By the (Advanced) Numbers: Not the Same Old Dominion

The Hokies aim to bounce back from their loss to Boston College and win their home opener.

By many measures, the Hokies' matchup with Boston College could have gone either way as the teams posted similar yardage totals, conversion rates, penalties, etc. But no team that loses the turnover battle with a -4 margin has any business competing for a win, and in some sense a 7-point loss is nearly a miracle. For the most part, who recovers a fumble is a 50/50 proposition and it contributes a huge amount to luck in a game. While some interceptions involve the same luck (think of a ball bouncing off a receivers hands and straight to a defender several yards away), many are directly due to poor decisions or throws by the quarterback.

I'm not going to rehash in detail what so many have already called out — the poor throws and decision making — but rather bring this up to say those turnovers were not a fluke. Virginia Tech lost the game, and every other team on the schedule will watch the film and prepare to exploit the glaring shortcomings. It is deeply concerning that the flaws in Ryan Willis' game did not appear to improve since the end of 2018, and his starting — and completing — the first game tell me at least one of two things must be true:

  1. Justin Fuente is loyal to his QB to a fault (a RB seems to get a much, much shorter turnover leash).
  2. Justin Fuente isn't stupid and is playing the QB that gives the team the best chance to win, which is a significant indictment of Hendon Hooker and Quincy Patterson.

I don't know which one I hope is the case. Perhaps we will learn more against Old Dominion.
Unless you are completely new to Virginia Tech football, and maybe college football in general, you are well aware that in 2018 the Monarchs upset the heavily-favored Hokies and the game wasn't particularly close. The Massey computer ratings examine the most "extreme" results each season, and from that I'd like to offer some perspective:

  • The ODU loss wasn't event the biggest upset of the season, which by a large margin was Akron's defeat of Northwestern.
  • On the flip side, the Hokies' lopsided defeat of Duke was the 15th biggest upset of the year so Tech also delivered a surprise victory.

What really matters at this point is whether 2018 VT-ODU will be a statistical blip on the college football radar or the beginning of an embarrassing 2019 storyline. Could the Monarchs pull it off again?

Where the Season Stands

Virginia Tech is currently 0-1. The actual and predicted score difference and odds of winning each game are:

The odds of each possible regular season win total are now:

The drop in odds of a win against Virginia is most difficult to swallow. Preseason expectations still play a role, but certainly the Cavaliers gave much more reason for optimism in week one than the Hokies did.

Based on FPI, the odds of each ACC team beating the ACC teams on their schedule is:

This translates to each team's odds of every possible conference record as:

What a difference a week makes...while the Hokies started the season as a near co-favorite in the Coastal, the team is now a clear third behind the Hurricanes and Hoos.

Virginia Tech Leads the Nation In...

Not quite nation-leading, but lost in the pain last Saturday was a high-level of discipline resulting in just 4 penalties for 20 yards, ranking 7th nationally. In what I'm sure was a frustrating game for the players on the field, this is one highlight.

In 2018 the Hokies averaged 5.8 penalties per game for 54.9 yards (70th nationally), highlighted by a 7/95 line against Old Dominion.

Rankings and Computer Predictions

The computer rankings and predictions for each team:

Last season's unexpected result aside, Virginia Tech is a much better team than Old Dominion. Nothing is certain, obviously, but let's not kid ourselves into thinking this would not be another huge upset. The odds of a 28-point favorite winning is 96.7%.

Who To Watch Out For

Oshane Ximines — who posted 2.0 sacks and disrupted the Hokie offensive line in 2018 — has graduated. Other significant statistical producers from the 2018 upset, including the RB and both WR's who tortured Bud Foster's defense and eclipsed 100 yards, are gone. Redshirt junior quarterback Blake LaRussa, who passed for 494 yards in last season's disaster, moved on to seminary school. So, who SHOULD fans be watching out for?

Heritage HS product Lala Davis topped the Monarchs in carries against Norfolk State (16 carries, 62 yards, 1 TD), and Eric Kumah had 4 catches for 65 yards.

Statistical Key to the Game

Old Dominion is replacing plenty of key players, and despite the obvious warnings, are unlikely to give the Hokies a run for their money. But there's a formula for a major upset, and it involves ball control to limit possessions and turnover luck. The Monarchs call their own plays and can run clock if they want, so not losing the turnover battle is really critical. If the Hokies can either win or tie in turnovers, it's hard to see a repeat of the debacle a year ago.

