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Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Pittsburgh Panthers: The Preview

There aren’t too many teams left of those we have a decent shot to beat, but surprisingly, Pitt is one. Nardo is struggling this season, and his desperation is probably equal to the Hokies’. This could be a real fist fight of a contest on Saturday. GO HOKIES!!!

Norrell Pollard... in 2019!
John Schneider - SB Nation

Is this Game a Bar Fight Between Two Drunks?

Look, these are getting more difficult to write up as the season’s prospects begin to fade, but on this one we actually get a bit of a break. There is actually a chance that the Hokies, at home and with their backs against the wall, and pride severely hurt, come up with some way to win this one. Why is that?

Nardo’s Cats are also 1-3, that’s why. The vaunted pickup of BC’s “star” quarterback Phil Jurkovec hasn’t worked out very well for Pat Narduzzi and staff. The Pitt Panthers are dwelling in the FBS “P4.2” cellar right along with us, at the moment. Face facts, Pitt, no matter how good we have been, and how bad they have been, Pittsburgh has always been a serious pain in the Hokie Bird’s tail feathers. Last season, they just pretty much beat the Hokies up, in the former Big Ketchup, and even with the scrambled up no-divisions schedule, Virginia Tech ended up being visited by its old Big East nemesis.

This season, though the Panthers make the trip south sporting a less than stellar record, and some serious unknowns going on with their offense. After thumping Wafford 45-7 Narduzzi’s O seems to have quickly unwound, and their defense has been spotty. Pitt lost to Cincinnati in a one-score 27-21 contest, and then lost to West Virginia 21-6 in a 2-score defensive struggle where they didn’t even get a touchdown, just two field goals. The biggest gut punch for them was their thumping by 15th ranked UNC with Drake Maye and company putting up 41 points. Nardo’s crew did manage to score 24 points, which beats our average 21 and a skootch but it still puts them in range of the Hokies modest offensive chops.

To add to the preparation problem for the Hokies, Narduzzi is playing openly cagy with whom is is giving the quarterback role for the game. Jurkovec has been picked off three times, the bulk of his success was in the first two games, and he’s only tossed four TD passes, three of which were in the West Virginia loss. His stats were brutal in the West Virginia game, and even though he recovered a bit of his dignity for the UNC contest, Pitt only attempted 15 passes for a grand total of 109 yards. It didn’t help that he was injured before the end of the 1st half of the Carolina game, and his backup Christian Veilluex finished the game. (The hit knocking Jurkovec out was pretty vicious and resulted in an ejection for targeting.) The last statements from Narduzzi were that Jurkovec wasn’t in a “protocol”, but he hasn’t announced who will be starting and playing for Saturday night.

We’ll have to wait and see who starts behind center for the Panthers, unless Narduzzi makes some sort of announcement between then and now. Either way, the Pitt offense isn’t much better off than the Tech offense, and their defense ends up on the long end of the time stick pretty much the same as the Hokies.

The Hokies Also have a QB Question to Answer

The big questions to be answered, either today or tomorrow, by the Hokie coaching staff is who is going to be starting and playing quarterback for the team for the Pitt game. The word out from the open observation of practice this week was that Grant Wells was still wearing a blue jersey, and his passing seemed off. With Wells being a team captain, keeping him out for “reasons” instead of a specific physical issue, is a problem. Eventually that situation bubbles into some form of conflict, if Wells is healthy and ready to go, but the “injury excuses” keep him out of the games. That sort of morale issue the Hokies can ill afford with 2/3rds of the season and 100% of the ACC schedule ahead of them.

Ali Jennings’s status is currently unkown, but the Hokies really need him about now. The Gosnells, Wright, and Felton have been getting open. The key is getting the ball to them on time, and in Felton’s case keeping a handle on it. We’ll see if the Hokies manage to get a running game going.

Color Blind, Much?

In what has to be the odd disconnect of the season, the Hokie Athletic Department did the “White Effect” thing for night, and then the team decided to wear the standard white-maroon-white combination. No one is exactly sure of what is going on with the Tech uniforms, but as long as they stay away from Orange we all can live with the choice.

The wiseguys are actually close to making this thing a pick ‘em with the betting lines giving Pitt the game with a -2.5, and a 40.5 O/U. Given the low averages for both offensive outputs this isn’t a particularly surprising spread and point total.

We’ll have our predictions out tomorrow morning, but it’s time for you all to chime in.


What do you think’s going to happen Saturday evening?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    It’s a bar fight between drunks. Both offenses have trouble finding the endzone on more than a couple of flukes. Tech takes the win by a field goal, bet the under.
    (13 votes)
  • 27%
    I am getting 0-0 Wake Forest loss in OT vibes on this one. Neither offense can get out of its own way. Both defenses might need to come up with something to boost some points. Pitt wins by sheer luck and covers. Bet the under, though.
    (17 votes)
  • 44%
    Drones finally gets to play a one-read and go. Tech gets its running game going, and the defense manages to stop Pitt’s offense just enough to grab a win by a TD. Bet the over on this one.
    (27 votes)
  • 6%
    White Effect? Maroon jerseys? That’s not even color blind. Find another uniform contract, please. Oh? the score and winner? Oh? Don’t know... I’m here for the show.
    (4 votes)
61 votes total Vote Now

Predictions and new tidbits coming tomorrow, early. It’s an 8pm kickoff so we’ll be at the stadium at 5:45 or so. Night photography is always a challenge because the lighting is always really weird, and the cameras focus and fire slowly.

Keep the Faith!