For the first time since 2012, Virginia Tech is playing at home on a Thursday night not playing a team named Miami as Georgia Tech comes to town looking for their first quality win of the season. At 3-0 in the ACC, the Hokies are in complete control of their own destiny in the Coastal with this being the one game they simply can't afford to lose given the opponents remaining.
With that said, here are our picks for the Hokies and Yellow Jackets.
The first half of the season for Virginia Tech has been a roller coaster from big wins at Florida State and Duke to a shocking loss at Old Dominion yet through all of that, the Hokies are in control of their own destiny of the ACC Coastal. Now, Justin Fuente has his chance to get the monkey off his back against the one Coastal foe that he has failed to beat, Georgia Tech.
Virginia Tech may not be as good as they were the past two seasons, but Georgia Tech has shown very little to think that this is a team that can even go to a bowl game with a 3-4 record with wins over a Louisville team that has put Bobby Petrino on the hot seat, a Bowling Green team that was the first FBS team to fire their head coach this season, and FCS Alcorn State. Outside of that, Georgia Tech hasn't shown much to think that this isn't one of the bottom 3 or 4 teams in the ACC outside of maybe their closs loss at Pittsburgh.
The triple option could give the Hokies' problems especially given some of the tackling issues VT has had on the outside, but expect Bud Foster to adjust some of his defensive rotation to make sure quality tacklers are emphasized. Given the limited amount of times Georgia Tech throws the football, the Hokies will simply need to give their cornerbacks some safety cover over the top from Divine Deablo, Reggie Floyd, or Tyree Rodgers; something they failed to do last year when GT decided to go for a rare deep pass.
Meanwhile, the Hokies face a Georgia Tech defense that hasn't been very good this season giving up over 4.1 yards per carry on the ground and ranking outside the top 70 in passing defense with teams completing over 63% of their passes. After some struggles on the road at North Carolina, expect the Hokies' offense to turn it around this week and Ryan Willis to have a strong performance.
Virginia Tech may be young and inconsistent, but they are by far the more talented team than Georgia Tech. In addition, the Hokies have never lost when facing the Yellow Jackets on Thursday night, in large part due to the benefit of having extra time to prepare for a triple-option offense that requires lots of practice reps to prepare for. Georgia Tech's triple option will help them make it more competitive, but the Hokies will put together a strong performance and comfortably beat a somehow overhyped, 3-4 Georgia Tech team that will be sitting at home during bowl season.
Pick: Virginia Tech 31, Georgia Tech 17
The Hokies are coming off a bye week as they take on the Yellow Jackets in Lane Stadium on Thursday. Last time they had a bye week, they proceeded to give up 632 yards and 49 points to Old Dominion. Granted that was not a true bye week, so I don’t know how much stock you can put in that. Still, the defense has some gaping holes that aren’t disappearing over night.
I expect this game to be a close one no matter what. It does not matter how bad Georgia Tech has been in any given year; they always give the Hokies a nail biter. In addition, Paul Johnson’s triple-option offense is difficult to prepare for, especially with a defense full of players who have never seen it before.
The key to victory for the Hokies will be to stay disciplined. Everyone on defense has to stay home and focus on their individual assignments. The young corners and linebackers will have to be careful not to over pursue, or else they will get burned badly. It is very appropriate that Dax Hollifield will be wearing the 25 jersey, because he will play a huge part in this game.
I think that the offense will have to put up thirty-something points to win this game. Luckily, Ryan Willis is the kind of quarterback that can help the Hokies get to that number, especially against a sub-par Georgia Tech defense.
Pick: Virginia Tech 34, Georgia Tech 28
The Hokies enter the game this week sitting in first place in the ACC Coastal Division. Tech is 4-2 overall with a 3-0 ACC record with five games left to play. Tech hosts 3-4 (1-3 ACC) Georgia Tech on Thursday night in their first Thursday game since Miami rolled into Blacksburg two years ago with Fuente and company taking care of business that night 37-16.
Fuente and Co. are 0-2 against Georgia Tech. The only other team Fuente has played twice and lost to twice is Clemson. Can Fuente get over the hump against Paul Johnson and the Jackets?
