Sons of Game Picks: Week 4 - Virginia Tech vs. University of Richmond
What a week.
The stench from the West Virginia loss has hung around all this week like spilt beer on a Sunday morning. It was brutal. Not just the loss, but how the loss occurred is what angered Hokie Nation and sent them into a tailspin this week online.
But alas, we have survived another week and now get the blessed opportunity to watch the teetering Brad Cornelsen offense try to put something together against a lesser opponent.
On paper, this week's opponent, the University of Richmond Spiders, should be just what the doctor ordered for the Hokies. An FCS team served up to them at home after an emotional and demoralizing loss to a bitter rival. This is a game where the Hokies should want to hang 50 points on Richmond to prove that the loss didn't impact them as they move into ACC play. Will that happen? Probably not. But here's to hoping.
As far as FCS teams go, Richmond is a quality opponent. They're currently sitting at 2-1 and could've easily been 3-0 if they didn't drop their last game 34-27 to FCS college football powerhouse Villanova. Besides that loss, the Spiders beat Howard by 24 points and Lehigh by 28 points, so this is a team that can score (albeit against FCS quality defenses). Their defense is sound as well. Besides the aforementioned Villanova game, Richmond has only given up 17 combined points. This will be a good test for the struggling Hokie offense to see if they can run the score up on a better than average FCS defense.
Similar to the Middle Tennessee pre-game wish list, the Hokies should be hoping first and foremost for a victory, and then second for no injuries. The non-existent depth has already become an issue with Right Tackle Silas Dzansi going down and Justin Fuente himself saying earlier this week he had no idea who was going to fill in for this Saturday's game.
Lastly, if you're playing along at home, Fuente has lost at least once to every in-state team he has played against. UVA, Old Dominion, and Liberty make up a few spots on the bingo card, ideally he does not mark off another on Saturday.
This is a massive "get right" game for Tech before they welcome Notre Dame to town and then becoming fully entrenched in the Coastal chaos.
Here is how we see the game going...
Adam Rothe - Virginia Tech - 30-17
The Hokie players were dealt a bad hand by their own coaching staff up in Morgantown, so if there's one thing that can help a team bounce back it's a visit from an FCS opponent... right? How soon we forget the 2010 James Madison upset over the #13 Hokies after they had just come off a big defeat in FedEx Field to #3 Boise State. Do I think this will happen again? No, but there's precedent. We learned last weekend that there is no "opening the playbook" on offense, as it appears what we saw was indeed the actual playbook without restrictions. Because of this, I'd expect much more of the same against Richmond with your usual menu of check-downs to running backs and screen passes to the sideline, with two or three deep-shots mixed in.
As far as FCS teams go, Richmond is no slouch. They're 2-1 and blew the doors off in their victories, where they won by 24+ points in each of their wins. Their defense is also stout and will be a good challenge for Tech's lethargic offense. All this leads me to think that it will be closer than people expect, per usual, with Tech pulling away in the second half similar to the Middle Tennessee State game when the lesser opponent tires out. I could see this game being tied at halftime or a one score game, but at the end of the day Tech will come out victorious as they head into the bye-week before Notre Dame comes to town in two weeks.
Evan Norris - Virginia Tech - 41-13
Last weekend's loss against the West Virginia Mountaineers was a very critical game for the Hokies, that they failed to capitalize on. However, a non-conference, home game against in-state, FCS team might be what the Hokies need to shake off the loss. Richmond is currently sitting at a 2-1 record on the season, with a hard loss coming at the hands of Villanova last time out. Do I think the Richmond Spiders will come into Lane and lay a final brick into Fuente's chapter here at Virginia Tech? Not a chance. Hear me out, as bad as last weekend's game looked against West Virginia, the defense made adjustments at half and held WVU to only 3 entire points during the second half. I can see the Hokie's defense keeping this game on ice for the majority of the matchup, but I see this becoming somewhat like the MTSU game, but on a smaller scale. I still don't see the offense coming out and trying anything new before going into a bye week for Notre Dame.
Offensive Coordinator Brad Cornelsen will need any and all tricks for the game against Notre Dame and to trying to fix things before a huge game would be foolish. I think the defense plays solid and the offense does enough to put the game out of reach. This should merely be a game to execute on plays and to gain playing time for the depth chart before the bye week of the season comes.
Grant Mitchell - Virginia Tech - 48-17
The Hokies may have faltered at West Virginia— as they usually do when they are given handed expectations— but an unranked VT on the back of a loss is the most dangerous VT that there is. If the Hokies do not air the ball out, there is a ginormous problem, but even with a heavy dose of the ground game, they will run the score up.
Konnor Kilgore - Virginia Tech - 52-10
Tech has an excellent opportunity to take out the frustrations of last week on some FCS competition. I'd love to see the score run up by halftime so we can see what some of the youngsters like Jayden Payoute and Da'Wain Lofton have got. This needs to be an easy win to let the young guys get some playing time, and maybe we'll se BB3 air it out a little bit more. If he doesn't then I'll be concerned.
Justin Cates - Virginia Tech - 35-14
Tech will get right this week and get everyone's hopes up for an attempt against mortal Notre Dame the following week. Lots of valuable work to be had for the offense in particular in this one. The young guys need to show up and build some depth. I'd also like to see Amare Barno be productive after going quiet the last two games. I'd also like to see some Marco Lee and other backs. Holston has been solid but Blackshear is a bit injury prone. Get some reps for the others here.