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November 1, 2013

Staff Picks: Hokies At Eagles

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The dreaded noon ET kickoff has been a tricky one for Virginia Tech. But can the Hokies rebound from a loss to Duke and get back on track at Boston College?

We take our shots at calling what will happen at today's noon ET kickoff.

Jason Stamm, publisher

To say Virginia Tech's loss to Duke was a disappointment is a vast understatement. The Hokies had put themselves in great position of the BCS, at No. 14 and were bracing for a huge showdown at Miami next week.

The good news is that the ACC Championship game is still a good possibility, thanks to two early-season ACC losses for the Blue Devils. The bad news is that a few weaknesses for Virginia Tech were further exposed by the Blue Devils.

The Hokies' offense can still move the ball, but the progress made by senior quarterback Logan Thomas over the past three games came to a grinding halt with four interceptions. And even though he rushed for over 100 yards, it was back to the ground and pound mindset that Thomas went through last season and was supposed to avoid this season.

No one seems to be able to put a finger on why, but the bigger problem offensively is red zone efficiency. Virginia Tech gained almost 400 yards of total offense against Duke, with not much to show, thanks to two missed field goals by senior Cody Journell, an interception in the end zone by Thomas and a touchdown to senior wide receiver D.J. Coles negated by a penalty.

Is the offense magically going to stop making mistakes and get back on track in one week? Probably not. And that many mistakes again will likely again spell doom.

Maybe the bye week got the Hokies off kilter. After all, it had been three games in a row that they didn't have a turnover. But that also showed that the offense isn't a lost cause.

Not much needs to be said about the defense, which continues to dominate, even playing without two of its top cornerbacks last week in Brandon Facyson and Kyle Fuller. Both should be back on the field tomorrow and the defense shouldn't miss a beat. As far as the offense, I don't expect a huge turnaround, but it should do just enough to get the win. As far as Journell's woes, he's missing all his field goals left, so hopefully he compensates in some way.

PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 17-13

Doug Bowman, senior writer

The one thing that could trip the Hokies up in this one is if they come out flat thanks to the noon start in what is likely to be a less than full stadium. The defense should flourish against a suspect passing attack with only one receiver, which should allow Virginia Tech to focus on shutting down running back Andre Williams. I expect at least two interceptions on Saturday as the Hokies force quarterback Chase Rettig into some rash decisions.

The big question this season always is if the Hokies can score enough points. They didn't last week and it came back to bite them despite a terrific effort from the defense. Thomas' performance last week was forgettable, and a good first quarter would do wonders to put those memories behind him.

Ultimately, I don't expect this one to be close. Bud Foster's defense should dominate and allow VT's offense to regain its composure after last week. It might take ten minutes or so to get going, but I expect the Hokies to win big this week.

PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 24-3

Mike Stancik, staff writer

The only defenses in the country that allow less yards per game than Virginia Tech (248.8) are Michigan State (215.5) and Louisville (244.5). Michigan State is safely at number one, but it wouldn't be surprising if the Hokies move past the Cardinals after this Saturday.

Boston College owns the 111th ranked passing offense in the nation at 163.1 YPG, and only one receiver (Alex Amidon and his 46 catches) has more than eight grabs on the season. This is not exactly a good outlook for a team that's facing the 2nd ranked pass defense in Virginia Tech. (157.8 YPG) The result will be an obvious one: the Golden Eagles won't score much points, if at all.

The question is, can the 100th ranked scoring offense of the Hokies put up enough points to win? After two weeks of preparation, the unit made Duke's defense look elite. The good news is that while the Blue Devils sit at a respectable 34th in points allowed, Boston College is at a level below at 67th. (27.4 PPG)

The Golden Eagles don't have a strong running defense, but then again, Trey Edmunds' 44 yards last week were the most by a running back since he registered 110 in the Western Carolina game. Virginia Tech just won't be able to put up a ton of points in any game unless they can figure out how to run the ball effectively. (excluding Logan Thomas)

While I fully expect Thomas to have a bounceback performance, this game will likely resemble the eight that have already been played. The Hokies allow minimal points, and Thomas is able to push VT over the top with two total touchdowns (one rushing, one passing). Freshman nickel back Kendall Fuller adds another interception for good measure to take over the national lead.

PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 17-6


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