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Gameday blog: Canes at Virginia Tech

The Hurricanes (2-2) take on the 21st-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies (4-1) at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va. seeking to avoid an 0-2 start in ACC play. The last time UM started 0-2 in the ACC? 2008 when they lost to North Carolina and Florida State at home in back-to-back games. Saturday's kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. The game can be seen on ABC in the Southeast and on ESPN throughout most of the rest of the country (except parts of Texas, etc). Here is your Canes' TV coverage map.

Will David Wilson abuse a banged up and reeling UM run defense? > ABOUT THE HOKIES: Virginia Tech is coming off a 23-3 loss to Clemson at home a week ago. The Hokies haven't lost back-to-back games at home since 2002. The Hokies rolled to a 31-7 win the last time the Canes came to Lane Stadium. UM has only won one of the last five meetings. The Hokies lost five starters on each side of the ball from last year's ACC championship team including quarterback Tyrod Taylor. This Hokies team still has plenty of playmakers on offense, led by star tailback David Wilson (7th in nation in rushing), cornerback Jayron Hosley (3 INTs) and defensive ends J.R. Collins (leads ACC with 4.5 sacks) and James Gayle (3.5 sacks). Virginia Tech's national rankings on defense: 2nd vs. rush (58.20), 4th in total yards (249.60) and 29th versus the pass (191.40). The Hokies are also currently ranked 2nd in the nation in time of possession (35:48).

> WHAT TO WATCH FOR THE CANES: There have been two big injuries on UM's defense in the aftermath of the Bethune-Cookman win: starting strongside linebacker Ramon Buchanan (knee) and defensive tackle Marcus Forston (knee) have both been lost for the season. The Canes, ranked 105th in run defense, will suit up four healthy defensive tackles Saturday: Micanor Regis, Darius Smith, Olsen Pierre and former defensive end Adewale Ojomo. Tailbacks Mike James and Lamar Miller have also been playing banged up for the Canes, who on the positive side should get more production this week from sophomore tackle Seantrel Henderson. Hard-hitting safety Ray-Ray Armstrong is also back this week from suspension UM. If there is something the Canes may be able to exploit against Tech it's special teams. While that may sound surprising considering Frank Beamer's team has shined for so long on that side of the ball, Virginia Tech actually ranks 117th in net punting. UM's Travis Benjamin has had long returns in back-to-back weeks for UM and may be able to break one. In two games versus the Hokies, Jacory Harris is 10 of 27 for 153 yards with one interception.

> MY PICK: Virginia Tech 34, UM 21. The Hokies aren't as good a football team as they were a year ago -- Clemson showed us that. But the Hokies still have plenty of weapons on both sides of the ball and it's hard to picture them losing back-to-back games at home. Are the Canes totally overmatched? No. But the problems on run defense are very real. This team sorely misses Allen Bailey, Colin McCarthy and Brandon Harris, who all were exceptional on run defense. Ray-Ray will provide a lift. But the Hokies know how to ground and pound. They ran for 251 yards against UM a year ago. And against UM this season, that's all you really need to be able to do well to have success. 

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