We have lift off on the Brent Pry era. Brent Pry and staff have made all the right moves this offseason. Now comes the hard part. How will this staff manage a roster they inherited and turn them into a winning football team? That may be a lot to ask in year one but there is a lot of excitement amongst the fan base. Brent Pry has done a good job of embracing the parts of the program that the fans care about. Pry’s next obstacle is to try get a win on the road at ODU. Something the previous staff was not able to do.
ODU has a good offense but one that plays to the strengths of the Hokies defense. If the Hokies are able to stop the run and pressure the quarterback, they should be in good shape. ODU has Hayden Wolff at quarterback. He is not very mobile and has a tendency to throw into traffic. This sets up like a good opportunity for Derek Jones’ cheetahs to be on the prowl. They need to look to force Wolff into mistakes in the passing game. The Hokies need to also be on the lookout for TE Zach Kuntz. He’s an NFL prospect and one of the top ten tight ends going into next year’s draft. He’s a player that the Hokies need to keep an eye on.
ODU already has some familiarity with Virginia Tech quarterback Grant Wells. They played against him while he was with Marshall last season. Wells threw for 299 yards and 2 touchdowns in that game but also threw 2 interceptions. He will need to cut down on the turnovers to keep ODU from getting any short fields. The last time the Hokies lost an opener was against Boston College on the road in 2019. That day, the offense turned the ball over five times. They need to avoid the turnover bug on Friday.
Another area the Hokies will want to watch out for is on kick and punt returns. ODU was one of the best kick and punt return units in the country last season. Former Hokies recruiting target, Lamareon James, is ODU’s kick and punt returner. He is electric with the ball in his hands. The Hokies coverage teams will need to be ready, otherwise he can house one.
A lot of the national experts out there are underrating the Hokies. Yes, the Fuente-coached Hokies have looked awful in the past few seasons. That’s true. But this is a new regime and there is still talent on this roster. Does that mean the Hokies will blow the doors off ODU? No. But there is enough to win on the road against a middle-of-the-road Sun Belt team. It won’t look pretty, but they’ll get it done.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 30, Old Dominion 20
Hokies are back in the bowl season for the first time in two years. Between transfers, opt-outs and Covid protocols the Hokies are down to a skeleton crew. Let’s hope they have enough players to play on Wednesday. The depth at WR and CB is starting to look a bit dicey.
Special Team: 28th
Special Team: 122nd
Maryland looks a lot like Virginia. A big-time passing attack led by Taulia Tagovailoa (Tua’s brother). This is not a great game for the Hokies to be without Jermaine Waller. Virginia Tech’s best chance in this game is to stop the run and try to force Tagovailoa into a couple of turnovers.
The Hokies should be able to run the ball against Maryland. They would be wise to run the ball over and over again with Blumrick, Blackshear and Malachi Thomas. Virginia Tech needs to run the ball and control the clock. They do not want to get into a shootout with Maryland. It’s the same gameplan that has worked for the Hokies late in the season. If Tech starts throwing the ball all over the field, then it’s time to worry.
All things being equal Tech has the better team. But after opt outs, transfers and Covid absences, it seems like Maryland will have the better squad. It’s hard to imagine VT winning with their backup QB, backup WRs and backup CBs. This game will look like the 2018 Cincinnati bowl game and 2019 Kentucky bowl game. A frustrating way to end another frustrating season.
Prediction: Maryland 28, Virginia Tech 17
It was the right decision to let Justin Fuente go. The timing was strange but I’m sure there were reasons for that. Maybe the job needed to be open to have serious conversations with interested coaches. The Fuente era started with a lot of promise but lost momentum and finally reached the point of no return.
Special Team: 32nd
Special Team: 50th
Miami is a good passing team. They are 16th in the nation in passing offense. Tyler Van Dyke has been good for the Hurricanes. He’s thrown for over 2,000 yards, 19 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. The Hokies boast the nation’s 15th ranked passing defense. So it should be strength vs strength when Miami is on offense.
Miami’s run defense has been a bit leaky in recent weeks. The Hokies would be smart to keep the ball on the ground with Malachi Thomas and Raheem Blackshear. Tackling has been an issue for Miami this year, so VT would be smart to test them early and often in that area.
There may be some extra juice from the players to play under former VT player JC Price. They still have the opportunity to make a bowl game and the seniors will want to close the season strong. They don’t want to be the team that got their coach fired. So while this season has been up and down, I think we see some fight from these guys in the last two regular season games.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 33, Miami 30
Virginia Tech had a chance to get back in position for a bowl game but couldn’t get it done. As soon as Braxton Burmeister went out, the Hokies offense couldn’t get going. They have three more opportunities to get two wins to qualify for a bowl. Their best remaining opportunity is this Saturday at home against Duke.
Special Team: 37th
Special Team: 97th
The Duke offense moves the ball well but they struggle to score in the red zone. This is a balanced offense. They run and throw the ball well but they tend to stall the closer they get to the red zone. The Hokies need to be able to stop drives and hold the Blue Devils to field goals.
