Bill Connelly's ACC Coastal Preview

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Virginia Tech Hokies

2018 record and rankings: 6-7 (No. 55 in S&P+, No. 55 in FPI)
2019 S&P+ projection: 8.3 wins (No. 30)
2019 FPI projection: 8.4 wins (No. 32)

Strength: Experience. What does it take for Bud Foster to field a mediocre defense? A spectacular cocktail of youth and attrition. The 2018 Hokies' defense had to replace its top five linebackers from 2017, plus five of its top six defensive backs. Four starters missed time with injury. Plus, a decent line lost end Trevon Hill to injury just as he looked like he was ready for a breakout season.

In college football, though, when you deal with a season of massive attrition such as that, you probably reap the benefits the next year. Seventeen Hokies recorded double-digit tackles last season, and 15 are back in Blacksburg this fall. The defense is loaded with sophomores and juniors instead of freshmen and sophomores, and after nose-diving to 77th in defensive S&P+, the Hokies should expect to rebound into at least the top 40.

The Hokies have four of last season's top five pass targets back, including Damon Hazelton. Brian Utesch/Icon Sportswire
The offense, by the way, boasts outstanding experience in the passing game. Senior quarterback Ryan Willis took over for the injured Josh Jackson early in 2018 and was at least decent, and he has four of last season's top five pass targets back, including big-play weapons Damon Hazelton and Tre Turner.

Weakness: Big plays. Opponents were probably making more of them than Tech was last season. In 13 games, Tech enjoyed 27 gains of 30-plus yards, 69th in FBS. But the defense allowed 42. Only Georgia State and UConn allowed more. Big plays produce easy points, and Tech's dreadfully young and glitch-prone secondary made sure that opponents scored more easy points than VT did.

Opportunity: A soft early schedule. Tech begins the season at Boston College, which isn't a gimme by any stretch, but the Hokies are still likely favorites. According to S&P+, they are double-digit favorites in four of the five games that follow. After last season's somewhat sour 6-7 season, Tech should be 6-1 or 5-2, with bowl eligibility all but clinched, when the Nov. 2 trip to Notre Dame pops up on the schedule. Positive vibes.

Threat: Both S&P+ and FPI grade three Coastal teams ahead of the pack: Miami, Virginia Tech and Virginia. The Hokies have to play at both Miami and UVA. Granted, the last time UVA beat its in-state rival, George W. Bush was in his first term. But that's still pretty daunting.

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Both S&P+ and FPI grade three Coastal teams ahead of the pack: Miami, Virginia Tech and Virginia. The Hokies have to play at both Miami and UVA. Granted, the last time UVA beat its in-state rival, George W. Bush was in his first term. But that's still pretty daunting.

Oooof. Also on this note. UVA twitter is getting bold, confident, and trash talking. I fucking love it. Its the first time in the history of Twitter (2006) that UVA has been confident enough in their team to trash talk us. I am all for an actual rivalry to start again.

(add if applicable) /s

I would love to see uva go 0-12 every season forever. But I don't have any issue with them playing well just as long as they never beat us

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

Brenden Hill had a poll on twitter after he talked to a 757 recruit about VTs image. He said one of the recruits biggest take aways was that VT doesn't have guaranteed exciting games on their schedule like the OSUvMICH, SEC schedules, other B1G rivalries, etc. His question was:

VT fans would you give up the Commonwealth cup if it helped recruiting and excitement on the schedule?

I voted yes. 263 total votes 57% said no. I don't think the perception of the program changes unless we both get strong or get stronger as a division and in doing that we're likely going to take a loss or 2 along the way.

(add if applicable) /s

This is a great point. As an alum, the caliber of games on the schedule and the weakness of the Coastal even make it hard for me to want to deal with the lodging constraints of bburg to get to see a game.

Put yourself in the shoes of some 18 year old trying to get excited about his football career with no prior ties to VT and it becomes a much harder sell.

My opinion: If fans can't get excited about matchups, recruits definitely can't.

... and to answer the poll: If "give up" meant lose just once, I'd probably go along with it. If UVA winning one time means improved recruiting, excitement, matchups, and that our rivalry itself becomes competitive, I think it's a good tradeoff. If "give up" meant we don't play the game anymore, I'd be okay with that too. It's not exactly been the most riveting rivalry as of late, just a nice, polished cup full of bragging rights.

I would have preferred that the reason for the 'excitement' regarding this year's game is because they significantly improved to challenge us where we were about 10 years ago rather than us slowly tapering off to meet them in mediocrity like we have.

