Virginia Tech heads home this weekend for its 2017 debut in Lane Stadium and the first matchup between Virginia Tech and Delaware.
Tech looks like it has found some magic in freshman quarterback Josh Jackson, who in Sunday’s win over West Virginia looked cool, calm and collected.
Delaware poses a new, different threat to the rookie leader. So, what’s going to happen? I have no idea, but here’s an educated guess:
Why Virginia Tech can win:
Kanye West once had a line that could sum this game up well, “Harder, better, faster, stronger.” To put it bluntly, it’s just a different level of football when you go from FCS to FBS. Not to say that an upset is unfeasible (I write as I flash back to 2010 and the Hokies’ loss to James Madison. But it’s a rarity, for sure.
Tech has outscored its last five CAA opponents 175-33. Add that to the fact that the last three games Delaware has played against an ACC team, it has been outscored 141-35 (by Pitt, UNC and, last year, by Wake Forest.)
Why Delaware can win
(Insert photo of me scratching my head)
Delaware, in its first season under head coach Danny Rocco, would have to come and get out to some sort of freakish start. Delaware’s best chance would be to pick on the run game, but even then, Tech can go over the top to any one of its receivers and drive on the Blue Hens.
I’m honestly at a loss here. A spate of turnovers could keep the Hens close enough to make Tech nervouse. But really, Tech would have to perform poorly, and Delaware would have to play almost perfect football. That almost certainly won’t happen on Saturday.
Three to watch for the Hokies
Kicker Joey Slye:
After a less-than-optimal start, Slye can use Saturday’s game to regain some confidence. Slye’s kickoffs? Consistently outstanding. But, the senior missed two field goals in a row from less than 40-yards. He only needs five more FGs through the uprights to pass Shayne Graham (68) as the all-time field goals leader in Tech history.
Safety Terrell Edmunds:
It’ll be interesting to see how well Edmunds can move this weekend. He looked like he was in quite a bit of pain coming out of the game late against West Virginia for cramping. I wonder if it was anything more serious, and if so, will it have any impact on this week. I doubt it, but it might be something to watch.
Second-string defensive linemen:
Tech’s lack of depth on the defensive line was very apparent on Sunday, against the Mountaineers. The mixture of a quick offense and a talented offense prevented Tech from substituting some younger guys in. This Saturday, Tech will have an opportunity to do so. Look for the second and even third string guys to be taking some more reps this weekend.
Three to watch for the Blue Hens
Quarterback Joe Walker:
Walker threw for a career-high 192 yards last week in the Blue Hens 22-3 win over Delaware State. The leader of the Hens will need to have laser focus on Saturday in order to have success. And some quick feet to elude Tech’s rush would help, too.
Wide receiver Diante Cherry:
As one of the best players on the Blue Hens, Cherry racked up over 100 all-purpose yards and a touchdown last week. The impressive game earned him the Nate Beasley MVP Award as the game’s most outstanding player.
Ten returning defensive starters:
Perhaps the most impressive stat for the Blue Hens: Delaware lost only one defensive starter from last season, and the experience could prove to be very important in a game like these. Three turnovers and a safety were forced last week by the Hens’ stifling defense.
With no disrespect to Delaware, this shouldn’t really be close. It should be a fun home-opener for the fans. Delaware will love the exposure, and a major, program-changing win will come someday, just not against Virginia Tech. I like the Hokies, 52-10.