Four Tepid Takes to Preview Virginia Tech's 2023 Season

Thoughts on Grant Wells, Ali Jennings, Tyler Bowen, guaranteed defensive improvement, and a few more mild predictions for the 2023 Hokies football season.

[Mark Umansky]

Okay so this article is kind of like the show Hot Ones, but instead of buffalo wings and hot sauce, I'm giving you a few takes about the 2023 Virginia Tech football season. And instead of the sauce (errr, takes?) building into a mouth melting, butthole blazing "holy shit these things are going to make me see god, and not in a good way" kind of heat, they're more on the tepid side. Like if this was a wing bar, we'd be filling our plates with medium and honey BBQ flats and drums.

Okay fine, it's not really like Hot Ones at all.

But look, this team doesn't deserve to have hot takes thrust upon it, because sometimes they can set expectations too high. And what really needs to happen is even, steady improvement across the board. It's not sexy, and it certainly won't be fun. But we already know that 2023 is an eat your veggies and hope you grow kind of year for the Hokies. So these takes aim to make a few predictions with that ceiling in mind.

The offensive line will be better...and a little worse in 2023

Okay look, this is less of a take than it is a weird fortune cookie-like mysticism that could be read however you're inclined to read it. But that's why it's the most mild take on the list.

Last year, the offensive line was a mess. The Hokies committed 7.4 penalties a game in 2022, good for 115th best in the country. And while you look at the list and see some good programs below them (Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Alabama and Tennessee all committed more), not all flags come from the same place. Penalties from an overly aggressive defense (Bama) happen. Penalties from an offense that operates in hyperdrive and takes a bunch more snaps than a normal team happen (Hendon Hooker 🥲).

But Tech's flags primarily came from mental errors due to an offensive line that had to think way too hard on what they needed to do every play. I'm no expert, but you don't commit 10 false starts in one game if you have a confident handle on your assignment and the snap count.

And while Joe Rudolph was the crown jewel of Brent Pry's initial coaching staff, the more distance we get, the more it seems like it may have just not been the right fit. Virginia Tech isn't Wisconsin. They don't sign five corn-fed, 300 lb midwesterners every year, and don't have time to teach them for three seasons before finally letting them see the field.

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