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In a little over four days, a maroon monsoon will take over Blacksburg, Virginia as the Hokies kickoff their season against a high-caliber foe for the third time in four years. The Hokies have struggled in previous early season matchups with elite programs, losing to USC in 2004, Alabama in 2009, and Boise State in 2010. On top of that, Tech also lost at LSU in 2007 and against ECU in 2008. The last time the Hokies faced an ACC opponent in week one was way back in 2005 when Virginia Tech toppled NC State 20-16 down in Raleigh. Despite those September shortcomings, none of those games took place inside the calming sanctuary that is Lane Stadium.
In fact, the last time the Hokies lost a week one game at home was way back in 1995 when Tech lost to Boston College 20-14. Nearly 17 years ago. So, there's a lot to feel good about as we enter this weekends matchup with Georgia Tech. First off, the Hokies have had all off-season to prepare for the Yellow Jackets. Of course, the flipside is true as well. Georgia Tech has had equal time to prepare for the Hokies. Although, with the Yellow Jacket's old school triple option offense, that extra game-planning ability definitely gives the Hokies a slight advantage. If you disagree, just look at Georgia Tech's recent bowl record. When teams have time to gameplan for Paul Johnson's offense, that team normally has success against the Yellow Jackets. GT is 0-4 in bowl games since Johnson was hired in 2008.
Since this website caters almost exclusively to Virginia Tech athletics, we all know the Hokies main playmakers. Now, it's time to take a look at Georgia Tech's. I've never been a writer that writes a true game preview. I find those articles to be frivolous. You can only predict so much. Instead, I've decided to write another slightly frivolous article and detail some of the major playmakers for the Yellow Jackets. You'll find each side of the ball broken down below. Let's get to it!
Names to Know: Offense
QB Tevin Washington - Washington's first meaningful snap came in Lane Stadium two years ago when the then freshmen tried to lead a rally to beat the Hokies in the 4th quarter. Of course, we all know that tale. Rock Carmichael picked him off in the endzone to seal a Hokie victory. Now, Washington is returning to Blacksburg with about a year and a half of starting experience under his belt. He's not as fearsome as Josh Nesbitt but Washington is a talented runner, rushing for 987 yards and 14 scores last season. He also threw for 1652 yards, 11 touchdowns, and tossed eight interceptions. Overall, Washington is a great quarterback in this system. If he's improved his game this off-season then the Hokies may have their hands full on Monday night.
RB Orwin Smith - Is it just me or has Orwin Smith been at Georgia Tech for 12 years? The 6-foot senior is the Yellow Jackets big play threat from the A-back position. Smith averaged 10.1 yards per carry last year (615 yards on 61 carries) and scored 11 times. Yea, that's an average of a TD every 6th carry. Even Lee Suggs looks at that stat and says "damn!" Smith isn't going to touch the ball 20 times on Monday but the Hokies need to limit him to be effective. He'll get his yards but keeping him under 10 yards per rush would be ideal.
BB David Sims - While Smith is all flash, Sims is the powerback that will lineup right behind Washington most of the night. Georgia Tech's B-Back, as they call it, was made famous by Jonathan Dwyer, who had an immense amount of success from that position a few years ago. Sims isn't really a breakaway threat. For VT fans, his speed is similar to that of Darren Evans. But, he has good vision and he can eat up yards. If Sims gets going than that will allow Smith to live dangerously on the edge. That would spell problems for the Hokies.
RG Omoregie Uzzi - Unlike previous Yellow Jacket offensive lines, this unit has a bit of beef. Uzzi is predicted to be a high NFL draft pick in April and he's certainly the anchor in the middle of the offensive line. The senior measures in at 6'3" and 300 pounds. That's not quite the size most teams are used to facing when preparing for the triple option. The battle between Uzzi and Luther Maddy should be a fun one to watch.
LT Bryan Chamberlain - As we've eluded to throughout the week, there is a chance that the Yellow Jackets could start redshirt freshman Bryan Chamberlain at left tackle. As it stands, this is looking very likely. Morgan Bailey has been in a boot all week and at some point, Coach Johnson will just have to hold him out a week due to the lack of game week preparation. If Chamberlain starts at left tackle, he will be faced with the task of blocking Corey Marshall.
Names to Know: Defense
NT T.J. Barnes - Much like Alabama in 2009, the Hokies will have to face Mount Barnes, a 6-foot-7, 347 pound nose tackle. Despite being a massive human being, Barnes isn't much of a playmaker. He's more of a space eater, which could force the Hokies out to the outside more in this game. Honestly, I'm OK with that.
DE Izann Cross - Georgia Tech's starting defensive end is bigger than most of Virginia Tech's defensive tackles. Cross goes 6-foot-4 and 292 pounds. However, that size does cost him some quickness when it comes to rushing the passer. Last year, Cross finished the season without a sack and added only one tackle for loss. If Georgia Tech wants to limit the Virginia Tech offense, they'll need their front three to help out their linebackers in pressuring Logan Thomas.
LB Jeremiah Attaochu - In the 2011 Techmo Bowl, Attauchu had the game changing play in the 3rd quarter. Well, it was actually a game changing penalty when he punched Logan Thomas after Tech's tank-like QB refused to be tackled by a mere mortal. Despite that play, Attaochu is a good player and Georgia Tech's best outside linebacker. There's little doubt that he'll be drafted next April if he chooses to leave after his junior season. Attaochu led Georgia Tech in sacks a year ago with six total. He's probably the biggest playmaker the Yellow Jackets will have on defense this season.
LB Daniel Drummond - In Al Groh's 3-4 scheme, the Yellow Jackets will employ two inside linebackers. The best of that duo is Daniel Drummond who finished with 44 total tackles in a reserve role. The good news for Virginia Tech fans is that Drummond will not travel to Blacksburg as he is currently serving a suspension. Drummond and fellow starter CB Louis Young will both be out for this Monday's game. Every little bit helps.
CB Rod Sweeting - Sweeting is one of the more overlooked cornerbacks in the ACC. The senior finished with 56 tackles, three tackles for loss, three interceptions, 13 pass deflections, and two forced fumbles last season. Sweeting is a very active defensive tackle that will likely mirror Marcus Davis in this game. That should be another fun matchup to watch.
Names to Know: Specialist
PK Justin Moore - New Special Teams coach David Walkosky has his work cut out for him here in year one. Moore was the teams starting place kicker last season as a sophomore and finished just 11 for 17 on the year.
P Sean Poole - Poole averaged 39.7 yards per punt last year and looks poised to take over the starting duties once again in 2012.
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