Sep 7, 2013; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies cornerback Brandon Facyson (31) celebrates after intercepting a pass during the first quarter against the Western Carolina Catamounts at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Recently, we got in touch with Virginia Tech beat writer Mike Barber. Mike is a beat writer for the Richmond TImes-Dispatch. We wanted to get an expert opinion on some of the story lines that have taken place so far this season. Also, we picked Mike’s brain about tomorrow’s game against Marshal. Enjoy.
Q: What has impressed you most about the Hokies so far this season?
A: Clearly the defense is outstanding again. I expected it to be good, but it’s played better than even I thought it would. The injuries to Antone Exum and Ronny Vandyke should have had major impacts, but they haven’t. Josh Trimble has been solid enough when the Hokies are in their base defense and most of the season has been spent in the nickel, with true freshmen Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson playing. Both have been extremely good so far.
Q: Do you see Logan Thomas putting together a solid season?
A: I think Logan is an NFL prospect but will be limited by his surrounding cast. In the second half against ECU he looked as sharp as he’s been in long time, especially on third down. He still misses too many throws and 4 INTs on 3 games is waaay too many. But by the time the year ends, I expect Thomas’ draft stock to be back up again.
Q: Can the defense keep this up all year long?
A: A year ago, Tech’s defense got better in the second half of the season. This year, the Hokies have started out lights out. I don’t really see any reason they can’t continue this way all year. Fuller and Facyson should only get better as time goes on and they get more experience. If there was a concern for me, it was that defensive tackles Luther Maddy and Derrick Hopkins might wear down getting too many snaps, but it looks like Woody Baron and Nigel Williams will be able to play more and more as the season continues, taking some strain off the starters.
Q: What are the keys to a win on Saturday?
A: Stopping Marshall is all about disrupting the time for Rakeem Cato. Defensive ends James Gayle and J.R. Collins need to have the same type of impact they did a week ago in the win over East Carolina. And for that to happen, Tech’s secondary needs to be glue-tight in its coverage. If the secondary (and linebackers picking up underneath routes) can force Cato to hold the ball, the ends should be able to get hits on him and sacks. Offensively, Tech needs to get back to running the ball the way it did against Alabama. The line struggled with the one-on-one matchups East Carolina’s odd front created. Marshall plays a more familiar 4-man front. And of course, it would be good for Cody Journell to hit a kick early on Saturday to get his confidence back up.
Q: Your prediction of the game?
A: I think Tech’s defense shines again and the offense does enough. Virginia Tech 24, Marshall 13
We want to thank Mike for taking time out of his day to give us his analysis. He has outstanding work and here is more info where you can get more updates from Mike!
For Twitter: https://twitter.com/RTD_MikeBarber
For His Blog: http://vtsports.blogs.timesdispatch.com