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Preview: The Hokies vs the Mountaineers 2017 Edition

So it’s Friday for a Sunday game, and that means preview time. Let’s look at the history just a touch, and see what it’s going to take to win.

The defense is going to need to be on its toes. Especially these two
John Schneider - SB Nation

The University of West Virginia Mountaineers are no strangers to competition with the Hokies of Virginia Tech. Well, from what I can surmise from the 105 years, yes that's more than a century; since we first played them we've been "Techs", "Fighting Gobblers", and "Hokies". They seem to have stuck with Mountaineers.

I would love to see pictures of the football team, and some of the game from 1912. It was a very different era for football, though many of the rules had begun to look more like what we are used to, the ball was still basically a rugby ball. The forward pass was still in its infancy; though the vertical lines had been reduced to a pair of yard hash marks between horizontal lines every five yards.

I don't think anyone much worried about concussions, but the headgear had improved to provide some protection from skull fractures, and that old nose guard bit thingy that you see on occasion hanging from belts in static photos of the late 19th century were still used. The faceguard bars didn't really appear for common usage until the late 1940's early 1950's.

That 'leatherhead' era of competition didn't last too long. The schools stopped playing each other between 1918 and 1951. Tech got the short end of those games, and the revisited mid-era games as well. We really didn't pick up the pace until 1959 when we began to trade wins and losses on a more even pace. There was a brutal slug of repeated failures between 1981 and 1988 - with only one win over those seasons. The Beamer Era got us back to trading back and forth.

There was no "Black Diamond" - aka lump of coal, to trade possessions in 1912. In fact, West Virginia was only 50 years separated from being part of Virginia. There were probably old folks in both Morgantown and Blacksburg living in 1912 who remembered that the folks visiting were all Virginians. Of course VPI was a Technical school, and the University of West Virginia was supposedly parallel to UVA. (The old "U" vs "State" thing, I suppose.) A fun factoid to understand the nature of Blacksburg is in order. It's 138 miles to West Virginia's capital city Charleston, and 218 miles, by road to Richmond; as the crow files it's about 200. The West Virginia/Virginia border is still almost unobserved in these parts, and many folks who work in and around Southwest Virginia actually live in West Virginia. I am sure that there are probably a few folks going the other way, too.

Morgantown is a tiny place in the hollows and hills of the Appalachian Mountains. Maybe the New River Valley is a bit different because we exist in a small section of rolling hills on our 2000+ foot plateau, but there just isn't as much cultural difference as the rivals (we'll leave it at that for now) would like to admit. There was something about "Hillbillies" on some recent Tee-shirt. Funny stuff... pot meet kettle, kettle say 'hello' to pot.

This region is famous for some pretty serious extra-legal sorts of clan infighting, and maybe that sort of ethos has tinged the match up, but 105 years have passed, and neither school has been unwilling to participate in an all-out "donnybrook" (given the Scots-Irish culture of these parts, that's the right word, too.) Here is the total history listing from our friends at Hokie Sports just to give you an idea of the pulses and trades of the relationship, as it were.

Hokies vs. Mountaineers History

Season Date Site Score (VT-WVA)
Season Date Site Score (VT-WVA)
2005 1-Oct-05 Morgantown, WVA W, 34-17
2004 2-Oct-04 Blacksburg, VA W, 19-13
2003 22-Oct-03 Morgantown, WVA L, 7-28
2002 20-Nov-02 Blacksburg, VA L, 18-21
2001 6-Oct-01 Morgantown, WVA W, 35-0
2000 12-Oct-00 Blacksburg, VA W, 48-20
1999 6-Nov-99 Morgantown, WVA W, 22-20
1998 31-Oct-98 Blacksburg, VA W, 27-13
1997 25-Oct-97 Morgantown, WVA L, 17-30
1996 23-Nov-96 Blacksburg, VA W, 31-14
1995 28-Oct-95 Morgantown, WVA W, 27-0
1994 22-Sep-94 Blacksburg, VA W, 34-6
1993 2-Oct-93 Morgantown, WVA L, 13-14
1992 26-Sep-92 Blacksburg, VA L, 7-16
1991 5-Oct-91 Morgantown, WVA W, 20-14
1990 6-Oct-90 Blacksburg, VA W, 26-21
1989 7-Oct-89 Morgantown, WVA W, 12-10
1988 1-Oct-88 Blacksburg, VA L, 10-22
1987 7-Nov-87 Morgantown, WVA L, 16-28
1986 4-Oct-86 Blacksburg, VA W, 13-7
1985 5-Oct-85 Morgantown, WVA L, 9-24
1984 15-Sep-84 Blacksburg, VA L, 7-14
1983 15-Oct-83 Morgantown, WVA L, 0-13
1982 16-Oct-82 Blacksburg, VA L, 6-16
1981 17-Oct-81 Morgantown, WVA L, 6-27
1980 1-Nov-80 Blacksburg, VA W, 34-11
1979 3-Nov-79 Morgantown, WVA L, 23-34
1978 14-Oct-78 Blacksburg, VA W, 16-3
1977 12-Nov-77 Morgantown, WVA L, 14-20
1976 30-Oct-76 Blacksburg, VA W, 24-7
1975 25-Oct-75 Morgantown, WVA L, 7-10
1974 23-Nov-74 Blacksburg, VA L, 21-22
1973 22-Sep-73 Morgantown, WVA L, 10-24
1968 26-Oct-68 Blacksburg, VA W, 27-12
1967 28-Oct-67 Morgantown, WVA W, 20-7
1966 1-Oct-66 Blacksburg, VA T, 13-13
1965 6-Nov-65 Morgantown, WVA L, 22-31
1964 17-Oct-64 Blacksburg, VA L, 10-23
1963 16-Nov-63 Morgantown, WVA W, 28-3
1962 29-Sep-62 Richmond, VA L, 0-14
1961 7-Oct-61 Morgantown, WVA L, 0-28
1960 24-Sep-60 Richmond, VA W, 15-0
1959 14-Nov-59 Morgantown, WVA W, 12-0
1958 25-Oct-58 Richmond, VA L, 20-21
1957 28-Sep-57 Morgantown, WVA L, 0-14
1953 7-Nov-53 Bluefield, WVA L, 7-12
1952 15-Nov-52 Morgantown, WVA L, 7-27
1917 10-Nov-17 Huntington, WVA L, 3-27
1916 14-Oct-16 Charleston, WVA L, 0-20
1915 13-Nov-15 Morgantown, WVA L, 0-19
1912 16-Nov-12 Blacksburg, VA W, 41-0
The full history of the series between the Hokies and Mountaineers Hokie Sports

