Share This Post
Happy Friday Hokies! We're a day away from a huge matchup with the Duke Blue Devils. Wait, did I just say that? I guess I did. Duke enters this game 5-1 on the season and a game away from going to their first bowl since 1994. That makes this a huge game for both teams. Virginia Tech needs to end this two game losing streak and Duke needs a win to be eligible for post season play for the first time in almost 20 years. Below, our panel of writers will answer a few questions about this season and tomorrow's game. Due to some time constraints this week, we don't have a special guest this week so your stuck with us four know-it-alls. Let's talk football.
1. Obviously, this season hasn't gone the way most Hokie fans have predicted. At this point, what is your final prediction for this team record-wise? Do you see this team making a bowl game?
HokieG: For those of us who have followed Virginia Tech football for 20+ years, this is new territory. Because if you are rational about what you have seen on the field so far, and what is on the schedule for the rest of the year it looks like a 6-6 season at best. That means wins over Duke, BC, and UVa, and none of those are certainties. That would ‘sneak’ them into a bowl game. Times have changed.
However I’m predicting a 7-5 season. For some reason, I think VT will indeed beat Duke, BC, UVa, and will surprise either FSU, Clemson, or Miami.
But we are in for a wild ride and anything between 5-7 and 8-4 wouldn’t surprise me (before the bowl game).
JustinC: Every week I keep waiting for our offense to click and our defense to step up with a vintage Virginia Tech performance. But, every week I'm more disappointed than the last. Right now, I'd predict a 6-6 finish. With Clemson, Florida State, and Miami coming up over the next few weeks, there's a chance we could easily go 0-3 in that stretch. Miami is no pushover, even though they've been blown out by good out of conference teams. Clemson is of course, Clemson. And Florida State still has one of the best defenses in college football. I just cannot predict a win there.
The rest of the schedule is manageable but if we don't beat Duke tomorrow then the Hokies are in trouble.
BryanM: This season continues to spiral out of control, but remember, the Hokies can still win the ACC. Do I see that happening at this point? No, but I do think they can bounce back and win 7-8 games. The FSU and Clemson games will be tough, but something tells me they will win one of these since they are not expected to. Yes, they will make a bowl.
MMinor: This team….winning record…bowl games… It’s still mind-blowing to me that we are questioning all these things in the same breath as Virginia Tech. The stability that we prided ourselves on is gone, and we can’t seem to figure out why the dip on both sides of the ball happened so dramatically over the course of one summer. It’s a matter of hyping them up too much in my head, I guess.
I think this team ends up 7-5, with a Thursday night win over FSU that’ll bring some life back into the team heading into bowl season. I don’t expect a great bowl game, and we’ll probably play another Big East team like Louisville. Hopefully, we can notch a win over the Big East before the season ends and reclaim some dignity.
2. If you were Frank Beamer, what immediate changes would you make to at least salvage a winning record this season?
HokieG: I’ll remain adamant that the main difference between this team and successful VT teams of previous years is the success of the running game. I know there are leaks in the boat all over the place (the defense shocked me last week), but the running game is the foundation of the offense and how VT controls games.
They need to get one or two RBs in a rhythm in these games. Whether that’s Michael Holmes, JC Coleman, or whoever. Have the patience and a plan to give them the carries to get them in a rhythm, which will get the cog going in many other areas (passing game), defense off the field, etc.
JustinC: First, I would try to find a way to get the running game going. That's the foundation of everything Virginia Tech. Imagine if Oklahoma State had a year where they completed 30% of their passes. Just imagine how terrible they would be. We have to find a way to get this running game going. If that means playing some different guys on the offensive line than do it. If that means having the OL do more basic blocking drills in practice to reinstall the fundamentals than do that too.
Other than making some minor changes and challenging your team to respond, there's just not much you can do as a coach right now. A lot of the changes we need (both personnel and schematic) will have to wait until after the season. There's no time to reinvent your offense during week seven of the regular season.
BryanM: I am not sure Beamer can make immediate changes to help this team. His biggest test will be how handles the offseason. He NEEDS to make coaching changes. He is alienating the very fan base that has adored him for years. Changes need to be be made, but obviously not until January or later. Right now, they just need to stay the course.
MMinor: FIRE THEM ALL!
Now that I got that out of my system, I think I can safely say that there is nothing he can personally do that’ll make a significant impact. He COULD take out all the senior players and let the hungrier younger guys get some playing time... maybe that’ll wake the team up? He isn’t really in the position to ditch a coach mid-season, that’ll look bad on the program which is built on stability (also one of our main recruiting pitches). The team isn’t playing well, so why not start going after every punt? Who the hell cares if we get a roughing the kicker penalty? Why aren’t we playing like a team that has nothing to lose?
Another thing is that we need a solid #1 running back behind Logan. I’ve said this all season, but without us having a single player go over 100 yards rushing this season in a game, it looks bad. I believe it was in an old version of the NCAA Football video game where you’d ask Corso, and he’d reply with quotes like “YOU CAN’T WIN THE GAME WITHOUT RUSHING THE BALL.” That’s looking pretty true nowadays.
