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

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

Old Dominion Q&A with Mike Langston of ODU Monarchists

Mike Langston is the founder of ODU Monarchists and an ODU alum. You can follow him on Twitter at @ODUMonarchists. You can also check out his podcast at the-monarchists.captivate.fm. Mike joined us this week for a game week Q&A.

Tell us about yourself and your podcast.

Our group, the Monarchists, is made up of about 18 folks and our significant others. I started the group as a Twitter Direct Message chat during a really bad season, so we could air our grievances with no filter and in private. That evolved into going to games together, tailgating as a group and we eventually started some social media campaigns to raise money for ODU athletics and Toys for Tots. And through those successes, we have done our best to find the next charity or ODU sport to support. So far, we’ve helped raise over $25k for ODU baseball, collected hundreds of toys and thousands of dollars for Toys for Tots, and over $30k for ODU football. We take a lot of pride in that. This past spring, Aaron Zielinksi and I decided to start a podcast to help support our fundraising efforts. And it’s taken off pretty quickly and we’ve landed interviews we didn’t think would be possible for a while. We’ve interviewed most of ODU’s coaches including Ricky Rahne and Jeff Jones, ODU’s athletic director Wood Selig, Sun Belt commissioner Keith Gill and Phil Steele. This fall we have lined up interviews with every beat reporter for ODU’s football opponents including Andy Bitter. We’re pretty excited for the future of the show and think Hokie fans will enjoy our discussion with Andy Bitter. It should be released on Tuesday (Aug. 30th) the week of the game.

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

Last year, we were the youngest team in the country, coached by the youngest staff in the country, coming off a year where we didn’t play football due to COVID and the restrictions placed on Hampton Roads. That young team started out rough going 1-5 but showed big signs of progress from 2019. The defense was flying to the ball and finally wreaking havoc after a decade of what many referred to as NoDU football. Changing to the 4-2-5 allowed ODU to start playing “Speed D” and get the best athletes on the field to make plays. The offensive line benefited from an RPO based offense where they could pull and punish in the run game while disrupting blitz packages. We just lacked a consistent passing game early in the season, allowing teams to stack the box. After that 6th game, we made a quarterback change to Hayden Wolff, the offense got on a roll (PPG went up 9 points and ypg went up 100) and we pulled off 5 straight wins to qualify for a bowl game.

Most of that team returns. We replace our center, leading tackler and a couple starters in the secondary but pretty much everyone else returns and we’ve landed some good pieces in the portal to fill those holes. Our defensive line is the best unit and with the improved secondary, I believe our defense could be pretty good in the Sun Belt with 5 of our top 6 tacklers returning and great depth in all three levels. Offensively, we return a 1k yard back in Blake Watson, a preseason All-American at tight end in Zack Kuntz, 1k yard receiver Ali Jennings, Hayden Wolff at QB, and 4 of our 5 starting OL from a year ago. If the communication is good on the offensive line, this unit could be very good because they have P5 size/speed and another year of experience blocking in an RPO system. They’ll want to establish the run and open up passing lanes. Kuntz is a stud that can give defenses fits (Bruce Feldman had him on his freak list) at 6’8, with a 40 inch vertical and a 4.5 forty time. Ali is a speedy receiver who can take the top off of defenses. And Blake is a good all-purpose back but will need to be more active in the passing game. There’s a ton of talent in the receiver group but it will be important for a second option to become a legit outside threat opposite of Jennings. If a solid #2 deep threat emerges, this offense could be Top 3 in the Sun Belt.

ODU has a brutal schedule this season with Virginia Tech, UVA, Liberty and ECU plus a run through the best G5 division in the country. 6-6 is a realistic goal given the schedule but I wouldn’t be shocked if this team gets rolling early offensively and ends up 9-3.

What are your thoughts on playing Virginia Tech for the next 10 seasons?

This series is a great one for ODU. It provides our fans with an easy and fun road trip to make, something we didn’t have much of in CUSA. But even with the move to the more regional Sun Belt, it is still one of our easier trips to make as fans. More importantly, it provides a measuring stick for our program and how we are progressing. We still are a pretty young program, so getting to play Virginia Tech annually gives us a good idea on if we’re on the right track or not. It’s a game ODU fans circle as one they have to be at, especially in Norfolk.

