2005 Football: Matchups to Watch: VT vs. Duke

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Virginia Tech vs. N.C. State �post mortem�

Before addressing the Duke game, I want to take a brief
look back at the N.C. State game and how the critical match-ups identified
helped determine the outcome of the game. Last week�s game with N.C. State had
a number of intriguing match-ups to watch. I identified three key areas that I
believed to be critical to the outcome in the game: (1) the pass rush and
penetration off the edge (from the defensive ends); (2) using slot receivers
(the inside receiver in a two-wide formation) and tight ends over the middle;
and (3) the vertical passing game. In retrospect, all three aspects were clearly
part of the game plan for each of the teams.

Both teams needed to neutralize the opposing pass rush off
the edge and the two teams took entirely different approaches in the game, both
with about equal success. Tech overloaded formations generally to the strong
side (placing more players on the wide side of the field), often lining up two
tight ends (Jeff King and John Kinzer) next to each other. By unbalancing the
formations, N.C. State�s defense was forced to shift to match Tech�s numbers
on the one side of the formation, providing Tech the opportunity to double-team
the defensive end with the tight ends and tackle and force the other defensive
end to maintain run responsibility (if the defensive end took a wide angle on
his rush, then he would essentially be taking himself out of the play on a run).
This offensive strategy by Tech effectively slowed N.C. State�s defensive ends
with the Pack later using twists and stunts (the defensive tackle or linebacker
loops around the defensive end), as well as blitzes, to create pressure. In the
end, State�s superb defensive ends � Mario Williams and Manny Lawson � had
a limited impact on the outcome of the game, with Jimmy Martin in particular
having an outstanding game against Lawson.

N.C. State, as expected, used shorter three- and five-step
drops to offset Tech�s pass rush. The Pack�s new version of the west coast
offense isolated receivers