The Virginia Tech Hokies started this season as a nearly sure win for Louisville and that seemed to be the case after a few weeks into the season. However, Brent Pry has gotten his team to turn things around over the last month and the Hokies will be playing for a chance to take over second place in the ACC this weekend.
Pry has a defensive background and his offenses haven’t been all that great early on in his tenure. But, just like all good defensive coaches, he has been able to ride strong play from a talented quarterback to get things going. Kyron Drones showed some flashes at Baylor as a backup but he has really broken out as a talented runner and passer over the last handful of weeks for VT.
Drones is a big quarterback and he runs the ball really well in short-yardage situations as well as in the open field. He could be more accurate as a passer but I’ve been impressed with his deep ball. He puts it out in front of receivers and lets them run under it. He has also given the offense confidence to push the ball down the field. It has been a very big part of the improvement overall as they run the ball well and force teams to single-cover their receivers.
Bhayshul Tuten is one of the better running backs that Louisville will see this season. He hasn’t put up the numbers that some others have but he is a very strong runner and he plays like a guy who was overlooked as a recruit. Tuten was a star at North Carolina A&T last season before joining the Hokies but he is an obvious power-five talent and he’s starting to show it.
The Hokies have another back in Malachi Thomas who is a bit bigger and a little faster in the open field. he is a long strider and once he gets out in the open he can really get going. Tech likes to run the football and they will use both backs and Drones in a variety of ways to control the ball. They stress the edges well with tosses and option plays. They’ll use Drones as a runner to get a numbers advantage. They will also run plenty of option for misdirection. This will be a solid test for a much improved UofL defense.
Louisville hasn’t had to face many good offenses over the last handful of weeks and the receivers have been a big factor in that. This week they will see another group of receivers that have been less than impressive. However, they have had some great moments this season with some very big plays.
Jaylin Lane and Da’quan Felton have both shown great speed and big play ability over the middle of the field and down the sidelines. Lane is the smaller of the two and his quickness as a route-runner stands out. He is the player to watch in my opinion as teams have seemed to figure out that the middle of the field is an issue for the Cards pass defense. Stephen Gosnell is another player to be on the watch for as a possession receiver to move the chains.
Tech’s offensive line is ranked in the 100s when it comes to pass blocking and run blocking per PFF. They are also ranked poorly in sacks allowed and tackles for loss allowed. While some of this is due to quarterback play, it stands out when you watch them that their running backs aren’t getting a lot of space to work with on running plays. This is the major advantage for Louisville this weekend and they have to take advantage. Pitt has a porous line as well and they had no issue with UofL’s front all game.