Tech Tidbits: The Band Keeps Playing in Tech's Game of OL Musical Chairs

ODU offers Tech a chance to sort out some outstanding issues, as the meat of the schedule looms.

[Mark Umansky]

There are a whole bunch of reasons it's a good thing the Hokies didn't play ECU this weekend, but, nevertheless, I'm left with one nagging doubt.

Believe me when I tell you that I had no great desire to see Tech play the Pirates in a rainy, sleepy noon game, given the two teams' history in those circumstances. And all that's to say nothing of safety concerns during then-Hurricane Florence — though I will note, from personal experience, that the weather in Blacksburg really was pretty pleasant on Saturday.

So, what's the harm, then, in skipping the game, besides depriving Hokies faithful of one precious week of football? Well, it strikes me that the team's lost one of its precious few chances to work out the kinks before the schedule really picks up in strength.

Far be it for me to discount ECU's talents, or ODU for that matter, but it strikes me that we might not know quite as much about this team as we thought we did after the FSU game.

The Seminoles' subsequent struggles, first against Samford then Syracuse, hardly invalidate what the Hokies pulled off in Tallahassee. Willie Taggart's bunch has plenty of problems, but the Noles are still plenty talented and Doak Campbell is a tough place to play in week one.

But the fact that the Noles have had such trouble scoring against inferior competition these last two weeks certainly puts the defense's performance in a different light. I'd definitely have felt better seeing that group get a chance to show its stuff against ECU, which has had a decent offense in the early going.

Nevertheless, Tech still has Saturday to button up any additional issues before traveling to Duke for a sneaky tough night game two weeks from now.

Let's get into it.

Musical Chairs on the OL Keeps Rolling

The offensive line shuffling has been perhaps the most interesting move by the offensive staff in the early going, and it seems a good bet we'll see more against ODU.

Consider that we have a burgeoning battle at left tackle between Christian Darrisaw and Silas Dzansi (which French so ably broke down earlier), Kyle Chung moving around to play all three different spots and Zachariah Hoyt's sudden snapping issues. The unit is deep enough to remain the sort of stabilizing force the coaches touted this offseason, but that's a lot more uncertainty than I expected heading into week four.

But that's all going according to plan, says OL coach Vance Vice. At Tuesday's media session, Vice said he fully plans to keep moving around players as often as possible — and even that he wanted to do similar shuffling against the Noles, even in such a big spot. More via Norm Wood of the Daily Press:

"Obviously, we see multiple fronts and different things like that and pressures," Vice said. "We've got to get prepared for those, but keeping our plan simple allows me to play as many people as I can when they're ready and when I trust them...If one guy is not getting it exactly right, I can shuffle a guy over or him over, and it allows me to have a little bit of false depth with guys being able to play multiple positions or play all the positions on one side or the other. We practice like that."

Vice has always hinted at that sort of philosophy, particularly in spring and fall camp, and he's truly putting it into practice this year.

For what it's worth, it seems Dzansi is set to get to the start against ODU (even Darrisaw seems to have the early favor of the staff) so the battle certainly continues there. Although it does seem that injuries have played into things a little bit recently, in Hoyt's case in particular.

This is where an extra game would've really helped Vice continue to sort things out on the line. It'd certainly be nice to know if the team has a center who can manage the exchange with Josh Jackson without any problems, even though we've seen scattered issues with both Kyle Chung and now Hoyt on that front.

Even still, Vice's tactics are working so far. Even with those snap issues (and the inexperience of some key starters), Wood points out that Tech "hasn't been called for a false-start penalty and has surrendered just three sacks."

Not too shabby. ODU will be another excellent chance to sort out the exact status of the line, I expect, before things get serious against Duke.

Walker Rests Up

Ordinarily, getting a bye week so early in the season isn't really necessary — after all, it's hard to have too many injuries when you've only played two games.

But it seems that the week off was good news for one very important starter on defense, at least.

The way Walker describes the injury, it sounds as if he'd have no trouble playing through it — and let's face it, in an ideal world, he'd only need to be in the game for the first quarter or two against ECU.

Still, it can't hurt that he wasn't playing on it and risking re-injuring it, particularly because DT is absolutely among the thinnest positions on the team at the moment.

The week off is probably good news for Vinny Mihota as well, who's doing some recovery of his own. He barely played at all against William and Mary, and I have to wonder just how he's faring these days.

Perhaps an intrepid reporter could inquire as to his status these days — or if Bud addressed this today and I missed it, I'd certainly like to know. It seems quite relevant indeed, as the meat of the schedule looms.

ODU's Real Value

Unless things really take a turn for the worse Saturday, the Monarchs don't seem set to offer a terrible amount of competition for the Hokies.

Tech is a 25-plus point favorite, depending on where you look. ODU's offense is ranked a thrilling 109th in the country in yards per game; the defense is even worse, at 119th in yards allowed. The Monarchs are still relatively new to FBS football, after all, becoming fully bowl eligible in 2015.

So why should the Hokies even bother with this one? Well, everybody in college football relies on early-season cannon fodder, but there's a more subtle reason at play.

Frankly, this series against ODU was among the savviest moves by the late Jim Weaver when it came to non-conference scheduling, and it was subsequently extended by Whit Babcock.

If you're going to play a smaller school for a long period of time, then thoughtful athletic directors will find ones with some upside, and ODU certainly fits the bill. With a hefty alumni base in the area, the game acts as a nice little reward to local Hokies — ODU has already announced a sellout for the game, no doubt due to Tech's influence.

