In less than a week, the ACC will reveal its highly anticipated 2023 football schedule, which will introduce the 3-3-5 model and eliminate the Atlantic and Coastal divisions.
Fans can tune in to ACC Network on Monday, Jan. 30, at 7 p.m. to watch the unveiling, which will include dates for all of Virginia Tech football’s 12-game slate.
Let’s take a look at which teams will be making the trek to Blacksburg this upcoming football season.
Though the Wolfpack (8-5, 4-4 ACC) welcome a new quarterback, he is no stranger to Tech fans as former Virginia gunslinger Brennan Armstrong has taken his talents to Raleigh. With Armstrong in the fold, head coach Dave Doeren has a new offensive coordinator in Robert Anae, who used to be Armstrong’s OC before going to Syracuse last year as its OC. Known for its strong defense, the Wolfpack return all-ACC performer Payton Wilson at linebacker and cornerback Aydan White, who had four interceptions last season, and are coming off a year of ranking No. 11 nationally in rush defense (100.7 ypg)
Beginning the season with the Monarchs for the second year in a row, Virginia Tech will play host to ODU this time around at Lane Stadium in its season opener. Former coordinators together at Penn State, ODU head coach Ricky Rahne and Tech head coach Brent Pry will face off for the second time, following last year’s game in Norfolk.
The Monarchs, who went 3-9 (2-6 Sun Belt) last season and ranked No. 12 nationally in red-zone defense, return their leading tackler in linebacker Jason Henderson, an All-American who led the nation with 186 tackles. Conversely, the Hokies welcome former All-Sun Belt wide receiver Ali Jennings from ODU.
Following a 37-35 win in the Sun Bowl over then-No. 18 UCLA, Pitt (9-4, 5-3 ACC) enters 2023 on a five-game winning streak and welcomes another fellow ACC quarterback to its roster in Boston College transfer Phil Jurkovec. But Pitt loses a bevy of All-ACC picks, including running back Israel Abanikanda (1,805 all-purpose yards, 21 TDs). Pat Narduzzi will coach his ninth season at Pitt this fall and is one of the ACC’s longest-tenured head coaches. He faced Pry when the VT head man was the defensive coordinator at Penn State. With Abanikanda off to the NFL, the Panthers will lean on Rodney Hammond, Jr. (460 yds, 5 TDs) to be the go-to guy at running back.
In the ACC-Big 10 challenge, the Boilermakers (8-6, 6-3 B1G) enter their first season with Ryan Walters, formerly the defensive coordinator at Illinois, as their head coach. He was named the 247Sports Defensive Coordinator of the Year last month and hired Graham Harrell (offensive coordinator; formerly West Virginia’s OC) and Kevin Kane (defensive coordinator; formerly Illinois’ linebacker coach). Purdue is coming off a Big Ten West division championship and Big Ten title game appearance, but loses its starting quarterback, its No.-1 wide receiver and its first-string tight end. Harrell will look to build around Texas transfer Hudson Card at quarterback while Walters and Kane will expect safety Sanoussi Kane, the team’s top tackler in 2022 (72), to carry the torch defensively.
Last season was a fascinating tale of two halves for the Orange (7-6, 4-4 ACC). They won their first six games and then lost six of their last seven. Head coach Dino Babers, who enters his eighth season with ‘Cuse, welcomes two new coordinators while losing his star running back in Sean Tucker. Tucker finished his career as Syracuse’s third all-time leading rusher (3,182 yards) and will be big shoes to fill heading into 2023, but the Orange do return their quarterback in Garrett Shrader (2,640 passing yards, 26 TDs).
Defensively, the Orange have new defensive coordinator Rocky Long, a respected coach who has 20 years of head coaching experience at the FBS level, and he will look to maintain the 3-3-5 defense ‘Cuse has executed recently and will lean heavily on star linebacker Marlowe Wax (team-high 91 tackles) to lead the defense.
The Demon Deacons (8-5, 3-5 ACC) picked up eight wins last year and had three losses that were one-possession games, including ACC champion Clemson in overtime. Led by head coach Dave Clawson (10th season), the Deacons lose their quarterback Sam Hartman, who transferred to Notre Dame, and is expected to turn to Mitch Griffis under center. Griffis had a nice outing versus VMI last fall. He will have plenty of options on the outside to get the ball to with the Deacs returning two wide receivers who scored nine touchdowns each in 2022: Taylor Morin and Jahmal Banks. Meanwhile, Wake will have two of its top three tacklers back, including linebacker Chase Jones (74 tackles, six for loss) and defensive back Chelen Garnes (71 tackles, one interception).
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