No. 19 Virginia Tech prepares to kick off non-conference slate

Fuente on the Blue Raiders defense: ‘They’re well schooled and sound and get down and challenge you’

BLACKSBURG, Va. – The Hokies kick off their non-conference slate when they welcome Middle Tennessee State to Lane Stadium. While the matchup will be new, the Blue Raiders quarterback is a familiar face to the Virginia Tech defense.

Bailey Hockman played in 10 games as a junior with NC State in 2020, including the outing in Blacksburg. The Hokies defense made it rough, sacking him 3 times and collecting two interceptions. It’s a performance they’re confident they can repeat.

“I feel really good about the game plan going in and feel really good about our defense,” said defensive tackle Norell Pollard. “I feel like I can trust the guys around me to do their job.”

[Virginia Tech football now nationally ranked after win over UNC]

The Hokies defense certainly did its job from start to finish in the opener with North Carolina. It held the Tar Heels scoreless in the first half and tallied six sacks in the 17-10 victory. This week the Hokies offense hopes to catch an early spark against a team in Middle Tennessee that forced four turnovers in its season-opening win over Monmouth.

“Scott Shafer the defensive coordinator has been a coordinator at many places, head coach too. They’re well-schooled and sound and get down and challenge you,” said head coach Justin Fuente. “It’s modeled a little bit off the Pitt defense so this will be not just schematically but personnel-wise will be a good challenge in all three phases.”

The kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Lane Stadium on Saturday.

Virginia Tech alum and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is expected to be in attendance with his wife. Arians played quarterback at Virginia Tech from 1971-1974. He later became a two-time NFL Coach of the Year and three-time Super Bowl champion, the most recent coming with the Buccaneers 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

About the Author:

Eric is no stranger to the Roanoke Valley. He is a Roanoke native and proud graduate of William Fleming High School.