Virginia Tech and talented freshman quarterback Josh Jackson must avoid a letdown after an emotional season-opening victory when it hosts FCS member Delaware for its home opener Saturday afternoon. Jackson accounted for 336 yards as the 18th-ranked Hokies outlasted rival West Virginia 31-24 at FedEx Field in Landover, MD on Sunday night and will have to get ready for a quick turnaround.
“The challenge for (Jackson) will be we’ve had several weeks to prepare for the West Virginia defense and those looks and checks and all sorts of things,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente told reporters. “Now, he’s going to have to be able to do it in six days. That will be another step for him in terms of digesting the game plan.” Jackson registered 101 of the team’s 234 rushing yards in the opener and has an experienced top target in senior Cam Phillips, who added a career-high 138 receiving yards. The Hokies will look to get back on track defensively after giving up 592 yards against West Virginia - 371 through the air - when they face the experienced Blue Hens, who went 4-7 in 2016. Danny Rocco won his debut as coach last week as Delaware defeated Delaware State 22-3 in its opener, allowing 224 total yards.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network Extra. LINE: None
DELAWARE (1-0): Senior Diante Cherry accumulated 102 yards rushing and receiving combined in last week’s victory with a pair of touchdowns and is the top threat for junior quarterback Joe Walker, who went 13-for-26 through the air for 192 yards and a score. Thomas Jefferson rushed for 102 yards in the opener and fellow junior Kareem Williams added another 67 for the well-balanced offense. The Blue Hens’ defense must step up in class Saturday after forcing three turnovers against Delaware State as senior linebacker Charles Bell (seven tackles) and freshmen defensive back Nijuel Hill (interception) led the way.
VIRGINIA TECH (1-0): Jackson, from Ann Arbor, Mich., completed 15-of-26 passes against the Mountaineers and Phillips caught seven of them while freshman Sean Savoy hauled in four. The Hokies will likely continue to use multiple running backs until one takes charge as sophomore Deshawn McClease led the way with 51 yards on Sunday while juniors Steven Peoples (39) and Travon McMillian (34) also contributed. Cornerback Adonis Alexander made a career-high nine tackles and knocked down three passes in the opener for a defense that made a big stop deep in its own territory during the final minute Sunday.
1. Phillips needs 72 yards to pass Ricky Scales (2,272 from 1972-74) for fourth on the school’s all-time list.
2. Delaware junior WR Vinny Papale (two receptions, 37 yards in the opener) is the son of former Philadelphia Eagles special teams star Vince Papale, who inspired the movie “Invincible.”
3. Virginia Tech senior K Joey Slye has 328 career points and needs nine to pass Lee Suggs for second on the school’s all-time list.
PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 38, Delaware 10