2008 Keys to the Game, Matchups to Watch and Game Prediction: Florida State

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Looking to rebound from last week’s loss to Boston College, Virginia Tech may be facing its biggest challenge of the year in an improving Florida State Seminole squad. FSU has long been a nemesis to Frank Beamer, and the Hokies’ young squad will be tested in traveling to Tallahassee to face the Noles. Much like last week, turnovers will be a key in this critical ACC match-up, so who will come out on top – BeamerBall or BowdenBall?

Frank Beamer finally got a victory over legendary Bobby Bowden last year in Blacksburg, but the Hokies will be facing an even better Florida State squad this year. Needless to say, the Hokies’ struggling offense will need to step up against a talented Nole defense, but the biggest key in this game looks to be the defense’s ability to stifle an improved FSU offense. The usual suspects – field position, special teams, turnovers, etc. – will obviously still be critical, but ultimately I believe this game comes down to Bud Foster devising a scheme to limit the Florida State offense.

Keys to the Game

When Florida State has the Ball:

1. Dominate the Line-of-Scrimmage

Florida State has displayed a vastly improved offense this year behind athletic quarterback Christian Ponder (#14, 6-2 220 4.65, r-So.). Despite an offensive line that will start three true freshmen, the Seminoles have established a dangerous running game. Only Wake Forest has really slowed the FSU ground attack, and the Hokies will need to take a page out of the Deacons’ book in slowing down the speed of the Noles’ rushing game.

The key is simply to play physically and dominate the line-of-scrimmage. While FSU’s young linemen are tough and aggressive, overall they lack strength and technique which should provide Tech’s defensive linemen the opportunity to get penetration and make plays. In particular, the true freshmen offensive tackles, Andrew Datko (#76, 6-6 276 5.51) and Zebrie Sanders (#65, 6-5.5 280 5.42) can struggle against quicker, stronger defensive ends. Orion Martin, Jason Worilds, and Nekos Brown need