The weather is going to be rough this weekend in Blacksburg, but the Virginia Tech Hokies will take the field this Saturday in their ACC opener against the Pittsburgh Panthers. Most are expecting a smaller-than-normal crowd due to terrible weather conditions and the high risk/likelihood of flooding in areas surrounding Blacksburg.
This will be a messy game in tough conditions, but one that the Hokies need to win against a Pittsburgh team that is already without star running back James Connor for the rest of the season. Here’s our look at the three Hokies to keep an eye on this Saturday on what will be a very wet day in Blacksburg.
QB Brenden Motley
Brenden Motley now has experience in wet conditions, but this game has the potential to have worse conditions than last Saturday’s game in East Carolina. Motley will also be going against the toughest defense he has faced since Motley came in for Michael Brewer against Ohio State.
Motley has played well since taking over for the injured Brewer with 734 passing yards for 5 touchdowns and 1 interception with a completion percentage of 61.4% over the last three games. Motley also stepped up with his legs last week against East Carolina with 19 carries for 85 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, and an average of 4.5 yards per carry.
The Hokies will likely try to run the ball a lot with Motley potentially leading the charge again depending on the weather conditions. However, Motley will also have to make some plays through the air with Pittsburgh only giving up 3.3 yards per carry.
Motley has the playmakers on the outside with Isaiah Ford, Cam Phillips, Ryan Malleck and Bucky Hodges who is starting to heat up. The weather also proved to not be too much of an issue last week for Motley throwing the football as he was 20-for-35 for 281 passing yards.
Brenden Motley has stepped up in Michael Brewer’s absence with this potentially being the last game before the senior quarterback returns. The goal now is for the Hokies to start off ACC play with a win, and Motley will be ready to do it through the air and with his legs in tough conditions.
RB Travon McMillian
Travon McMillian made the transition from quarterback to running back early on in fall practice last season but earned a spot on the top 3 of the running back depth chart. McMillian has already exceeded expectations this season, and is a game-changing type running back.
So far, McMillian has been quite impressive with 26 carries for 209 rushing yards and a very good average of 8.0 yards per carry. McMillian has been very effective on jet sweeps and on running plays out of shotgun this season, and his role seems likely to expand.
McMillian has not had a game with double-digit carries yet, but this could be the game with Shane Beamer talking about how he has been impressed with McMillian. The redshirt freshman running back has improving vision and patience as a runner, which will be critical in him becoming a very good running back and not just a dangerous athlete with great speed.
McMillian has big-play potential and showed that against Furman with one run for 63 yards. McMillian also can make some plays in the passing game out of the slot as the redshirt freshman already has 5 catches for 24 yards this season.
Travon McMillian has already shown plenty of promise, and he might just be poised to have a big game on what will be a wet day at Lane Stadium.
CB Terrell Edmunds
For weeks, it had been known that Kendall Fuller was not healthy with some sort of knee injury. However, Fuller kept on pushing for the first three games, but then sat out against East Carolina. In the days following the game, the Hokies announced that Fuller would have season-ending knee surgery on a torn meniscus.
With Fuller out, the Hokies will turn to Terrell Edmunds to join Brandon Facyson as Virginia Tech’s other starting cornerback.
Edmunds has had a great fall, and his promotion to being the replacement for Fuller in the starting lineup is the biggest sign of that. Edmunds has shown toughness and tremendous energy so far on special teams with his punt block against Purdue, and has flown under-the-radar with solid production.
Edmunds has great size for the position, but doesn’t have that much experience which makes this game a great opportunity to prove that he can handle the job. Facyson will be the guy that covers Pittsburgh WR Tyler Boyd, but Edmunds may be targeted early.
Edmunds will also have pressure from Mook Reynolds and Donovan Riley for the starting spot over the next few weeks, and Edmunds will have to play at a high level to keep his job. Pittsburgh will look to test Edmunds early and often, and it will be up to the redshirt freshman cornerback to prove himself.