Wake Forest vs. No. 17 Virginia Tech
Location: Winston-Salem, NC
Stadium: BB&T Field
Kickoff: 6:30 PM ET
Wake Forest: 4-1, 3-0 ACC (Beat Florida State 35-30)
Virginia Tech: 5-1, 1-1 ACC (Beat Miami 38-35)
Last Meeting: The Hokies defeated the Demon Deacons last season 52-21, lead the all-time series 23-11-1, including a current four-game winning streak.
Quotes of the week
"I'm going to vote for him [Jim Grobe] Coach of the Year here about halfway through the year. You're talking about a team you look at how hard they're playing, and how well they're playing, and what effort they're playing with. He and his staff have done a great job. They're a really good football team. It's not a fluke at all. They've got really good people, and they get them playing hard." -Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer
"They [the Hokies] crushed us by 30-something points, so that brings us back to reality. We just have to realize what they did to us last year. Even though we say we're a different team the fact is last time we played they absolutely embarrassed us. I think a lot of guys realize that. Our coaches definitely realize that, and they're not going to let us forget that. This is a great team coming to town every aspect of it, huge o-line, fast running back, big, strong quarterback and fast. We realize what we have to do, and we're going to work hard this week to do that." -Wake Forest linebacker Scott Betros
"It just seems like the challenges get bigger every week. [I] feel good about getting a win against Florida State, but with Coach Beamer and his group coming in Saturday the challenge is even bigger, a team that's playing maybe their best football last week against Miami. They're coming in and really feeling good about where they are. They're probably as well-coached football team, as we'll play. We don't play anybody that does a better job as a staff at getting their kids ready than Frank and his guys." -Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe
Keys to the game
1) Keep the run alive
Josh Harris gashed Florida State with 13 carries for 136 yards rushing, and Virginia Tech certainly has not forgotten about his 241-yard effort in Blacksburg last season. The Hokies will be keying on him, but if the Texas native's hamstring is not full speed Brandon Pendergrass and possibly Nick Knott will have to help shoulder the rushing load.
"All these games our offensive coordinator has shown us on film how the offensive line has to hold a block just for one more second, or the RB has to make sure he is the exact hole he should," Harris said. "Our offensive line held their blocks long enough, and the RB's made sure they had the right read and went in the right hole."
If the holes continue to open again this week whoever the running back is will have to be able to find the gaps, and make plays.
Wake Forest has to take advantage of a Hokie defense riddled by injuries, which last week lost starters DE James Gayle and OLB Jeron Gouveia-Winslow (out for the season). The Hokies are also without starting defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins, who tore his ACL at Clemson.
The Demon Deacons need to kick the Hokies, while they are down. Wake Forest has the edge in size offensively in the trenches. Combine that with a injury-depleted Virginia Tech front seven, and the Deacs should be able to churn out another solid performance on the ground.
2) Pressure Thomas
Yes it is true Va. Tech QB Logan Thomas is bigger than anyone on Wake's front seven, and to top it off the Hokies average 300-pounds on the offensive line. This makes for a physical group.
The Deacs are going to need more plays like Nikita Whitlock's sack for a 15-yard loss against FSU if they hope to slow down Thomas.
"The guy is amazing," Beamer said. "What is he 5-11, but you're talking about a guy that's got a motor and balance. He's a 5-11 guy that presents a real challenge for our offense."
In the Hokies win over Miami Thomas completed 23-25 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for a pair of scores, including the game-winner.
3) Value the football
Wake Forest has reeled off four straight victories, because it has made fewer mistakes than its opponents. The most notable was last week's win against the Seminoles, who turned it over five times, while the Deacs did not give up a single takeaway.
The Demon Deacons must have a similar type game this week, especially while facing a defense as opportunistic as Virginia Tech's, which could provide extra opportunities for Thomas and David Wilson.
"It's important that we don't have turnovers, because those guys they can strike fast," Joe Looney. "Their special teams are really good. They have a good offense, so we don't want to give the ball to those guys, because they definitely can create some big plays."
4) Contain Wison
He is only 5-foot-10, but David Wilson provides a tall task for the Wake Forest defense. The junior from nearby Danville, VA has rushed 139 times for 767 yards and five touchdowns. Wilson also has 12 kickoff returns for 256 yards, and 11 receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown.
Needless to say the Hokies like to have the football in his hands, and he is bound to break one sooner or later. The Deacs can allow the base hits, but no homeruns from Wilson.
"There's no doubt that number four [Wilson] is a stud," Betros said. "He's fast. He brings a lot of aspects to the game. I'm watching him on film. When he hits the hole he hits it, and he's going straight downhill. He's going to be one of the best backs we play against all year. That's going to be a challenge. I think our defense can live up to it though."
5) Special Teams
At Virginia Tech it is known as "Beamer Ball." The Hokies head man coaches this unit himself, designating a major portion of practice to special teams.
It is a healthy fear teams and coaches have for the Hokies ability to block kicks, which is an area the Deacs are shaky in. Getting the ball to Alex Wulfeck on punts is not a challenge, but long snapper Logan Feimster has struggled snapping for extra points and field goals. This has ultimately made it difficult for Wulfeck to get the ball down for a good hold for Jimmy Newman to kick.
Beamer Ball is like a shark when it smells blood in the water, but instead of going in for the kill the Hokies are going in to block the kick. Grobe does not want to give Virginia Tech's offense any freebies, or leave any Demon Deacon points off the board, so good snaps, holds and kicks and punts are of the utmost importance today.