This week I'm asking more questions than providing answers. Tech's first two games were a bit of a scheduling anomaly. The Hokies spent all summer preparing to defend Paul Johnson's option and Al Groh's 3-4, then had just 5 days to turn around and square away a I-AA team. Now that the Hokies have had a full week to rest, regroup, watch film, and practice, will we see that week one to two improvement that the Frankinator often speaks about, but didn't happen last Saturday?
Will the o-line get a push inside? For the most part, the Hokies front five held their own in pass protection against the Bees and Peay(s), but as a group didn't dominate the line of scrimmage. Andrew Miller is listed as probable with an ankle injury, but practiced this week. The reserves got snaps inside last Saturday: Caleb Farris at center, Brent Benedict and Matt Arkema at guard. Pitt's defensive line played on their heels against Cincinnati, and is group that should be owned by the Hokie big uglies.
Will the secondary hold up? Pitt has a couple of tall-boys playing receiver. Mike Shanahan is listed at 6-5, 225, Devin Street is 6-4, 190. At 6-1, 224 Antone Exum is the closest match in size. Austin Peay picked on Exum, and he struggled a bit in man coverage. Against taller receivers, he and the rest of the secondary will have to make good plays on the ball. At the beginning of the week it looked like Detrick Bonner wouldn't play, but he was listed as probable (leg) in the injury report, and last night tweeted, "Thank god.... Looks like ima b playin." If he's unable to go, Torrian Gray said Kyshoen Jarrett would play free safety and Michael Cole would fill in at rover.
As noted by French in his film analysis, Tech's d-line hasn't generated much of a pass rush. Charley Wiles might deploy a "Rush Team" package comprised of Corey Marshall, James Gayle, Dadi Nicolas, and either J.R. Collins or Luther Maddy. To use a Foster-ism, Dadi played like a scaled dog against Austin Peay. He attacked the quarterback and held down his gap responsibilities. He could be that spark Tech's looking for. Pitt's already allowed 6 sacks in two games, 92nd best nationally.
Will there be an air show in Pittsburgh? Mike O'Cain said Logan Thomas is, "Going to the right person." However, outside of the hurry-up, the passing game hasn't looked especially sharp. Thomas and Corey Fuller appear to be on the same page, but there seems to have been as many dropped balls, overthrows, or under ran routes as catches when LT3 targets Roberts or Davis. It takes times for the passing game to gel, so this isn't overly concerning to me, but signs of improvement would be encouraging.
To everyone traveling to Pitt, have a safe trip, and I'll see you there.