ROANOKE, Va. – “We should relish the opportunity but also keep in mind not to get carried away with it,” said Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente, as he prepares to face West Virginia for the second time as the leader of the Hokies.
The Virginia Tech-West Virginia matchup is a storied rivalry that dates back over a century, with the Hokies having won the last three contests-- including the 2017 aerial attack in FedEx Field. Josh Jackson went toe-to-toe with Mountaineers’ signal-caller Will Grier, ending in a gutsy 31-24 win for the Hokies and the rights to retain the Black Diamond Trophy.
“My first game here was actually West Virginia. So my freshman year we were at Washington and you can just tell it’s a different atmosphere for the rivalry games,” said Hokies tight end Drake Deluliis.
The Hokies are appreciative of the past but ready to write a new chapter of the rivalry this weekend. That starts with taking control in the trenches against the Mountaineers defensive front that boasts speed, which could impact the Hokies ground attack that was stellar against Middle Tennessee.
“They are not the biggest guys in the world because they’re not over 300 pounds but they are very fast and play hard and have a lot of moves to their run game and pass game,” said Hokies offensive lineman Brock Hoffman.
The Mountaineers have two capable signal-callers in Garrett Greene and Jarret Doege, both offering unique skill sets, backed by 1,000 yard rusher in Leddie Brown.
As for the Hokies, they’ll look to show their depth to fill the void with James Mitchell being out for the season.
“We have guys that are really locked in all throughout the week and really know what they’re doing and the coaches feel confident in a lot of different guys to touch the ball,” said Hokies tight end Nick Gallo.
It’ll be easier said than done considering this is the first true road test for Virginia Tech as they prep for a noon kickoff in Morgantown-- a place they haven’t traveled to since 2005.
“Hostile environments are awesome. I’ve never played there, or been there before but heard stories about it,” Deluliis said.
“It ups the ante a little bit when it’s a rivalry game and trophy on the line,” Gallo added.
You’ll be able to watch the game on FS1.