Chuck Burton/Associated Press
Head coach Frank Beamer could hold the keys to a Virginia Tech victory on Saturday.
In his first 26 years at the helm of the Virginia Tech program, head coach Frank Beamer has found success with the notorious Beamer Ball, an approach that places emphasis on making big plays on offense, defense and, most importantly, special teams. Blocked kicks, big kick returns and defensive touchdowns were the norm during the height of the Hokies' success, which included five conference championships from 1999-2008.
Meyer himself knows a thing or two about Beamer Ball, which he said he studied extensively as the special teams coordinator at Notre Dame in the late '90s.
"Beamer Ball is something that's been around for a long time. And I would like to think we've patterned ourselves after that ever since whenever that was, 1999, I think," Meyer said. "That's when my appreciation for special teams and then I see what Virginia Tech did for so many years."
While Virginia Tech has recently endured a departure from Beamer Ball—the Hokies have accumulated a combined 15-11 record in the past two seasons—its primary chance of beating the Buckeyes would come from getting back to its old ways. Considering that Ohio State hasn't lost on its home turf since 2011 or at night in Columbus since 2009, it's going to take big plays in all three facets of the game for the Hokies to score the upset and return to college football's national scene.
Guard The Ground
With an inexperienced quarterback playing behind an unproven offensive line, the more plays that Virginia Tech can force Barrett to make, the better off the Hokies will be on Saturday. That's why it will be key for Virginia Tech to successfully defend the Ohio State run game, which is admittedly without a feature back at this point in the season.
A total of six players carried the ball for the Buckeyes against Navy, with Barrett leading the way with 50 yards and wide receiver/running back hybrids Dontre Wilson (43) and Jalin Marshall (7) combining for 50 of their own. Running backs Ezekiel Elliott (44), Curtis Samuel (45) and Rod Smith (6) also received carries, helping bring Ohio State's rushing total to 194 yards.
Especially against a less-talented Navy team, that number certainly left a lot to be desired, as neither Elliott, Samuel nor Smith appeared to grab hold of the Buckeyes' starting running back spot. On Monday, Meyer admitted that not one Ohio State running back seemed to separate himself, something which he viewed as a positive from the Buckeyes' opener.
"Last year we had a guy that was a 20-, 25-carry guy," Meyer said, referencing Carlos Hyde. "We have some pretty capable players. We also don't have that body type to go just slam it in there so many times.
"Jalin earned some carries and Donte certainly has. You have [Elliott] and you have Curtis Samuel—all these guys earning these carries. And so it's probably going to be like that again this week, just because these young guys have earned these carries."
But if none of Ohio State's backfield options prove effective, that could ultimately leave the game to be decided by Barrett. That's a tall task for a quarterback in the second game of his college career, in front of what could be a record-setting crowd and a national TV audience.