BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech hosts the first of two FCS schools on its 2019 schedule on Saturday when Furman visits Lane Stadium for the first time since 2015. The two teams also met in 2008. The Hokies won those two contests by a combined score of 66-10.
Before that, you have to go back to 1947 to find another game between the Paladins and Hokies, who beat Furman four times between 1939 and 1947.
Myron Hosea is a University of Georgia graduate who has been covering FCS football since 2007. He is in his eighth year covering Southern Conference sports for The Greenville News, with the last three years focused on Furman.
All season long, we'll bring you a look from the other side, getting the insight and thoughts of newspaper beat writers from Virginia and Virginia Tech's opponents. These are the local journalists who cover these teams on a daily basis. We hope it reminds you the value of reading local newspapers and their websites.
Hosea took time out to answer four downs worth of questions about Furman going into Saturday's game at Virginia Tech.
For more on the Paladins and their matchup with the Hokies, you can follow Hosea on Twitter @MyronHosea and read his coverage at greenvilleonline.com.
1) Virginia Tech dropped its opener and struggled this past weekend with Old Dominion. Obviously the Hokies will still be big favorites at home against Furman, but do the Paladins see a chance to pull a big upset Saturday?
The most likely answer you would hear from Furman head coach Clay Hendrix is that the Paladins strive to be the best team on Saturday. You won’t hear talk about an upset but how they’ll have a lot of work to do. Furman is a confident team and is the deepest team in the three years under Hendrix. Still, they recognize the differences in scholarship numbers. Their approach will be to play their game well enough and long enough to see if they can make Virginia Tech stray from its game.
2) Redshirt freshman quarterback Darren Grainger has been impressive so far for Furman. What's a quick scouting report on him and what kind of issues could he present for Virginia Tech's defense?
When Clay Hendrix returned to Furman as head coach, he wanted to implement an offense that would make it difficult for defenses to predict what’s coming next. The staff believes Darren Grainger fits that system and enables them to do everything they’ve wanted to do but couldn’t the first two seasons. Grainger has a strong arm and is mobile. Furman is good with Grainger letting the talent around him make the plays (the Charleston Southern game) or making plays himself (the Georgia State game). Then again, he remains a youthful quarterback. Saturday will be just his fourth collegiate start and only his seventh college game overall. He’s still has unrealized potential.
3) Nine players have caught passes for Furman through two games this season, and four have touchdown receptions. Is there a focal point of the receiving corps or does Grainger just spread the ball around?
The Paladins' desire to be multiple in their offensive game plan gives a lot of players the opportunity to be involved. Receivers may run the ball, and running backs often split out and run routes. Grainger clearly has a connection thus far with senior wide receiver Thomas Gordon (13 receptions in two games), but it would not be surprising to see more catches for more players as the season progresses, especially among the tight ends.
4) How is Furman feeling about its defense so far this season? Tech has struggled to get its run game going consistently. Could this be the week it does that?
Hendrix said he would expect Virginia Tech to try to run on them because of the size advantage, and Furman is giving up 195 yards on the ground through two games. Defensively, Furman will focus on what it needs to do better. “We’ve just got to do the things that we have total control over,” Hendrix said on Monday. He does want the defense to tackle better, be where they’re supposed to be, and win some one-on-one’s.