Virginia Tech (3-5, 1-3) and Boston College (3-5, 0-5) face off in Chestnut Hill Saturday looking for a much-needed win. Both teams are 3-5 and a W would help either team's quest for bowl eligibility.
Boston College's stout defense has allowed 52 points in the last two games. Before that, the unit was allowing just over seven points per contest. And for the Eagles, the offense might be without Jeff Smith, who has been out with a concussion. After the true freshman, the Eagles have two Massachusetts residents to choose from in redshirt freshman Troy Flutie and walk-on first-year quarterback John Fadule. The running game is also hurting, as Tyler Rouse will be a game-time decision, Jon Hilliman is still out, and Marcus Outlow and Myles Willis are both dinged up but will both play through their ailments.
The Hokies defense ranks in the top 50 in total defense, and Eagles head coach Steve Addazio believes "when you watch them on defense, they're an outstanding football team..." he said in his weekly press conference. Virginia Tech, like Boston College, has had their share of injuries this seaon. But even with some key players off the field, Addazio said that the Hokies are "extremely talented and they've gone through some struggles. They've had some injury problems. A year ago, they got decimated with injuries. This year, once again, they got hit again with injuries. They lost their quarterback in game one. They seem to be getting back right now. They're outstanding."
The Eagles defense will have their work cut out for them, but it will be up to the Eagles offense to score the football if BC wants to gain their first ACC win as the Hokies are "an elite program and one that is highly motivated right now because they have had some real disappointments," Addazio said. "This is a great challenge for us. It just is, given the fact that we have our own challenges, our own injuries to overcome and youth."
The second-ranked defense overall will have to contain Hokies quarterback Michael Brewer, who is making his second start since opening day when he broke his collarbone. Last week against a stingy Duke front Brewer threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns. BC's front seven will look to pressure the senior gunslinger, as the Eagles defense ranks fifth in sacks per game while the Hokies are 109th in sacks allowed. But stopping Brewer won't be the Eagles' only problem as they'll also have to watch out for Travon McMillian. The freshman tailback tallied 142 yards last week and has seen his workload increase as the season has progressed. Boston College boasts the top-ranked rushing defense, as they have allowed a measly 62 yards per game on the ground. If the Eagles can get in the backfield both stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback, the Eagles defense should be able to keep Virginia Tech from pouring on too many points.
But if the Eagles want to come out with a win on Saturday, the offense will need to step up. Against FBS opponents, BC hasn't scored more than 17 points. With the quarterback situation the way it is, the Eagles run game will have to be able to move the ball down the field. The offensive line will be helped by the fact that BC will be playing at home, as Addazio said when the team was away at Louisville lasst week that the team "had some issues upfront on silent cadence getting off on time against those speed rushers that brought some havoc to us. Now that we get our cadence back, that will help. When you take a young offensive line, they can communicate and you give them a better shot. When you put them on an island, they can't communicate with the noise and it puts that much more on them. We handled Clemson. Rome isn't built in a day with those guys. It's a little bit of an up-and-down deal with them."
While the Eagles will be focusing on the run game to put points on the board, the Hokies will be looking to the air to open up the scoring. Defensive back Kamrin Moore is likely out for Saturday's contest and the Eagles have allowed five pass plays over 40 yards this season, so the Hokies will likely be looking to the deep ball to get on the board early.
Both teams are out of the ACC playoff picture, but the two teams are vying for not just a bowl game but a confrence win.
Kickoff will begin at 12:30 and the game will air on the ACC Network and ESPN3. Follow @Joe_P_Jacobs, who will be live-tweeting the game and checking in on the forums.