Commonwealth Cup preview: Virginia Tech @ Virginia!

#24 R.P.I. Virginia Tech @ #73 R.P.I. Virginia:

Virginia Tech Hokie football travels to face the team you in-state love to hate as they visit the Virginia Cavaliers on Friday night at 8pm on ESPN/ESPN3.

Personally I dislike UVA; although I do not quite go so w.v.u far as to only cheer for UVA if they play i.s.i.s. As UVA med school granted at least three family members a good decade they otherwise woulda never had. Humble God Bless UVA med thanksgiving insert (_____) here, check.

I hooever can understand why some of you do hate UVA. As I’ve never met anyone who said Zima takes great or that brie flavored ascot tie would taste even, better. Have met a lotta peeps that enjoy French-fries, French-toast or French-roast; and that segues us effortlessly into today’s word of the day…

Today’s word of the day is…victory


noun, (Latin), pl -ries
  1. (Military) final and complete superiority in a war.
  2. (Military) a successful military engagement.
  3. a success attained in a contest or struggle or over an opponent, obstacle, or problem.
  4. the act of triumphing or state of having triumphed.
  5. the pagan Greek goddess: nike.
  6. something UVA has known nothing about for 4,745 days, and counting. As try as you might HooVa you still can’t spell victory without the “V” and the “T“!

Virginia Head Coach: Marc Bronco Clay Mendenhall: age=51, (6-5 year; 1o7-58 overall); has a rep’ for defense, no-nonsense, strictness, quirkiness, and even more quirkiness.

Coach Bronco also has a rep’ for… bowling. Well he did, as until last year Bronco Mendenhall (head) coached football teams had gone bowling 100% of the time. In addition to that, Bronco has a reputation for defense overall and the secondary in particular as he was a Fs and team captain for the Oregon State Beavers back in the mid 198o’s. Bronco has also placed a flashy 68 ex players with the National Football League since 2oo5. He is also known for graduating his players, and ranking his former program seventh for most Academic all-Americans during his tenure at Brigham Young. His dad was a stalwart De for B.y.u. in the mid-50’s and his brother (Mat) started at De for the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVII. So clearly football is in his blood and likewise all over his sporting family tree. Bronc’ has tallied three conference titles and one conference Coach of the Year award (2008, Mt.West). He helped pioneer the blitz-happy 3-3-5 defensive scheme; which industrializes a Lb/S hybrid position in the hind-5.

With a track record of success at B.Y.U., a reputation for instilling order and accountability, and methods and metrics straight out of a business management text, Bronco Mendenhall and his by the book ways and mean have done about all anyone could do at his {sic: new} liberal arts school. As this no nonsense coach may look like a very red-state or vanilla 7-5-7 pasty fit; although -and to his credit-he’s been pretty colorblind after replacing a rather colorful (unqualified) Minority hire. And to be quite direct; Bronco and his seemingly juxtaposed cultural fit is ahead of schedule here folks. So props to Bronc’ for getting a big-M.A.C. style UVA gridiron team into a bowl game in year no.2.

2016 record: 2 up 1o down and 1-7 in the A.c.c.

Cavalier Defense: (starters back=8)

