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Week 11 Preview: Virginia Tech Hokies

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The Jackets head to Blacksburg this week, to take on the Hokies and new head coach Justin Fuente.

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech Garrett Reid-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech Season So Far

The Hokies sit at 7-2 on the season, with a pair of losses coming to Tennessee and Syracuse, leaving them at #14 in the college football playoff rankings. If Virginia Tech is able to win out (remaining games: vs GT, @ND, vs UVA), then the Syracuse loss may end up looming very large. The marquee win of the season came against North Carolina, who they beat in Chapel Hill, 34-3. The two weeks since then, have seen the Hokies barely squeak by, winning by three on the road against both Pittsburgh and Duke. After UNC’s loss to Duke last night, the Hokies now look to be in control of the ACC coastal.

Offseason Preview (link)

Who’s gone? HC Frank Beamer, DT Luther Maddy, DE Dadi Nicolas, QB Michael Brewer

Who’s back? DC Bud Foster, LB Andrew Motuapuaka, TE Bucky Hodges

Who’s new? HC Justin Fuente, QB Jerod Evans, DT Tim Settle

Gone is legendary head coach Frank Beamer, replaced by former Memphis head man Justin Fuente. Fuente’s job was made much easier this year, thanks to longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster remaining in Blacksburg, despite getting snubbed for the head coaching gig. On the defensive side of the ball, the Hokies lost DE Dadi Nicolas and CB Kendall Fuller to the NFL draft. JUCO transfer Jerod Evans, who replaced Michael Brewer at QB, has thrown for 21 TDs this season.

Matchup Preview

Frank Beamer, who was 9-4 against the Jackets (6-2 against Paul Johnson), is finally gone. Unfortunately, defensive coordinator Bud Foster remains. Foster has had some of the best success out of anyone at slowing down Paul Johnson’s triple option offense. The GT offense will need to be working like a well oiled machine tomorrow or Foster will once again find a way to slow it down enough to pull out the victory. This weeks suspension of Dedrick Mills certainly does not help. If there is something optimistic for Tech fans to point to, its that the Hokies rank 9th in the nation against the pass, but only 47th against the run.

While the Virginia Tech offense has certainly not been record breaking this season, they have done enough to get the job done. Previously mentioned quarterback Jerod Evans leads the team in both passing and receiving, racking up over 2500 total yards. Running back Travon McMillian, who had 135 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Jackets last year, is averaging almost 5 yards per carry on his way to 527 yards this season. WR Isaiah Ford, a preseason All-ACC selection, leads Virginia Tech in receiving yards and will certainly be playing in the NFL one day. The Georgia Tech secondary will have their hands full containing him.

Turnovers plagued the Hokies offense early in the season, giving the ball away nine times over the first two games. Since then, they’ve turned it over just five times. It is no secret that the Jackets defense lives and dies by the turnover. For Ted Roof’s bend, but don’t break defense to work, Tech has to force mistakes, something the Virginia Tech offense hasn’t done at all over the last three weeks. Allowing 638 yards against this week will bring the same result as it did against North Carolina.

Saturday’s game will be broadcast on ESPNU at 3:30.

Vegas Line

GaTech +14

Prediction

After an ugly result against North Carolina, things got even uglier this week when Dedrick Mills was suspended for two games. While Justin Thomas and Freddie Burden will return this week (both were injured against the Tar Heels), I would not assume either are 100% until we see them on the field. Additionally, kick returner and A-back J.J. Green remains out with an injury he suffered against Duke. What does this all mean? The Jackets could be in for a rough game on Saturday against a very good Virginia Tech team who has historically had their number. If the Georgia Tech defense shows up, things could play out much differently, but if the UNC effort is repeated, the Jackets fall 38-24.

Weekly Press Conference