Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN 3) at Truist Field in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
No Run Defense
One reason why the “over” is a combined 6-2 in these two teams’ games is that neither defense can stop the run. While Virginia Tech ranks 107th in allowing 191.8 rushing YPG, Wake Forest ranks 120th in allowing 224.3 YPG. It’s true that the Hokies have missed an absurd number of players for COVID-related reasons. But their absences have most strongly affected the secondary and pass defense, not the front seven. The Hokies are -10 favorites, throught most tops portsbooks.
Coming into this season, it was known for Virginia Tech that locating quality depth along its defensive line would be an issue. It was also known that personnel quality would be an issue among the starters on V Tech’s defensive line.
Two expected problems were starting a defensive end transfer from Youngstown State in order to face higher-notched competition and a 245-pounder who lacks the speed along the edge to make up for his lack of size and small frame.
In turn, Wake Forest’s defense inspires minimal hope after allowing what was more of a grinding Virginia ground game to run for 218 yards on 5.7 YPC. UVA’s three leading rushers averaged 6.8 or more YPC.
Wake Forest Run Offense vs. Virginia Tech Defense
In his third year in the system, quarterback Sam Hartman has become proficient in the RPO game. He makes quick decisions on RPO plays with which Wake Forest will stretch out a defense or exploit mismatches in the secondary without safety help.
After losing its previous starting running back in the offseason, Wake has found ample replacement. In particular, Kenneth Walker has become a playmaker. He’s averaging 5.7 YPC and has amassed a 75-yard run.
Walker’s 75-yard run was impressive because he seems to be built more for being physical than for being fast. Video footage shows Walker to be patient, to navigate congested areas well, and to be difficult to bring down.
With reliable depth behind Walker, the Demon Deacons have plenty of options with which to exploit a Hokie run defense that has struggled all year.
Virginia Tech Run Offense vs. Virginia Tech Defense
Khalil Herbert has been a revelation for the Hokie offense, which has been able to rely upon him even when it has missed its starting quarterback and has had to rely on a non-passer in Braxton Burmeister to attempt to keep defenses honest.
Herbert has amassed over 100 yards on over seven YPC in every game so far. Overall he’s averaging 9.7 YPC. Like Walker, he’s a patient runner who boasts nice physicality. Herbert hits holes with strong momentum that he’ll use to literally carry opposing defenders and to drive forward for extended gains.
While Herbert is strong in between the tackles, he’s able to bounce back runs outside with his adequate quickness and positive vision. So far, Wake Forest has actually had it pretty easy in terms of opposing rush attacks faced in the past two weeks.
After facing Campbell and a Virginia ground game that still ranks 38 spots behind V Tech’s in terms of rushing yards per game, Virginia Tech will present new problems for an already fragile run defense.
Virginia Tech finally has an actual passer back. Hendon Hooker contributed to the Hokies’ 40-point effort last week. In two games, Hooker is completing 64.3 percent of his passes and is also a significant threat himself on the ground.
When the Demon Deacons held Virginia to 23 points, they benefitted from facing not just a weaker rush attack but also Virginia’s backup quarterback. Unlike UVA’s backup, V Tech’s starter is also able to run for more than 100 yards in a single g me. So he’ll give the Demon Deacons more to deal with.
Meanwhile, Wake quarterback Sam Hartman is enjoying the most productive and efficient season of his career. Hartman has located a favorite target in Jaquarii Robinson who is now the team’s leading receiver. This chemistry will prove valuable against a Hokie secondary that hasn’t gotten to play with each other much this season. Rawly in terms of playmaking, Robinson’s extension and body control make him optimal in contested catch situations.
Especially with both quarterbacks able to keep the opposing defense more than honest, both teams will have big days on the ground. Both teams are consistent “over” teams because of how good they are on the ground and because of how they leverage their running prowess to connect on big plays in the passing game.
So, both teams are top-30 scoring offenses not despite but because of their rushing prowess. They are not grinding out drives, but accruing big plays both by running and by passing. For the above reasons, take the “over” with your College Football Betting Picks.