Monday Thoughts: A Breather Before WVU

Virginia Tech cheerleaders vs. Wofford
(Ivan Morozov)

Most of the table-setting is done, and three games into the season, we’ve got a good idea of what Virginia Tech football has to offer. Next up is a string of five games that will challenge the Hokies every time out and tell us a lot about not just this team, but the future of the program.

On second thought, it’s lame and inaccurate to say that these next five games are a referendum on the future of the program. The Hokies could post a losing record in those five games, but 2-3 years from now, with the same core of players, be much more competitive.

I’m not thrilled that Tech “only” beat Wofford by 20 points, but I’m also not bothered too much by it. 15-20 years ago, the Hokies had so much talent that the punt returner (be it DeAngelo Hall or Eddie Royal) would have outscored Wofford by himself, but these days, Virginia Tech isn’t as explosive up and down the roster.

Metrics like first downs (29-12), yardage (475-199), and time of possession (34:58 – 25:02) favored the Hokies heavily, but the score didn’t. What kept it close is that Virginia Tech only ventured into the red zone twice (and scored just one TD from outside the red zone) and didn’t force any turnovers. Blowouts happen when you make big plays, force turnovers, and finish drives, and the Hokies didn’t do those things.

Last week, when asked the question, “Is Wofford the worst team to ever come into Lane Stadium in modern memory?” I immediately went to the 2004 Florida A&M (FAMU) game for comparison. I remember that FAMU team looked like a high school team when they ran onto the field. They were severely overmatched, and Virginia Tech blew them out, 62-0.

A look at the stats I just mentioned for that FAMU game vs. this Wofford game is interesting:

The yardage stats and first down stats are remarkably similar, and the divergence comes in the red zone trips and turnovers. (A side note: FAMU threw three picks and lost two fumbles, but they actually fumbled a whopping eight times total, recovering six of them.)

There you have it. Wofford might be as bad as FAMU was – probably not, actually – but these 2022 Hokies are a different breed than the 2004 bunch that won the ACC and nearly knocked off undefeated Auburn in the Sugar Bowl.

That’s not to disparage this year’s team. They are the beginning of Brent Pry’s project. The 2004 Hokies were Frank’s 18th edition (wow, eighteen). One guy had it going on, while the other is still figuring out where the light switches are in the Merryman Center.

I don’t get too worked up about what happens in an 11 AM game – this is the first one of those I’ve seen, haha. But I do have a few observations, the first of which continues from last week.