A Worrisome First Third Passes
This isn’t a time to toss around hearts and flowers, the first four games played by the Hokies have given a major shovel full of painful reminders to Hokie Nation. The Hokies are sporting a 1-3 record, and all three of the losses were previously either ‘probable wins’ or toss-ups.
Before we jump into what the new chart looks like, let’s review where we were on a risk scale, and quickly visit the four non-conference games that are in the books. First, at the beginning of the season, coming off a very disappointing 2022, the Hokies did not present a particularly daunting challenge to their opponents. In truth, the best risk level posed that could be assigned was Moderate/Low. Where we posed a solid challenge to only other moderate to low rated programs. The Hokies had some hope that they had improved between Winter and Summer practices, but those gains were largely ephemeral until something was proven in a real contested football season.
There was a good deal of hope as the night opening and the opponent, ODU, showed up in Blacksburg on September 2nd. The game that transpired, however, began the gnawing suspicion that maybe things weren’t really quite up to par just yet. Though the ODU game was a win, there were some critical injuries and some frustrating failures of drives and play attempts that had fans wondering if the main problem of the quarterback issue had been solved. Though the score was 36-17, the reality behind it was that it probably could have been 2 touchdowns more for Tech, and ODU was successfully driving on the defense until it committed critical turnovers, ending those promising drives.
The Purdue game was a disaster from the delayed start and loss of a bit of emotional momentum as the first pulse of the storm ended the entrance and set up a first 2/3rds of the first quarter where Tech couldn’t generate any offense, and then the defense couldn’t stop the Boilermakers. Then a five plus hour delay had the Hokies come back to a half empty Lane Stadium and complete the game with a bit more accomplished by scoring 17 and tying things up by halftime. The 2nd half of the game was marked by a complete offensive collapse, but a tightened defense that managed to keep Purdue from scoring more than one touchdown. Unfortunately, that single TD was all the Boilermakers needed and the Hokies went down 24-17 in what is supposed to be the longest game in NCAA history.
The road offered no more good things for the Hokies. With a change in quarterbacks due to an injury to starter Grant Wells, Kyron Drones had his moments and re-ignited some of the Tech running game but had inconsistency issues passing. Along with that was the struggling defense where critical stops were not coming. The Hokies dropped a game to traditionally sub-par Rutgers by an embarrassing 35-16 score, and then dropped the game to Marshall (first lost to them since 1940) by a single touchdown as the offense again struggled to score, and the defense had problems making critical stops.
To date, the Hokies have scored no more than 17 in the last three games with ODU representing the anomaly to what has become a barrier to Tech. The offense just cannot generate any sort of consistent scoring drives. There have been flashes, especially when the called plays break down and riffing starts happening, but for the most part the Hokie offense is a leaden three play and out machine.
We see a glint of hope, however, in that Drones seems to have more of a willingness to pull the ball in and run when the first read or two fails. That is Tech’s only offensive hope with the “Power Spread” high school offense being run. When and if there is a consistent coaching decision to move away from interior run attempts, and a move to an actual spread formation with an actively motivated ‘one-read and go’ quarterbacking mentality in place there is a glimmer of hope that some form of mild season rescue could happen.
Now, for the remainder of the season, let’s look at the risk chart, and see what we are facing and where the floor and ceiling have moved.
Hokies Risk Chart after Four Games
|TEAM||OPPONENT RISK RATING||NEW ODDS||OLD ODDS||COMMENT|
|TEAM||OPPONENT RISK RATING||NEW ODDS||OLD ODDS||COMMENT|
|There are No Probable Wins Left|
|Pitt||Moderate/Low||No||50/50||Pitt has serious offensive problems. The defense is still good but Jurkovec is not working and the results have been poor.|
|Boston College||Moderate/Low||No||50/50||Both teams are in the ACC basement for now. Late season contest with BC needing a re-eval for the final four games.|
|Virginia||Moderate/Low||No||50/50||UVA is still a mess but their defense is beginning to find footing. This should be a probable win but tragectories over the next 4 games matter.|
|Wake Forest||Moderate||No||45/55||Wake is 3-1 but dropped a peer game in the ACC. The come to Lane this season. No W in guarantee that.|
|Syracuse||Moderate/High||No||45/55||Babers has managed a 4-0 non-conference start playing several difficult teams - Tech presents a Low/Moderate risk for them.|
|North Carolina State||Moderate/High||No||40/60||There is still some hope, depending on the results in the middle three games of the season - but realistically the Hokies do not have much of a chance.|
|Louisville||Moderate/High||Yes||40/60||Louisville is 2-0 in the conference and undefeated does that stay in place or not? Either way they move from Serious Challenge to Probable Loss.|
|Florida State||High||No||20/80||This remains a near impossible mountain to climb - with FSU currently dominating the conference.|
|Tech's best chance is Pitt followed by BC and ending with Virginia. The remainder of the opponent risk is too high and Tech's risk to them is too low to expect any positive results. Everyone celebrates Christmas and New Years at home. With the adjusted floor being 1-11 and ceiling 5-7.|
|TEAM||GAME STATUS||OLD ODDS||RISK ACCURACY||COMMENT|
|Old Dominion||Win||60/40||Good||This was a win but not particularly impressive. It could be the only win for the season.|
|Purdue||Loss||55/45 - 50/50||Good||The Hokie offense fell flat and the defense ended up defending too much for too long - AGAIN|
The Chart Says It All
Remember the risk that the Hokies are presenting is still a mixed bag, but it’s gone from Moderate/Low to Low/Moderate. There are flashes and glimmers of something that could be stirring, but Virginia Tech’s offensive coaching staff just doesn’t seem to be able to string together much in the way of consistently positive offense.
There are some folks who might quibble with the final conclusion, but the Hokies have reached their floor. Realistically, short of a major miracle or change, Tech has at most, three or four more wins possible, and none push the “probable” level. That sets the current floor just where they are at one win but adjusts the ceiling down to an optimistic 5 wins, and a more reality based 4.
Your Turn to Tell Us
This is college football, though, and things suddenly change for any team on the schedule.
Given the Risk Chart, What’s your Floor and Ceiling for 2023?
This poll is closed
1-11 Floor and no bowl, like you said. Maybe 5 wins in there if good luck suddenly happens. The big problem is the heavy possibility of losing to the Hoos.
2-10 Floor. We have to win at UVA. They are even more woeful than the Hokies this season. That’s the probable ceiling, too.
1-11 Floor, 2-10 Ceiling, and I’m too disgusted and disappointed to comment further. Basketball Season starts in the 2nd week of November.
I can’t wait to see Georgia Amoore draining threes, Liz Kitley dominating the low post, and Cayla King’s thumping defense. Football is so over.