For the first time, Virginia Tech and Old Dominion will face off for the first time in both programs' history. For football in the state of Virginia, this is a significant as the 757's first FBS football program makes its first trip to Blacksburg to face the best program in Virginia with a trip to Norfolk looming next year.
Old Dominion struggled last week against North Carolina, but will come out with plenty of intensity in their first game against the Hokies looking to pull the upset. The Hokies are rightfully heavy favorites, but still can't afford to overlook the Monarchs with Clemson looming in a week.
With that said, here is our by the numbers preview.
The number of players with more receiving yards than Cam Phillips.
Cam Phillips has been excellent this season, currently leading the nation with 417 receiving yards, tied for third nationally with 27 receptions, and tied for second nationally with 5 receiving touchdowns. Phillips has been one of America's best receivers and is already looking like a serious All-America candidate.
Cam Phillips has a great opportunity at breaking all of Isaiah Ford's career records. Phillips has taken his game to the next level and has had the best start that any Virginia Tech receiver has ever had. Just a few years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine that a Virginia Tech receiver could lead the nation in a major receiving stat. However, Phillips is doing exactly that and defenses haven't found a way to slow him down yet.
Cam Phillips has been one of the most dynamic receivers in college football with defenses having no answer for him even when they try putting two or three defenders on him. Phillips has taken his game to the next level this season, and ODU has the impossible task of trying to slow him down Saturday. Don't be surprised if Phillips has another big game this week especially after their poor showing against UNC where Chazz Surratt threw for 259 yards and a TD.
The number of sacks Old Dominion has through 3 games.
Old Dominion leads the nation in sacks with 16, one more than Clemson's elite defensive line that comes to Blacksburg next week. This game presents a great warm-up test for the Hokies' offensive line before facing the Tigers who had 11 sacks against Auburn two weeks go.
Old Dominion has a similar scheme to West Virginia so the Hokies should expect some unique pass rushes and blitzes that create one-on-one matchups the Hokies would like to avoid. Overall, the Hokies will need their whole offensive line to be effective with ODU prepared to attack any weakness that they can find.
If ODU is going to have a chance at pulling off the upset, their talented pass rush will be critical especially against a defensive line that has two starters with 3.5 sacks (Bunmi Rotimi, Miles Fox) in only 3 games.
However, ODU faces a Virginia Tech offensive line that has been quite good at pass blocking allowing only 3 sacks in their first 3 games. That success hasn't been simply because of the veterans, but also because of the new starters playing fairly well. Braxton Pfaff and Kyle Chung have done well on the right side of the offensive line so far this season, but they will continue to be tested going forward in part because of the talent on the left side of the OL.
The Hokies' offensive line will need to be playing at a high level Saturday or ODU may have a way to keep this game interesting longer than you'd expect or like.
The number of tackles for loss Virginia Tech has through 3 games.
Virginia Tech has been dominant especially in rush defense with 28 tackles for loss and 8 sacks through 3 games. Six different Hokies have at least 2 tackles for loss so far including 4 with 3+ tackles for loss (Mook Reynolds, Tremaine Edmunds, Andrew Motuapuaka, Trevon Hill).
Virginia Tech's rush defense has caused lots of problems with VT only allowing 3.3 yards per carry. Those numbers are extremely impressive and show how the Hokies currently have one of the best rush defenses in America.
ODU's rushing attack has struggled as well only averaging 3.5 yards per carry so far. However, the Monarchs are likely to try to establish a strong running attack especially with ODU starting a true freshman QB in front of a sold-out Lane Stadium. If the Hokies can force ODU's young QB to do all the work on offense, it'll be a really long day for ODU.
The age of Old Dominion's starting QB.
Yes, Old Dominion's new starting quarterback is 17-year old true freshman Steven Williams. Williams took the starting job from Blake LaRussa thanks to a solid performance against UNC throwing for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns.
However, there are some not-so-good signs for ODU as Williams was a disappointing 9-for-20 passing against a fairly weak UNC defense. This week, Williams will face a VT defense that kept ECU to 11-for-30 passing last week. Williams is going to have to grow up a lot for this game especially with what should be a very tough environment in front of a sellout crowd.
There is one unique connection here as Williams was teammates with freshman WR Sean Savoy. Savoy should have some insight that could help the Hokies in dealing with Williams while Justin Fuente said that they'll look at some of his high school film since tape on him is so limited.
Number of turnovers for Virginia Tech through 3 games.
After having lots of fumble issues at the beginning of last season, Virginia Tech has played extremely clean football this year with only 1 lost fumble through 3 games coming from Cam Phillips surprisingly. Justin Fuente made ball security a priority throughout the offseason, and it's showing on the field over the first 3 games of the season.
However, it hasn't just been the running backs, but Josh Jackson has done a great job protecting the football. Jackson has shown great decision-making and has no interceptions through the first 3 games, an impressive stat for a redshirt freshman QB who has played a quality West Virginia team during the Hokies' 3-0 start.
Going forward, this low turnover rate will need to continue especially with Clemson looming next Saturday. So far, there are no indications that this could change significantly especially with how Jackson has consistently made smart decisions and very few questionable throws.
The numbers of days Virginia Tech has held the Commonwealth Cup at kickoff Saturday.
The number of days Virginia Tech has held the Black Diamond Trophy at kickoff Saturday.
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