We aren’t going to talk stats, or rankings, or any sort of numbers about much of anything in this one. This is Game 1 of the 2019 season, and all bets are off (or on) as the case may be. First, the Wise Guys are spotting us 4.5 points for the away game. Given the usual 3 to 4 point push they give the home teams, it looks like the betting line is figuring that Tech is going to nab this game by a touchdown or so.
Are they right? That sort of confidence straight out of the gate on a team having a bit of an unknown recovery period... I almost wish we were underdogs, just because Hokies play better when they have that particular chip sitting on the shoulder pads.
Known Good Things:
- The Hokie Offense is looking like it has the possibility of being fairly high powered. Willis will sling it around and run. He has eight or nine total high quality receivers, six of whom are on the field at any one time (if you count to WRs, a Slot, a Tight End, an H-Back, and a Running Back). Every single one of them is a serious threat.
- The Hokie Offensive Line is the best and deepest that it’s been in at least a decade, if not more. Even without Brock Hoffman at Center, this line is so much better and experienced that there is a near guarantee of much better play this season.
- The 2 starting running backs (McClease and Holston) have experience, their own talents, and are now supplemented by true Freshman, rising star, Keshawn King. Both McClease and Holston can catch and run. The word is that King can do both.
- The secondary might have a roster of many of the same people as last season, but that’s actually a good thing. In September of 2018, this secondary was woefully inexperienced, and prone to making critical errors. This season those butterflies and gumups are all gone. There are experienced seniors mixed in with experienced underclassmen. Reggie Floyd has stepped up in such a great way that he’s been awarded the #1 jersey for the season, by his teammates. Divine Deablo is healthy, at full strength, and knows his job. Jeremy Webb is finally healthy, and though he may not go full tilt on Saturday afternoon, he is expected to make a good showing. Caleb Farley has buckled down and learned his position. We shall see how the work paid off.
- There are four total starting quality Linebackers in the mix, lead by Rayshard Ashby and Dax Hollifield These young men are also playing for their position coach, Bud Foster. Their energy level is currently high, and we’ll see how they handle the pressure of rolling up to stop AJ Dillon.
- The core of the defensive line is experienced, the edge rush has real game experience. This is new, though, and no one, not even the opposition really knows what the line can do.
We aren’t splitting the challenges. They are on both sides of the ball, and will be there and obvious for several games.
- Play calling must be better, more confident in the offensive capabilities, and better able to adjust from series to series... not just half to half (not that half-time adjustments were much good last year). The coaches have to think in bigger chunks of yardage grabbed at a faster pace. If they go no-huddle, they need to go no-huddle... no more stop and stare at whatever semaphores and wig wags are changing the play. Cornelsen needs to call the play and go... no more stopping. If you want to stop... huddle up... Calling the play at the line from the sideline has not been working... A word to the wise... Remember the rule of holes.
- Defensive Line - The depth chart says it all.. no seniors. Only one player in the two deep that qualifies as big enough to be a true Nose Tackle. Though the Ends have good speed and experience, the Tackles need to get better, more consistent penetration. This will be especially true in containing AJ Dillon. How this line plays against the BC running game is going to go a long way to determining the winner of the game.
- Transitional play response on the defense. The huge gashes have to stop. Maintaining position discipline on 3rd and long was a chronic problem with this particular defense. Allowing speedy runners around the ends for huge gains and even full field scores hurt greatly. Stopping gash plays has to be a serious consideration.
- Running QB’s will plague us again, unless someone somewhere has gotten Bud to accept the clue and spy the mobile quarterbacks. Too many teams were let up off the turf due to both gash plays and running quarterbacks conveting third and long with their feet.
What Tech Must Do to Win the Game
A. Contain AJ Dillon. Limit his time on the field and his impact.
B. Score points. That means light the afterburners and stop worrying about controlling the clock. Tech needs to score as fast and as often as possible. Yes, it would be nice to burn clock to keep Dillon off the field, but as some wisenheimer coach said back a while ago... “I don’t need a defense, if I keep scoring touchdowns.” Sure the old formula of get the lead, and ground and pound would be nice... 2nd half of the 2018 game should have disabused everyone of that poor tactical choice. The Hokies have a high powered passing, zone read and spread offense... use it. Score points, and keep scoring until the final whistle blows.