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Hokies' Game Preview & Prediction: Rutgers

By Sam Stromberg | September 13
WR Tucker Holloway goes through warmups before Virginia Tech's season opener against Old Dominion two weeks ago (photo via Scooter Waller).

Game Info

Saturday, September 16th

SHI Stadium, Piscataway, New Jersey

Virginia Tech (+7) @ Rutgers (-7); o/u 39.5

3:30pm ET

Big Ten Network


Head Coach: Greg Schiano

Returning production: 63%

2022 record: 4-8

Last time out for Rutgers: 36-7 win against Temple

On Offense

Offensive Coordinator: Kirk Ciarrocca

Who’s playing QB?

The 6’3” 225 pound junior Gavin Wimsatt will lead the Scarlet Knights on offense against Virginia Tech. Wimsatt, a former highly touted high school QB, was the 25th ranked QB nationally in the class of 2021. Wimsatt held offers from big time programs such as Michigan, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, and Oregon, amongst many others. Wimsatt ultimately chose Rutgers, and now, just a couple years later, has the starting role. So far in 2023, Wimsatt has 361 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Wimsatt is completing passes at a rate of 54%. Accuracy was an issue for Wimsatt last year, and he has done nothing eye opening thus far in 2023; however, Wimsatt is the Scarlet Knights third leading rusher, behind RB’s Kyle Monangai and Ja’shon Benjamin. Compared to the previous QB’s Virginia Tech has faced, Wimsatt is probably the most like a dual-threat. Grant Wilson from ODU burned the Hokies on the ground, despite not being a true dual threat. The most impressive stat of Wimsatt’s right now is his zero interceptions thrown. Newly hired offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca does like to keep the ball on the ground, though.

Biggest Strength?

The biggest strength of this Rutgers offense, so far, comes at the disposal of the big guys up front. Rutgers holds a PFF pass blocking grade of 78.7 on the year. That ranks top 20 in the nation. To put it simply, this Rutgers offensive line has only given up one sack on the year. Now, it should be noted that Rutgers has played two weak opponents to open the year: Northwestern and Temple. But are the Hokies in a similar group? Who knows. Nevertheless, this may be the toughest offensive line Virginia Tech has faced this season. At the same time, though, this will be the toughest defensive line that Rutgers has faced so far. On the ground, RB Kyle Monangai is the name to know. Monangai leads the Scarlet Knights rushing with 214 yards and two touchdowns. Most impressively. Monangai averages 5.1 yards a carry. Monangai had 28 carries (!!) a week ago against Temple; expect a similar, maybe not as high, number on Saturday against the Hokies.

Side note: it looks like Rutgers’ starting RT Tyler Needham will be out for Saturday's game after sustaining an injury against Temple.

Biggest Weakness?

Thus far, the biggest weakness of this Rutgers offense appears to be the pass game. As previously mentioned, Wimsatt only has 361 yards on the year. To make matters worse, Rutgers has yet to truly find their number one guy through the air. JaQuae Jackson is the leading receiver for the Scarlet Knights, with five receptions for 99 yards – all which came a week ago against Temple. After Jackson, no receiver has more than 60 yards on the year.

Key Matchup Battle: Virginia Tech’s DE’s against Rutgers OT’s. If Virginia Tech can generate pressure on the edge, especially with one of Rutgers’ starting tackles out, the Hokies have a chance to generate some chaos – and maybe even some turnovers

On Defense

Defensive Coordinator: Joe Harasymiak

Who’s the Anchor?

The leader of this defense is senior captain LB Mohamed Toure. Toure, at 6’2” 240 pounds, has 13 tackles on the year and one sack. The scary thing: Toure is probably not even the best LB on this Rutgers squad.

Biggest Strength?

Rutgers biggest strength is the run defense. The Scarlet Knights rank top-five nationally in overall run defense, allowing just 40 yards a game. (Again, it is so early, that a stat like this must be taken with a grain of salt – nonetheless, still impressive). What makes this run defense so good? Well, the linebackers are certainly a part. The aforementioned LB Mohamed Toure, alongside the 6’5” 240-pound junior LB Tyreem Powell and the 6’1” 235-pound senior LB Deion Jennings, account for nearly 40% of the teams total tackles. The biggest takeaway here for me? They don't let guys get into the second level (not that it would matter against Virginia Tech anyways, because I am not even sure if the Hokies can get past the first level). This Rutgers LB corps is the real deal, and they have some serious experience. I would expect another slow day on the ground for the Hokies. The defensive line is no slouch either, as every starter is at least 6’4” and an upperclassmen. This Big Ten defense reminds me a lot of Purdue’s from a week ago: much size and experience.

Biggest Weakness?

Rutgers let up 420 yards in the air last week against Temple. If Temple can throw for 420, then the Hokies should be able to put up similar numbers, even with the loss of Ali Jennings III. Virginia Tech must utilize the pass, because I'll tell you what, it is going to be tough to get a ground game going.

Key Matchup Battle: Virginia Tech’s WR’s and TE’s against Rutgers DB’s. If Virginia Tech can get them the ball, the Hokies have a real opportunity to burn this Rutgers DB group.


While I was heavily displeased myself just a week ago against Purdue, the overreactions are a little strong. I know I may be in the minority here, but Virginia Tech starts off hot, gets the receivers involved, and we see Drones make some plays. Hokies win.

Virginia Tech 22 - Rutgers 16

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Been a Hokie fan ever since I can remember. Immensely passionate about journalism and Virginia Tech sports. Go Hokies!

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