VT Football vs. Wake Forest

Hendon Hooker (2) scans for an open player to receive the ball, Nov. 9, 2019.

The Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1, 3-1) will face off against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-2, 1-2) this Saturday in Winston-Salem in what will be an important game if the Hokies wish to continue to roll in the ACC. Virginia Tech has had a decent season thus far, especially considering COVID-19-related circumstances, and it sits at No. 19 in the AP Top 25. If the Hokies can come away with a win Saturday, they should continue their move up the national rankings. 

Wake Forest’s offense has been pretty good this season as the team is scoring 40.3 points per game, good for 12th in the country. Sophomore quarterback Sam Hartman has not been very explosive this season, only throwing for three touchdowns through four games. However, he has been extremely efficient, completing 62% of his passes for 8.9 yards per attempt. The passing game is supplemented by superstar running back Kenneth Walker III, a sophomore who has already ran for 383 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Stopping Walker and the running game will be key for a Virginia Tech victory.

The Demon Deacon defense is headlined by pass rusher Carlos Basham Jr. The Virginia native has been dominant this season, continuing to make his case to be a high NFL draft pick come next spring. Basham already has four sacks and three forced fumbles through four games this season. He has the potential to change a game at any moment, and the Hokies should be weary of him at all times. Fortunately for Virginia Tech, the Demon Deacon run defense has been struggling this season, giving up at least 180 yards on the ground in three of its four outings. A Hokie run game that ranks as the best in the Power Five should be able to take advantage of that.

The Virginia Tech defensive game plan has to revolve around stopping the run, something it has struggled with a lot this season. It can’t let Walker get going, or it will be a long game. In his career, when Walker has rushed for at least 50 yards, Wake Forest is 7-1. If the Hokies can stop the run game and stack the box, they have the chance to win. The key to stopping the passing game will be getting pressure on Hartman. In its two losses this season, Hartman was sacked a total of 12 times. If the defense can make the Demon Deacons throw and make Hartman uncomfortable, it should be in good shape.

As for the offensive game plan, it’s all about the run game. Virginia Tech should come in with the same strategy it used against Boston College: run the ball as much as possible. The Hokies ran the ball a massive 41 times for 350 yards against the Eagles. If they can do something similar on Saturday, they should have no problems winning this game. Quarterback Hendon Hooker and Heisman-contending running back Khalil Herbert should be able to do that with their electric running ability. 

If the Hokies can run the ball and stop the run on Saturday, they should roll against Wake Forest.

Score Prediction: Virginia Tech 42, Wake Forest 28

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