After a wild bye week, gameday has arrived in Atlanta with a showdown between the two disappointments of the ACC Coastal, the 4-5 Virginia Tech Hokies and 3-6 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Both teams are looking to scramble to make a bowl game with a loss ending the hopes of Georgia Tech or putting Virginia Tech on the brink with #23 North Carolina looming.
With that said, here are our keys to the game for the Hokies in their search to get back to .500 and get Frank Beamer to a 23rd-straight bowl game in his final season.
Play Disciplined Defense
To contain the Georgia Tech triple-option attack, opposing defenses have to play with tons of discipline or else the Yellow Jackets will make their opponents pay. Tonight, the Hokies will need to make sure that their defense is lined up properly consistently, and play with tons of discipline.
There will be a heavy importance on Bud Foster making sure his players already know what their main roles will be in containing the Georgia Tech triple-option whether it is to close down the edge or plug the holes for the fullback up the middle. A large amount of this will be on Foster making sure his starting linebackers are well-prepared no matter their experience against the triple-option.
Deon Clarke and Ronny Vandyke will likely be heavily relied on to contain the edges while Andrew Motuapuaka will not only be used to plug holes up the middle, but also get the defense set up. Motuapuaka will need to be on his game in this matchup for the Hokies to play at their best defensively against Georgia Tech's triple-option attack.
Virginia Tech's defense must play disciplined defense tonight or Georgia Tech may be able to make some big plays in this matchup.
Run Early and Often
Georgia Tech recently lost their best defensive player, DT Adam Gotsis, and the Yellow Jackets have struggled to defend the run this season. Overall, the Yellow Jackets have allowed a poor 4.8 yards per carry which ranks them 100th in the nation.
Travon McMillian has been playing well with four-straight games of 10+ carries and 90+ rushing yards along with averaging with 5.5 yards per carry over the course of the season. The Hokies made McMillian the one running back informally against N.C. State, and the redshirt freshman has definitely proven himself.
McMillian has proven to be the Hokies' best running back since David Wilson and with 10 days of rest, it only makes sense for Scot Loeffler to go after Georgia Tech's weak rush defense early and often with the talented McMillian to set up the play-action pass for Michael Brewer and company.
McMillian has been impressive over the last four games and against a weak Georgia Tech rush defense, the Hokies need to run the ball early and often.
Keep Your Emotions In Control
Tonight, the Hokies need to come out and play with a lot of emotion to do everything they can to get this win, and give the Hokies a better opportunity to get to a bowl game. This had been a concern earlier in the season, but this team definitely seems ready to leave it all on the field to send Frank Beamer out in the best way they can at this point.
However, the Hokies need to make sure they play with control and discipline of their emotions and intensity especially against a Georgia Tech offense built on taking advantage ill-disciplined teams. This will come down to the leadership among the players and the position coaches making sure each of their units is focused on the objective and isn't playing out of their head.
Playing with emotion is great, but playing with uncontrolled emotion can be an issue, and allow for Georgia Tech to make some big plays. However, Virginia Tech may be able to put out a dominant performance on the road if they are in control of their emotions.