Tech Tidbits: Analyzing Alexander's Absence, and Meeting the Monarchs

Before we get to Clemson talk, let's break down ODU.

[Michael Shroyer]

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.

Adonis's Absence

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 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.


I apologize for being rude, I have not yet read the article. I will go back and do so as Im sure it is as wonderful as all of the other content on tkp, However I had to say I just visited this site without being logged in for the first time and noticed how horrifyingly similar it is to facebook and every other site with all the ads! Thank you joe or whoever for sparing us the horror of that terrible version of the universe. If you haven't joined tkpc you will be refreshed at how beautiful it is on this side. Wait this isn't one of the articles that is tkpc exclusive it it?...

Naw this one the GP can see.

Since you agree I ain't gonna let you drive this car to dinner and I agree you ain't gonna let me drive this car to dinner, there's only one way to settle this.

living in the 757, i read a lot of Monarchs coverage.. one interesting stat I've noticed was prior to the UNC game, ODU led the FBS in QB Sacks with Clemson following as the #2 team. here's the excerpt from the local paper:

From his perch at the back of the ODU defense, free safety Rob Thompson sometimes can't help but smile.

Every four plays or so, he sees a fresh quartet of Monarch linemen shuttle in and another group shuttle out. When quarterbacks drop back to pass, the clock in his head counts down: 3, 2, 1.

If the ball hasn't been delivered by "zero," Thompson has seen what can happen.

"You're going to be on your back," he said.

Through two games, ODU has put more QBs there than any team in college football. The Monarchs' 15 sacks overall and 7.5-per-game average lead the nation – and by a healthy margin. Among teams that have played two games, Clemson is second with 11 total and 5.5 per game.

Admittedly, it's a small sample size. And the Monarchs (2-0) take a huge step up in competition Saturday when they host North Carolina.

But it is a promising start for a defensive front that appears to be the deepest and most talented unit on the team – and easily among the best in the country at the Group of Five level.

The Monarchs go nine deep with little or no discernible drop-off, something few teams can say. Linemen have accounted for 13 of the 15 sacks, with tackle Miles Fox and end Bunmi Rotimi leading with 3 each. Tackle Pat Toal has 2 and ends Oshane Ximines and Daniel Appouh each have two.

In last week's 17-7 win at UMass, six players dropped quarterback Andrew Ford a total of eight times, setting an ODU record.

The last sack came from the 292-pound Fox, who with 3:34 left to play looked as fresh as he did in the first quarter. Credit ODU's depth, which allows for a rotation that keeps the big guys spry.

let's hope our O-Line is up to the challenge and protects JJ throughout the whole game.

As noted in another thread, those two games were against Albany and UMass. Not the toughest teams to run that stat up on.

with only 1 vs UNC, who has allowed a total of 5 sacks for the season

edit: yeah, yeah. I'm drinking (spent too much time looking up stats).

I believe they only had 1 sack against NC. The rest against Albany and UMass. So................

Year 3 is coming up!

Love reading your work. The write up on Adonis will draw people to this article, but people will like it for the content on Billy Ray Mitchell. It's sad to see someone have to give up something they love before they can attain their goals I watched my wife get forced out of profession that she loved (OR RN specialized in orthopaedics), due to a severe latex allergy (in the years before hospitals went latex free). It took her a year or so to get over the disappointment. Billy Ray's situation seems to be some how worse. Good to see that he still gets to be connected with football and his team.

I hope Billy Ray gets to stick around for a while after he gets his degree. Maybe as a graduate assistant helping the recruiting trail, and who knows maybe a coach someday if he is that passionate about the game.

Coach Fuente and Coach Foster...because you're doubly f***ed

Don't sleep on odu. They are a considerably better team than ecu or Delaware. They've had injuries this year, so not as dangerous, but having watched their game last week against unc they have some players and are well coached.

They have 2 good receivers - #15 is a great athlete and can make things happen with the ball in his hands (ran back a 102 yard kickoff against unc and almost broke another); #7 is big, runs good routes and uses his body to protect the throwing lane.

The freshman QB will be good, but will make mistakes. Tall kid that has a natural feel for the pocket. Will stay in there and make throws over the middle but also can scramble or tuck it and run. Last week he was the 3rd qb in the game after burning the redshirt. Will be interesting to see how much better he will be after a full week of practice as qb1.

Finally, odu is well coached. They have continually moved up divisions and conferences and won. Wilder knows how to win and you can see his kids love him. Most impressive last week, with unc pounding them and odu never gave up. Came out in 3rd quarter and drove right down the field to score. Scored a few more times in the 2nd half against Carolinas starters. If it wasnt for red zone turnovers and special team blunders, that game may have been closer.

Tech should crush this team but not with their week 2 performance. Need to execute and play physical from the kickoff to set the tone and cruise. A sleepy first half will only inspire the monarchs who have a few weapons and are full of kids that are pissed they weren't offered by tech. This is their game of the year. We need to send a message and put this away early.

