After picking up a big win at Florida State Monday night and rising 8 spots to 12th in the AP Poll, Virginia Tech returns to the field for their sold out home opener against FCS opponent William & Mary who went on the road and beat Bucknell in their season opener.
The Hokies have had a short turnaround to get ready for the Tribe, but will look to shine in front of the Hokie faithful in Lane Stadium for the first time this season. With that said, here are our keys to the game for the Hokies against W&M.
Virginia Tech has one of the weakest schedules in all of FBS over the next few weeks, making it of the utmost importance for the Hokies to get out of these games unscathed. Of course, the most important thing will be taking care of their business in these three games, but even a win won't feel nearly as much like a win if the Hokies suffer a major injury.
One place where the Hokies are likely to be careful at is defensive tackle. Ricky Walker played through a hyperextended knee he suffered in-game against Florida State, a feat that is hard to imagine any player doing. In addition, Vinny Mihota is still recovering from his knee injury from last season and was very limited against FSU. Though Walker and Mihota are more than capable of playing, don't be surprised to see their reps monitored and limited to ensure that they are 100% when VT travels to Duke in a few weeks.
The Hokies don't have any other injuries of note that are publicly known at the moment, but it will be important for Virginia Tech to not put important players in unnecessary positions in games that are out of reach. That could be even more important tomorrow given the forecast for lots of rain. While Lane Stadium does drain well, don't be surprised to see Justin Fuente bring in the backups a little earlier than you may expect as long as VT plays as well as expected.
Build Some Offensive Consistency
Virginia Tech's offense showed some promise with a strong start to the game including an impressive opening touchdown drive. However, the Hokies struggled for large stretches of the game with only one touchdown from an offensive possession after the first quarter and 0 points on four-straight possessions in the third and fourth quarters when starting inside Florida State territory.
Going into this game, the Hokies need to build some offensive consistency. Josh Jackson has some momentum going into this game after finishing the Florida State with seven-straight completions. While Jackson finished well and avoided any turnovers against FSU, the Hokies will need their starting QB to develop into a more consistent playmaker.
In addition, the Hokies showed flashes in the running game with Deshawn McClease shining in particular and averaging almost 6 yards per carry. However, the Hokies' running game wasn't too consistent in part because of some questionable playcalling with delayed runs struggling to gain any yards. However, the Hokies did show some improvement in the running game and have a chance to build some more consistency on the ground.
Virginia Tech's offense has shown promise but for that unit to take the next step, they'll need to build some consistency over the next few weeks before the schedules toughens up.
Get Depth Players Experience
After a tough game against Florida State had the Hokies' starters playing almost the whole game (except for the final VT defensive possession), this game should be the Hokies' first chance to get some of their backups and other depth guys valuable playing time.
The Hokies showed some very good depth along the defensive line against Florida State with defensive end depth looking quite impressive and defensive tackle showing some promise. However, this game should be a great chance for the Hokies to get all of their defensive backups an opportunity to play especially at positions like linebacker and cornerback where we rarely saw the backups rotate in against Florida State.
On offense, the Hokies showed that they have their deepest receiving corps in years, but this game should be a chance to get the younger receivers more experience especially Tre Turner. In addition, don't be surprised to see VT try to get Jalen Holston and Terius Wheatley more carries after both made brief cameo appearances against FSU.
Injuries are inevitable in college football and having games like this presents a great opportunity to get those important depth players meaningful reps against someone who isn't yourself.
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
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