Virginia Tech's undefeated start to the 2020 season came to a screeching halt last week in Chapel Hill, with Mack Brown's explosive offense running roughshod over a depleted Hokies' defense. Rumors have swirled this week that Tech's inching closer to full strength, which bodes well for a primetime matchup with Boston College that figures to play a central role in dictating the course of the Hokies' remaining ACC slate.
In related news, it was another mediocre gambling week for the Halfwits crew, with both Joey and The Fifth Fuller limping to a 3-4 showing and Joey maintaining the narrowest of season leads.
Joey's Record Last Week (& Season Total): 3-4 (11-10-1)
The Fifth Fuller's Record Last Week (& Season Total): 3-4 (10-10-1)
Without further ado, on to the lines!
Over / Under: 20 rushing yards for Khalil Herbert in the first quarter
Joey: Perhaps no element of the Hokies' game plan against UNC was more maddening than the distribution of first quarter carries. With Khalil Herbert just a week removed from setting a new program record for all-purpose yards (358 vs. Duke), Brad Cornelsen opted to feature a heavy dosage of Braxton Burmeister plowing into the line early on against the Heels, leaving his star tailback with just a single first quarter carry.
Makes sense, right?
And the head-scratching start to the top-20 bout played out even worse on the scoreboard for the Hokies — North Carolina sprinted out to a 21-0 lead before Herbert got his second touch. I'd have to imagine that Corny did some
soul-searching self-scouting this week and will kick-off against BC with a renewed focus on getting Herbert the football. Not to go full armchair quarterback, but it seems like the obvious thing to do.
The Fifth Fuller: Not to question the thought process behind people who have done this for a living and get paid to do so, but it seems ol' Corny out-thunk himself on Saturday. Hmmm... Tech has a bell cow running back for the first time in a decade who appears to be able to run at will on opponents. BUT. What IF. We did something...DIFFERENT?
To echo Joey a bit, everyone makes mistakes. The key is to learn from them, and don't do the same dumb thing again. Because then people get on message boards on the internet and scream about your repeated mistakes and advocate for your unemployment. Not that Fuente probably cares what a bunch of galoots like us think, but for the sake of all our blood pressure, let's not go down that road. And what'd be REALLY cool is if Herbert hit the over on, like, the first carry. I'd be down with that. Over.
Over / Under: 9.5 Snaps for Braxton Burmeister
Joey: I'll admit, I feel bad for Braxton Burmeister. The former Oregon signal-caller performed admirably to start his career in Blacksburg, leading a program beleaguered by COVID-19 to an impressive 2-0 start. That said, whether it was professional reporting or a two-beer-deep eye test, it was clear who Virginia Tech's best quarterback was in Chapel Hill.
#Hokies offense Saturday, by quarterback:Braxton Burmeister: 36 plays, 186 yards, 5.17 yards per snap, 14 points.Hendon Hooker: 41 plays, 309 yards, 7.54 yards per snap, 31 points.— David Teel (@ByDavidTeel) October 12, 2020
2ND HALF PLAN:1. PUT HOOKER IN. 2. RUN THE DAMN BALL.3. TACKLE.— KABONGOBALL (@BUZZKETBALL_) October 10, 2020
Stunningly, Justin Fuente agreed in short order, publicly naming Hendon Hooker the starting quarterback heading into Boston College week. And while the head Hokie promised a two-quarterback rotation back in August, I think Fuente's seen enough of Burmeister in the passing game to know he needs to ride with Hooker. Under.
(P.S. Next week's line might be — More Snaps: Braxton Burmeister or Quincy Patterson. Now that's a barnburner.)
The Fifth Fuller: Braxton Burmeister was obviously enticed here, maybe not with promises of playing time, but that he'd get a shot to prove himself. Unfortunately, while it was clear that Hooker was (IS) the better quarterback, I don't think we've seen the end of this two-headed monster. This isn't even a Fuente thing; Virginia Tech has had trouble committing to a single quarterback at least since Marcus Vick started turning Beamer's eye away from future ACC Player of the Year Bryan Randall. I'm not trying to be contrarian here; I think this is offensive strategery. Play your alternate quarterback who runs a slightly different offense to force every team on your schedule to plan for both of them. Now, like Joey says above, I'd MUCH prefer they give game time to the heir apparent to Mr. Hooker and implement the QP4 battering ram/fade offense as the change-up, but nobody listens to me. And honestly, Burmeister wasn't BAD on Saturday, he just wasn't as good as Hooker.
I think Burmeister definitely plays, and while it's iffy that he gets to 9.5 plays, that's putting one decent drive together. Over.
Most Receptions: Tre Turner, James Mitchell, or Tayvion Robinson
Joey: / Inserts shrug emoji
This line's been won with 4 or less receptions in each of the first 3 weeks, a strong indicator of a) Tech's democratic nature and b) Hendon Hooker being sidelined. With Hooker firmly back in the picture, I expect the passing game to become more efficient this week (let's strive for 'Better than Mike Leach'). That said, who the benefactor of that improved efficiency will be remains to be seen. In the spirit of being a stubborn gambler that can incessantly (and repeatedly) whine about things, I'll die on the Tre Turner hill and go with #11 for the fourth straight week.
