Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech

Sports Xchange

November 08, 2017 at 3:17 pm.

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Saturday, 12:20 p.m. ET
SITE: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, Ga.
TV: ACC Network
SERIES: Virginia Tech leads 9-5. The Yellow Jackets won 20-10 in 2016.
RANKINGS: Virginia Tech No. 17

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Hokies

–QB Josh Jackson has completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 2,229 yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions but is coming off one of his worst performances of the season in the 28-10 loss at Miami. Jackson failed to pass for a touchdown for the first time this season and matched his season high with two interceptions.

–WR Cam Phillips leads the Hokies with 58 receptions for 793 yards and six touchdowns. He holds the school record for most career receptions (223) and is 112 yards shy of passing Isaiah Ford (2,967) for most career receiving yards in Tech history.

–DT Ricky Walker continues to be a disruptive force on the interior line for the Hokies. He has 32 tackles, eight tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and six quarterback hurries after recording 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack at Miami

–SS Reggie Floyd has 51 tackles and is tied for the team lead with two interceptions. His interception and 37-yard return in the third quarter at Miami led to the Hokies’ only touchdown of the day. A sophomore first-year starter, he has two interceptions in the last three games.

Yellow Jackets

–QB TaQuon Marshall rushed for 143 yards against Virginia and moved into fourth place for single-season rushing by a quarterback with 870 yards. But Marshall also threw the first two interceptions of his career. The junior had thrown 74 passes this season before Virginia picked off his first toss of the second half.

–FB KirVonte Benson rushed 17 times for 65 yards and one touchdown against Virginia. The sophomore has 844 yards and six touchdowns and averages 105.5 yards per game.

–LB Victor Alexander came up with a career-best 11 tackles and broke up a pass against Virginia. He leads the team with 48 tackles, 33 of them solo stops.

–SS Corey Griffin had a season-high eight tackles against Clemson. The senior had seven solo stops and one tackle for loss. Griffin has 31 tackles and one interception this season.

KEYS
TO THE GAME

Last week’s loss to Miami eliminated Virginia Tech from the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division race and Georgia Tech fell out some time ago.

Both teams will be looking to get their seasons back on track in Saturday’s game.

The 17th-ranked Hokies (7-2, 3-2 ACC) and unranked Yellow Jackets (4-4, 3-3 ACC) will kick off at 12:20 p.m. ET at Tech’s Bobby Dodd Field in Atlanta. ACC Network stations will air the game.

The two Techs have claimed nine division titles over the 13 seasons since the ACC split, but for the first time in 15 meetings both will be coming off defeats. The Hokies are looking to bounce back from a 28-10 loss to Miami, a result that eliminated their title hopes.

“We have an opportunity to have a very accomplished season, playing a better bowl game, send our seniors out the right way,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said.

In addition, the Hokies will be looking for payback for last season’s 30-20 loss to the Jackets in Blacksburg.

“We’re going a play a team that kicked our butts last year in our own stadium on Saturday,” Fuente said. “I know it’s disappointing when you want to achieve something and you’ve come up short.

“When you have disappointments there is only one solution that I know of, whether it’s football or life, and that’s to roll your sleeves up and go back to work.”

The Yellow Jackets, who earlier lost a pair of games by one point to Tennessee in the opener and Miami later, dropped a 40-36 game to Virginia last week, squandering a 15-point third-quarter lead and giving up the decisive score with 1:22 remaining.

“We’re disappointed. We expect better,” Jackets coach Paul Johnson said. “Our expectations are to play better than we did Saturday. We just have to watch the film and be honest with what we see. Our backs are up against the wall. You come out fighting or you give up.”

The Hokies face the unenviable task of trying to stop the Yellow Jackets’ vaunted triple-option rushing attack led by junior quarterback TaQuon Marshall, who has rushed for a team-high 870 yards and 14 touchdowns and passed for 667 yards and six scores.

Georgia Tech ranks first in the ACC and third nationally in rushing yards per game (331.9). Virginia Tech ranks first in the ACC in rushing defense (122.8), but it yielded 219 yards and two touchdowns on the ground against the Hurricanes.

It was the highest rushing total allowed by the Hokies since West Virginia churned out 221 in the season opener. The two rushing touchdowns doubled the total allowed by Virginia Tech all season.

Georgia Tech’s ability to run off a lot of clock with its ground game, which also puts pressure on the Hokies to run an efficient offense of their own. They have not been a model of offensive efficiency lately and have struggled during the early part of games, as evidenced by their scoreless first quarter against the Hurricanes.

“We’re not as explosive a football team as we were last year,” Fuente said. “Points will be harder to come by whether it’s the first quarter or the second quarter. I think part of that is because things have to be pretty perfect for us to have success right now.”

Josh Jackson triggers the Hokies’ offense. He leads all freshman quarterbacks in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 2,229 passing yards and 17 touchdowns. But Jackson, who has scored a rushing touchdown in each of the last two games, struggled against the Hurricanes, however, matching his career high with two interceptions with no passing touchdowns.

Virginia Tech rushed for only 102 yards at Miami, its third-lowest total of the season. Georgia Tech has been stout against the run. It yielded only 97 ground yards against Virginia last week

“They look like what I’ve always envisioned a really well coached tough triple-option team to be,” Fuente said. “Defensively, they continue to mix up their looks and give people problems.

“They play fewer snaps defensively in general terms because of their offense.”

 

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