After suffering a disappointing loss to open the season at Boston College, Virginia Tech returns to Blacksburg for their home opener with their focus on getting redemption as Old Dominion comes to town. Tomorrow presents a great opportunity to close the chapter on last year's shocking loss that was the first in-season domino as part of a nightmare 2018 for the Hokies.
Will the Hokies get their redemption as most expect against Old Dominion? Here's our staff's picks for tomorrow's in-state showdown.
After a disappointing season-opening loss to Boston College, Virginia Tech returns to Blacksburg for their home opener looking for redemption against Old Dominion. While some still have scars from last year's loss, the talent gap may even be bigger this time around with the Hokies having a team with much more experience than last year's and ODU not having some of the star talent that's now playing in the NFL.
One of the things to watch over the next couple weeks is whether Ryan Willis will force things that aren't there or if he'll make smarter decisions especially when he gets forced outside the pocket. If Willis struggles to do that again, expect the Hokies to give Hendon Hooker and Quincy Patterson some opportunities just to see what they can have to offer.
The other thing to watch will be the Hokies' pass defense from concerns about a pass rush to cornerbacks that didn't show much development in the season opener. Those questions may be greater in regards to the pass rush if Virginia Tech's best defensive end TyJuan Garbutt is out this week with signs not looking so good given that he had to get a CT scan in the latter half of the week.
Regardless, Virginia Tech is the significantly better team and has the offensive talent to put on a show. Expect the type of scoring output that fans haven't seen in a while against FBS competition as the Hokies take care of business in a rout against the Monarchs that closes the door on one of the worst losses in Virginia Tech football history.
Pick: Virginia Tech 56, Old Dominion 13
It's redemption week for Virginia Tech, as the Hokies try to pick up the pieces from last weekend's opening loss to Boston College, and to avenge their loss to ODU a year ago. There should not be too much extra motivation needed for this week, but if players on the Hokies roster needed it, ODU head coach Bobby Wilder provided it, as he named former Hokies Eric Kumah and Chris Cunningham as game captains for the Monarchs.
Despite all of this, all that matters is the product on the field, as Virginia Tech on paper, much like last year, is the far superior team in this match-up. As long as the Hokies take care of the football and bottle up the run defensively as they did a week ago, Tech should overwhelm ODU. Look for the Monarchs to keep it within striking distance in the first half, before the Hokies pull away in the second half and win decisively.
Pick: Virginia Tech 52, Old Dominion 10
It is very hard to know what to expect from this Hokies team after Week 1. At times, the looked extremely promising against Boston College. At others, they showed that some of last year's issues are still very much present.
One thing I feel fairly confident about is that the offense has a high ceiling. Willis threw for over 340 yards and 4 TDs, and frankly, it could have been more if he was a little more careful with the ball. The good news is, a lot of those issues should be pretty simple to fix.
Defensively, the jury is still out on whether Virginia Tech can put last year behind them. The run defense was solid against Boston College, but the secondary looked lost at times in the first half.
However, Old Dominion is really not all that exciting on offense. They lost both of the receivers who tore up the Hokies last year, and the Monarchs’ quarterback from that game is now in seminary.
The bottom line is that the Hokies should win with relative ease on Saturday. I am wary of saying anything beyond that after last year, but time will tell.
Pick: Virginia Tech 38, Old Dominion 17
If there’s one thing that stands out from last year’s Virginia Tech football season, it was the 49-35 upset lost in Norfolk to Old Dominion.
However, Virginia Tech is looking at this matchup in a different way this season, as a way to get themselves going this season. After suffering a season-opening defeat to Boston College last week, Virginia Tech is looking to get their first win of the season.
If the Hokies are going to want to dominate this matchup, they are going to need a solid performance from quarterback Ryan Willis who had his struggles last week turning the ball over four times. Look for linebacker Rayshard Ashby to have a solid performance as well coming off being named ACC Linebacker of the Week with 13 tackles and 3.5 being for loss.
For Old Dominion, the main storyline is going to be the return of Wide Receiver Eric Kumah and Tight End Chris Cunningham to Lane Stadium. Both players were on Virginia Tech last year and were two of the multiple transfers to depart from the team in the offseason. I see Virginia Tech winning this matchup with ease over the Monarchs to improve to a record of 1-1.
Pick: Virginia Tech 41, Old Dominion 14
Revenge is a powerful emotion and motivator. It can cause a person or team to play beyond themselves or it can consume a team a cause them to make mistakes. This week, Virginia Tech stands ready to exact some revenge against Old Dominion.
Last season, the Monarchs pulled off the biggest upset in their school's history, and very well could have started the slide to the first losing season for the Hokies in a long time. This time out, the Hokies look to turn the outcome around and not only exercise some demons from last year, but possibly start a new winning trend this time.
This game should be just as one sided as the projections show. However, the Hokies will need to correct the mistakes from last week. Honestly, as long as Ryan Willis values the ball this week, I don’t foresee any reason ODU would be able to stop the potentially high-powered VT offense. The ODU defense really can’t matchup with all the weapons the Hokies have on the outside.
Even though ODU has two former Hokies on their offensive unit, I’m still not concerned about the Monarch offense being able to take advantage of any insight they might have. Bud Foster will have the defense ready to play with more than few new wrinkles to throw off the likes of Eric Kumah and Chris Cunningham. The only problem I see is the push up front. With a few banged up players on the defense, the youth movement will have to step up and play to their potential. Look for a few more blitz packages this week to create pressure and provide opportunities for takeaways.
Honestly, I believe the turnover battle is going to be the difference in this game. If the Hokies can win this battle, they should win this game going away. Players have tweeted about how fans, teachers, and media outlets are already down on this team writing them off before the season even starts. This is foolish, I believe this team is just getting started so with that being said, the Hokies exact revenge and exercise a few of last seasons demons with a 47-10 win. Let’s go Hokies.