Virginia Tech is back in home in Lane Stadium for their home opener against the Delaware Blue Hens. The Hokies picked up a huge win over West Virginia this past Sunday that pushed them up a few spots in the polls. If the Hokies can take care of business against their next 3 opponents, all from outside the power 5, the Hokies should be in the top 10-12 when Clemson comes to Blacksburg on September 30th.
However, the Hokies can’t expect to sleepwalk through this game and comfortably get the victory. With that said, here are our keys to the game.
Start With High Intensity
If Virginia Tech wants to make sure that this game is over by halftime, they can’t afford to come out flat and sleepwalk through the early part of this game. In a game that should be a home celebration of sorts, getting off to a slow start is the one thing that, while very tempting to do, can’t be done by the Hokies.
This game has all the makings of one that could see the Hokies get off to a slow start especially with the short week of rest combined with Delaware looking to shock the nation in this one. While the Hokies should be able to get going and take care of business even if they start slow, a slow start could also mean the game is still somewhat competitive well into the second half.
For Justin Fuente, that is what he would like to avoid.
This game is a great opportunity to get backups and younger players lots of playing time but in order to that, the Hokies need to get off to a strong start against the Blue Hens. We’ve seen Virginia Tech show they can basically end games in the first half after blowout wins over East Carolina and Boston College last season. However, the big difference is that the Hokies won’t have the motivation of facing an ACC team or a pesky AAC team.
If the Hokies can start out with high intensity, this will be an extremely relaxing afternoon of football for all in maroon, orange, and Hokie Stone.
Get Banged Up Guys Rest
Though Terrell Edmunds and Steven Peoples both suffered very minor injuries that they could have played through against West Virginia. It still makes sense for the Hokies to give these guys a little more rest than they would have planned to pre-West Virginia.
Now this is not to say that either them are actually dealing with anything serious but with the Hokies having a short recovery week combined with Edmunds having to go to the locker room and Peoples having to be on the sidelines for a little bit, it just makes sense for the Hokies to give them shorter stints than usual.
Giving Peoples some extra rest in this game would allow for true freshman Jalen Holston to get some carries along with Deshawn McClease and Travon McMillian. Peoples showed that he can be the bruising RB in this rotation and keeping him healthy will be important.
Terrell Edmunds has plenty of experience so giving him some extra rest this week is a smart move. The Hokies also have Divine Deablo ready to capably fill in as he did Sunday night along with the ability to get Devon Hunter some first team defensive reps sporadically in the first half, helping the Hokies continue to strengthen their great depth at safety.
Edmunds and Peoples are both just about 100% but in a game that should be a cakewalk, limiting the snaps even of guys who are at about 99% is a sensible precautionary as long as the Hokies have a comfortable lead.
Get the Backups In
This one is pretty obvious, but this is a fantastic opportunity for the Hokies to get their backups some live game reps. This is especially important at a few spots on both offense and defense where the Hokies either need to get a backup experience or develop their depth.
First, AJ Bush is very likely to make his collegiate debut in Saturday’s game as if Josh Jackson and the Hokies take care of business, Bush will likely come in during the final half of the third quarter or right at the start of the fourth quarter. While you’d rather not think about losing your starting QB to injury, any coach has to be ready for it and having a backup with some sort of live game experience is definitely beneficial.
Second, Virginia Tech’s wide receiver depth is a concern as though Sean Savoy and CJ Carroll had good games, Eric Kumah struggled while Hezekiah Grimsley and Phil Patterson struggled to touch the field. These young receivers need to gain some experience and this game gives them the opportunity to do so.
Virginia Tech’s backup defensive line had quite a bad night against West Virginia, but the best way to improve these guys is to get them game reps, and they should have the chance to get plenty of reps against Delaware. Houshun Gaines and Emmanuel Belmar were mediocre on the end while the Hokies struggled to gain any pressure from the middle.
If Virginia Tech gets off to a good start and has a 28+ point lead at halftime or early in the third quarter, it makes a lot of sense for Justin Fuente to get his backups in quickly.
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