Virginia Tech Football: Injury News And Gearing Up For Duke

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Braxton Burmeister was injured in Virginia Tech’s loss to Boston College, and his status remains unclear. (Ivan Morozov)

Virginia Tech returns to Blacksburg this weekend after a 17-3 loss to Boston College. The Hokies are beat up, but turn their attention to the Blue Devils in the final home game of the season, where they’ll honor over 20 players for Senior Day.

Braxton Burmeister and Brock Hoffman

Virginia Tech entered last Friday’s game with a few injuries, and the team picked up a few more in Boston. Quarterback Braxton Burmeister was injured in the first quarter, while center Brock Hoffman didn’t return in the fourth quarter.

Head coach Justin Fuente informed the media on Monday that Burmeister “will go if he can” on Saturday against Duke. Burmeister ran the ball left against the Eagles and was tackled after a five-yard gain. ESPN sideline reporter Paul Carcaterra said Burmeister was “holding his right ribs and talking to the trainers” during the second quarter. He did not return to the game, and backup quarterback Knox Kadum played in his stead.

“He’s been fighting through these type of things all season long,” Fuente said of Burmeister. “I expect if he can, he’ll be out there.”

Fuente said Hoffman’s injury is close to the same situation and that he avoided any type of serious surgical injury on Saturday. His status for Duke is dependent on how the week goes.

Tre Turner’s Injury

The Hokies were also without wide receiver Tre Turner in Boston, who Fuente said has an upper-body respiratory injury. He described it as air being trapped in Turner’s neck.

Turner missed the Boston College game after totaling 187 yards against Georgia Tech. The Hokies are hopeful to have him back against Duke. (Ivan Morozov)

“He feels better, which is a good sign,” Fuente said. “In 21 years of coaching, I’ve never heard of or seen what he’s dealing with before. Through the week last week, he practiced some and felt good running around, but it was a short week and he saw a specialist on Wednesday. It was a tough break.

“I do know so far he feels better and maybe he’ll be able to go [against Duke]. I know he wants to play.”

Fuente said Turner picked up the injury against Georgia Tech back on October 30 and it didn’t affect him playing-wise. After the game, though, the injury progressively got worse. He said that flying exacerbates it, and there was a time during the week where the Hokies thought Turner might be able to play, but they would’ve had to drive him up to Boston.

“It became obvious as the week went on and as we met with the experts that he wasn’t going to be able to play,” Fuente said. “I hope he’s back. He says he feels better. … We got him checked out by everyone under the sun, because it is an odd injury. Sometimes those things take time. What was weird is that he could go run around.”

The Hokies could use Turner in the passing game against Duke, especially if Braxton Burmeister can’t go. Turner had a career-high 187 yards receiving in Atlanta against the Yellow Jackets, the second-most in the Fuente era (189 yards by Cam Phillips in 2017). Against Boston College, the Hokies struggled, throwing the ball for just 73 yards, the fewest yards in the last decade.

Changa Hodge

Virginia Tech wide receiver Changa Hodge tore his ACL in the spring. Most recoveries for that kind of injury take around six-to-nine months to heal, per medicine.net.

Yet on Friday against Boston College, Hodge was out there on the field. Per PFF, he played 12 total snaps.

“It’s incredible,” Fuente said. “He was just as low as can be in the spring. He came here and didn’t play last year and was sidelined through COVID and missed practice and we were in the middle of the season and it was hard for him to get caught up. It was just an unfair situation. He decided to come back and give it a go and gets hurt in the spring.

“I met with him and said, ‘Changa, what do you want to do?’ He said, ‘coach, I want to be the fastest guy to ever come back from an ACL. That’s what I want to do.'”

That’s exactly what Hodge has done. Though he didn’t catch a pass against the Eagles in his first game back (Tayvion Robinson was Tech’s only wideout to catch a pass), he got back on the field again, which is impressive in its own right.

“He’s done it through perseverance, a great attitude,” Fuente said. “I think that’s underrated in rehab, your attitude. I’ve said it before, there are no fans in the training room. It’s not very fun. I think it’s miraculous. … We’ve seen him practice for the last several weeks. … It’s pretty amazing.”

Duke and Mataeo Durant

(Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports)

David Cutcliffe is in his 14th season at Duke and the Blue Devils are just 3-6 this season, and winless (0-5) in the ACC. Duke’s offense is above average, ranking fifth in the conference, but its defense is worst in the league.

Virginia Tech’s success might very well depend on whether Burmeister is healthy or not. If Tech can score 20 points, it should be in good shape to win its Senior Day game.

