Liberty vs Virginia Tech Preview and Prediction

This week we have a guest contributor @DriftVT from Twitter writing this week’s preview.

Before we get into the preview, please consider giving to a GoFundMe to support the families affected by the shooting in Charlottesville this week: https://www.gofundme.com/c/act/uva-shooting-help

After back-to-back collapses against NC State and Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech was completely outmatched by the Duke Blue Devils this past weekend. A game that left most Virginia Tech fans feeling demoralized. It was a tough game to watch, as Virginia Tech took the lead to start the game, and failed to score again. Losing even against the spread which was 9.5 in favor of Duke.

Moving forward to this week, Virginia Tech is playing the best program in the state of Virginia, in Liberty. Hugh Freeze has built a winning G5 program, and he was recently signed to an extension keeping him at Liberty for years to come. Until the SEC gives him a ring.

SP+ Rankings

Virginia Tech

Overall: 98th
Offense: 123rd
Defense: 48th
Special Teams: 82nd

Liberty

Overall: 73rd
Offense: 81st
Defense: 49th
Special Teams: 87th

In order for Virginia Tech to contain this Liberty offense, they will need to slow down Demario Douglas. From Jacksonville, FL, Demario has 830 yards this season on 56 catches, which is already a season high for him. He is a shifty mismatch nightmare for defenses to contain and it begs the question, who will Virginia Tech put on him? Usually in this scenario, Chamari Conner or DJ Harvey will cover the slot in man coverage. I’d expect to see more zone this week as I do not believe the staff will be comfortable playing man coverage against him all game. 

On the offensive side of the ball, the Hokies still look completely lost. Everything looks difficult and forced. At least we have been able to snap the ball without false starting every play, which has been about the only improvement. In terms of what works; well, nothing really, outside of throwing the ball downfield to Kaleb Smith. Virginia Tech will have to do whatever they can to score at least 20 points to keep this game within reach. And they’ll need the defense to gift them a turnover as well. 

There are quite a few fans calling for Tyler Bowen to be fired, and while I am completely uninspired by his performance this season, I don’t think he will be let go. I think Pry would like to keep the same staff heading into next season, hoping to learn and grow as a unit. While a new OC could help, I think it might be too soon to cut the cord. 

Up until after the Georgia Tech game, I had said on Twitter just how far one of these games would help recruiting in Virginia if Pry could squeak one or two out. We thought we had it with Miami, then NC State, and then Georgia Tech. If we get blown out this weekend, it will seriously damage the moral of the fanbase and all the buzz around the program. I really think a win here, while unlikely, could go a very long way in repairing some of the damage done by previous staff. Remember, it is a revenge game for the Hokies. 

Even with that being said, here’s my prediction:

Liberty 24, Virginia Tech 13

Liberty Preview and Prediction

When the Virginia Tech offense is humming they are tough to beat. Louisville’s impressive offense was able to put up 35 points on Tech’s defense but it wasn’t enough. The only team that has been able to foil this offensive attack is Wake Forest. But I’d argue it was the turnovers more than Wake’s defense.

SP+ Rankings

The Hokies are currently 14.5-point favorites over #25 ranked Liberty. 6-0 is 6-0. But it’s a questionable 6-0 against not exactly the toughest competition. Their opponents this season have a combined four wins. Yes, you read that right. They’ve played six teams who have COMBINED for four wins. Yikes! But they took it to Syracuse in the dome so it’s best not to overlook this team.

The Liberty offense looks pretty good. They look like a less talented version of Louisville. So the timing of this game looks good for the Hokies. Liberty has had success on the ground this year thanks to their quarterback, Malik Willis. Willis was a former VT commit who committed to go to Auburn and ended up at Liberty. He’s a good player who could be in the mix to start at many Power 5 schools. If the Hokies want to stop the Liberty offense, they will need to key in to stop Willis in the running game. The Liberty offense has put up some gaudy numbers this year. But they are hard to judged based on their level of competition.

Liberty’s defense looks good on paper but they’ve faced some of the worst offenses in FBS this year. So again, hard to judge. Liberty might be in for a rude awakening based on how good Tech’s running game is. They haven’t seen anything like it this season. Liberty will struggle with Tech’s outside run game and covering big-play receivers like Tre Turner and James Mitchell. Not to mention the speed of Tayvion Robinson. While they have a capable defense, they haven’t seen an offensive team like the Hokies this year.

This is an important game for Liberty. This is their first top 25 ranking in school history. We know whenever a non-Power 5 school in Virginia gets to play Virginia Tech, it’s a big deal for them. This is the game they’ve had circled on their calendar this year. If they weren’t ranked, I’d be more worried. That little number by their name means that they’ll get the Hokies full attention this week. Liberty will definitely put up some points this week, although they will struggle at times with Tech’s pass rush. Liberty will have A LOT of trouble with Tech’s ground game. Again, they haven’t seen a team that runs the ball as well as the Hokies. Liberty may keep it close in the first half but Tech will pull away in the 2nd half.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 45, Liberty 24

Liberty Preview and Prediction

Justin Fuente’s first game as head coach at Virginia Tech. Will his team be ready? How will he shuffle his personnel? Will he choose to go with simple packages to not show anything before Tennessee? Or will he go pedal to metal in order for his offense to a find groove? As far games against FCS go, this one should be pretty interesting.

What do we want to see from Virginia Tech? I’d like to see us get the ball into the hands of our playmakers. I want to see a lot of handoffs from Jerod Evans to Travon McMillian and Sam Rogers. I want to see short passes to Isaiah Ford, Cam Phillips and Bucky Hodges. Get the ball to your playmakers and let them make plays. Oh, and no turnovers please. PLEASE.

On defense, I don’t want to see the Hokies make any major snafus. No busted coverages. No wide open running lanes. Assignment football. This defense should be able to handle Liberty’s offense even without Adonis Alexander. It’s all about covering their assignments. If they do that, I can’t see Liberty score more than seven. Although, I have my doubts that we will see perfect assignment football from our defense.

Things to lookout for from Liberty:

Stephon Masha (QB, 6’1″, 205 lbs, Jr.) – Uh oh. Running quarterback. Call me when we figure that one out.

Strong passing game – Liberty ranked 29th last season in passing offense last year.

Trick plays – Turner Gill pulls out a trick or two every now and then. Look out for that.

I don’t think that Liberty has the horses to pull off this upset. The Hokies didn’t play a top 10 opponent this past Monday, right? Justin Fuente is the type of coach that always looks for opportunities. This Saturday is opportunity is to show off his team. He seems like the type of coach that is not shy about putting points on the board, regardless of the opponent. This is a game that the Hokies should win without too much trouble. Show up. Play assignment football. Walk away with a comfortable win.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 42, Liberty 17

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