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Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Virgina Cavaliers: Preview and Poll

Is this it or will there be one more around New Years? The thing that is bothersome is that it’s listed as close. The Hoos aren’t sporting a good record, but they haven’t lacked in determination. This one is basically a toss up, and it shouldn’t be. Take the Poll. GO HOKIES!!!

From the 2016 file we see a sack which is what we want to see a lot of for this one.
John Schneider - SB Nation (file)

It’s Thanksgiving Weekend, and that means the Hoos

It’s really odd how the college rivalry list just never seems to mention the Virginia Tech-Virginia game as one of the older and more determined rivalries in college football history. Was it the “Scholarship Gap” where the Hoos protested the awarding of college football scholarships to players? So, so there is a gap in the period? Well, this will be the 105th meeting of the VPI Fighting Gobblers and the Virginia Cavaliers. That’s significant, and it’s also more than a bit of a grudge match.

The history is pretty plain, Tech has a 60-to-38-win advantage (there were 5 ties in there). There were quite a few wins credited to Virginia in the Pre-Teddy Roosevelt Reform period from 1895-1905 where Tech only won a single game. After the 1905 scholarship protest gap by UVA, the teams have faced off every year except the WWII years of 1943 and 1944. Through the back and forth, the teams remained fairly even. But after the big program turn in 1979-1980 the rebranded Hokies managed to move away from rough parity with the W/L record. The games have mostly been extremely close, with only a few listed runaways in the modern era, and not all were Tech’s.

This year, things are in an odd state. Both teams have second year coaches, both programs have been struggling to knit together anything effective on the football field, and then the tragic events of 2022 with the Cavs, just hasn’t given a chance for these two coaches to face off against each other, and that means no matter what the history says, these two are starting off with a 0-0 tie. In a way, though the modern NCAA rules are in place about forever games, maybe this one deserves to be a tie more than anything.

The Them Stuff

The Wahoos are led by a Freshman quarterback who seems to have ignited something in their offense. Anthony Colandrea had a respectable game in the Hoos win over the floundering Duke program, but the oddity of his effect has been that Tony Elliot has done a sort of “dual” QB thing with Colandrea trading places with their season starter Tony Muskett. That push-pull didn’t seem to do the Wahoo offense many favors, and perhaps the naming of Colandrea will benefit their offense. Let us go with his stats and realities as a basis for the contest analysis.

Colandrea can pass and has some relatively decent stats in the air. He has 1715 yards passing at a 245 yard per game clip. Besides his passing though, and to the concern of all Hokie Nation, the 5’11’ 180-pound QB has managed to become a respectable dual threat, with some excellent running stats that amount to mostly positive yards out of scramble situations. Those can also be purposeful runs, but with Elliot’s offense (he used to run Clemson’s in the Sunshine days.) that is good enough to make respectable offensive pressure. The negative pressure of his sack total pulls his ground yardage net down. If there is one big hit against Colandrea is that he hasn’t, until the Duke game, been particularly careful with the ball. He’s thrown 8 picks this season to go with his 11 touchdown throws.

Airing It Out

Those throws, besides his legitimate dual threat possibilities, are mostly to Virginia’s elite status wide receiver/returner Malik Washington. Washington has pulled in 96 receptions for 1311 yards and 9 touchdowns, regardless of whether he was a Muskett target or not. Washington is not the only downfield threat for the Hoos, though. Malachi Fields has 722 yards on 52 catches and 3 touchdowns. Kobe Pace has bubbled up as the third reliable target with fewer yards, but pretty much the same 11-15 yards per catch average and 3 touchdowns, too. This means an active passing defense is necessary.

On the Ground

The Hoos haven’t been hugely dependent on any single running back out of a list of 12 total players getting runs, Perris Jones (393) and Kobe Pace (368) are leading the pack. Jones is a relatively late addition to the mix with only 4 games under his belt. That run total, though averages nearly 100 yards per game and has to be a factor to be considered. The run threat from the Hoos will be the variety and the ability to shift from QB to RB on the fly, along with the need to account for Pace’s chops catching the ball. He is not just a conveniently easy linebacker fit and we know how those have gone this season.

