Boston College Preview and Prediction

If you like crisp offensive football, don’t tune in on Saturday. This one is going to be ugly. Like Wake Forest 2014 ugly. Boston College has one of the worst offenses in FBS but they also have one of the best defenses. This is going to be a game where neither offense will be able to do much and the game will be decided by field position and turnovers.

If there was ever an offense that was going to make the Virginia Tech defense look good, this is it. The BC offense lacks talent at the skill positions and there really isn’t a player that scares you.  The only player that I’d be concerned about is Jeff Smith as a running QB. The Hokies have had a ton of trouble stopping running QBs this year and you know that the BC coaches have seen enough film to know to use Smith as a weapon.

As good as the BC offense is going to make the Hokies defense look, their defense is going to lay waste to our offense. I’m concerned about Michael Brewer and his surgically repaired collarbone. The Hokies haven’t seen a defense like this since Ohio State and this defense might even be better than Ohio State’s. This is a game where the Hokies offense needs to be patient and show balance. If the Hokies get behind early and have to throw often against this aggressive defense, look out. The best you can hope for is that the defense sets up the offense with good field position and the Hokies offense can put some points on the board.

This is a difficult game to pick. Both teams need this win in a big way as they are both looking to qualify for a bowl game. I’m going to go with BC to win because I think their defense against the Hokies offense is a mismatch and should be enough to pull out the victory. It’s good that this game is on Halloween because it is going to be ugly enough to terrify any college football fan.

Prediction: Boston College 16, Virginia Tech 9

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Duke Preview and Prediction

The Hokies have to win this game if they hope to make a bowl this season. A loss would put the Hokies at 3-5 and would mean they would have to finish 3-1 in order to make a bowl. They do not want to put themselves in that position. On paper, this is a game where the Hokies are favored and if they play like they are capable of, they should win this game.

Duke’s offense is even more anemic than the Hokies’ offense. They rely on the running game and a running quarterback (uh oh). Even with the youth in the secondary, the Hokies should be able to limit the Blue Devils’ passing game. The key to this game will be limiting QB Thomas Sirks’ rushing yards and limiting the Duke RBs from getting involved in the passing game. As long as the Hokies’ defense can play disciplined defensive football in these two areas they should be able to limit Duke offensively.

In theory, the Hokies should move the ball better with Michael Brewer behind center but there are a couple of things about this matchup that concern me. Michael Brewer isn’t particularly mobile and Duke likes to show a lot of blitzes and coverages. Michael Brewer needs to be able to recognize the blitzes and get the ball out of his hands quickly. We cannot have a sack fest like we saw against Pitt.

The Hokies would be well served to lean on their running game. They need to feed the ball to Travon McMillian early and often. If he is rushing for 7+ YPC, don’t take the ball out of his hands. The Miami game would’ve gone much differently, if the coaching staff had kept giving Travon the ball.  This will help Michael Brewer and open up the play action passing game. Michael Brewer cannot be successful if he has to drop back on every down against an aggressive Duke defense.

This will be a tough challenge for the Hokies but it is a game that they can win. Let’s hope the team hasn’t packed it in. If they can play smart and disciplined football, they stand a good chance to win this game. This is a game where the defense will have to stand tall in order for the Hokies to win.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 17, Duke 10

Duke Q&A with Mike Kline from DukeFootballBlog.com

You can follow Mike Kline on Twitter at @MikeKlineDSB and read his blog at DukeFootballBlog.com.

What are your thoughts on your team so far?

So far I’ve been pretty pleased with Duke’s season, though that loss to Northwestern seems less and less impressive as the Wildcats have fallen off the last few weeks. This is the best defense I’ve seen in Durham probably ever. The defense is fast and aggressive and much better than advertised. The offense is, however, not and have struggled against Power 5 conference teams. Quarterback Thomas Sirk has struggled with accuracy on the deep ball and decision making and the running game has been sporadic. There are weapons there just not consistent.

What are your expectations going into the Virginia Tech game?

I expect a close if not ugly game that could come down to a possession or two either way. In short similar to last years game. It will be a battle.

Do you still see Lane Stadium as a “tough place to play”?

Lane Stadium is one of the best venues in the ACC. I’ve been there and the atmosphere and tradition is second to none in the conference. It is still a big time advantage for the Hokies against most team.

At this point, how do you see the Coastal division shaking out? Which team do you think will end up winning the division?

Right now as much as I’d like to pick Duke I think the Blue Devils lose a game or two along the way and I think this game could be one of them. I feel like, as much as I hate to say it, that North Carolina and Pitt have been the class of the Coastal to date. That could change in a weeks time, as per the usual in the Coastal. I think the division comes down to those three Duke, Pitt, and Carolina. Whoever has the strongest finish wins.

