Sons of Season Predictions 2022
The Brent Pry Era begins...
When the season kicks off against Old Dominion on Friday Sept 2nd it will have been 290 days since Justin Fuente was mercifully relieved of his duties on November 16, 2021. Just a short two weeks later, former Penn State Defensive Coordinator, Brent Pry, was hired to be the new head coach for the Hokies.
Tech now enters a complete program rebuild. As Brent Pry and his brand new staff have been working each day over the past nine months to mend recruiting relationships in the region, bring in as much talent as possible through the transfer portal, reconnect with Hokie Nation and former players, and prepare the current players for the upcoming season. None of these items will be completely accomplished in less than a year, but all indications are that Pry is on the right track.
However, he has yet to coach a game. At the end of the day, it's about wins and losses and over the past decade there have been more of said losses than wins. Each day Tech's prime of the late 1990s and 2000s gets further in the past. It is time to turn the page to the next chapter.
Speaking of turning the page, 2022 will be the final chapter in the saga that is the ACC's Coastal Chaos. Starting in 2023 the league decided to be done with divisions and instead to focus on highest win percentage, where the top two will make it to the ACC Championship game in December.
That all brings us to this season. So many unknowns for Tech, as well as many teams in their division. Miami, UVA, and Duke all have new staffs as well to add to the already hectic roundtable in the division.
What kind of Hokie team will show up on Sept 2? What will the offense look like under OC Tyler Bowen? What will the defense look like under Pry and DC Chris Marve. How will Grant Wells fair after lighting it up at Marshall? How will the team handle adversity? How will Pry manage certain game-time situations?
We are so nearly there on learning some of the answers to these questions.
And hey, at least Lane Stadium is still the hardest place to play in the ACC. Perhaps the squad can actually win some games in it this year!
While it's hard to predict what will happen this year, we all most certainly did our best.
Check out the Sons of Saturday season predictions below:
Adam Rothe: 6-6
In the series finale of "Coastal Chaos" I predict it to be truly madness. With the addition of Brent Pry, there are now four ACC Coastal Division teams with new staffs: Virginia Tech, Duke, Miami, and UVA. This means there are even more unknowns for a large percentage of the teams Tech will face this season. The only win I can 100% guarantee for the Hokies is against Wofford at home. Even ODU and Liberty are not "gimmes" anymore especially since they were somehow BOTH scheduled to be played away from Lane Stadium. Then there's the roster issue where Justin Fuente left the cupboard pretty bare after years of poor development and lackluster recruiting. It is going to be a massive challenge for the Hokies to compete with some teams in their division who are likely to have much better talent out on the field. However, if Pry's former stops are any indication, the Hokie defense should be remarkably improved. Pry also brought in perhaps the best offensive line coach in the country with Joe Rudolph, who came from the OL powerhouse Wisconsin Badgers. Besides Pry and Rudolph, the rest of the staff is mostly unproven at this level. I think all those factors combined together lead me to the 6-6 record. If the Hokies make a bowl game I think it would be a massive success for Brent Pry's inaugural season.
Billy Ray Mitchell: 8-4
Hokies Record 8-4
I get it! You are likely rolling your eyes at me right now, but let's unpack this together.
If you asked me this question a few months ago I likely would have given you 6-6. But when you #LookAtTheData, this team is not getting enough credit for what is actually on the roster. This Tech squad returns 64% of a roster that SHOULD have beaten a top 10 team in Notre Dame at home and played admirably against a talented Miami team on the road with a very battered roster.
Two defensive leaders in Dax Hollifield and Chamarri Connor both return and for the first time in a long time, we have a running back room that is crowded, but crowded with dudes that can all contribute. We have a quarterback with experience and has shown the ability to throw the ball down the field and what we seem to lack in the WR room (on paper) I believe will be made up for with the stable of dynamic Tight Ends we have.
There is no film, there are no expectations, and most importantly this team seems to be having FUN again.
To me, this season hinges on 2 things…
1. Health (particularly at QB and Offensive Tackle)
2. Managing the 2 stretches… Finding a way to come out of September at 3-1 or 4-0 could act as a huge springboard as we get to the second stretch. @UNC, @Pitt, Miami, and (the toughest game on the slate in my estimation) @NCST. If we can follow up a 3-1 September with a .500 record in that stretch the Hokies sit at 5-3 and are facing 2.5 cupcakes in GT (Horrible), @Duke (Horrible-er), and a Liberty team that everyone on the Hokies roster will want to embarrass. Best case, that is 8-3 with a mulligan baked in or a shot at (dare I say!) 9 wins in Coach Pry’s first season!
