Saturday afternoon, the Virginia Tech football team returns to Lane Stadium to host Wake Forest for Homecoming Weekend. At 2-4, the Hokies are looking to head into their bye week on a positive note.
The Hokies started as 1.5-point underdogs when the line first came out last Sunday, but as the week has gone along, they are now slight favorites over the Demon Deacons. Here are three under-the-radar keys to victory over Wake Forest for Brent Pry’s team.
Virginia Tech needs to get off the field on defense
You might be thinking, yeah, no kidding, but Wake Forest enters the game averaging nearly six fewer points a game this season than last and is coming off a 12-point performance in a five-point loss at Clemson last weekend. Aside from two big plays by Pittsburgh, the Hokies did a good job of getting after since benched quarterback Phil Jurkovec sacking him four times and causing him to throw the ball early. It was the best game for the defensive line all season.
Last week they spotted Florida State 22 first-quarter points, but aside from two big plays in the second half, they settled down and kept Virginia Tech in the game and allowed the offense to crawl back in it. This is a big statement game for the Hokies, who will play the first half without Jalen Stroman after he was ejected last week for targeting in the second half in Tallahassee.
Virginia Tech needs to create turnovers
One issue that plagued Virginia Tech last season was the lack of turnovers defensively. This season, the Hokies have not created as many as they would have liked, but when they have created some, they’ve taken advantage. In the season opener against Old Dominion, three second-half turnovers turned into some points which allowed them to pull away from the Monarchs.
Two weeks ago against Pittsburgh, a key third-quarter fumble recovery at the Panthers’ 10-yard line led to a Kyron Drones touchdown run. Points off of turnovers are huge and when the offense struggles, the defense needs to come up with some and it would be even better if they set them up with good field position.
Virginia Tech’s special teams need to make an impact
Last week Tuten provided a big play by returning the second kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown against the Seminoles, but punter Peter Moore has been a weapon this season for Virginia Tech by changing field position with his kicks. Placekicker John Love is 7-for-8 this season and in what is expected to be a close game, it could very well come down to field position or a late-game field goal. All hands on deck.