Lost in the coaching turnover this winter is that Virginia Tech still has a game on the schedule. The Hokies are slated to take on Kentucky on New Year’s Eve at 12 p.m. in Charlotte, a game that will mean more than most bowl games.
Virginia Tech’s 2020 recruiting class is mostly in the books. Fourteen prospects signed their National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, which was the opening of the early signing period for football prospects.
There’s a lot to talk about with this recruiting class, both positive and negative. Here are my four biggest takeaways from Wednesday.
The NCAA’s decision to create an early signing period for football prospects drastically sped up the recruiting timeline. Instead of having to recruit kids through National Signing Day in February, coaches can somewhat rest easy if they lock in most of their class by Dec. 18.
Since the period was created, Virginia Tech has generally locked in 90-95 percent of their class during the early signing period while using the remaining month-plus to recruit one or two more prospects. This year, however, the Hokies might find themselves in a different situation — salvaging their class after most recruits have already made up their minds.
If you thought last offseason was full of turnover and upheaval, just take a gander at all of the coaching changes that have occurred in the last couple of days.
Sunday was a busy day for Virginia Tech. Not only did the program accept a bid to play in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte vs. Kentucky, the program made a critical decision to promote Justin Hamilton to the defensive coordinator position for next season.
All things come to an end, good or bad. Virginia Tech’s 15-year domination of Virginia has ended, thanks to a 39-30 defeat on Black Friday in Charlottesville.
The 2017 season was my first as a professional beat writer covering Virginia Tech. I was a young reporter with minimal experience, but some of the Tech coaches and staff remembered me from my tenure with the Collegiate Times. Still, I was the new kid on the block.
That moniker comes with its own stigma, especially when it comes time to ask questions. During one of the weekly press conferences that season, Bud Foster was speaking and was being peppered with questions about his defense. I tried to get a question in, but the conference was cut short in order to get the players up to the podium before returning to their schedule.
Folks, I’m excited to bring back Monday Mail this week. It’s been an eventful season of Virginia Tech football and with Tech basketball now underway, there’s no shortage of things to discuss.
Without further delay, it’s time to get into your questions. Thank you for the submissions.
Inclement weather for football games often levels the playing field for both sides. Wet, rainy and cold conditions can often be an equalizer between two unevenly matched opponents.
But in these conditions, there was nothing even about Virginia Tech’s win over Pittsburgh on Saturday. In fact, the game was anything but equal. The Hokies owned Pittsburgh and pitched their second-straight shutout, winning 28-0.
Virginia Tech officially arrived on Saturday, routing a bad Georgia Tech team 45-0 in Atlanta. Simply winning this game wasn’t enough — Tech needed to walk into Bobby Dodd Stadium and whip the Yellow Jackets. The Hokies did exactly that.
At no point was the game competitive. After going three-and-out on the opening drive, the Hokies scored on five of their next six possessions. Virginia Tech led by 31 at halftime and Quincy Patterson was scoring points by the third quarter. The Hokies thoroughly dismantled a bad team on Saturday, which is what good teams are supposed to do. And Virginia Tech is a good team.
That statement is hard to fathom, considering where the team was earlier in the season. But here we are, with Virginia Tech staring down a two-game gauntlet with an ACC Championship Game appearance on the line.
As each game passes, Virginia Tech looks better and better. The defense, which struggled in more ways than one earlier this season, has found their way. Tech has allowed just 37 in their last three contests.
As the defense has grown, the offense has become more consistent. In games that Hendon Hooker has started, the Hokies have averaged a cool 40 points per contest. Hooker’s steady play has been the catalyst, as the first-year starter has averaged 10 yards per attempt, is completing 60 percent of his passes and has totaled 12 touchdowns. Between the two units, the Hokies are becoming a complete team.
Virginia Tech’s late-season push has vaulted them into the driver’s seat. Not only did the Hokies clinch a bowl appearance for the 27th-straight season, Tech retained control over their Coastal division destiny. If Virginia Tech wins their final two games against Pittsburgh and Virginia, the Hokies will be making the coveted trip to Charlotte.
The Hokies aren’t making the College Football Playoff this season. If Tech wins the Coastal Division, they’d likely lose to Clemson in a multi-score defeat. But it wouldn’t matter because of where the Hokies were at as a program coming into the season.
Most people who follow the Virginia Tech program closely projected the Hokies to win eight games this season, with a chance to reach the nine-win mark. Even if Virginia Tech drops one of their final two games, the Hokies would fall right at eight wins. If Tech wins the damn thing, they’d exceed any reasonable expectations they faced coming into 2019.
There will be plenty of time to talk about the future of the program when the season is over. But for now, there’s a divisional title on the line and Virginia Tech faces an amazing opportunity to cap off an incredible season.