The Other Reason Virginia Tech’s Matchup With Georgia Tech Is Important

Before I get into this column, I want to thank all of you for bearing with me over the last week or so. Content hasn’t been coming as often as I would like, and I skipped Monday Mail entirely this week.

I apologize for its absence, and I thank you for coming back to read.

This column isn’t going to reveal any Earth-shattering news. It’s not going to be full of statistics or in-depth analysis. Instead, it’s going to make a pretty easy statement.

Justin Fuente must find a way to defeat Georgia Tech this Thursday night.

You’re probably thinking, “Well obviously, Ricky. Virginia Tech needs to keep winning to stay in the Coastal race.” And indeed, given that Virginia, Miami and even Pittsburgh are all nipping at the Hokies’ heels, Tech needs to avoid losing at all costs.

But this Thursday’s game against the Yellow Jackets is about more than maintaining an advantage in the ACC Coastal Division standings. It’s about winning a game that Fuente has yet to win, and about beating a program that has shockingly pestered the Hokies for years.

Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech have played every season since 2004, when the Hokies joined the ACC. Since then, the Yellow Jackets have walked away with a win five times, three of which came inside Lane Stadium.

Even worse, Georgia Tech’s resurgence has come of late. Paul Johnson’s option attack has stifled Virginia Tech three out of the last four seasons and the Hokies haven’t beaten Georgia Tech since 2015.

Fuente’s history against Georgia Tech is abysmal. The Hokies fell flat on their face in a primetime showdown in 2016, as backup quarterback Matthew Jordan led Georgia Tech to a 30-20 upset in Blacksburg that wasn’t as close as the score would indicate. Last season, Fuente chased points and thanks to a leaky secondary, Virginia Tech lost 28-22.

There is no reason Georgia Tech should prove to be this difficult. Sure, their option attack is rare and players don’t see it often, but the Yellow Jackets aren’t a powerhouse. They won nine games in 2016, but won just three the season before and five games in 2017. Georgia Tech has finished inside the top 50 in recruiting just twice since 2014, placing 44th in 2015 and 48th in 2017 (data per 247Sports).

My point is this — Virginia Tech should be winning these games. Even if they’re ugly wins, the Hokies shouldn’t be losing to Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech has more talent and plays a brand of football that is still relevant in the 21st century, while the Yellow Jackets are a gimmick offense that makes some coaches look like they belong in high school.

Fuente is too good of a head coach to have an 0-2 record vs. Georgia Tech. If Fuente is going to get Virginia Tech where he wants them to be, which is regularly contending for the ACC Championship and sometimes for the College Football Playoff, he needs to get them over the Georgia Tech hump. Virginia Tech needs to be defeating Georgia Tech on a regular basis, not the other way around.

Thursday night is opportunity on a silver platter. Virginia Tech has a primetime matchup, at home, against a 3-4 Georgia Tech team that owns wins over Alcorn State, Bowling Green and Louisville (who isn’t good without Lamar Jackson). Despite all the injuries and depth problems, Fuente’s Hokies should win this game. Now will they?

Monday Mail: Patterson’s Debut, the Definition of ‘Good’ and Tech’s Coastal Chances

Monday Mail is back, and yes, it’s Tuesday. Thank you for bearing with me folks.

Despite the recent delays, you guys continue to send in detailed questions each week. I appreciate you guys reading and supporting The LaBlue Review, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy this week’s version. Let’s dive in.

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Hokie Rountable: What Went Wrong, and What Needs to Change?

The Hokie Roundtable is back. Stephen Newman and Franklin Heinzmann have joined me once again to go over Virginia Tech’s 45-23 loss to Notre Dame. We’ll talk about what went wrong in the game, if there’s a silver lining that can be drawn and what needs to change moving forward.

Without further ado…

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Monday Mail: Frank Beamer’s Shadow, Deablo’s Impact, Hunter’s Redshirt and More

Monday Mail has returned… on a Tuesday?

I apologize for the delay folks. It’s been a rough few weeks for me personally, and things are getting to be a bit much. I needed to take a day to get myself together, and I’m sorry those needed moments pushed back Monday Mail.

But, here we are. Let’s do this.

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Hokie Roundtable: An Introduction, Caleb Farley, Ian Book and More

Welcome to a new feature on The LaBlue Review. I’ve enlisted two of my closest friends to help me with our new Hokie Roundtable, a discussion of timely topics surrounding Virginia Tech athletics.

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Monday Mail: A Brand New Quarterback Situation, Devon Hunter’s Predicament and More

Before we jump into today’s Monday Mail, let’s hit on a few housekeeping items.

First, Virginia Tech is ranked once again. The Hokies reentered the AP Top 25 after knocking off then-ranked No. 22 in Durham. The Hokies are now 24th in the country, fourth in the ACC behind No. 4 Clemson, No. 17 Miami and No. 23 NC State.

Also, Virginia Tech’s kickoff time vs. North Carolina has been announced. The Hokies’ road trip to Chapel Hill will start at 7 p.m. and will be televised on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.

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Postgame Observations: Virginia Tech Rebounds With Resounding Defeat of Duke

The season is not over. In fact, we’re not even halfway yet.

After the Hokies’ loss to Old Dominion last week, it was hard to think that Tech could get this thing turned around. There was too much negativity around the program for this team to get things going and the Hokies destined to struggle for the rest of the season.


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Sustained Success on the Ground Critical for Virginia Tech’s Survival

Good news is hard to come by in Blacksburg at the moment.

Virginia Tech just lost to Old Dominion, previously winless, and fell outside the AP Top 25. The Hokies starting quarterback, Josh Jackson, is out for the foreseeable future with a fractured fibula and Trevon Hill, Tech’s best defender, is no longer with the program.

It’s not quite rock bottom, but Virginia Tech is in a low place right now. However, there is one thing Virginia Tech can hang their hat on right now — an improved rushing attack.

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Monday Mail: Trying to Make Sense of Something That Doesn’t Make Sense

Oh boy.

When I planned on asking for questions for this week’s Monday Mail, I did not think we’d be talking about one of the worst losses in Virginia Tech history. And make no mistake about it, there aren’t enough negative adjectives to describe what happened on Saturday.

Awful. Appalling. Dreadful. All three apply.

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Houshun Gaines Displaying Needed Explosiveness at Defensive End

If I asked you who the most important player on Virginia Tech’s defensive line was, there’s an 80 percent chance (roughly) that you’d select Ricky Walker. And you’d be right.

But who’s next on that list? Most would suggest Trevon Hill, but I’d posit that Houshun Gaines is just as important, if not more so.

Gaines, a redshirt junior defensive end, is coming into his own this season. The process began late in 2017, when Gaines filled in for the injured Vinny Mihota. Gaines started Tech’s last two games vs. Virginia and Oklahoma State and showed why he needed to be in the starting lineup. Gaines totaled four tackles for loss and two sacks in those two contests, displaying an explosiveness that Mihota simply didn’t have on the edge.

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