Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
The wait is just about over as Virginia Tech is finally poised to take the field to open the most unprecedented season of college football in a century if not ever. Their opponent is an N.C. State team looking to build off a 45-42 shootout victory in their opener against Wake Forest.
One thing to note is that from what I've been hearing, Tech should have "almost the entire depth chart" available for this game. Of course, things can change very quickly with one more day before test to go and who knows how many of those players may be in the best of shape. However, having most of the depth chart available would be a big boost for VT.
So with that said, it's time for the first picks of the 2020 season as #20 Virginia Tech looks get a victory against N.C. State.
There's plenty of unknown surrounding who Virginia Tech will have and how well-conditioned Tech will be, but the Hokies are the more talented team and still rightfully the favorite. Plus, it helps that the Hokies have a lot of depth at quarterback and on the offensive line in a game that feels like it could be a shootout given how both teams are entering this game.
Any defensive gameplan for Virginia Tech has to revolve around containing N.C. State's strong rushing attack led by Ricky Person Jr and Zonovan Knight. The Wolfpack don't have the same wide receiver talent that they've had in the past so any defensive strategy for Tech should be built around containing the run and forcing them into passing situations, testing Bailey Hockman who didn't really have to push the ball down the field too much against Wake Forest.
Offensively, Tech has to lean into their star talent and let their playmakers make plays whoever that may be. Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson will both be big pieces of that puzzle with getting them in space being critical whether that's via screens and slants or even the well-renowned jet sweep that gets lots of complaints even though Turner averaged 9.6 yards per carry on 24 carries.
This will be a closer game than it would be under normal circumstances, but the Hokies are the more talented team and have the advantage of strong special teams to go with QB and offensive line depth that will help lead them to a season-opening victory.
Pick: #20 Virginia Tech 38, N.C. State 31
The Hokies’ season opener comes against a rested NC State side that won a 45-42 shootout against Wake Forest two weeks ago. That score line may come as a surprise, considering Wake Forest dealt with the loss of their quarterback and most dangerous offensive weapon before the season and still hung 42 on the Wolfpack’s defense.
That should be enough for Virginia Tech to be salivating at the thought of facing NC State, particularly for Hendon Hooker and wideout Tre Turner. The Wolfpack’s secondary should show some improvement since last year where offenses enjoyed torching them through the air, but by no means should they be a lockdown unit.
The Hokies’ defense should have success containing NC State’s offense. The Wolfpack essentially solely rely on their run game to move the ball down the field, gaining 270 yards against the Deacons. Tech’s defense is much more stout, particularly in the trenches and at linebacker which should mitigate NC State’s run game.
But we have seen in the past where the Hokies’ smaller players between the tackles, while they get penetration, allows too many runners to get to the second level of the defense where they struggle to bring down bigger backs. It will be an interesting first test for Justin Hamilton to scheme up favorable box advantages against NC State’s offense.
Overall, I like the Hokies to win by a touchdown or more in this game. The quarterback matchup certainly favors Tech, as do the perimeter matchups with the Hokies’ receivers being a skill level notch above NC State’s. The Hokies’ defense will be tested, but they should force enough mistakes from a young NC State quarterback, whether that will be Devin Leary or Bailey Hockman.
Pick: #20 Virginia Tech 35, N.C. State 21
With some of the temperature highs dropping to the mid-50’s and low-60’s in Blacksburg, that can only mean that football is back!
Although the wait took much longer and this season will be unlike anything we have seen before, the Hokies are ready to put the difficult offseason behind them and get back out on the field.
Virginia Tech will open up their season against a fairly decent opponent in the N.C. State Wolfpack, who are coming off a 45-42 victory against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons last Saturday.
There will also be a familiar face on the opposing sideline tomorrow as former long-time Virginia Tech defensive line coach Charley Wiles is in his first season as the N.C. State D-Line Coach.
Prior to this week’s matchup, Fuente mentioned the fact that he has been fully prepared for not having his full lineup for his season opening matchup saying on Monday, “we will not have a full roster but I hope we’re able to play.”
With that being said, we could really see anybody get out there and play significant minutes for the Hokies.
For the Wolfpack, running backs Ricky Person Jr. and Zonovan Knight both ended up just short of one hundred rushing yards each last week as the team tallied for a total of 270 yards rushing.
With so much uncertainty of who will be on the field for the Hokies on Saturday, it’s really hard to detect and see how they can match up against N.C. State.
Despite the questioning of who will play on Saturday, I do believe that the Hokies will be the better team in this game and will pull out the victory to start the season at a 1-0 record.
Pick: #20 Virginia Tech 35, N.C. State 21
It’s finally here. After months of cancellations and postponements, the Hokies will suit up on Saturday to take on the North Carolina State Wolfpack. While this is the first game for Virginia Tech on the season, N.C. State played its first game last week, sneaking out a win against Wake Forest, 45-42.
I think the Hokies will win in this matchup, but then again, it is the team’s first actual game of the season. Even after the result of Saturday night’s game, there’s no guarantee that we will see the same team from here on out, whether it be due to potential positive COVID tests, or just the ambiguity that goes along with week one football.
With that being said, I won’t be surprised if the Wolfpack takes an early lead while the Hokies get off to a slower start. Virginia Tech is quite clearly the more talented team, and that’s why they will win, but the final score probably won’t reflect it.
I think this is the week that Hendon Hooker really makes a name for himself nationally, as he faces an N.C. State team that gave up 385 yards and five touchdowns last week.
Despite all the week one jitters and the uncertainty surrounding the remainder of the season, expect the Hokies to come out on top on Saturday.