Hokies Land at No. 32 in 2020 Preseason SP+

Both No. 17 North Carolina and No. 23 Miami rank ahead of Virginia Tech (No. 32) in the initial ranking. Right now SP+ would predict the Hokies as a slight favorite over Miami and about a touchdown underdog at the Tar Heels because of home field advantage.


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However I feel hesitant to give anything too much serious thought that has Florida State ranked 26th.

Gobble Till You Wobble

Florida State and Miami have been consistently perplexing for SP+ the last few years. Which while no algorithm is flawless (hence Bill's constant tweaking to make it better and more predictive), it probably says more about how incredibly poorly run those two teams have been the last few years, and how aggressively they've underperformed their talent and returning production.

They bak

Now finish up them taters; I'm gonna go fondle my sweaters.

I'm curious to see the turnaround at FSU under Norvell.

I'm curious to see the turnaround at VT under Fuente.

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VT Football: It'll get after ya!

Proud Hokie since 2004.


aren't we all!

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller

Hehe, which ex-Memphis coach will get there first...stay tuned to find out!

Reach for Excellence!

VT Football: It'll get after ya!

Proud Hokie since 2004.

Every year it seems we are totally wrong about which games will decide the division because #CoastalChaos, but this year definitely seems like a more clear cut race between VT, UNC, and Miami. UNC returns the majority of their offense, a great recruiting class to accent their coaching staff which has clearly given that program at least an initial boost, and most importantly a legitimately great young QB who just re-wrote all the true freshman records set by Trevor Lawrence the previous year. Miami has long been the most talented team in the division, and while I do not trust their coaching staff, they brought in a truly dynamic playmaker in D'Eriq King at QB. We obviously know our pitch. This is the most cohesion and experience we've come into a new season with in a very long time on both sides of the ball. The OL and defensive cohesion/experience in the same year is particularly rare. Pair that with two proven returning playmakers at WR and the first QB who seems to be running our offense as intended since 2016, and there is a lot of reason to think we should win the Coastal this year.

So pretty much it will come down to Duke vs. GT


GT is going to be a growing problem in the Coastal over the next few years. I don't think they will compete for the title next year but I would bet they trip up a contender.

They do seem to be finally gaining some momentum with southeast recruits the way a P5 school in Atlanta should.

That's what happens when your base offense features at least two WR's and the forward pass.

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Do they have TEs now too? You gotta have TEs.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

Everyone loves tight ends

Agree. They have OL that can back pedal now, and a couple of TE's. A southern school with a post 1978 offense could be lethal on the recruiting trail.

I still think we are in for some QB controversy. There was some serious sentiment that had Burmeister been eligible last year, he would have started. I think he really challenges for the job of what we've been hearing is correct. I'm all for the best man winning the job, but it would be nice to have some real continuity at that position for the first time in Fuente's tenure here from one season to the next.

This is my biggest concern going into the season. After seeing how CJF stuck/chose Willis gives me no faith he's going to make the right choice. He pitched BB to come here, as he did RW and it almost feels like he wants it to work or feels indebted to them/him (since BB hasn't taken the field and I'm speaking solely hypothetically). My advice to JF is go in with the mindset its Hookers to lose rather than saying he has to win it. This puts a fire under both of them. Hooker has to keep his game high and Braxton has to fight.

He pitched BB to come here, as he did RW and it almost feels like he wants it to work or feels indebted to them/him

Or maybe he's just trying to build depth at the most important position on the field?

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I get that. But what does that have to do with me being nervous about him picking the right QB? He clearly picked wrong last year and went with the "building depth guy" when the right guy was sitting on the sidelines.

I would disagree that 'he clearly picked wrong last year.' I don't want to rehash this argument, but TL;DR - We don't know what Fuente/Corny saw day-in/day-out during practices last year, I believe they probably made the best pick they could've given the knowledge they had. To be honest, I don't think we give them enough credit for the guts to pull RW after 4 games.

