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Interview With the Enemy - Virginia Tech

How does the VT blogosphere feel about this week’s contest?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 02 Old Dominion at Virginia Tech Photo by Brian Bishop/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the game against Virginia Tech coming up on us shortly, I reached out to the folks at Gobbler Country about their squad and their thoughts about Saturday. They are the Virginia Tech SB Nation representative and Bryan Manning was nice enough to respond to my questions. Let’s see what they think huh?

VT handled Old Dominion pretty easily in week 1. Purdue of course cannot say the same about their week one game. Who or what was the biggest surprise in all three phases of the game?

The most surprising aspect wasn’t that Virginia Tech won the game but how explosive the offense was against ODU. If you watched VT on offense last season, it was dreadful. So the Hokies made it a point to hit the transfer portal hard in the offseason, adding three quality wide receivers to the roster with different skillsets. All made an impact in Week 1. Another surprise in Week 1 was Tech’s lack of running game. The pass blocking was outstanding but the run blocking was dreadful.

Grant Wells obviously had a pretty successful game accounting for four touchdowns. He won the starting job in the offseason over a Baylor transfer, was week 1 a real look at what he’s capable of, or was ODU not a fair test?

It’s really difficult to believe in Wells right now. He has a big arm and is a better athlete than you think. But he also doesn’t understand how and when to take something off his passes. He will throw a five-yard pass through his receiver. Wells still deals with accuracy issues. He missed two more TDs last week. He did show some serious growth in the first game, but he’ll need to do it over multiple weeks for fans to believe in him. Upgrading the skill positions did help.

What would you say is the strength of the offense and the same question for the defense?

Tech’s wide receivers and tight ends are talented. While the Hokies lost veteran TE Nick Gallo for the season, watch out for athletic young TEs Dae’Quan Wright and Benji Gosnell. At wide receiver, Ali Jennings, Jaylin Lane, Quan Felton, Stephen Gosnell and Da’Wain Lofton can all make plays. So the passing game is the team’s offensive strength, which is still hard to believe. Defensively, the Hokies have a veteran defensive line, led by pass-rusher Antwaun Powell-Ryland. Virginia Tech’s secondary is talented, too. The linebackers are still a work in progress.

If you wake up Sunday morning, you couldn’t watch the game, and you find out Purdue won, what’s your theory as to how and why that happened?

Virginia Tech could not stop the run and could not run the ball. Those two things were a problem against Old Dominion. VT’s defensive line did its job in Week 1, but the linebackers struggled with run fits. That needs to be cleaned up immediately.

This game against ODU was the first time in 14 games VT had scored 30 or more points. Last year against ODU VT could only muster 17, what was different this year?

The offensive playmakers are much, much better. Therefore, it made Wells better. The running game struggled, and the offensive line remains a work in progress. Last year, the Hokies had no real offensive identity in Brent Pry’s first year as head coach. The staff wanted to evaluate the talent they inherited, which wasn’t very good. So, Pry and his staff worked hard in the portal, and have upgraded the team, specifically the offensive playmakers and two starters on defense. Another reason for Tech’s success in the opener was turnovers. Last year vs. ODU, Wells threw four interceptions. He had none against ODU last week. Also, the Hokies forced three turnovers and didn’t turn the ball over.

If Purdue fans are in town what should they check out food-wise?

As far as food, now you’re speaking my language. There are so many good options. Cabo Fish Taco, Avellino’s, Lefty’s, Zeppoli’s and so many more. And the best donuts you could ever want are at Carol Lee’s. Amazing.

Got a prediction for Saturday?

Also, if Purdue fans are in town what should they check out food-wise? To me, this game is really a toss-up because last week wasn’t enough to tell me what I need to know about the Hokies. I think we need a few more weeks to have a better idea of who this team is. But, if I have to make a prediction, just because it’s a home game, I’ll give the Hokies a VERY slight edge: 24-21.