Spread offenses are all the rage in college football. Teams routinely score 40 points or higher, as evidenced by teams like West Virginia, Baylor, Louisiana Tech, Texas Tech and Clemson, Virginia Tech's opponent Saturday.
Coach Frank Beamer is well aware of the offensive firepower. He said the Hokies will have to keep the ball away from the Tigers, while also score points themselves.
"When you're fast-paced, you need to score because if you don't, in about 40 seconds your defense is back out on the field," Beamer said. "But I do think the athletes are better. You just look at the athletes that Clemson has and we've got good athletes too. Then you start spreading the field vertically. I think Clemson has a lot of misdirection, but they'll come and run an isolation right at you too. It's a mixture of that and we try to do the same thing. It's just the way the game is right now."
In trying to keep pace, Virginia Tech's offense will be without its starting center, junior Andrew Miller, who underwent surgery Sunday for a fractured left leg he suffered against Duke. In his place, Michael Via and Matt Arkema are being tabbed to step in.
"It all starts with your center," Beamer said. "Calling fronts and the whole deal, he's kinda the quarterback of the offensive line. But we're fortunate that Michael Via has had some experience there and he's gonna give us his best shot. I appreciate having a guy like him there to come in."
Their play is crucial to keep the running attack led by freshman J.C. Coleman going. Coleman rushed for 183 yards against the Blue Devils, using an elusiveness and quickness he showed in high school and that Beamer and others have been waiting to see this season.
"I remember looking at his high school tape and the only guy I ever saw have as many long plays as him was Eddie Royal," Beamer said. "That kinda made a statement to me right there. Coming in early truly did help him because he never was able to play very fast, but he was thinking. His mind was tying up his feet, but he learned a lot in the spring and then he came back here in the fall and he's played fast and his body build, I always worried about him in pass protection, but he hangs in there and stops pass rushers in their tracks. He's been a very complete back, regardless of his size."
Defensively, Virginia Tech's defensive backs will be tasked with stopping Clemson's offensive attack, which includes wide receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins.
Beamer said he feels more comfortable with his secondary as the defensive backs themselves have become more comfortable.
"The more you do things over and over, the better you get," Beamer said. "Trying to get guys to do the same thing over and over was something we tried to do last week and we certainly need to do more this week. Things happen at a little quicker pace against this crowd."
Both sides of the ball will have to be in full force for the Hokies to take down the Tigers, No. 14 in the Associated Press poll this week. Virginia Tech has lost all three of its games away from Lane Stadium.
"We're gonna talk about that with our football team," Beamer said. "There's just a mental toughness that you have to have on the road. You don't have your home fans and you don't have everything that circumstances are different. When we've been successful, I really felt like our team said that it doesn't make any difference where we play, when we play, what time of day we play, we just play."