2009 Keys to the Game and Matchups to Watch: NC State

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The Hokies host the enigmatic Wolfpack of North Carolina State this Saturday in the final home game of the season. Virginia Tech (7-3, 4-2 ACC) will honor a senior group that will be trying to achieve a 10-win season in each of their seasons in Blacksburg. N.C. State (4-6, 1-5 ACC), on the other hand, will simply be playing for pride after high expectations coming into the season. Will the Hokies remain focused against a team with nothing to lose?

In watching N.C. State’s FBS games this year, I am not certain which team I am watching at times. In some games the Wolfpack show an explosive, well-rounded offense, then in others the Pack look inept. On defense, State appears aggressive and stifling at times, while passive and ineffective at others. Injuries have definitely been a factor in the Wolfpack’s erratic performance this year, with a dozen players going down for the season, but even the play of healthy all-star players, such as QB Russell Wilson, has been inconsistent. N.C. State has truly been an enigma this year.

Obviously, the Hokies need to jump on the Pack early in this game to demoralize players suffering through a disappointing season. Tech may not have a shot at the ACC Championship Game this year, but VT still has a shot at a sixth straight 10-win season and a higher-tier bowl game. Also, the last home game for the seniors will be emotional, and the players will be playing hard to go out with a win. So, what should we expect in this game with the unpredictable Wolfpack?

Keys to the Game

When Virginia Tech has the Ball:

1. Exploit the Corners

Coming out of spring practice, N.C. State looked to have an experienced secondary with DeAndre Morgan and Dominique Ellis at the corners, and Clem Johnson and Jimmaul Simmons at the safeties. However, Ellis and Simmons left the team before the start of fall practice, and the Wolfpack were forced to use freshmen to replace the defecting sophomores. DeAndre Morgan (#21, 5-10.5, 170, 4.45, r-Jr.), clearly the best player in the secondary, then injured his ankle prior to the opening game, and he has been struggling to stay on the field all season. Morgan has played in all but two games, but he clearly has lost some quickness and play-making ability this year.

Replacing Morgan

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