If you read yesterday’s post you know that Virginia Tech has a good quarterback, and conventional wisdom says that the Hokies should be stout on defense and special teams.  Lets dive into the numbers and see if we can figure out what these Turkeys are made of.

We’ll start with the basics.  Virginia Tech is 44th in total defense.  They give up 365 yards per game.  They are 29th in rushing defense (123.9).  They are 29th in pass efficiency defense (allowing a rating of 120.5).  They are 11th in sacks (3.3 per game).  This is the same as Penn State (as far as sacks).  I’ll also add that Virginia Tech has intercepted 12 passes, which is good for 11th in the nation.  The sack and interception numbers should worry Pitt fans. 

Linebackers seem to be a strength.  5’10” junior Rayshard Ashby is a guy to watch out for.  He’s Tech’s leading tackler by a longshot (91 on the season), and he’s also collected three sacks.  6’1″ sophomore Dax Hollifield has three interceptions and 53 tackles of his own.

Tech also prides themselves on being “DBU”.

I don’t know about you, but this looks like a targeting foul to me.  At least it would be if a Pitt defender was making the tackle.  (or just going for the ball…)

But all kidding (sort of) aside, Defensive Back Jermaine Waller and Caleb Farley have seven INT’s between them so Kenny Pickett will need to protect the football.  I’m assuming they can also tackle…even if they are leading with the crown.

On special teams, Virginia Tech is perhaps less dominant then they used to be.  The Hokies have  not blocked a punt all year.  (Lets hope I’m not jinxing us.). On the other hand, Tech’s kicker is a respectable 13 for 17, and he’s perfect inside 39 yards, which is all you can ask for from a college kicker.

Offensively Tech likes to run the ball.  They’ve posted 429 rushing attempts vs 252 passing.  They are good but not great at running, posting at team average of 4.1 YPC.  Look out for a strong dose of DeShawn McClease (600 yards, 4.2 YPC) and Keshawn King (300 yards 4.6 YPC).  Also keep your eyes peeled for WR Tre Turner on the end-and-around.  He’s carried 15 times so far and averaged over 11 YPC.  6’4″, 245 QB Quincy Patterson gets about 5 totes per game as well, so IF HE CHECKS IN YOU CAN BE SURE HE IS GOING TO RUN IT (that’s a message for the defense who clearly could not figure this out when Syracuse ran a similar strategy).  HEY DEFENSE HE IS #4 IN CASE YOU ARE NOT PAYING ATTENTION.

If you sum it all up, it looks kind of like this:

Virginia Tech has the 79th ranked offense by yardage and they like to run the ball.  Pitt has the 11th ranked defense by yardage and they like to stop the run. VT Quarterback Hendon Hooker has not thrown more than 23 passes against an FBS team – which means they are picking their spots and that is helping Hooker’s efficiency. I like Pitt’s chances of stopping the run and forcing Hooker to throw, which should put Pitt at an advantage.  I also like Pitt’s chances of putting pressure on Hooker when he does throw, although at 6’4″, 228 hes not going to be easy to bring down.

What I don’t like is Pitt’s chances to move the ball against what is a pretty solid Hokies defense.  I think Tech’s pass rush is going to disrupt Pickett and force him into happy feet mode, and that’s going to take points off the board for Pitt.  The Panthers also aren’t going to catch any breaks from the officials or the Virginia Tech fans.   Pitt is 2-6 at Lane Stadium for a reason…

Predictions come on Friday, so hold you water ladies and gentlemen.  Between now and then you should marinate on the fact that the match-up is not exactly great for our Panthers.  And so cautious optimism, (or tempered realism) would be the expectation I’d set here.  After all, we have a chance to break back into national relevance and put ourselves into the top 25, and you all know how Pitt plays when a ranking hangs in the balance.

Saturday will tell us a lot about this team. Let’s see if they belong in the national conversation.

