Sorry, no witty intros this week. With the pain of a 23-16 loss to Wake Forest still fresh in our hearts and minds, the only silving lining from a miserable Saturday afternoon of college football was two positive gambling weekends from the Halfwits boys (and my narrow but steady lead remaining intact).
Joey's Record Last Week (& Season Total): 4-3 (19-16-1)
The Fifth Fuller's Record Last Week (& Season Total): 4-3 (16-18-1)
Without further ado, on to the lines!
True / False: Khalil Herbert leads the Hokies in rushing
Joey: Last week's clunker against Wake marked the first time Herbert failed to pass the century mark in maroon and orange, and was just the second time this year he didn't lead the Hokies in rushing. So while this line may seem a bit reactionary on the surface, there could also be legitimate concern about the longer-term prospects of the Tech offensive attack after last week's showing. (Or at the very least, a question as to whether or not they can sustain their early season breakneck pace).
The Demon Deacons loaded the box with 8 early and often on Saturday afternoon, all but forcing Hendon Hooker to beat them through the air. And Hooker responded with a mixed bag of poor reads in the running game and 3 picks in the throw game, severely limiting a Tech offense that racked up 433 yards of offense but mustered together just 16 points. That defensive game plan seems to be the best strategy against the 2020 version of the Hokies, and certainly turned out to be a winning strategy for the Deacons.
And while Louisville may try to deliver an encore, I think they'll lack the horses to do so (Boogie Basham ain't coming through that door). True.
The Fifth Fuller: Ay dios mio. What the hell happened last week. For the first time, it seemed like Hooker was asked to carry much more of the rushing load and there also seemed, to me at least, that there was a much larger distribution of carries to Blackshear. Whether this was part of the game plan going in or a reaction to what Wake was effective at shutting down, I don't know. Preparing for this week, the Hokies see a Louisville defense that has literally given up more rushing yards every single week except once, when they held Pitt to 156 yards after giving up 160 the previous week to Miami. Florida State rounded things off by gashing the Cards for 265 yards despite getting blown out of the water. So what does that trend spell for the Hokies? Well, a recurring theme over the last couple of years, if something is broken on your team, go play the Hokies and they'll fix you right up. Am I expecting for the Hokies to hit their 300 yard goal this week? I'm hoping, but not expecting. Do I think Corny will watch the tape from last week, remember he's got a potential national award winning running back in his backfield that he should give more than 16 touches to on offense? God, I REALLY hope so. True.
Over / Under: 0.5 Combined Snaps for Braxton Burmeister and Quincy Patterson
Joey: Let me start by saying I have no idea what to expect at quarterback this week. While the Hokies' offensive ineptitude may have overshadowed this interesting pre-game tidbit from Andy Bitter, I think it's relevant for the line at hand.
Some pre-game lineup observation for the #Hokies: - Tenuta at RT, Nester at RG, Turner back at WR. - Murray and Strong at CB. Deablo and Taylor at S- Quincy was with the 2nd team at QB.- Thompson and Chatman 2nd team CB. Jenkins and Matheny at S.— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) October 24, 2020
Admittedly, this could have been gamesmanship from Fuente or Bitter just needing a new pair of binoculars, but I was stunned that Quincy seemingly surpassed Burmeister for QB2 against Wake. My likely reading too much into it (but somewhat hopeful) conclusion is three-fold:
- Fuente knows he needs to kick-start the passing game to avoid being painfully one-dimensional on offense.
- Fuente knows Burmeister probably isn't the guy to do that.
- If Hooker isn't that guy either (maybe he practiced like crap heading into Wake?), Fuente may be willing to give QP4 more run and go full tilt with an offense of inverted veer and deep fades on the perimeter.
Probably seems crazy, but hey, it also doesn't have to be 100% accurate for the Over to hit here. Over, it is.
The Fifth Fuller: I got burned on this one last week. Despite Fuente committing to a two-quarterback system this year in the pre-season, ever since Hooker supplanted Burmeister as the starter, Burmeister has disappeared. I don't know what the story is there, but I can't watch some of the decision making from the Wake game and think Fuente and Corny are seeing the same thing and thinking yeah, we definitely don't have any reason to give other quarterbacks a look. Maybe this is just me trying to convince myself that black is DEFINITELY HITTING this time after too many reds in a row, but I think Burmeister (or Patterson? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) sees some time this week, if not only to keep him somewhat ready but as a gentle reminder to Hendon that, hey, we've got a room full of guys who would like your job. Over.
Over / Under: 0.5 mentions of Bobby Petrino leaving the cupboard bare / program in bad shape
Joey: This is an easy over. The real question is which program is on a better trajectory: Scott Satterfield in Year 2, or Justin Fuente in Year 5. Strangely enough, you might get different answers from each fan base, with a frustrated Hokie Nation tiring of yet another uninspired loss from Fuente and Co. and an equally underwhelming recruiting class on the way. Meanwhile, Cards fans in the Bluegrass State likely aren't thrilled about a 2-4 start, and may envy the consistency of the NATION'S LONGEST BOWL STREAK (SHOUTOUT PETE MORIS) after living through 5 years of Bobby Petrino (which was mostly good, but got really bad). And the best part? Poll each side in a week and the answer probably changes.