The Duke defense may be the worst defense that Virginia Tech faces this year. Virginia Tech should be able to run the ball with Malachi Thomas and Raheem Blackshear. The question is who is going to play quarterback? Will Braxton be back? Will they go back to Kadum? Will Connor Blumrick be back from injury? If the Hokies can find a quarterback that can complete passes, they have a good chance to win.
This is a tough game to predict without knowing who will play quarterback for Virginia Tech. If the Hokies have Burmeister back, I like their chances. If he’s not back, I’m not so sure. Either way, I think Virginia Tech has more talent across the board than Duke. I’m also thinking that Virginia Tech will want to win on Senior Day. I think they find a way to get it done.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 35, Duke 13
I give the Hokies a lot of credit for getting off the mat against Georgia Tech. They had a couple of crushing losses going into that game, so picking up a win on the road is no small task. It also bodes well for their chances at a bowl and their chances to pick up a couple more wins in the last 4 games.
Special Teams: 53rd
Special Teams: 50th
Boston College has been BAD on offense since they lost Phil Jurkovec. They are averaging 10 points per game in conference games this year. Yikes. That makes VT’s offense look explosive. Boston College would be smart to keep the ball on the ground against Virginia Tech’s defense. They have had some success running the ball. Trying to throw against VT’s secondary wouldn’t go well for them. Without Jurkovec, that seems like the only gameplan that might work to get any sort of offense going.
Virginia Tech needs to run the ball early and often. The Hokies can’t get cute on offense. They need to line up and run the ball right at BC’s defense. The Eagles rush defense is suspect. This isn’t the game for the Hokies to be tossing the ball all over the field. They can have a lot of success by keeping the ball on the ground and grinding out yards. Malachi Thomas and Raheem Blackshear need to play big roles in this game.
This seems like a good matchup for the Hokies. I worry a little about an empty stadium on a cold Friday night in Boston. But all things being equal, the Hokies have the better team. The key factors for the Hokies will be stopping the run and being able to establish the run game. If they can do both those things, they should be able to come out of Boston with a comfortable win.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 28, Boston College 10
The Hokies have put themselves in position to win. But they can’t seem to close the deal. Last week, the offense finally showed up but the defense didn’t. At some point, both sides of the ball will show up and the Hokies will put another win on the board. The prospects of a bowl game are starting to look dicey.
Special Teams: 57th
Special Teams: 94th
Georgia Tech is a solid offensive team. The throw and run the ball well. Like Syracuse, they are a team that creates running plays from their quarterback and running backs. A running QB gave the Hokies a lot of trouble last week. This is an area that has given the Hokies a lot of trouble for years now. The Hokies need to do a better job of spying the quarterback if they hope to slow down Georgia Tech’s offense.
The Yellow Jackets are not a good defensive team. This is a team the Hokies should be able to put up some yards on. Virginia Tech would be smart to lean on a similar gameplan to last week’s. Run the ball. Get Malachi Thomas involved and not force the issue in the pass game. There should be some space this week for the offense to operate. Georgia Tech’s defense looks like a better matchup for the Hokies than Syracuse did.
This looks like an even matchup. Georgia Tech has a better offense. Virginia Tech has a better defense. In even matchups like this, I like to go with the home team. Virginia Tech is dealing with a lot of internal turmoil and a road trip is not what they need to turn things around. It’ll be a close game. This game will come down to the 4th quarter and like the Notre Dame and Syracuse games, Georgia Tech makes enough plays down the stretch to get the win.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 28, Virginia Tech 21
You can’t win if you can’t score. The Hokies defense put up a solid effort against Pitt. But the offense couldn’t stay on the field and the defense wore out. We’ll continue to see that unless this offense gets any better as the season goes on.
Special Teams: 88th
Special Teams: 109th
Syracuse runs the ball well. They are one of the best rushing offenses in the country. They have an elite running back in Sean Tucker and a quarterback who can get yards on the ground. This is the type of offense that has given the Hokies trouble in recent years. Expect the Orange to keep the ball on the ground and pound it right at the Hokies defense.
Syracuse defense is bend but don’t break. They give up a lot of completed passes but not a lot of yards. They keep the game in front of them. This is the type of defense that should be able to feast on the Hokies’ offensive approach this season. Virginia Tech will have to take some chances downfield to have success against Syracuse’s defense.
The two defenses are similar but Syracuse does one thing well and that’s run the ball. Last week, my pick was easy Pittsburgh had the better QB. This week, Syracuse has the better running back. Sometimes you don’t have to overthink it. The Hokies will score some points because this isn’t exactly an elite defense. But Syracuse will do enough with their running game to pull out a win. Lou Groza award winner Andre Szmyt for the win.
Prediction: Syracuse 24, Virginia Tech 21
The Notre Dame game was a tough pill to swallow. The Hokies were so close to putting that game away but couldn’t make the plays in crunch time. Every year there are going to be close games and those games are the difference between good seasons and great seasons. So far, the Hokies are 1-2 in those games. That needs to improve as the Hokies get into conference play.
