West Virginia Preview and Prediction

There was nothing pretty about that win over Wofford. It felt like we were watching the Spring Game on replay. Everything was very vanilla on offense. The Hokies were not able to and impose their will on an FCS team, but that’s where the Hokies are at this point. Tech needs to get back to a place where they can dominate teams from the FCS.

SP+ Rankings

Virginia Tech

Overall: 61st
Offense: 106th
Defense: 19th
Special Teams: 18th

West Virginia

Overall: 58th
Offense: 42nd
Defense: 72nd
Special Teams: 56th

West Virginia has put up a lot of yards and a lot of points through three games. They are averaging 46 points per game. This is a balanced offense that has moved the ball very well this season. They have a big back who can pound the ball and a quarterback who completes a high percentage of his passes. Even if the Hokies are able to stop the run, this is an offense that can dink and dunk all the way down field. For the first time this year, the Hokies will tested by an offense that can go down field in the passing game. JT Daniels is a dangerous passer and the Hokies secondary needs to be ready.

If there is an area where the Hokies can have success it’s against West Virginia’s pass defense. This is a game where Grant Wells will need to take care of the ball and find targets downfield. He will need to get help from Kaleb Smith, Jaden Blue and Christian Moss. The Hokies need to keep WVU from stacking the box against the run game. Grant Wells will need to make them defend the whole field by throwing passes beyond ten yards. If the ‘Eers are able to stack the box, it’ll be a long night for the Hokies.

This has a big-game feel. The Hokies so far have been a bit of a roller coaster. They looked bad against ODU. Good against Boston College. And they didn’t show much at all against Wofford. The Hokies definitely have some weapons, but can they be consistent? These look like two even matched teams. This is one of those games where the team who makes the fewest mistakes (penalties, turnovers) will win. The Hokies need to hope that Grant Wells has turned the corner from his turnover issues in week 1. WVU’s defensive backs will make him pay on bad throws. On a neutral field, I’d pick WVU. But I’m betting on some old school Lane Stadium Thursday night magic.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 24, West Virginia 21

West Virginia Q&A with Couz’s Corner

This week we are joined by Justin “Couz” Walker from West Virginia football podcast Couz’s Corner.

Tell us about yourself and your podcast.

My name is Justin “Couz” (pronounced Kooz) Walker and I host a podcast/YouTube channel called Couz’s Corner. I talk primarily about West Virginia football, but also touch on a lot of Big 12 and national college football storylines. I will also touch on major West Virginia basketball games and storylines as well. You can also follow me on Twitter @couz206 and IG @couzscorner206.

Tell us about your team this year. What are your expectations for West Virginia this season?

Well, going into the season I had high expectations of at least 8 wins. After the debacle that happened last Saturday and WVU losing to Kansas at home, I am now concerned about the direction of the West Virginia program. The majority of fans are now wanting Neal Brown fired. I’ve now changed my expectations to a 4-5 win season. This team has a lot of holes, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The biggest concern is in the defensive backfield where we have a lot of new faces that don’t seem to be picking things up as quickly as we hoped.

What are your thoughts on playing Virginia Tech again?

I think it’s great for both programs, especially the fans. This became a great rivalry for both teams when they were in the Big East together. It’s a shame they don’t play more often. As a resident of the southern part of West Virginia, I’m within an hour of the Virginia Tech campus. So, I’ve always considered the VT rivalry as big as the Pitt rivalry. Adding the Black Diamond Trophy to the mix just made it even more special.

How do you view the Virginia Tech program?

I view them as a top 30-40 program all-time, very similar to West Virginia in brand value. As for the current state of the program, I think they are in a similar spot as WVU. A bad coaching hire has set the program back a few years, but they will get back on their feet very soon. I expect VT to be competing for ACC titles again in the next 3-5 years. As for this season, I think the Hokies’ schedule lines up well for them and they should be able to pick up around 6-7 wins and make a bowl game.

With no future games against Virginia Tech on the schedule, do you hope the two schools find a way to keep the rivalry going?

Absolutely. It’s a win for both programs and fanbases. Maybe one day we can even be in the same conference again. LOL.

What’s your favorite memory from the rivalry?

Personally, it’s the 2002 game when an unranked Mountaineer team went into Lane Stadium and upset the #12 ranked Hokies 21-18. The Hokies were driving in the final seconds to try and win the game when WVU Defensive Back, Brian King, intercepted a Bryan Randall pass in the end zone to seal the game for the Mountaineers. It was the first big win of the Rich Rodriguez era for West Virginia.

Would you like to see WVU join the ACC?

As a fan, yes. I’d love to see West Virginia playing teams like Virginia Tech & Pitt every year again. It would also be much easier for our teams and fans to travel to away games. However, it may not make sense financially. The ACC is stuck in that very long Grant of Rights deal and I’m not sure the Big 12 won’t end up earning more revenue from a TV perspective long term. The Big 12’s current deal will be up in the next 2-3 years and they can likely sign 2 more media deals before the ACC gets to sign their next one. This is an advantage in my opinion. 

What are your thoughts on coming back to play at Lane Stadium?

For me personally, it will be my first time attending a game at Lane Stadium. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the atmosphere there and as a rock music guy, I of course can’t wait to hear Enter Sandman blaring throughout the stadium. It’s also close enough to home that I won’t need to get a hotel room. That will be nice. However, for the WVU football team it’s not ideal. They already had to play their other biggest rival, Pitt, on the road. So, playing both of your power 5 rivals on the road in the same season makes for tough sledding when added to the Big 12 conference slate. 

