Playing for a trophy is special. Playing for a trophy against a team your program has not beaten in almost two decades is even more special. And West Virginia will have the opportunity to try and upset No. 15 Virginia Tech this Saturday.
“It’s a trophy game,” head coach Neal Brown said. “Playing for the Black Diamond Trophy. I think anytime you play one of those game it matters.”
West Virginia (1-1) comes into Saturday, after defeating Long Island University 66-0 and look to turn their season around after losing at Maryland in the season opener.
Virginia Tech (2-0, 1-0 ACC) comes into this game after defeating No. 10 North Carolina 17-10 in their first game of the season.
Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuentes knows the impact of the rivalry and is excited for the challenge against West Virginia.
“It’s a rivalry game, a trophy game on the road. An incredible challenge for our football team, not just our first road game but to play in the environment we’re about to go play in against a quality team,” said Fuente.
The Hokies come into this matchup looking to run the ball. Against North Carolina, Virginia Tech ran the ball 43 times, and last week against Middle Tennessee they ran the ball 39 times.
Brown knows Virginia Tech wants to run the ball, and is prepared to try and game plan to stop it.
Earlier in the week, Brown said, “offensively they want to run the ball. I don’t think they are trying to hide that.”
West Virginia’s run defense against Maryland was somewhat suspect. The Mountaineers allowed the Terrapins top two running backs to rush for a combined 177 yards. And if West Virginia wants to beat a nationally ranked program, their run defense will have to be better than it was against Maryland.
In addition to stopping the run from Virginia Tech’s backfield, the Mountaineers will also have to keep an eye on Virginia Tech’s quarterback Braxton Burmeister. This season, Burmeister has rushed for 116 yards on 17 attempts, good enough for 5.5 yards per carry. Through the air, Burmeister has found success this season as well. In two games, he has passed for 311 yards, two touchdowns, while throwing only one interception.
West Virginia defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley knows how much of a threat Burmeister can be and knows that can be hard to stop as a defense.
“He’s fast,” Lesley said “If everything’s right, if everything is covered up [by the defense], that gives you [another] section of the offense you have to worry about.”
And as far as the defense goes, Lesley knows it is still early in the year, and he continues to look for his team to improve.
Lesley said, “We’ve got to play better. We’ve got to play cleaner.”
Offensively for West Virginia, they will have to find success through the air. In two games, Virginia Tech’s defense has allowed 491 yards passing. Against Maryland, the Mountaineer offense threw for 277 yards through the air.
After West Virginia had success with playing multiple quarterbacks last week against LIU, it would not be a surprise to see both Jarret Doege and Garrett Greene both line up at quarterback for West Virginia.
Brown said if the Mountaineers do choose to employ both quarterbacks, they will have had a plan going into the game.
“You have to go in with an intentional plan,” Brown said on how to prepare to play two quarterbacks.
Brown knows the importance of this game and is eager for the fans to be back in attendance.
Following West Virginia’s win against Virginia Tech, Brown said “[Virginia Tech] is going to be one of the biggest home games we’ve had here in my tenure. I think the atmosphere is going to be electric.”
West Virginia and Virginia Tech is set to kickoff at 12 p.m. at Milan Puskar Stadium, and will be televised on Fox Sports 1.
Photo by Bryan Dougherty, Blue Gold Sports