How do you view the Virginia Tech program?

Virginia Tech has been the flagship program in the state for the last 20-plus years. While Fuente took some of that luster away, I think y’all made a great choice in Brent Pry and getting back to the standards Hokie fans have for the program should be coming soon.

How do you feel about Virginia Tech coming to play games in the 757?

I think it’s a net positive for both programs. Obviously, ODU gets a marquee game for our fans to get excited about and our players/recruits to play. Virginia Tech gets to visit/host the 757 recruits, allows their 757 guys a chance to play in front of family and gives an easier trip for all of their local fans to make. This year’s game being played on a Friday night in Ballard (while not ideal for recruiting purposes) will be electric. Our stadium may be small compared to Lane, but it can get pretty loud. It’s gonna be a lot of fun.

What are your expectations for the Virginia Tech game?

I expect this to be a defensive battle, a low scoring affair. It sounds cliche, but the offense that makes fewer mistakes will end up the victor. Special teams will play a big role as well. I know our staff puts a lot of emphasis on having talented players on the special teams units and it was the deciding factor in a lot of our games last year. KR Lamareon James is as fast as they come and if he can find a hole, he’s taking it to the house. I imagine with the similar background of Coach Pry’s staff and the Hokie ball history of Virginia Tech, the same could be said for y’all this year.

What’s your prediction for the game?

I think the Vegas line is about right but Virginia Tech has so many unknowns on both sides of the ball. ODU is familiar with Grant Wells and the two coaching staffs are very connected, that chess match will be fun for years to come. Both teams will lean on defense and special teams early so expect a good bit of ground and pound with sneaky explosive plays mixed in from both new offensive coordinators. Third down and red zone conversions are likely the make or break for both teams. First to twenty, wins. Hammer the under.

2022 Virginia Tech Season Preview

New era. Who dis?

Brent Pry has a lot of work to do. The Fuente era left a lot of areas that need improvement. The first area of focus needs to be to improve the roster. There are very few all-conference players on this team. If other ACC teams had the opportunity to switch players with the Hokies, I don’t know how many would. If Tech hopes to improve on last year’s 6-7 season, this coaching staff will need to work some magic with the roster.

Offense

The previous staff was a little too conservative on offense — especially in the 4th quarter. They relied too much on “expected outcomes”. Usually, those expected outcomes were plays that didn’t go for many yards. If the new staff can take the reigns off this offense, we should see more big plays than last season. At least get the ball into the hands of your playmakers.

I don’t know a whole lot about Grant Wells but what I see from him, he looks like he should be a solid QB for the Hokies. A good arm and accurate with some mobility. He’s not a game-changing talent but there’s enough there to win you football games. I see him as another Ryan Willis / Michael Brewer-type QB. You know what you’re getting from them and it’s enough to win you football games.

In the past few years, the Hokies have also had to rely on the backup quarterback. The Hokies have a solid backup in Jason Brown. Last year, he registered wins against Florida and Auburn. Although, like Wells, he is not a game-changing talent, he is able to win you football games in a pinch. Winning games in the SEC is nice to have on your resume.

The Hokies should feel good about what they have at running back. Malachi Thomas was impressive as a true freshman. In a scheme that is set up to let running backs shine, Malachi Thomas should be able to put up even better numbers. Behind him, they should get solid play from Jalen Holston. Holston will need to prove he can be more consistent than he was last season. With Joe Rudolph coordinating the run game, this is an offense that will be friendly to running backs.

The receiving room definitely has some question marks. The only known quantity that is expected to get serious playing time is Kaleb Smith. And most of his work has come as a backup the last couple of years. If this is going to be successful group, the newcomers will need to step up and fill the void. If the Hokies can’t get production out of those newcomers, this offense might be stuck in mud all season.

The offensive line doesn’t have a lot of depth but they will have elite coaching. Joe Rudolph is one of the best offensive line coaches in college football. He is the right guy to take a young line and mold them into functional group this year. This is a position group that needs to avoid the injury bug. An injury or two on the line would dampen the ability for this offense to move the ball.

The biggest change will be the new scheme and new coaches. These coaches will let the players go out there and make plays. The previous staff put the reins on the office too much. The staff needs to let their playmakers make plays.