Am I an optimist? Yes. Could I be wrong? Double yes! But I showed my work to arrive at that number. Can't wait for an exciting fall in Blacksburg!
Chris Baylor: 6-6
With a brand new staff and some un-familiar faces, the 2022 season is set to kick off next week. Excitement is an understatement. While the Hokie Fanatic in me wants to predict a Coastal Championship, we need to realize exactly where this team is at. There is no doubt there is talent across the board for the Hokies. The question is, will playmakers step up and is there enough depth on this team to go the distance. The defensive line and linebacking crew will need to be able to respond to adversity and dominate the line of scrimmage. Any potential significant injuries could likely derail the front 7. The secondary is probably the one spot I feel most confident about on the D.
I am calling it now, Grant Wells will have a positive impact on this team. The receiving crew is a big question mark, will several guys step up and provide Wells with some support? That remains to be seen. If the WR crew materializes, Grant Wells should easily throw for over 3,000 yards this year. He needs to better secure the ball, which I think has been worked on with Brad Glenn. The RB room is stacked full of talent, which is no surprise. Will someone new break out this year? The Hokies need to establish a strong run game, if they do, that will open up the passing lane even further. O Line, with Joe Rudolph at the helm, should continue to develop and help get a spark off the line of scrimmage. A 3-1 September is the ideal start. Away games at NC State, Pittsburg, and North Carolina will be a big challenge. Can we capitalize on home field and topple Miami, WV, and UVA?
A 6-6 year with a bowl trip makes me perfectly content with Brent Pry's first year at the helm.
Will this crew develop? That's key to a 6-6, 4-8, or 8-4 year. Time will tell.
Rob Trimber: 8-4
This is a Tech team that went 6-6 last season. They are returning many of the impact players from last year and they upgraded their QB room. A better QB adds at least 2 wins. In addition, the schedule sets up for Tech to start fast and finish strong with a relatively easy back half of the schedule. Also, the spirit of Tech is riding high at the moment as Brent Pry has breathed new life into the program. A team that went 6-6 last year with a better QB and better coaching staff = better record.
Grayson Wimbish: 7-5
New staff. New slate. New energy. Initially when I looked at our schedule, I saw the Hokies going 6-6. But I don't know... There's something that changed inside as soon as I saw the Grant Wells Marshall highlight reel. That kid (assuming he stays healthy) could wind up being the best Virginia Tech quarterback in a while. And I hope it happens.
The Hokies can and should be 3-0 going into the WVU game. Unfortunately, I think WVU is going to get us at home. When it comes to match ups, the Mountaineers are a team that match up VERY well against Virginia Tech. They currently hold the Black Diamond Trophy, and they'll be hungry to keep it. Looking at the schedule, I was asking myself, if Tech were to drop one game they shouldn't, I feel like it's going to be UNC. It's in Chapel Hill, UNC has a lot of talent returning, and that game always makes me nervous. I hope I'm wrong.
The coffin corner stretch of Pitt, Miami and NC State will be a headache. All three of those schools just have better football teams than Virginia Tech right now. We never play well in Pittsburgh, Miami is building something special, and NC State is away on a Thursday night. In year one, I don't like those odds across the board. With the exception of UVA, after the coffin corner stretch, the only game that truly makes me nervous is Liberty. Charlie Brewer is a dog, and he's going to be airing it out all game. Thing is - we CANNOT lose that game. All hell will break loose. I legitimately think it's in the top three most important games on the schedule.
I'm giving the Hokies the benefit of the doubt in year one of the Pry era. 7-5. Let's go to a bowl game and have some fun. Go Hokies!
ODU - W
BC - W
Wofford - W
WVU - L
UNC - L
Pitt - L
Miami - L
NC State - L
Georgia Tech - W
Duke - W
Liberty - W
UVA - W
Ryan Hartman: 7-5
On paper the weakness coming in to the year is likely a mostly unproven WR corp. I think the scheme and mindset of Pry/Rudolph favors a running game anyways and with multiple running backs who have seen time and played a significant role I think we see serious production on the ground to make up for the lack of experience with the wide outs. The defense will produce enough with a good linebacking unit being the key. 7 wins would be a huge success in Pry year one and the schedule sets up well enough for this.