I'm hearing they also expect to bring a large contingent of loud fans. There's a reason they are the second-best football program in Virginia.

"Our job as coaches is to influence young people's lives for the better in terms of fundamental skills, work ethic, and doing the right thing. Every now and again, a player actually has that effect on the coaching staff." Justin Fuente on Sam Rogers

I'll bite. Is ODU a better program than JMU? ODU made the second round of the FCS playoffs twice but JMU has two titles. If they did surpass JMU, what milestone would you say cemented that status? Obviously ODU moved up to FBS and won a bowl game but I'm just curious on the thought process.

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

That's it, exactly. Unfortunately they don't play each other, at least not this year, so it's speculation. But I'm going with the prejudice that any FBS team is better than any FCS team.

Meanwhile, I'm afraid Bill and Mary may have fallen to fifth place, which is a shame.

"Our job as coaches is to influence young people's lives for the better in terms of fundamental skills, work ethic, and doing the right thing. Every now and again, a player actually has that effect on the coaching staff." Justin Fuente on Sam Rogers

Actually they would probably be 6th. VT > ODU > Liberty > JMU > Richmond > Bill and Mary > UVA.

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

Unfortunately, I think W&M has proven that they go at the bottom of the list.

UVA is always at the bottom of the list.

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

My beloved W&M has a head coach past his sell-by date. He used to be a great offensive mind but his side of the ball has atrophied and the team is sliding backwards. This all feels vaguely familiar...

Kevin Rogers on the staff too

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

He was pushed out retired this past offseason so the head coach could hire Kermit The Frog a former player with little experience as OC. The results are that the QB is averaging 112 yards/game and 6 YPA. I'll stop now before I start crying.

JMU & ODU are like two ships passing in the night...

JMU may have two titles, but the first of those was before ODU resurrected their football program and the second was just last year, after ODU had already become a FBS program. In the two scant years ODU was in the CAA (and eligible for the FCS playoffs), JMU was at the tail end of the Mickey Matthews tenure and ODU beat them both years.

This is going to sound like a dig on ODU, but it isn't - they really are just in the right place & happened to be enticing at just the right time. Having a solid FCS program helped, but I don't think their football prowess mattered all that much in the jump to FBS. C-USA was desperate for programs after being gutted by the AAC and they put all their baskets into wooing schools in big markets, football history be damned. That's how you end up with a school like Charlotte in FBS.

JMU has a much richer football history and dedicated football fanbase, in my opinion. If FBS is all that matters, then ODU gets the nod, but I'd argue that on JMU's current trajectory they're the better program regardless of playing FCS competition.

I think it was a perfect storm of factors that made CUSA invite ODU. CUSA saw what they were able to accomplish in only 4 years - they brought in a recruiting class in 2008 that was guaranteed to never see the playing field for almost a year and a half, 3 years later they made the FCS playoffs and even won their first round game, and went 27-8 in their first 3 years in existence (though most of their wins the first season came against D2 teams or bottom-tier FCS competition). They saw that ODU was investing in the facilities, and that the university is growing. And it certainly doesn't hurt that they were located in the 4th largest metro area in the country without a major pro sports team, with two of the top 3 having blue-blood programs dominating the sports world (aOSU and UT-Austin) and the third being Vegas. Overall, the ability to add a fast-improving team located smack in the middle of a major metropolitan area where their greatest competition for sports media attention were an NFL team over 200 miles away and an FBS program located over 300 miles away was a no-brainer for a conference looking to shore up its geographic footprint and prepare for the future.

Totally agree. A slow start will only give ODU confidence and could spell trouble. We need to have a strong start and put the game away early or this could be a "drink to calm the nerves" second half.

Warning- Filter lost.

"Look at this... This is just spectacular.... These people are losing their minds"


Referencing Teel's article is more than a little misleading. Two of those 6 T-Fr QBs have been all pros (Peyton and Stafford) and one is a recent draftee (Kaaya). Moreover, the only one that had a significant hand in beating us was some kid from Rutgers named Ryan Cubit in a game that never happened. So yes, we have been 1-5 against t-Fr QBs, but typically despite the t-Fr QBs.

that the team would choose these two games

Having a difficult time reading between the lines here...

Implying that Alexander should have possibly been suspended for more than two (like Beckett) but won't so that he can be back for Clemson?

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

I think he is implying that he will be suspended for more than 2 games

Wifey went to ODU and is a Redskins fan, going to be a rough weekend in my house since both of my teams should kill hers...

That being said hope the 1-0 mentality keeps up and we are not looking ahead to the tigers because Saturday has Trap Game written all over it...

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
“I served in the United States Navy"


So when do we start freaking out for news about AA this week? Because I totally haven't already started