After a fumble-filled loss to the Tennessee Volunteers in the Battle at Bristol, the Virginia Tech Hokies return home to Lane Stadium to take on the Boston College Eagles. The Hokies return home looking to get off to a strong start in ACC play while Boston College looks for an upset victory after failing to win a single ACC game last season.
Ahead of the Hokies’ ACC opener, here’s a look at the keys to the game for Virginia Tech.
Protect the Football
With the Hokies having 10 fumbles, 9 of which they lost, in the first two weeks of the season, protecting the football is going to be critical for the Hokies once again this week against Boston College. The five fumbles lost against Tennessee proved to be very costly for the Hokies and while Boston College isn’t as good as the Volunteers, the Eagles are good enough to make you pay if the Hokies turn the ball over in the same way that they did last week.
Virginia Tech will be facing a Boston College defense that was arguably the best in all of college football last season and has held each of their first two opponents to under 20 points. While this defense doesn’t have the same defensive coordinator, they still have a lot of the pieces that made them as effective as they were, and you can expect that they’ll look to try to force some fumbles with the way the Hokies have struggled protecting the football.
Justin Fuente and his staff have certainly been stressing ball security throughout the week and will be hoping for a much better performance against Boston College. If fumbles become an issue once again, the Hokies will put them in a much more precarious spot than they should be against a Boston College that is good enough to take advantage of bad mistakes.
Make BC Beat You Through The Air
Last week, the Hokies shut down Joshua Dobbs through the air limiting him to under 100 passing yards with over a third of those coming on one deep touchdown pass. However, Dobbs ran for over 100 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground which proved very costly in the end.
This week, the Hokies face a dual-threat quarterback in Patrick Towles who is averaging under 170 passing yards per game and while he is not as good of a runner as Dobbs, he is a mobile threat that is good enough to do damage.
Bud Foster will need the Hokies to play alert and physical while also doing their best to not allow Towles to escape the pocket and open the door to make plays with his legs. The Hokies were able to get a lot of pressure on Dobbs last week but the Tennessee QB was able to get away at the last second even if that meant breaking a tackle.
This week, the Hokies will need strong defensive awareness of what Towles is looking to do especially from linebackers Andrew Motuapuaka and Tremaine Edmunds. Look for Bud Foster to try a couple different things including using Edmunds and Motuapuaka in semi-spy roles or blitzing guys like Edmunds and Mook Reynolds on the edge to help with containment.
If the Hokies can make Towles a single-threat and be effective in stopping the BC ground attack, expect a very dominant defensive performance against a secondary that has played exceptionally well in the first two weeks.
Last week,the Hokies averaged around 12.5 yards per penalty on their 8 penalties with plenty of those penalties being the worst kind, personal fouls. The Hokies had at least 2 or 3 roughing the passers plus a couple personal fouls on bad blocks from Wyatt Teller and an unsportsmanlike conduct from Mook Reynolds after his interception.
Justin Fuente called the discipline problem the biggest disappointment of the opening to weeks for the Hokies and something that Fuente will absolutely look to prevent form being an issue again this Saturday.
Anyone who receivers an early personal foul will most likely be in danger of losing significant playing time with the Hokies looking to make sure that the penalty issue that they had against the Volunteers doesn’t happen again. If the Hokies can play the disciplined type of football that they played in the first quarter last Saturday, this game could end up getting ugly.