Thursday, November 1, 2007

Georgia Tech Virginia Tech Under the Lights

Georgia Tech vs Virginia Tech 7:30 ESPN
Line: GT -2.5, 40
Open: GT -2.5

If you like offense and points, then you might want to catch Grey’s Anatomy on Thursday instead. Virginia Tech is coming off a last second, heart breaking loss to Boston College last Thursday, while Georgia Tech was off last week and dismissed Army the previous week. Both teams are still in the hunt for a Coastal Division title, but the Hokies are in a much better position with just 1 loss to Georgia Tech’s 3. The Yellow Jackets have to win out and have a lot of help to make it back to Jacksonville for a second straight year.

Key Matchups:
Virginia Tech QBs vs Georgia Tech Pass Rush
True freshman Tyrod Taylor injured his ankle against Duke a few weeks, but has his cast off and has been practicing all week. Frank Beamer is mum on who the starting QB will be, but my guess is that Taylor will get the nod over former starter Sean Glennon. The Hampton, Va product is more a runner out of spread type offense as opposed to the traditional drop back passing of Glennon. Georgia Tech would much rather see Glennon who they thrashed last year. DC Jon Tenuta loves to blitz, but has struggled against mobile QBs. The pressure the Yellow Jackets bring leaves running lanes open at the LOS and beyond that a good runner can take advantage of. Taylor is a true freshman and the offense has not been impressive with him at the helm, but this may be the best match up they have had yet.

GT running game vs VT front seven
I was amazed at how much pressure Va Tech was able to get on Matt Ryan rushing just 3 or 4 guys. The BC line, after playing so well the whole year, looked like they were in quick sand for most of the game. The pressure allowed the Hokies to drop 5 or 6 guys in to coverage and limit the Eagles passing game. Georgia Tech has made a living off the running game this year, but their main horse Tashard Choice is out for this game. Top backup Reshaun Grant is also out leaving sophomore Jamal Evans and freshman Jonathan Dwyer to carry the rock. The GT o-line is also banged up with injuries, but has still created holes and protected QB Taylor Bennett well this year. If Georgia Tech can move the ball on the ground effectively (80-90, yards in the first half) and protect Bennett in passing situations (2 or fewer sacks), it will force Virginia Tech to bring extra defenders in the box and thus opening up the passing game and broken assignments for big runs.

Special Teams
Everybody knows about Virginia Tech’s special teams on kick blocks and returns. Georgia Tech this year is also making some noise, but on the opposite end. Punter Durant Brooks can be a game changer and a main reason why the Jackets choose to receive upon winning the toss. The senior can change field position with his booming kicks that allow the coverage teams to get down on the returner quickly. This is especially important in this game with Eddie Royal back there for the Hokies. One weakness could be the kick off return where the Hokies might be able to pick up great field position. Georgia Tech has the advantage at kicker in Travis Bell, who is nearly automatic inside of 45 yards. In what is likely to be a defensive shootout with very few sustained drives, field goal kicking and field position will be of utmost importance.

Reasons VT could pull the “upset”:
The Hokies come in as underdogs despite being ranked #11 and playing an unranked team.
The aforementioned return of speedy QB Tyrod Taylor against an aggressive GT defense
VT lives for Thursday night games (13-3)
GT is down to their 3rd and 4th string tailbacks
Pass rush was very effective with minimal blitzing against a good BC offensive line
GT is 1-3 SU and 0-3-1 ATS as a favorite this year
VT two losses are to two of the top 5 teams in the nation and their biggest win is the same as GTs (Clemson)

Reasons why I like GT as the favorite:
VT offense is on life support
Home game at night
Is VT really that good to have only lost 1 ACC road game in 4 seasons?
Coming off a bye week

If Glennon plays mostly, then Tenuta is licking his chops
GT as a 2.5 point favorite seems like a sucker bet for VT…smells like a dead fish

Virginia Tech wins, Under
VT 21 GT 17

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