This week we were fortunate to be able to have SBNation's very own Gobbler Country trade questions and answers with us in anticipation of Saturday's huge matchup with the Virginia Tech Hokies. The guys over at Gobbler Country do a great job and their site is a great place to get the most informative information about his week's opponent. I highly encourage you to head over there and check them out. I'd also like to thank them for their collaboration on this item. Below are the questions we posed about the Hokies along with answers provided by Gobbler Country editor Casey Richey.
Q&A after the jump....
STS: Help us break down Logan Thomas' performance so far this year. Is he Cam Newton-light? What are his strengths and weaknesses at this point.
I've heard the Logan Thomas/Cam Newton comparison so many times already and I really don't like it. I think the only similarity is their size (6'6-6'7 245) but as far as playing style, the playbook catering to him, and his demeanor on the field, he's a lot different. When he's running, he's not going to make anyone miss like Cam Newton did but he runs people over more along the lines of a Tim Tebow. As far as his arm is concerned, he's got a absolute gun and can get the ball there in a hurry. However, he's struggled with his accuracy downfield and on some passes that he's had quite a bit of time to complete. I think it's more attributable to running the show full-time and as he adjusts he'll improve on that.
STS: I think most people know Logan Thomas has RB David Wilson to rely on in the backfield. What are his options out wide in the passing game?
It seems that each week a different receiver has an exceptional game. Danny Coale
is probably the most consistent performer and a favorite target for Thomas (18 rec, 285 yds, TD). Jarrett Boykin
is another target and DJ Coles had a bit of a break-out game against Marshall so he may be another player to watch. The biggest threat in the passing game (in my opinion) is Marcus Davis. Davis is 6'4, 228 and can burn corners with his speed, add in a 44-inch vert and he's a big-time threat. Davis had a big performance against App St in the opener but since then he's been a bit quiet, look for him to factor in.
STS: Brian Stinespring, the much maligned former playcaller, is no longer calling plays for the Hokies. How has the offense changed under new playcaller and former Clemson Tiger Mike O'Cain?
No, in all honesty it's still a bit of a feeling out process as a fan. I think I like how the two of them are working to implement Thomas' abilities with the run game (read options and the like) but I do not like how rarely O'Cain bounces the speedy Wilson to the outside and instead runs him up the middle into the still shaky offensive line. I've also noticed a tendency to make Thomas throw deep downfield and three of his four interceptions have come on passes over 25 yards. But, like I said, it's still a bit of a feeling out process. The more O'Cain gets a feel for Thomas' performance and the running game's rhythm, the more it will (hopefully) be successful.
STS: Defensively, the Hokies are always stout. But their play has been trending downwards recently. What do you expect out of this group?
I expect them to A.) be at their absolute best and B.) to not sub in second string players at poor times. The second team secondary is lost out there so the first string needs to stay on the field all the time against Watkins and I'd expect him to be covered by Jayron Hosley
the whole game. I also expect there to be a lot of pressure on Boyd and James Gayle
and JR Collins (both near the tops in the ACC in terms of sacks) should be the #1 priority for the Clemson O-line. As a whole unit, the first string is incredibly talented and very capable of shutting things down completely. Now, whether or not they can come together and perform at their best is the big question for this game. They've shown dominance at times and gaping holes at others so finding consistency is crucial. By far the biggest test of the young season.
STS: Clemson's offense is really clicking. But for this offense to take it to the next level they need find a way to run the ball through the A-gaps, which they haven't been able to do yet. How good are Virginia Tech's defensive tackles? Should Clemson expect to find their inside running game this week?
Antoine and Derrick Hopkins (The Hopki as they're collectively called) are some big fellas at 300lb+ and they're definitely capable of being very disruptive to an offense's gameplan. Although they may not have the stats that some other DTs have, they eat up blocks and allow the backers to get to the ball carrier quickly. That'll definitely be an interesting aspect to watch in the game because the two make plays consistently either by themselves or opening things up for guys like Tariq Edwards
or Bruce Taylor
STS: A night game in Blacksburg is going to be a really tough test. This game could come down to special teams. Clemson's ST has been far from stellar over the years, whereas VT is known for their ST. Does that hold true again this year?
The kicking has been less than stellar (4 of 7) and the punting...well, Danny Coale got to punt against Marshall so that's a sign. However, the field goal block and punt block teams are deadly. The punt block team is always fun to watch because unlike a lot of other schools, Tech puts first string wide receivers (Davis, Boykin) and DBs (Exum, Fuller) in there to block it. Beamer's philosophy lately has been to put some incredibly fast and strong guys in there and some punt formations just don't stand a chance. Last week they got a hand on a Marshall punt and partially blocked it so hopefully (for Tech fans) they'll all out block one this week. Then again, even if they miss blocking the punt, the ever-dangerous Jayron Hosley is back there to return. Special teams hasn't been as dominant as in years past but with the skill out there it's always a dangerous battle for opposing teams.