Pittsburgh Q&A with The Loyal Sons

This week we are joined by Pittsburgh podcast The Loyal Sons. You can follow them on Twitter (@TheLoyalSons) and listen to their podcast here.

Tell us about yourself and your podcast. 

John “Squid” Cotton, 26

Dylan Mitchell, 26

David Haddad, 27

The Loyal Sons started as Dylan’s burner account under the name “Capel Faithful”, honoring the new savior of Pitt Basketball. While Jeff Capel’s tenure has not exactly been a success, the Twitter account was able to gather a surprising following. As a group of dudes in our mid-20s, modern social mores demanded that we then start a podcast. And so in September of 2021, The Loyal Sons Show was born.

While none of us could break down an All-22 to save our lives, we take pride in capturing the zeitgeist of Pitt Football fandom better than anyone: snake-bitten, yet relentlessly hopeful. Reactionary, but surprisingly patient. And above all, emotionally dependent on Kenny Pickett.

Tell us about your team this year. What are your thoughts on Pitt so far this season?

If we only had one word to describe the theme of Pitt’s first four games, it would be “injuries”. To date, 14 players on Pitt’s 2-deep have missed time, many of whom are crucial pieces with huge expectations. Plugging so many holes has forced Coach Narduzzi to play conservatively against overmatched opponents, This has resulted in unnecessarily close games, including this past weekend’s absolute meltdown against GT – the worst loss of the Narduzzi era. The game plan has been simple: run the ball, do the bare minimum to win, get back on the bus with as many guys as stepped off of it, and get healthy for the meat of conference play. But now we’re 0-1 in the ACC and getting completely (and fairly) written off, so a lot of good that did us.

Pitt fans will tell you we know very little about this team. It felt like all the pieces were there for an ACC Championship contender (or better) until Saturday’s loss. This defense has the potential to be one of the better units in the country once it gets both starting DEs and its Top CB back and in a rhythm. The offense should be capable of more than its paltry output thus far. This team could still be dangerous down the stretch. Or they might totally suck. We just don’t know yet.

How have Pitt fans responded to winning the ACC last season? 

Pitt fans couldn’t have dreamt of a season like 2021. Older fans thought they would die without ever having seen something like it again. Truly a magical ride that will never be forgotten.

Then came 2022 and the dream became an expectation. We went from praying for a 10-win season to getting greedy about rankings and playoff buzz. We came into the season feeling disrespected about the narratives that have surrounded this team. All we heard was “No Kenny, no Addison, no Whipple.” We became an afterthought despite returning everyone in the building but those three. It gave everyone – players, coaches, and fans – a bit of a chip on their shoulders. But the disrespect may have been for good reason.

This season is viewed as a make-or-break for the program. It’s massively important for Pitt to build on last season’s success if it ever wants to return to the glory of the 70’s and 80’s. Kenny Pickett opened a window, and Pat Narduzzi needs capitalize on it. Because we can’t go back to the fucking Sun Bowl.

What are your thoughts on having Virginia Tech added as a permanent rival after this season? 

We’re pretty pumped about it. Pitt hasn’t really developed many “true” rivalries since it came to the ACC, so this could be a huge opportunity. VT and Miami feel like the closest thing Pitt has, given their shared histories in the Big East. The increased familiarity could be big for this rivalry, considering we’ve barely played 20 times.

Also, pretty pumped to get to come to Blacksburg more. Cool town, good food, Enter Sandman, etc.

Do you view Virginia Tech as a rival program? 

We dislike Virginia Tech. It seems like Virginia Tech dislikes Pitt (or at least Pat Narduzzi). We play yinz every year and it always feels like a meaningful game. But The Loyal Sons don’t loathe Virginia Tech. We loathe Penn State. We loathe West Virginia. For VT, it just isn’t there yet.

But it could be! It would be good for both programs for this matchup to grow in importance. The new scheduling wrinkle is going to go a very long way in making that happen. But we also all bear some individual responsibility in pouring a little more gasoline on the fire. So screw you, Treadmill Horse. What kind of name even is that?