3. Let's actually get one positive question in this week. How great of a player can Demitri Knowles be? He already has a huge touchdown reception against Georgia Tech and now he has a kickoff return for a touchdown. Plus, he went over 100 receiving yards for the first time in his career on Saturday against UNC. Should he replace Dyrell Roberts in the starting lineup going forward?
HokieG: Yes. If Logan Thomas has the type of confidence in Knowles he seemed to in the UNC game, there’s no reason to continue to ‘invest’ in a redshirt senior (Roberts) when Knowles has such upside.
In fact, no one’s job should be safe at this point in the season, regardless if you are a r-Senior or r-Junior. I don’t see practice, but if they are performing, I’d play Knowles more, Corey Fuller, Ronny Van Dyke, Laurence Gibson, Dadi Nicolas, and Alonzo Tweedy if they can make plays.
JustinC: I think you should start him. I know we still control our own destiny in the Coastal but what are the odds we go 6-0 the rest of the way? Give your freshmen some more playing time so we can at least head into 2013 with some experience at wide receiver. Dyrell Roberts isn't getting the job done consistently, although that one drop in the UNC game was clearly the result of concussion like symptoms. But, Knowles seems to have good chemistry with Logan Thomas so start him.
BryanM: Knowles has to play a lot down the stretch. This kid can fly and looks like a playmaker. He is surprisingly more polished than you'd think considering his lack of football experience. The Hokies need him on the field. If it takes snaps away from others, so be it, the best players play.
MMinor: Demetri is a stud we haven’t seen the likes of in a long, long time. I can’t remember the last time we had a straight burner catching the ball after Andrè Davis, and I wish we could see more of him. I would definitely like to see him starting over Dyrell because I haven’t seen much production out of him this season. Maybe it’d be the wake-up call he needs?
On the other hand, I really like the idea of seeing Demetri playing in the slot. With his speed, he could force some mismatches with outside linebackers in the flats or with safeties on wheel routes. He’s an interesting prospect, and I think Logan trusts him more so than anyone else right now.
4. For the first time in this series history, the Blue Devils are entering this game with the better overall record. Are you concerned about this matchup or is this a game the Hokies can win just by using superior talent?
HokieG: Are you kidding? Anyone who thinks the Hokies can win this game “on talent” or because they are “Virginia Tech” and the opponent is “Duke” hasn’t been paying attention.
First, when has VT every just imposed their will on a Duke team? Every year seems a struggle. Second, if the Hokie D plays like they did against UNC, Duke will score plenty of touchdowns. I don’t trust our offense to win any game that turns into a shootout.
The Hokies are favored by 9 points, and may win the game. But if they do, its because they are more focused, more prepared, and took the game way more seriously than just relying on talent.
JustinC: Even though Duke has recruited well recently, the Hokies still have more talent. But, Florida State has more talent than NC State and look how that game turned out. College football is unpredictable so the talent argument just doesn't work anymore. The Hokies need to play well if they want to stay above .500 on the season.
Thanks to some solid recruiting classes, Duke has a good amount of talent. I would give them the edge at wide receiver, running back, and in the secondary. I think quarterbacks are a push although Duke's QBs are playing a lot better than Logan Thomas. The offensive line units seem to be a push with maybe a slight edge to Duke. Lastly, I still think the Hokies have the advantage in the front seven if our guys play like they're capable of playing. This is not going to be a 'gimmie' game like say Bowling Green.
BryanM: The superior talent method hasn't worked so well. I don't think the Hokies were that superior in talent to Pitt, but they did have more talent. They had considerably more talent than Cincinnati but they were out-coached and outplayed. Duke has more talent than most would give them credit for and are incredibly well-coached. Cutcliffe is an excellent coach.
MMinor: Regardless if Renfree comes back or not, I think it will be interesting game. I haven’t watched too much of Duke this season so I can’t give a detailed explanation of their gameplan vs. ours, but I think we have the upper hand in terms of actual talent. It’s going to come down to who wants it more though, and I think Duke is riding a hot hand right now.
5. Lastly, what's your prediction for Saturday's game.
HokieG: I think VT plays very focused. They still have issues, but win. VT 31 21 Duke.
JustinC: I've picked VT to lose the last two weeks and I've been right. So hopefully I have some sort of mystical power because I'm predicting a Virginia Tech victory on Saturday. The Hokies are 3-0 in Lane Stadium and for whatever reason, we've actually looked like a decent team at home this year. I think it will be close but VT pulls out a come from behind victory. VT 34 Duke 31
BryanM: I am going with the Hokies this week in a close one, 24-19.
MMinor: I’d like to see us blow them out just because it’s Duke, but that’s not going to happen. And I’m NOT going to stoop so low that I pick Duke over Virginia Tech. That’s some parallel universe sh**. I’ll say we get back on track THIS game, because Stinespring and Newsome know that if they lose this game, then they’re going to be out of a job this summer. VT-34 Duke-17
Enjoy this post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed and never miss another! Or sign up to get exclusive VirginiaTechFan.com Sports Analysis delivered straight to your inbox!