Statistical Prediction

I know how it is easy to be pessimistic, and Old Dominion did not exactly squeak by in 2018. But it was still a fluky result (ODU finished the season rated 18 points worse than VT on a neutral field), and most of the big playmakers from that team are gone. The Monarchs won't forget 2018, but neither will the Hokies and revenge will be very, very sweet.

Virginia Tech 52, Old Dominion 20

As always a thanks to ESPN, cfbstats.com, and Minitab Statistical Software.

Comments

I'm sorry, did you say seminary school? Did...did I write that?

Right, if you ever find yourself forgetting how bad our 2018 defense was, just remember a 5'10 zero star kid that is now studying to be a priest lit Bud up for 494 yards passing. You can't make this shit up.

Dear Heavenly Father, hear my prayer...

Leonard. Duh.

Yes. I am guessing the ODU game plan is going to be exactly the same... Attack relentlessly VT's corners in man coverage. Quick outs, double moves, play off where Diablo is. What they need is an ultra hot QB and a bunch of personal fouls by VT's defensive line to make it all click. Their hope is that the VT pass rush we saw against BC is not any different this week.

Virginia Tech 52, Old Dominion 20 0

FTFY

Let's Go

HOKIES

Math gives us those points, would be nice because I see no way in hell our O can. Maybe D and special teams give us some...

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"

KCCO

counterpoint: on our scoring drives and the drives that ended with an INT in the end zone, we averaged 10 plays to get 63 yards and did it in 3 minutes. There were six such plays against BC, who lost the ToP battle 26-34, btw. As frustrating as the game was, it wasn't because our offense couldn't move the ball. If Willis didn't cough the ball up 4 times, we win comfortably. Throw in Grim not muffing that punt and we're looking at the BC blowouts of old.

I'm not trying to make you feel good about the game or call it a moral victory. I'm just trying to point out that this offense is capable of putting up points relatively quickly, assuming Willis doesn't repeat his INT performance. The only way I see us struggling to cover is if the Monarchs milk the clock from the first snap. If they're burning 2 minutes minimum per drive even on 3-and-outs and then you throw in a couple bust drives for us, we may not win by 4.5 TDs.

VT 42-10 and at least one fight between Kumah and our DBs.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

counterpoint: on our scoring drives and the drives that ended with an INT in the end zone, we averaged 10 plays to get 63 yards and did it in 3 minutes.

You know, thats a stat I needed to see (and probably one that I already knew). I'm terribly disappointed in this offense, particularly the QB situation, but this really is a good sign right here. If the OL can show any sort of will/desire to want to block someone, things could really get moving in the right direction.

Is it basketball season yet?

I mean, if our receivers catch those two end zone balls instead of BC defenders then VT just put up 42 points on BC so I don't think 52 against ODU is a completely absurd prediction.

That said, the um, let's call it "aggressiveness" by our QB helped us get those points but also took them away and not sure that will change.

I expect Tech to try to establish the run. They'll be able the pick 4 yards per run pretty easily because our offensive live will get push against ODU, but running the ball more will take more time off the clock each drive.

Quite a lofty predicted outcome. I'm hoping you are right, but last year was supposed to be an easy win for us, then reality struck.

Again, I'm hoping you're right, and I will cheer like mad (or be mad!)

The production of the O-line and DBs will tell the tale.

Trigger warning on the outlier

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

at +1700, you know some degenerate gamblers (not this one) are taking that little dot as all the motivation they need to put some money down on the ODU ML.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

Just seeing that one little dot there... nooooo!

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

One way you could look at it is, if you're not able to go to the game, you could put down $50 on ODU (Season Ticket face value) and watch the game on TV. If VT wins... meh, you splurged on a ticket. If ODU wins, you're mad as hell... but not as mad as you would've been if you hadn't just won $850.

Leonard. Duh.

This guy hedges.

If you're paying face value for the ODU game, you already lost...

Sure, but an angel gets it's wings.

I'd be lying if I said the thought hadn't crossed my mind.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

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

no shit. You know somewhere, somebody laid out on Georgia State last week and hasn't left a vegas strip club since.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

Signature of a rating system that likely only considers W-L and doesn't do much opponent adjustment. The same kind of system BCS insisted on and that would consider a 1-point loss to Clemson a bigger indictment than a 1-point win against UConn.

Old Randy Edsall and his 1-0 Huskies coming off their brilliant destruction of Wagner 24-21....and now hosting the PillowFightin Illini this weekend. Barnburner central.

I struggle to believe that our offense will be consistently explosive, especially since we are trying to get some kind of running game going. I'm anticipating a few 25+ yard plays, but mostly balanced drives in the first 2-3 quarters. With a 3-posession lead, Q4 will feature Hooker and Quincy with a heavy dose of running and WR screens. I'm optimistic but far from over-confident.

