You'd probably rather be reading about Clemson and a potential impending GameDay appearance, and I'd probably rather be writing about them — but let's all be strong together and get some hot ODU talk going up in here.
The game is set to be a sellout, thanks to a few ticket accommodations by Whit Babcock and company, and will be the biggest crowd the Monarchs have ever played in front of, which is kind of cool.
So, sure, the Hokies are 20-plus point favorites no matter where you look, and it is undeniably a slow week. But I'm sure we can find something to talk about.
That's the biggest tidbit to come out of a sluggish Hokies news cycle: the continued suspension of one of the Hokies' starting cornerbacks.
Justin Fuente has yet to offer any further clarity on why Alexander is absent for the moment, merely reiterating on Tuesday that "in terms of our expectations for Adonis, he knows them and needs to meet them."
Look, I doubt that anyone was surprised that the team would choose these two games to put Alexander on the bench if he's done something wrong. Plainly, whatever he did (whether or not it was connected to Tavante Beckett's own indefinite suspension) merited some punishment in the coaches' minds, but not the same sort of extreme measures they took with the backup linebacker.
A cynical observer might say that it helps Alexander that he's a starter and an NFL prospect, and is only getting benched for two games against lesser opponents — if he's still out against Clemson, then we'll know it's time to be a bit more concerned.
But let's not be too world-weary here, and look at what his absence for a second straight week will mean. Certainly the Hokies aren't pleased with it (and if he does return for the Clemson game, the Tigers are hardly an ideal first opponent to reacquaint yourself with after two weeks away).
Yet Alexander's suspension didn't produce much in the way of a drop off last week against the Pirates, and it seems awful unlikely it will against ODU. But it will give Brandon Facyson even more of a chance to work back from his summer absence, and does open up even more time for the team's lightly seasoned backups at the position.
Outside of a first-quarter scare, the Hokies undoubtedly had ample chances to play second-teamers like Bryce Watts and Khalil Ladler against ECU (and both recorded tackles, with Ladler even notching 1.5 tackles for loss).
Tyree Rodgers and Shawn Payne briefly got in the game as well, no doubt sped along because Alexander didn't play a single snap. Assuming the Hokies throttle the Monarchs in the manner everyone expects them to, expect a repeat performance on Saturday, and that's nothing but good news for the team's depth at the position.
Meet the Monarchs
So, who are the Monarchs, anyway? The Hokies are about to kick off a lengthy series against the 757 program, so might as well get to know them.
I confess, I was unsure they were a FBS team until I started reading preview articles this week, but that means we are able to compare them to the rest of the country when it comes to statistical performance.
In that department, they're not blowing the doors off anybody. They're actually right in the middle of the pack nationally in yards allowed per game at 67th, but they're 112th in yards gained per game, a pair of numbers that should certainly be taken in the context of their opponents so far: Albany, UMass (who they beat, by the way) and North Carolina.
So, yeah, not insanely threatening. But with the Clemson game on the horizon we do get to yell about the dangers of a TRAP GAME this week — Fuente has even had the team's graphic wizards mock up a version of the Lane tunnel with the ODU logo sitting at the end of it. Because the team has tunnel vision, get it?!?!
It doesn't help make the Monarchs seem any more intimidating that they're giving a true freshman quarterback his first start, who also happens to be the youngest starting QB in all of the FBS, per David Teel of the Daily Press.
But Teel did manage to dig up a nice history of the Hokies' record against true freshmen QBs, noting that Tech went 1-5 against them dating back to 1998 (including the infamous Wake Forest game in 2014). So, point is, don't just assume that Bud Foster is going to shut down a true freshman, even if he very well may shut down this true freshman.
In any case, fans might roll their eyes at the quality of the opponent, but you've got to fill the early non-conference slate with somebody, and it's nice to do so with an in-state team. Hey, maybe this even has the makings of a nice little rivalry with all of Tech's 757 connections.
"I've had ODU circled on my list for a while, since I found out we were playing them, because being from around that area," LB Andrew Motuapuaka told reporters, via Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times. "I just couldn't wait to play a team like that."
Billy Ray the Recruiter
I missed this story until I was poking around hokiesports.com a bit, when I stumbled upon this letter from Billy Ray Mitchell, a onetime offensive lineman who had to step away from the Hokies this summer due to persistent back injuries.
The whole thing is worth reading, especially because I'm sure many of you remember Mitchell from his days as a recruit. With a name like Billy Ray, he stands out, after all.
Mitchell never really got a chance to make an impact on the field, in no small part due to those injuries, but he says he plans to stay involved by helping out with the team's recruiting efforts.
"Although my body won't allow me to be a contributor on the football field moving forward, I am grateful that I can help Virginia Tech go '1 and 0' in the recruiting department, complete my degree, and hopefully help other student-athletes see just how special Virginia Tech truly is," Mitchell wrote.
Who knows how this arrangement might actually work, but it's a nice gesture by Fuente that deserves to be recognized. Mitchell was always a vocal recruiter on Twitter after he committed back in 2014 — if you'll remember, he was part of the so-called "Fab Five" offensive linemen who were (at one point or another) part of that class, and helped give the group its nickname.
He even helped recruit other New Jersey prospects, including fellow offensive lineman Tyrell Smith that very same year, so it makes sense that he'd be a fit for this sort of role. Even if he just uses his Twitter (yes, he's @Billy_Shmurda, in case you weren't sure) to promote the program, that seems pretty cool that he gets to still be involved.
I leave you today with perhaps the sassiest comment I've ever seen Fuente make to the media.