The Fifth Fuller: So, ahem, somebody may have leaned on some Bobby Petrino jokes in another column this week, but the dude left Louisville football looking like a motorcycle wreck in 2018, and I can only assume they fired him at a bus station in Rochester on the way home from getting waxed in the Carrier Dome. The fact that Satterfield was able to coax 8 wins out of that team last year was a miracle. The recruiting class he was able to talk into committing to that smoking crater was...not great. This past year was better, but he's still getting by with some of Petrino's recruits, like Malik Cunningham. Look, Frank Beamer hasn't coached in Blacksburg in five years and I don't believe I've watched a Tech game since where he didn't come up. There is no way they don't bring up the salvage job that's been happening under Satterfield and whose fault it is. Over. Bonus points if they bring up the motorcycle and/or volleyball player.
Over / Under: 450 yards of total offense for Louisville
Joey: I won't pretend to be a Louisville football expert, but damn if their offense isn't fun to watch. Perhaps it's been at least partially aided by playing defenses (honestly not sure that's the right word) like Florida State, but it seems like every time you look up they have a new running back breaking off a 60 yard run. So yeah, I'm a bit concerned that they run roughshod through, over, and around a front seven that has struggled fairly consistently to stop the run. And despite positive sounding news on the Jermaine Waller front, I just can't talk myself into the under here. Over.
The Fifth Fuller: Aside from the UNC debacle, the Hokies haven't actually been TERRIBLE defensively, holding everyone else under that 450 yard margin. Louisville has been prolific, wracking up yards on everyone except Pitt and Notre Dame. Part of me wants to think that the Hokie defense is finally getting everyone healthy and coming together, but then I see some film of Malik Cunningham and Tech's defensive record against mobile quarterbacks starts to make my eye twitch. Wake was slowing the game down to try to kill off the game, and against everyone else, TECH was doing that, and successfully with Herbert grinding out yards. I think this ends up being a competitive, back and forth game, and I just don't see the Hokies locking Cunningham down effectively, particularly since I think the Hokie linebackers may be wearing concrete cleats this season. Over.
Dealer's Choice: Name Tech's Uniform Combo
Joey: There's one of two choices on the uniform front after losing to Wake as 10-point favorites: go super traditional and hope people slowly forget about last week, or say 'screw it' and break out the orange helmets. While the white jerseys and maroon helmets combo would undoubtedly be the path of least resistance, part of me is convinced that Tech counters Louisville's blackout hype with flash of their own. Give me orange helmets, white jerseys, and orange pants...aka the pumpkin patch special.
The Fifth Fuller: With Louisville announcing a blackout, hard to see All Maroon Everything making an appearance here. Pretty sure it's the white jerseys, as I'm still doubtful we see anymore orange clothing the rest of the season. They DO have orange helmets, however, but those only rarely come out, only once since 2017 (against Furman last year) and they only seem to wear them with maroon jerseys, which is why I think they're getting saved for next weekend against Liberty. So the hats stay maroon. The only question is if they go full Stormtrooper with the white pants to counter their Luke Skywalker circa Return of the Jedi look. I don't think so, I think the pants stay maroon, and we see a Maroon, White, Maroon look.
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: Texas / Oklahoma State Over 58.5. I know, Oklahoma State (appears to) actually have a defense this year, and their offense has struggled to score against all opponents not named Kansas. But this feels like a classic strength vs. strength matchup, with a high-powered Texas offense led by Sam Ehlinger seemingly destined to find a way to be competitive in Stillwater. It might scare some folks, but any total with these two teams that starts with a '5' is a must play. Over.
The Fifth Fuller: Back in the first Greg Schiano Rutgers era, before he tanked his reputation everywhere else, I made a fortune betting on Rutgers, who covered the spread every single game one year, and parlayed them with EVERYTHING every weekend. It was magical. That, however, was not Schiano's first year. Despite the win over a (not very good?) Michigan State team last weekend, I don't hold much optimism that IF he's going to lift the Jersey Boys out of the mire, the elevation has started already. Indiana put together a pretty good season last year (including smoking Rutgers 35-0) and they might be even better this year. Indiana -10.
Spread: Virginia Tech -3.5
Joey: If it wasn't already abundantly clear from reading this column, I'm not exactly confident in Virginia Tech this week. I think the offense rebounds and clocks in a more respectable showing, but Louisville's potent offense getting a field goal-plus against the Hokies' defense feels like a no-brainer. Cards +3.5.
The Fifth Fuller: Ew. I have no intention of putting any kind of money on the Jekyll and Hokies to cover any kind of spread as favorites against a competitive team. Louisville may have crapped the bed multiple times this year, but it's hard to ignore anybody that takes Florida State behind the woodshed, even this hollow version of #TalkinBoutTheNoles. I think the Tech defense AND offense both do some mean reverting, meaning points bonanza on both sides. Dumb luck turnovers decide this, but I don't think there's any way Hooker has another week like last week. This one will not be decided by the last Tactical Spurtle break; Hokies may squeak one out, but not by more than a field goal.
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.