The Virginia Tech Hokies returned to the top 25 last week and proved they deserved to remain and rise in it after a 34-3 win at North Carolina this past Saturday. Now, the Hokies are ranked 17th in the country and are headed up to Syracuse for an ACC cross-divisional matchup ahead of next week’s huge Coastal showdown in Blacksburg between Virginia Tech and Miami.
The Hokies came away from Chapel Hill mostly unscathed despite the poor conditions but one Hokie did leave the game a little banged up in Isaiah Ford who picked up an ankle injury fairly early and rarely played after that, in part due to how the Hokies were able to open up the lead without him.
Yesterday, Justin Fuente updated the situation of Isaiah Ford to the best of his knowledge.
Fuente: Isaiah Ford looked fine yesterday #Hokies
— The Tech Lunch Pail (@techlunchpaild) October 10, 2016
While Justin Fuente’s comments that Isaiah Ford looked fine are a good sign that Ford’s injury isn’t serious, the fact of the matter is that he is unlikely to be 100% for Saturday’s game. If Ford is able to get back to 100% by Saturday’s game, then the Hokies should let him play as they would normally do so.
However, it seems unlikely that Ford will be 100% for Saturday and the smart move would be to limit Ford’s playing time on Saturday.
Yes, the Hokies can’t afford to overlook Syracuse but the Hokies are clear favorites against the Orange and this can easily become a trap game if the Hokies don’t maintain the mentality that has helped them blow out some of their weaker opponents so far, but the Hokies also have plenty of talent to comfortably beat the Orange this week.
Syracuse has one of the worst defenses among power 5 schools giving up 36 points per game (tied for 107th in the nation) and 475 total yards per game (tied for 113th nationally). The Orange are also giving up 273.5 passing yards per game which is outside the top 100 in the nation. Syracuse’s defense also has no senior starters and lack of experience makes this even more favorable for the Hokies given the number of experienced playmakers they have without including Ford.
Yes, Justin Fuente and the coaching staff will want to continue to maintain there 12-game season approach but Fuente and his staff are smart enough to know that Syracuse is a team they should comfortably beat and that saving Ford for Miami makes sense. Of course, the Hokies likely may play Ford for a few early snaps and let him be technically a starter this week, but it would be smart to limit his playing time after the first possession if he evens touches the field again.
Also, the Hokies have the weapons to step up in the place of Ford with Bucky Hodges and Cam Phillips leading the charge along with C.J. Carroll, Jaylen Bradshaw, and Divine Deablo proving plenty capable as well. While Ford may play some early, Virginia Tech has the playmakers to be able to afford playing most of the game without Ford against a 2-4 Syracuse that seems headed for another losing season at the beginning of Dino Babers’s rebuilding project.
Of course, not having a player like Ford playing a lot of reps will bring more defensive attention to Bucky Hodges and Cam Phillips but they have gotten their fair share of attention even in some cases when Ford is on the field. Both Hodges and Phillips are plenty capable to lead the charge while a young like Divine Deablo could be a guy to watch as someone to step up with the first team offense should he get lots of reps in this game.
Unless Isaiah Ford is 100% healthy and there is no real risk of re-aggravating his ankle injury, Ford should play a very limited number of snaps against Syracuse if he touches the field at all.