Boston College 2019 Opponent Preview: The Virginia Tech Hokies
During the summer months and as we prepare for the upcoming season, BC Maven will be doing weekly previews of all of Boston College's opponents. Today we kick off the series with the Virginia Tech Hokies, a team that definitely did not live up to expectations in 2018.
Last Matchup: On November 3, 2018, just a little over a year after the infamous "it will come together and it will be beautiful" game, BC went to Blacksburg and took it to the Hokies, in a huge game that not only put BC back in the rankings but earned them a trip from College Gameday. Travis Levy subbed in after A.J. Dillon tweaked his ankle and was incredible, rushing for two touchdowns, and keeping the Hokies defense on their toes. Anthony Brown did just enough throwing for 177 yards and a touchdown, while Brandon Sebastian had a key interception to seal the win.
Head Coach: Justin Fuente is in his third year with the Hokies, amassing a 25-15 record during that time. He started his career as a quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners, where he threw for just over 2,000 yards before transferring to Murray State to finish his collegiate career, flourishing and was named a Walter Payton finalist. To start his coaching career he was a quarterbacks coach at Illinois State from '01-'03, and their OC from '04-06, before heading to TCU where he was the RB coach in '07 and '08 and became the OC in '09 when he helped Andy Dalton become an NFL caliber quarterback. He got his first head coaching gig at Memphis, and in 2014 was a Eddie Robinson Head Coach of the Year Candidate after leading the Tigers to a 10 win season.
2018 Season: 6-7 (4-4), lost 35-31 in the Military Bowl to Cincinnati.
Recap: The season started off promising for the Hokies as they defeated then ranked #19 Florida State 24-3 in a thumping at Doak Stadium. After following that up with convincing win against William and Mary, they were shocked when Old Dominion shredded the then #13 Hokies in a 49-35 win. ODU threw for a blistering 495 yards in the win, and VT was left licking their wounds in one of the most shocking upsets of the season.
The Hokies returned to the win column with a win against then ranked Duke, but then was thoroughly beaten by Notre Dame, leaving VT with a 3-2 record. The Hokies snuck by the hapless Tar Heels, before going on a 4 loss snide including getting trounced by Georgia Tech, beaten soundly by BC, getting annihilated by Pittsburgh and getting thrashed by Miami. However, VT was able to get themselves bowl eligible with a huge Commonwealth Cup win against Virginia, and defeating Marshall soundly.
The offense was led by quarterback Ryan Willis, who was 4th in the ACC in passing yards per game, and finished the year with 2716 yards, along with 24 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Damon Hazelton proved to be a valuable asset at wide receiver with 8 touchdowns and over 800 yards. While on defense Rayshard Ashby led the team with tackles and tackles for loss.
The Hokies have lost of a ton of talent, just in transfers alone as Josh Jackson, receivers Sean Savoy, Eric Kumah, and Samuel Denmark, tight end Chris Cunningham, offensive lineman D’Andre Plantin, defensive linemen Trevon Hill, Cam Goode, and Darius Fullwood, and linebacker Aundre Kearney all have left the program. However, they have one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC in Ryan Willis, along with Hazleton returning and most importantly healthy this season, and they have a ton of returning talent as well on offense, in fact it's one of the highest in the conference
The defensive line is a major concern, as five players have graduated including leading sack getting Houshun Gaines, but they have some talent on the line that should start to really make a difference, guys like Tyjuan Garbutt.
If Justin Fuente can get the younger kids to play up to their potential they could be a team to look out for. However, if he can't this could be a team doomed to repeat the struggles of 2018 again.
BC Game Date: August 31st, 2019
Location: Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Chances of BC Victory: 55%.
S&P Chances of BC Victory: 33%
I think BC will matchup well in this game, VT probably will score some points with Willis, but I think a healthy Dillon and effective Brown will be the difference maker. However, if Willis can get to BC's secondary and cause problems on third down, this game could swing the other way. This is truly a toss up game, but in the end I think BC has just enough to win it.