2005 Football: Matchups to Watch: VT vs. NC State

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In many football games, key match-ups may dictate the eventual winner.
Winning critical match-ups in the trenches can often have a profound impact on
the outcome of a game. Mismatches between the wide receivers and the secondary
frequently lead to big plays that may determine the ultimate winner. Teams that
win the critical individual battles as well as exploit or compensate for
mismatches in personnel will generally be victorious.

In this article I will focus on the key match-ups of the Virginia Tech at
N.C. State game and hopefully give fans some critical aspects of the game to
watch closely on Sunday. In essence, this article will attempt to provide a
glimpse of the �game within the game� that makes football such a fascinating
sport.

Living on the Edge � Offensive Tackles vs. Defensive Ends

N.C. State and Virginia Tech are two of the best, if not the best, edge
rushing teams in the nation. Both teams have defenses predicated on providing
pressure, particularly from the defensive ends. The ability of either team to
neutralize the other�s edge rushers could be the single most critical factor
in winning the game on Sunday. Both teams will likely use multiple techniques to
slow down the edge rush, including chipping on the defensive ends with tight
ends and backs. Chipping, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a technique in
which a player, such as a tight end, puts a shoulder into the defensive end at
the line-of-scrimmage to prevent the rusher from getting a quick first step,
before continuing on to his pass route or blocking assignment.

In addition to blocking techniques, teams will often call certain plays to
neutralize the aggressiveness of the pass rush off the edge. Virginia Tech will
likely run the option which forces the defensive ends to �read and react�
rather than aggressively pursue the ball. N.C. State, and to a lesser extent
Virginia Tech, likes to call screens and quick flare passes to the backs to
allow rushing defensive ends to take themselves out of the play. Both teams will
try to run directly at the speed rushers to neutralize their quickness.

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