What’s your favorite memory from the rivalry? 

Not just our favorite Pitt-VT memory, but one of our favorite football memories, period…

Lousaka Polite’s go-ahead touchdown to put #25 Pitt over the top against #5 VT in 2003. All three of us consider it our earliest memory of watching Pitt Football.

The matchup between Pitt and VT at Heinz Field in 2018 is a fan favorite too. Pitt controlled their own destiny to win the ACC Coastal, and for that reason, Pitt fans were expecting the worst. Plot-twist, Pitt wins by 30 and nearly ran for 500 yards. We still talk about Qadree Ollison stiff-arming Caleb Farley on his 97-yard TD run to this day.

But if you want a least favorite memory, we have one that’s a bit more favorable to your side. In 2019, we rolled about 20 people deep to Blacksburg to watch the Hokies go up 28-0 before halftime in an absolute downpour. We didn’t stay much past that point. Our last memory leaving the stadium was hearing the PA man announce Paris Ford’s targeting ejection. Salt in the wound. 

What’s your outlook on the future of the ACC? 

The ACC is in a pretty stable place despite how un-sexy it’s been for like 10 years. The Grant of Rights ties all 14 teams to the conference until 2036 save a majority of schools vote to nullify it and leave. But that would almost require all of the other power conferences in CFB to coordinate together to divy up the 8+ most attractive programs in the ACC, recruit them, whip the votes, and then negotiate their exit – all behind closed doors. 

So that doesn’t seem likely. But that doesn’t do jack for the value or respectability of the ACC in the meantime. The ACC needs to be proactive about the changing winds of college football. And that starts with picking off some desirable brands from the PAC12, Big 12, and maybe even some G5 powers. Realignment is going to continue, and a P5 conference is likely to crash and burn and be picked apart by the vultures circling overhead. It would be easy for the ACC to fall behind if it doesn’t make moves ASAP. Do it for pride, do it for the TV money. Whatever. Just do it.

On top of that, the big brands of the ACC need to stop being pathetic. What the hell happened to Florida State and Miami? Hell, even GT and VT aren’t what they were 20 years ago (rich coming from Pitt fans, we know). We can’t lean on the GoR to survive. At some point, we have to do football good.

What are your expectations for the Virginia Tech game? 

Brent Pry is in a true Year 0. Justin Fuente left the cabinet pretty bare, and in theory there’s a not-insignificant talent deficit between these two teams. Pry has all the resources to build something special in the Commonwealth, but that doesn’t do you much good this season.

We said the same about Georgia Tech though, and we all saw how that ended up. So maybe coaching and preparation might have something to do with wins and losses as well. It doesn’t matter how much deeper we think Pitt is if they keep coming out in a tight 2-WR set on 3rd & long and either running a draw or eating a bad coverage sack. 

VT has the defensive power to keep this game slow and sluggish to start, but at the end of the day, I think Pitt pulls it out because there’s a few starters and coordinators whose jobs might depend on it.

What’s your prediction for the game?

Before the GT game we said Pitt wins 34-10. But now we’re sad and angry so we predict 17-10. Neither team’s offense is going anywhere right now.

North Carolina Preview and Prediction

That WVU game did not go as expected. The Hokies defense kept VT in the game for three quarters but the offense couldn’t get anything going. Tech’s offenses failures took its toll on the defense and WVU ran away with the game in the 4th quarter. If the Hokies want to remain competitive in ACC play, they will need to get better play from their offense. If they can’t, there may not be many more wins on the schedule.

