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Virginia Tech Hokies Football at the End of the First Third: Rising Above the Floor

Well, four games have gone by and it’s, as promised, time to reevaluate the risk and odds of winning and losing. Tech’s window of opportunity is closing rapidly. Can this team rise above its presumed 5-7 floor with the remaining schedule? Let’s take a look. GO HOKIES!!!

The defense is not completely balanced but farther down the field than the ‘O’.
John Schneider - SB Nation

It’s October for Some and December for Others

It’s almost October, the first game of the critical month of the football season is also another major test of Brent Pry’s inaugural season, and the swan song of the disastrous prior regime’s personnel and recruiting mismanagement. Hokie Nation finds itself in a game-to-game “hope” situation with very few realistic expectations of a win on any given Game Day.

The first four games of the 2022 season are in the books and frankly the picture of this team is as muddy and unpleasant as when the first ball came off the first tee of the season – which ended in disaster. In the beginning, just before the first game, we introduced a risk and odds evaluation of the potential wins and losses for the season. It’s time for the promised periodic review, and it might be best for some folks of abundant hope and belief to put their optimism aside for this article. Don’t be negative, but just take this as a neutral evaluation of what the Hokies face based on the facts on the ground. Reality flash: It’s not looking very positive at the moment.

There are eight games remaining in the season, and oddly enough just for the moment because of the win over hapless Boston College, the Hokies sit atop the Coastal Division at 1-0 in the conference. This situation is not going to last long since only three teams (including the Hokies) have played ACC games, and none were Coastal programs. Note, live large in the Coastal “thing” because this is the last season of the division separation in the ACC, next year it’s a firehouse primary for the top two positions in a scattergram scheduling mess that will leave everyone flaming angry and no real identifiable on field winner because of the low percentage of teams played. (We’ll talk about the future of the ACC and other Conferences as we approach the end of the season.) For now, we have what we have from the old obsolescent regime, and it’s just not looking particularly happy.

So, let’s pull up the new risk chart and see what we have after the first four.

Revised Risk and Odds Chart for the 2nd Four Games of 2022

Team Revised Opponent Risk Rating Old Risk Odds of Winning Comment
Team Revised Opponent Risk Rating Old Risk Odds of Winning Comment
PROBABLE WINS (In order of difficulty)
Georgia Tech Low Low 65/35 Georgia Tech is the one ACC team in worse shape than Virginia Tech, now with no head coach
Liberty Moderate Moderate/Low 60/40 This game is not going to be a push over. Private school money and a capable coach make a difference.
TOSS-UPS (In order of difficulty)
Duke Moderate Low 55/45 Duke has been showing signs of life and has lost only a single game - so far.
Virginia Moderate Moderate 50/50 Virginia played a listless grinder against a surprisingly decent Syracuse team but neither distinguished themselves.
North Carolina Moderate Moderate 50/50 UNC has been consistently overrated this season but is also a peer so remains a moderate threat.
SERIOUS CHALLENGES (In order of difficulty)
Miami Moderate/High Very High 45/55 With Miami losing to G5 Middle Tennessee and struggling otherwise the glow has come off their facade.
Pitt Very High High/Very High 35/65 No change except the odds are more in favor of Pitt - Winning this in Pittsburgh is probably not in the cards.
NC State Very High High/Very High 30/70 NC State might be the 2nd best team in the ACC. Unless things change drastically this one doesn't look good.
Old Dominion Moderate/Low Loss (20-17) This game was winnable - but mistakes where too numerous and turnovers showed a massive hole in the offenses discipline.
Wofford VL Win (27-7) This game was indicative in that the offense scored too few points for a match-up this lopsided.
Boston College Moderate/High Win (27-10) Boston College melted down early in the season and continued to do so for the first 3rd.
West Virginia High Loss (33-10) WVU was the better team with the better offense and more stamina. Tech had a modest chance to win but had no Offense.
There are some significant revisions and 6 wins is going to be tough. Gobbler Country

Any Wins in this Thing?

You know that warning light that comes up in modern cars that tells you that the battery for your key fob is low? Some folks are “what battery?” Others are, rifling through a manual that they never read to figure out what battery and how to get at it. A bunch of folks who are more or less mechanical have already figured it out; and stop at the store buy the right wafer, pry open the fob replace it and move on. But there are the last group of folks who just take it to the dealer or car repair shop and have them deal with it.

