Unheralded stats and our matchup against Clemson

There are many "sexy" stats that we talk about in the world of CFB, especially here on TKP, that go a long way in helping us understand why a team is or isn't successful. None more important that how many points you score and how many points you give up. Those two have gone in our favor over the past four weeks, and hopefully that trend continues on Saturday night.

But there are many other little things that go largely unnoticed throughout the season, things that can really set teams up for success despite being outmanned on a given Saturday. Our game against Clemson will be one of those moments where we find our team outmanned, especially as it relates to depth.

Clemson will be the most talented team we face during the regular season and it will take a tremendous, maybe flawless, effort to pull off the upset. Fortunately enough, Justin Fuente has gotten this team back to some of its roots (insert Beamer Ball here) that I think will keep us in the game on Saturday evening. Take a look below at some of the unheralded stats that I think have set this team up for success each of the last 4 weeks:

1. Penalties: Virginia Tech has committed 16 penalties through 4 games for a total of 138 yards, good for 34.5 yards per game. Remember those drive killing penalties over the last few years?

2. Kick Return Yards: Our average starting field position when deciding to return a kickoff is the 26.7 yard line. I know that doesn't sound that great, but consider the past few years when we tended to run the ball out of the end zone only to return it to the 15 or 20 yard line. All those yards add up, and it's certainly easier to drive the ball 74 yards than it is 85 yards.

3. Punting and Kickoff: Oscar Bradburn has been, in my opinion, one of the most valuable players on this 2017 squad. He is averaging 41.8 yards per punt (good for 26th in the nation), but that stat doesn't tell the entire story. Of the 19 times he has punted, only 2 have found their way into the end zone for touchbacks. Add to that, our punt coverage unit has only given up a grand total of 1 return yard. That's right folks, a single return yard through 4 games. The coverage has certainly been good, but that is also aided by the way Bradburn has been kicking the ball. The kid has been a beast on special teams.

Between what Bradburn has been able to to punting and what Joey Slye has been able to do with the kickoffs, opposing offenses are forced to drive 3/4 the length of the field, or more, on most possessions. Based on my calculations, our opponents starting field position is the 23.1 yard line. What these units are doing is forcing opponents to really earn their points.

How many times have we seen our beloved Hokie Defense forced to defend a short field in the past because of a botched Special Teams play or turnover. Which brings me to #4...

4. Turnover margin: We are +5 in this category. I know that JJ isn't seeing all of his open receivers and that he is delivering the deep ball a tad late and/or not quite deep enough, but the kid is protecting the football. He and Cam each have one turnover, but these types of things aren't the norm like they were early last season. Think about where we were at this point last season (we had given the ball up 10 times through 4 games).

And lastly, to bring it all full circle...

5. Scoring Defense: I know we tend to get all bent out of shape when we see opposing offenses (insert WVU or ECU 1st half here) driving down the field or making a big play. But Bud's group has given up only 41 points through 4 games this season. I know the schedule hasn't been robust, but we did face a high powered Big12 WVU team to begin the season. Sure, we gave up a bunch of yards, but Bud concedes that in this modern era of spread football. His unit has been able to lock down the red zone. Of the 8 times Bud's unit has been in the red zone, they have given up 0 rushing TD's, 3 passing TD's and 2 FGs. If a team does drive the length of the field on the Virginia Tech defense, and Clemson will, things tighten up considerably in the red zone.

I don't know what the final score will be on Saturday evening, but I don know the Hokies will be facing a very talented team. There will be plays and drives that Clemson simply wins because they are better. But if the Hokies continue to control the things they can control, I think they can give themselves a fighter's chance.

Go Hokies!

All stats compiled from: http://www.ncaa.com/stats/football/fbs/current/team/28

DISCLAIMER: Forum topics may not have been written or edited by The Key Play staff.


Great points! I think the punt/kickoff game and lack of penalties have been the keys.


It's been a very clean start to the year. I believe that if we can keep it up Saturday, we have a shot. The key to me will be to hit when we do have the big opportunities.

"with all due respect, and remember I’m sayin’ it with all due respect, that idea ain’t worth a velvet painting of a whale and a dolphin gettin’ it on" - Ricky Bobby

None more important than how many points you score and how many points you give up time of possession.

Fixed that typo for you. You're welcome!

If you're reading the above post and thinking, "is this guy serious?!?," you can safely assume I'm not.

Nice post. A fighters chance is all I want!

Anyone got a stat for average opponent starting field position?

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

Not official, but to your point:
I was listening to Clemson/BC game while driving Saturday and before Clemson piled on points in the fourth, their avg start was about the 15th yd line; BC's was about the 40.
Our offense is much better than BC's.
BC's punter was nailing it.

Edited for you.

Is it football season yet?


I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

Bradburn's punting has been a game changer. Why? Because as much as it's important to boot a kick far consistently, hang time is by far an important factor. Having an extra second of hangtime forces the return team to think hard about fielding the punt or calling a fair catch. That's an extra second for our tacklers to get to the returner. It's genius scheme-wise!

Let's Go


Will give the ODU punter credit, he could hang the ball.

To the scoring defense point. VT has allowed points in only 4 of the 16 quarters played so far. Find me another team that has done that.

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

Penalties: Virginia Tech has committed 16 penalties through 4 games for a total of 138 yards, good for 34.5 yards per game.

