After a 12-day break, the Virginia Tech football team returns to the field Thursday night to host Syracuse at Lane Stadium on ESPN at 7:30 p.m. At 3-4, the Hokies must win three of their final five games to become bowl-eligible this season. It’s a tall task, but it’s also doable.
Earlier this week, second-year coach Brent Pry spoke about playing a game on a Thursday night at home.
“I think people got to know Virginia Tech on Thursday nights maybe before anyway else,” said Pry at his weekly media session on Monday. “I know once I left the program, was coaching other places, I always tuned in on Thursday nights very excited to watch the Hokies in that time slot. Again, it’s about us being 1-0, but everybody is excited about a Thursday night game here in Lane (Stadium).”
The Hokies are coming in off their bye week, like Syracuse, and the two teams enter the game coming from different paths. Virginia Tech is 2-1 in the ACC with home wins in strong fashion against Pittsburgh and Wake Forest, sandwiched around a loss at Florida State. The Orange enter at 4-3 and 0-3 in the ACC, but their losses are to three of the top teams in the conference, Clemson, North Carolina, and Florida State. It’s safe to say that the conference schedules for both teams has been different, to say the least.
Which version of Virginia Tech are we going to get against Syracuse?
It’s no secret that things took off for Virginia Tech when Pry and offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen committed to the run following a frustrating loss at Marshall on Sept. 23. Bhayshul Tuten has been the primary back to do a lot of the work, along with dual-threat quarterback Kyron Drones. What has also happened is the running game has opened up the passing game for Drones and the sophomore is becoming more comfortable with each game he plays. Jaylin Lane has become a play-maker at wide receiver for the Hokies.
Defensively, coordinator Chris Marve is going to have his hands full with Syracuse quarterback Garrett Schrader, who can hurt opponents with his legs and arm. Pry spoke about what Marve and the Hokies are going to see in the signal caller.
Mobile quarterbacks have posed a problem this season for Virginia Tech. Against Rutgers, Gavin Wimsatt hurt them with his legs, and then, of course, Jordan Travis, who is going to create problems for all opponents hurt them as well for FSU. Containing Schrader is going to be vital in giving the Hokies a chance.
The overall big question is going to be this, are we going to see the Virginia Tech team that started the season 1-3 and looked all out of sorts most of the time, or are we going to get the 2-1 ACC team that was dominating at home, playing with confidence and making plays on both sides of the ball? That’s what ultimately will be the deciding factor when all is said and done around 11 o’clock tonight.