Virginia Tech suffered a tough 28-10 loss to Miami
last weekend while Georgia Tech suffered an upset loss at Virginia 40-36 that made the Cavaliers bowl eligible. This week, Virginia Tech is looking to avoid back-to-back losses while the Yellow Jackets are looking to end their two-game losing streak.
With that said, here is our by the numbers preview for Saturday.
0: Number of times Virginia Tech has lost back-to-back games in the Justin Fuente era.
If there's one thing about Justin Fuente's teams, it's the fact that they are able to bounce back after a loss. In Fuente's short tenure, Virginia Tech has not lost back-to-back games. In the past four seasons, Fuente has only lost consecutive games once in 2015 with a three-game losing streak with Memphis.
Fuente has proven to be a great motivator coming off losses with the Hokies picking up some big wins off their bye weeks. Twice, the Hokies have gone on the road and picked up big wins after a loss, doing so at Notre Dame last year and at Boston College this year. Fuente has also had some blowout victories after losses including a 49-0 win over Boston College after last year's loss to Tennessee and a 37-16 win over Miami after last year's loss at Syracuse.
Fuente has had some impressive victories coming off losses, but this week presents some unique challenges that he hasn't faced coming off any other loss. First, Virginia Tech was eliminated from ACC Championship contention in the regular season for the first time during the Justin Fuente era. Second, Virginia Tech only has a week to prepare for a second-straight game away from Blacksburg. Third, VT's travel chaos has created a short week to prepare for a triple-option Georgia Tech program that is already difficult to prepare for.
These are challenges that Justin Fuente would prefer not to have, but ones that he won't be afraid to face head on. Fuente has proven to be a great motivator, and you can bet that the Hokies will be fired up and ready to go for Saturday's game against Georgia Tech.
3.76: Average yards per carry for VT not including sacks.
Here's a disappointing stat from ESPN's David Hale on the Hokies' running game.
Virginia Tech is averaging 3.76 yards per carry when sacks are not included. While some of that may be due to QB draws that have gone for minimal gain, that number is still very disappointing and a big reason why the Hokies' offense has had some struggles against tougher competition.
However, it's clear that the Hokies' struggles at running the football are making life more difficult for Josh Jackson and the VT passing game. If the Hokies' offense is going to take the next step, they are going to need their rushing attack to step up.
Deshawn McClease and Travon McMillian have been leading the charge in the backfield, but both likely will have more pressure after struggling some last week. While that was partly due to poor offensive line play and play design, both RBs have work to do to improve their vision. However, McClease showed more patience and vision last week and if I was Justin Fuente, I would be sending McClease out to start the game.
If McClease and McMillian struggle, the Hokies should give Coleman Fox a shot. With VT's running game having the struggles its having, it would be crazy not to give Fox at least a chance to see if he can produce in the first half of a game and not just be a guy that comes in once the game is out of hand. Jalen Holston hasn't looked great but with this being his return to his home state of Georgia, getting Holston some carries is worth the shot, especially since Holston will likely want to have a big game in his home state.
Virginia Tech's running game has held the Hokies' offense and VT needs to find a way to get it going to give Josh Jackson and the passing game some extra help.
3: Georgia Tech's ranking in time of possession per game.
Georgia Tech's triple option is extremely effective at controlling the clock and limiting the number of possessions in a game. The Yellow Jackets are third in the nation in average time of possession per game behind only Wisconsin and Navy. Georgia Tech dominates the clock and forces you to be highly efficient with the football in order to win.
Justin Fuente knows the Hokies will need to be efficient on offense, and knows that there will be pressure to do so as there was at TCU when they played Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl
. That year, the Badgers held TCU to only three offensive plays in the second quarter, making every offensive possession extremely valuable.
Virginia Tech's offense has had an issue with slow starts but has been picked up by a defense that has also shut down teams early and occasionally scored a touchdown of their own. Saturday, the Hokies will need a solid start from their offense, and it will be interesting to see if Brad Cornelsen changes his play-calling approach knowing that possessions will be at a premium.
There may not be a team that's harder to come back against than Georgia Tech, and that is mostly due to how they can control the clock with their triple-option offense.
50, 2.5, 3: Tremaine Edmunds is the only player in America with at least 50 total tackles (77), 2.5 sacks (2.5), and 3 forced fumbles (3).
Tremaine Edmunds has been one of the best linebackers in America, and arguably the best linebacker in the ACC. Edmunds has consistently been on the Pro Football ACC Defense of the Week while always being one of the Hokies' top tacklers every week. Edmunds has shown a knack for finding the ball this year and is proving why he could be a first round pick this spring.
Tremaine Edmunds only has 7.5 tackles for loss this season, but has to be among the top players in the country if you start to include tackles that prevented opponents from gaining more than two yards. Edmunds has been excellent in run defense and solid as a pass rusher when the Hokies have called upon him to do so.
There's no doubt that Georgia Tech will be looking to avoid Edmunds on Saturday, but that will be hard to do as Edmunds has consistently made his presence known with at least 6 tackles in every game this season.
Last year, the Yellow Jackets failed to contain Edmunds as he had one of his best games with 12 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 forced fumble. Edmunds gave Georgia Tech problems last year, and will be ready to so this year with the Hokies looking to bounce back.
Edmunds has been one of the best linebackers in college football this season, and the numbers back it up.
3: Number of losses for Georgia Tech by 4 points or less.
Georgia Tech could easily be in a vastly different position at this point in the season with three losses by four points or less this season including one-point losses against Miami and Tennessee. If the Yellow Jackets win those three games, we're talking about a 7-1 football team and this game being Georgia Tech's chance to clinch the Coastal division title.
Instead, the Yellow Jackets are 4-4 with three games left including two against ranked opponents (Virginia Tech, Georgia). Georgia Tech has come close to having that big win and on Saturday afternoon, they'll be desperate to pick up that big win against the 17th-ranked Hokies.
While GT still is trying to get to a bowl game and pick up a big win, the Hokies have their own motivation after Georgia Tech came to Lane Stadium last year and dominated the Hokies on their way to a 30-20 win in what may have been the worst loss for the Hokies last season. Virginia Tech has plenty to play for in this game, and a chance to get revenge on the Yellow Jackets' turf after last year's shocking upset.
Georgia Tech can not be taken lightly given how three of their four losses have been by four points or less, but I bet the Hokies will be well-motivated for this game.
4,732: Number of days Virginia Tech has held the Commonwealth Cup at kickoff.
4,788: Number of days Virginia Tech has held the Black Diamond Trophy at kickoff.
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