The Virginia Tech Hokies travel to Boston to take on the Boston College Eagles in a game that is a must-win if the 3-5 Hokies are going to extend their bowl-game streak to 23 seasons. With a Thursday night game at Georgia Tech 12 days followed by a tough home game against North Carolina, the Hokies know that this is a critical week to avoid an upset.
Statistically speaking, Boston College has one of the nation’s best defenses especially when it comes to shutting down opponents on the ground, but the Eagles’ offense has been quite bad as BC has been shut out twice and has not scored more than 17 points in a single game against a FBS opponent this season.
With that said, here’s our look at the three Hokies to watch against the ACC’s only team without a conference win, Boston College.
RB Travon McMillian
The redshirt freshman has been tremendously good over the last three weeks, and already seems to be the Hokies’ best running back since David Wilson. For the first time in his career, McMillian had over 100 rushing yards, and did that pretty easily with 29 carries for 142 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns.
In Boston, McMillian will face the toughest rush defense that the Hokies face the rest of the season with the Eagles leading the nation in least amount of rushing yards allowed per game. The Hokies’ offensive line and McMillian will both be tested with Virginia Tech looking for the redshirt tailback to provide productive plays to set up Michael Brewer and the passing attack.
McMillian will have to be smart, and focus on getting solid yards in many cases. However, McMillian will have to also take advantage of the big-play opportunities that he gets, which may end up being few and far between in this game.
McMillian has passed every test that has faced him so far, but he faces hig toughest test yet against a Boston College rush defense that even held Florida State star RB and Heisman Trophy contender Dalvin Cook to under 60 rushing yards.
WR Isaiah Ford
Much of the talk surrounding the Hokies’ offensive skill players has centered on Travon McMillian and Bucky Hodges, which has star wide receiver Isaiah Ford flying under-the-radar despite the fact that he seems to be a frontrunner to be an All-ACC First Team player.
Ford had one of his best games of his season last week with a season-high 9 receptions for 67 yards in Virginia Tech’s loss to Duke. This week, Ford will look to make some big plays in some one-on-one matchups with Hodges likely to draw a lot of attention from the Boston College secondary.
Ford is a great route-runner and while he doesn’t have elite speed, Ford knows how to use his agility and route-running to get the separation he needs while still having solid speed. Ford may be the best wide receiver that Boston College goes against all season, and will look to strengthen his All-ACC First Team case even more.
Ford definitely has the talent to have a big game, and be a difference maker against a very tough Boston College defense. Don’t be surprised if Ford has a big game in terms of receptions and shows once again why he is likely to be on the All-ACC First Team.
DE Dadi Nicolas
Dadi Nicolas has had a nightmare of a start to the season after being All-ACC First Team last season with only 23 tackles and 1 tackle for loss in eight games this season. Nicolas has been hampered some by a hand injury, but his injury didn’t at least seem like something that would hamper him as much as it seems like it may be.
Nicolas has been able to get a lot of pressure on the quarterback, but his tackling has been sub-par this season which is a big reason why he doesn’t have multiple sacks this season. Nicolas will be ready to put plenty of pressure on whoever Boston College’s quarterback is along with containing the Eagles’ rushing attack.
The question that remains is can Nicolas step up his tackling despite the fact that he clearly has some serious injuries to his hands. In theory, the answer should be yes, but Nicolas has had his struggles this season.
There is no doubt that Nicolas is leaving it all on the field, and the senior defensive end will do everything he can to breakthrough today and get his first sack of the season. It would not be surprising if today is the day where Nicolas gets his first sack, but we will have to wait and see if it happens.