[caption id="attachment_59994" align="aligncenter" width="1841"]<img class="size-full wp-image-52474" src="https:\/\/mountainmedianews.com\/demo\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/29\/2020\/09\/tech-football-photo-edited-2.jpg" alt="" width="1841" height="1218" \/> Photo courtesy of VT Athletics<br \/>Here come the Hokies in their first game of the season tonight under the lights of Lane Stadium as they host an ACC opponent to kick off the season.[\/caption]\r\n\r\n<hr \/>\r\n\r\nBy Marty Gordon\r\n\r\n<a href="mailto:NRVsports@ourvalley.org">NRVsports@ourvalley.org<\/a>\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nVirginia Tech will take the field tonight against an up-and-coming North Carolina State team, with lots of changes to deal with. The biggest might be the uncertainty of who Coach Justin\r\n\r\nFuente will have available to play.\r\n\r\nEarlier this week, he was scratching his head when he said the Hokies would not have a full roster and hoped they would be able to play. Fuente was honest with the day-to-day changes associated with COVID-19.\r\n\r\n\u201cI think we\u2019re all living in a test-by-test world,\u201d Fuente said earlier in the week. \u201cWe\u2019ll see as they come. Hopefully everything works out fine, and it all works out. I\u2019m not trying to raise alarm, but I\u2019m also just being honest with the situation we\u2019re in. We\u2019re trying each day to see where it\u2019s at, and hopefully we\u2019re on the right side of where this thing is trending. I\u2019m not positive one way or the other where we\u2019re at, and I\u2019ll know a little more as the week goes on.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe university has not said how many football players or student-athletes have tested positive for the coronavirus over the past few months, but the number of overall students has been steady. Everyone involved admits it has been tough to stop the spread.\r\n\r\nDaily and weekly testing for both the football team and the students in general continues. But at the heart of the problem is the \u201ccontact tracing,\u201d and in most cases a large number of players have been in quarantine because of just being in contact with someone who tested positive.\r\n\r\nLinebacker Dax Hollifield told reporters on Tuesday people have been going down right and left. He admitted that players knew it was coming. They just didn\u2019t know when and how many.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe have a row with the linebackers, and I\u2019m the only one in that row and I\u2019m like, Whoa. Well, this doesn\u2019t look really good,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\nJust like others during this pandemic, Hollifield said the group is learning to handle it.\r\n\r\n\u201cIf you\u2019re still in, you\u2019re still playing. You\u2019ve got to go out there and do the best job you can,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s weird, according to the defensive leader. \u201cYou are not really sick or anything and they call your name. You tested positive, you have to do this, this and this and can\u2019t be around football for two weeks.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt sucks. It really does. It\u2019s the way we have to do it. It\u2019s the world we live in right now, so you\u2019ve got to get through it.\u201d\r\n\r\nTech is not the only team being affected by COVID-19. NC State had to cancel one game earlier this month and faces a lot of questions about who they will on the field tonight.\r\n\r\nThe Wolfpack enter the contest 1-0 after their 45-42 victory over Wake Forest last Saturday night.\r\n\r\nVirginia Tech opens its fifth season under head coach Justin Fuente tonight. This is the third straight year the Hokies will open the season with an ACC opponent after two straight road openers at BC (8\/31\/19) and at FSU (9\/3\/18).\r\n\r\nTech owns a four-game winning streak vs. NC State, but this contest will mark the first clash against the Wolfpack under Fuente. The two teams haven\u2019t met since 2015, and NC State hasn\u2019t won in Blacksburg since 2004.\r\n\r\nState finished the 2019 season with a 4-8 mark and is seeking to snap a five-game ACC losing streak.\r\n\r\nFuente\u2019s 33 wins are the most accumulated by any Tech head coach in his initial four seasons with the Hokies. Clemson\u2019s Dabo Swinney is the only active ACC head coach who can top Fuente\u2019s 33 wins in his first four full seasons at an ACC school.\r\n\r\nThe Hokies haven\u2019t played their opening game this late since opening the 1950 season vs. Quantico on Sept. 30\r\n\r\nLane Stadium has been good to the Hokies over the years, but things are again a little different this go around with no crowd and maybe the lack of a true home-field advantage.\r\n\r\nVirginia Tech is 4-0 in home openers under Fuente and has won its last three ACC contests at home.\u00a0\u00a0 Tech went 6-1 at home in 2019, marking the third time in four seasons under Fuente that VT has suffered only one home loss.\r\n\r\nKEY SCORING STATS ON HOKIES, WOLFPACK\r\n<ul>\r\n \t<li>VT is 23-5 when scoring 30+ points under Fuente.<\/li>\r\n \t<li>NC State is 7-23 in ACC play when allowing 30+ points under Doeren, including an 0-6 mark in 2019.<\/li>\r\n \t<li>VT owns a 28-2 mark under Fuente when leading at the half.<\/li>\r\n \t<li>VT is 31-2 when holding opponents to 21 points or less dating back to the start of the 2015 season (6-1 in 2019).<\/li>\r\n \t<li>NC State is 2-25 under in ACC games under Doeren when scoring 21 points or less (0-6 mark in 2019).<\/li>\r\n \t<li>VT has won 25 straight games when limiting opponents to 17 points or less (6-0 in 2019).<\/li>\r\n \t<li>NC State is 3-20 under Doeren when scoring 17 points or less<\/li>\r\n<\/ul>\r\nIn other news, defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton and his wife celebrated the birth of their third child last week, but he didn\u2019t have time to celebrate too much, as he continued to prepare his defense for his first-ever game as the defensive head man. Fuente tabbed him as Bud Foster\u2019s replacement last December.\r\n\r\nThe Tech alum and former NFL player also has some new faces on the defensive staff., which includes former Minnesota head coach\u00a0 Tracy Claeys (linebackers), longtime NFL coach\u00a0 Bill Teerlinck (defensive line), Tech All-American and 12-year NFL veteran Daryll Tapp (co-defensive line) and Virginia native\u00a0 Ryan Smith\u00a0 (cornerbacks).\r\n\r\nTech\u2019s defense returns six players who started all 13 games in 2019: linebacker Rayshard Ashby, linebacker Dax Hollifield, defensive end Emmanuel Belmar, safety Divine Deablo, defensive tackle Jarrod Hewitt and cornerback Chamarri Conner.\r\n\r\nThose six players accounted for 22.5 of Tech\u2019s 38 sacks and 48.0 of Tech\u2019s 83 tackles for loss in\r\n<ol start="2019">\r\n \t<li><\/li>\r\n<\/ol>\r\nFive players with 50 or more tackles 2019 are back: Ashby (120), Deablo (84), Conner (68),\r\n\r\nHollifield (67) and linebacker Alan Tisdale (52).\r\n\r\nLast season, Tech led the ACC in red zone defense (78.8 scoring pct.) and ranked sixth among Power Five squads. Tech allowed 23 TDs on 42 opponents\u2019 red zone possessions, good for a 54.8 red zone touchdown percentage allowed.