Virginia Tech Preparing For Notre Dame With Hendon Hooker

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Hendon Hooker, Virginia Tech
Hendon Hooker is practicing in preparation for Notre Dame. (Jon Fleming)

Ever since Hendon Hooker was inserted as the starting quarterback on October 5 against Miami, Virginia Tech has rattled off three straight wins.

Hooker has gone 35-of-61 passing (57.4 percent) for 580 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions this year. He’s also added 156 yards rushing and a touchdown on the ground.

While it was Quincy Patterson who cemented his name in lore by leading the Hokies to the six-overtime victory over North Carolina, Hooker was still 8-of-12 passing for 127 yards. He threw for one touchdown, rushed for 41 yards, and led three scoring drives in the first half before an awkward leg injury forced him out of action.

With Notre Dame looming this Saturday at 2:30 p.m., head coach Justin Fuente noted during his weekly press conference that Hooker has been practicing.

“He’s out there going and looks good,” Fuente said.

Most observers thought Hooker’s injury occurred on the first down carry to the left from the 8-yard line where his knee bent oddly. However, that play exacerbated a previous injury in the game. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact play, but Hooker can be seen limping on handoffs to Deshawn McClease and Dalton Keene earlier in the drive while carrying out play fakes.

“It’s kind of interesting,” Fuente said. “When he kind of slipped in the game, I thought that’s when he got hurt. And that was not it.”

If Hooker is fully healthy, he’ll be the quarterback when the Hokies head north to South Bend. If not, it looks like Quincy Patterson would be the next man up, as he has now been slotted into the backup role after his heroics last game.

“Quincy’s taken more reps as we prepare for this week and on in the future,” Fuente said. “We’ll still need Ryan as we move forward, whether it be situationally or just in the game. So things can change awfully quickly. All three of those guys have to be ready to play.”

Fuente on the Fighting Irish

Notre Dame is coming off an embarrassing performance in prime time, losing 45-14 at Michigan in a rain-soaked game. The Fighting Irish are also 5-2, but with losses to Georgia and the Wolverines.

“The weather certainly was a factor, just watching the game,” Fuente said. “I know that we will see the Notre Dame team that we saw in all the weeks before that. Just reading their comments and watching the game, they’ll be ready to respond after that game last week.”

The strength of Notre Dame’s team comes from the veteran defensive line highlighted by three senior defensive ends. Khalid Kareem, Julian Okwara, and Jamir Jones have combined for 11 ½ sacks this year. 

Against UVA on September 28, Okwara and Kareem combined for 5 ½ sacks on Bryce Perkins.

“If you look at their team across the board, they seem to be an older, developed team, particularly on the defensive front where they can certainly rush the passer and have been very good against the run,” Fuente said. “It’s going to be a big challenge for all of our guys to keep their technique when playing against really talented, good football players.”

Following a performance where Ian Book was 8-of-25 for 73 yards and a touchdown on Saturday, the Fighting Irish faithful have been calling for a switch at quarterback. Brian Kelly put down any of those rumors during his Monday press conference, saying Book will be the guy.

Last year at Lane Stadium, Book completed 25-of-35 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns, but it could have been a far better line if he didn’t overshoot several open receivers down the field.

“He’s a guy that can throw the ball, but is athletic enough to get out of trouble,” Fuente said. “Makes plays with his feet, but keeps his eyes downfield. He can really hurt you when he’s on the move, really efficient, good player for them. One of the reasons the last year and a half they have made great strides on that side of the ball.”

Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
Christian Darrisaw is having a great sophomore season. (Jon Fleming)

A Look at Left Tackle and Right Tackle

Oftentimes the casual audience doesn’t recognize an offensive lineman unless he’s continually getting beat for sacks or getting blown up in the running game. This year, Christian Darrisaw has largely gone unnoticed.

The 6-foot-5, 311-pound sophomore has been productive from the left tackle position while playing through injuries.

“He’s talented, talented young man,” Fuente said. “He works hard. He’s incredibly tough. He’s played through the bumps and bruises that maybe some other people wouldn’t have been able to play through, particularly last year. Just continues to improve and has been a source of comfort for us at left tackle at a young age. Works hard on his craft, highly intelligent, understands what we are trying to accomplish and continues to improve.”

On the other end of the line at right tackle, there’s been a rotation between Silas Dzansi and Luke Tenuta. It’s rare to see offensive linemen shuffled in and out of the game, but it’s worked for Vance Vice and Co. with Dzansi and Tenuta at the position.

“If you have a couple guys that you feel like deserve that opportunity, you owe it to the team to keep them fresh and keep them rotating in there,” Fuente said. “Luke continues to get better, and we’ve had some issues with Silas in terms of just cramping and being fresh towards the end of the game. It’s been good to get him on the side a little bit so he can be fresh when he’s in there.”

Notes and Loose Ends

  • The home game against Wake Forest on November 9 was officially announced as a 3:30 p.m. kickoff. It will either be televised by ESPN2 or the ACC Network.
  • The ACC Coastal Division continues to be chaos, and Virginia Tech now controls its destiny with UVA, Pitt, and Duke all losing over the weekend. “I feel like it’s just the way the division is,” Fuente said. “It seems like anything can happen, and in some cases anything has happened. In my short time, it seems to be a fairly regular occurrence.”
  • Running back Jalen Holston is getting closer to a return. He’s been out since the opener versus Boston College, and the Hokies have been looking to fill the void with a bigger running back, using Tahj Gary and Dalton Keene in consecutive weeks. “We’re certainly within the realm of saying we’re looking at things in terms of weeks as opposed to months now,” Fuente said. “He’s made good progress.”
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24 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Isn’t Patterson from the Chicago area. I would think he would be pumped to play this game. I would start him and roll the pocket and keep the chains moving.

      1. that’s not a bad idea. 250 full head of steam running down hill…who’s the brave soul that would want to step in front to tackle that??

  2. I know this game doesn’t mean as much in terms of ACC Conference play, but the optics on this one are big. Be competitive, it helps recruiting and program profile. Not be competitive, VT looks like just another bad team in a bad ACC coast division even if we can manage to win the division at the end of the season. We need at least a good showing, if not a win, if we want to start luring the type of players here than can compete with Clemson for conference titles and playoff consideration again.

  3. I don’t see why VT would risk re-injuring Hooker in an exhibition game against an angry ND defense. Let Patterson play the entire game and get some valuable experience on the road. If Hooker gets sacked like Perkins did against ND it could be bad news – we need a healthy HH to win the remaining ACC games and take the Coastal.

    1. You can’t play with that mentality. If you did you would never play starters. You play to win every game. If he is not physically able to play doctors won’t clear him. There are no “ exhibition” games in College football.

    2. Exhibition game…..lol….I would assume if Hooker has been practicing as the #1 since last week, he’s been cleared to play. Guess we should just sit out every 1st string player who has some slight injury (all of them) based on your rationale and play the walkons. Better yet, just forfeit, save the travel costs and use it as another bye week so we can compete for the vaunted Coastal Conference Title!

      1. Also playing for best bowl possible. Beat ND, run table, we’re in the Orange Bowl….who’d have thunk it. Big ask for sure, but that’s why you lace em up.

    3. Well, every snap…every player…against every opponent… is at risk. That’s football.
      Play your best guys. Always.

    4. Let’s get his straight…you want to deny Hooker a chance to play against Notre Dame and Touchdown Jesus so he can be rested and healthier for Wake Forest.

      Now that motivating…

    5. Wow…anybody else want to comment on this? I’m sure the point and counter-point is well documented by now. Nobody needs this, especially from friendly-fire…Go Hokies!!

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