Three Reasons Why Virginia Tech Could Beat Liberty
An unranked Virginia Tech football team will be hosting #25 Liberty on Saturday. If that isn’t the most 2020 thing you have ever heard, I don’t know what is.
This will be Virginia Tech’s only non-conference matchup until their bowl game. Most ACC teams scheduled a “creampuff” for their one non-conference game, hoping to get a break from the rigorous 10 game conference schedule.
So far, ACC teams are 9-2 in non-conference games with a combined score of 448-200. The ACC has been nothing short of dominant in these games.
But will Liberty roll over like many of the other non-conference teams? Let’s look at three reasons why that could happen.
The Hokies run the Ball With Ease
After an underwhelming offensive performance against Wake Forest, the Hokies bounced back last week against Louisville. Particularly, the Hokies got back on track by running the ball extremely well against the Cardinals.
Khalil Herbert had another strong performance, rushing for 147 yards and a touchdown. This was part of the team amassing 283 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
It has become quite obvious that the Hokies are at their best when they are running the ball well. They should have plenty of opportunities to do so against the Flames.
According to Sharp College Football, Liberty’s rush defense is 77th (out of 130) in the FBS, which makes it the worst the Hokies will face all season. If Liberty was in the ACC, their rush defense would be the worst in the conference.
Their defense is also 81st in Sharp’s Explosive Defense Ranking, meaning they also give up numerous big-yardage plays.
So, the Hokies should not only run the ball well, but they will have chances to break off long touchdown runs. This bodes well for speedy backs Herbert and Raheem Blackshear.
The Hokies Get a Special Teams Touchdown
Looking at another one of Sharp’s rankings, we find where the Hokies will have another big advantage: Special Teams.
Liberty’s Special Teams is ranked 100th in the FBS. That is very, very bad.
Not only do they not kick field goals well (Alex Barbir is 7-11 this season), this ranking means they struggle in most facets of Special Teams.
What does this mean for the Hokies? It means a big play or two could be in store on a punt or kickoff.
Beamerball has been limited thus far this season, as the Hokies have yet to have one of their patented Special Teams touchdowns. If there was ever an opportunity for that to change, this is it.
Where could that touchdown occur? Tayvion Robinson has yet to get loose on a punt return after coming into the season regarded as one of the best punt returners in the country. Khalil Herbert and Keshawn King have broken off a couple of long kickoff returns past midfield, but have not gotten past the last line of defense. The Hokies have not blocked a punt or kick all season.
One or more of these things is bound to change this season. I would not be surprised in the slightest to see the Hokies get in the end zone through either a kick return, punt return or blocked punt.
The Hokies Won’t Let Themselves Slip Again
We know how it goes: the Hokies have one “dud” game every year.
Since Justin Fuente’s era at VT started, the Hokies have had one game each year that makes fans scratch their heads. Fortunately for the Hokies, they already got their head-scratcher out of the way two weeks ago against Wake Forest.
That was a game that VT should not have lost, but they responded well the next week against Louisville. One has to believe they will keep it going against Liberty.
The Hokies are far more talented than the Flames, so it would take a truly awful performance for them to lose. With Miami waiting to come to Blacksburg next week, it is hard to imagine the team crushing any positive momentum for themselves with such a tough opponent on deck.
This is nothing short of a must-win game for the Hokies if they wish to make any headway nationally, so I expect them to play motivated and determined.