What is your prediction for the game?

Like I said earlier, I expect a very close game, probably low scoring. I think if Duke can muster enough offense they will win the game with their solid defense, if Virginia Tech can keep the Duke offense in check and get some opportunistic play on offense or special teams they could squeak out with the victory. If I have to make a prediction I’ll go homer and say Duke wins 17-10, but wouldn’t be shocked if the score were the other way around. This game feels like a push to me.

Miami Preview and Prediction

Who knows with either of these two teams? It’s been a long time since anyone could figure out what was going on with either of these two programs besides the fact that both have been treading water. A win on Saturday would be big towards staying in the Coastal race for both teams. The winner of this game becomes a legitimate contender in the Coastal division.

The Hokies are catching the Canes at a good time. Recent history tells us that the Canes lose a little bit of their edge after losing to FSU. It’s been like that for about the last five years. We’ll see if a beat up Miami team still has the focus and energy to show up on Saturday.

A couple of keys for the Hokies will be stopping Miami’s advanced passing game. Brad Kaaya is a very good passer having thrown for almost 1,500 yards with eight touchdowns and only one interception. VT’s young secondary will have to be up to the task of covering Miami’s group of talented and experienced wide receivers. They have the type of speed that should pose a major challenge to the Hokies inexperienced secondary.

Last year, the Canes steamrolled the Hokies on the ground. The just lined up and ran it down our throats. That’s less likely to happen this year since the Canes are starting a very young offensive line along with two running backs who while talented, are not Duke Johnson. This is a game where the Hokies can’t afford to get bad play from their linebackers. They need to be able to stop the run and make Miami have to beat the Hokies through the air.

This is not your father’s Miami defense. This is a game where the Hokies offense should be able to move the ball both on the ground and through the air. Regardless of who is playing quarterback for the Hokies, they need to look to establish the run to set up the pass. In each of their victories this season, the Hokies have been able to run the ball effectively to help out their passing attack. Let’s hope we see more carries for Travon McMillian this week. The Hokies simply need to pick a running back and stick with him like they did in the NC State game.

On paper, this game looks very even. Most Virginia Tech-Miami games are. One team is going to take a big step forward this week toward remaining in the Coastal race. The team that loses this game runs the risk of letting the division race slip away from them. I’m hoping the Hokies gained confidence from that win against NC State but I’m still worried that the speed of Miami’s wide receivers combined with inconsistent play from the VT linebackers will lead to a long day down in South Florida. Just like last week, prove me wrong, Hokies.

Prediction: Miami 34, Virginia Tech 20

Midseason Awards

We’re halfway through the season and we’ll take some time to examine who has stood out in the first six games.

Offensive MVP

Finalists:

Travon McMillian – 7.4 YPC, 334 Rushing Yards, 1 TD
Brenden Motley – 1019 Passing Yards, 10 Passing TDs, 3 Rushing TDs
Isaiah Ford – 421 Receiving Yards, 15.0 YPC, 70.2 YPG, 6 TDs

ford_isaiahWinner: Isaiah Ford. This one was close. You could make good arguments for Brenden Motley and Travon McMillian but Isaiah Ford is playing at a first team All-ACC level. Isaiah Ford would start for any team in the ACC and he’s only a sophomore! He’s going to have a very impressive career and is going to break A LOT of Virginia Tech receiving records. He already has as many receiving touchdowns as Eddie Royal did in his entire Virginia Tech career!

Defensive MVP

Finalists:

Chuck Clark – 51 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 Sack, 1 fumble recovered
Deon Clarke – 35 tackles, 7 TFLs, 3 Sacks, 5 QBHs
Adonis Alexander – 34 tackles, 3 INTs, 5 PD

clark_chuckWinner: Chuck Clark. This year’s defense has been very inconsistent but Chuck Clark’s versatility has kept the train from going off the tracks. He’s been an excellent tackler in the secondary as well as being a force in the run game.  Chuck Clark doesn’t get a lot of attention but he’s been a huge asset to the defense this season.

Best position coach

Finalists:

Stacy Searles
Scot Loeffler
Zohn Burden

searels_stacyWinner: Stacy Searles. Let me start off by saying I think all three of these coaches have done a fantastic job. Scot Loeffler has had to play his backup QB and you could make the argument that he’s been the 2nd best QB in the ACC in weeks 2-6. Only Deshaun Watson has better numbers than Motley. Zohn Burden hasn’t had much depth to work with but he has gotten a ton of production from Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips. Maybe moreso than any WR combo in the Beamer era. But Stacy Searles has to win this award. This is the first time in years that the offensive line hasn’t been the Achilles heel of the offense. And while there have been some rough spots (Pitt game), overall their play has been excellent compared to recent years.