SP+ Rankings

Virginia Tech

Overall: 79th
Offense: 119th
Defense: 23rd
Special Teams: 29th

North Carolina

Overall: 67th
Offense: 10th
Defense: 113th
Special Teams: 10th

North Carolina is an elite offensive team. They rank 6th in the nation in passing efficiency and 8th in scoring offense. Drake Maye has picked up right where Sam Howell left off without missing a beat. This is one of the most dangerous offenses in the country. They show balance running and throwing the ball. They look like a better version of West Virginia on offense. The Hokies’ defense showed well against WVU for three quarters until they wore out in the 4th. Tech needs some help from their offense to keep the UNC offense off the field. They can’t continue to go three and out on every drive. The Hokies are going to have to make a couple of plays on Saturday to keep their own defense off the field.

The Hokies running game was anemic vs WVU. They could not get anything going. They rushed for 1.9 yards per carry on 18 rushing attempts. That’s not going to cut in against P5 opponents. The run blocking has been a mess all season and doesn’t appear to be improving. This is a group that needs to turn the corner, otherwise the VT offense will be stuck in the mud all season. We will need to see some improvements from that group starting this week. Joe Rudolph is known for being a great offensive line coach, so the hope is that group will improve over time. North Carolina has one of the worst defenses in the nation. The Hokies will need to find a way to put some points on the board this week. Tech is going to need Grant Wells to be more accurate with his passes. The UNC defense has been known to give up the big play. Grant Wells will need to be able to connect on his passes when his receivers find space in the secondary.

North Carolina is averaging 46.5 points per game. Their lowest scoring output was against Notre Dame last week and they still put up 32 points. The Hokies will need to be able to score into the 30s to win this game. The cannot expect another 17-10 game like last year. If the Hokies aren’t able to run the ball, they are going to be in BIG trouble this week. Tyler Bowen and Joe Rudolph are going to have to figure out a way to get their running backs the ball in space. They can’t continue to run into the line for less than 2 yards per carry. If the Hokies can’t find a way to run the ball like they did against Boston College, it’s going to be a long day for the Tech defense. If there is a lot of rain in the forecast, bet the under.

Prediction: North Carolina 35, Virginia Tech 24

North Carolina Q&A with Tar Heel Nation

This week we are joined by Tar Heel Nation (@unc_tarheelfan on Twitter).

Tell us about yourself and your blog.

I primarily stick to Twitter (@unc_tarheelfan) but during basketball season we’ll trot out the Tar Heel Nation weekly to help folks stay caught up.

Tell us about your team this year. What are your expectations for North Carolina this season?

UNC has been a bit head scratching so far. They played two tough road match-ups at App State and at Georgia State and then came home and kind of stalled out after the bye week to Notre Dame. If we’re going to see more of what we just saw then I expect a lot of wacky, close match-ups as we head through conference play. I think they can play better though… especially on defense. 

What are your thoughts on not playing Virginia Tech on an annual basis anymore?

I’m a little disappointed. These games have been a great source of entertainment and hair loss over the years. I knew it was coming but I’m not excited to see divisions go anyway. 

Would you have liked to have seen Virginia Tech added as a permanent rival?

If we had more choices, sure. I think right now this was the best we could get given the circumstances.

UNC has had a lot of success recruiting in Virginia, do you think that has been an effective recruiting strategy for the Tar Heels?

I really do, being that it’s not that far from Chapel Hill but ripe with talent I know Mack Brown and staff have made the region a priority.

What’s your favorite memory from the rivalry?

You’re not going to like this one but that thriller involving Coach Beamer’s last home game. Not just because of that though, that was a great year overall for us. 

What’s your outlook on the future of the ACC?

I’m a bit pessimistic by nature but not great, overall. Same major changes need to happen starting with that TV deal and our overall contributions on the field. We’ll see what the commish and company can do in a few years though. 

What are your expectations for the Virginia Tech game?

I know you’re coming off that tough game against West Virginia but UNC is also coming off a tough home loss to Notre Dame. I expect an entertaining first half to say the least.   

What’s your prediction for the game?

45-31 UNC. I expect a close first half with UNC being able to pull away late at home. 

West Virginia Preview and Prediction

There was nothing pretty about that win over Wofford. It felt like we were watching the Spring Game on replay. Everything was very vanilla on offense. The Hokies were not able to and impose their will on an FCS team, but that’s where the Hokies are at this point. Tech needs to get back to a place where they can dominate teams from the FCS.

