STS: VT's defense hasn't looked like the top 10 unit many people expected. Is the issue one particular position or is it a combination of many different issues?
The Key Play: Oh man...this is a depressing first question. Well, I think that it starts with a lack of depth in the secondary. Tech has 3.5 defensive backs that they fully trust (with FS/CB Detrick Bonner being the half), but seem determined to play a nickel package against teams in the spread. Naturally that leaves at least one player on the field that they don't trust/isn't that good (usually it's safety Michael Cole). Other than that, the loss of linebacker Tariq Edwards hurt (he still hasn't come back from off season surgery), but the million dollar question is this: where has the line been? This was supposedly the best unit on the team, and until the Duke game last week they have practically been a no show. Things may have been fixed (after an absolutely dominate performance vs Duke), but they need to keep it up to relieve pressure on the secondary.
STS: How do you see VT scheming the Clemson offense? Will they bring pressure to try to confuse the OL and keep Boyd from having time to find his weapons? Or do you see them dropping more guys into coverage to take away the pass and daring Clemson to run the ball?
The Key Play: The initial thought was to pray. Just a lot of praying, maybe make as many magic wishes as possible that both Boyd and Watkins get food poisoning? But seriously, I think they will hope for great play from the line, and then rotate blitzes from different positions. Hopefully they can force Boyd into a few errant throws with pressure and also stretch Ellington out east/west. If they can do that, they MAY only give up between 30-35 (I'm obviously so confident, right?).
STS: Breakdown Logan Thomas' play so far this year. Has he really regressed or were the expectations set too high? Do you think he still has the potential to be a 1st round QB?
The Key Play: The expectations were way too high. He lost nearly his entire offense from last season, including a 1st round running back, the two leading receivers in Tech history and 3 linemen. That's a ridiculous amount of talent that he was supposed to magically make up for. But that being said, he has also had his problems. He has missed receivers and seems to have a few bad habits (leaning back on his deep throws causing them to float, missing high). I'm convinced that he got hurt in the Georgia Tech game, but they haven't said anything about it. In terms of draft stock, I think he has everything that scouts have loved for years: height, strength and a howitzer for an arm. He's also underrated at reading defenses, and can move around a little bit. I think that if he stays for his senior year and polishes out the remaining bad habits, he could be a top-15 pick (and possibly a first round pick if he declares this year).
STS: How do you expect VT to attack a porous Clemson defense? Clemson's defense was really bad last year, but seemed to have their two best showing against VT. Do you expect Mike O'Cain to do something different this time around?
The Key Play: I think that he will just put the ball in Thomas' hands and tell him to go nuts. The running game has been almost nonexistent before last weekend, and I think that Thomas could see over 40 pass attempts on Saturday. Whether or not that is particularly different from a year ago, well I guess we'll just have to see.
STS: Clemson's biggest weakness defensively is probably in the secondary. Does VT have the type of vertical attack and weapons to exploit CU in this area?
The Key Play: Yes. If there is one thing that this Hokie team has, it's speedsters on the outside. Marcus Davis loves to toy with Hokie fans' emotions (dropping easy balls, but then catching passes in triple coverage one handed), but is a huge threat. Corey Fuller, Dyrell Roberts and Demitri Knowles are also all guys that can fly. I think that we will see Logan try to go deep multiple times to these guys, especially Davis and Knowles.
STS: How do you see this game playing out? Do you have a prediction?
The Key Play: I see more of the same from last season. Tech may score more points, but this Clemson offense was made to beat up the Hokies...and I think that's what it will do. It may be close for a half (even tied), but Chad Morris seems to consistently get the better of Bud Foster during halftime adjustments. I think it will be a little bit of a scorefest, but eventually end 48-37 in favor of the Tigers.