Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
Virginia Tech will have their fewest players out today with their secondary returning multiple DBs but still being without a pair of starting safeties in Divine Deablo and Keonta Jenkins.
Unavailable for the #Hokies today:— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) October 10, 2020
There's no doubt that not having Divine Deablo and Keonta Jenkins hurts but having all their cornerbacks available except Brion Murray is a major boost at that position. Additionally, having J.R. Walker back is also a major plus for Virginia Tech with Walker likely to have a large role.
Walker has spent plenty of time in the past at free safety and it wouldn't be surprising to see him start there this week with Tyler Matheny also working in at times after his strong performance last week.
Keonta Jenkins being out likely means that Lakeem Rudolph will start at rover based on the depth chart. However, it is possible that Tech shuffles things around with the return of Walker and his versatility along with Tyler Matheny having a start under his belt.
Additionally, the Hokies may look to slide Chamarri Conner to safety alongside Walker or Matheny with Tech using a third cornerback like Devin Taylor to try to contain the talented Dazz Newsome in the slot.
The fact that Tech has Jermaine Waller, Armani Chatman, and Devin Taylor back at cornerback is a huge boost for Tech's secondary especially Waller who missed the first two games and is among the elite defensive backs in the ACC.
Having Alan Tisdale back is also a big boost for Tech's linebacking corps with Tisdale being able to supplement Rayshard Ashby and Dax Hollifield to help keep them fresh and provide a boost in pass coverage against a strong passing attack.
Tech's offense will suffer their first loss of a starter as right tackle Luke Tenuta is out. Doug Nester could end sliding over to right tackle to start with Bryan Hudson moving from a sixth man role to a starting spot on the interior. Additionally, last year's starting right tackle Silas Dzansi seems likely to have a much larger role on the Hokies' offensive line.
This will also be the first game that Tech will have their full coaching staff as defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton and CBs coach Ryan Smith will both make their returns this week.