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Virginia Tech Hokies Name Hendon Hooker the Starting QB for the Commonwealth Clash

So, Justin Fuente has named the starting quarterback for the season opener on September 19th against the visiting Wahoos. Umm.. but there’s a catch. Hendon Hooker may be starting but Braxton Burmeister is also tagged to play along with Quincy. Is this a 2020 meme playing out its ugly effects? In any event... as always... GO HOKIES!!!

Hendon Hooker starts but in COVID World you can’t live with one #1.
John Schneider - SB Nation

The Hokies have named Hendon Hooker as the starting quarterback for the first game of the season.

A natural choice for which almost all of Hokie Nation is nodding happily. But leave it to Justin Fuente to throw some weird ingredients into the soup. We all knew that Braxton Burmeister was a good fit for Fuente’s offense, and has starting experience in Division 1 FBS football, that’s just a reality. However! (There’s always a ‘but’ somewhere.) The lack of a Spring “competition” for the position between the Quarterback candidates never transpired, and that presented some serious problems for the organization. Here’s the coach’s explanation of his choice, instead of me speculating, YET:

So, that sort of “thing” is where the Hokies stand at the moment. We talked about this a bit in the quarterback portion of the Quarterbacks and Running Backs Preview and Podcast. No coach with a choice as difficult as Justin Fuente is facing, makes this as ‘hard’ as he does.

The ‘Pure’ Football Rationale

First, the concept of the continual open competition every season and sometimes every game for a position like Quarterback is problematic. It’s the ‘old’ way of doing things. The push hard and compete every game and every season for your place on the depth chart game is as old as non-professional sports; especially football. It works well for some positions, but when it comes to the few key skilled places, it can become self defeating. Quarterback isn’t just any position on the field. Just ask LSU about how things changed with Joe Burrow. Go back and ask the Hokies how much difference Donavan McNabb made versus some other guy plugged into the Syracuse lineup. Even last season for the Hokies, look at how things changed between the three quarterbacks that were fielded. The confidence and the preparation for the starter are always different and more intensive than for anyone playing backup. Rarely do the 1’s and 2’s plug in like computer peripherals.

Second, the concept of second guessing the starting situation when you have a potential multi-year starter just seems a bit off. Yes, you want your #2 and even #3 to get some meaningful work but that’s a “garbage time” function. There just doesn’t seem to be much clarity when throwing a big fist full of mud in a clear pond in hopes that it will chase away the brim and crappie, and provide an instant large mouth bass situation. As we said, Burmeister was going to be a serious possibility for challenging for the #1 in the depth chart, but right out of the chute... that might just be the most curious and potentially self-defeating move of the season.

Third, the dual quarterback ‘thing’ is an ‘I am not sure of anything so will try any bad strategy thing’ to any opponent. Unless the skill sets and talents of the two quarterbacks are nearly indistinguishable from each other, you tip your hand to the opposition with every change. That’s why the ‘Wild Turkey’ plays only lived for a while. They were interesting and trippy but after you figured them out they ended up being full back slants and dives.

The 2020 Exception to Any Depth Chart Rule

Well, normally there would be a conclusion and a wrap up, but folks, this is 2020 and this year has become a meme and cuss word all of its own. The current situation might just be the hidden elephant in the front parlor. With the distinct possibility of two game at a time losses of personnel to quarantines, any coach worth his paycheck is going to pad his chances with every scrap of foam and poppy paper that he has in his cupboard. There is just no way around it, any team that is going to end up with a winning record at the end of the season is going to have to prepare a three deep roster at every position, and that means a new and different approach to the key skill players like Quarterback. The truth is that every week, Braxton Burmeister and Quincy Patterson II must be ready to play. All it takes is one foul test, and your QB is gone for two games. That’s what Justin Fuente and the coaching staff are facing every single day a test series is given.

The upshot of this move is something that the coach, himself, alluded to. He’s got two starting quality quarterbacks and a third with tough game situations under his belt. He knows that he’s going to get static from some quarters. Personally, I’d have gone with announcing that Hendon Hooker was going to start the game on the 19th and leave it at that. If he wants to wind up with a winning record in a nearly wrecked season the entire roster is going to need to be ready.

Good luck to Hendon Hooker, who is a fine young man, a capable leader, solid football player and a genuinely good person. We’ll leave the last words to him.

Except...

GO HOKIES!!!