On paper, this should be a relatively easy win for Virginia Tech. They have been slowly, steadily, ploddingly improving in their offense. Their defense has been outstanding all season. They are at home. They have revenge on their mind. By contrast, Pitt is still a big question mark. Inconsistent performances on both sides of the ball in consecutive games. Barely surviving their one road game this season.
Virginia Tech fans want to be confident but can’t help but worry. They haven’t beaten Pitt in the last four tries. Not since a nail-biter in Blacksburg in 2000. Which feeds into a rare sense of confidence by Pitt fans. Not that Pitt will beat VT, but that it isn’t going to be a one-sided blowout.
Last year was a tremendous disappointment for the Hokies, so their coaches aren’t being shy about pushing the idea of revenge and redemption.
Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster played the revenge card early and often as the Hokies prepared for Saturday’s game against North Carolina, and why not? The Tar Heels blistered Tech last season for 533 yards, 339 rushing, in a 48-34 victory.
Foster’s bunch responded, limiting Carolina to 99 yards rushing in a 27-17 win. Yes, Tar Heels quarterback Marquise Williams, subbing for the injured Bryn Renner (foot), threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns, but the Hokies intercepted him twice and didn’t yield the second TD until the waning moments.
Tech’s redemption tour continues next week with a visit from Pittsburgh. The Panthers fleeced the Hokies 35-17 last season.
Pitt (3-1, 2-1 ACC) was idle Saturday after defeating Virginia 14-3 last week. The Cavaliers sacked Panthers quarterback Tom Savage seven times – Savage is far less mobile than Williams, and Pitt’s offensive line will need to protect him far better.
One area where the Virginia Tech offense hasn’t made a lot of progress is on the ground.
Tech (5-1 overall, 2-0 ACC) had 341 yards against UNC, including just 48 yards rushing against a defense determined to stop the run by routinely lining up at least one more player than Tech could block. It was the third time in the last four games Tech finished with 55 or fewer rushing yards.
It’s been since the 2006 that Tech has been held to 55 or fewer rushing yards in a game at least three times in a season. Tech failed to eclipse 53 yards in four games in ’06, and it was held under 100 yards six times. Despite Tech’s struggles that season, running back Branden Ore still earned first team All-ACC honors (ACC-best 1,137 rushing yards) and the Hokies still finished 10-3.
Every ACC team except Tech has cleared more than 400 yards offense in a game against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent at least once this season.
Tech did have big offensive numbers against Western Carolina, but they are 1-AA. It is shocking that Tech has no real ground game. Helps to explain why they they are still so actively pursuing Shai McKenzie.
As much progress as Logan Thomas has made this season as a passer — at least as far as avoiding big mistakes — I can’t imagine VT fans are enthusiastic about the idea of Logan Thomas having the throw all the time.