Virginia Tech vs. Georgia Tech: How Each Team Wins Pivotal ACC Tilt

Ryan DavenportContributor ISeptember 26, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 29:  David Sims #7 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets dives for a touchdown against Jonathan Meeks #5 of the Clemson Tigers at Bobby Dodd Stadium on October 29, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Tonight, two of the Atlantic Coast Conference's best will go head-to-head in a pivotal midseason clash as Virginia Tech prepares to face Coastal Division rival Georgia Tech on the road. 

Heading into the all-important matchup, the Hokies and Yellow Jackets are in contention to represent the division in the ACC title game, and if history's told us anything, one of them will be playing for the conference crown this winter. 

That's because since the ACC Championship Game was instituted in 2005, each edition of the title showdown has featured either Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech. 

So, heading into this Week 5 battle at Bobby Dodd Stadium, here's a look at what each team needs to do in order to win. 


Georgia Tech

Get to Logan Thomas early and often

Offensively, the Yellow Jackets hold a distinct advantage over the visiting Hokies, especially at the quarterback position. 

And Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas has demonstrated an inability to take care of the football, as the senior signal-caller has tossed six picks in four games this season after a 16-interception campaign a year ago. 

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 31:  Logan Thomas #3 of the Virginia Tech Hokies against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Georgia Dome on August 31, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

So for Georgia Tech, having Jeremiah Attaochu and Co. get in Thomas' face early will be very important because anything to shake the quarterback's confidence and composure will certainly help. 

But up until this point, the Yellow Jackets' inability to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks has been evident, as the team has registered just four sacks on the season. 

As we saw when Thomas went 5-of-26 against Alabama, if he's facing rushers in the pocket, he's prone to make mistakes. 


Establish the running game

As of now, the Yellow Jackets offense through the air hasn't been much of a factor in the team's 3-0 start as sophomore quarterback Vad Lee has yet to register a 200-yard passing game. 

However, Georgia Tech more than makes up for that lack of passing production on the ground, as Paul Johnson's boys boast the nation's fourth-best running attack. 

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 01:  Timmy Jernigan #8 of the Florida State Seminoles chases down Vad Lee #2 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the 2012 ACC Championship game at Bank of America Stadium on December 1, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (P
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

While Lee's been solid on the run, putting up 60 yards a game on the ground, Georgia Tech has two dangerous backfield threats as well in David Sims and Robert Godhigh, who each have well over 250 all-purpose yards so far this season. 

Simply put, if Georgia Tech can get into a rhythm with the rushing game, the Jackets will be able to put up enough points to remain undefeated through Week 5. 


 Virginia Tech

A big day out of the defense

As noted above, the Hokies offense isn't going to win many games on its own, because there just isn't enough game-breaking talent present to do so. This is especially true against Georgia Tech's defense, which currently sits at 12th in the nation. 

But Virginia Tech's got a solid defense of its own, and since getting destroyed by No. 1 Alabama in Week 1, the Hokies have allowed an impressive 11.33 points per game in their subsequent three contests. 

Sep 7, 2013; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies running back Trey Edmunds (14) runs the ball during the third quarter against the Western Carolina Catamounts at Lane Stadium. Virginia Tech defeated Western Carolina 45-3. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Br
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Although Trey Edmunds is an offensive workhorse for Virginia Tech, he won't be enough to lift this team to victory if the Hokies aren't dominant on the defensive side of things. 

In order to win, the Hokies will more than likely have to turn this into a defensive battle. Against a decidedly superior offensive opponent, if this turns into a shootout through the air, they won't be able to keep up. 


Improved special teams 

For the Hokies, one of the team's biggest shortcomings has been in the kicking department, and even though Virginia Tech's been able to overcome poor performances in that regard recently, that won't be the case against the Yellow Jackets. 

BLACKSBURG, VA - NOVEMBER 24:  Kicker Cody Journell #89 of the Virginia Tech Hokies makes the game-winning field goal on the final play against the Virginia Cavaliers at Lane Stadium on November 24, 2012 in Blacksburg, Virginia.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Get
Geoff Burke/Getty Images

During each of the Hokies' last two tilts, three field-goal opportunities have been wasted, although the situation surrounding last week's game against Marshall was slightly more understandable as starting kicker Cody Journell was serving a one-game suspension, so backup Ethan Keyserling was thrust into the spotlight. 

Missing kicks from within 35 yards is simply not acceptable at this level, especially on a team that isn't particularly gifted offensively, and if this trend continues, Georgia Tech will roll at home.