And we’re on to Virginia Tech.
The Hokies (4-5, 3-2) are coming off a demolition at the hands of Louisville (been there) in which they were outgained 382 to 140 and more importantly outscored 34-3. After starting the season 1-3 with losses to Purdue, Rutgers, and Marshall, they’ve now flipped the switch and have mirrored BC in many ways. They played tight against FSU and rattled off wins against Pittsburgh, Wake, and Syracuse.
You’re going to see another QB with the #1 on his jersey this weekend, and has some rushing bona fides to his name as well. Kyron Drones has largely continued to improve as the season has progressed. The former Baylor man has a bigger 6-2 frame but has the speed to lead the team in rushing on any given day. The redshirt sophomore has 406 yards and four touchdowns on the season. A tough 12/21 for 72 yards performance last weekend aside, he’s thrown for 1300 yards and seven touchdowns this season, while throwing two interceptions and losing three fumbles.
He’s shown good poise and has been willing to take shots down the field for big plays. Big bodied receiver Da’Quan Felton is one of his favorite targets, but he has been a strong distributor as well. The speedy Jaylin Lane leads the team with 426 yards and five touchdowns, and has even logged a number of carries. These two seniors and one other in Stephen Gosnell work well with two big tight ends to all be strong receiving options.
When Drones’ number isn’t called, Bhayshut Tuten is a solid runner and is very effective receiving. The junior running back leads the team with 535 yards and has another 218 through the air. Malachi Thomas gets in the mix similarly and has nearly 300 yards of his own.
The team’s offensive line was expected to and has had some struggles this season. The Cardinals got through to Drones four times last week and teams have sacked him 21 times altogether.
Brent Pry is bringing the defense back to Blacksburg. Defensive end Antwaun Powell-Ryland is by far the team leader with nine sacks on the season. The Hokies haven’t had a player with double digit sacks since 2005 so this is quite the deal.. As a pass rush, they are top 10 in the nation with 31 sacks.
Tech’s defense has had a strong showing in most of their conference games as well, holding Syracuse to zero rushing yards and notching eight sacks, and taking Wake to task. We’ll have to take Louisville’s quick stomping with a grain of salt. Louisville only needed to complete 12 passes and were only sacked once.
Tackling and penalties have been a major issue for the Hokies defense. While BC has cleaned things up mightily these past few games, Virginia Tech doesn’t seem to have fully turned the corner yet.
Four Hokies have picked off opposing quarterbacks and does boast a strong pass defense overall. They’ve also recovered half of the ten fumbles they’ve forced. By volume, they’re allowing about 163 yards through the air and the advanced numbers like what they’re doing as well. Back to the pass defense, it’s a veteran group back there with the likes of safety Jalen Stroman and nickel Derrick Canteen among the team leaders in sacks. The two have range and Stroman should be healthier after getting banged up two weeks ago.
One last note, punt returner Tucker Holloway is averaging over 20 yards per return. Tech is top 25 in the nation in both punt and kick returns on a per game average. Matt Thurin’s special teams unit has to be more locked in then ever.
With three games to go, Brent Pry’s team will need to win two to obtain bowl eligibility. You can bet they’ll be bringing everything they’ve got, especially to get the taste of the Louisville loss out of their mouths.