3rd Time’s the Charm (hopefully) for Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech has had quite the start to an already chaotic season. NC State postponed their matchup with the Hokies two weeks ago due to the pandemic, just to have VT cancel the next matchup after several players had to be quarantined for contact tracing. This was not much of a shocker considering Montgomery County has been listed as a top national hot-spot ever since Radford returned to campus 2 months ago and VT’s players actually go to classes unlike other ACC schools in NC.
Virginia Tech will still be missing several players this weekend according to HC Justin Fuente’s press conference earlier in the week. Virginia Tech’s roster had already taken a hit during the offseason when projected 1st round draft pick Caleb Farley became the first college player to sit out of the 2020 football season. Redshirt Junior safety Devon Hunter was also recently suspended after a surprising arrest leaving the backfield very thin with true freshman Keonta Wilkins getting the starting job at rover. Some other key players rumored to be limited this weekend from offseason injuries/Covid-19 include starting QB Hendon Hooker alongside starting CB Jermaine Waller.
No matter what the lineup will be Saturday night, NC State will be a tough matchup coming off a big win over Wake Forest last weekend. Virginia Tech returns a ton of talent from last season along with several big-name transfers coming in. Overall, Virginia Tech is expected to return 74% of their offensive production and 89% of their defense. This ranked then No. 6 in the country according to ESPN’s Bill Connley.
Many Hokie fans have been anxiously awaiting having Braxton Burmeister and Brock Hoffman finally become eligible for the Hokies this season. Both transfers were great additions to the team and will 100% make an impact on the offensive production in the 2020 season. Virginia Tech also landed the top transfer back in Khalil Herbert to add experience in the backfield. Justus Reed will make an immediate improvement on the defensive line. Additionally, VT added much-needed depth to WR with transfers Raheem Blackshear from Rutgers and Evan Fairs from Kansas.
Justin Hamilton took over as DC after the departure of legendary coach Bud Foster last season. However, his defensive scheme is not expected to be much different to last year’s defense under Bud. Along with this change came several additions to the staff with NFL coaching and Power 5 coordinator experience alongside former VT players. Virginia Tech’s secondary will likely struggle for a while, but the rest of the defense seems solid. Offensively, VT should be back to looking like it did late in the 2019 season, assuming Cornelsen does not decide to run 500+ jet sweeps. This game could come down the wire even though VT opened as a 10-point favorite to the Wolfpack.
Prediction: VT 31-24