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Regardless, I hope we can see a QB execute the full compliment of plays in this offense next year. Willis could throw bombs effectively but that was about it. Hooker gave us a spark in the run game and was good at throwing off misdirection and with simplified reads, but as we saw in the UVA and UK games, he struggled immensely at times throwing from the pocket and didn't look comfortable. I'm hopeful he can take the next step, but we haven't really had a QB who could run the offense at full throttle so to speak since Evans.

This. ^^^ I would submit to everyone that if Ryan Willis makes just 2 more correct reads in the opener vs. BC last year, he throws for 450+ yards, 6 touchdowns, and we're all calling him a Heisman darkhorse. Even if some of us were on record saying Hooker should start over QP/Willis based upon what we had seen to that point, it doesn't mean that the coaches made the wrong decision based upon performances in the spring/summer practices leading up to the first game.

"That's it guys. Let's get out of here. That cold drink's waitin' on us, let's go." - Mike Young after win no. 300.

clear cut race

between VT, UNC, and Miami

LOL only in the coastal is it considered 'clear cut' when literally half the division is the running for the title.

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Right. A 3-way race is a huge improvement from the usual "what if everyone goes 4-4?" scenarios that are still in play in late October some seasons lol.

I have this nightmare of a feeling that if one of our wide receivers gets hurt, our season implodes before our eyes and we're staring at 8-4/7-5 again. I really hope some of these young bucks are studs and that they have picked things up quickly a la Eddie Royal, Cam Phillips, Isaiah Ford.

"That's it guys. Let's get out of here. That cold drink's waitin' on us, let's go." - Mike Young after win no. 300.

Yes, and keep in mind... we didn't need Hazelton, Grimsley, Patterson, or Pickney... nah. We are loaded.

Yep. Said this elsewhere, but if Turner were to get hurt (again), then our leading receiver is a 5'10" sophomore slot receive with 400 career yards. NotGreatBob.gif

"That's it guys. Let's get out of here. That cold drink's waitin' on us, let's go." - Mike Young after win no. 300.

Losing Hazelton and losing the depth at the same time hurts. I think Keene might be a bigger loss from the roster for 2020 than the other three WRs combined.

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

One more time...

Hazelton left on his own.

Grimsley has family health issues he's been dealing with for a while and would have stayed if the situation was different.

Patterson is a R-JR with 27 catches for 269 yards and 2 TDs for his 4 year career at Tech. (Nothing against him, those are his stats.)

Pickney... From what's been put out there, he has great measurables but didn't pick up the system. Sounds like he may have been a RATINGS miss.

So please, please

but at the same time, if you gave me the hypothetical option to lose two of them or four of them, i wouldn't pick four.

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

Damn you and your logic! lol

Dare I say it's better than losing six? Yeah, I know, that's a crap argument.

I think there's concern that Hazel and Pickney leaving is Fuente's fault (most assume it's a personality clash, and a failure to develop a 4-star player, respectively).

Whatever the case, there's definitely room for a level-headed take that lives somewhere between "We don't need this kids, the team is better without them!!!" and "Fuente ran off star players, he's a grumpy old man with no social skills who kids these days hate!!!"

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Roll your eyes all you want.. we have no depth and are "young" at WR. Another excuse year for that room.

I hate to break this to you, but we don't have any receivers who've been here for 10 years. Such is the life of college football.

Maybe we should wait to actually see how the guys on the team perform on the field before we pass judgment on them.

But feel free to piss and moan in every thread if you must. It seems like "young" is your excuse to do that.

You are missing the point entirely. In case you missed it, We have been an average team for 8 seasons. Average teams have less margin of error, less depth. In case you have also missed this, we have had a lot of team turnover the last 3-4 years as well. Whether or not we trot out 5 RS senior receivers, or the guys that have experience with our coaches, in our weight room, in our playbook are Jerry Rice or CJ Carroll, inexperience hurts an average team, lack of depth hurts an average team. VT football is not at a point where we can plug RS Freshman into a game an expect them to perform like a Damon Hazelton or even a Hezy Grimsley. It will impact wins and losses next year, given the state of the program. this has NOTHING to do with hating on the young kids that are here, writing them off, etc- NOTHING. I never said anything like that. Look at the big picture please.