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

It doesn't help that are used to be marque games no longer are as big. If Miami was the Miami of old, I think it would be an easy game to sell to anyone to watch. It's still one of our biggest games, but Miami is not the juggernaut they used to be. Virginia was ok back in the early 2000s and they haven't been remotely good until last season. GT who the hell wants to watch the triple option or play against it. UNC, at one point was a pretty good team, but they have been so up and down since we joined.

It's not hard to see how our schedule could be an issue. Another reason to go towards pods.

What's
Important
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Never really thought about it like that. I mean hell, look at Michigan. They've lost like 13 of 14 to Ohio State and still murder the recruiting trail, at least compared to us. But (aside from just being Michigan) have massive home and away opponents/games every damn season.

Amateur superstar and idiot extraordinaire.

Yeah I feel like this gets overlooked all the time. Program acceleration is important but getting to the ACCCG every year in our division still likely isn't all that attractive to our top targets. We need to improve and the conference needs to improve...hopefully we improve at a faster rate than the conference.

Think back to when we joined the ACC. VT 10-3, Miami 9-3, UVA 8-4, FSU 9-3. We need at the very least the teams with a national brand in our conference to be good football teams and better yet have the teams that don't have the brand establish one. FSU, Miami, BC, VT, shit even Cuse have all gone through stents of national relevance that have just gone away. Now we're a conference of Clemson and the ROYs and that helps no one but Clemson.

(add if applicable) /s

I think its more of a result of the playoff system. Playing in 2 games means more money and marketing for your program. That's why there is a strangle hold on the top spots in conferences. It's hard to catch up, even if some of the funds are sent to the entire conference.

What's
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Oh yeah I certainly don't think the top will be as level as it used to be but I do think we should be pulling for the ACC to have stronger teams. I'm certainly not going to pull for other ACC teams to win a national championship as that definitely helps that team exponentially more than it does the conference.

(add if applicable) /s

Lack of excitement also a product of losing every "exciting" game.

Losses:
2016 Tennessee
2016 Clemson
2017 Miami
2017 Clemson
2017 Ok State
2018 Notre Dame
2018 Cincinnati

Win:
2016 Miami
(WVU did not finished ranked in 2017)

Yiiiikessss.

Amateur superstar and idiot extraordinaire.

welp. Hard to argue with that

21st century QBs Undefeated vs UVA:
MV7, MV5, LT3, Josh Jackson, Jerod Evans, Michael Brewer, Tyrod Taylor, Sean Glennon, and Grant Noel. That's right, UVA. You couldn't beat Grant Noel.

Winning those certainly helps but need them on the schedule first.

(add if applicable) /s

There was some confidence and trash talk in 2007 but I'd say they feel even better about their odds this year.

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

I think it all depends on the defense. We should be able to move the ball, but Bryce Perkins will be the X-Factor. He's looking to have a big season.

With their running back situation and loss of some key playmakers he is going to be virtually their whole offense. If he is forced to carry the ball 10 or more times a game I think it's going to be an issue keeping him healthy all season. What's their line looking like this year?

Many of them were certain that 2011 was their year. They were 8-3 going into that game and the Coastal was on the line.

It made 38-0 Bro that much more satisfying.

@Fightin_Gobbler

Go Hokies

Go Falcons

Oh yeah I forgot about them being confident for that game.

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I haven't.

And then watching the game play out was so much more sweeter.

Is da U bak?

If one of their QB's can be above average this season they probably win the division. They are definitely the most talented team. Of course, in the big picture, they are not bak.

The same "if" they've had for a while.

(add if applicable) /s

They've been more "talented" than Virginia Tech every year since 1978, not TIC. Clinton Portis and Santana Moss - 2 NFL pro bowlers, among others were on their 99 team that we beat 42-10.

I wish they actually were. The ACC is a better conference and we wouldn't have this perceived weak schedule year in and year out. The game is much more fun when VT and Miami are at their peak game.

What's
Important
Now

The fact that our defense was 77th in S&P last year, shows was a useless stat that is.

S&P actually has the best explanation of what was wrong with our defense last year because it tracks how bad we were at giving up explosive plays, one of the worst in the country in that component (it breaks down your offense and defense into key components and makes assessments on all of your individual defensive/offensive snaps as opposed to raw post-game totals). However, outside of Pitt & GT we were rarely bad consistently throughout an entire game. It was often a slow descent coupled with 2nd half offensive ineptitude or games where we just could not manage to stop giving up big, back-breaking plays.

The Notre Dame game is actually a great example: That was the most talented team we played last year and we hung tough with them, particularly defensively, for the first half. They had -5 rushing yards in the 3rd quarter when we gave up the 95 yard TD run. That play broke our back and suddenly they started popping more big plays on a defeated and tired defense. The point being, our defense was actually playing really well, right up until we made a huge mistake and it completely shifted the game. That was a problem all season, we would hang tough for portions (of most games) but something would snap and we'd lose all of our poise and the big-play causing mistakes started stacking up.

edit: Here's a little breakdown of how we landed at 77th per S&P.

