Virginia Tech is set to trot out onto the gridiron for a nationally televised spotlight game at Georgia Tech on Thursday night. Coach Frank Beamer and the Hokies will be doing so on the 100th anniversary of the Yellow Jackets’ Grant Field.
For the occasion, the Ramblin’ Wreck will wear a special set of throwback, white commemorative jerseys. Beamer’s bunch is also primed to sport something unique, but it’s not a new jersey.
It is arguably the wildest new helmet we have seen in an era of all-out uniform nuttiness. Known as “Hokie Stone” lids, the pattern has been inspired by the limestone used to build roughly 80-percent of the buildings on Va. Tech’s campus.
The helmets symbolize the foundation – the building blocks – of both the school and its football program. However, the Hokies have been slipping since the beginning of last year. Does the program have what it takes to hit the road and take down a revitalized Georgia Tech squad?
Thursday’s game will serve as just the 11th meeting between these two historic programs. They first met in 1990, with Bobby Ross’ Wreck taking down Beamer’s Hokies by a score of 6-3. No more games were played between the two until 2004. Since then, Virginia Tech has managed to build a 7-3 advantage in the overall series.
Whether Va. Tech is able to collect win No. 8 before heading back to Blacksburg rests largely on the massive shoulders of quarterback Logan Thomas. The 6-foot-6, 254-pounder disappointed as a junior in 2012, and his confusing mediocrity has bled into the team’s fall campaign. He is only completing 48.5-percent of his passes. He has only thrown for four touchdowns compared to six interceptions.
Such poor play may not cut it against the Yellow Jackets. Coach Paul Johnson’s defense held a much more highly rated North Carolina offense to only 20 points – with every one of them coming in the first half. Once defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu and his teammates settled in, the squad posted a second-half shutout to move to a surprising 3-0 overall and a perfect 2-0 in the early going of conference play.
On a night that is set to be a celebration of the history of the program, can Johnson’s squad keep its present momentum going? Can its sturdy defense give Thomas fits, forcing him into the inaccurate passes the big man has been heaving all year?
What about Georgia Tech’s wishbone-based rushing offense? Like the Yellow Jacket’s defense, Virginia Tech is solid on that side of the football. Four of the Hokies’ top five tacklers thus far are seniors. The lone non-senior, Kyshoen Jarrett, is a junior.
If this is a low-scoring affair, can Georgia Tech find a way to stay perfect on the season? Will Beamer and Co. begin to right the ship, collecting their first big win of the season after barely beating up on cupcakes the previous three weeks?
We don’t know the answers to these questions, but with Thursday night approaching ever faster by the second, perhaps you do. It’s time to settle it.