It’s Thursday evening and time for us to gab something cold and sit down with the concept of a preview for a game that suddenly means more than just “revenge”. Saturday at 12:00 or there abouts, Virginia Tech will take to Worsham Field for the first time this season. It will also be facing a team that shows a bit less of the intimidation factor that visiting teams have normally felt. We’ll get into that in a minute, for now let’s just take a look at what we are facing.
Old Dominion University spun off from the College of William and Mary in the early 20th century. It attained its own status as a University before World War II, and also quit playing football between then and 2007. They’ve had one coach, Billy Wilder who’s taken them from the Colonial Athletic Association (FCS) to Conference-USA (Group of 5 FBS).
AND... Last year, ODU embarrassed the Hokies by outscoring us in what looked like a free-for-all BIG XII game. Well, there are three added wrinkles to this particular football game. There will be three returning former Hokies on the field (or in the booth) for the Monarchs. Their Offensive Coordinator is non-other than Stiney, Bryan Stinespring, himself. In addition, Tight End Chris Cunningham, and Wide Receiver Eric Kumah will be suiting up for the Monarchs. Both are not only expected to start, they have been named to the coin flip co-captains team. There seems to be a bit of face rubbing going on. We’ll see how that plays out.
ODU is 1-0 this season with a squeaker of a win over Norfolk State, in what was a home game for either team, no matter what. Their starting Quarterback is the impossibly named Stone Smartt who was a respectable 17 of 23 for 158 yards last week (65 of which went to Kumah). The issue is that the kid is big, and runs. He put up 50 yards on 13 rushes in their last game.
ODU’s defense looks to be a bit challenged. Their big pass rush has been slowed down by graduations, and even with our defensive collapse last season, Ryan Willis actually handled the Monarchs pretty well.
The two points of concern about ODU will remain:
- Our offense recovering from the turnover bug
- Stopping their big QB and our old receivers from making more than a dent
What Tech has to do to win:
- Kick the Tires... Light the Fires and GO! Run the offense pass first. Use success in the fast developing intermediate routes to open up opportunities for Deshawn McClease and Keshawn King to run in the open.
- Develop a rhythm. There was nothing coming close to a sustained offensive rhythm last week. Neither the passing nor running games could get into any sort of sustained momentum; before the gears were shifted... good plays were followed up by leaden concepts. Cornelsen and Fuente need to allow 2 backs to develop some momentum instead of just spreading things around looking for an instantaneous hot hand.
- The defense needs to remember what it was in the 2nd half of the game last week. They have to press hard to stop any convincing passing attack, but they also need to get heavy A-gap pressure with quality contain on Smartt. Maybe for Foster’s last year he’ll finally break form and spy the Quarterback. That would surprise Stiney, that’s for sure.
Virginia Tech is spotting the Monarchs 28.5 points. They need to ignore the wise guys, take the field with resolve and a touch of vengeance in their hearts. This game is losable. But it is also an opportunity to use the turning point of the 2018 season to be the Turning Point of the 2019 season, and head back in a more positive direction.