You are missing the point entirely.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Why, instead of writing ""young" at WR. Another excuse year for that room." don't you write things like this in the first place? We would love for you to do this. The above is a good post and brings something to the conversation. Thank you for writing it.

BTW, it's all of the snarky quips that make it so hard to engage with you. How would you think it would go over if someone said every first year Cadet was a shitbag pogue who didn't have any business being at our university much less an officer in the military because they're ate up like a soup sandwich when they first stepped on campus? Because that's pretty much how the majority of your comments come off.

Literally no one is saying that. This is the definition of a straw man argument.

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LOL. Many people are literally saying that.


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

Awesome. I pay for this content. Of course there have been no threads or comments on Hazelton leaving. Appreciate it. Thanks

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

What does this even mean...?

In the Hazelton transfer thread French literally called Hazelton leaving "addition by subtraction". It is the sixth comment on the page. Maybe not verbatim what DC posted, but the intent is pretty much the same, that we are better off without him.


"Addition by subtraction. Whatever the loss in talent and productivity, the culture is better and now there is an avenue for Pinckney and Bowick to step up."

And Pinckney is gone now, too.

"Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our heart with tolerance."
-Stan Lee

"Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing."
-Ron Swanson

"11-0, bro"
-Hunter Carpenter (probably)

and bowick is evidently still recovering/strengthening from a major knee injury

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

Turner, Smith, Robinson... Corny says he needs 6 he can trust... there is a gap there. Big

DC is 100 on this point. Ya'll leave him alone.

WADR Patterson and Pinckney were inconsequential reserves who combined for 6 catches last year.

Grimsley had 10 catches...Blackshear with 29 catches in only 4 games (and 80 catches in his career), is arguably an upgrade.

Will definitely miss Hazelton in the red zone, but it is not a "big" gap.

we don't even know if blackshear is going to be eligible for sure yet.

i disagree with dcwilson (mostly his delivery) as much as anyone else around here, but fact of the matter that there's a lot of unknowns at WR now

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

Agree to disagree.

Vice-Hazelton is significant, why they'll get a transfer for that role if they can.

The combined contribution of the rest is negligible, easily replaced if not exceeded. Grimsley is a proven backup but after ODU, Grimsley and Patterson combined for 5 catches for 36 yards and 1 carry for 3 yards. Pinckney left with the Hazelton and Grimsley transfers already announced and no penalty for going thru spring practice and then deciding; I don't think it's much of a risk to draw some inferences there.

I think you're focusing on who we lost (and that they didn't provide a lot of production) and the point they're trying to make really is that we just don't have a lot of actual knowns at WR.

Absolutely correct; my context is the SP+ article(s) and the "gap" left by the departures.

This is just a guess, but unless Bowick is going to be able to make the big step and take over as our top red zone threat, I think you'll see Mitchell getting the Hazelton treatment when we need the big bodied receiver.

Part of me actually thinks if Gallo is as good as i think he is, you'll see Mitchell almost strictly used at wideout.

Gobble Till You Wobble

I feel - not bad about WR, and I've wondered about it. You (and DCWilson) are absolutely right, we do have a lot of unknowns. I think part of the reason I feel not as bad about it (and this may be true for others as well), is it always seems like we have someone step up. Tre stepped up big last year as a true freshman, and we've had other freshmen step up as well. To DCWilson's point, you can't really count on that (and experience would be better, especially getting a rapport between the QB and receivers). Maybe part of it is the feeling that if people don't want to be here, we're better off without them anyway? Maybe some of it is how a lot of recent transfers out haven't been productive where they've landed? Maybe some of it is thinking that we've recruited a lot of receivers so odds seem to be that a couple will step up? But ultimately, if we're objective about it, it's really hard to deny that there is very little (in terms of numbers of people) known quantities at WR, and if other teams just have to cover Tre and we get not much production out of the other receivers, not sure what that means? We have to put in the triple option until we get some other receivers? Sorry, couldn't help myself on that one.