There is that feeling in this case that this coaching staff is in the dig through the manual stage. They really don’t have the mechanical skills in place to just make the change, and thankfully they are beyond the “what’s that?” question. As to the last option, there’s no phoning it in at this stage of the game. Brent Pry and crew are going to have to deal with the information at hand and figure out how to change the battery themselves, even if it means looking up an instructional video online.

The bottom line is that there are really only one nearly guaranteed win left in the season, and even the low-risk Liberty game has risen to a nearly moderate risk situation (up from a Moderate/Low rating). The only redeeming grace with that one is that the team will have some more experience and maybe some more wisdom before heading to Lynchburg. The main difference is the reduced risk of playing the Hokies for the Flames. (Remember: Risk goes both ways, and we have to assume that we have lowered our Risk visibility to other teams.)

We can only really say that we have a decently better than even chance to beat Georgia Tech since that program is in full melt down and fired their head coach, Geoff Collins, after their September 24th loss. That risk hasn’t shrunk, however, because the Hokie Risk Evaluation to them has actually declined a bit.

Going Bowling?

In order to reach the par mark at 6-6 that would net them a bowl bid (even the booger of all boogers would net valuable practice time) the Hokies have to win a daunting four out of the next eight. That’s daunting because there are only five opponents in the PROBABLE WIN or TOSS-UP categories, and Tech hasn’t demonstrated the ability to sustain quality operations enough to take all five of them.

Two Tough Road Games

We’ll go into more detail as we get to the game previews, but at the 30,000-foot evaluation level, and the evidence of Tech’s performance against a fairly mediocre West Virginia team last weekend, the chances against the Heels have slid more toward the loss column. A win might still happen in next week’s contest in Chapel Hill against the massively overrated but still peer North Carolina Tar Heels. It’s still a 50/50 match up if the Hokies show up and play disciplined football through four quarters, but any slippage will push the team into an “L” with a rapidly developing hole in their record.

Then the Hokies spend three weeks in the pit of high-risk games. They travel to the former Big Ketchup in Pittsburgh to face Nardo and a capable (favored to win the Coastal) Pitt Panther crew. Winning that might be one of the top ten “Stunners” of the 2022 season.

Homecoming Might Show a Ray of Hope

The Hokies come back to Lane for Homecoming to face the fading Miami Hurricanes. Even though the usual seasonal BS about “the U is Back!!!” has been seriously tested and a loss to mid-grade G5 Middle Tennessee deflated some egos, Miami is still a moderate to high-risk opponent for the Hokies. Lane isn’t as intimidating, and Tech as a team certainly isn’t this season.

NC State and the Football Minefield

The Hokies head to Raleigh to face the potent NC State Wolfpack team for the last game of October. The reality is that, at best hope, the record would be 4-3 with a probable loss meaning that Tech would need to nab two wins out of the final four games in November. Look, NC State is a Very High-risk game with horrid odds for even a par level Tech program operation. We’ll have to see how the Hokies respond during the middle third. Nabbing two wins to end up at a par 4-4 as November begins would be tonic. Running the table in November is a daunting task though it would be doable if the team finally gels, and the mistakes are cleaned up. The alert level is going to be that Duke contest that shifted from Low risk to Moderate as the Blue Devils have shown signs of life on the grid iron this season.

The Magic 8-Ball Strikes Vaguely, Again!

The conclusion of the question asked the Magic 8-Ball in the opening of this section is: “Reply Hazy, Try Again

Though the question might be a bit different as we approach the final third of the season, November, and the rush to Thanksgiving. Will the team get a Christmas holiday or workout? It remains to be seen.

A Final Note: Hokie Nation better get used to permanent “earn a bowl” status in the college hurley-burly as it stands. There will be no national championships with the current league configuration, and with the big pile up of perpetual doom in the ACC we are unlikely to win the conference anymore, either.

That all could change drastically as there is a major re-organization and resorting of conferences and national championship moves with the 12-team playoff and conference reorganizations being madly considered.

Take this to heart. College football is undergoing a near revolution and all old evaluations, expectations, and knowledge will have to be cast into the “old stuff” abyss with the leather face-maskless helmet, hangman tackle, and original style football.