The Hokies took a heartbreaking loss in a shootout against No. 8 North Carolina on Saturday. The team fought valiantly, but it was just not able to stop the run as it gave up 399 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns, which ultimately led to its 45-56 defeat. The Hokies look to bounce back this upcoming weekend as they go up against the Boston College Eagles in Blacksburg, Virginia, in Lane Stadium at 8 p.m.
These two teams matched up last season in Virginia Tech’s season opener, where the Hokies found themselves on the losing end with the score of 28-35. The Hokies were out-rushed 98-157 yards. The leading rusher for the Hokies in last season’s game only had 33 rushing yards, so they did not have a predominant running back within that game. Fortunately, this year the Hokies have a workhorse in the backfield in senior transfer from Kansas, Khalil Herbert. Herbert already has 449 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns in just three games played. Though the loss against UNC came with redshirt junior Hendon Hooker playing most of this game as quarterback, there is no doubt he put the Hokies in a better situation against UNC’s solid defense than quarterback Braxton Burmeister. Expect Hooker to start this game unless stated otherwise.
Virginia Tech has been making the most of this very peculiar season so far, as the team stands at 2-1. Though it does not seem like much at the moment, it is impressive in regards to the multitude of players, starters and coaches who have been out because of COVID-19; the arrest of former starter safety Devon Hunter; and the fact that Tech’s star DB Caleb Farley opted out before the season started. The defense has taken the bigger hit from COVID-19 as more defensive than offensive players have been out with the virus, especially in the secondary. The early QB change did not help either, but after last week’s showing it feels like Hooker may start for the rest of the season.
If there is one thing about this team, there is no quit in it. Both teams' only losses came to UNC, so Saturday night’s matchup can really go either way.
X Factors going into BC game:
Offensive side: It is important to have Hooker start at quarterback this game, and the offense should and must run through Herbert. Boston College has been out-rushed in all of its games so far. With Herbert on this Heisman-like hot streak at the moment, it would be silly for them not to run the ball. Also, with the success of the run game, the passing game can open up as well, so this strategy would put it in a winning position.
Defensive side: With A.J. Dillon now in the NFL, Boston College has become a pass-first team this season. Despite getting dominated in the running game against UNC, the Hokies need to prioritize shutting down Boston College’s passing game. Boston College averages 295.3 passing yards per game, which is the second most in the ACC, right behind Clemson at 310.0 per game. The Hokies hope to get back some pieces in the secondary this upcoming weekend after they recover from the virus. Tech will need junior defensive back Chamarri Conner to step up as well. After his early ejection in last week’s game, he will need to come back and hold it down in secondary as he is an impact player for the secondary and the defense as a whole.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 35, Boston College 31