After suffering their first loss of the season to the defending national champion Clemson Tigers, Virginia Tech hits the road for their first road ACC game against Boston College. The Hokies are heavy favorites, but know the Eagles will be looking for a signature upset win that could help save Steve Addazio's job.
With that said, here are our key matchups for the Hokies against Boston College.
Cam Phillips vs. CBs Kamrin Moore, Isaac Yiadom
The strength of this Boston College defense is their pass defense. The Eagles' pass defense has lots of experience and has played well ranking 12th in the nation in passing yards allowed per game and opposing completion percentage. Boston College's secondary has given opponents some problems, but they also haven't faced as good of a passer as Josh Jackson or as good of a receiver as Cam Phillips.
Phillips has been fantastic this season with 41 receptions for 597 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns as he has emerged as one of America's elite wide receivers. Phillips has also been very consistent with at least 6 catches and 70 receiving yards in each game this season. Even last week against Clemson, Phillips found a way to make a difference with 7 catches for 74 yards, leading the Hokies in both of those stats.
Boston College is one of the few ACC teams that will be able to be comfortable with whichever cornerback is on Phillips' side of the field as both Kamrin Moore and Isaac Yiadom are veterans who have been productive this season. Moore has been particularly good and ranked eighth among ACC cornerbacks in an interesting stat from Pro Football Focus (Greg Stroman ranks 5th).
Boston College has the cornerback talent to make this matchup more interesting, especially with Moore. However, Phillips has proven to be un-containable this season even against a loaded Clemson defense. Cam Phillips is one of America's best receivers and though BC may limit him a couple of times, Phillips will find a way to be productive and show why he's an All-American caliber WR this year.
Kyle Chung vs. DE Harold Landry
Kyle Chung faced a tough test last week against Clemson's loaded defensive line, and he doesn't get a break this week as he faces another future first rounder, Harold Landry.
After having 50 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, and 16.5 sacks last season; Landry has been solid through his first five games with 25 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. Harold Landry will almost certainly be a first round pick this spring and is among the elite defensive ends in the ACC and all of college football. Landry was better statistically as a pass rusher last year, but has developed even more into an all-around defensive end that will give Kyle Chung some problems.
Chung has been solid through the first five games, but he hasn't been perfect and he will face a significant test in this matchup. Chung will likely get some blocking help throughout this game, but there will be times where the Hokies need Chung to hold up one-on-one against Landry. If he can do so, it'll make the Eagles' very small chances of pulling off the upset even smaller.
Landry is an elite defensive end and while Chung may be able to contain him at times, the Eagles' star defensive end will be able to make things happen. The key for Chung is to limit Landry as much as he can in one-on-one situations and prevent Landry from having a huge game that gives BC a realistic chance at pulling off the upset.
The Mental Game
It's hard to find a third key matchup in this game with Boston College's offense being ranked outside the top 110 in the nation with 7 interceptions thrown through five games and their two main running backs averaging under 4 yards per carry. The Eagles' offense has been poor while their defense is not as good as it was a couple of years ago when Don Brown was BC's defensive coordinator before he left for Michigan.
The key for Virginia Tech will be, as Justin Fuente said this week, not "feeling sorry for yourself" and being focused on responding this week with a dominant performance on the road. Virginia Tech has no margin for error, and can't afford a letdown against the worst team left on their schedule.
The Hokies also can't afford to coast into this game with their bye week looming. Boston College isn't very good, but they are a team desperate for a big win, especially with this game being at home under the lights which should attract a large crowd. Boston College is better than ECU and ODU, and Virginia Tech can't put themselves in bye week mode just yet.
If Virginia Tech can mentally be there and ready to fight instead of being on to the bye week or stuck on last Saturday, this game won't be close. If they fail to do that, then the Eagles will have a shot of pulling off a big upset against VT.
Personally, I don't see that happening.
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