It’s only been seven days since the Virginia Tech Hokies last took the field. It feels like an entire season ago with all that’s transpired over the past week. Justin Fuente and the Hokies mutually agreed to part ways with the Hokies announcing the former head coach’s departure on Tuesday morning. That led to athletic director Whit Babcock naming former Virginia Tech great J.C. Price the interim coach for the remainder of the season.
Price’s first task as interim coach is a tough one. The Hokies head on the road to face the Miami Hurricanes, a team with the same record as VT. Miami entered the season as co-favorites in the ACC’s Coastal Division but has struggled.
The Hokies would love to finish the season strong for Price. This team has played hard all year and has two tests remaining. Can the Hokies take down the Hurricanes on Saturday night?
Here are our staff predictions.
If this were the same Virginia Tech team as one week ago, I think I would pick the ‘Canes on Saturday. Not because the players or lineups have changed, but I believe this team is on a mission. They want to win for Price. Go back and watch his presser on Thursday, and who wouldn’t want to play hard for Price? In addition, the majority of this roster liked and respected Fuente. Regardless of what anyone can say about his performance as a coach recently, his team always played hard for him.
I think this game is close, and I think it’s ugly at times. That’s perfect for the Hokies. Keep it ugly and close. The Hokies should offer a heavy dose of Raheem Blackshear and Malachi Thomas to Miami. The Hurricanes will have success throwing the football, but the Hokies do enough on offense to pick up win No. 6.
Hokies 27, Miami 24
Justin Fuente is out. Wow. A Tuesday firing changes everything about this game. I don’t believe that numbers matter for the next two games. This is going to be how much these guys want to win against the same want for the other side.
I remember watching JC Price against Miami back in 1995 and he was a beast. I believe these guys are going to be willing to run through a brick wall for him. The question is, will that be enough? I want to say that it will, but what offense will the Hokies be able to bring out on Saturday? Corny’s guy is out and it will be his show on offense. Yikes.
I think the defense will play one of its best games all season. I think the offense will be offensive. For history sake I’m going Hokies in a close one.
Hokies 16, Miami 10
Remember when the Miami-Virginia Tech matchups used to be must-see TV? Well, honestly, I barely remember — I was born in 1998. But it’s been a while since we’ve had a matchup with such little hype. These were perennial top-ten teams throughout the early to mid-2000s, which really wasn’t that long ago! Miami once fielded arguably the most talented team of all time. Today, we come into this matchup with an interim coach, J.C. Price, and the Hurricanes’ Manny Diaz might see himself to the door soon. Miami is probably more talented, and Tyler Van Dyke is a really solid young quarterback, but like us, they’re 5-5 for a reason. We’ll come out with an edge, but all in all, I expect an ugly game with a lot of mistakes by both teams. I’ll take Miami at home by 3, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we pull it out. Either way, I feel like it’ll be a case of one team finding a way to lose, rather than one grinding out a win.
Miami 27 VT 24
Over the last four games the Miami Hurricanes have found quite the quarterback in Tyler Van Dyke. He’s had four consecutive 300+ yard games and in that stretch thrown for 14 TDs and only three INTs. While the Virginia Tech Hokies are at a severe disadvantage in the passing game, they do have a statistically better rushing attack. VT must establish a consistent ground game and dictate the game’s tempo, keeping Van Dyke off the field as much as possible. The departure of VT’s head coach, Justin Fuente, has certainly caused off the field churn, but JC Price seems like an exciting interim choice. The fact remains that Brad Cornelson remains the OC. If the reports from the Roanoke Times are to be believed, then Cornelson’s previous offensive approach during play will remain severely detrimental. Whichever team comes out of this with a win gets bowl eligibility. Both squads recognize this, and while there is a renewed sense of energy in Blacksburg the Hurricanes are simply playing much better than the Hokies. I hope Price muzzles Cornelson’s toxic technique, opens the barn doors, and lets the horses run wild. If that happens the Hokies have a chance. The homer in me wants that to happen more than the dispassionate observer in me can accept. An away game against a rising Miami team, amidst off the field turmoil, is too much for VT to overcome.
35-24, Miami Hurricanes