Defense

There are some good pieces on the defensive side of the ball. Including a couple of players that have not reached their potential the last few years. This new, defensive-minded staff should be able to get more from this defensive talent. If we know one thing, it’s that Brent Pry knows how to coach defense.

The defensive line doesn’t have a ton of depth but they have enough that they should be okay. They should be able to go two deep at both at end and at tackle. Should injuries pile up, things might get a little dicey. For now, this is a solid group that could get All-ACC play from their two starting defensive tackles. The defensive ends will need to get more pressure than they did last year to improve this defense. Quarterbacks last year had too much time to throw.

Linebacker is the position group that concerns me the most on defense. Too many guys that haven’t been consistent in the past. Will the new staff be able to maximize their strengths? These linebackers will need to learn and adapt to the new scheme that they were not recruited for. The Hokies will need to get more sideline-to-sideline play from this group. There has been too much inconsistent play from this position group in the past couple of years. And there are questions about speed and coverage ability in this group.

I like the defensive backs group quite a bit. This is an underrated group. Dorian Strong has the potential to reclaim his play from 2020 when he was a freshman All-American. You also have Armani Chatman and Brion Murray who have been solid. Not to mention DJ Harvey who has the potential to have a breakout season. The big unknown is what to expect from the boundary safety position. If someone steps in that role, this should be a pretty good group.

If there is an area that should improve the most with the new coaches, it should be the defense. After finishing ranked 78th in total defense last year, expect a big improvement. The Hokies should be able to rely on the defense once again.

Final Thoughts

This team might not look great right out the gate. Those first few games might include a couple of squeakers. The offense will look rough at times. The hope is that the defense is able to carry this team at the beginning of year. If the defense is also struggling, it might be a long year. You can expect an improved defense and an offense that will get better week-to-week. That four game stretch in the middle of the schedule is going to be tough. This roster isn’t ready yet to compete in tough games like those. Especially the ones on the road. All the other games on the schedule are winnable but the defense needs to keep Tech in the game. This should look like classic VT — tough defense and a ground-and-pound offense. A good foundation to build on.

Tough games (<40% chance to win)

at North Carolina, at Pittsburgh, Miami and at NC State. Getting even a single win from this group of games is a bonus for this season. It would be great if the Hokies could pull an upset in that game at home against Miami.

Toss-up games (50-50 games)

Boston College, West Virginia, at Georgia Tech, at Liberty, Virginia. You can judge this season based on these five games. They will represent the difference between 9-3 and 3-9. If the Hokies can get three wins out of this group, they should be in good shape toward bowl eligibility. Based on how the home-road games break down, the Hokies have a good chance to post a good record in these games.

Should win games (>60% to win)

at Old Dominion, at Duke. The Hokies need to stop losing these type of games. Under the previous staff, the losses against ODU and Liberty were coach killers. The Hokies have to be able to win games against G5 opponents. That should be a given at a school with a strong football history like Virginia Tech. Duke is one of the weakest ACC teams this season and the game is at Duke which has always been friendly to the Hokies.

Must win games (>90% to win)

Wofford. The Hokies need to treat this game as a tune up, and not squeak by like they have been the past couple of years.

Key games for the Hokies: at Old Dominion, West Virginia, Virginia

Upset Alert: at Old Dominion

Game by Game Predictions

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at Pitt
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at NC State (Thurs.)
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Final Regular Season Record: 8-4 (4-4 in the ACC)
Expected finish: 3rd in the ACC Coastal

Pinstripe Bowl Preview and Prediction

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.

SP+ Rankings

Virginia Tech

Overall: 62nd
Offense: 74th
Defense: 47th
Special Team: 28th

Maryland

Overall: 68th
Offense: 34th
Defense: 86th
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

Miami vs Virginia Tech Preview and Prediction

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.

SP+ Rankings

Virginia Tech

Overall: 44th
Offense: 67th
Defense: 25th
Special Team: 32nd

Miami

Overall: 32nd
Offense: 22nd
Defense: 47th
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

Duke vs Virginia Tech Preview and Prediction

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.

SP+ Rankings

Virginia Tech

Overall: 50th
Offense: 70th
Defense: 32nd
Special Team: 37th

Duke

Overall: 97th
Offense: 89th
Defense: 102nd
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

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