Robert Irby: 8-4
Hello, my name is Robert Irby, and I am ready to lie. Virginia Tech is winning the Coastal Division. There will be some slip-ups along the way, but the division will stink. Miami and UNC are frauds as always, Pitt lost their entire offense, UVA has no offensive line or defense, GT and Duke belong in the FCS. With drastic improvements on both sides of the ball thanks to a new coaching staff and gunslinging QB in Grant Wells, the Hokies will do just enough to be the final Coastal champions and wear that glorious crown for the rest of time.
Nels Williams: 6-6
The hope in me wants to believe this team will go 8-4. However, this team is not going to be good this year, and that should be perfectly fine in the eyes of Virginia Tech fans. It's going to take time for this staff to turn this ship around and move on from the Justin Fuente era, and it will take at least two to three years to get to the point that Virginia Tech fans dream of going back to a decade ago, when Beamer and Bud made Saturdays in Blacksburg something to look forward to. Nationally, the Virginia Tech brand is the worst it's been in a long time, and there are many issues that need to be ironed out under this new regime. The biggest thing this new staff needs to take care of is to retake the Virginia recruiting backyard from poachers such as Penn State and UNC, and although there is significant progress that's been made there, that will take time too. Pry has come out of the gate in preseason strong, and signs are pointing to that vibe of the late 2000s-early 2010s optimism coming back, but it's going to be a wait that's hopefully worth it in the end.
Al Jones: 7-5
A weaker schedule favors Brent Pry in season 1. The question is, will the Hokies be able to win all three non-P5 OOC games (@ ODU, vs. Wofford, and @ Liberty) that a true Virginia Tech powerhouse team should have no issues with? Wofford is only 5 days before the rematch vs. WVU for a Thursday Night showdown in a sold out Lane Stadium. A road trip to Lynchburg vs. Liberty (Why are we doing this...?) in late November is only a week before UVA comes to Blacksburg. Both of these games could be considered your typical "trap" game. Also, September is an important month for Tech win, as the October schedule is by far the toughest 4 game stretch on the schedule (@ UNC, @ Pitt, vs. Miami, and @ NCSU). If Tech can make it through both September and November with winning records, there is no reason not to go at least 7-5. Hopefully, for the sake of recruiting, Tech can sweep the state against ODU, Liberty, and UVA while continuing to make big strides in recruiting closer to Blacksburg and across the Commonwealth (#OurState). Finally, while not part of the regular season, I believe it is needed to not only make a bowl game this season, but to win a bowl game for the first time since Fuente's first season (2016 Belk Bowl), for the overall motivation of the team, recruiting, and fanbase heading into the next offseason.
Sam Stromberg: 8-4
I fall on the extremely optimistic side about Brent Pry and his staff. I truly think they will put the Hokies in the best position to win. As I like to say, “he just gets it." Under the previous regime, poor game management was detrimental to the Hokies. That is what hopefully changes under this staff. And I think it does. The first four games are very pivotal to the whole season – they are tone setters. I think a 4-0 start, which is not terribly unlikely, would lead the Hokies to eight wins. But, who knows? ODU upset the Hokies as huge underdogs in 2018. VT is 1-3 against BC in the last four years. And WVU dominated the Hokies in the trenches last year and ultimately won. If VT can win all four of those, then I think it will be a fun season. If VT goes 2-2 during that stretch, well, then we will have to buckle up, because VT might be fighting for bowl eligibility come November. I think VT will get a ranked win versus either Miami, Pitt. or NC State. On the flip side, VT will lose a game or two to a team it probably should not. VT will cap its year off with a victory against a talented UVa team in Lane. For this to happen, VT must find an identity on offense and re-establish one on defense. The offense will rely on the running backs and tight ends to help control the game. On defense, Brent Pry and Chris Marve will utilize whatever speed and size VT has to call an aggressive-minded defense
Ed Williams: 7-5
I believe the Hokies will finish at a very exciting 7-5. While depth across the board is a concern, I think the starters on both sides of the ball will give VT enough to remain competitive and win some games. I am excited about the potential of this defense, particularly Chamarri Conner and Jaden Keller. I believe Keller will have a breakout year for the Hokies, followed by a successful career. On offense, the OLine is a huge concern. However, I trust Joe Rudolph to figure out a way to make them average, at the very least. I am also very high on Grant Wells. The interceptions at Marshall don't concern me, and I think his ability to push the ball downfield will be something we haven't had in a long time. If he can show the ability to spread the ball around and make quick decisions, this offense will be able to do enough to win games.
