Georgia Tech travels up to Blacksburg this weekend for an always crucial matchup with Virginia Tech. The Hokies have taken the last four Techmo Bowls and lead the all-time series eight to three. Virginia Tech has had an up-and-down season to begin the year. Justin Cates from SB Nation's Gobbler Country gave his insight on why that may be and shared his thoughts on the upcoming game.
FTRS: What was your initial reaction after the big victory against Ohio State? Expectations didn't seem too high for this season, did this victory make fans believe the Hokies could contend for a playoff spot?
JC: I was at the game and I felt a combination of euphoria and shock. Call me cynical, but based on our track record in big games I kept waiting for something terrible to happen. When the Hokies managed to respond with a touchdown after allowing the Buckeyes to tie the game at 21, I finally felt like it might actually work out. That game took years off my life.
FTRS: Do you believe the win against Ohio State was more of an indication of their weaknesses without Braxton Miller or an indication of the potential of this Virginia Tech team?
JC: I think it's a combination. Everyone knew OSU wouldn't be the same team without Braxton Miller, but it was still a good win for the Hokies. That was a big challenge and almost everyone in the college football world wrote off any chances of an upset before the game.
FTRS: What happened vs ECU? Was the team complacent after beating Ohio State, looking ahead to GT, or simply outplayed by a superior team?
JC: The Hokies have a ton of youth but I don't think the problem was a lack of focus. East Carolina is a really good team and Tech seemed surprised by how physical they were up front. They have a good quarterback and some great receivers that made big plays early. The Hokies outplayed ECU after the first quarter (save for the embarrassing final drive).
FTRS: According to fan opinion who are the real Gobblers, the ones who beat Ohio State, or the ones who lost to Eastern Carolina?
JC: It's pretty mixed. The bottom line is the Hokies are 2-1 after three games and that's what just about everyone expected looking at the schedule in the preseason. As I said above, we played well against ECU but you can't spot a team 21 points and expect a positive outcome. The real Hokies are probably somewhere in between the two performances.
FTRS: Are Virginia Tech fans as happy to see Logan Thomas graduate as Georgia Tech fans?
JC: Most Tech fans were glad to see him go. I'm in the minority that defends Logan. While he had a number of inexplicably dreadful games he was still the best option we had and the talent around him wasn't very impressive. There's a reason you'll see so many freshman on the field Saturday when the Hokies have the ball.
FTRS: What player has been the biggest disappointment for your team so far and what player has been a pleasant surprise?
JC: The pleasant surprise is freshman receiver Isaiah Ford. He's still a bit raw, but he's already scored three touchdowns and is proving to be a big boost to the offense. The biggest disappoint is corner Brandon Facyson. He's not healthy and has really been struggling which lead to him being benched against ECU. Donovan Riley will start in his place against the Jackets.
FTRS: What is the outlook in Blacksburg going into the game this Saturday? Are fans nervous about the Jackets or is everyone pretty confident?
JC: I'm nervous, but I always am. I think people know this is normally a close game and will be hard fought. The injuries along our defensive line have most people very nervous about the option attack and those Paul Johnson blocking schemes. We may be a bit understaffed up front.
FTRS: Give me three players we should look out for on the Hokies roster for this game
JC: Kendall Fuller: Just a true sophomore, he's the real deal. I question any team that throws in his direction.
Deon Clarke: Very fast linebacker who's been turning heads.
Bucky Hodges: A 6'6" tight end who lines up in the slot frequently. Watch for him in the red zone in particular.
FTRS: Give me your prediction for the matchup.
JC: Should be a great game. I'll play the homer card in this one.
Virginia Tech 24
Georgia Tech 21