Previewing Orange football at the Virginia Tech Hokies

Football vs. Virginia Tech preview

The new-identity Syracuse offense travels to Blacksburg this Saturday.
Published: October 21, 2021
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Syracuse's Garrett Shrader (16) and Chris Elmore (5) celebrate a touchdown against Clemson on Oct. 15.

Syracuse football will travel to Blacksburg, Virginia, to play the Virginia Tech Hokies (3-3) in Lane Stadium for the first time since 2003.

The 12:30 p.m. Saturday game will be the first meeting between SU and VT since 2016 when the Orange won 31-17 in the Dome.

“I’ve never been (to Lane Stadium), personally,” SU head coach Dino Babers said. “I hear it’s a heck of a place to play. I know the team is excited about going down there and we know it’s going to be a difficult test.”

Now 3-4 after losing to Clemson last week, the Orange will likely run the ball hard with running back Sean Tucker. Tucker rushed for 157 yards on 22 carries against the Tigers. The Hokies rushing defense allows 156 yards per game on average.

“It’s a chess game where you’re just playing with your strongest pieces. As your pieces change your game should change,” Babers said. “We haven’t had anyone like Sean. Sean is different. The biggest waste that we could do is treat him like he’s not.”

Under center, Garrett Shrader is now the undoubted number one signal-caller with Tommy DeVito in the transfer portal. He’ll need to improve on last week’s 45.9% competition percentage against a Hokies defense that allows on average 198 passing yards per contest.

“We’ve been working on stuff that we missed (last week),” Shrader said. “Just continuing to get better – fine-tuning the small details.”

Defensively, the Orange are led by linebacker Mikel Jones and lineman Cody Roscoe. Roscoe, who was named an AP midseason All-American earlier this week, will be tasked with containing Virginia Tech quarterback Braxton Burmeister.

Burmeister was sacked three times last week against Pittsburgh and has been taken down in the backfield 14 times this season.

“They have some really solid backs, and their O-line is pretty big up front. So there’s a lot of preparation on our part to get ready for them,” Roscoe said. “It looks like it’s crazy out there. The stadium is just legitimately rocking. I’m ready to see how it really is in person.”

The Orange have not won at Lane Stadium since 2001. A win on Saturday would bring them back to .500 and two wins away from bowl eligibility.

“Everything we want to do with this season is still right there in front of us,” Shrader said. “We can finish out this year really strong, and it starts this week with Virginia Tech.”