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Preview: Virginia Tech visits Boston College, A Hard Chestnut to Crack

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The Virginia Tech Hokies make the almost biennial visit to Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill to play the Boston College Eagles. BC is playing for pride, and we are playing to stay alive for a possible bowl bid. BC's Defense is stout, their Offense is crippled. The Hokie O has been looking better, but the Defense is struggling. This could be a low scoring old fashioned football game worthy of 1915.

Tech needs real offensive production against BC.  Isiah Ford should be getting targets.
Tech needs real offensive production against BC. Isiah Ford should be getting targets.
Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

Saturday at 12:30 in the afternoon, the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Boston College Eagles take the field to square off for what has become a ritual slug fest.  This is another one of those Big East sorts of leftovers that only diminished slightly because when BC joined the Atlantic Coast Conference, the powers that be decided to place in in the Atlantic instead of Coastal Divisions.  Our encounters seem to happen with greater frequency than the usual pulse of the cross divisional schedule.  It's pretty plain to see why.  It's a serious challenge that given time to ripen has the makings of a growing rivalry.  It isn't there just yet, but it's getting close.

There is little love lost between these two teams.  We have the "Matty Ice" October 25, 2007 comeback in the rain, only to be followed by the ACC Championship game where the Hokies exacted serious revenge on BC to win the trophy that season.

Here is a record summary chart since the early 90's from Hokie Sports.com:

Season

Date

Site

Score (VT-Opp)

2014

Sat., Nov 1, 2014

Blacksburg, Va.

L, 31-33

2013

Sat., Nov 2, 2013

Chestnut Hill, Mass.

L, 27-34

2012

Sat., Nov 17, 2012

Chestnut Hill, Mass.

W, 30-23 (OT)

2011

Sat., Oct 22, 2011

Blacksburg, Va.

W, 30-14

2010

Sat., Sep 25, 2010

Chestnut Hill, Mass.

W, 19-0

2009

Sat., Oct 10, 2009

Blacksburg, Va.

W, 48-14

2008

Sat., Dec 6, 2008

Tampa, Fla.

W, 30-12

2008

Sat., Oct 18, 2008

Chestnut Hill, Mass.

L, 23-28

2007

Sat., Dec 1, 2007

Jacksonville, Fla.

W, 30-16

2007

Thu., Oct 25, 2007

Blacksburg, Va.

L, 10-14

2006

Thu., Oct 12, 2006

Chestnut Hill, Mass.

L, 3-22

2005

Thu., Oct 27, 2005

Blacksburg, Va.

W, 30-10

2003

Sat., Nov 22, 2003

Blacksburg, Va.

L, 27-34

2002

Thu., Oct 10, 2002

Chestnut Hill, Mass.

W, 28-23

2001

Sat., Oct 13, 2001

Blacksburg, Va.

W, 34-20

2000

Sat., Sep 30, 2000

Chestnut Hill, Mass.

W, 48-34

1999

Fri., Nov 26, 1999

Blacksburg, Va.

W, 38-14

1998

Thu., Oct 8, 1998

Chestnut Hill, Mass.

W, 17-0

1997

Sat., Oct 11, 1997

Blacksburg, Va.

W, 17-7

1996

Sat., Sep 14, 1996

Chestnut Hill, Mass.

W, 45-7

1995

Thu., Sep 7, 1995

Blacksburg, Va.

L, 14-20

1994

Sat., Sep 17, 1994

Chestnut Hill, Mass.

W, 12-7

1993

Sat., Nov 6, 1993

Chestnut Hill, Mass.

L, 34-48

The Tech leads the series 15 games to 8 since 1993; but that isn't the whole story.  Boston College has given us regular fits over the years.  In the 22 years of the chart, there are definite pluses where the Eagles and the Hokies trade shots.  There have been two blocks where Tech won year after year; however BC seems to always figure out how to break the spell and bite us.

The last two games, Virginia Tech has scored points; but the defense just hasn't risen to the occasion.   Will this game shape up the same, and are we going to allow BC a first time third victory in a row?

Let's look at the Eagles in detail to see if we can divine some sort of idea.  Boston College doesn't look like it has too much of an offense.  There is no one dominant quarterback -three with middling numbers.  Two quarterbacks, Wade and Smith have been hurt at least once with both listed as out.  Smith sustained a concussion in last week's game.  The challenge will fall into the lap of Redshirt Freshman Troy Flutie (remember that name?) and BC has been forced to turn to a walk on from Wellesley named John Fadule to back him up.***

Boston College has no dominant running back with five guys just at or barely above 200 yards, and there just don't seem to be too many receivers who have been targeted for anything that proves BC has a credible passing attack.  Their offensive line is probably shakier than ours.

