. The Va Tech defense gave up less than 200 total yards of offense to William & Mary. I would take some of these stats with a grain of salt given the level of competition they played. However, the Buckeyes can’t sleep on this Virginia Tech team.

There are a few key matchups that will go a long way in deciding who wins the game under the lights on Saturday night. A big one is whether or not Virginia Tech can run on Ohio State’s defensive line? The Hokies had some success on the ground against a far less superior team in William & Mary. They rolled up 222 yards rushing. Shai McKenzie and Marshawn Williams are expected to receive the bulk of the carries. Both are freshman so it will be interesting to see how they handle the atmosphere on Saturday. I like the Buckeyes chances of holding Va Tech under 100 yards total rushing. If they do, Va Tech will be too one dimensional against Ohio State’s revamped pass defense.

Texas Tech transfer QB Michael Brewer is now the starter for Virginia Tech as Logan Thomas departed after last season. If Brewer has some time to throw it will really shed some light on Ohio State’s revamped pass defense. The secondary is expected to be pressing the Va Tech receivers and give them far less cushion than the defense did the past few seasons. With the combination of Ohio State’s front four overpowering the Hokie offensive line and the improved secondary play, I don’t expect Brewer to have a great game.

When the Buckeyes have the ball it’s simple — protect redshirt freshman QB JT Barrett. If the Buckeyes offensive line comes out Saturday like they did in the first half against Navy, it’ll be a long night. Assuming Barrett has some time to throw, he’ll have to be extra careful with Va Tech CB’s Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson. Both are capable of breaking on the ball in a heartbeat. If Barrett protects it and the offensive line comes together, I like the Ohio State skill guys to take over the game.

Lost in translation last week against Navy was all-purpose back Dontre Wilson for the Buckeyes. He racked up 166 all-purpose yards among his duties returning punts/kicks, catches and carries. His cat like quickness will be electrifying Saturday night against a far more athletic defense in Virginia Tech. Stud true freshman Curtis Samuel is also someone to keep an eye on. It seemed he was the main back that did the toughs sledding between the tackles against Navy. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry and Urban Meyer gleamed over his first collegiate game.

Traditionally, the Frank Beamer teams that aren’t hyped up and don’t have much to lose play better. The teams that have lofty preseason rankings rarely win big cross conference games like this one. We’ll find out Saturday night which Ohio State and Virginia Tech teams show up. Ohio State just doesn’t lose many night home games, especially when the King, LeBron James is in attendance. I think Ohio State wins going away in the 2nd half, 31-16. This is what Ohio State football is all about, primetime and under the lights. Oh how glorious it will be.

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