SP+ Rankings

Virginia Tech

Overall: 61st
Offense: 106th
Defense: 19th
Special Teams: 18th

West Virginia

Overall: 58th
Offense: 42nd
Defense: 72nd
Special Teams: 56th

West Virginia has put up a lot of yards and a lot of points through three games. They are averaging 46 points per game. This is a balanced offense that has moved the ball very well this season. They have a big back who can pound the ball and a quarterback who completes a high percentage of his passes. Even if the Hokies are able to stop the run, this is an offense that can dink and dunk all the way down field. For the first time this year, the Hokies will tested by an offense that can go down field in the passing game. JT Daniels is a dangerous passer and the Hokies secondary needs to be ready.

If there is an area where the Hokies can have success it’s against West Virginia’s pass defense. This is a game where Grant Wells will need to take care of the ball and find targets downfield. He will need to get help from Kaleb Smith, Jaden Blue and Christian Moss. The Hokies need to keep WVU from stacking the box against the run game. Grant Wells will need to make them defend the whole field by throwing passes beyond ten yards. If the ‘Eers are able to stack the box, it’ll be a long night for the Hokies.

This has a big-game feel. The Hokies so far have been a bit of a roller coaster. They looked bad against ODU. Good against Boston College. And they didn’t show much at all against Wofford. The Hokies definitely have some weapons, but can they be consistent? These look like two even matched teams. This is one of those games where the team who makes the fewest mistakes (penalties, turnovers) will win. The Hokies need to hope that Grant Wells has turned the corner from his turnover issues in week 1. WVU’s defensive backs will make him pay on bad throws. On a neutral field, I’d pick WVU. But I’m betting on some old school Lane Stadium Thursday night magic.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 24, West Virginia 21

West Virginia Q&A with Couz’s Corner

This week we are joined by Justin “Couz” Walker from West Virginia football podcast Couz’s Corner.

Tell us about yourself and your podcast.

My name is Justin “Couz” (pronounced Kooz) Walker and I host a podcast/YouTube channel called Couz’s Corner. I talk primarily about West Virginia football, but also touch on a lot of Big 12 and national college football storylines. I will also touch on major West Virginia basketball games and storylines as well. You can also follow me on Twitter @couz206 and IG @couzscorner206.

Tell us about your team this year. What are your expectations for West Virginia this season?

Well, going into the season I had high expectations of at least 8 wins. After the debacle that happened last Saturday and WVU losing to Kansas at home, I am now concerned about the direction of the West Virginia program. The majority of fans are now wanting Neal Brown fired. I’ve now changed my expectations to a 4-5 win season. This team has a lot of holes, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The biggest concern is in the defensive backfield where we have a lot of new faces that don’t seem to be picking things up as quickly as we hoped.

What are your thoughts on playing Virginia Tech again?

I think it’s great for both programs, especially the fans. This became a great rivalry for both teams when they were in the Big East together. It’s a shame they don’t play more often. As a resident of the southern part of West Virginia, I’m within an hour of the Virginia Tech campus. So, I’ve always considered the VT rivalry as big as the Pitt rivalry. Adding the Black Diamond Trophy to the mix just made it even more special.

How do you view the Virginia Tech program?

I view them as a top 30-40 program all-time, very similar to West Virginia in brand value. As for the current state of the program, I think they are in a similar spot as WVU. A bad coaching hire has set the program back a few years, but they will get back on their feet very soon. I expect VT to be competing for ACC titles again in the next 3-5 years. As for this season, I think the Hokies’ schedule lines up well for them and they should be able to pick up around 6-7 wins and make a bowl game.

With no future games against Virginia Tech on the schedule, do you hope the two schools find a way to keep the rivalry going?

Absolutely. It’s a win for both programs and fanbases. Maybe one day we can even be in the same conference again. LOL.

