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Hokies' Game Preview & Prediction: Purdue

By Sam Stromberg | September 06
Vt odu sa
Virginia Tech players run out for pregame warmups in their 36-17 victory over Old Dominion (photo via Scooter Waller).

Virginia Tech started off the 2023 campaign with a 36-17 victory over Old Dominion. Virginia Tech looked much improved in the WR room, and Grant Wells had one of his better performances in a Hokie uniform, all while most importantly protecting the football. The run game had its issues, as did the run defense; however, a win is a win, and the 2023 season is already off to a better start than the 2022 one. The Hokies get Purdue this week at Lane Stadium, a team who dropped a close one at home to Fresno State last week.

Saturday, September 9th

Purdue (0-1) @ Virginia Tech (1-0)

Virginia Tech -3; o/u49

12:00 pm EST

Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Va.

Head Coach: Ryan Walters (first-year)

Returning production: 51%

2022 record: 8-6 (Big Ten West champs)

On Offense

Offensive Coordinator: Graham Harrell

Who’s playing QB?

Former Texas QB and highly touted recruit Hudson Card is the signal caller for the 2023 Boilermakers. In last week's contest against Fresno State, Card finished for 254 yards through the air on 17 completions. At 6’2” 210lbs, Card has NFL potential. He sees the field well and has an impressive deep ball. He has sneaky speed as well, something Virginia Tech must look out for as ODU’s Grant Wilson exposed the Hokies up the middle a few times last week.

Talent at WR

Purdue’s most impressive receiver against Fresno State was the redshirt sophomore Deion Burks. Burks, a track star in high school, showcased his speed, scoring two touchdowns including an 84 yarder he took to the house on a slant. No matter where Burks lines up on the field, it will be the first real test for Mansoor Delane. Purdue also returns the veteran 5’11” TJ Sheffield. Sheffield is dangerous in open space, as is Burks. He finished with three catches for 22 yards in the Fresno State game, and was the third leading receiver for the Boilermakers a year ago. The tallest of the group is 6’2” junior WR Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen. While Purdue lost many familiar faces from last year's receiver corps, it is a room with talent and speed, but not much size. Virginia Tech should be able to manage.

Running Game

Purdue returns its leading rusher from a year ago in 6’0” 200lbs RB Devin Mockobee. Mockobee finished with 60 yards on 18 attempts a week ago, for an average of 3.8 yards per rush. Certainly a capable runner, Purdue never really got it going on the ground last week. The offensive line has experience, yet it has suffered some injuries. So, young guys played last week and will most likely play again against the Hokies, including three underclassmen on the line.

On Defense

Defensive Coordinator: Kevin Kane

Who’s the Anchor?

DE George Karlaftis is no longer at Purdue as he was recently drafted in the 2023 NFL Draft. Two other notable DE’s, Jack Sullivan and Branson Dean, both transferred out to USC and Miami receptively. So, the Boilermakers are left with only one returning edge rusher from last year's squad in the 6’1” senior Kydran Jenkins. While he may not lead the team in tackles, Jenkins can be seen as the anchor, and will certainly be a difference maker.

Size at LB

Standing at 6’4” 280, Nic Scourton is on of the largest LB’s I have seen. He may line in a three point stance as well. Alongside Scorton is the 6’2 245 LB OC Brothers. Brothers had a vicious sack a week ago against Fresno State. The tandem of Scourton and Brothers is a scary one; however, the Hokies did face one of the top LB’s in the country just a week ago in ODU’s Jason Hendersen. This Purdue team, though, has bigger, faster, stronger athletes, especially at the LB positions compared to ODU . Virginia Tech may struggle once again in the run game.

Freshmen Star at DB

True freshman safety Dillon Thieneman shined in the Boilermakers season opener against Fresno State. Thieneman led the team in tackles and also tallied an interception in the loss. Thieneman won Big Ten freshman of the week. However, Purdue will face tougher receivers this week against the Hokies. Virginia Tech should try to exploit the Boilermakers through the air, especially if it can not get a ground game going. Fresno State QB Mikey Keene went for four TD’s on 366 yards passing against the Purdue defense. There is no reason the Hokies should not attack in a similar fashion.

Final Prediction

Grant Wells builds upon a week one victory and finds his rhythm. The offense looks more comfortable, but the defense may continue to raise some questions. Don’t turn the ball over and you win. Purdue lost too many guys from a year ago, and Virginia Tech reloaded from a year ago.

Virginia Tech 31 - Purdue 21

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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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