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FSU vs. Virginia Tech Game Preview

The Seminoles look to work out some kinks and flaws, as FSU takes on the Virginia Tech Hokies in Tallahassee.

A much-needed bye week for the Seminoles followed one of the best and most physical games of the season thus far. Florida State was able to travel up to Clemson and accomplish a feat that had been haunting the program since 2015: defeat the Tigers. Next up: FSU will be challenged by Virginia Tech at home.

FSU displayed grit, determination, and resiliency in a 31-24 overtime victory over Clemson two Saturdays ago. The game was predicted by many to be one of the most difficult games on FSU’s schedule. It was one of the most widely-watched contests of a record-breaking viewership weekend for college football. And in the end, it lived up to the hype. The Noles played with a chip on their shoulder, and finally got over the hump by ending seven straight losses to the Tigers. That’s another box checked off; how many more can this team complete? Florida State seemingly controls its own destiny in the ACC and College Football Playoff race.

This Saturday at 3:30 pm ET on ABC, the Virginia Tech Hokies come to Tallahassee. Tech stands at 2-3 on the year, with wins over Old Dominion on opening weekend and last week against the struggling Pitt Panthers. Prior to last weekend’s win, the Hokies fell victim to three straight losses, falling to Purdue, Rutgers, and Marshall. Virginia Tech is a big underdog coming into this matchup. However, after rebounding and building some momentum from its performance last week, the Hokies look to spoil FSU’s season and pull off a massive upset. The last time FSU and Virginia Tech met was the 2018 season opener, where Virginia Tech won 24-3.

Statistical Breakdown

Virginia Tech sits near the bottom of the conference statistically in offensive production, slotted at 11th. The Hokies are averaging 348.6 yards per game, with 222.2 of those coming through the air, and 126.4 on the ground. Tech is also averaging 24.8 points per game, which is third-lowest in the ACC. Defensively, the Hokies rank slightly better, giving up 335.4 yards per game, good for 8th in the ACC. The pass defense has been the best in the conference so far, only allowing 157.8 yards per game. However, the run defense is third-worst in the ACC with 177.6 yards allowed per game. Overall, the defense is allowing 24.2 points per game.

For the Seminoles, the offensive statistics place them in the middle of the pack. The passing game ranks fifth at 279.5 yards per game. The running game has left plenty to be desired, however with 147.8 yards per game on the ground. Placing them at 11th in the ACC. However, the scoring has been coming quickly and often. The team averages 43.3 points per game, second best in the conference, barely trailing Miami’s mark of 43.8. Defensively, the Noles rank near the bottom. They’re giving up 400.8 yards per game, with an ACC-worst 272 of those resulting through the air. However, already facing two high-powered offenses in LSU and Clemson certainly inflates those numbers.

Virginia Tech Players to Watch:

Quarterback Kyron Drones 

The sophomore signal-caller had a career game against Pitt last weekend. He did it all for the Hokies offense, finishing 12 for 19 for 228 yards for three touchdowns, and added two more on the ground. He possesses a similar dual-threat skill set to Boston College’s Thomas Castellanos, who gave the FSU defense fits when the two teams faced off.

Drones filled in for the injured Grant Wells after he went down late in the Purdue game on September 9th. So far, he’s performed above expectations. The Florida State defense has to contain Drones, especially on designed quarterback runs. The defensive line also needs to step up and take advantage of a weaker Tech offensive line. If not, watch out; this could end up becoming another surprisingly interesting game.

Wide Receiver Da’Quan Felton

After a big performance against the Panthers last weekend, Shelton is now the Hokies’ leading receiver. He has 14 catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns so far on the year. At six-foot-five and 207 pounds, he possesses good size and an adequate frame to win contested 50-50 balls and catches in traffic. This should be a solid test for the FSU defensive backs in terms of matching physicality and dealing with the size mismatch.

Linebacker Keli Lawson

Another standout sophomore performer on a young Virginia Tech team, Lawson has been all over the field. He has already logged 48 total tackles on the season, 21 more than the second-leading tackler. He’s also been serviceable in pass-defense situations, recording a pass defended as well as an interception. Lawson is great at making tackles in space and is definitely a sideline-to-sideline defender that the Noles will need to scheme around.

Game Prediction:

Does this have the makings of another potential trap game for FSU? The Hokies come into this matchup freshly motivated and looking like a whole new team. Drones and the offense can definitely make a few big plays to trouble the back line of the Seminole secondary. However, the rush defense is just not talented enough to contend with the Florida State rushing attack. The Noles should be able to take some pressure off the passing game and focus more on the ground game in this one. With the combination of this and an elite pass rush, the home team should be able to break away not too far into the second half. The extra rest from the bye week means Florida State will be its healthiest since opening week. Plus, they should come out more focused and disciplined than they did against Boston College, which served as a rude awakening for the squad.

FSU 45, Virginia Tech 24

 

 

Photo courtesy: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

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