Who: #13 FBS Virginia Tech Hokies (11-3, 8-0 ACC in 2010) vs #2 FCS Appalachian State Mountaineers (10-3, 7-1 SoCon in 2010)
Time: 12:30 PM
TV Coverage: ACC Network/ESPN3 (Steve Martin, Dave Archer, Mike Hogewood)
Venue: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA (66,233 – Grass)
Series History: Virginia Tech leads 3-0
- Last Meeting (1982): Virginia Tech 34, Appalachian State 0
- All three games in the series took place from 1979-1982 in Blacksburg
- This is the first time Tech has opened at home since 2007, having lost 3 straight neutral-site openers
- TE Eric Martin – Probable (shoulder)
- RT/C Michael Via – Out (sprained knee)
- FS Theron Norman – Out (shoulder)
- OT Mark Shuman – Out (knee)
The Opponent: The Appalachian State Mountaineers come into Lane Stadium ranked No. 2 in the FCS polls. The six-time defending Southern Conference champions were the No. 1 seed in the FCS playoffs last year, but lost to Villanova in the quarterfinals. ASU won back-to-back-to-back national championships from 2005-07, and also upset No. 5 Michigan in the season opener in 2007, blocking a kick on the game’s final play to secure a 34-32 victory.
Head coach Jerry Moore enters his 23rd season at App State with a 199-79 record at the school. Moore begins his 30th overall season as a head coach, previously holding jobs at North Texas and Texas Tech before leading the Mountaineers.
Appalachian State and Virginia Tech share a common bond of success, being the only teams to have won at least 10 games in six consecutive seasons. Of course, Virginia Tech has won at least 10 games in seven straight years and in 10 of the last 12.
- On Offense: The Mountaineers feature a spread option offense, which was most prominently featured with Urban Meyer’s offenses at Utah and Florida. ASU returns six starters after a year in which they averaged just over 34 points per game.
Dual threat quarterback DeAndre Presly (5-11, 180, Sr) leads the unit, entering his second year as the signal caller for the Mountaineers. Last season, Presly joined an exclusive club, becoming one of just four FCS and 13 D-1 quarterbacks to ever throw for 2,000 yards, and rush for an additional 1,000 in one season. The only other quarterbacks to do that last year? Cam Newton and Denard Robinson.
Presly brings back his top running back and wide receiver, but lacks depth behind that. Running back Travaris Cadet (6-1, 210, Sr) was a second team All-SoCon selection after rushing for 671 yards and six touchdowns a season ago, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Cadet also had 218 yards receiving and a touchdown last year.
In the spread option set, ASU will use a lot of 4-wide looks, led by Brian Quick (6-5, 220, Sr), who has NFL prospect potential. Quick average 18 yards per catch last season, piling up 844 yards and nine touchdowns. Aside from him, though, the Mountaineers have three starts worth of experience combined. Tony Washington (5-10, 195, So), Andrew Peacock (5-10, 190, So), and Bobo Beathard (5-10, 175, Fr) provide the supporting cast, but combined the trio has seven career catches for 114 yards.
Up front, the Mountaineers are solid on the right side, but young and inexperienced on the left. The anchors of the offensive line are center Orry Frye (6-2, 280, Sr) and right guard Matt Ruff (6-3, 270, Sr). Those two guys have started 58 games in an ASU uniform. The other three starters: 1. Right tackle Xan Thomas (6-2, 285, Sr) started just one game last year and isn’t exactly the biggest guy at right tackles. On the other side, left tackle Kendall Lamm (6-6, 280, Fr) and left guard Kalan Jones (6-4, 285, Fr) are big, but will be playing in their first collegiate games on Saturday.
- On Defense: This season, App State is transitioning into a 3-4 base scheme, but they’ll run multiple sets out of it. Since this is a new set up for the Mountaineers, Tech will have no game film on how ASU will specifically run this front. Seven starters return for App State, including three seniors from a unit that gave up nearly 350 yards per game last year.
The main reason for the switch to the 3-4 was the size of the ASU defensive line. The Mountaineers have five defensive lineman over 300 pounds, including two or their starters. Defensive end Gordy Witte, Jr. (6-6, 315, Sr) is the largest of the starters, while Ronald Blair (6-4, 260, Fr) will start on the other end in his first collegiate experience.