The Blue Devils have a big weapon offensively, though: senior running back Mataeo Durant.

The ACC’s second-leading rusher, only behind Syracuse’s Sean Tucker, Durant averages 118 yards per game and 5.1 yards per carry. He has over 1,000 yards rushing this season and nine touchdowns to his name.

Like many of the running backs the Hokies have faced this season, he’ll pose a huge challenge, especially against a defense that just allowed Patrick Garwo and Boston College to rush for 234 yards. 

“He goes north and south,” Fuente said of Durant. “He doesn’t mess around. When he sees a crease, he hits it at a million miles an hour. He’s a fine player. There isn’t much indecision going on. And they roll off the football, now, up front. They lost a couple of really tight games, but they roll off the ball. They create creases, and he hits them north and south quickly.”

Durant has rushed for over 100 yards in six of Duke’s nine games this season, including a stretch of four straight in late September and early October. Virginia Tech will have to tackle and wrap up well, particularly at linebacker and safety, on Saturday.

The Hokies have allowed over 180 yards rushing in each of their last five games, with a season-high 314 yards against Syracuse.

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22 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. My son and I were next to Tre’s family after the game and he kept grabbing his throat area and cringing in pain. I wondered if something had happened… and now we know.

  2. Just listened to podcast on youtube. Chris said a friend, former college level QB, watched our QB’s warmup and they all look out of place at a D-1 program. Bullock threw a warmup pass into the stands.

    Don’t look for much improvement in years one and two unless the incoming coach has a decent QB in his pocket.

    1. watched our QB’s warmup and they all look out of place at a D-1 program. Bullock threw a warmup pass into the stands.>>>>

      It’s amazing the difference when you watch each team’s QB’s in warm-ups before the game. The simple ‘eye-test’ is always the most accurate measurement – but if I were choosing a QB for my team each (home) game this year – I’d have picked one or two from the other team first – except for the Richmond game.

      But then there is Line Backer watching. After 9 games this year – VT’s opponents have figured out that the way to attack VT on the ground is to let the VT LB’s take themselves out of the play. The VT LB position is as weak as the VT QB position.

  3. QB is most important player on any team these days. The days of a stud runner winning games on his own are over.

  4. It seems that one of FU’s objectives for choosing a QB is protecting the football, and to not have turnovers. Consequently, our QBs are so concerned with that, that they are afraid to do anything that might result in a turnover. Of course, the conservative play calling doesn’t help that either.
    Watching the UNC-Wake game was fun. Watching us play is painfully boring.
    Just my opinion………..

      1. Agreed, 2010 was the last really fun year to watch our offense. 2011 and 2016 were ok and the other years were varying degrees of painful. That said, I do miss Brewer sometimes. Streaky and threw a few awful int’s but always competitive.

  5. Would it be foolish to at least *try* to put Tahj Bollock out there? We seem absolutely neutered otherwise.

          1. It will give him a lift and show the next head coach some of his abilities, although I doubt Fuente is interested in either of those possibilities.

            There is the old adage about not throwing an unprepared rookie into the fire cause it might mark him. Duke is the best team on our schedule to test him IMO, they suck. And if he fails and can’t overcome then he’s not starting qb material IMO.

  6. Can we not characterize the passing game against BC as “the Hokies struggled, throwing the ball for just 73 yards, the fewest yards in the last decade.” We didn’t try to throw it much. We threw it 6 times the entire first half. We threw it once why Burmeister was the QB. That isn’t struggling to throw it; that is choosing not to.

    1. we’ve had many games over the past 2-3 years where we threw 17 or fewer passes, and were waaaaay more effective. It’s absolutely fair to say we struggled – that performance went well beyond “not trying”.

      2019 @ GT 11-16 68.8 223 13.9 1 0 206.46
      2019 vs Pitt 10-14 71.4 153 10.9 2 0 210.37
      2020 vs NCSU 11-17 64.7 181 10.6 2 0 192.96
      2020 vs BC 11-15 73.3 111 7.4 1 0 157.49
      2020 @ UL 10-10 100.0 183 18.3 0 0 253.72
      2021 @ BC 7-17 41.2 73 4.3 0 0 77.25

      ^^^^ one of these things is not like the others ^^^^

    2. Correct. The strategy – correct IMO vs a team which hadn’t stopped the run – was run the ball and pass just enough to keep BC off balance.

      Burmeister is, by far, the most important player on this team. Without him, this team probably can’t beat an ACC team. Then remove 2 of the top 3 receivers and the offense had no chance running or passing.

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