Special Teams: 56th
Special Teams: 15th
Kenny Pickett may be the best QB the Hokies see this season. He may not be the highest pick in the draft but he is putting up the best numbers at the college level. Pickett is one of the best in the nation in passing yards, passing TDs and passing efficiency. Virginia Tech has had trouble over the years with NFL-caliber quarterbacks. Kenny Pickett definitely fits that description. The Hokies defensive backs and linebackers better bring their A-game because Pickett is going to be tough to stop.
The Pitt rushing defense will be able to stop the run and make the Hokies one-dimensional. Tech will have to throw to move the ball against Pitt which means winning battles in one-on-one coverage. Braxton Burmeister is going to have to be able to throw the ball up and hope his receiver comes down with it. So far this year, the Hokies haven’t been winning many of those battles when the ball is in the air. This isn’t a game where the Hokies can afford to be tentative on offense.
Tech should have one of the better pass defenses that Pitt have faced. The Hokies’ secondary matches up pretty well against Pitt’s receivers. But it’s a balanced offense that will be tough to stop. They run the ball well which will set up some opportunities to go downfield to their deep ball threats. This Pitt offense has been a nightmare for opposing defenses because they run and pass the ball so well.
Is this a lost cause? Definitely not. Pittsburgh looked extremely mortal in their loss to Western Michigan. Maybe Pittsburgh will look a little rusty after their bye. Pitt has lost in their last two visits to Lane Stadium. The Hokies looked terrible in 2019 in the Duke game and came back the next week and beat a pretty good Miami team. Weird things happen in college football. On paper, Pitt looks like the better team but anything can happen on any given Saturday in college football.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 31, Virginia Tech 17
The Richmond game film is one you throw right in the dumpster. You’re not going to learn anything from it. The Hokies made a bunch of mistakes on offense and squeaked by an FCS team. The takeaway is that the Virginia Tech offense has to execute better. But they knew that after the WVU game. Let’s see if there were any improvements made during the bye week. The offense is what is holding this team back from being a true Coastal contender.
Special Teams: 89th
Special Teams: 58th
These teams are mirror images of each other. Good but not great defenses. And pretty ugly offenses. Both teams will struggle to move the ball on Saturday. And if there is rain in the forecast, things could get ugly. Expect Notre Dame to go to their dual-threat QB, Drew Pyne, to try to move the ball on the ground against the Hokies defense.
Virginia Tech can turn the tide of the game with a big turnover. Notre Dame’s offensive line has been struggling this year. If the Hokies can get a turnover by getting in the backfield, that could flip field position and lead to points.
A special teams play could be the difference. Both teams have excellent return teams. A big return could lead to points in a game that will be short on them. Field goals will also be at a premium in this game. As far as the kicking game, you have to give the nod to Notre Dame in this matchup.
Notre Dame dominates the ACC. Notre Dame is 24-1 in their last 25 games against the ACC and they’ve won their last 16 regular season games against ACC teams. These stats alone should make Hokies fans less than confident with the Irish coming to town.
The Hokies have been AWFUL coming out of bye weeks in the last 3 seasons. Three 20+ point blowouts and a close loss assisted by a 98 yard fumble return. This doesn’t give me a lot of confidence that VT will hit their stride coming out of the bye. Notre Dame is a good team and if the Hokies aren’t ready, they’re going to get punched right in the mouth. My initial inclination was to pick Notre Dame in a blowout but I don’t think they have the offensive firepower to blowout the Hokies. Be prepared for a sloppy performance where Notre Dame does enough to win an ugly game in Blacksburg.
Prediction: Notre Dame 23, Virginia Tech 17
First and goal. Three yard line. Two minutes remaining. Down six. Hokies can’t punch it in. That’s all you need to know about the WVU game. Hokies couldn’t get out of their own way and tossed away a chance to get a big road win. The game wasn’t the disaster that some are making it out to be, but the red zone offense is a concern moving forward.
Overall: 15th (FCS)
Offense: 100th (FCS)
Defense: 4th (FCS)
Richmond’s defense presents a good challenge to a struggling Virginia Tech offense. This group has some size. This is a solid group from the FCS. Normally, in these kinds of games you keep the ball on the ground and keep the clock moving. But after last week, Tech’s passing game could use some reps. This might be a good opportunity to air it out and let the quarterback and receivers get into a rhythm.
Virginia Tech’s defense should feast on the Richmond offense. This is not an explosive offense. Tech has generally done a good job at stopping the run this year. Tech’s talented secondary could pose some problems when Richmond decides to throw. Expect Richmond to have to go to the air if they want to move the ball on the Hokies defense.
Can Virginia Tech lose to Richmond? Yes, but don’t count on it. FCS teams beat FBS teams from time to time. But usually it’s a bad FBS team going against an above average FCS teams. Or a brutally bad performance from a good FBS team. The Virginia Tech team that lost to JMU ended up in the Orange Bowl that season. It happens. But it’s pretty rare.
Use this game as a tune up before Notre Dame. The Hokies need to get out of this game with a win then go into a bye week before Notre Dame. That’s a good opportunity to rest up and get healthy before a big non-conference game at home. If Notre Dame can get through the next two weeks without a loss, that would set up for a big matchup.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 35, Richmond 7