FACTS & STATS: Site: Lane Stadium (66,233) — Blacksburg, Virginia.
Television: ESPN. Home Record: Virginia 5-2, Virginia Tech 2-4. Away Record:
Virginia 0-4, Virginia Tech 3-2. Neutral Record: Virginia 0-0, Virginia Tech
0-0. Conference Record: Virginia 3-4, Virginia Tech 2-5. Series Record: .
GAME NOTES: Instate foes collide in the regular-season finale for both teams,
as the Virginia Cavaliers take on the Virginia Tech Hokies on Saturday, with
bowl eligibility still out there for the winner.
It was senior day last weekend for Mike London’s Cavaliers and they ended a
four-game losing streak with a 30-13 victory over Miami. The victory moved
Virginia to 5-6 overall and 3-4 in ACC play. However, Virginia is still
seeking its first road win of the season, having lost all four games outside
of Charlottesville this season.
Frank Beamer’s Hokies have a couple of marquee road wins at Ohio State and
Duke this season, but Lane Stadium has not been the safe haven it has been in
years past. Virginia Tech is a disappointing 2-4 at home this season and
enters this contest off one of the worst games played all season long, an ugly
6-3 double-overtime loss at Wake Forest. The game was scoreless after
regulation, the first time that has happened in the FBS in nine seasons.
These two rivals play for the Commonwealth Cup. This marks the 96th meeting in
a series that dates back to 1895. Virginia Tech leads 53-37-5 and has won 10
straight meetings and 14 of the last 15 overall.
The Cavaliers are going to blow anyone away with gaudy offensive numbers, but
instead have a somewhat balanced attack that plays off one another. The ground
game generates 146.8 yards per game, while the passing attack nets 232.8.
Sophomore quarterbacks Greyson Lambert and Matt Johns have both seen time
under center this season and both have their merits. Lambert has completed
over 60 percent of his throws for 1,421 yards, but he has more interceptions
(10) than TD passes (9). Johns is completing a more modest 55.1 percent of his
passes, for 1,044 yards, but has more TDs (8) than picks (5).
Regardless of who is throwing the ball, wideout Canaan Severin is the first
target, as he paces the team with 38 receptions, for 496 yards and five TDs.
Still, the team’s best offensive weapon resided in the backfield in the form
of tailback Kevin Parks, who leads the team with 675 yards rushing and four
TDs, while ranking third in receptions (28), with two more scores.
Virginia has played pretty well on defense despite the sub-par record. The
team is yielding 345.9 yards of total offense and has amassed 32 sacks and 26
forced turnovers thus far.
A lot that has to do with the play of the secondary and it starts with
freshman safety Quin Blanding (team-high 109 tackles, 3 INTs) and senior All-
American safety Anthony Harris (101 tackles, 2 INTs). Senior linebacker Henry
Coley (71 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 8.0 sacks), junior end ELi Harold (51 tackles,
14.0 TFL, 7.0 sacks) and sophomore linebacker Max Valles (49 tackles, 10.5
TFL, 8.0 sacks) have created mayhem in up the field.
Virginia defenders have to be licking their chops at the opportunity to stymie
a stagnant Virginia Tech offense. The team has struggled to find offensive
consistency all season long and hit dead bottom last week against Wake Forest.
The team is averaging 362.0 yards per game, but the Hokies are -4 in terms of
turnover margin. The Virginia Tech backfield has been decimated by injuries
and there simply isn’t anyone left of note that can carry the offense.
That puts the onus of moving the football on quarterback Michael Brewer’s
shoulders. He has completed 60.7 percent of his passes this year, for 2,363
yards, but has 15 TDs against an alarming 13 INTs.
The passing game should be better considering the team has a deep receiving
corps, highlighted by Isaiah Ford (51 rec, 607 yds, 6 TDs), Willie Byrn (41
rec, 347 yds) and Bucky Hodges (39 rec, 456 yds, 6 TDs).
The one area that Virginia Tech has played with consistency is on the
defensive side of the ball. The Hokies are yielding just 20.5 ppg this year,
while showing a real penchant for stopping opposing passing attacks. That has
lot to do with a potent pass rush that has accumulated 42 sacks on the year.
The secondary is top-notch, with players like safety Kyshoen Jarrett (team-
high 78 tackles, 2 INTs) and cornerbacks Chuck Clark (62 tackles, 7.5 TFL) and
Kendall Fuller (43 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 1 INT, 14 PBUs). The players to watch
in terms of getting upfield are defensive ends Dadi Nicolas (53 tackles, 15.0
TFL, 7.5 sacks) and Ken Ekanem (44 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks).
Both these teams know how to bring pressure, but Virginia seems to bring a
little more to the table offensively, especially if Parks can get going. The
streak has to end at some point and this might be as good a time as any for
the Cavs to get back in the win column against their rival.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia 20, Virginia Tech 17