Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
After beating Old Dominion 31-17 for their first win of the season, Virginia Tech plays their second-straight noon home game taking on an intriguing Furman team ranked 13th in this week's FCS polls. The Hokies are understandably heavy favorites but the Paladins may provide a stiffer test than the Monarchs led by a high-powered offense.
So can the Hokies take care of business or could the Paladins turn a midday game into a nightmare? Here's our staff's picks for Saturday afternoon's game.
Virginia Tech may not be playing an FBS team this week, but the Hokies will face a tougher challenge against a Furman team ranked 13th in polls and looking like the potential favorite to win their conference. While their defense hasn't looked great, their offense has been quite strong in their first two games and should provide the VT defense with a very good test.
Given the defensive issues for Furman, expect a strong offensive performance highlighted by a Virginia Tech passing game that cleaned up the mistakes from Boston College. Ryan Willis has had his moments but against weaker competition with a deep receiving corps, it's safe to expect a big game from the redshirt senior QB.
Meanwhile, Virginia Tech's defense will have a better performance this week even as they face a stronger offense. Expect some of the mistakes that defined last week's game to be cleaned and a little more while some of the young defensive lineman who have shown promise should start to show some more flashes as they adapt.
It may be somewhat competitive still at halftime, but the Hokies will comfortably beat Furman for their best performance of the season even if it may not be the rout some would envision against an FCS team.
Pick: Virginia Tech 45, Furman 16
Through two games this season, the only word I can really use to describe the Hokies is inconsistent. The offense shows sparks but fails to deliver a whole lot of consistency. The defense looks stout at times, but then gives up 200+ rushing yards to Old Dominion.
Unfortunately, the only thing that has been very consistent is not a positive. Virginia Tech has proven that they can not be effective running the football. That needs to change.
This week is a great week to start, because Furman’s defense is simply not very good. The Hokies should be able to establish some sort of running game against them, and if not, there’s a major problem.
However, it is on offense that Furman really excels. They have probably one of the most talented FCS quarterbacks in Darren Grainger, and they put up 42 points last week against FBS-level Georgia State.
In the end, I do expect the Hokies to win this game, but it will need to be by scoring a lot of points. Furman will definitely score at least a couple times on the Hokies, and I don’t think it will be the blowout that most Virginia Tech fans want to see.
Pick: Virginia Tech 38, Furman 24
The Virginia Tech Hokies host the Furman Paladins on Saturday, a game that Tech is highly favored in. Tech should be able to win this one pretty handily, but notice I said should - not will. Furman runs the triple option as part of their offense, a style that Bud Foster is used to facing thanks to Georgia Tech. The Hokies thought they wouldn’t have to face that offense this season thanks to a coaching change in Atlanta, but they couldn’t avoid it. Still, that isn’t all Furman does on offense - the Paladins can also throw, as redshirt freshman quarterback Darren Grainger threw for 311 yards and 4 touchdowns last week.
I think the Hokies somewhat figure it out this week. I think Tech’s defense will really be tested - Grainger is very talented. The Paladins have some weapons on offense and know how to use them, so don’t be shocked if Furman puts up some points. I think Furman scores about 17, though I think the Tech defense will play well - it’s just not the easiest offense to stop. Furman scored 43 and 42 points in their first two games, so they know how to put it in the endzone.
On offense for Tech, I think this is a breakout game for Willis. He was a little bit better last week against ODU but the style of playcalling changed because of Eric Kumah and Chris Cunningham, their former teammates, being on the opposing sideline. They’ll go away from having Willis call the play on his wristband and go back to their usual playcalling against a Furman defense that gave up 48 points last game.
I think Tech’s weapons on the outside at receiver will be too much, though it could put some pressure on Tech if the run game stalls against this FCS school. I believe the run game and turning the ball over are what’s keeping Tech from achieving full success on offense, but I think this will be a mostly turnover-free game and the run game sort of gets up to speed, so we can get a feeling of what this Tech offense actually is. Is this a breakout game for McClease or King in the backfield? One hopes.
I think Tech can still put up big numbers through the air against Furman (allowed 362 passing yards last week). I’m picking the Hokies to win this one 41-17. Tech’s offense will put up some numbers but Furman’s offense, which has some weapons, will get on the board a few times.
Pick: Virginia Tech 41, Furman 17
As the Virginia Tech season is in full swing, the offense has raised plenty of questions on their ability to move the ball and score in big opportunities.
Tech’s opponent, Furman, can not relate to the same situation as the Paladins have scored 46 and 42 points in their first two games of the season.
A big step the Hokies are going to have to take in this week’s matchup against Furman is to limit the turnovers and try to find opportunities to score in big possessions early in the game.
Virginia Tech comes into this matchup with the worst turnover ratio in the ACC (-6). With Furman’s ability to score a high amount of points against their early opponents, it is crucial not to allow Furman these opportunities in the game to keep themselves close to the Hokies.
When it comes to the offense for the Hokies, it needs a breakthrough performance to gain confidence in the run game. Coming into this week’s matchup, Virginia Tech ranks 107th in the FBS in rushing yards (229), 114th in Yards/Rush (2.83) and 106th in Rushing Yards/Game (114.5). The good news for the Hokies is that Furman has allowed 389 rushing yards in their first two matchups against Charleston Southern and Georgia State, so the opportunities will be there for Virginia Tech.
Although Furman has a solid team which in some portions can compete with the Hokies, I believe that the defense of Virginia Tech will create enough trouble for Furman’s offense to pull out the victory and improve to a 2-1 record before the bye week.