2005 Keys to the Game: Boston College

Relieved after a tough road victory over an inspired Maryland team, the
Hokies return to the friendly confines of Lane Stadium for a Thursday night
showdown against the 14th ranked (in the BCS) Boston College Eagles. BC is
coming off a bye week and they are hoping the extra preparation time will give
them an advantage over the Hokies, who are playing their second consecutive
Thursday night game. Both teams are expecting a tough, physical, hard-nosed
football game � just like they both like it.

Let�s take a look at some of the factors that will be key for the Hokies
against the Eagles.

Game Key: Controlling the Line of Scrimmage

Every
football coach preaches the importance of winning the battles in the trenches,
but at Boston College and Virginia Tech, that philosophy is ingrained into the
identity of each program. The Eagles and Hokies both emphasize physical style of
play on both sides of the ball. Winning the game starts by winning up front.

Which team will be more successful imposing their will on the other? Keep an
eye on the battles upfront. Which defense is getting penetration and making more
plays behind the line of scrimmage? Which offense is more frequently keeping
their QB clean and springing their backs past the line before first contact? It�s
doubtful either team will be able to dominate the other upfront, but keep a
mental tally on the trends � the team that wins the majority of those battles
will likely win the game.

Tech Defense vs. Boston College Offense

When the BC offense takes the field for the first time on Thursday night, the
first thing you will notice is the size of their offensive line. BC has always
been known for their big, physical offensive linemen and this year is no
exception. Their starting five averages 6�6�, 316 lbs, but they are also
fairly athletic. They drive block well in the running game and, with that height
and athleticism, they are formidable in pass protection.

At the skill positions, expect to see two QB�s, two RB�s, and about six
WR�s getting quality snaps. Everyone is wondering which QB will get the start.
Will it be Quinton Porter, the incumbent; or Matt Ryan, the savior of the Wake
Forest game? Both are big, athletic, have good arm strength and decent mobility.
Porter has the experience but has a tendency to force passes when under
pressure. Ryan is more prone to mental mistakes but is capable of making a lot
of plays when things break down.

The Tech defense will be looking to neutralize that mammoth offensive line,
get pressure and penetration from the defensive line, and force the BC QB�s to
beat their multiple looks and coverages down the field. Speed will be a big
factor in this matchup � with the exception of WR Will Blackmon, BC will have
a difficult time handling the speed of the Tech defense.

Key #1: Gap Control

The size of BC�s offensive line gives them matchup advantages against most
teams. However against the Tech defensive line and linebackers, their size �
in particular their height � might be a detriment.

BC
will look to run a lot of plays that utilize their size advantage inside. In the
run game, look for man to man drive blocking where the BC linemen can engulf the
smaller Tech defenders with their size. The Hokies will counter by using their
quickness to gain leverage underneath the BC linemen. Instead of reading and
reacting as a play develops, they will attack their assigned gaps, forcing the
slower BC linemen to react to them. If BC counters with more zone blocking, Tech
will use its speed advantage to pursue to the ball and to close off the cutback
lanes.

Just a hunch, but expect big games up front from Jonathan Lewis and Carlton
Powell.

Key #2: Remain Stingy Against the Pass

For years, Tech�s defense was predicated on stopping the run and then
getting relentless, aggressive pressure on the QB. Offenses spent countless
hours studying trends and found opportunities for some big plays. With a few
adjustments in approach and positional

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