Boston College Eagles vs. Virginia Tech Hokies Preview and Predictions 10-17-2020

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For No. 23 Virginia Tech, there are two pieces of good news entering a Saturday night Atlantic Coast Conference home game against Boston College.

First, the Hokies (2-1, 2-1 ACC) are back at Lane Stadium after taking a 56-45 loss last week at then-No. 8 North Carolina last week. Second, their roster is starting to fill out week by week after a September in which they fought COVID-19 as hard as anyone in college football.

Virginia Tech has been down at least 15 players in each game, including key performers such as safety Divine Deablo and quarterback Hendon Hooker. In fact, the Hokies walloped North Carolina State 45-24 in their season opener on Sept. 26 despite the absence of 23 players plus defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton.

Head coach Justin Fuente said Monday that he expects Deablo to start this week, and he also announced that Hooker would make his first start of the year. Hooker entered the North Carolina game at halftime and gave the offense a spark, throwing for two touchdowns and running for a third.

It was Hooker who steadied the team last year after it got off to a rough start, leading to speculation that the program's streak of consecutive bowl appearances would end. Instead, his presence led to a November surge that made it 27 straight bowl trips.

"He has a little presence about him," Fuente said of Hooker. "He has an easily approachable and easy to talk to demeanor that the guys feel comfortable with."

Deablo's return is even more critical in a way. Injuries, coronavirus opt-outs and other issues have eaten away the secondary's depth. Manning the safety positions during the fourth quarter at North Carolina were walk-on Tyler Matheny and linebacker Alan Tisdale.

Boston College (3-1, 2-1) will aim to capitalize on that weakness. The Eagles are off to a better start under first-year coach Jeff Hafley than many anticipated. They are coming off a 31-30 overtime win at home last week against Pittsburgh, decided when Panthers kicker Alex Kessman, who converted a 58-yard field goal to force OT, sprayed a PAT wide right.

Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec and wide receiver Zay Flowers have formed one of the ACC's top pass-catch duos so far. They hooked up six times for 162 yards and three scores last week. Jurkovec survived six sacks to throw for 358 yards and earn ACC Quarterback of the Week.

In the team's first four games, Jurkovec has compiled a program-record 1,181 yards. That's more than guys named Doug Flutie, Matt Hasselbeck and Matt Ryan.

"These games are coming down to the wire," Jurkovec said, "but through it all, we stick together. Zay is one of the best receivers in the country. He made the plays; he got open."

The Eagles' only loss was nearly a win against the same North Carolina team that Virginia Tech couldn't stop. A defensive two-point conversion by the Tar Heels kept Boston College from perhaps tying the game late in a 26-22 decision on Oct. 3.

Ultimately, the Saturday game could come down to the Eagles' ability to at least slow down running back Khalil Herbert. The Kansas transfer leads FBS with averages of 10.4 yards per carry and 149.7 yards per game.

--Field Level Media

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Lane Stadium
Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.
Capacity: 66,233

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Last Injuries

Virginia Tech Hokies

  • Dallan Wright

    Ques Sat | questionable

    Wright has been inactive for the last four games due to an unknown injury. It has yet to be determined if he will play against Louisville on Saturday.

  • TyJuan Garbutt

    Doub Sat | doubtful

    Garbutt is back with the team after tending to a personal matter. He is not expected to suit up against Louisville on Saturday.

  • Jermaine Waller

    Ques Sat | questionable

    Waller has missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury, and it remains to be seen if he will partake against Louisville on Saturday.

  • Tahj Gary

    Ques Sat | questionable

    Gary has missed the last two games due to an unannounced issue, and it is unclear if he will be in the lineup Saturday against Louisville.

  • Dashawn Crawford

    Ques Sat | questionable

    Crawford is out of action due to a knee strain, and it is uncertain if he will draw back into the lineup against Louisville on Saturday.

  • Cole Blaker

    Ques Sat | questionable

    Blaker has sat out the previous two matchups due to an unlisted issue, and his status for Saturday's contest against Louisville remains hazy.

  • Terius Wheatley

    Out indefinitely | out

    Wheatley has been held out with a hamstring injury, and it remains to be seen when he will next be on the field.

  • Jalen Hampton

    Out indefinitely | out

    Hampton has been held out of the lineup due to an unspecified reason. It remains to be seen when he will return to the field.

Boston College Eagles

  • Bryce Morais

    Ques Sat | questionable

    Morais missed the last game due to an unannounced injury, and it remains to be seen if he will take on Clemson on Saturday.

  • Hans Lillia

    Ques Sat | questionable

    Lillia has missed the last three games with an unknown injury, and it remains to be seen if he will line up against Clemson on Saturday.

  • Ethon Williams

    Ques Sat | questionable

    Williams has sat out the last three games due to an injury to an unannounced area, and it is unclear if he will participate Saturday against Clemson.

  • Tito Pasqualoni

    Ques Sat | questionable

    Pasqualoni has sat out the last three games due to an unlisted injury, and it is unclear if he will partake in Saturday's contest versus Clemson.

  • Izaiah Henderson

    Ques Sat | questionable

    Henderson has missed the last three games due to an undisclosed issue, and it is unclear if he will be in the lineup Saturday against Clemson.

  • Jio Holmes

    Ques Sat | questionable

    Holmes has been unavailable for the previous three games due to an unlisted injury and has uncertain status for Saturday's tilt versus Clemson.

  • Pat Garwo III

    Late Nov | out

    Garwo III is expected to be out until at least the end of November after having surgery to fix an unspecified injury.

  • Justin Bellido

    Ques Sat | questionable

    Bellido has missed the last three games with an injury to an unlisted area, and it is unclear if he will take the field versus Clemson on Saturday.