Michaelangelo Monteleone

80 thoughts on “Virginia Tech Week – Previewing the Hokies

  1. Another great article MM. Bud Foster will attempt to pressure Pickett because that’s when he’s at his worst. Whipple will counter that tendency with more horizontal passing plays and Pitt may just return to the offense we have seen prior to the NC game. This all sets up for a game in which the offense is responsible for losing the game with penalties and turnovers. I’m looking for a Pitt offense that turns very conservation and is limited to a max point total of 14 for the game. We will need multiple defensive turnovers to win this one at VT. Take VT and give the points is what I would do if I was betting on this game.

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    1. I’m a betting man and not as pessimistic, take Pitt and the points. VT isn’t the juggernaut of the coastal division.

      Pitt is 4-0 ats on the road this season and has had 2 extra days to rest and prepare. I like the Panthers to win out right, I took the Panthers with +4.0.

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  2. MM – this article is Reed-esquire. Very well done.

    May I add one important fact:

    The hokies have a tradition of assigning Jersey #25 to a player each game in honor of former HC Frank Beamer – look for LB #4 that you mention runs the ball on average of 5 times per game to be assigned #25 to through off Duzz and our D.

    H2P and tator the turkeys!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I actually make a typo last night. #4 is a QB not a LB. it’s been updated. Interesting fact about 25

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  3. I said after Ucf that if we see good Kenny the rest of the year we win out (didn’t have good Kenny for Miami). If we have good Kenny on Saturday, we are 8-3 on Sunday and ranked.

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      1. uh…. perhaps… though I think good Kenny shows up specifically when he has good protection. He’s a pretty darn good runner/scrambler too, and sometimes that’s just enough to make a difference.

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      2. True. But he played well against ped st and was solid against Ucf who actually has better total defense numbers than va tech (probably due to their schedule).

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        1. If he can pull another PSU performance out of his hat and add a rushing touchdown or two we have a legit chance to win. In other words he basically has to repeat last week, but against a much better defense.

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  4. Let’s hope KP and Pappy Whip make the VT D look bad

    Remember, who have the hokies played so far. Some will say ND to a 1 point loss – the same ND that got crushed by Michigan.

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  5. I’m afraid that VT, (a) suddenly getting strong down the stretch, (b) using a strong running attack with 2 RBs, and (c) coupled with a solid defense, is reminding me quite a bit of last year’s Coastal winner. They even lost a tough game at ND

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are ready to loose. They are not good enough to run the table. Hopefully it will be Saturday.
      Stack the line and make the kid throw. He will not throw well.
      KMAN

      Liked by 1 person

    1. isn’t that the way we calculate Ike..take out the longest run or catch by a PITT player then do the math…..we hate those over-inflated stats-so misleading…..gonna be a helluva game…my innards are not telling me to put a $100 on the Gobblers to guarantee a PITT win..the boyz are going to have to get it done on the field…..

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m assuming the new punter will follow Kessman’s path, not acquiring a scholarship until after next season. I believe the term for this is grayshirting

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  7. Do not use those sideline and backward passes against VT. They will kill all of them because the VT defense attacks. We need to use downfield plays every time against an attacking defense.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. You busted me Bernie, you see right through me.

    Good one Fran. 🙂

    I agree Frank, PITT needs to keep the linebackers and safeties out of the box and stretch the field. That way Kenny can also use his legs again like last game. That is when KP is at his best.

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  9. VT attacked last year and our power running game was able to break past the linebackers and it was off to the races…one has to wonder if the will not attack as aggressively as they did last years,,Oh what a beautiful a$$-WUPp’n..followed by a tailgate with George “the Animal.” What a great memory..

    Liked by 2 people

  10. 90% chance of rain in Blacksburg come Saturday. I’m just hoping the glove Pickett wore in last Thursday’s game works for him in the rain.

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  11. Did anyone ever wear a pair of those gloves? I have and they are better than stick-em. That’s why I can’t understand how the TE’s drop so many passes.

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  12. Ike – I think your question answers itself!😉

    Fran – I doubt if our Rebel refs are smart enough to know what Greyshirting is, let alone be influenced by it.