What’s your favorite memory from the rivalry?

Personally, it’s the 2002 game when an unranked Mountaineer team went into Lane Stadium and upset the #12 ranked Hokies 21-18. The Hokies were driving in the final seconds to try and win the game when WVU Defensive Back, Brian King, intercepted a Bryan Randall pass in the end zone to seal the game for the Mountaineers. It was the first big win of the Rich Rodriguez era for West Virginia.

Would you like to see WVU join the ACC?

As a fan, yes. I’d love to see West Virginia playing teams like Virginia Tech & Pitt every year again. It would also be much easier for our teams and fans to travel to away games. However, it may not make sense financially. The ACC is stuck in that very long Grant of Rights deal and I’m not sure the Big 12 won’t end up earning more revenue from a TV perspective long term. The Big 12’s current deal will be up in the next 2-3 years and they can likely sign 2 more media deals before the ACC gets to sign their next one. This is an advantage in my opinion. 

What are your thoughts on coming back to play at Lane Stadium?

For me personally, it will be my first time attending a game at Lane Stadium. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the atmosphere there and as a rock music guy, I of course can’t wait to hear Enter Sandman blaring throughout the stadium. It’s also close enough to home that I won’t need to get a hotel room. That will be nice. However, for the WVU football team it’s not ideal. They already had to play their other biggest rival, Pitt, on the road. So, playing both of your power 5 rivals on the road in the same season makes for tough sledding when added to the Big 12 conference slate. 

What are your expectations for the Virginia Tech game? 

My expectations are for a close game. Both teams are in similar spots in their programs, except one is breaking in a new coach and the other is stagnant with their current coach who is now on the hot seat. I think it will probably be a game where both teams score in the 30’s. WVU has a solid offense now with J.T. Daniels at QB and Graham Harrell at Offensive Coordinator. However, the WVU defense hasn’t looked great so far in 2022, so VT will likely be able to move the ball. I think the game will come down to which team can make the fewest mistakes and turnovers.

What’s your prediction for the game?

My prediction is that the Hokies win by a score of 34-31. This West Virginia team is as talented a team as Neal Brown has had since coming to WVU in 2019. However, the team continues to make mistakes at critical times and the program is not in a great spot right now. I’m not sure Neal Brown and his staff will be able to pull the team out of this funk. With an already unhappy fanbase, if West Virginia loses this game after also losing to Pitt, it will be hard for the WVU admin to justify keeping Neal Brown around for another season. 

Wofford vs Virginia Tech Preview and Prediction

The Hokies picked up their first win of the Brent Pry era. They needed that win bad. Getting a home win is what this team and fan base needed. That first game in Norfolk was a little rough on everyone associated with this program. The improvement from week 1 to week 2 looked good. The team needs to continue to build on that — particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

SP+ Rankings

Virginia Tech

Overall: 65th
Offense: 98th
Defense: 30th
Special Teams: 43rd

Wofford (FCS rankings)

Overall: 70th
Offense: 102nd
Defense: 44th

The Mike Young Bowl. A couple of years ago when Wofford was running the triple option, this could’ve been a dangerous game. But the Wofford offense has fallen on hard times. This offense has yet to score a point this season. You read that right. That’s two shut outs in two consecutive games by FCS opponents. Based on this week’s Q&A, Wofford’s issues in their football program run deep. Makes the Fuente era at Tech look tame by comparison.

The Hokies need to focus on coming out of the gate fast. This game has slow start written all over it. An 11am kickoff coming off a big conference win is a recipe for a slow start. Tech needs to show this is a new era where each game is important and they come out focused and ready. This is a game that should be over by halftime but as the Justin Fuente era taught us, things don’t always go to plan. The best game plan this week would be to focus on running the ball. Score a couple of quick touchdowns then work out some issues in the passing game in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. If all goes to plan, then get the second team in for the 2nd half.