Our ISOPPP+ component ranking was 126th - short summary: We gave up a shit ton of explosive plays.

IsoPPP: An explosiveness measure derived from determining the equivalent point value of every yard line (based on the expected number of points an offense could expect to score from that yard line) and, therefore, every play of a given game. IsoPPP looks at only the per-play value of a team's successful plays (as defined by the Success Rate definition above); its goal is to separate the explosiveness component from the efficiency component altogether. For more information about IsoPPP, click here.

Our Success Rate+ component ranking was 67th

Success Rate: A common Football Outsiders tool used to measure efficiency by determining whether every play of a given game was successful or not. The terms of success in college football: 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down.

There's a lot more to S&P that we could break down, but I believe these are the two most important components to explain VT's ranking in simpler terms and with some brevity.

That ND game is one that I just wanted to have a chance at again the next week. That one run completely changed the game after our best defensive half of the entire season. It's also what gives me hope that we have the players we need on defense just need the consistent execution and consistency is one of the biggest things that a player gains with experience.

(add if applicable) /s

Weren't we fairly healthy going into the Notre Dame game?

What's
Important
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They had -5 rushing yards in the 3rd quarter when we gave up the 95 yard TD run.... yep- we did on the way to getting our asses kicked. Good defense don't give up back breaking plays like we did. football is played on the field, not on spreadsheets.

Dude nobody is saying we had a good defense. 77th is not a good defense. It's suggesting that based on a sample size of a thousand(ish) defensive snaps for probably every team, there were defenses that were worse on a play by play basis, while acknowledging that we were one of the absolute worst teams in the country at giving up explosive plays.

The big bad spreadsheet (boo math!) is simply explaining that your take is oversimplified. It's agreeing our defense was bad, while also explaining what parts of the defense were the primary culprits where we failed most frequently.

Quite frankly, I am struggling to understand why you are taking so much issue with our defense being 77th per S&P as opposed to what, 90th? Which I believe was about what our defense was ranked in YPG or something.

Where was Alabama's defense ranked on S&P? 1st?

7th, with all aspects being ranked very high except... IsoPPP+ where they ranked 86th. The exact thing that cost them against Clemson was explosive plays.

Sounds like it hit the nail on the head.

Right. Bama, pretty good on defense. Played in the national championship game, didn't give up a ton of points or yards. Thought so, thanks.

I mean Bama gave up 44 points to Clemson which was worse than our average scoring defense. But I think their players were tired/injured/freshman/aliens.

Freshman aliens will really get after ya.

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

Yes, because the national champion Clemson Tigers offense is the same as Pitt and ODU. Yep.

Exactly. There were a lot of times that we gave up mentally even though we could definitely hang with them physically

I thought this many many times throughout the season

21st century QBs Undefeated vs UVA:
MV7, MV5, LT3, Josh Jackson, Jerod Evans, Michael Brewer, Tyrod Taylor, Sean Glennon, and Grant Noel. That's right, UVA. You couldn't beat Grant Noel.

Ehhh I think it was more of a physical issue. When you have depth, you can rotate starters out as frequently as necessary, and keep your guys from getting tired. When you don't, it's only a matter of time til your guys get gassed; either you rotate them out and replace them with a significantly lesser player, or you keep them in and they get tired.

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Probably some of that too. I'm saying that the mental part of the game definitely plays a part when you let a 95 yard run through you. These guys are in extremely good shape. I don't completely agree that 18-20 somethings don't have the fitness to play a whole game. Sure they may get gassed but, not being able to complete a game because of conditioning doesn't work for me. Just my opinion.

I mean, this is the strategy of every run-first team; our OL/RB's are going to chip away at your DL until they're tired, and then their going to pop a few big plays. I don't think our guys are out of shape; I just think the game is tiring (especially when the offense can't stay on the field). If you're opponent is in equally good shape, and they can rotate/rest their OL, but your DL gets no rest, the offense is going to win.

I get it; getting tired has a physical and mental aspect, but it's tough to decouple the two; is a player out of position because they're physically exhausted and getting lazy with their footwork, or are they out of position because they're mentally exhausted and not thinking? Probably both.

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just because you don't understand it doesn't make it useless

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

I understand it perfectly. It's useless- just like our 24th ranked 2015 recruiting class, that if you re-did it today, they would be ranked 124th.

What the hell kind of goalpost move is this

Someone must have read Chris Coleman's subscriber's only article on TSL about the 2015 recruiting class...