    I’m thinking we will do a good job against their run – with the possible exception of 2-3 defensive lapses. My concern is stopping the QB run. Especially on 3rd and long – obvious passing downs. We need MANY 3-and-outs Saturday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We did a great job against the Nit run game with the exception of 3rd and long from deep in Nit territory…then Kaboom- 89 TD burst- proved costly…Has anybody said “we have should’ve beaten the nits?”

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Narduzzi in his wrap up comments today raved about Beville and compared him to Kirk Cousins in his freshman year at MSU. Here’s hoping there is some serious competition for the starting QB job come next spring at Pitt.

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  14. OT: Tate Rodemaker QB named Region 1 6A Player of the Year. Pitt’s still trying to flip him from his UCF commit. Visiting us the week of the BC game and visiting UCF the following week. He also just visited VT a couple of weeks back.

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  15. MM — excellent article.

    Ran across an interesting evaluation of KP on PFF, whatever that is. PFF doesn’t have him rated very high, at No. 72 among all QBs, but their evaluation includes this…

    “Still, he has the nation’s 39th-highest adjusted completion percentage at 73.9% as he’s given his receivers plenty of catchable balls and has taken care of getting rid of the ball in trouble spots. He has 23 throwaways (fifth-most) and 24 dropped passes (11th-most) as Pickett and Notre Dame QB Ian Book are the only two quarterbacks in the country with at least 20 drops and throwaways to their credit.”

    Funny to me that Pitt’s cobbled together corps of receivers and the always highly-ranked ND pass-catchers have a high number of drops in common.

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pickett has definitely gotten better after some ups and downs. Imo the key now is consistency and … as you point out …improvements in his receiving corps (and o line as well. I think they’ve been adequate but not really good).

      I don’t think he’s ever going to be top 20 in an raring but he can certainly be better than high 90’s

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  16. Very OT, I know a lot of you folks have problems and some are great. Hope you’re feeling better gc. EE and wife have had a tough year, continued Prayers and Best Wishes to you both, Dan having surgery last year and doing well. Many more POVers who have their ups and downs. Here’s the thing, the family has just had a great day of reckoning where the chips finally have fallen in our direction, it’s been a long journey. So forgive me but I just wanted to shout that from the mountain tops. Good friends from the POV surely helped navigate me through some very difficult family times. I say, Thank You to every last one of you! Eli “The Lucky” is truly Lucky. Lets hope Eli has a few more weeks of good luck in him!

    Liked by 3 people

  17. I knew I was “missing” a few including Wlat. << (busy day) I think John has had surgery as well. Looks like the tide is turning. We are all due to have good things happen in our lives. To you young folk, 1976 football seasons do not come around very often so appreciate the good when it lands in your lap and don’t accentuate the bad. Unless that’s what makes you happy? ike

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ike — Thank you. Good to hear your positives.

      My surgery went well and I’m fine now. And a health-related problem in my immediate family has come a long way and is looking promising. Fingers crossed.

      So, yeah, things are looking positive on the important stuff. And of course I have the Fightin’ Pitt Panthers to provide edge-of-the-seat distraction. And the wisdom of POVers like you, BigB, Fran, and others to help keep it all in proper perspective…

      Hail to Pitt.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. attended Super Bowl IX with Fred Cox’s 2nd cousin. He was a Steeler fan but felt bad when Cox missed an extra point. That was one of 4 SBs he played in.

      Cox was a well respected NFL kicker for many years

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Another OT. Seems as though Myles Garrett has bashed helmet-less Mason Rudolph over the head again. Twice in one week? Do we have another Antonio on our hands?

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  19. So, as season ticket holders for the women’s BB team, my wife and I have been invited, on Monday night at the Pete, to meet the coaches and players and to attend “Practice With the Panthers.”

    Sounds pretty cool to me. Seems like a good way to engage the fans.

    BTW, the women play Duquesne on Saturday at the Pete.