...which is one comment followed up by a ton of replies in disagreement, and is only about one of the receivers (not the same thing). I don't know what else to say if it's not obvious this is arguing in bad faith.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Jet Sweep

How does a model that uses advanced real time statistics do a projection?

Edit: I should have read article first, I was thinking of the wrong thing.

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." - K

Please read this before making a snarky comment about how SP+ sucks because some anecdotal issue you've taken with it at a glance.

Each offseason, after the recruiting season has been finalized and the first major wave of transfer portal entries has come and gone, I publish preliminary SP+ ratings for the coming season. I base these projections on three primary factors, weighted by their predictiveness:

1. Returning production. Last week we published my initial returning production rankings for 2020, based on players graduating, leaving for the pros, transferring, etc. Estimating improvement or regression based on these percentages and applying it to last year's SP+ ratings accounts for more than 50% of the overall numbers below.

2. Recent recruiting. After determining how much of last year's team is being brought back, the next step is to determine the caliber of the players who will be filling in the missing returning production. To do that, I use a weighted mix of recent recruiting rankings. They primarily pull from the past two recruiting classes, but I have begun to incorporate older classes as well, to a lesser degree. No matter what the "stars don't matter" crowd will tell you, recruiting rankings are extremely predictive, and these projections are more effective because of them.

3. Recent history. While last year's SP+ ratings are taken into account with the returning production estimates above, I've found that involving previous years' performances as well gives us a nice way of estimating overall program health. It stands to reason that a team that has played well for one year is less likely to duplicate that effort than a team that has been good for years on end (and vice versa), right? Recent history accounts for less than 10% of the overall projections; it is a minor factor, but the projections are better with it than without.

Using this mix for last year's projections was incredibly effective, as evidenced by SP+'s 58% performance against the spread in the first five weeks of last season. Hopefully this year's will be as effective.

I will update these numbers in August, once further transfers, injuries and more can be taken into account. But here are the estimates to date.

A reminder on SP+: It's a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency. I created the system at Football Outsiders in 2008, and as my experience with both college football and its stats has grown, I have made quite a few tweaks to the system. SP+ is intended to be predictive and forward-facing. That is important to remember. It is not a rΓ©sumΓ© ranking that gives credit for big wins or particularly brave scheduling -- no good predictive system is. It is simply a measure of the most sustainable and predictable aspects of football. If you're lucky or unimpressive in a win, your rating will probably fall. If you're strong and unlucky in a loss, it will probably rise.

Bill C even does a section at the bottom where he talks about where his model currently differs from some of the conventional wisdom heading into next season if you want to read that.

Recent history. While last year's SP+ ratings are taken into account with the returning production estimates above, I've found that involving previous years' performances as well gives us a nice way of estimating overall program health.

This is really interesting, and relatively new IIRC. I feel like this is a good way to account for coaching/administrative talent - teams with good coaches scout well, game plan well, and make adjustments well - these things typically wouldn't show it up in a preseason predictive model, but I think accounting for previous seasons' success would do so fairly effectively, the one exception being situations where there is a major coaching change.

Using this mix for last year's projections was incredibly effective, as evidenced by SP+'s 58% performance against the spread in the first five weeks of last season.

This is just stupid impressive. Start gambling fam.

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TL;DR, but SP+ is garbage


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

I've got to say 58% for an algorithm is not-great-bob.gif to say lightly...

I always assumed it was Something close to at least 70, maybe after week 5 it's higher? I'd hope so.

Otherwise there's virtually 0 reason to put stock in it anymore than, jobus off the cuff top ten - which will be coming out next week.

I'm glad I wasn't the only one thinking 58% isn't much better than a 50-50 coin toss...

58% against the spread is incredible. It's not saying it's at 58% for predicting outright winners...

See, that's why I have you guys to set me straight!

I clearly don't seem to underStand what it's saying then...

