The Virginia Tech Hokies are back in action on Thursday night for the second time this season. The Hokies will travel to Raleigh to face the N.C. State Wolfpack Thursday.
The two teams last met in 2020, with the Hokies winning by three touchdowns in Khalil Herbert’s first game as a Hokie. A lot has changed since that time. The Wolfpack have become one of the better ACC programs while the Hokies are in rebuilding mode under new head coach Brent Pry.
State enters Thursday’s game as an almost two-touchdown favorite over Virginia Tech. Is that about right? Or is that generous? After all, the ‘Pack lost starting quarterback Devin Leary for the season earlier this month.
So, who wins?
Sure, I am tempted to go with the Hokies here, but even without Leary, N.C. State is still a good football team. The time off gave the Wolfpack a chance to change things up on offense for Jack Chambers. You can bet head coach Dave Doeren watched the Pitt tape where the Panthers shoved it down VT’s throat. Repeatedly. Expect a similar strategy from the Wolfpack, but in Chambers, they also have a QB who can beat you on the ground, too. Don’t be surprised if Chambers has a big day on the ground.
I am excited to see what the week off meant for Virginia Tech’s offense. Will it be less “vanilla?” We shall see. Either way, I don’t think the Hokies have enough for a solid N.C. State defense, which has a really talented front seven.
N.C. State 27, Virginia Tech 17
Even with starting QB, Devin Leary, done for the season the NC State Wolfpack represent a significant challenge for the Virginia Tech Hokies. NCST had two weeks to get their backup QB, Jack Chambers, up to speed and their RB committee features two capable backs. The biggest danger facing VT is the Wolfpack defense, which could probably single-handedly take the Hokies down without anything from their offense. The Hokies team that almost came back against the Miami Hurricanes, during the final quarter of the previous game, will need to show up all night for Virginia Tech to stand a chance in Raleigh. I hope to see further improvement, but until we can see the offense perform consistently it is tough to pick the Hokies against this NC State squad, even if they are damaged.
35-21, NC State
Devin Leary’s out, the rest of the Wolfpack offense is not, and their new starter has had a week and a half to get worked into the #1s for the game. Though I don’t expect them to be the kind of offense that they could be with Leary, I don’t expect them to be sub-par. The Hokie Defense is still trying to find itself a personality and the right mix of personnel. While I don’t expect NC State to put it up as much, I do expect them to put it up and put as much pressure on the Hokie D as possible.
On the other side of the ball, the Hokies have been close to dreadful this season. There are lots of folks who would call them completely dreadful if it wasn’t for one or two good drives a game that make you wonder why they can’t be that good, consistently. The Hokie O has dropped into a rut and doesn’t seem to be willing to use the personnel that it has in order to change the formula much. Vanilla will not cut it if they want to win the four games necessary to get a booger bowl bid. No bowl projections have the Hokies in the mix, so no one in the sports analytics world thinks they are playing past Thanksgiving. Will the Hokies muster enough pride to change that anticipated outcome?
The Wise Guys probably have it about right. The Hokie Offense goes right back into its ditch of 3 and outs... making mistakes that draw flags... and ignoring key difference making players like Connor Blumrick, Nick Gallo, and Keshawn King in the short passing game. The Defense will spend too much time on the field and finally be exhausted by the 4th quarter.
Here’s Hoping that we are wrong, and the Hokies make the changes necessary to win a game that they could win with some imagination and effort. How they play this game is going to tell us volumes about what to expect for the final 1/3rd.