What are your expectations for the Virginia Tech game? 

My expectations are for a close game. Both teams are in similar spots in their programs, except one is breaking in a new coach and the other is stagnant with their current coach who is now on the hot seat. I think it will probably be a game where both teams score in the 30’s. WVU has a solid offense now with J.T. Daniels at QB and Graham Harrell at Offensive Coordinator. However, the WVU defense hasn’t looked great so far in 2022, so VT will likely be able to move the ball. I think the game will come down to which team can make the fewest mistakes and turnovers.

What’s your prediction for the game?

My prediction is that the Hokies win by a score of 34-31. This West Virginia team is as talented a team as Neal Brown has had since coming to WVU in 2019. However, the team continues to make mistakes at critical times and the program is not in a great spot right now. I’m not sure Neal Brown and his staff will be able to pull the team out of this funk. With an already unhappy fanbase, if West Virginia loses this game after also losing to Pitt, it will be hard for the WVU admin to justify keeping Neal Brown around for another season. 

West Virginia Preview and Prediction

Getting through a classic trap game is an accomplishment. Sometimes you gotta get the W and move on to the next game. After a sleepy first half, the offense and defense got in gear and put the game away in the third quarter. This week will be a much tougher challenge as the Hokies go on the road for a rivalry game.

SP+ Rankings

West Virginia

Overall: 43rd
Offense: 63rd
Defense: 35th
Special Teams: 75th

Virginia Tech

Overall: 22nd
Offense: 17th
Defense: 38th
Special Teams: 46th

The West Virginia defense has been very good at causing chaos this year. They rank 2nd in the nation in tackles for loss. They are a disruptive group that creates havoc in the backfield. This is a game where the Vice Squad will need to keep WVU defenders out of the backfield and provide space in the running game.

Virginia Tech has been winning the turnover battle thru two games. They need to keep that going. A road trip to Morgantown is the wrong time to start turning the ball over. The Hokies need to keep possessions on offense and create turnovers on defense.

West Virginia ain’t played nobody. They lost a close game to Maryland on the road. Maryland is a team that won three games in 2019 and two games in 2020 in a shortened five-game season. West Virginia did beat Long Island University 66-0. I didn’t know that school existed until this past weekend. And they’ve only been a Division I football program since 2019. So it’s kinda hard to judge West Virginia based on who they’ve played.

Can the Hokies go into a hostile environment and win? This isn’t a road trip to Wake Forest or Duke. The folks at West Virginia have been waiting for this game for a long time. Our players need to be ready for a very hostile atmosphere. I don’t like this game as the Hokies first trip on the road this year. It’s good that it’s a noon game but I still have concerns about whether this team is ready to handle that atmosphere.

Prepare for a three-and-a-half hour stomach ache. This is going to be a sloppy game with negative plays and turnovers. Both team’s defenses are ahead of their offenses. Also watch out for big plays on special teams. Both teams are capable of breaking a game open with a special teams play. VT is the better team. I worry A LOT about the Hokies going into a hostile road atmosphere for the first time. I spent most of the week thinking I’d pick WVU, but the Hokies will find a way to pull it out.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 23, West Virginia 20

West Virginia Preview and Prediction

I don’t like West Virginia. They are my least favorite college football team. That feeling goes back to the games between the Hokies and WVU in the early 2000’s. I am not a fan of their program or their fans. But playing them is what makes college football great. Evenly matched teams. Passionate fan bases. And a rivalry that matters to both sides. It’s sad that this rivalry had to take a 12 year hiatus but a break was needed.

It’s strange to dive back into this rivalry. If you were a freshman in 2005, you’d be 30 now. Safe to say there are a lot of Hokies that don’t remember this rivalry – which might be a good thing. The football part of the rivalry made for some exciting games. The animosity in the stands was not healthy for either school. We’ll see where we’re at on Sunday. I hope both fan bases have had some time to reflect and gain some perspective in the last 12 years.

Projected S&P+ Rankings for 2017:

Virginia Tech: 25th
West Virginia: 69th

Will Grier has proven that he can be an effective Power 5 quarterback. He has a nice resume dating back to his time at Florida. The VT secondary is the strength of the defense. Which makes me think that WVU will focus on Grier’s running ability. I have seen countless games where a running quarterback gives a Bud Foster defense fits. I imagine WVU will lean on the ground game instead of throwing into the teeth of the Hokies’ defense.

The left side of the West Virginia offensive line does not bring back a lot of experience. They are going to struggle to keep Virginia Tech’s starting defensive line off of Will Grier. This is why I’d expect to see WVU to lean on the running game in this game. They would be smart to keep the ball on the ground.

I’m worried about the Hokies offense getting off to a slow start. I like the individual pieces on the offense but I’m worried about them getting into a groove in the first game of the season. It’s like the Tennessee game last year. The individual pieces on offense were there but they did not come together in time for the Battle at Bristol. I could see something similar happening in this game. The defense is going to have to carry the load in this one.

What’s giving me the most confidence in this matchup is the VT coaching staff vs the WVU coaching staff. I have a lot of confidence in our guys compared to theirs. It’s a mismatch and that mismatch will show itself on the field. Bud Foster has not forgotten about this rivalry. An angry Bud Foster is a great Bud Foster.

At first, I was thinking the Hokies would win this game by around 10 points. The new offensive pieces and the FedEx Field factor make me a little nervous. But I still think the Hokies are the better team. This game is like the last game preview I wrote for the Belk Bowl – it’ll be a close game but I like the Hokies to win it. This is a great week to go 1-0.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 31, West Virginia 24

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