So it's saying when it bets against what the spread suggests it's 58% accurate and 100% when it bets with the spread?

I thought it was saying it gets the actual spread correct 58% of the time?

It's saying that if you used SP+ predictions to bet against real gambling spreads you would be winning 58% of the time. This would apply If you used it to bet on all the games predicted in that time frame specified in the article. I don't know what his outright win percentage is with SP+ Predictions, but it's much higher than 58%.

This would have had you making money in line with good professional gamblers who do this for a living. It's a strong number.

It depends on sample size, because you could make 5 bets from your gut and win all 5, but that doesn't mean if you bet on 500 games you'd be able to replicate that.

Edit: I just re-read your comment. There are two sides of every spread. if you used his predictions you would be using them to pick between (for example) VT -4 or UNC +4 based on the SP+ predicted scores. Betting against the spread is basically making your game pick against the house, which is setting a line that makes it harder to pick than just picking a straight up winner by forcing you to pick VT winning by more than 4 or UNC winning outright or losing by less than 4.

I just made that line up. I don't remember what the actual spread was for that game.

For a 58% wining percentage, one would make 52.2 cents to the dollar bet.

For example, let's assume someone made 100 bets at $10 each for $1000 and won 58% of their bets. Payout is typically -110 (meaning you make 90% of what you bet, house keeps 10%), and thus at 58% win rate, you can calculate payout as follows: $10(.9)(.58)*100 = $522 for every $1000 you bet.

Now, that's without even weighting the various games. I'm sure the algorithm provides some weight of prediction (i.e., the Vegas line is more accurate on some games and less accurate on others). So, these results can be even better if weighted.

πŸ¦ƒ πŸ¦ƒ πŸ¦ƒ

Oh Bill C with his numbers, and bias, and witchcraft, and accuracy.


Penn State is about an 11-point favorite according to SP+.

I've had my issues with SP+, but that's right about where I'd have the line set, too. Hard to argue with much of these right now.

Sounds about right. VT's program is not at a point to where we can compete with Penn State.

I really hope that this comment does not age well. But I fear you are correct. Ricky Slade leaving PSU tells me that he is at least second, possibly third on their depth chart, and that is a troubling proposition. Maybe their O-line regresses and our offense continues to improve. I remember the days when JoPa refused to play VT, likely because he considered VT too insignificant to give a home and home, even after the Vick years. Would love to see the good guys give them a big fat "L" and send them home making excuses.

VTCC '86 Delta Company, Hokie in Peru, Former Naval Aviator, Former FBISA, Forever married to my VT87 girl. Go VT!

We weren't supposed to come even close to tOSU either. Our team now is much better than that team. I'm hoping that this is the kick off to many elite wins by CJF and company.

Sure, any given Saturday but they will be heavily favored in that game. I don't see a blowout at Lane, but we have a ways to go to get to their level overall

Regarding the osu win, I think the bear front defense deployed against j.t. Barrett had something to do with our leveling the odds against them at their stadium. They were out of sorts all night in that game

Is it really? Maybe more experienced I would agree, and I would take our current OL group all day over 2014 for sure. I guess I would give Hooker a slight edge over Brewer just based on overall ability. But I would probably take Ford/Phillips/Bucky over Turner/Robinson/Mitchell, our RB depth was way better in 2014, and I would take just about every position group on D over now maybe with the exception of LB.

Yup. That year's team had good personnel that underperformed for multiple reasons.

Ability wise Hooker has a lot of talent, but Brewer had that it factor that helped him a lot. This isn't to say Hooker can't come out and will a win or two based on shear determination, but it has yet to be seen as he is still young.

Edit after rereading your comment, sounds like we agree. I hope we can compete, but don't think we can.


I'm just going to have to come to terms with the fact that I'm going to be dead before Miami is no longer ranked solely on hype.

Looking forward to them climbing up to #5 in the nation and hearing about the U being back going into week 4 after they beat Temple, Wagner and UAB.