That's good for 13th in the nation in penalties. (Higher ranking means fewer penalties.) The level of focus and discipline we're playing with beats anything I've seen from a VT squad this early on.

"I mean, you know, fuck them, but good for them." -Too Druck to Funk

And NONE of the stupid substitution infraction or delay of game penalties that were a given 2-3 times per game

Chem PhD '16

Thanks I had almost forgotten about those and now my eye can't stop twitching.

Joffrey, Cersei, Ilyn Payne, the Hound, Jeff Jagodzinski, Paul Johnson, Pat Narduzzi.

Awesome work on these points. This coaching staff is really working at nailing down the Special Teams and it's paying dividends already.

Giving up 500 yards to WVU but still 4-0 with two shutouts, it possible we're underestimating this year's defense?


-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

We held WVU, the #3 scoring offense in the nation, to half their average score.

We are definitely underestimating this defense.

"I mean, you know, fuck them, but good for them." -Too Druck to Funk

Well the other defenses they have faced have been butt, so its too early to evaluate this defense. Really need like 6-7 games before that.

They've dropped 50+ on every other team they've played besides us. I don't care if it's against St. Mary's School for the Blind, you drop three 50-bombs in a row, your offense is pretty good.

"I mean, you know, fuck them, but good for them." -Too Druck to Funk

Um...no lol. that's not how it works. Dropping 50 on a shitty defense isn't the same as dropping 50 on a good defense. Sure, its easier to just think that, but it just isn't true.

When in the world did I say dropping 50 on a bad defense is the same as dropping 50 on a good one?

I said dropping 50 three games in a row indicates a team has a good offense, regardless of the competition. Dropping 50 is HARD. Assuming no defensive scores, dropping 50 requires you to score on 8 drives. More, if you're forced to settle for a field goal more than once. It requires a high level of consistent execution by any offense to manage it in any game. To do it three games in a row? Well, WVU is the only team in the nation to have managed it so far this season.

"I mean, you know, fuck them, but good for them." -Too Druck to Funk

Well saying you don't care if it is (insert comically bad football team here) implies you don't care if it is a bad team or good team and that dropping 50 points is impressive no matter the competition.

Call me stingy with praise if you will, but I almost never like to make assessments of teams until they are squarely out of the OOC schedule.

When the Hokies get the ball, they are scoring 2.78 points every drive, Clemson gets 2.77

When on defense, the Hokies are allowing .73 points per drive, Clemson is allowing .70.

These are 2 very evenly matched teams based on scoring output.

Never Forget #1 Overall Seed UVA 54, #64 UMBC 74

To be fair, they have also played Auburn, Louisville, and BC. WVU was a good win for us, but let's remember what defenses we have gone against.

I appreciate all the support, and I appreciate all the hate I am getting. I will continue to work as hard as I can to be the best I can be and bring this team a championship. Go Hokies 🐔 - Josh Jackson

This was my first thought, but Auburns offense served that game up to them. WVU offense is the best offense out of Auburn, Louisville, BC, WVU, ODU, and ECU. Their schedule isn't *that* much tougher. Either way this won't be easy though.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

It's the defenses that makes a difference. BC/Aub/L'ville will all have top half or better defenses this year. Probably all are better than the best defense VT played, WVU.

There schedule is a hell of a lot tougher...come on man, that's just homer talk right there. ECU/ODU are bad teams.

I'm just not buying on Auburn this year. Yes their schedule is tougher by far, but it's not a gauntlet either.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

While I agree on not buying Auburn as a top-15 team, especially when they played Clemson (offense was abysmal), their defense is stout. It's on par with VT's, and I think better because of their DL depth, especially against a team like Clemson.

Here's hoping VT finds some tendencies in Venables' defense like they did in the ACCCG, and the defensive starters can hold up against Clemson's QB run game.

I wonder how much QB runs they will call at the beginning of the game. They may want to keep their QB fresh unless they're forced to show their hands.

It seems like you making this false dichotomy where there can only be bad teams and good teams. That's isn't true. Think of it more as a spectrum. Even if you don't buy Auburn as a top 15 team (I don't either) they are waaaaaay better than either ECU/ODU.

Doesn't really matter if anyone calls it a gauntlet or not, just that their strength of schedule is much tougher than ours.

On the penalty front: at least 3 of those 16 penalties came from the backups in the 4th Q. The starters have been phenomenal.

Great post!!! Agree with with everything

Need to make sure we don't start slow though. In the WVU game, we came out guns blazing but it took us some time to get it rolling against ECU/ODU. With a team like Clemson we can't afford playing catch up; we'll lose that race 9 of out 10 times.

Also have to be alot sharper on the edges on Defense. Can't have blown coverage on the 1-on-1 match-ups or we're just asking to be torched.

But if we can do all that, not get stupid penalties on the O-line (Looking at you Wyatt), and keep one Clemson's heels with scoring (predicting it to be a shoot-out) then like stated above, we've got a fighter's chance.

I would obviously prefer to see us get hyped up for every game, but I'm hoping that's the reason we came out blazing against WVU and not the other three games. Just like we've talked about the coaches opening up the playbooks for this game, I think they (and the senior leadership) will have the team fired up this weekend in a way they just can't for Delaware/ECU/ODU.

Deablo is off the depth chart this week and Adonis is still out. I dont like that one bit

Fuente already said Deablo is out for the season.