Here are the Hokies’ last two outings vs FCS opponents:

2019: Virginia Tech 24, Furman 17
2021: Virginia Tech 21, Richmond 10

I’m not one for style points, I’d usually tell you a win is a win. But this week this offense HAS to score more than 24 points. That’s not to say I’m advocating running up the score on an over-matched Wofford team. But this team needs to show they can score points against an FCS defense. This offense isn’t good enough to take any opponent for granted. This is a good opportunity to get some good reps in against a solid FCS defense. Tech would be wise to not let this opportunity get passed them.

What I am looking for on Saturday is a good start. If Tech still has zero points after the first quarter, that would be disappointing. The Hokies need to establish the run game. They should be able to run the ball with relative ease. The best game plan this week would be to focus on running the ball. Score a couple of quick touchdowns then work out some issues in the passing game in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. If all goes to plan, then get the second team in for the 2nd half. The goal here is to put the game away by halftime and let the reserves play in the 2nd half. Watching the Hokies show up focused for an FCS opponent would be an improvement from the Fuente era. I would also like to see Wofford score their first points of the season this week. Unfortunately, I don’t see it happening.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 38, Wofford 0

Wofford Q&A with Joe James of WoffordFans.com

This week we are joined by Joe James of WoffordFans.com. You can find Joe on Twitter at @Village_Terrier.

Tell us about yourself and your blog. 

I’m a Wofford graduate who lives in Arlington, Virginia. I made the move up here during the pandemic. I’ve been watching Wofford football since 2003, the year we made the 1-AA semifinals. I’ve watched Wofford athletics for 20 years (which makes me sound old, but I’m not yet 30). Wofford had a message board for a long time that went under during the pandemic (the guy who bought the domain didn’t renew it and was MIA). So some passionate fans reached out to me, an avid poster, to start it up, and it went from there. Thankfully, we have a computer science professor at Wofford who does all the technical stuff. I do the moderation of the forum, and I also occasionally blog, because I like to write and go in-depth with “effort posts.” Unfortunately, it’s a dark time of Wofford football (and I’m not smart enough at basketball to produce anything valuable there) and so I’m laying off the blog posts because they’ll turn unavoidably negative. Things aren’t great right now… we’ll get to that in a second.

What are your thoughts on Mike Young and his departure for Virginia Tech? 

I love Mike Young so much and I’m rooting for him to win a national title at Virginia Tech. We were so lucky to have him for as long as we did, and he was probably fortunate that Wofford, in his early years of employment, didn’t have an expectation of instant gratification or winning consistent conference championships. It took him a while to find his feet, but man, when he did, it was amazing.

But also, Mike Young is a great guy and I just want to share a short story about that. For the 2018-2019 Wofford basketball season, we made the championship game in Asheville, North Carolina, and Wofford fans made the pilgrimage for the game. It sold out! My friend was a mutual Twitter follower of Coach Young and tweeted that she couldn’t get a ticket. He heard and found a way to get her in. Terriers won! That’s not even the nicest story I’ve heard about him, but the point is MIke Young is an amazing human being, and I know he’s from the Roanoke Valley and he wants to bring home a title at Virginia Tech. He also has an amazing sense of humor that I would summarize as “Steve Spurrier but not a jerk.”

Wofford still loves Coach Young. Go Hokie Basketball!

Tell us about your team this year. What are your expectations for Wofford this season?

This is where we turn negative. As I write this on the Sunday before Wofford plays Virginia Tech, I’m not sure if Wofford can win a game this season. It really pains me to say this and repeat it to other fans, because I don’t like trashing my team or flowing the virtual air waves with negativity. Players and coaches read this stuff and it can be demoralizing and I don’t like contributing to that.

Having said that, the reason why Wofford is bad this year is not because fans are mad online but because our head coach has basically run our program into the ground. When he first started out, we were good, as we had talent and staff from our previous coaching legend, Mike Ayers. We were able to tie together two Southern Conference championship teams in Conklin’s first two years. 

