Maryland vs. Virginia Tech: 5 things to know about the Terrapins' Pinstripe Bowl opponent
Mike Locksley and Maryland got their wish, getting win No. 6 in the regular-season finale to secure a bowl bid. Now in Locksley’s third season with the program, the Terrapins are hoping to use the bowl as a growth point for 2022 and beyond.
Sunday afternoon, Maryland received word that the team would be headed to New York and Yankee Stadium for the Pinstripe Bowl. Facing off against the Terrapins will be Virginia Tech out of the ACC. It will be a battle of 6-6 teams in New York with a winning season up for grabs.
As Maryland heads into a couple of weeks of preparation, here are 5 things to know about Virginia Tech.
Hokies working under interim coach
Virginia Tech had solid aspirations for Justin Fuente after hiring him as head coach away from Memphis in 2016. Fuente did produce some highlights with 19 wins over his first 2 seasons and a division title in his first year with the program. Unfortunately, that would be the high-water mark for his time in Blacksburg.
Over the past 2 seasons, Fuente went 10-11 overall before getting let go with 2 games left in the season. To finish the year, assistant JC Price has been tabbed as the interim coach, and he led the team to a season-ending win over Virginia.
For 2022 and beyond, the Hokies will be led by Penn State DC Brent Pry. For now, Price will try to end the year with one more win vs. the Terps.
Abysmal passing offense goes up against Maryland’s pass defense
The matchup is an interesting one for Maryland’s defense with a Virginia Tech offense that struggles to move the ball through the air. The Terrapins have given up 258 yards a game via the pass, but the Hokies are averaging just 179.7 yards passing per game. Starting QB Braxton Burmeister has only thrown 4 interceptions this season but he’s only completing 55.7% of passes.
Familiar foe leading VT’s rushing attack
Virginia Tech’s passing game might be sluggish, but the Hokies have averaged 190 yards per game on the ground. Spearheading that rushing attack is former Rutgers star Raheem Blackshear.
Blackshear played in 2 games vs. Maryland during his time in the B1G though without much of an impact. However, he has found his groove with the Hokie offense with a team-high 711 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns. Blackshear added 244 yards receiving and is closing in on a 1,000-yard season.
Opportunistic passing defense for Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech is middle of the road in passing defense with 219.5 passing yards allowed per game. Meanwhile, Maryland enters the bowl contest averaging over 300 yards passing per game with Taulia Tagovailoa under center. The key to the matchup is a Hokie defense that has recorded 10 interceptions this season, including 4 by Jermaine Waller.
Tagovailoa has been great for Maryland this season but turnovers have been a problem. He has 11 interceptions on the season, including 10 in Maryland’s 6 losses. If the Terps are going to win, Tagovailoa will need to take care of the ball and avoid the big turnover.
Don’t expect a shootout in Yankee Stadium
Maryland did have some big-time offensive showings in 2021, but overall, the Terps finished at 27.2 points per game. That mark ranked 75th nationally. Virginia Tech was even worse offensively, finishing at 24.8 points per game while ranking 92nd nationally.
If the two sides get off to a sluggish start, the game could swing on a critical turnover. On the other hand, a hot start could be more than enough to power one team to a big victory.