W 34-13

GO HOKIES!

Get well!

Lee Suggs!!

I like the way you are thinking.

Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!

Come on guys, positive thoughts.

I'm predicting 55 - 0 VT. I think there are just so many reasons that VT comes out clicking on all cylinders against lesser competition. I do see a scenario in which they score 14 points with Lala breaking a big run for a TD, and I don't see Kumah blowing by our secondary, but I can definitely imagine a play where we don't get any pass rush and Kumah catches a deep 50-50 ball staying upright while our defender falls to the ground and he gets in for a TD. But I'm optimistic that we can avoid those plays this game and that we actually get a shutout.

Other bold predictions for the game include a Hezzy punt return TD, an Ashby forced fumble, Dax has multiple sacks, Tisdale with an INT, a clean day from Willis, Hooker pass TD to Mitchell, and QP's first rushing TD on a goal line play.

I think the offense will play great Saturday. I really do. I think we will see a bunch of explosive plays, and I think Corny will be aggressive early. If we don't lay the ball on the ground or throw bone head INTs, the offense will move the ball at will against ODU. My concern- and it will be a concern all year- is we are basically playing a G5 defensive line this year. IIWII. It's not a Wiles/Bud DL, its a young, small, not explosive Tulsa/USF/Navy/Western Kentucky defensive line. Not a knock on the kids, but that is where we are THIS year. Yes, they held up against the run, but that was scheme design moreso than push at the point of attack. The pass rush/potential pass rush is the weakest I have seen at VT since 1992. These guys will get better, but that's just where we are. ODU will have a few decent drives because of that. VT wins this one 48-14

Do we really not lead the nation in turnovers? Somebody had more than 5 in the first week?

Good question! I just looked it up. We are tied for 2nd worst with Colorado St, Hawaii at -4 net turnovers. Purdue was -5 last week.

Hokie in West Africa...sadly, I can't jump up and down hard enough for it to be felt in Lane

Interestingly, Miami was +3 in week 0 but still lost to Florida.

Hokie in West Africa...sadly, I can't jump up and down hard enough for it to be felt in Lane

I mean, Hawai'i had 6 turnovers and Purdue had a -5 margin so technically we did not lead the nation. Believe me, I checked before writing about what we lead the nation in!

I had to tease. I didn't check.

To be fair, we definitely lead the nation in losses to Boston College this season. Find what you're good at doing and do the hell out of it, I guess.

To be faaaaiiiiiiiirrrrrr

It was a catch!

You wanna come to a super soft birthday party?

I went back and checked the number on this and found it to be accurate. Who knew!

Ah, so I guess that's another loss to GT this year then...

I'm not thinking about revenge, no. Let's see, last week Penn State beat Idaho 79-7. That's a score I could live with.

Hokie in West Africa...sadly, I can't jump up and down hard enough for it to be felt in Lane

the Hokies' lopsided defeat of Duke was the 15th biggest upset of the year so Tech also delivered a surprise victory.

So this is where we are now. A decade ago, this would be an unthinkable statement.

I tried to argue with this, and couldn't.

"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

My exact thought. I'm a sad now :(

"What kind of person would throw away a perfectly good dog?"

Maybe I'm just stuck in my grief, but I can't imagine easier money than taking ODU and 26.5 points. I expect VT to win, but I expect a margin between 7 and 10. If we win by 14 I will be surprised.

"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

If we only win by 7 or 10 it's gonna be another long year. I don't believe either defense will be that horrible to once again allow ODU to rack up points or that our offense will be so inept that they can't put up points. Definitely stuck in your grief.

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

"I want to punch people from UVA right in the neck." - Colin Cowherd

If we only win by 7 or 10 TKP may implode

If we only win by 7 or 10 TKP may will implode

FTFY

Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!

My 2019 Season Challenge: only comment with Star Wars memes. (completed as of Nov. 29)

Pro tip: don't predict this offense to score more than 28 points in the ACC. Also, don't predict this offense to score more than 38 against everyone else.

If a tree falls in Scott Stadium does it make a sound?

I mean they might hit 48 against Furman and/or Rhode Island, but 28 seems reasonable against literally everyone else.

They only scored 31 against ODU. 48 seems generous. It's a big if unless we see pretty significant improvements

If a tree falls in Scott Stadium does it make a sound?

I just looked Furman up and they probably won't be a slouch. Top-20 in FCS, and scored 42 against Georgia State (an FBS team, supposedly slightly better than ODU according to SP+) yesterday.

Rhode Island, though, shouldn't be an issue.