But even then, there were cracks in the armor that suggested some deeper problems. We have been trying to move away from the triple option, which is what we ran under Ayers for 30 years. For the first 2.5 seasons (.5=Spring 2021), we had our previous OC, Wade Lang, a Triple Option guy calling the shots, and we were actually pretty good still. We had the same typical limitations of an option team, but we scored points and we generally knew what we were doing. Heck, in the Spring under Lang (editor’s note: FCS played football in the Spring of 2021), we averaged 26 points a game and we weren’t a triple option offense at all.

Well, Lang retired before the 2021 fall season and our defensive coordinator for the two championship games also left. We suffered from lots of injuries in the fall, ran a non-existent offense, and our defense was also bad. We finished 1-10, our worst record since 1987 (the year before Mike Ayers). And our administration…did nothing? Well, they fired half the staff and brought on two new coordinators, but the net outcome is we are likely better on defense but certainly worse on offense.

We have played 120 minutes of football and haven’t scored a point, and even though our defense isn’t awful (averaging 25 points a game against decent FCS opponents) you just can’t overcome that.

There’s a lot of other things that contribute to our dysfunction, but I will spare you the details. What Hokie fans need to know is Wofford isn’t good on offense and we’re likely not going to get better. 

A big elephant in the room is that basically every fan at Wofford wants Josh Conklin fired. He tried to leave our program twice before we went downhill (once as a defensive coordinator position in Tennessee and once as the head coach of South Carolina – you can google the articles), and we’ve been awful ever since. From our perspective, he came in, rode the coattails off Ayers’ success, saw us as a stepping stone to greener pastures, failed, and is in over his head. It’s wild he hasn’t been fired yet in my opinion (coming off a 13 game losing streak in conference play, 12 straight losses overall)

What are your thoughts on the playing Virginia Tech?

I would be excited for this game if it were played at any point in 2017-2019. Now I just expect pain. Usually when a FCS team plays an FBS team, you don’t expect to win, but you expect if you’re good to be competitive for a few quarters, if not possessions. And if you’re not, well, you have nothing to lose because you’re outmatched. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. But knowing what I know about this team through two games, I would rather just not think about this game.

How do you view the Virginia Tech program? 

I think they’re a program like Clemson, that has a vibe, tradition, and enthusiasm about itself that wants to compete for national titles, but things haven’t worked out. They’re 1 or 2 variables away from turning heads, they’re just not there yet. A sleeping giant.

What are your thoughts on coming to play at Lane Stadium? 

I honestly don’t have any opinion! Enter Sandman is hype though.

What are your expectations for the Virginia Tech game? 

I honestly don’t have any.

What’s your prediction for the game?

Wofford pulls a major upset by actually scoring some points, but Virginia Tech’s superior athleticism and coaching is just too much. Virginia Tech 49 Wofford 6 

Boston College vs Virginia Tech Preview and Prediction

Brent Pry’s first game as head coach did not go as planned. It’s frustrating but it was a weird football game. Turnovers, penalties, and some questionable penalty calls. I’m not making excuses but the stats say Virginia Tech should have won that game more often than not. Either way, the Hokies have some things to cleanup and that starts this week.

SP+ Rankings

Virginia Tech

Overall: 69th
Offense: 100th
Defense: 35th
Special Teams: 43rd

Boston College

Overall: 76th
Offense: 108th
Defense: 43rd
Special Teams: 106th

As bad as the Hokies losing to ODU was, Boston College didn’t exactly have a great week either. They dropped their first game to Rutgers after accumulating only 29 yards rushing. Phil Jurkovec also threw for 2 interceptions. The Hokies are going to need to keep Boston College one-dimensional again this week. They will also have to stop Jurkovec’s favorite target, Zay Flowers. Doesn’t is feel like he has been at Boston College for the last ten years? He’s a talented wide receiver and one that will look to do some damage on Saturday. If the rain in the forecast holds, that may slow down BC’s passing offense.

