That NC State loss was a tough one to swallow. Virginia Tech did what they needed to do to win but couldn’t close the deal. After NC State scored their first touchdown, the Hokies went into expect-to-lose mode. That game felt like a carryover from the Fuente era. We have seen more than a few games play out like that over the last few years. This program has a losing culture right now. They need to start changing that mentality if they want to move forward and build a winning program again.
Special Teams: 49th
Special Teams: 89th
Grant Wells should be able to make plays against Georgia Tech’s secondary. The Hokies offense just needs to avoid being one-dimensional. Running into the interior of the line over and over again will not work. The Hokies need to open up their passing attack and press the edges of the defense with outside runs. VT should try more misdirection and read options. Right now, the offense is just to easy to read for defenses. The Hokies also need to try to get the ball in the hands of Keshawn King and Bryce Duke in open space. Whether it be via outside runs or quick screen passes. They were far too predictable on offense against NC State.
This game will come down to whether Jeff Sims is healthy enough to play and be effective. The Georgia Tech offense is much better with him behind center. Even if Jeff Sims is available, the Georgia Tech offense hasn’t had much to write home about this year. Like the Hokies, they are one of the worst Power 5 offenses in the nation. They run the ball a little better than they throw it but they are not really good at either. This is where the Hokies’ defense should have a significant advantage.
This game represents the Hokies best chance of getting a win the rest of the season. If the defense plays well and can limit the GT offense, I see the Hokies having a good chance to win. If Jeff Sims shows up and is healthy, he’s the best player on the field and could be the difference. All things being equal, the Hokies will put enough together on offense and defense to squeak a victory. I hope they find a way to play more than one quarter of offense this week.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 28, Georgia Tech 21
Justin Fuente described Virginia Tech games this year as a “three-and-a-half-hour stomach ache.” Every game against Georgia Tech is a three-and-a-half-hour stomach ache. Their option attack limits the opposing team’s possessions and if you can’t make the most out of each and every possession, they can outscore you and beat you. Which they have done to teams often in recent years. That doesn’t sound like a good situation for a team known for getting off to slow starts offensively.
Overall S&P+ ranking: 18th
Offensive S&P+ ranking: 83rd
Defensive S&P+ ranking: 7th
Special Teams S&P+ ranking: 25th
Overall S&P+ ranking: 50th
Offensive S&P+ ranking: 50th
Defensive S&P+ ranking: 45th
Special Teams S&P+ ranking: 72nd
Expect to see a game plan from Georgia Tech similar to last year’s. Expect a lot of runs right up the middle from the B-back position and TaQuan Marshall. It’ll be up to Ricky Walker, Tim Settle and Andrew Motuapuaka to stuff the run up the middle. Something the middle of the Hokies defense had trouble with last year. The Hokies need to be able to push the option outside and have the Hokies defensive backs and linebackers shed blocks to get to the ball carrier. As usual, Georgia Tech will have some success but it will be important for the Hokies defense to keep them to 20 points or less. It’ll be tough situation for the Hokies if they get into a track meet with the Jackets.
Georgia Tech’s defense is solid but not spectacular. They have trouble generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Expect Josh Jackson to have time to throw but he will need to make the most of those opportunities since offensive possessions are limited when you play GT. It’s not uncommon for offenses to only have around eight possession when they play GT. So if you can’t get going in your first four possessions, you might only have four more the rest of the day. That’s why generating turnovers (i.e. more possessions) is important when you play the Jackets.
If there is one area where the Hokies have a clear advantage in this game, it’s on special teams. Just as with most games this season, the Hokies will need to play field position and try to set up big plays in the return game. There should be opportunities in this game. Georgia Tech’s special teams this year have not been particularly special. This game calls for a dose of #Shibestball.
This game makes me nervous because the Hokies just came off a very physical game against Miami where a couple of players got dinged up. Not to mention they had travel issues and lost a day of practice and they have to travel to Atlanta for this game. That’s not a lot of prep time for Georgia Tech’s offense. It helps that most of the players on defense have seen Georgia Tech’s offense last year but still you wish the Hokies had more time to prepare. I expect a close game but on paper the Hokies have the stronger squad. The Hokies defense has to show up and finish tackles though.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 27, Georgia Tech 23