The Virginia Tech Hokies look to get back on track this week when they head to Chestnut Hill, Mass., to face longtime rival Boston College.
The Hokies (6-2) are coming off a 13-10 upset loss to Duke at home as they prepare to play in a place where they've had some issues in the past. In 2012, Virginia Tech beat the host Eagles, 30-23, in overtime.
Boston College (3-4) gave both Florida State and Clemson all they could handle earlier this season before both teams pulled away in the second half.
Last week, the Eagles looked bad in a 34-10 loss at struggling North Carolina.
The Hokies lead the all-time series 15-6 and have won the past five meetings. Their rivalry dates back to when both schools were in the Big East.
- When: Saturday, Nov. 2
- Where: Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Mass.
- Time: Noon ET
- TV: ABC
- Radio: Virginia Tech IMG Sports Network. Here is a complete list of stations by area.
- Spread: Virginia Tech, -4.5, via BetOnline.com
Put Last Week Behind Them
Last week is over and done. If the Hokies allow their loss to the Blue Devils to stay with them, they will be in trouble at BC. The Eagles play good defense, and with the Hokies' struggles on offense, points could be at a premium. Frank Beamer must have his team focused on this game, as the Hokies still have a chance to achieve their season goals.
Get Logan Thomas Going
Thomas threw four interceptions against Duke after not turning the ball over the previous three weeks. Virginia Tech's offense will get more opportunities than most because its defense is so good. However, the Hokies must establish some kind of offensive rhythm early in the game. If Thomas plays well, the Hokies almost always win. It is important for offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler to put Thomas in position for some high-percentage throws early in the game.
Hope the Game Doesn't Come Down to Cody Journell
Yes, this seems like a fairly simplistic strategy, but there is truly no way to avoid this unless Virginia Tech ends its drives with touchdowns. The Hokies haven't done that consistently all season. Journell, a former All-ACC kicker, is one of the worst kickers in college football this season, only hitting on 8-of-14 field goal attempts this season along with missing two extra points. To say that Virginia Tech coaches, players and fans have little confidence in Journell at this point would be an understatement.
Remain Balanced on Offense
The Hokies have one of the top defenses in the nation and BC isn't exactly prolific on offense. However, if the Eagles expect to beat the Hokies, they must keep things balanced on offense. Designing a short passing game to slow down the Hokies' excellent pass rush is a must. If BC calls for too many passes down the field, Chase Rettig stands a greater chance of committing multiple turnovers. Virginia Tech's defense leads the nation in interceptions with 17. Running back Andre Williams must touch the ball at least 20 times for the Eagles.
Pressure Logan Thomas
You have to be careful when sending extra pressure at a quarterback like Thomas. Not only is he big enough to withstand hits, but he also has the ability to make a defender miss and take off for 20 yards. But with his struggles from last week fresh against Duke still in his mind, it is imperative that BC go after him early and often. The Eagles need to create a shorter field for their offense.
Win the Battle on Special Teams
This is one area where the Eagles have an advantage. Senior kicker Nate Freese is perfect on the season and the Eagles feature an outstanding pair of return men. Kick returner Myles Willis is averaging almost 26 yards per return. Punt returner Spiffy Evans was averaging 12 yards per return, but according to Michael Vega of The Boston Globe, Evans is done for the season after breaking his shoulder last week against the Tar Heels. A big play or two on special teams could give Boston College what it needs to pull off an upset.
Quarterback Logan Thomas
As Thomas goes, so goes the Hokies offense. He is the team's most important player and the leader on offense. After having continued to improve throughout the season, Thomas threw four interceptions against Duke, and the Hokies still only lost by three points. At least three of those picks were on promising drives, including one in the red zone. He must be at his best this week, or BC will make it two losses in a row for Tech.
Defensive Ends J.R. Collins and Dadi Nicolas
The Hokies are so deep on the defensive line that missing Collins last week after he was suspended a game for violating team rules didn't really hurt them. However, how smart is it of a senior to break team rules just days before a conference game? That's not being a good teammate. Will Bud Foster rotate Collins out more this week and continue to ride with Dadi Nicolas? Collins is a good pass-rusher, but Nicolas may be the best on the team. The Hokies are best, though, when both players see the field.
Cornerback Kyle Fuller
Kyle Fuller should be a first-team All-American, but the Hokies didn't miss a beat last week with Fuller out due to a groin injury. In fact, Fuller's younger brother, Kendall, who is one of the top recruits in the nation, had his coming-out party. Kendall picked off three passes against the Blue Devils and was close on two more. With Fuller and Brandon Facyson (who also missed last week's game) both set to return this week, according to Norm Wood of the Newport News Daily Press, how will the Hokies deal with their logjam at cornerback? Remember, senior Antone Exum returned last week. It certainly is a good problem to have and one that all Hokies fans will surely keep an eye on.
You can find the complete Virginia Tech depth chart here.
Quarterback Chase Rettig
Rettig has completed 62 percent of his passes this season and thrown just four interceptions. That is a big improvement over last season, when he had 13 passes picked off. A four-year starter, Rettig is a tough guy who keeps the Eagles in games. He isn't a running threat, though, so he must get rid of the ball quickly to avoid drive-killing sacks against the Hokies.
Running Back Andre Williams
Williams is having a fine senior season. He has rushed for 1,010 yards and eight touchdowns. If he gets enough carries, he could be a factor. BC hasn't faced a defense like Virginia Tech's, but the Eagles can't stop giving the ball to Williams, who must remain involved, even if BC gets behind early.
Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis
Pierre-Louis is one of the most underrated linebackers in the country. This season, he has 65 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. He is all over the place and terrific in every phase of the game. Boston College should move him around and send him on the occasional blitz so that the Hokies' struggling offensive line has to account for him on every snap.
The Eagles' complete depth chart can be found here.
Chase Rettig struggled last week against North Carolina, but head coach Steve Addazio is sticking by his senior signal-caller, according to Michael Vega of The Boston Globe:
As the head coach, I know what it’s like when you get too much credit and you get too much blame. I’ve got that figured out. To think that a quarterback isn’t feeling what happens positively or negatively, you’re sticking your head in the sand, because they care and a lot goes on.
Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer believes his team is ready to move past last week's disappointing loss to Duke, per Norm Wood of the Newport News Daily Press:
It's how you react to these things. Disappointment is going to happen to all of us, but the real key thing is how do you react to disappointment. That kind of determines who you are, in my opinion.
If you would have asked Virginia Tech fans two weeks ago which game on the Hokies' upcoming schedule would be the toughest, they would have likely said Boston College. No offense to Duke because the Blue Devils are a better team than the Eagles, but BC is always a tough outing for the Hokies.
One week after its devastating home loss to the Blue Devils, the Hokies head to Chestnut Hill with one loss on their ACC ledger and looking to avoid another upset by a team that is very capable of pulling off another.
This game will be a big test for the Virginia Tech coaches. Frank Beamer must put last week's misery in the rearview mirror and focus on the Eagles. If the Hokies look ahead to Miami, they will be on a two-game losing streak when they visit Coral Gables, Fla., to face the 'Canes the following week.
Virginia Tech and BC will be a game that is close and low scoring, but the Hokies' defense is too good to allow the Hokies to lose another to a team they should defeat.
Final score: Virginia Tech 17, Boston College 9