The Hokies need to take care of the football. They are -6 in turnover margin two games into the season. The scoreline against ODU could have looked much better without the turnovers. The offense left points on the field with two turnovers in the 2nd half. Without those turnovers, the Hokies could have put up 10 or 14 more points. Then the scoreline looks a lot better. More like what most fans would’ve expected. But a win is a win. Plenty of programs would have loved to have avoided the upset bug on Saturday.
Next up is Furman. Furman is 1-1 after nearly upsetting Georgia State on Saturday. Georgia State is the team that upset Tennessee in week 1. This team can put up a ton of points and are top 25 in the FCS. This is not a team you can sleep on. This team upset UCF in 2015. This team features a balanced attack. Sometimes they run a flexbone (ala Georgia Tech under Paul Johnson) and sometimes they run out of spread formations. For a Virginia Tech team that struggles with finishing tackles and filling gaps, this type of offense that could give them trouble. Far more than you’d expect from an FCS team. And likely the toughest FCS challenge they’ve had since JMU in 2010 or App State in 2011.
Furman has a dynamic quarterback in Darren Grainger. He runs Furman’s multiple offense well and is a threat on the ground and through the air. Furman’s offense looks like a tough matchup for Virginia Tech’s defense. Furman relies on misdirection and option concepts to get players of out position. I’m not surprised they beatdown Charleston Southern and almost beat Georgia State. This offense has put up some gaudy numbers in the first two weeks of the season. The Hokies defense needs to show up for this one. This offense can sustain long drives and score even against good defenses.
Defensively, the Paladins do not look as strong. They are tough to figure out. Georgia State put up 38 against Tennessee and 48 against Furman. Is Furman’s defense only slightly worse than Tennessee’s? This is a defense that you can put up numbers against, particularly in the passing game. I’m not hopeful for the running game considering Tech’s poor performance against ODU. If they couldn’t get the run game going against ODU, I’m not sure they will against Furman. Or anybody else for that matter.
This is as concerned going into an FCS game as I can remember being. I do not believe the Hokies will lose but I do not think they will cover a 22-point spread (or 21 or 20). I expect a similar performance to the ODU game. A win likely but far from inspiring. And that’s if the Hokies can put up big numbers through the air and outpace Furman offensively. If the Hokies have any stumbles on offense or turn the ball over, look out. This is a Furman team can that can eat up clock and put up some points against the Hokies defense. Furman is better than ODU. And we saw how that ODU game went. If the Hokies offense and defense can perform better than last week, they can put this game away early. If not, this one could go into the 4th quarter. Don’t sleep on this FCS team.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 38, Furman 24