The Virginia Tech Hokies (0-1) look to get back on track Saturday when they host ACC rival Boston College (0-1) in the home opener at Lane Stadium. Both teams enter Saturday’s game after disappointing Week 1 losses.
The Hokies suffered an embarrassing 20-17 loss to the Old Dominion Monarchs in Brent Pry’s first game as head coach. The Eagles lost a close game to Rutgers.
Here’s everything you need to know for Saturday’s duel between rivals:
When: Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022
Time: 8:00 p.m. E.T.
Where: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Virginia
TV: ACC Network
Radio: Virginia Tech Sports Network. You can find a list of affiliates here.
Odds: The Hokies are currently 2.5-point favorites, according to Odds Shark.
Despite being annual rivals since 1993, when both were ranked Big East rivals, the Hokies and Eagles have only met 30 times. It feels like a lot more. The two schools have played in every season since 1993 — except 2004 — and Virginia Tech holds a 19-11 advantage over BC.
However, things have been trending in Boston College’s direction in recent seasons. The Eagles have won three of the previous four meetings, including last season’s 17-3 debacle in Chestnut Hill. The Hokies were down to Knox Kadum at quarterback after Braxton Burmeister’s injury. Virginia Tech finished with 73 passing yards. The Hokies were able to run the ball as Malachi Thomas rushed for 70 yards and Raheem Blackshear finished with 67 yards.
Unfortunately for Tech, it had no passing game.
Two key injuries for the Hokies are Thomas and top receiver Kaleb Smith. Things sound positive for Smith.
Pry on WR Kaleb Smith, who pulled up late in the 1st half at ODU and had to leave: "He did a lot today with the training staff that made us all feel a lot better about him playing." #Hokies— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) September 7, 2022
It sounds like Thomas is at least another week away.
Brent Pry wouldn’t rule out RB Malachi Thomas this week vs. BC but said he’s probably a long shot. They’ll evaluate him all the way up to Saturday morning to see if he can go.— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) September 7, 2022
Pry felt better about WR Kaleb Smith’s chances. Said he’s further along. #Hokies
Keshawn King rushed for over 100 yards last week and also made an impact in the passing game. Look for King to again lead VT’s backfield
Boston College offense vs. Virginia Tech defense
There were high hopes for Boston College’s offense entering 2022. Quarterback Phil Jurkovec passes for 281 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions last week. Jurkovec has NFL potential and his return from injury last season helped the Eagles defeat the Hokies. While his final numbers were solid, it wasn’t Jurkovec’s best performance in the loss to Rutgers.
All-ACC running back Pat Garwo rushed for 25 yards on 14 attempts. While his numbers look bad, Boston College’s offensive line was a mess. BC’s offensive is usually a team strength, but perhaps the Hokies are playing them at the perfect time.
Wide receiver Zay Flowers is the star. A future NFL draft pick, Flowers will be a focal point for Virginia Tech’s defense. The Hokies did a solid job on him last season, but Jurkovec had just returned from injury. The pair have outstanding chemistry, and if the Hokies can slow Flowers, it will go a long way in determining if they win or not.
Fellow wide receiver Jaelen Gill is also a good player. Gill went over 100 yards receiving against the Hokies two years ago.
Virginia Tech’s defense was outstanding last week. Linebacker Dax Hollifield played perhaps the best game of his career. The secondary played well until late when they didn’t get their heads turned around on two key long completions. The Hokies need more push from the front line instead of relying on the blitz.
If the Hokies can get a similar effort against BC, you like their chances of picking up Pry’s first win as head coach.
Boston College defense vs. Virginia Tech offense
Virginia Tech quarterback Grant Wells looked terrific early in his first start for the Hokies. He found Smith on a big 39-yard play that set up a touchdown run to give Tech an early lead. It looked like it would be an easy night for Wells. However, he would throw four interceptions in the game. While two weren’t Wells’ fault, he lived up to his reputation of giving the other team the football. The interceptions overshadow that Wells did some good things. But if you can’t take care of the football, you will not keep the job for long. It will be interesting to see how Wells bounces back and if Tech coaches give him more high-percentage throws.
King was terrific last week, going over 100 yards for only the second time in his career. King is great in the open field, which is why offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen wanted to have him more involved in the passing game in 2022. Veteran Jalen Holston and Chance Black will also figure into the mix until Thomas returns.
The Hokies completed nine passes to the tight ends last week, with Nick Gallo leading the way with seven receptions. It’s good to see the Hokies finally involving the tight ends.
Smith, Da’Wain Lofton, Jadan Blue and Stephen Gosnell are Tech’s top wideouts. Lofton is a future star, while Blue went over 1,000 yards previously with Temple. The Hokies need Blue more involved.
Contrary to what some may say, the Hokies’ new-look offensive line held up well in pass protection last week. Perfect, no. But a solid effort heading into the second game.
The Eagles have a veteran defense led by linebacker Vinny DePalma and defensive end Donovan Ezeiruaku. Boston College’s defense held up well last week until a late drive.
The Hokies committed 15 penalties and turned the ball over five times last week. I think that gets cleaned up this week. I am not saying it will be a mistake-free game because I don’t believe that. However, they will do enough to win. But will it be enough?
I think it’s close, but Jurkovec and Flowers prove too much, and Boston College picks up a close win.