Sam Jessee: 7-5
If you've listened to the Lock$ of Saturday pre-season win total podcasts (which you should cause they're awesome), you'll know that there are a couple different strategies when predicting records for teams. One train of thought, which has become increasingly popular, is to separate a schedule into three categories: obvious wins, obvious losses, and toss ups. If you add up the obvious wins and half of the toss ups, you should get a pretty good idea of where to predict said team.
However, this works best with teams that you know a lot about. We know very little about the Hokies. Truth be told, we know very little about their opponents, too. So the next strategy would be assigning a win percentage to each game, adding those up, and seeing where you end up. A week from kickoff, here's how I'd assign a win likelihood value to each game: ODU 95%, BC 60%, Wofford 100%, WVU 60%, UNC 40%, Pitt 10%, Miami 30%, NC State 20%, GT 95%, Duke 95%, Liberty 75%, UVA 60%. That adds up to 7.4 wins.
So I'll rock with that. Hokies go 7-5 but are really close to going 8-4. Chances are the Hokies will have a game where the lack of depth on the line of scrimmage becomes an insurmountable mountain. I'd say more likely to go 8-4 than 6-6, honestly. Good solid bowl berth, get some rivalry wins, and start building this program back from the ashes.
Dom Boltz: 7-5
Coach Pry and crew will get the Hokies back to a bowl game but not much else. Going to be a fun experimental season but don't expect huge leaps from last season. The Defense will be much improved from last season, but the. Offense is going to have many questions to answer with a first time offensive coordinator. The beginning of the season will be promising but I see the Hokies having problems in the later portion of the year against a decently tough ACC schedule. Hopefully Grant Wells can show he is our QB of the next few years. While I would love to say that the Hokies will go 12-0 with a breakout coach and powerful offense, I'm just not sure that's what we will see this year. If the Hokies were to be ranked at any point in the season I would see that as a huge win. Brent pry is going to have the boys fired up week one so expect much energy from the team this year.
Pat Finn: 7-5
Everyone is expecting a roller coaster season, and we may be looking at just that. On paper, it's a similar team from last year with an easier schedule. The quarterback room has improved and the defense returns 7 starters. Areas that I am looking at this year are staying healthy on both sides of the line, and how much can the tight ends play a factor to support a super green WR core. However, I have set expectations that we are bound to struggle on the offensive & defensive lines this year.
I feel good about the QB, RBs, LBs, and DBs - pretty much any position group with a 'B' in it, I feel strong about. If Grant Wells finds his groove with Lotfon / Blue / Smith & co., along with Gallo, Drake, Blumrick and the emergence of Daequan Wright, Wells can have a record-breaking year under center. There is a stable of backs that have talent - Keshawn King is explosive, Bryce Duke is explosive, Kenji Christian is big, and Malachi Thomas & Jalen Holston are proven contributors.
On the defensive side, the LB core returns everyone, and now gets to learn under one of the best in the biz, Brent Pry! As we move back to the DBs, they are arguably belonging to the deepest position group on the team.
If we can make it through September undefeated, I see 8-4 - but for now, I see a 7-5 campaign under Coach Pry in year one.
Justin Cates: 8-4
The Hokies lack depth across the board. This puts them in the potentially treacherous position of relying of young, unproven players at key moments throughout the season. If Tech can avoid that issue there is great potential. Of course there are already some complications with the running backs and a handful of players at other spots are already out for the year. Still, the Coastal division is as always up for grabs no matter how badly the media wants Miami or North Carolina to have it on lock down. Virginia Tech was very bad last season yet wasn't that far away from seven or eight wins despite the struggles. It seems reasonable to expect the defense to be a little better given the personnel and coach Pry's knack for that side of the ball. On offense, Grant Wells at least gives the Hokies an interesting shot in the passing game. If the ground game materializes Tech could easily improve on last season's misery. The schedule is fairly friendly and optimism abounds. I shouldn't, but it's tempting to give in to that vibe...