The Eagle defense is their greatest strength.  It has proven to be the exact opposite of their offense.  It is competent, tough, and hard to run on.  The only team to score a serious amount of points on BC was the Atlantic Division and ranked Clemson Tigers.  Their 34-17 victory is the only game that BC hasn't either won, or been close.  Losing to Clemson this season just is not indicative of what we are going to face.

Here are the very odd, diffuse statistics from Yahoo Sports for the Boston College Eagles:

Passing

Comp

Att

Pct

Yds

Y/A

Y/G

TD

Int

Long

Sack

YdsL

Troy Flutie

24

48

50.0

382

8.0

63.7

3

1

66

4

23

^Darius Wade

21

42

50.0

232

5.5

77.3

2

1

22

4

30

^Jeff Smith

21

63

33.3

220

3.5

31.4

1

1

39

7

45

^ Both Wade and Smith are out for Saturday's game

** John Fadule a walk-on from Wellesley is being prepped for potential playing time with Troy Flutie

Rushing

Rush

Yds

Y/G

Avg

Long

TD

Tyler Rouse

60

250

31.3

4.2

45

5

Marcus Outlow

51

240

30.0

4.7

32

1

Jeff Smith

53

233

33.3

4.4

37

5

Myles Willis

45

232

46.4

5.2

45

0

Jon Hilliman

51

198

49.5

3.9

21

2

Darius Wade

22

73

24.3

3.3

17

0

Thadd Smith

8

56

8.0

7.0

18

0

Jordan Gowins

14

44

22.0

3.1

15

0

Richard Wilson

11

41

13.7

3.7

16

0

Troy Flutie

22

39

6.5

1.8

20

0

Sherman Alston

9

35

5.8

3.9

12

0

Michael Walker

1

14

14.0

14.0

14

0

Bobby Swigert

2

7

1.4

3.5

8

0

Bobby Wolford

1

1

0.2

1.0

1

0

Receiving

Rec

Yds

Y/G

Avg

Long

TD

Thadd Smith

10

198

28.3

19.8

66

1

Charlie Callinan

6

105

26.3

17.5

28

1

Bobby Wolford

9

80

16.0

8.9

20

1

Sherman Alston

6

76

12.7

12.7

30

0

Tyler Rouse

3

71

8.9

23.7

39

0

Bobby Swigert

5

39

7.8

7.8

12

1

David Dudeck

6

39

7.8

6.5

13

0

Myles Willis

1

36

7.2

36.0

36

0

Elijah Robinson

6

35

7.0

5.8

10

0

Harrison Jackson

1

34

34.0

34.0

34

0

Jon Hilliman

3

33

8.3

11.0

17

0

Marcus Outlow

2

26

3.3

13.0

22

0

Drew Barksdale

3

20

20.0

6.7

11

0

Sean Burke

1

10

10.0

10.0

10

1

Tommy Sweeney

1

10

10.0

10.0

10

0

Michael Walker

1

9

9.0

9.0

9

0

Richard Wilson

1

7

2.3

7.0

7

1

Jake Burt

1

7

7.0

7.0

7

0

The Virginia Tech Hokies

At some juncture the Hokies' write-up should become very familiar.  We are decently good on offense, struggle on defense, and we have decent special teams.  Huh?  Did I just write that?   What team am I supposed to be writing about?  Those words used in a sentence in that order regarding our much beloved Hokies do not fit.  It's like the old George Carlin routine about words you don't hear, together"... like "[H]and me that piano."

This season, Virginia Tech has demonstrated that it can be three completely confusing football teams all rolled into one.  There were games when the defense played well, but the offense just couldn't move the ball.  There were several games where the offense moved the ball well, but the defense just couldn't get a stop.  Ok, it wasn't just full games that our inconsistency showed.  It was literally quarters within games that brilliance was cancelled out by stunning mediocrity.  Tech would play an awful first quarter, play a fantastic 2nd quarter, and then half of a 3rd quarter... only to sit back down for the fourth and have to limp it in.

