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September 7, 2013Sign-up for HokieHaven.com Wireless Text Alerts sent right to your cell phone!
It's the home-opener for Virginia Tech. A week after playing the top-ranked team in the country in Alabama, it's a polar opposite in FCS-Western Carolina. The Catamounts should be easy prey, but will the Hokies take advantage?
We take our shots at calling what will happen at today's 1:30 pm ET kickoff.
Jason Stamm, publisher
There were parts of Virginia Tech that looked like a top 15 team last week against Alabama. First, there was a dominant defense that allowed a normally potent Crimson Tide offense just 206 yards of total offense. There was a big-time running game, led by redshirt freshman Trey Edmunds' 132 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. And he ran for that behind an impressive offensive line.
Then, there were the parts that looked like they belonged to a middling, low-level team. First, the poor coverage teams that allowed Alabama punt and kickoff return touchdowns. Then, there was the nearly non-existent passing game, which thanks to some inept play by the Hokies receivers, resulted in just 59 yards passing by senior quarterback Logan Thomas and a bevy of dropped passes.
It looks like a good bet that the good signs shown last week will continue. But can the bad signs turn back around?
This is a good week to cure what ails Virginia Tech. The Catamounts won just one of 12 games last season and have just one winning season in over a decade. Against just about any team they play, they've been overmatched, including on the FCS level.
There's a reason why, despite the bad signs and a 35-10 loss to Alabama, that the Hokies are 41-point favorites against Western Carolina. You'd expect Virginia Tech to correct all the mistakes, at least for one game in what could amount to a glorified scrimmage. Whether that continues is another thing.
I have no doubts that the Hokies will win this one handily. But I've gone back and forth whether the offense will turn things around enough to cover that spread. After mulling it over, I think they do, but barely and leave us pondering the state of the offense and special teams another week.
PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 49-7
Doug Bowman, senior writer
This one will be over by the end of the first quarter. The Catamounts are just overmatched all over the field and the Hokies should be looking to make a statement offensively after last week. Keep an eye on the Edmunds/Coleman/Caleb trio at tailback, as I think they could combine for some ridiculous statistics on Saturday.
The key for the receivers has to be catching the short and intermediate passes. Everyone knows Demitri Knowles can run by a Western Carolina cornerback and catch a 55-yard bomb. But is he comfortable enough to sit down in some coverage 12 yards down the field and catch a big third down pass? That's what I'll be looking for from the receivers.
Defensively, the Hokies won't be as intense as they were last Saturday, but they will still be very, very good. I don't expect Western Carolina to score until the fourth quarter, when the Hokies will have all sorts of backups in the game working out the kinks.
PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 52-7
Mike Stancik, staff writer
After seeing the best college program in the country, the Hokies are likely to get back to their winning ways against a team that hasn't won in over a year. Quite simply, expect a scattered Virginia Tech crowd in the second half with the Hokies currently listed as 41-point favorites.
It's not really a question of if Virginia Tech will come out victorious. It's more about seeing significant improvements in the areas of special teams and the passing game. And I think that's what we'll see tomorrow.
The Hokies are likely to run the ball with ease, but Thomas and his receivers won't have the easiest matchup through the air. Although the Catamounts gave up an average of 40.8 points per game last year, their pass defense isn't worthless as they allowed just 185 yards passing per game.
Thomas rebounds in a big way by throwing for 3 or 4 touchdowns in the first half, Edmunds and J.C. Coleman combine for 200 yards on the ground, the defense looks stout once again, and special teams makes a big play. The Hokies run away with this one early, and we'll get to see some looks at the back-ups.
PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 48-7
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