I think this is the year. Both teams are coming off bye weeks, and Virginia Tech has the advantage of playing at home. Georgia Tech’s defense has allowed at least 14 points against every power 5 team they have played this season. Of course, the Hokies’ defense hasn’t looked great either, but I think this game comes down to whether or not Virginia Tech can move the ball and put up points on offense, while also trying to keep the GT offense off the field for as long as possible.
For the offense, the key (as usual) is to get the running game going. Ryan Willis and his receiving corps will have to have a big day, but the running game will need to be much more effective than usual so the clock can churn and the lunch pail defense can have some time to breathe on the sideline. Peoples, McClease and even Willis will need to be able to run the ball consistently to keep their offense from becoming so one-dimensional. I think Tech does well through the air against GT’s defensive backs and runs the ball enough to keep the Georgia Tech offense from being on the field the entire game.
The Yellow Jackets’ offense is frustrating to play against - that was the consensus from the players and coaches coming out of the press conference on Monday. Wiles said the defense needs to have good play up on the line, and that’s where it is going to start. Vinny Mihota, who is almost back to himself, Ricky Walker, Houshun Gaines, Jarrod Hewitt, Emmanuel Belmar, and the others need to have a very strong presence up front. The line and linebackers need to force turnovers and stay disciplined. The defensive backs will need to keep their eyes where they are supposed to be and watch out for the big play through the air. It’s always a tough game between these two, but I think playing in Lane Stadium gives the Hokies an advantage.
It’s going to be a difficult challenge to stop this rushing offense of GT, but the Hokies will get a few stops and run the clock and find ways to score on offense. It’s going to be a close one, but I’m taking the Hokies, 31-27.
Pick: Virginia Tech 31, Georgia Tech 27
Thursday night in Blacksburg, is there really any event better for a Hokie fan? Lane Stadium on a Thursday night is a magic place. The Hokies might need all the magic they can get in this ACC tilt. The Hokies face the pesky Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. What makes the Yellow Jackets so pesky is that offense they run. Primarily the right naming part. One thing is for sure the Hokies are going to have to be sure tackling disciplined machines.
If the Hokies can keep their assignments tight and correct, they should be ok. That’s the problem though so far this season, tackling and lane discipline has been suspect in many games. However, given the defense has had the week off because of the bye week, I’d say the fundamentals were stressed in practice. Also, the fact Bud Foster has had some extra time to game plan look for an extra wrinkle or two to help make the defense successful. After all, Bud Foster is a defensive wizard.
Along with being disciplined on defense, the offense needs to be very efficient. Georgia Tech's offense shortens the game significantly so the opportunities to score points are almost cut in half. Ryan Willis will need to be worlds better than he was last game. Also, the drives need to not be short in order to get the defense some rest.
If the Hokies can do both these things they should win. That’s the trick though doing both these things. I see this game being close mainly because it has no reason not to be. The Hokies need this win more than the Jackets do. I think that fact will carry them through on a cold Thursday night. The Hokies I think win a squeaker 17-14. LETS GO HOKIES!!!!
Pick: Virginia Tech 17, Georgia Tech 14
Coming off their bye week, the Hokies are looking for a win to get some momentum before the key match up against Miami in a few weeks. A win against Georgia Tech would likely be the confidence boost the Hokies need.
The Hokies' defense has been struggling recently and has another big task with the Georgia Tech triple option, which has given the Hokies trouble in recent years. This young Hokie defense could continue to struggle especially against a tricky offense like Georgia Tech. Stopping Georgia Tech's offense starts up front on the defensive line. The D-line must control the trenches and get penetration to disrupt the rhythm of the Georgia Tech offense. Look for Houshun Gaines to be an impact player for the Hokies on defense.
The Virginia Tech offense has shown flashes of big play ability especially with the tall big body receivers in Damon Hazelton and Eric Kumah. The Hokies' run game against Notre Dame did not fare very well with only a few good runs. Expect to continue to see the Hokies commit to running the ball on first down, but VT be ready to adjust if they can't find any momentum on the ground.
Georgia Tech's defense isn't at the level on Notre Dames but that doesn't mean they should be underestimated. Count on the Hokies passing game to be a huge factor that can wear down the Georgia Tech defense. Look for Ryan Willis to have a big bounce back game Thursday night.
Pick: Virginia Tech 34, Georgia Tech 31
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
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