What UVA Football fans need to know about Virginia Tech

virginia tech logoVirginia Tech is reeling, having lost its last four and five of its last six.

The QB situation is unsettled to the point that a backup tight end was thisclose to taking snaps in the fourth quarter last week in the loss to Clemson.

The defense has been torched for 38.8 points per game in the losing skid, including 45+ each of the past two weeks.

The talk coming out of Blacksburg is more about the future of fifth-year coach Justin Fuente than continuing the Hokies’ 10-game winning streak against Virginia in Lane Stadium.

You already know better than to assume anything.

The situation was eerily similar going into the rivalry game two years ago, minus maybe the questions about Fuente’s future.

That Tech team was 4-6, having lost four straight and five of six, giving up 42.5 points per game in the losing skid, and it meant not one damn thing, as the Hokies led 14-0 at the half on a cold late November Friday night in Blacksburg, then rallied from a late 31-24 deficit to win in OT.

Back to 2020: and yeah, the QB situation is … ugly.

Hendon Hooker (PFF season grade: 81.5) got seven snaps last week, and fumbled two of them. When healthy, Hooker (1,339 yards, 65.3 completion rate, 9 TD/5 INT, 153.5 passer rating, 620 rushing yards and 9 TDs on the ground) is the guy.

When he’s not the guy, the guy is Braxton Burmeister (PFF season grade: 68.4), who has thrown for 475 yards with a 53.2 percent completion rate and run for 146 yards while taking 26.2 percent of the offensive snaps at QB this season.

(Hooker has taken 64.5 percent of Tech’s snaps at QB in 2020.)

The offense revolves around tailback Khalil Herbert (PFF season grade: 89.4), who has run for 1,020 yards, with a 7.6-yards-per-carry average, in 2020.

You’ll hear some familiar names at wideout: Tre Turner (PFF season grade: PFF season rating: 82.4), who is averaging 16.4 yards per catch this season, and Tayvion Robinson (PFF season grade: 69.1), who leads the team in receptions with 33.

Tight end James Mitchell (PFF season grade: 74.2) will also get some attention in the middle of the field (16.0 yards per catch, team-high four receiving TDs in 2020).

The offensive line is anchored by a pair of high-grade tackles, Christian Darrisaw (PFF season grade: 95.5) and Luke Tenuta (PFF season grade: 87.5), the son of former UVA defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta.

The line is solid in pass protection, allowing just 6.5 pressures per game, and 22 sacks all season, fifth-best in the ACC.

It’s on the defensive side that things have fallen off quite dramatically in the first year of the post-Bud Foster Lunchpail era.

The D ranks 14th in the ACC in total defense (460.0 yards) and 12th in scoring defense (33.8 points per game).

It’s really a matter of underperformance across the board: the run defense gives up 194.1 yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry, which is just ghastly, and the pass defense gives up 265.9 yards per game and is 11th in the ACC in efficiency (138.4).

The best pro prospect on the Tech defense is safety Divine Deablo (PFF season grade: 78.7), who has 49 tackles and is superb in pass coverage, allowing 11 completions in 20 attempts in 311 pass coverage snaps, with three INTs and two pass breakups, and an NFL passer rating against of 50.2.

Deablo will be playing on Sundays.

You’re likely to hear the name of defensive end Justus Reed (PFF season grade: 64.5) a time or two. Reed leads the team in pressures (32) and sacks (8).

The Hokies front averages 17.8 pressures per game and has racked up 32 sacks, tied for fifth (with Virginia) in the ACC.

Kicker Brian Johnson (PFF season grade: 84.5) is a weapon, converting all 31 of his extra point attempts, and going 16-of-22 on field goal tries, including 5-of-6 between 40-49 and 3-of-7 on kicks of 50+.

Punter Oscar Bradburn (PFF season grade: 58.2) averages 42.2 yards per kick with a 38.3 yard net.

Kickoff specialist Parker Romo (PFF season grade: 87.0) averages 65.6 yards per kick and allows an average starting field position of 25.3.

Story by Chris Graham


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