The Tech Offense has this game completely in its hands.  If it cannot score points this is going to be a serious struggle.  The Tech Defense doesn't have to do a tremendous amount to control their side of the field.  The Eagle Offense is just not there and if it manages to score it might be a dangerous game.

Here is a reminder of the Hokies Offensive statistics:

Passing

Comp

Att

Pct

Yds

Y/A

Y/G

TD

Int

Long

Sack

YdsL

Michael Brewer

38

65

58.5

491

7.6

163.7

6

1

51

5

49

Brenden Motley

92

164

56.1

1155

7.0

144.4

11

7

61

16

110

Dwayne Lawson

3

9

33.3

51

5.7

12.8

0

0

31

0

0

Rushing

Rush

Yds

Y/G

Avg

Long

TD

Travon McMillian

88

560

70.0

6.4

63

3

Brenden Motley

84

228

28.5

2.7

22

3

Trey Edmunds

44

174

24.9

4.0

35

2

Sam Rogers

31

155

22.1

5.0

29

1

J.C. Coleman

37

120

20.0

3.2

10

1

Dwayne Lawson

14

55

13.8

3.9

10

1

Shai McKenzie

13

50

25.0

3.8

11

0

Chris Durkin

4

25

25.0

6.3

9

0

Isaiah Ford

2

17

2.1

8.5

10

0

Greg Stroman

6

9

3.0

1.5

6

0

A.J. Hughes

1

-4

-4.0

-4.0

0

0

Michael Brewer

12

-12

-4.0

-1.0

16

0

Receiving

Rec

Yds

Y/G

Avg

Long

TD

Isaiah Ford

41

564

70.5

13.8

61

7

Bucky Hodges

21

349

49.9

16.6

46

5

Cam Phillips

28

323

40.4

11.5

60

1

Ryan Malleck

15

198

33.0

13.2

40

2

Sam Rogers

9

123

17.6

13.7

51

1

Travon McMillian

12

64

8.0

5.3

19

1

Kalvin Cline

3

38

19.0

12.7

31

0

Kevin Asante

1

13

13.0

13.0

13

0

Brenden Motley

1

13

1.6

13.0

13

0

J.C. Coleman

1

10

1.7

10.0

10

0

Trey Edmunds

1

8

1.1

8.0

8

0

Demitri Knowles

1

7

7.0

7.0

7

0

Boston College Wins IF:  They run the ball against the struggling Hokie Defense.  They absolutely must keep the ball on the ground.  Their injury induced three "quarterback" system is short one more QB,  Jeff Smith is out with concussion symptoms.  The Eagles can run the ball, and their five backs can break into the second level.   The BC Defense has to shut down the Hokie Offense.  It must force Tech into repeated third down and long yardage situations where it has a chance at turnovers to shorten the field or score on defense.

Virginia Tech Wins IF:  The Offense comes loaded for Eagle and plays like it did in the overtime periods of the Duke game.  Tech needs to straight up beat the BC Defense by passing the ball efficiently; getting the ball to Travon McMillian in situations that allow him to use his one cut an go running skills; and leveraging Bucky Hodges, Ryan Malleck, and Sam Rogers to get the ball into creases under the zone, and up into the end zone when and if we make it to the red zone.  The Offensive play calling cannot be timid and conservative.  If it is, then the Boston College Defense will force us into repeated third and impossible situations.  First down yards beyond 4-5 yard schedule will be critical.  Tech must avoid third and long.

We Might Need a Bigger Hammer - and other conclusions:

The Hokie Defense needs to step up.  Boston College is not a passing team; their passing percentages, yards, and consistency are low.  The Tech Defense must shut down the run; it must also control the space under the zone at the 2nd level so that any leaking running plays don't turn into sprints to the goal line.

There is so much on the line for Tech in this game.  It is another must win situation, and it is another winnable football game.  The reality is that if the Hokies lose this one, they have a greatly diminished possibility of a .500 season and a bowl bid (actually near impossible), no matter how much of a booger bowl it is.  The question for Saturday at roughly 5:00 pm is; "did the entire Virginia Tech football team and coaching staff show up for the entire game?"  It's just impossible to predict.

Sources:

http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/teams/bbf/stats/

http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/teams/vvd/stats/

http://www.hokiesports.com/football/opponents/Boston%20College

*** https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2015/10/28/michael-brewer-again-tech-starting/6igDsUTkkw46oU21yh2GTJ/story.html