By Rakin Hamad (@RakkAttackk)
Virginia Tech (0-0) vs. #1 Alabama (0-0)
Virginia Tech will start their season off versus the two-time defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide. The game is part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Virginia Tech enters as a huge underdog after their 7-6 season last year. Last time these two teams played was in the 2009 season opener, where Virginia Tech lost 34-24. On the bright side for the Hokies, they are the last non-SEC team to lead the Crimson Tide in the 4th quarter (they entered the 4th quarter up 17-16).
Alabama lost some talent to the NFL last year, including CB Dee Milliner, RB Eddie Lacy, OT D.J. Fluker and C Barrett Jones, however Nick Saban always replenishes his cupboard with more talent and this year is no different. While Lacy is gone, All-SEC Preseason First Teamer, T.J. Yeldon will have no problem stepping into the role of star Alabama running back. AJ McCarron is back and looking to go for an unprecedented third straight national champion as a starting quarterback. On defense, All-SEC first teamer, CJ Mosley leads a defense that will once again be tough to beat. Sophomore nickel cornerback Geno Smith is suspended for the game, but the Crimson Tides’ secondary should still be good with Deion Belue and Vinnie Sunseri in the back end.
The Hokies enter the season trying to reclaim their spot on top of the ACC, but this team still has a lot of question marks. Senior QB Logan Thomas is back and is looking to return back to his 2011 form. Last year he threw 16 interceptions and wasn’t able to throw for 3,000 yards. If the Hokies want to have any chance to beat Alabama, or contend in the ACC for that matter, Logan Thomas is going to have to bounce back and showcase his undeniable talent. This year LB Jack Tyler, DE James Gayle, and CB Kyle Fuller lead the Bud Foster coached defense. In order to be competitive versus the Crimson Tide, the Hokies will need to stop the run. McCarron is at his best when he can use an effective play action, which starts with the run game. Star CB Antone Exum will not play due to his torn ACL and meniscus.
Key Matchup: QB Logan Thomas vs LB CJ Mosley
The Hokies have no proven running backs and questions on the offensive line, so look for most of their rushing yards to come from Logan Thomas off of designed and improvised runs. Alabama has shown that if they have any problems on defense it’s stopping duel threat quarterbacks like Cam Newton and Johnny Manziel. Mosley might be the best player on this stacked team, and if he is able to chase down Thomas for minimal gains it could be a long day for the Hokies. If the Hokies have any chance to beat Alabama they will need a superstar performance from their 6’6” quarterback like the aforementioned QBs.
Frank Beamer said last week that he still hasn’t found a weakness in Alabama. Considering that he has had all summer, I wouldn’t expect him to find a weakness before Saturday. In 2009 when the Hokies were able to keep the game competitive versus a worse Alabama team they were able to hold Alabama to field goals early, and returned a kickoff return for a touchdown. They will need to duplicate that to have a chance. Maybe Alabama will be looking past the Hokies to their week 3 matchup with Texas A&M, but Nick Saban team’s don’t usually slip.
Alabama: 42 Virginia Tech: 17