The linebackers are the most experienced group for App State, having six guys that have started at least one game. All four are juniors led by weakside linebacker Brandon Grier (6-2, 230, Jr), and is the team’s leading return tackler with 64. “Bandit” linebacker Lanston Tanyi (6-5, 250, Jr) will be making the conversion from defensive end to left tackle as part of the change to 3-4.
In the secondary, App State has a good amount of experience with five players with at least one career start. Cornerback Ed Gainey (5-11, 195, Sr) is the most experienced player on the Mountaineer roster, having started 36 games in his career. Overall, though, the App State secondary is drastically undersized. The three other players aside from Gainey are just 6-foot tall, which gives the Tech receivers a huge height advantage.
Players to Watch:
- Virginia Tech
- QB #3 Logan Thomas
- 1st career start at quarterback
- Last season: 12/26, 107 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 1 Receiving TD
- CB #17 Kyle Fuller
- Youngest member of VT Secondary, started 6 games last year
- Last season: 32 tackles, 4 for loss, 6 pass breakups, 6 deflections, 1 forced fumble
- Appalachian State
- QB #2 DeAndre Presly
- 2nd year as starting quarterback
- Last season: 2,631 yards passing, 21 TD, 7 INT; 1,039 yards rushing, 13 TD
- LB #24 Brandon Grier
- Leading returning tackler at weakside linebacker position
- Last season: 64 tackles, 6.5 for loss, 2 sacks, 1 pass breakup, 1 forced fumble
Matchups to Watch:
- Appalachian State O-Line vs Virginia Tech D-Line
- An interesting blend of youth and experience on both sides of the ball. If App State runs the ball it will be mainly up the middle or favoring the right side. The Hopkins brothers have a big task in clogging up the lanes and forcing Presly and the offense outside, where the Hokies have an advantage. Also, how will the freshman Luther Maddy, Corey Marshall, and Zack McCray perform in their first appearances?
- Logan Thomas vs Appalachian State Secondary
- LT3 has the benefit of great wide receivers playing against a rather weak secondary. This will obviously be Thomas’ first experience at reading a defense and adjusting throughout the game to things App State does. It will be interesting to see if Thomas has generated any camaraderie with any specific wide receiver.
- Virginia Tech O-Line vs Appalachian State 3-4 Front
- To be frank, the offensive line has been subpar at the start of the last couple seasons, to say the least. Despite having four senior starters, questions revolve around Blake DeChristopher’s health and whether or not this group can finally become a dominant force against a rather large front seven from App State. Also, how will the 3-4 front affect Tech’s blocking scheme, if at all?
- Virginia Tech Linebackers vs Appalachian State Skill Players
- App State doesn’t throw a lot of deep routes to the outside and instead likes to run a good amount of quick in’s and slants. This will cause Tech’s linebackers to make plays on both the receivers and DeAndre Presly possibly getting to the second level. We’ve been told Jeron Gouveia-Winslow has improved tremendously, but how will he fare in year two at the whip position?
Keys to Victory:
- Virginia Tech
- Have a Good Start
- Too many times last year, the Hokies allowed opponents to get out to an early start. Thankfully, Tech had a proven offense in which it could rally from said early deficits. However, in this game the last thing Tech needs to do is give App State some early confidence and momentum. Getting out early would get the crowd in the game and send a message to App State.
- Remember JMU
- Of course nobody wants to bring this up, but it’s needed. The coaches played a clip of JMU’s victory formation last year if any more motivation was necessary. Last year Tech was unable to finish drives against JMU and kept the Dukes in the game, which came back to bite them in the rear end. Building off a good start, the Hokies need to keep the pedal to the medal.
- Appalachian State
- Establish Your Game
- App State is a team that knows how to win, which makes me a little more wary than if a bad FCS team came to Lane. These guys expect to win and a big key for them will be to not get away from what got them wins the past couple years. That would be running a good mix of short passes and read option plays and keeping Tech’s defense off balance.
- Create Turnovers
- Last year, JMU utilized an interception to get back in the game and a late fumble to seal the victory. App State will need to follow a similar formula if it wants to spring the upset. Creating short fields for point will be a key for the Mountaineers, who may find it tough to go a full field against the Tech defense, despite the skill of DeAndre Presly.
Projected Score: Virginia Tech 34, Appalachian State 14