Photo Credit: Jake Roth
#23 Virginia Tech is looking to bounce back this week as they take on a Boston College team that knows they are a win away from jumping into the top 25. There's plenty of talent on both sides and some great matchup as well so with that said, here's our key matchups for the Hokies against the Eagles.
VT DB Chamarri Conner vs. BC TE Hunter Long
Boston College's strong offense is surprisingly built around their passing attack led by transfer Phil Jurkovec and his top two playmakers, WR Zay Flowers and TE Hunter Long.
Similar to James Mitchell, Hunter Long is a tough challenge for any opponent just as you would expect it to be for an above-average receiving tight end.
Long leads the Eagles in receptions with 31 to go with 363 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns as one of the most productive tight ends in America not named Kyle Pitts. Long has impressed a lot of people and is likely rising a lot of draft boards quite quickly especially since he's already set a new career high for receptions in a season just four games in to this one.
However, the Hokies have one of the best possible matchups in nickelback Chamarri Conner.
Conner has proven to be a great box-to-box safety who has been solid in coverage but much better when guarding tight ends compared to speedy slot receivers. Conner benefits from the fact that he's a little more built than many DBs at 211 pounds while also being unafraid to be a physical pass defender without crossing the line into pass interference when guarding tight ends.
This matchup will be an important one to watch with Jurkovec looking to lean on Long and Zay Flowers as he has for much of this season to date. If Conner can contain Hunter Long, expect Boston College's offense to slow down a lot especially with a rushing attack that is shockingly averaging only 1.9 yards per carry with lead backs David Bailey and Pat Garwo averaging 3.1 yards per carry.
VT Cornerbacks vs. BC WR Zay Flowers
Zay Flowers had a couple big plays in last year's VT-Boston College game, showing at the time that he had the potential to develop into a dynamic, NFL-caliber playmaker on the edge.
Well, he's doing that in 2020 as he's already had 21 catches for 405 yards and 4 touchdowns in his first four games of the season, averaging an insane 19.3 yards per reception.
Flowers is the classic home run hitting receiver that can blow the top of a defense at any moment while also being a dynamic guy in space that requires defensive backs to be in their best form with their open-field tackling.
While Tech is expected to have Divine Deablo back to provide great safety help over the top, the Hokies will need their cornerbacks to step up especially Jermaine Waller and Armani Chatman.
Waller showed some rust last week, but also made some solid plays and had a really good game as a tackler while Chatman struggled and seemed to not his legs under him. With a full week to prep after both returned against UNC, they should be in better shape but Flowers will undoubtedly test them a lot.
If Tech can find a way to contain Flowers, it definitely opens the door a lot wider for the Hokies to have a dominant home victory.
VT RB Khalil Herbert vs. BC Rush Defense
However, the Hokies not only have high-end NFL talent starting but loads of depth with an experienced former starter like Silas Dzansi who is more than capable to come in and be a high level starter.
Additionally, Khalil Herbert is simply a different level back and one of the best in the nation who can even turn plays that look like nothing into big gains. We've seen multiple cases of Herbert planning to run between the tackles but breaking way outside for a long gain if not a score.
In many ways, it feels like the star running back advantage has switched sides with A.J. Dillon being an unsurprising difference maker in last year's matchup. Herbert has that type of elite vision and patience combined with an impressive motor and great toughness that most of the best running backs always have.
Plus, Herbert will benefit from a full game of Hendon Hooker under center especially because he provides that legitimate vertical passing threat that will stop defenses from cheating with 8 in the box going forward.
BC may be able to make some plays, but it seems like a safe bet for Herbert to break 100 rushing yards for the fourth-straight game and do so in an efficient manner.