Most surprising player

Finalists:

Travon McMillian – 7.4 YPC, 334 Rushing Yards, 1 TD
Brenden Motley – 1019 Passing Yards, 10 Passing TDs, 3 Rushing TDs
Adonis Alexander – 34 tackles, 3 INTs, 5 PD

motley_brendenWinner: Brenden Motley. When Michael Brewer went down in the Ohio State game there was a sense of dread in the air. There was a feeling that the season went down along with Michael Brewer’s collarbone. Little did we know that Brenden Motley was going to be ready to rock from the Furman game on. With the defense struggling, these first six games could’ve gone a lot worse without Brenden Motley stepping up to the challenge.

Miami Q&A with StateoftheU.com

You can follow Cam Underwood @TheStateOfTheU on Twitter or visit his website at StateOfTheU.com.

What are your thoughts on your team so far?

It’s hard for me to feel good about this team. We’re talented, sure, but we’re not seeing the success that I think we should reasonably see in year 5 of the Al Golden regime. I like what we have at the offensive skill positions, but the offensive line needs serious improvement. The defense seems to be good on some plays and bad on others, and the defensive line leaves much to be desired. Overall, at 3-2 through 5 games, I’d say the way I feel about this team is “blah”.

What are your expectations going into the Virginia Tech game?

My expectation going into the VT game is to see a tightly contested game. Both teams are capable of winning the Coastal, and the first step towards that is a win on Saturday.

From Miami, I’d hope to see some fight. I’d hope to see some of the elite level playmaking we saw against Florida State, and improvements in the deficient areas.

From VT, I have no idea what to expect. The QB situation is unknown, and but the defensive talent is high. VT has played some good games and some bad ones, just like Miami has. I’m interested to see which version of each team shows up on Saturday afternoon.

Last year, Miami struggled after the FSU game, do you expect the Canes to bounce back better this season?

I do not expect the Canes to bounce back better than in previous years following a loss to FSU. The last 2 years after losing to the Seminoles, Miami has gone 2-8. What has demonstrably changed from years past to make me think there will be improvement to that? Nothing.

So, no, I do not expect us to be a better team after this loss. I do not expect us to win the Coastal division. I do, however, expect us to win some games as we head through the rest of October and November, but there will be plenty of losses (including at least 1 game we “should” win) between here and the end of the season.

At this point, how do you see the Coastal division shaking out?

I see Duke as the best team in the Coastal, flawed though they are, and would be shocked if they don’t win the division this year.

What is your prediction for the game?

My prediction for Saturday is Miami 27, Virginia Tech 23.

NC State Preview and Prediction

The Hokies have been a disappointment so far. There is far too much talent on this team to be a sub .500 team. That’s even without the services of Michael Brewer and Kendall Fuller. The Pitt game was just embarrassing. We got Stanford’d… BY PITT! They just dominated line play on both sides of the ball. It was not a banner day for Virginia Tech football.

Now let’s get down to some realities about Virginia Tech football. This simply is not a good team right now. This team resembles Mike London’s Hoos more than they resemble the Hokies that we all know and love. The Hokies are 1-7 in their last 8 home games against Power 5 competition and that one win was against UVA. They aren’t exactly a powerhouse program right now and it required a 4th quarter comeback to pull off that victory.

I’m really struggling with whether this is just a bad team or if this is a team that is struggling through some injuries and youth and will come around as the season progresses. I’m honestly not sure but the signs don’t look good. I’m hoping that Michael Brewer can inject some life into a team that is struggling right now.

Well, time to move on to NC State. Jacoby Brissett is solid QB with good mobility. As we found out the last few weeks, the Hokies seem completely unable to stop a mobile QB. I don’t know what it’s going to take to change that.  Brissett only has 39 rushing yards for the season. I wouldn’t be surprised if he matched that on their first drive. Let’s hope the Hokies have found the lunch pail since last Saturday.

Let’s hope that Michael Brewer starts Friday night. The film is out on Brenden Motley and if the Pitt game is any indication, it appears like the offense is pretty limited with him at the helm. NC State has the type of secondary that Michael Brewer will be able to move the ball against if he can get better protection from the offensive line. This is the type of game where the Hokies need to put the ball in the hands of their playmakers and let them make plays. Isaiah Ford, Bucky Hodges and Ryan Malleck should be able to win a lot of matchups in this game, if the QB can get them the ball.

I have the same record as the Hokies in picking games this year. I’m going to start picking against the Hokies until they show me that they’re not a bottom feeder ACC team. I would used to say that a night game at Lane Stadium is a cure for what ails you. Now I’m not so sure. Here’s to hoping that Michael Brewer injects some life in the offense and that the defense has found the lunch pail. If not, it’s probably another week of one possession loss misery.

Prediction: NC State 24, Virginia Tech 17