2005 Keys to the Game: NC State

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Media hype, high expectations, national rankings, and Marcus Vick�s long
awaited debut as the Hokies starting QB. Welcome to the 2005 edition of Virginia
Tech football. The Hokies start this highly anticipated season off with a bang,
on national television, facing a very dangerous, highly talented opponent at
their place. In NC State, the Hokies see a lot of themselves � dominating
defense, excellent special teams, and speed all over the field. This is a trap
game that can catch the best of teams. The Hokies will have their hands full
(and then some) as they look to get out of Raleigh with a victory that could
propel them towards a potentially magical season.

As usual, the focus of this article is an analysis of the offensive and
defensive keys of the game. Against NC State, the super importance of special
teams deserves attention (no one will forget the significance of special teams
play in last year�s game). I didn�t want to spend much time on the details
(this article is already long enough!), but I did want to point out one key
special teams matchup that I will be watching closely on Sunday � Tech�s
punt team vs State�s punt block / punt return team. The Hokies are breaking in
a new deep snapper and a new punter against the team that has blocked more kicks
than any other team the last five years. If Tech over protects against the
block, then there is danger on the other end with Darrell Blackman, last year�s
ACC leader in punt return yardage. Field position is a valuable commodity in
these types of games, so there will be a lot of pressure on Tech�s �Pride�
team in this game to protect it.

With that, let�s talk about Tech�s defense and what they need to do in
this game.

Tech Defense vs. NC State Offense

Last year, NC State�s offense couldn�t get out of their own way, shooting
themselves in the foot constantly with turnovers and penalties. They out gained
every opponent last season, yet they wound up with a losing record. Under new
offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, discipline, consistency, and ball control
have been areas of emphasis since the start of spring practice.

Trestman comes in with an understanding of the bigger picture � it�s not...