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THE COLUMN: Virginia vs. Virginia Tech Complete Preview

Just a little nervous for this one

TIME: 12:00 PM (EST)

DATE: November 29th, 2019

LOCATION: Scott Stadium | Charlottesville, VA


The Lowdown

The Hokies have won the last 15 matchups against Virginia, dating back to 2003. Not so great. Last year’s edition featuring an upstart Virginia team and a down-trending Tech team was maybe going to be different. It wasn’t. A calamitous collapse by the Hoos only reaffirmed the hex that many Virginia fans have become all-too-accustomed to and left them wondering what would happen next year.

Well, the time is now and the stakes are high. Both teams are 8-3 and the winner takes the ACC Coastal Division crown AND will get to be the annual ACC sacrifice to Clemson. For all intents and purposes, this Friday’s game is like a symbolic championship game and a litmus test for the two program. For Virginia and Bronco Mendenhall, beating the Hokies is the monkey on the back of the football program. While the Cavaliers have trended up over the last four years, they must vanquish their foes from Blacksburg to truly turn the cultural corner as a program.

For the Hokies, getting walloped 45-10 by Duke early in the season has not defined their season. Bud Foster, who is retiring this year, has built yet another stout defense which is ranked 33rd in scoring defense and 35th in yards defended. Virginia has been powered by its own great defense and the dynamism of Bryce Perkins all year. Running has been a huge issue for the Hoos, who are ranked 118th in rushing offense. They might struggle again this week, as Tech is ranked 24th in rushing defense.

Make no mistake, this is the biggest game Virginia has had under Bronco Mendenhall. While the team has played its fair share of highly-ranked teams, no team as mattered more culturally than the Hokies. If the Hoos can beat them on Friday, it will allow the team to enter a new chapter of its program where this rivalry could truly become a competitive one again.

The Statistics

from Danny Neckel

A worthy Commonwealth Clash

Category UVA Category VT
Category UVA Category VT
Scoring Offense 36th (33.2) Scoring Defense 33rd (22.3)
Scoring Defense 38th (22.9) Scoring Offense 56th (31)
Yards Offense 87th (381) Yards Defense 35th (347.9)
Yards Defense 22nd (323.2) Yards Offense 86th (381.4)
Rushing Offense 118th (123.6) Rushing Defense 24th (118.1)
Passing Defense 39th (204.4) Passing Offense 90th (208.8)

Hoo’s Hoo?

Virginia Cavaliers

Bryce Perkins, QB

Obviously, Bryce Perkins has to be the key for Virginia. The dynamic quarterback has thrown for 2,638 yards and rushed for 523 yards so far on the year. Numbers-wise, Perkins has been having a pretty similar season to last year and actually is about 400 yards down in rushing. All eyes will be on Perkins, who will try to carry Virginia’s offense both in the air and on the ground while limiting any turnovers.

Virginia Cavaliers

Joe Reed, WR

Fourth-year Joe Reed will also be another important offensive piece for the Hoos. The explosive kick-returner and wide-receiver is the only player in FBS history with 2,700+ career kick return yards and a career kick return average of 28+ yards. Reed is the definition of a game-changing player and could provide instant scoring and/or offense that the Cavaliers may need on Friday.

Virginia Cavaliers

Jordan Mack, LB

As the defensive leader for the Cavaliers, Jordan Mack will have a big impact on the offensive success of the Hokies. He currently leads the Hoos in sacks this season with 7.5 and is third in total tackles with 63. When he was ejected during Virginia’s loss against Louisville, his presence was immediately felt. Look for Mack to try to keep the Hokies’ running game at bay.

Virginia Tech

Hendon Hooker, QB

After their big loss to Duke in Week 4, Justin Fuente has been starting Hendon Hooker over Ryan Willis at the quarterback position. Since then, the Hokies has been 6-1 with that loss being at Notre Dame and by only a point. The redshirt sophomore has been stellar since taking over the helm - throwing for 1,134 yards with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. Hooker has also rushed for 262 yards and four rushing touchdowns.

Virginia Tech

Tre Turner, WR

Sophomore Tre Turner currently leads the Hokies in receiving yards with 408. However, Virginia Tech spreads the ball quite a bit in the air with different receivers. Four different players have over 300 yards receiving while Damon Hazelton has the most touchdowns with seven. The depth of the Hokies’ receiving corps could cause some issues against Virginia’s thinner secondary.

Virginia Tech

Rayshard Ashby, LB

Junior linebacker Rayshard Ashby has been a dominant force for the Hokies’ defense. Last year, he led the team with 105 total tackles. This season, he has picked up where he left off and leads Virginia Tech with 98 total tackles (49 being solo tackles). Ashby also has 4.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. He will look to cause havoc everywhere for Virginia’s offense.



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