That puts us at 22 wins, 28 losses, and one tie over the century.

So, what are we facing, and what are we? We've had loads of analyticals, and more than a few folks have offered their opinions. Over at the Smoking Musket (it's a rifle, guys... I can only hope your quarterback is as accurate as a musket) they are predicting.... a 31-27 win for the Mountaineers... that after worrying profusely over the Tech defense. We’ll see, they are the Mountaineers’ sports blog, after all. All in all their tone seems to be a tad on the peeved side. Humm... Seems like Tech fans are sort of treating it as just another non-conference game. One way revival?

Well, the homer points given to Tech might be worth a few more than the usual 3.5 to 4; both teams have benefited greatly from home field advantage but neutral sites have tilted toward them. We seem to have a FedEx whammy floating over our heads that will need to be defeated as well. I would have preferred that this game be the opener at Lane, but such is not the case. We will just have to defeat the negative vibes of Landover, Maryland along with the Mountaineers.

The game is tough to read. Everyone knows that both offenses are complete reconstruction jobs. With West Virginia's QB being a controversy tainted transfer from Florida, and ours being a complete cypher as a redshirt Freshman. We keep hearing that Josh Jackson is a better prepared Tyrod with a much better offensive scheme behind him. That set of facts is interesting and significant; but it hasn't put up a competitive performance just yet.

Will Grier playing for the Mountaineers, a year and a half removed from competition after a controversy suspension, and transfer is trying his luck at WVA after transferring from Florida. His numbers aren't too bad; he's not physically much different than many of the ACC QBs that Bud Foster's defense has faced over the last couple of years. Brad Kaaya comes to mind when I think of Grier's potential. He can run, and unless the Hokie D has fixed that issue, Grier could pose a serious conversion problem in 3rd down situations. We'll have to see about his passing accuracy. Those numbers just never make much sense at the college level. Most college QBs have holes in their read patterns, and certainly depend upon sticky fingered receivers to make up for "minute of man" accuracy issues.

We've all heard that the Mountaineers are putting up a "newish" inexperienced defense. Since they are the defensive trend setter in the Big XII this might be an interesting setup; the Hokies' mostly new potentially shaky offense against a newbie Mountaineer defense. I get the feeling that matchup will be the story of the game.

So, for the starting salvo in the long 2017 campaign, we have an analysts' dilemma and so many unknowns that guesses come cheap.

West Virginia wins if Will Grier and the Mountaineer Offense can put up big numbers on the Hokies' Defense. They will have virtually flawless game plan, and Grier will need to get the ball out fast to receivers in gaps in the zone. If he can get the Tech D off balance and stuck between covering the pass and stopping the QB delayed runs, it could be a tough day for the Gobblers.

Virginia Tech wins if the Defense rises to the occasion and do what it did to Miami last season. Put heavy consistent pressure on the QB, snuff the run, and keep the QB escapes to a minimum. Combine that with a solid competent offensive scheme that uses Peoples and McMillian in both short pass and straight handoff plays. Then, add the chance to stretch the field to Phillips, Carroll and Kumah, Tech stands a very good chance to put a solid opening victory in the books.

This is about as even a match-up as a non-conference game could be. We have to remember that the Defense (which is largely unchanged) turned the Belk Bowl around with turnovers and short fields handed to the struggling Hokie O. Let's not be behind when that starts happening.

The Virginia Tech Hokies can win this game and put the FedEx Whammy to bed for good.



It’s the first new game poll of 2017. Same format as last season.

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    West Virginia by a whisker
    (21 votes)
  • 8%
    West Virginia by a blowout
    (15 votes)
  • 59%
    Virginia Tech by a wattle
    (100 votes)
  • 19%
    Virginia Tech in a blowout
    (33 votes)
169 votes total Vote Now