A summary of my interview with left guard Trey Braun, in six points (kind of like a touchdown).
1. The Tech offense had 15 efforts – demerits for not giving full effort on a play – in the Tulane game, which is the unit’s standing goal, on 65 plays. The number had been higher in the Wofford game. It was particularly impressive giving the heat and humidity.
“That’s something we decided to focus on coming into the game,” Braun said. “We really wanted to get that down.”
2. He likes the way the team has finished the first two games, outscoring Wofford and Tulane 28-10 in the second half. It was a problem with last year’s team and a focus of the offseason. (Tech outscored the opposition 191-141 last year. In losses, the Jackets were outscored 105-65, which, obviously is a bit of cherry picking.) At the same time, he is aware the team has to start better, also.
“Starting well, stuff like that’s just something you’ve got to work out through a little bit of maturity, coming together as a team,” he said. “That’s why you play those first few (non-conference) games. You’ve got to get crisper, you’ve got to get better. It’s definitely something that we have to keep working on, but I think learning how to sort of come out in the second half is something that’ll benefit us down the road.”
3. Braun was on a line that last year had three seniors (Ray Beno, Jay Finch and Will Jackson) and junior Shaquille Mason. The starting line now has a senior (Mason), two juniors (him and left tackle Bryan Chamberlain), a sophomore who is playing his first season (center Freddie Burden) and freshman right tackle Chris Griffin. On the depth chart, there’s three more freshmen.
“It’s a different feeling,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we feel younger. We’ve got great leadership from Shaq and my class is all sort of coming together. I don’t know. This is how we’ve sort of always envisioned ourselves. Coming in, we’ve always seen this coming. We always knew it was going to come out to a place where there’s a lot of juniors (tackles Chamberlain and Errin Joe and guard Thomas O’Reilly are also juniors) and there’s a couple seniors. We’re just excited to take control and really buckle down and make this our line, make it our team.”
4. When true freshman center Andrew Marshall came in for Burden in the Tulane game, “I think he blew out all expectations,” Braun said. Marshall played late in the first half and most of the second half as Burden had an upper-body injury. He is expected to play Saturday.
“He did a really good job stepping up,” Braun said.
5. Braun on Virginia Tech’s win over Ohio State: “I did notice that. I filed that away. Like you said, it’s a game ahead, but I did notice. We all noticed.”
6. Braun’s preference is night games over day games: “It just feels football-y. You get the lights on, there’s a little more energy, it seems, at night.”