The Hokies

Tech is a semi-known issue for us. The offense is frightfully inconsistent with the offensive line struggling too much, and the play calling tepid and often formula bound. The running back and quarterback combination of Tuten, Thomas, and Drones has shown definite signs of progress. The Tech receiver corps has developed into a solid room, that after 2023 will depend on its current talent depth, since Tech looks to lose several talented starters to graduation. Senior Day is an indicator, but Pry likes his Seniors to walk, even if they might have eligibility the next year so we’ll see if any who still retain or regain eligibility will come back (Hint - Ali Jennings could use a full season with Kyron Drones at the helm.) but how those players are deployed on the field is what matters.

Kyron Drones is a true, full up, Boiling Green Read-Option/Power Spread quarterback talent. He’s big, fast, and aggressive in the run, and careful with his passes. (His last interception wasn’t and should have been reviewed.) Drones is developing into the type of quarterback that Tech has needed since the 2016 season. With two years of eligibility left, expect there to be no true “quarterback competition” in the locker room next season. Well, not without a “what the ‘heck’ are you thinking?” reaction from Hokie Nation.

The question for this game is “will the OC let Drones be Drones and go downfield?” The 2nd half of the NC State fiasco should prove that trusting Drones downfield is a better bet than driving the ball to the line of scrimmage into an attacking defense. Though the Hoos D isn’t NC State’s by any stretch.

The other begged question is “will the defense be able to contain Colandrea and make him eat his words?” It wasn’t done by Duke, but maybe the Tech defensive line and linebackers will be miffed and pumped enough to ruin his braggadocio. Most folks would certainly be playing that up all week.

In short, the Hokies are an unknown, known entity. There is just no telling which offense, defense, or team as a whole, will show up on any given Game Day. There is just no consistency in this football team, and getting there is going to be a longer process than many folks want to know.

The Odds and Such

I am not putting much stock in the desert for this one. The Hokies are 2.5-point favorites with a relatively big 52.5-point O/U. Tech is just too brutally inconsistent to really rely on much in the way of history - other than that - to predict anything more than a pick-em on this one. The Hoos are trying to salvage a measure of pride, and the Hokies are trying desperately to gain bowl eligibility to pick a booger. UVA has nothing but spoilage on the table, and that might just be good enough.

What do You Think?

Poll

Can the Hokies get enough emotion and on-field pride together enough to win this one in what has become Lane Stadium North Annex?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    No. Just plain No. This team is done, finished, over for the year. Too many changes needed, and the air came out last week. Hoos by way past the spread, bet the over.
    (32 votes)
  • 44%
    The Hokies aren’t done yet. They need the bowl for pride and practice. The Hokies do to the Hoos what they did to ‘Cuse and Wake. They blow past the spread, bet the over.
    (115 votes)
  • 8%
    I smell an OT in the works. And the need to find a new OC after the season wraps since the Hoos get revenge for the 2018 OT loss. No bets, I’m not betting against the Hokies, and not losing money on them, either.
    (23 votes)
  • 34%
    These almost always seem to be close games. This one see-saws back and forth with neither side gaining much advantage. Hokies win by a field goal. Bet the under but not by much.
    (91 votes)
261 votes total Vote Now

Unless the Hokies win, that’ll be the last Preview and Poll for Hokie Football for the season. The football season wrap will include an offensive analysis of the Power Spread, and how it was implemented (or NOT) this season. It will also set the stage for the bowl matchup preview potential if this inconsistent program can manage to scrape together a par season.

Tomorrow, it’s the Hokies vs. the Hoos for pride and peanuts. It’s win or go home for the Hokies.

We’ll see, it’s a toss-up game.

GO HOKIES!!