The Virginia Tech football team heads to Kentucky this afternoon for an ACC showdown with Louisville. The winner of this game will have the inside track to play Florida State in the ACC Championship game in Charlotte on Dec. 2.
My colleague at Big Red Louie, Louisville’s site here at FanSided, Caleb Hall, and I did a Q&A for today’s battle. Here are his answers to five questions I asked him about the Cardinals and the matchup between the only two teams in the conference with one loss.
1. What are two big keys to Louisville beating Virginia Tech?
Hall: The two biggest keys for Louisville to beat Virginia Tech are establishing the run with Jawhar Jordan and the other backs, and being able to slow down Kyron Drones in the running and passing game. Drones has been on a tear against the ACC this year and his scrambling ability and big play ability is something Louisville needs to prevent. The run game is also a big thing for Louisville to get going early, their strength is running the football, and if they can get an early lead it will help the Cards control the game and not be forced into throwing the ball with Jack Plummer.
2. Who are two players on offense and defense Hokies fans should be aware of?
Hall: The Hokies should be aware of Jawhar Jordan on offense, and I know there are rumors that he may not play tonight so keeping an eye out for Isaac Gurrendo and Maurice Turner out of the backfield are also players to keep an eye out for. Jordan and the running game have been on a tear, and if the Hokies can’t contain him it will be a long afternoon for Brent Pry and his team. Ashton Gillotte is another player to keep an eye out for, as he has been a menace on the outside, and specializes at putting pressure on the QB and getting sacks. He had 2 sacks alone in the 1st quarter against Duke last week.
3. How good is Louisville’s run defense and have they played a QB like Kyron Drones who is a dual-threat? How will they shut down Bhayshul Tuten?
Hall: Louisville’s run defense is extremely stout and held Duke to well under 100 yards rushing last week, they are quick around the edges and love to bring pressure on the QB. They will do their best to shut down Tuten, and I expect Louisville to attack the outside and try to contain Drones and Tuten. Louisville has had a little bit of an issue against mobile QBs however, and it will be interesting to see how they handle Drones outside of the pocket.
4. What does Louisville have to do to avoid being upset?
Hall: Louisville needs to get out early and establish the run game early. If Virginia Tech gets up on Louisville and Plummer is forced to win the game, I’m not sure the cards will be able to win the game. It is also key to stop the big play and contain Drones, he has been explosive for Virginia Tech and Louisville can’t let him make plays in space.
5. What is one key on offense and one on defense for Louisville?
Hall: A key on offense is not to turn the ball over, when Louisville is clean they win games and when they lost to Pitt the ball was being dropped and thrown to the wrong team, Plummer just has to stay focused. On defense, Louisville has to contain Drones on the ground and not give up the big play. Louisville had trouble containing Boston College’s Thomas Castellanos in the pocket, and to beat Virginia Tech they will need to contain Drones and get him in the backfield.
Virginia Tech has an opportunity that nobody saw coming a month ago, but they’re going to have to do it on the road, a place where they have struggled big time. This is a chance for the Hokies to turn things around on a big stage against a very talented Louisville team.