Three Things to Watch for Virginia Tech Against Boston College

Three Things to Watch for Virginia Tech Against Boston College
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas | @TimThomasTLP

TLP: Editor
Nov 05, 2021

After picking up a much-needed win at Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech heads back on the road for the second of four times over their final five games to take on a Boston College team looking to break a losing streak of their own.

Keeping the Rushing Momentum

Virginia Tech has found new life with their rushing attack led by standout freshman Malachi Thomas who has broke the 100 rushing yard mark in back-to-back games to lift the offense to two of their best games of the season. Combine that with an offensive line finding their stride as a power-running football team and Raheem Blackshear being the perfect change-of-pace back and Tech has an offensive identity.

The question is can the Hokies keep this up as teams like Boston College are now able to see a couple games of data and adapt to Tech's offensive adjustment. However, this also seems like a good opportunity for the Hokies against a BC rush defense that is giving up 4.7 yards per game.

For this game, Tech needs to stick with their newfound power-running identity built around Malachi Thomas with Blackshear as the change-of-pace guy while also utilizing Braxton Burmeister on read options as well. Out of that, Tech needs to run some play action and RPOs to keep the BC defense guessing some.

If Tech can keep up their strong rushing attack for a third-straight week, Tech will have a good chance of leaving BC at 5-4.

Rush Defense Focus

Without Phil Jurkovec, Boston College has very much been a run-first and maybe run-only team as Dennis Grosel has struggled completing only 57.4% of his passes with 7 interceptions as well. That's led to talk that BC may go with Emmett Morehead over Grosel though there are also rumors that Jurkovec might be back tonight which seems very unlikely but changes things a lot.

Given the unlikely scenario where Jurkovec does return, the Hokies need to focus on forcing Grosel or Morehead to beat them given that they have the DB talent to give those guys issues even with Zay Flowers being one of the conference's best WRs.

Pat Garwo has been the heartbeat of this offense averaging 6 yards per carry and though he may not be as good as AJ Dillon, Garwo has proven to be more than capable for the Eagles. They'll have also seen the Hokies' defensive struggles against a Syracuse team that was run-heavy with Sean Tucker and Garrett Shrader, and likely look to test the Hokies on the ground early and often given those struggles.

The good news for Tech is that unlike the Syracuse game, Boston College doesn't really have a mobile QB threat to pair with Garwo which should allow them to take a similar approach to what they did early after the first possession against Syracuse that worked well before the emphasis shifted to Shrader as a passer and runner.

Of course, having Grosel have an out-of-nowhere big game like Shrader did is still something that Tech needs to have their pass defense ready for but a healthy Jermaine Waller to mark Zay Flowers should be a big boost in that regard.

Special Teams Making a Difference

Special teams have made a big difference for the Hokies this year with Tayvion Robinson playing like one of the top kick returners in the country with Peter Moore being a contender for a Freshman All-American honor at punter and John Parker Romo continuing to impress at kicker. Tech's special teams coverage units have also been big while kick returns with Keshawn King at the helm have boosted Tech's field position.

The field position and hidden yardage battles may be the hardest to track, but they have been crucial in either helping the Hokies win a couple of these games or at least giving them better opportunities to win even though offensive struggles shot the Hokies in the foot.

Against Boston College on what will be an emotional night given that it's their annual Red Bandanna game, Tech will need to be firing on all cylinders including on special teams and seek to use their advantages there to maximize what they are able to do.

If Tech's special teams can continue to play at the high level they've been doing so, it could be the difference to help the Hokies win a second-straight road game.