It’s the sort of goal Virginia Tech can’t talk about in the week leading up to a game like Saturday’s matchup with Austin Peay. But with a mediocre Football Championship Subdivision program coming to Blacksburg five days after the Hokies outlasted ACC rival Georgia Tech in their season opener Monday night, winning is only half the battle.
For Virginia Tech, it’s about how quickly it can put away the Governors. Success means providing rest for a banged-up starting lineup and playing time to develop depth that could come in handy later in the season.
Austin Peay, with its 11-33 record the past four seasons, shouldn’t become another James Madison. In fact, the real question is whether Virginia Tech can score 70 points, like the past two BCS opponents the Governors have faced. So here’s some others story lines to keep an eye on:
*** Virginia Tech confirmed Thursday that Washington native Boye Aromire had left the football program for “personal reasons,” a blow for a Hokies secondary that was already short on depth. Saturday could now be a showcase for backup safeties Michael Cole and Desmond Frye, who would be next in line to start should Virginia Tech’s defensive backfield suffer any injuries this year
Freshman cornerbacks Donaldven Manning and Donovan Riley should also see extensive playing time, and both could figure in prominently in Virginia Tech’s nickel package when it faces pass-happy Clemson next month.
***Linebacker Tariq Edwards has been ruled out of Saturday’s game, still recovering from his offseason surgery, and senior Bruce Taylor is questionable with an ankle injury. It could be a blessing in disguise, though. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster was hopeful this week he’d be able to play some of his younger linebackers such as redshirt sophomore Chase Williams, redshirt freshman Josh Trimble and freshman Deon Clarke.
Defensive tackles Luther Maddy and Antoine Hopkins are also both questionable with ankle injuries
***With the news Thursday that wide receiver D.J. Coles will miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury, Saturday will be another audition for some of the Hokies’ lesser-known receivers. Expect redshirt freshmen Demitri Knowles and Kevin Asante, as well as freshman Joshua Stanford, to see plenty of action. It will also be a showcase for backup quarterback Mark Leal, whenever he enters the game for Logan Thomas.
My prediction: Virginia Tech 55, Austin Peay 10
What do you think? Can the Hokies break 70? Or are you one of the few in the country who believes the Governors are capable of pulling off an upset that would be even more improbable than Virginia Tech’s loss to James Madison two years ago? Vote in the poll below, and let me know how many points you think the Hokies scores in the comments section.