Fuente even told reporters Monday he saw it as a "chance to prove that we do want to be a program that reaches out and says 'Thank you' to our fan base."

But, of course, it surely helps recruiting efforts too.

Fuente was dismissive of the notion Monday, pointing out that "I don't know that I've ever sat in front of a kid and he said I'm coming there because you have one game scheduled three years from now in my backyard," but it seems to me he's playing down the benefit of bringing the team to the 757.

It's not as if Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads are the most challenging locales for the coaches to recruit during the season, it sure does help to kill two birds with one stone if the Hokies can, say, invite prospects to a game without them needing leave home.

Surely it helps a little to pitch the chance to play at home to any Tidewater natives — Walker himself said he's looking forward to "actually going home to play, finally get some Tidewater air." But getting the coaches down to perhaps the most important region in the state is the real benefit, particularly if they can show off the dedication of the Hokie faithful who've arrived at Tech's first game in the region since 1986.

As far as non-conference opponents go, it surely sets ODU apart from a program like Liberty. Or, dare I say it, ECU.


Love that we have another full dress scrimmage before the dookies, we need the practice. Not sure if it helps or hurts yet that it is the wifey's alma mater...

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"


Even if it turns out the way I hope, I will cheer for one ODU touchdown so you can say "At least you scored more than FSU" so that way you can score too.

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

How about just two field goals?

Bleeding burnt orange and chicago maroon

two safeties?

🦃 🦃 🦃

Only if they were on purpose...

Bleeding burnt orange and chicago maroon

Even as a joke, unacceptable.

The answer to this question really depends on your wife's devotion to her school. If she's realistic, or doesn't care too much about football, you can sympathize with her a little, and she'll be fine. "Yes dear, I know we shouldn't have run the score up so much, but the 2nd and 3rd team players get pretty excited when they're in the game." If she's a blind-faith ODU cool-aid drinker, you have my sympathies. You're in a no-win situation. Tread carefully.

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.

I'm sure it's all part of the planning...but would be nice to put a few local HS recruits in front of some local VT alumni down there in Tidewater when the team comes to play ODU. The list of Hokie greats (and NFL players) from that area is lengthy, to say the least!


I agree with Fuente about the recruiting benefit. Gameday is going to be much too busy and hectic for the coaches to really do much recruiting and I don't think 757 players are going to start jumping on board for one "home" game every couple of years.

This one has a bigger impact on the fanbase. Getting the team in front of some people that may only know Hokie football from TV should build up some excitement and maybe convert some future Hokies. As long as we win, there is a lot of feel-good stories in playing at ODU.

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

drive for 25! hopefully folks that don't get to see their hokies play often (which might lead you to not want to send in a little funds for a team you only watch on TV) will get an upfront personal look at these hokies and we will put on a show good enough to have some folks that wouldn't normally reach down in their pockets for a little extra change.

twitter @smithey_daniel
head scout BSP scouting specializing in north florida/ southern GA highschool football scouting

This one has a bigger impact on the fanbase. Getting the team in front of some people that may only know Hokie football from TV should build up some excitement and maybe convert some future Hokies.

This is the recruiting benefit.

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

Exactly. Tech isn't hosting recruits for a road game. Its a cream puff game that isn't going to persuade anyone to come to Tech. If you can't get a recruit to travel to Blacksburg and see a real game and an official visit, how do you expect them to attend Tech? I find the recruiting value low at best. It's like saying the trip to Durham is a VT recruiting trip - and NC2VT probably has more guys from N.C. on the roster than the 757, or very close

Off topic but if you had to choose the best all around player, who would it be this season? I'm struggling too choose just one.


so far, id have to say eric kumah. a guy I never thought Id say that about. hes blocked, caught, ran. scored on offense and special teams, giving max effort and being an explosive player. granted its only 2 games in but that'd be my pick right now. haz, chris Cunningham, laddler would be my also receiving votes.

twitter @smithey_daniel
head scout BSP scouting specializing in north florida/ southern GA highschool football scouting

This would be a good topic, deserving of its own thread.

I would love it if the Hokies played Maryland and ODU every year. Dominate the teams in our recruiting hotbeds. Reward alums with easy road games to attend. Win-win.

We owe the Twerps payback for that embarrassment in 2013

VT '10, Born & Raised in the 804.
Rockin the Bakken.
“When life deals you lemons, pick ‘em up and chuck ‘em at Gritty.”

@ Maryland is a great idea. Like, you don't even need to do a home and home, just do an away game every couple years. That place would sell out with DC area Hokies. UMD fans don't even show up.

Outside it's night time, but inside it's LeDay

They would be a better home game, though, than some we have on the schedule. *cough* ECU *cough*

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

Question - can Tech officially invite players to an away game (and assist with getting them tickets). Tickets are still going for >$100 each and was just wondering the rules on recruiting at away games (besides tickets, can recruits come to the visitor sideline / locker room, etc.).

While a lot of recruits may want to come, its not the easiest ticket in the season and not sure odu and tech have the same recruiting targets where you'd see overlap. Just curious.

Well people say Fuente doesn't really answer questions he didn't hesitate here.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

I feel like Fuente hesitates to heap praise on the team publicly, but has no problem calling out shortcomings.

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

One might motivate, while the other might cause them to get a big head and ease up on the effort.

Well this is praise though right? It just seems like it is negative due to the tone and phrasing.