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Tag:Keys to the game
Posted on: October 11, 2011 10:34 am
 

Keys to the Game: Virginia Tech at Wake Forest

Posted by Chip Patterson

VIRGINIA TECH WILL WIN IF: Logan Thomas performs the way he did against Miami last Saturday. Thomas had struggled with inconsistencies so far in his first year as the Hokies' starter, but his showing against the Hurricanes as good as anyone could expect. The athletic sophomore completed 23 of 25 passes for 310 yards, three touchdowns, and the game-winning 19-yard touchdown run to seal the 38-35 Coastal Division victory. Running back David Wilson is a star, and the ACC's second-leading rusher is going to get his yards against most opponents. But Thomas' accuracy through the air now forces opponents to respect the passing game, which in turn also will open things up for Wilson to get even more yards.

WAKE FOREST WILL WIN IF: The Demon Deacons can get an effecting running game going against a thin Virginia Tech defensive front. The Hokies defense has been hit hard by injuries, particularly on the defensive line. It showed late in the game against Miami as Lamar Miller took over for the Hurricanes in the fourth quarter, collecting all 90 yards on the way to Miami's final touchdown. Wake Forest running back Josh Harris is fresh off a 100-yard performance against Florida State, and backup Brandon Pendergrass has been effective in short yardage situations. The Hokies back seven is well coached and will be less likely to bite on many of the trick plays, so a solid rushing attack will be needed to keep them honest.

X-FACTOR: The Virginia Tech defense and special teams failed to force a turnover against Miami on Saturday. It is the first time the Hokies have not done so in a game since Oct. 16 of last season. Interestingly enough, the opponent on that day was the Demon Deacons. Saturday also marked the end of a 12-game steak of intercepting the opposing quarterback. Thankfully Logan Thomas put together that memorable performance, and the Hokies were able to win on the final drive. With so much of Wake's offensive success relying on quarterback Tanner Price, getting an interception or two to kill drives and rattle the sophomore's confidence could go a long way in keeping the Hokies in the ACC title hunt.

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Posted on: October 11, 2011 10:05 am
 

Keys to the Game: Clemson at Maryland

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WILL WIN IF: If the offensive line can keep Tajh Boyd upright and allow him to get comfortable, the Tigers should win against Maryland on Saturday night. They can expect that Maryland will try to bring pressure on Boyd, who suffered a strained hip last week in the win against Boston College. If the offensive line can keep Boyd from getting hit and open up seams for running back Andre Ellington, the Tigers should be able to wear down a Terps defense that has been banged up at key positions in recent weeks.

With Maryland's questions at the quarterback position, defensive end Andre Branch and the Tigers' pass rush should be ready to hunt as well. Clemson has recorded 17 tackles for loss in their last two victories against Virginia Tech and Boston College, after starting the season with just 12 total in their first four contests. The Tigers will need more pressure like this to rattle the Maryland quarterback - whoever ends up getting the nod.

MARYLAND WILL WIN IF: The Terrapins need to feed off of their home crowd and get a fast start, the same way they did in the season opener against Miami. This is Maryland's Homecoming weekend, and their first night game since that win over the Hurricanes. The defense has to create some turnovers to keep Clemson's offense from hitting a rhythm and taking the crowd out of the game early.  On paper a healthy Clemson team should run away with this game, so they'll need every extra boost they can get.  

Head coach Randy Edsall benched Danny O'Brien in the loss to Georgia Tech, allowing freshman C.J. Brown to step in for his first action of the season. Brown struggled to move the ball through the air, but racked up 124 yards rushing including a 77-yard run for a touchdown. We still don't know who will be under center against the Tigers, and probably won't until kickoff. All the more reason for the defense needs to create turnovers to set either quarterback up with a short field.

X-FACTOR: The health of starting quarterback Tajh Boyd. Watching the awkward way Boyd fell to the ground on the play he strained his hip, there was nervousness that he could miss significant time. However every report out of Clemson's camp has been positive, and head coach Dabo Swinney expects him to play against the Terps on Saturday. Backup quarterback Cole Stoudt was able to show the ability to manage the offense in the second half and close out Boston College, but four quarters against Maryland in Byrd Stadium under the lights will be a different challenge.

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