The Fifth Fuller: This is such a crap shoot every week. Watching some film on BC (Joe's training me up to fill in for French as needed) it seems they are softest in the middle. They are supposed to have a couple of decent corners, which shouldn't really prove a hindrance to Mr. Turner, but I am used to seeing the Hooker offense involve a fair bit of trickeration in the passing game. So I'm seeing some of the crazy misdirection that involves throwing back across the field to Mitchell and a bunch of rub routes to free guys up underneath across the middle. Not to mention plenty of bubble screens! So I think it's going to continue to be Mitchell and Tayvion Robinson targeted the most. Tayvion came through for me once again, so let's keep rollin them hot dice!
Over / Under: 30 points allowed by Virginia Tech's defense
Joey: Welcome to the gig, J-Ham! How are you liking your new role?
So yeah...Hamilton's debut as defensive coordinator could have gone better. But with Divine Deablo likely to return, Jermaine Waller appearing healthy, and a less dynamic opponent in Boston College, week 2 of the J-Ham era should go better than the first. The Eagles have eclipsed the 30-mark just once (and needed overtime against Pitt to do it), so I'll go under here thinking that a healthier Tech defense returns to somewhat serviceable form.
The Fifth Fuller: Dammit, Joey, you stole my line about BC topping 30 points. Looking at the other side of the ball, there are clearly going to continue to be some growing pains as the Hokies adapt to a new defensive staff and philosophy. Are those pains going to involve Sam Howell, Dazz Newsome and those two stud running backs anymore this season? Thank the baby Jesus no. And while, yes, the secondary has yet to field their full complement of players this season, they haven't looked like world beaters against average offenses like Duke and NC State. So I am super iffy on this one. But, since Waller is back, Deablo is coming back and hopefully the Hokie linebackers have spent this week figuring out how to stop running AWAY from the play every down, I'm super confident that BC won't put up more than a touchdown per quarter. Maybe.
Dealer's Choice: Name Tech's Uniform Combo
Joey: The Hokies broke out the orange britches for the first time of 2020 against UNC, and based on the subsequent performance, I don't think we'll be seeing them for a while. (Old people rejoice! Millennials complain! Uniforms are fun!)
A return to Lane Stadium figures to bring the traditional maroon jerseys back, so the question here revolves around helmet and pants options. #ALLMAROONEVERYTHING is a decent bet with the 8 pm kickoff, although I think Tech opts to wait for Nov. 14 against Miami (and December home matchups with Clemson and UVA) to break out Twittersphere's favorite combo. That leaves white-maroon-white and maroon-maroon-white as the main options to pick from (ignoring Hokie Stone and Foghorn atrocities from years past), so I'll go with the old standby: maroon helmets, maroon jerseys, white pants.
The Fifth Fuller: A gambling man utilizes all of his resources. What Joey didn't look at is the schedule, which clearly states that Saturday is the ORANGE EFFECT GAME. How would it look if the Hokies took the field in Maroon while ten's of
thousandsfans look on in their Orange Effect shirts which are...um, orange? Now, not to say it hasn't been done before...in 2018, the Hokies took to the field in the maroon-maroon-white combo for Orange Effect against the Lesser Tech and promptly lost. While I don't think anyone in the equipment room is brave enough to throw out orange jerseys after Saturday (or, God forbid, orange pants), I think the orange helmets are going to be making an appearance. Put me down for orange helmets, maroon jerseys and, because it's Saturday night, maroon pants. #ALMOSTMAROONEVERYTHING baby!
Disclaimer: This column was written on Wednesday evening, prior to the official uniform release on social media (obviously).
The Joey Coogan Memorial "Navy Hits the Over" Lock of the Week.
Joey: Navy overs are back!
And while a Navy/ECU matchup with a total set below 60 is certainly enticing, I'm going with Tennessee/Kentucky over 46 this week. Tennessee was averaging 33 points per game before running into Georgia last week (and 21 points against Nick Saban's stepson isn't bad!), and Kentucky's power running game should be effective enough to keep pace with Jeremy Pruitt and Co. This feels like a sneaky good SEC game to keep an eye on, and I think it cruises into the 50's. Over.
The Fifth Fuller: I am normally not inclined to recommend anything positive about the 'Eers, so take this more as recommending something negative about Kansas. The Hawks have been abysmal this year, Les Miles is recovering from COVID-19, and somebody stole their best running back from last year (IT WAS THE HOKIESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!). While a 22-point line against a conference opponent feels really scary to recommend, do you remember when the Hokies used to get to play Rutgers every year? Well, I'm not saying WVU is the Hokies, but the 'Eers got to play Rutgers every year, also. And they beat the pants off of those poor Jersey boys, just like they're gonna do to Kansas on Saturday.
Spread: Virginia Tech -11.5
Joey: I don't understand this line. With the Hokies battered and bruised after allowing UNC to rack up 656 yards of offense, I expected Tech to be a touchdown or less favorite this week. So when the line came out at 11, I figured it'd be bet down within a day or two. But nope — it's actually crept up a half-point!
Boston College feels like the obvious play here, but it's such a rat line that I think I have to go with Tech.
P.S. I also don't hate Boston College moneyline +340. Take that for what it's worth.
The Fifth Fuller: I keep picking the Hokies to cover and they keep NOT doing it. Do I think the Hokies are going to win? Yes. Do I think they have the horses on offense to score buckets of points? Yes. Do I think they have the studs on defense to keep BC from scoring only slightly fewer buckets? Nope. I would wager on BC keeping it close. But at the rate things are going, I'm pretty consistently wrong, so let's hope my wrongness SHINES THROUGH on this one!
Disclaimer: Some of these are real betting lines, but many of them are fake and none of this is real advice that should be taken seriously.