Q&A with The Key Play: How to Stop Logan Thomas and Not Be Little Brother in the State

With 7 days left until kickoff (!!!!), FTRS sat down with Brian Marcolini of Virginia Tech blog The Key Play to discuss what we'll see next Monday in Blacksburg, among other things.

FTRS: Seemingly one of the biggest concerns for VT coming into this season is the lack of experience on offense, where the leading rusher, two leading receivers, and 4 starting OL all must be replaced. However, some fans have really talked down the impact that will have, as replacements have all had a ton of playing time, regardless of whether they started. How big of an impact will that lack of experience have, in your opinion?

TKP: It's actually a little weird in my opinion that there's not more fan concern about the offense. It's easy to say "hey, we have a monster at quarterback" but the offense took a real hit, graduating so many guys. Luckily for us, we still have three senior receivers that have a ton of game reps, and we've had some guys on the offensive line that have really stepped it up over the spring. I think that, like any unit with new starters, they will take their share of bumps early, but with Logan Thomas at the helm it should be easier for the offense to shape up.

FTRS: At 6'7", 260lbs, Logan Thomas hardly has the frame you would imagine a quarterback having. However, his incredible athleticism and good arm combine with that size to make him very difficult to stop (just ask Jeremiah Attaochu). Without watching him much, I'd say he compares quite a bit with Cam Newton. What weaknesses does he have? Basically, if he's to be stopped, how will it be done?

TKP: I think that the Cam Newton comp is a good one, but they're very different players. Cam tries to outrun guys, Thomas usually just tries to run through them. If there is a knock on him, I would say that he's a little hot and cold. When he's on, he is really unstoppable. He had some games where he single handedly won it for us (Miami and Georgia Tech specifically), but sometimes he's not on. Sometimes his accuracy is inconsistent, which makes for a bit of a rough game. I think that a defense has to put pressure on him, and then pray that he also misses a few guys and can't get in rhythm.

FTRS: Last year the offense performed very well running the ball, finishing 28th nationally in yards per game. However, David Wilson has swapped out his maroon and orange for the red, white, and blue of the New York Giants. How will his loss affect the team offensively, and will we still see a ground-focused offense or will there be more of a shift to the passing side of things?

TKP: Wilson is going to be replaced by a stable of young backs, primarily sophomore Michael Holmes and true freshmen JC Coleman. The biggest move from the Hokies' offensive staff, however, is the switch to more of a spread offense that includes looks from the pistol formation. There will be more receiver movement, and plays designed to make use of Thomas' size. There will still be pro-style sets, but a lot more looks not form under center.

FTRS: Last year, VT finished 7th nationally in points per game allowed by the defense. However, Georgia Tech scored more points (26) against the Hokies than any other opponent not named Miami (35). Do you think the defense struggled and will tighten up this year or is that statistic explained by Georgia Tech simply being one of the best offenses the Hokies will play?

TKP: The Hokies usually have some problems against the triple option. No matter how good the defense is, they seemingly give up tons of yards to the Yellow Jackers every year. I think that it's such an odd system that is so different from anything they play, that it's a struggle to adjust to. But this year I think we should see a better showing, with (as of now, at least) no significant injuries on defense, and a defensive line that goes 10 players deep.

FTRS: Georgia Tech has lost 2 in a row to VT, with both games being majorly impacted by only a couple plays that went the Hokies' way (in 2010 Josh Nesbitt broke his arm and the Hokies returned a kick for a touchdown, last year saw Attaochu's punch completely change the flow of the game). Are these teams really that close, or do they just look closer than they are?

TKP: I think that these teams are, for lack of better word, rivals. They are consistently the two best teams in the Coastal division, and there is always so much on the line every time they play each other. That always seems to bring out the best of both teams, leveling the playing field for whichever team is considered the "underdog" that year.

FTRS: History says that the team that wins this game represents the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship. You think we'll see the same this year?

TKP: Absolutely. With UNC being on probation, Miami being down and Duke being...well, Duke, I think that this definitely bodes well for whoever wins on Labor Day.

FTRS: In your state, you do not have the state's main university (I'd call that the University of Virginia -- tell me if I'm wrong though), and yet it seems as though you're not the "little brother" in the state, fan-wise and competition-wise. Is that correct? If so, what's it like being the big brother? If not, want to come and join us in our little-brother self-pity?

TKP: Well, we may not be the official university of the state, but the battle for football supremacy hasn't really been competitive since Michael Vick's days in the late nineties. Over the past 10 years, UVA has beaten us once, so I would say it's safe to say that we're not the little brother in the relationship. Naturally, they're trying to change that, but until they put up wins constantly, I don't think it will change.

FTRS: You've probably got work the next day, but that doesn't mean this isn't still football. What will you be sipping on during this game?

TKP: As a student with only one class on Tuesday, this breaks perfectly for me. I have a personal mantra that says when dealing with football, stick to the two Bs: beer and bourbon. There will be a number of each of those beverages consumed at the tailgates prior to kickoff.

Many thanks to Brian and all of the guys at The Key Play. We look forward to the game next week!

You can follow them at @thekeyplay and @beercontrol.

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