Three Things to Watch for Virginia Tech Against Boston College

Three Things to Watch for Virginia Tech Against Boston College
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas | @TimThomasTLP

TLP: Editor
Sep 09, 2022

After an upset loss against Old Dominion, the Virginia Tech Hokies are looking to bounce back and get their first win of the Brent Pry in their home opener against Boston College who is hoping to bounce back from an opening loss to Rutgers. Here's a look at my three things to watch for the Hokies against Boston College.

1. Can Keshawn King Keep It Up After Big Game at ODU?

On a night where Virginia Tech's offense was a roller coaster, Keshawn King was a standout with 111 yards on only 19 carries plus 3 receptions for 22 yards and a touchdown. King looked like the promising back we saw early in his career in Blacksburg putting it together for arguably the best game of his Hokie career.

The question with King to date is whether he can consistently do it and not just have big plays in spurts or flashes?

There were plenty of signs that this may be a different King who can put it all together on a consistent basis and not just in spurts. The fact that he had no fumbles was a big plus while he also was able to put together some of his best runs later in the game after having some of those grind-out runs early on. King was also effective in the passing game which shouldn't come as a surprise given the speed he brings to the table.

One thing that many have mentioned is that Tech could use more ways to try to get King in space which should definitely be desired but is easier said than done. Regardless, King rightly is at the top of the depth chart and should be getting 20-25 touches at least this week.

The question is can King replicate the impressive showing he had last week? If he can, Tech likely has a better outcome this week and the question may become more about King having a large role even when Malachi Thomas comes back.

2. Passing Game Questions

Virginia Tech's passing game had lots of issues last week from Grant Wells making some bad mistakes and having 4 interceptions to receiving corps issues that raised questions about the depth of their receiving corps to Wells having to deal with a good amount of pressure.

Heading into this week, many of those questions remain especially at wide receiver where Kaleb Smith was one of two receivers who seemed to consistently be a threat to make plays along with Da'Wain Lofton. Smith suffered an injury that prevented him from playing in the second half and may have led to some of Tech's issues. Though Smith appears likely to play, not having at 100% would still be less than ideal.

Tech will need major transfers Jadan Blue and Stephen Gosnell to step up. Gosnell showed loads of potential with a nice catch while Blue has a proven track record but was derailed some by injuries during fall camp. If one of those guys or someone like Jaylen Jones can be another consistent threat, Tech's passing game should open up more and give Grant Wells the greater opportunities he could use.

Tech may also need to lean more on their tight ends beyond just Nick Gallo being that consistent, quality check-down option with Drake DeIuliis and Connor Blumrick not making much of an impact against ODU.

Wells had lots of good in the opener but too many bad moments including some bad decisions and overthrows that has to be cleaned up especially his interception on an out route where the throw had to be looping in to have any chance of succeeding. He'll also need his offensive line to give him a little more time after Wells had his fair share of throws under duress last week.

Tech's passing game struggled mightily last week and needs to show some improvement this week though they'll have to do so against tougher competition.

3. Potential Big Game For The Pass Rush

Virginia Tech's defense had a strong performance overall last week including with their pass rush which didn't get a lot of sacks, but got loads of pressure on ODU QB Hayden Wolff. Wolff struggled mightily dealing with that pressure that came from a mix of blitzes and good pass rushing from the defensive line.

Tech's pass rush ranked in the top 10 in pressures last week with Boston College struggling mightily last week on pass protection as ESPN's David Hale illustrated well on Twitter. In that, Tech ranked 8th in getting pressure on dropbacks while the Eagles ranked 2nd in most pressures allowed on dropbacks.

That may be a surprise to some given Boston College is historically known for having a strong offensive line yet they have loads of youth in that area which is likely a large reason for their early struggles.

Meanwhile, Tech has loads of experience along their defensive line especially at DT but also with TyJuan Garbutt at DE. This Brent Pry-Chris Marve defense was also more apt to blitz similar to the great Bud Foster defenses which seems extremely likely to continue against the Eagles.

Guys like Norell Pollard and Garbutt almost certainly will be chomping at the bit knowing BC's offensive line struggles while this could also be a great opportunity for one of Cole Nelson or CJ McCray or Jaylen Griffin to separate himself in pursuit of being Tech's second starting DE.

If Tech can take advantage of Boston College's offensive line (which odds seem pretty good of), then it could be another strong defensive night for the Hokies with a winning outcome this time.