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No. 13 Hokies well rested for road matchup vs Old Dominion

September 21, 2018

FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2017, file photo, Old Dominion head coach Bobby Wilder, left, greets Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente prior to the start of an NCAA college football game in Blacksburg, Va. Bobby Wilder and the Monarchs are excited about their rare opportunity to host at Top 25 program. No. 13 Virginia Tech makes the instate trek to the Tidewater area on Saturday. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Virginia Tech is finally getting back on the football field after an unexpected week off because of Hurricane Florence, and the No. 13 Hokies are eager to see if the extra work they did will pay off.

The Hokies (2-0) will face Old Dominion (0-3) at the Monarchs’ Foreman Field on Saturday.

“I guess it was good and bad,” quarterback Josh Jackson said of the bye week. “For some guys that were a little banged up it was probably pretty good to take the time to get better. For me, I wasn’t upset or anything. You just a want to play. You don’t want another bye week I guess, but it was good for us to get better, basically.”

Virginia Tech was already doing pretty well, having won at Florida State and at home against William & Mary by a combined 86-20. The game will be their first in the Tidewater area since they played Temple in Norfolk in 1986.

“We’ve got great football and great schools in Virginia, and I think kind of keeping things close, it’s good for both fan bases, that they can travel to and from either home or away games and get a chance to see their teams,” third-year Hokies coach Justin Fuente said. “I’m for continuing that when we have the opportunity.”

The Monarchs are in danger of their first 0-4 start since resuming football in the 2009 season, and coach Bobby Wilder said one of the problems has been a lack of consistency, both during practice and in games. The Monarchs trailed Liberty just 14-10 at halftime, but lost 52-10, and blew a 17-0 lead at home against FIU, losing 28-20. Last week, in a game at Charlotte moved up to Thursday because of weather concerns, they led 18-13 before losing 28-25.

Wilder hopes format changes in the way they practiced this week will help.

“It’s been frustrating because our players practice hard but we don’t perform at a high level consistently and that’s going to come from studying more, preparing more and being more consistent on the practice field,” he said.

“It’s always a challenge when you’re not having the level of success that everybody has become comfortable with, and I use that word comfortable because there are a lot that feel like we’re supposed to win all of the time,” Wilder said. “In competition and sports, it doesn’t always work like that. You don’t just show up at whatever venue you’re performing in and just roll it out and win. You’ve got to compete and play hard.”

Some other things to watch when Virginia Tech visits Old Dominion:

GIVE AND TAKE

Turnovers can turn a mismatch into a tighter game, but the Hokies have forced seven turnovers through two games, tops among Power Five programs that have played just two games. They have turned the ball over just once, while Old Dominion has turned it over four times and taken it away three.

GRINDING

The Hokies rushed for 305 yards against William & Mary, their highest rushing total with Fuente as coach, and figure to try to do more of the same against Old Dominion, which allows 199 rushing yards per game.

DUHART

Monarchs wide receiver Jonathan Duhart will be a concern for Virginia Tech. The 6-foot-3, 211-pounder has already caught 17 passes for 360 yards, 11th best among FBS programs, and three touchdowns.

HOME AWAY FROM HOME

The game is sold out, and Hokies fans figure to be a big part of the reason why. The school was given 2,000 tickets for the game, and its fans are likely to have a very vocal presence in the stadium.

ODDS AND ENDS

Old Dominion is 0-9 against Power Five schools since reinstating football. ... The Hokies blanked the Monarchs 38-0 last season at Lane Stadium in Steve Williams Jr.‘s first start at quarterback for Old Dominion. Then a freshman, Williams was 8 for 26 for 85 yards with an interception in the game. ... The Monarchs’ Oshane Ximines is second among active players with 24 career sacks and has three this season.

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