A class with 2 NFL players on it being ranked 124th is some crazy ass shit.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

But I think only one member of the class is a "contributor" (Holt)

We put the K in Kwality

This is a joke right?

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

It wasn't. I was referring to the 2015 recruiting class. I think the only member that is in the 2-deep is Holt. The other 2 on the team are Smith and Quillen. Fourth scholarship senior is Willis.

We put the K in Kwality

The 2015 class had: Settle, Gaines, Nijman, Adonis, edmundie, McClease, Mook and Hill on it. How can anyone look back at that class and rank it 124th?

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Beats me. I don't know where the 124th ranking came from. While it had a good top end, there were A LOT of misses.

We put the K in Kwality

Not more than normal according the Andy Bitters yearly work.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

You meant Hoyt, not Holt, right?

124th is a little strong. With a 75% wash out rate, how about 80th?

I don't think math is your strong suit. From that class we have numerous drafted NFL players, players on Tech's 2 deep and several who graduated and grad transferred to other programs.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

For shits and giggles, what do you think my non existent TSL handle is? Who do you think I am on there? This should be fun.

Will Stewart?

We put the K in Kwality

I understand it perfectly. It's useless

Don't get upset if any statistics or metrics you cite in the future are dismissed because some other messageboard personality decided they're useless.

just like our 24th ranked 2015 recruiting class, that if you re-did it today, they would be ranked 124th.

Does this mean you're going to withhold judgement on more recent recruiting classes until they've been around long enough to judge like this?

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

Does this mean you're going to withhold judgement

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

Cool story. I'm guessing Bud is not a look at defensive S&P and make adjustments based on that guy though. We'll see.

then what you're really arguing is that something is useless if you don't agree with its conclusion, or if its conclusion doesn't support your preconceived notion or "eye test"

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

I think the interesting part of the conversation is that a lot of the eye test opinions throughout and after the season were WTF with the big plays, and then Bill's analysis comes out post season and shows we were 6th worst in FBS in allowing them ahead of Coastal Carolina, Air Force, Georgia State, Western Michigan, and UCONN.

@hokie_rd

This is something I've noticed throughout the years as I've learned more and more about S&P+. As annoying as most people find the "eye test" to be, the advanced analytics are usually pretty in line with them. However, there are also many times where the eye test can be deceiving and the advanced analytics are there to correct and redirect attention/criticism to the proper channels. This is why I still find both things to be valuable, especially when used in tandem, and it's absolutely okay to use both of them to "check" the other when you find something questionable.

I still find both things to be valuable, especially when used in tandem, and it's absolutely okay to use both of them to "check" the other when you find something questionable.

BINGO. Bill C hates the tool/toolbox analogy; I think a better analogy is that it's like putting on a different pair of glasses; you're still looking at the same thing, but your observing it differently based on the lens you're using. Regardless, both are useful in this case.

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What do you use S&P for? What value does it have showing the 2018 VT defense as 77th in the country? What was our S&P split for the ODU game... without looking, I'm guessing shit sandwich-ish... which yards per play, points given up, total yards, the myriad of touchdowns would tell me as well. Any insight is appreciated. Thanks,

counting stats have context. some stats are descriptive, some are prescriptive. efficiency isn't effectiveness. so on and so forth.

your argument doesn't pass my eye test so i'm gonna label it useless and call it a day

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Did you forget your meds again? Or do you just need a snickers... I think you should get a snickers, it will make us all feel better.

come on man

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Is the snickers part offensive because of your dads diabetes?

i know it's a joke, but the first question (however rhetorical) is outta whack

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Plus, a decent line lost end Trevon Hill to injury just as he looked like he was ready for a breakout season.

Really?! Did he tear his common sense tendon?

We put the K in Kwality

Yes.

Terminal brain cramps?

We put the K in Kwality

We know the real story. Trevon Hill behaved like an a-hole. The Trojan Horse is a magical gift for the U. Good luck!

JP

i heard he was chafing

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

We got the opportunity to have a nice rebound this year, as long as we take advantage of the schedule.

VT '10, Born & Raised in the 804.
Rockin the Bakken.
β€œWhen life deals you lemons, pick β€˜em up and chuck β€˜em at Gritty.”

Really? No one is gonna let Billy C know what happened?

Plus, a decent line lost end Trevon Hill to injury just as he looked like he was ready for a breakout season.

Outspoken team cake advocate. Hates terrapins. Resident Macho Man Gif Poster. Distant cousin to Dork Magic. Frequently misspells words.

He was butt hurt and also ailed from a severe case of lackofjudgmentitis

"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

I heard he had a crack in his ass. Perhaps that's the injury being referenced.

(sorry. really bad joke from one of my high school coaches)