The Hokies offense had a multitude of issues on Friday. They took penalties. They turned the ball over. And the passing game did not look in sync at all. Those all appear correctable but one week isn’t a lot of time. My biggest concern last week was the wide receivers not finding any separation. This offense will not work with only running backs and tight ends. Outside of an injured Kaleb Smith someone else is going to need to step up. Unfortunately, this offense doesn’t have a ton of time to figure it out. This will need to be a learn-on-the-job moment for the Hokies young wide receivers. Grant Wells needs more targets to throw to.

One positive on Friday was that the running game worked pretty well. Keshawn King ran for over 100 yards and averaged 5.8 yards per carry. If he can handle the load, the Hokies would be wise to feed him the football on Saturday. Boston College gave up 212 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns to Rutgers on the ground. The Hokies need to pound the rock while they figure out their issues in the pass game. Grant Wells also looked pretty good passing out of play action last week. A strong running game benefits the passing game. This offense would be wise to establish the run early and often.

The Hokies aren’t as bad as they looked on Friday. They still have a lot to clean up but there were the signs of what could be areas of strength. The defense looked very good. The run game looked good. The issues were penalties and turnovers. If the Hokies can clean those up and continue to play stout defense, they should be in good shape. A return to Lane Stadium comes at a good time against a beatable Boston College team. But first the Hokies need to show that they’ve cleaned up some of their issues from last week. If not, it could be a long season. Hammer the under.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 24, Boston College 20

Boston College Q&A with AJ Black from Eagle Insider

This week we are joined by AJ Black from Eagle Insider.

Tell us about yourself and your podcast.

My name is AJ Black and I’m the publisher for Eagle Insider, part of the 247 Sports Network. I am also the host of Locked on Boston College, the only daily BC podcast out there and you can listen to that on Youtube or wherever you get your podcasts.

Tell us about your team this year. What are your expectations for Boston College this season?

Before Saturday’s game, I was pretty high on my expectations about the direction of the Eagles. I thought that their offensive line would be problematic, but had some faith that even with five new guys they would be serviceable and that would be enough to keep them competitive. Well, after Saturday’s loss to Rutgers, we got a first hand glance at how wrong I was. BC’s line was okay in the first half in pass protection, but once Rutgers dialed up the heat they fell apart in the second half, and the offense went with it. This is a major problem for the Eagles, and one I don’t see them fixing any time soon. 

What are your thoughts on the annual rivalry series with Virginia Tech being discontinued?

Given the three teams that Boston College ended up with, I’m fine with it. I was a student at BC during the ’07 and ’08 ACC Championship games and look back fondly to Matt Ryan’s heroics in Blacksburg, but I think the “rivalry” has run it’s course. Talking to multiple Tech fans and writers, there isn’t much juice left in it, so for BC getting three teams (Pitt, Syracuse and Miami) that they have history with is a fair trade off. 

How do you view the Virginia Tech program?

Love the hire of Brent Pry, and think he was a perfect fit for the culture and history that VT has put together. That being said, it probably will be a few years to get everything in order after a disastrous run with Justin Fuente. But if he’s given time, I think he will have the Hokies back to where they were under Frank Beamer in a few years. 

What are your thoughts on coming to Lane Stadium to play a night game?

Funny you ask this. On my podcast before the season and before the game time was announced, I had BC as a favorite in this game. But when I heard it was a night game, my expectations changed. Lane is a different animal at night, and ESPECIALLY given how BC’s offensive line has been playing, I think this is a perfect situations for the Hokies.

What are your expectations for the Virginia Tech game?

A bit of a mess? A low scoring affair, with mistakes on both sides. 

What’s your prediction for the game?

Given what I saw last week out of the Eagles, and the fact that VT lost to Old Dominion so they are going to be riled up at home and at night, going to go with VT winning this 24-14.

Old Dominion vs Virginia Tech Preview and Prediction

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.

SP+ Rankings

Virginia Tech

Overall: 61st
Offense: 90th
Defense: 31st

Old Dominion

Overall: 93rd
Offense: 80th
Defense: 107th

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

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