Virginia Tech aims to avenge last season’s loss to Old Dominion

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Virginia Tech covets a better start to the season as it looks to avenge a loss to Old Dominion when the teams clash again Saturday night in Blacksburg, Va.

Front and center in this matchup figures to be receiver Ali Jennings, who was a standout for Old Dominion last year but will suit up for the Hokies this time around.

“I want to say I’m sorry to my (current) coach and my teammates now about that last year,” Jennings said in reference to his switching of teams.

The Monarchs defeated visiting Virginia Tech 20-17 last September. That was the beginning of a 3-8 season for Virginia Tech under first-year coach Brent Pry.

He identified numerous areas where upgrades were needed. More than 40 percent of Virginia Tech’s roster is new from a year ago.

“We had to go out and get some explosive playmakers, and we did that,” Pry said.

One of those is Jennings, who began his college career with West Virginia. He had 122 receiving yards on five receptions a year ago against the Hokies. Yet he might show his former Old Dominion teammates some new assets.

“I’m as strong as I’ve ever been,” Jennings said. “I’m the fastest I’ve ever been.”

With quarterback Grant Wells still taking snaps, the Hokies look to crank up production.

“You talk about explosive plays, but to me it really starts with our run game,” Pry said. “We couldn’t run the ball last year, and that hurts the ability to throw the ball.”

Running back Bhayshul Tuten, a transfer from North Carolina A&T, could boost Virginia Tech’s ground attack. He rushed for 1,363 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.

Old Dominion coach Ricky Rahne and Pry were assistant coaches on the Penn State staff from 2014-19.

The Monarchs didn’t build much momentum off the Virginia Tech result last season, finishing with a 3-9 record. They carry a six-game losing streak into the opener.

“We made some changes in the program which I think every year you’re going to do,” Rahne said. “You’re always looking to get better each and every year and I think we’ve done that.”

The Monarchs also have had a roster overhaul, so there’s an unknown element.

“You try to put them in as many pressure situations as you possibly can … and then go from there,” Rahne said.

–Field Level Media

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