Oct 16, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies offensive lineman Augie Conte (72) blocks at the line of scrimmage against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 21-16. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
During fall practice, Wade Hansen made the transition from defensive tackle to offensive tackle and rose to being the backup right tackle behind sophomore Jonathan McLaughlin. McLaughlin dealt with a nagging injury throughout a lot of the season which ended his season in the week following the Hokies’ loss to Boston College.
This gave Hansen his opportunity and he made his first start against Duke followed by a start against Wake Forest. However, Hansen will face his toughest matchup on Friday night against the Virginia Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers have three players with at least 7 sacks in defensive end Eli Harold, and linebackers Henry Coley and Max Valles. The Virginia coaches will know about the inexperience of Hansen and will look to test him early in this game to see if he could be a significant weak point on the Virginia Tech offensive line.
Eli Harold will very likely be matched up against Hansen in much of this game and it will be up to Hansen to step up and try to contain Harold. The Hokies will have to have a plan if Hansen struggles against Harold especially with how Harold is one of the top defensive ends in the ACC.
It seems to be highly likely that the Hokies will look to either keep Sam Rogers in the backfield on some passing downs to help if Harold gets by Wade Hansen or have a tight end run a delayed route to help in the first second or two after a snap.
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However, Hansen has gained some experience and likely has a decent understanding of some of the pass rush moves that he will expect from Harold. Hansen is also known for a being a tough, hardworking player on the field and will need to do everything he can to try to contain Harold in this likely matchup.
If Virginia decides to line up Harold against Laurence Gibson, the Cavaliers will likely try to use some sort of confusion to match up a blitzing linebacker like Max Valles against Hansen. Hansen will have experience next to him in Caleb Farris and leadership from the inside will be critical to help Hansen as Virginia tries to confuse the Virginia Tech offensive line.
This will be a tough matchup for Wade Hansen but if he can slow down Eli Harold and whoever else he faces, the Hokies will have a lot better chance to take down Virginia and extend their reign of dominance in Virginia to 11.