In the terms of media based rankings I totally agree with this. Their 2017 campaign was one of the most overrated and overhyped narratives I can remember in college football in a long time. That team was not nearly as good as their record suggested.

However, this particular ranking doesn't include hype or media narrative.

Echoing Chris, but SP+ doesn't account for 'hype' - it's recruiting rankings and returning production.

That said, Miami has talent every where, and they do every year. You'll have to wait for back to back classes outside the top 15 and/or a decisive favorite in the coastal before you see Miami get no preseason love.

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We always 'seem to' do better as the underdog, so I certainly don't mind being rated this low.

We always do better as the underdog

I doubt this is actually true. I think expectations are lower when we're the underdog, thus, its easier to meet those expectations.

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Better now?

I guess so. My thought is that the market's misevaluation of our team (either way) doesn't impact the quality of our team. Would you rather start out at 10 and finish at 15, or start at 30 and finish at 25? The latter feels better because we've exceeded expectations, but from an absolutely standpoint, the former is obviously preferable.

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I always seem to find that VT plays up or down to our opponent, at least in the last decade. If it's a good team we manage to give them a game. if it's a mediocre team we also look mediocre. and when it's a shit team we play like a hot mess.

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Seems legit, we are definitely belong way outside the top 25 until proven otherwise

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:
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Howell is going to keep UNC preseason ranked as long as he is there. He is going to be a thorn in our side for the next two years. I think we have a good thing going and should outperform this ranking.

I am not sure what to do with my hands now

I think they will score a ton of points. Biggest question for me is will they get any stops?

rankings shmankings. go win some damn ball games!

I do love SP+ and the work Bill C does though. I think it's pretty cool and as difficult as it is to predict what a bunch of teenagers will do on any given Saturday he does a pretty fair job of giving us a sense of what to expect.

I'm looking forward to the days VT features more prominently on these lists. Hopefully they're coming sooner than later.

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller


Errbody knows the hoos run the Coastal now. They'll even erect a new statue for their next QB, after Perkins' is constructed.

VT '10--My avatar will flip, when things are right at VT again.

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Romanes Eunt Domus

VT still has a team that can win 9-10 games given the state of the Coastal. Louisville and Pitt (both away) are the two ACC games that scare me the most on the schedule.

I feel okay about the defense - but the offense has the chance to make a bigger leap in year-2 under Hooker. Quite a few touches are up for grabs with McClease, Keene, and Hazelton gone and some dynamic players like King, Turner, Robinson, Mitchell etc. have a chance to make a big leap.

Personally - I think the potential upside of King, Turner, and Mitchell (on pure talent/ability) are all greater than the achieved max of McClease, Hazelton, and Keene.

Seeing what guys like J.R. Walker, Payoute, Bowick, Gallo, and the transfers can do will be fun. I also desperately want a Quincy power-back package with him and Hooker running a dual QB zone/read game.

"Dick to Hyman? DICK TO HYMAN!" - Guy in Lane Stadium crowd when Richard Johnson hit Josh Hyman on reverse pass in 2004.

Quite a few touches are up for grabs with McClease, Keene, and Hazelton gone and some dynamic players like King, Turner, Robinson, Mitchell etc. have a chance to make a big leap

i think too many are overlooking this guy


I hope Blackshear and Herbert can bridge the gap for some of the young-guys. Blackshear's versatility is intriguing - having a full offseason with the playbook and HH will help.

"Dick to Hyman? DICK TO HYMAN!" - Guy in Lane Stadium crowd when Richard Johnson hit Josh Hyman on reverse pass in 2004.

More like too many are worried the NCAA will make it three in a row - Nolley, for academic concerns that of course never materialized, Brock Hoffman for medical reasons that should have been a slam dunk but weren't, and now Blackshear with the tried and true coaching change reason that should make his request a simple rubber stamp.

History is not on our side.

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about a touchdown underdog at the Tar Heels because of home field advantage.

Unless it rains

Ut Prosim Ad Dei Gloriam

Doesn't even have to be a hurricane, a tropical storm would be perfectly acceptable.