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
The Hokies were able to get off the mat down in South Florida. It was a great response to bad Friday night at home against Duke. This team hasn’t had a lot of moments to feel good about over the last 12 months. It was nice to see them get a feel-good win against a conference opponent. A game like that can give confidence to a young team. The offense got a spark with Hendon Hooker behind center. The Hokies were able to run for 153 yards with a dual-threat option at quarterback.
Overall: 46th in the FCS (out of 127 teams)
Special Teams: 76th
Rhode Island features a prolific passing offense. They rank 4th in the FCS in passing offense. But rank 118th in rushing. This is a team that relies on the passing game to move the ball. This is a good test for the Hokies secondary. This is also an opportunity for the Hokies defensive line to get after the quarterback. A week after they sacked Miami’s quarterbacks seven times.
Rhode Island has a bad defense, even at the FCS level. This is a team that has struggled to stop the run and the pass. This is a chance for Hendon Hooker and the Hokies offense to get into a rhythm before the North Carolina game. The Miami game showed what this offense could do with Hendon Hooker behind center. The Hokies should spend a lot of the day running the ball. Set up the run first, then go downfield to your deep threats on the outside.
The Hokies need a convincing win. The Hokies had opportunities against Old Dominion and Furman. Those games ended up much closer than most expected. In this game, the Hokies need to use their new run-based offense to run all over Rhode Island. Based on how this offense ran against Miami’s defense, you would expect that to happen. They need to put this game away in the first half. The Hokies shouldn’t show too much on offense ahead of the North Carolina game.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 45, Rhode Island 13
The Hokies got the season off to a hot start on Monday night against Florida State. It was an impressive victory on the road in front of national television audience. Now it’s time to refocus on a short week and get ready for William & Mary. You know the coaching staff will be preaching the 1-0 mentality this week.
The last time the Hokies played on four days rest was in 2015 after they lost to Ohio State on Monday night at home. They played Furman five days later and won 42-3. The five day turnaround is tough, especially after a big win. But if there is one thing the coaching staff preaches is to focus on the next game and go 1-0 this week.
William & Mary is coached by Jimmye Laycock. He is William & Mary’s Frank Beamer. He has been there for 39 years (whoa!) and is the 2nd winningest active coach in Division I. However, William & Mary has started to slide in recent years and only went 2-9 last season. They were also picked to finish 11th in this year’s CAA preseason poll.
William & Mary’s offense only averaged 15 point per game last season. They put up 14 points last week at Bucknell. Needless to say, this team struggles to put up points on offense. The Tribe have a couple of weapons with DeVonte Dedmon at wide receiver and Albert Funderburke at running back. Last season, William & Mary ranked 104th in total offense out of 123 teams in FCS.
The Tribe’s strength is on defense. They ranked 29th in FCS last season in total defense. They return their top five tacklers from last season. They ranked 13th in sacks last year. This is a team that does not take many penalties. They play disciplined football. This will be a good test for the Hokies offense this week. One they should be able to pass but William & Mary’s defense are not pushovers.
The concern here is a lack of focus and execution. It’s difficult to have a short week after a big win and bring your A game. Lucky for the Hokies, they face an opponent that has been struggling in recent years and only put up 14 points last week. This is a team that the Hokies should be able to dispatch without too much trouble, even if they aren’t 100% yet. The key this week will be to try to get up early in the game and give the backups some opportunities in the 2nd half. This is a game you want to put in the win column, not suffer any major injuries, and move on to the next game.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 34, William & Mary 0