Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech athletics
After a tough loss last weekend in Chapel Hill for Virginia Tech, the 23rd-ranked Hokies now head back home to play host to the Boston College Eagles.
Boston College has been a pleasant surprise so far this season in the ACC.
Game Day Information
When: Saturday, Oct. 17, 8 p.m. ET
Where: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA
TV: ACC Network
PXP: Dave O’Brien
Analyst: Tim Hasselback
Sideline Reporter: Katie George
Forecast: 46 F, Clear, 0% Chance of Rain
Series History: Virginia Tech leads 18-10
Last Meeting: Boston College won 35-28 on Aug. 31, 2019
Line: Virginia Tech -11.5
Bounce Back Weekend
The Virginia Tech Hokies suffered their first defeat last weekend against the now No. 5 North Carolina Tar Heels. The Hokies got off to a rough start, quickly falling behind 21-0 before many even had the chance to settle in.
Head coach Justin Fuente’s squad battled back, cutting the deficit to 42-37 after Hendon Hooker took over at quarterback. The Tar Heels, however, were a little too much for the Hokie defense. Both Michael Carter and Javonte Williams ran all over the Hokies, resulting in a final score of 56-45 in favor of the Tar Heels.
Virginia Tech will now look to bounce back against a surprising Boston College squad. Virginia Tech is looking to show fans that the defense is better than what it showed in Chapel Hill. Boston College is led by first-year head coach Jeff Hafley. The former Ohio State defensive coordinator has done a fantastic job in his first four games for the Eagles.
They’ll now look to continue that momentum in Blacksburg.
Virginia Tech fans are taking a sigh of relief. After two and a half games without seeing a trace of quarterback Hendon Hooker, Fuente officially named the Greensboro, NC native the starter this weekend. That’s not a knock on Braxton Burmeister. The Oregon transfer played fine in the Hokies’ first three games, but adding Hooker to the offense is something just too good to say no to.
Hooker makes the Hokies much more 2-dimensional. As the better passer of the two, the Hokies can not only hand the ball off to star tailback Khalil Herbert, but they also have someone to throw the ball with ease. Tech fans saw this potential in the second half, as the Hokie offense was nearly unstoppable from the third quarter on.
Hooker certainly helped the cause, as he went 7-for-13, throwing for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Look for Hooker to have a statement game this weekend against a solid BC defense, as the second-year starter may have something to prove on the gridiron.
After a defensive wash last week against UNC, Justin Hamilton’s defense will have something to prove this weekend. Reinforcements should be on the way, as it sounds like safety Divine Deablo may be back this upcoming Saturday.
Virginia Tech badly missed Deablo last week, and getting him back should increase the Hokies’ chances of securing this one. Deablo also will help in coverage of star BC wide receiver Zay Flowers. If he gets open in space, all the Hokie defense will be seeing the back of his jersey.
Virginia Tech also needs to get its trio of linebackers going. Dax Hollifield, Rayshard Ashby, and Alan Tisdale all spent time in quarantine, and the speed of the trio unfortunately shows that. More game reps will be crucial for this talented bunch. Virginia Tech will need this group to get going to be successful defensively.
Although not a great running team, don’t be surprised to see BC tries to establish the run early and often. Getting a leg up on a talented, but shaken defensive front will be key for an Eagle upset. Guys up front like Jarrod Hewitt, Norell Pollard, Emmanuel Belmar, and Justus Reed will all need to get after Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec. If the Hokies can play well up front, and the linebackers can do what they’re capable of, Virginia Tech will be able to get the job done this weekend.
Herbert is an animal. That’s been established. But the even scarier part of it, is the multitude of threats the Hokies have in the run game. Not only does Herbert provide a threat for the Hokies, but the option of going to Raheem Blackshear makes Virginia Tech’s run game extremely dangerous.
Herbert went off again last week, carrying the ball 18 times for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Blackshear also got involved last weekend as well, and provides a fantastic alternative to when Herbert needs a breather. Virginia Tech can also go with the read option with Hooker. Blackshear, Tre Turner, and Tayvion Robinson are dangerous on the jet sweep.
As always, keep an extra eye out for Herbert. The Kansas transfer dominated the Eagles when he was a Jayhawk, going for 187 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Herbert will need to have a field day against a solid BC defensive front.
The Boston College Eagles have been quite the surprise this year. Jeff Hafley’s ball club has gotten off to a sizzling 3-1 start, nearly upsetting now fifth-ranked North Carolina. The Eagles used a missed extra point in overtime to beat Pittsburgh last week in Chestnut Hill.
Notre Dame transfer quarterback Phil Jurkovec has been fantastic for the Eagles so far this season. The Pittsburgh native has thrown for 1,181 yards and eight touchdowns, totaling a 65.1% completion rate.
Flowers has also been outstanding for BC this season, already totaling 21 receptions, for 405 yards and four touchdowns. Jermaine Waller will likely be matched up against Flowers, and the star cornerback will have quite the challenge on his hands tonight.
The Hokies’ defense also will need to watch the run. Even though the Eagles don’t run the ball that effectively, look for the Eagles to test Hamilton’s defensive front early and often, especially after last Saturday’s defensive letdown in Chapel Hill.
Defensively, the Eagles have been very solid against the run this year, giving up nearly 136 yards per game. Isaiah McDuffe and Max Richardson are ranked first and second for total tackles in the ACC.
If BC wants to pull off the upset this weekend, Hafley’s defense will need to subdue Herbert and company. If not, it’ll be a very long night for the Eagles.
Hokies’ Keys To The Game
Establish The Run
As mentioned, Boston College boasts a very strong run defense. That front matched up with Herbert, could be a very fun match-up to watch.
That being said, if the Hokies are able to get the run game going, Virginia Tech should cruise to a win this evening against the Eagles.
Last week was a frustrating game for Virginia Tech. Even offensively, the Hokies looked lackluster and out of rhythm early on. Ever since Hooker came in the game though, the offense has lit it up.
Getting off to a quick start against a solid BC defense is crucial for this Virginia Tech team, as it looks to shake off last week’s defeat. Getting the offense going, and putting up points early would be huge confidence-wise for both sides of the ball.
Tighten Up Defensively
After a disastrous game defensively last week for Virginia Tech, the Hokies will once again have their hands full against Jurkovec and the Eagle offense.
Jurkovec and Flowers could be a problem for the Hokies in the secondary. For Virginia Tech, hopefully with Deablo back, and Waller covering Flowers, the Hokies will be able to shut the Jurkovec-Flowers connection down.
Boston College is not a great rushing team, but it will try to establish that early to see if the Hokie front can answer the call. Hopefully Virginia Tech’s linebackers can prove they’re a little more in shape.
The defensive front will also need a big game if Virginia Tech is able to win. The combination of Belmar, Reed, Pollard, and Hewitt, will need to lock up this offense.
This is a big weekend for Virginia Tech. Bouncing back tonight will be huge for the rest of the season for the Hokies.
With Hooker getting the nod at quarterback, Virginia Tech’s offense will finally be at full strength. The defense will bounce back too, doing just enough for the Hokies to avoid the upset, pulling off a big home win.
Prediction: (23) Virginia Tech 41, Boston College 27
Other FQ Writers Picks:
Shayler (@FQNebraska): (23) Virginia Tech 43, Boston College 23
Kevin Fielder (@FQMiami and @FQFAU): (23) Virginia Tech 36, Boston College 20