    Go Pitt.

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  20. Men’s soccer wins 2-0 vs Lehigh. Lehigh has a player (sophomore-a starter) from North Allegheny. A co-worker’s son played at NA with him, and they had a good contingency of fans there. Great win for the boys, who will play Georgetown on Sunday. H2P! Now we need the women vb team to win tomorrow, football on Saturday, and soccer again on Sunday. And the mens hoop team won tonight too. Pitt athletics is trending upward folks!!

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Great to hear a local kid juiced-up to play for Pitt!
    Welcome Mr. Guess.

    Sounds like a good talent as a punter and kick-off guy. Especially need that strong leg for kickoffs when the weather gets cold…

    Go Pitt.

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  22. Hey Tex,

    A guy on the radio said it was standing room only at the soccer game tonite.

    Pitt’s first win ever in soccer in NCAAs — only played NCAA games before in 1962 and 1965.

    Now play GTown, who had a bye in first round. GTown is a #3 seed in the tournament…

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome to hear. I hope some dogs were in attendance. I reference this since Coach Jay commented that in previous years only a dog and a few parents even showed for the matches.

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      1. That’s a great line.

        At baseball games, back in the day, we used to only get a few parents and a couple girl friends.

        But often, being Spring in Pittsburgh, it would rain cats and dogs!

        Go Pitt.

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  23. Basketball post:

    Liked by 1 person

  24. @MajorMajors, got to pick apart your post above on the statistics looking at KP. While not as egregious in the presentation as others who manipulate statistics, I would think that if you looked at % rather than total numbers, KP would not look as good.
    Maybe I am wrong as possibly that adjusted completion % might do that. Yet my point is he does throw quite often so therefore the total drops should be higher. Still WAY too many and EASY catch drops too.

    And to Iek, my day has been mixed with ups and downs but your post made my downs easier to forget. Good to hear/read of your positive news!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I wonder how many more scholarships are available for the 2020 football class. It seems to me that Pitt has had a few de-commits. There is still a scholarship available for a TE, I hope

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    1. There will be departures as well. The number is fluid. In the SEC, they take as many as they can and then force out the low performers.

      Pitt has more class than that, but I’m sure there are a few “encouraging” conversations when needed.

      “Son, you have been here for four years now, and you’ve become a fine accountant. But you haven’t seen the field cept for the practice squad. My tax accountant, Jones & Berkhart CPA have a spot for you this coming tax season. I think you should seriously consider the offer.”

      And that is one reason why they pay these coaches so much money.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Some keys to Pitt winning tomorrow:

    -1. Keep the D fresh by rotating the front four until the 4th qtr – vs UNC we saw Twyman and Jones Jr play every down on D during the 4th qtr and OT.

    -2. Spy the QB with our speed LB-er. Cam Bright?

    -3. Use the Safeties to help stop the run, but always keep one Safety deep.

    -4. Be sure to hit the QB often and make sure 5+ sacks are reached.

    -5. “Stuff”the turkey’s run by “filling” the holes with hard hitting, sure tackling LB-ers. We have five good LB-ers in Johnson, Bright, Pine, Brightwell and Campbell.

    Pitt is 4-1 on the road in 2019 in large part because of our best D in the Duzz era.

    H2P!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Paul Zeiss was on the Fan postgame last night running on and on about how terrible it is that the soccer game drew more fans than the bball game.

    Geez, Paul. It was an NCAA tournament game, the first tournament game for Pitt soccer in over 50 years.

    The hoops team has a long way to go to be sure. But there’s some good young talent on this team.

    Champagne has a lot of poise for a frosh. Colabaly needs some seasoning but has potential. And they all seem to be coachable. I’m cautiously optimistic.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Hooray for the soccer and VB teams… they have earned the support…PITT fans can always find something to complain about… me included!

    WE ARE (better than)PENN STATE…. Gobblers put up a fight and then a loud “Chop”sound is heard…and the pluck’n begins!!!

    Liked by 2 people

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