  • 34th in Total D.
  • 75th vs. the run.
  • 19th vs. the throw.
  • 40th on 1st down D.
  • 36th in 3rd down conversion D allowed.
  • 15th in zone D. (waaaaay better than 38 scores allowed on 41 visits last year)!
  • 83rd in Explosion.
  • 3oth in Qb’s sacked | 80th in Tackles for a Loss (TFL) inflicted.
  • Rushing ISOPPP 1o5th best. (have given up some HR runs).
  • 4oth in power rushing D.
  • 119th in dLine Havoc. Clearly the maginot line is the weak spot in the HooVa defense —Polish spies have said so and they and Belgium and Gaullists everywhere agry. Oh wait, maybe that did not end so well for them? Though I historically digress… nevertheless, the Hoo front-3 had been regressing for a spell and gone from okay+ to a bit of a liability of late. De Andrew Brown is prolly the bellcow here and that’s gotta bother our back-up Ot’s you’d think. Though De depth is very thin; and NG is about a year away. As the starting De’s are starting to look like thirty-four De’s although the Ng(s) need a little more beef.
  • 12th best in Linebacking Havoc! 6′5″, 244 lb. final year Micah Kiser might be one of the nation’s top Lb’s, well, actually he prolly is one of the nation’s top Lb’s and he nearly all by himself makes this a strength of the UVA defense. He’s a surefire Pro’ who will be collecting a Sunday check this time next year. The Hoo second-layer brings 75% of 2016 back and that indicates more familiarity and better play here. Chris Peace is a pretty solid ‘backer here as well.
  • 58th in Secondary Havoc. And you’d have to think that being 14th best with 14 passes picked might just have something to do with that. Ss/Cb Juan Thornhill’s 64% success rate is most impressive indeed; ditto Fs Brenton Nelson 63% success rate as clearly the Hoo secondary’s primary strength is in the middle of the field. Because that is where all-A.c.c. S Quin Blanding and his approaching a staggering 5oo career tackles to go with his 10 career picks all reside. As Quin same as Kiser is a 1st or 2nd rounder come May 2o18. As Cb’s Tim Harris (wrist), Darious Latimore and Myles Robinson all returned from medium to significant 2o16 injuries. Godspeed. As there is experience here with over 80% of the 2016 2-deep returning.
  • The Hoo D is vastly better in the first-half than in the second-stanza and that hints at health/depth or the lack thereof to me. Oui, this is/was a 3-3-5 base set; although it looks and shows a bit more thirty-four (3-4) at times. That and the Hoo D has had some Qb run-fit ills this season. (Though how illin’ is JAX here?) The Hoo D has a few indicators of over-pursuit or spilling too far in play-side pursuit to borrow a Foster term. (Though how does a non cutback O that lacks twitch do here?) On top of that, marquise spies say that the UVA D has really gassed in the final 5-10 minutes of play this campaign. Kiser and S Quin Blanding finished 1-2 in the A.c.c. in tackles last season. And the UVA stop-unit does have some shiny though spotty talent here and there, although it is pretty thin -of not balding- in other spots. And this D lacks middle athleticism/velocity.
  • Saw the Hoos in three different fronts, a 20, a 30 and Bronc’s signature 3-3-5. Though with more guys 1 or o-technique on the offensive G’s than on the C (this may help a slumping Gallo here). Hoos have a lot of tighter Man early on that backs off into a more lineal medium man (Cb’s nearly in line with Lb’s) on Lo.FM’s. Oddly enough though, the Fs is a little high relative to the Ss on the short or the Will side which is quite a toggle or quite the recovery Fs speed; take thy pick. As the UVA Fs cheats beyond the hashmark towards the nearest side widening the wide-side of the field. Bronc’ does have some neat looking Lb & Dt/De crossbuck or X-looking blitz packages here. Our G-c-G internal trifecta needs to keep their eyes’ pealed and play light on their toes. The Hoo secondary has been very decent this year; likewise Cavalier tackling. Though if anything this D is just a smidgen wooden or laconic.

Defensive letter-grade:

Wahoo Offense: (returning starters=5)

  • 93rd in Total O.
  • 118th in ground O.
  • 39th in aerial O.
  • 97th in zone O.
  • 95th in Explosion.
  • 1o2nd in power rushing O.
  • 123rd in 4Q O!
  • 26th most offensive fumbles!
  • 119th in passing yards/completion. (i.e. a short throw O).
  • 87th in sacks allowed | 72nd in TFL allowed.
  • Jordan Ellis is basically the traditional UVA run-fit unto his T.J. Tb1 self. The 5′10″, 214 lb. r-Jr. leads UVA at 760 yards on the ground and nobody else is north of 182. Though his opportunity rate of 30.6% is about as low as I’ve seen all year, this makes Ellis the best of what UVA has and UVA does not exactly have a lot at Rb this year. And Ellis does not exactly have elite speed; either. And his high school raking/ratings were okay enough, though never beyond *** or three-star superlative. Being 119th easiest to tackle as D-1 Rb’s go is not helping anybodies run-shapes one iota either.
  • 6′4″, 215 lb. final year Qb Kurt Benkert is a pretty decent thrower when he gets hot, so do whatever it takes to keep him James Dean cool as a jewel to open the game. He is also a total butterfingers B.Simpson type Pivot with a backbreaking 10 fumbles thus far! MEMO to coach Wiles: break out the pole and the Windex and please teach the strip this week! 60.4% passing is 1960’s awesome and so-so in 2017 terms; 2,876 total yards is moving the ball, and more than a few D-1 Qb’s wish they had Kurt’s 25:8 passing ratio. Though the time to get to Kurt is early on; early on in either half. As Kurt is splendid 2Q+4Q 17:1 ratio passer combined! And yet he opens each half in J.Evans too pumped up mode and goes 10:6 as a ratio passer for his 1Q+3Q maths. Kurt is also a 66% out-of-conference thrower and yet only 56% in Atlantic Coast terms. He is also (somehow) only a 40% passer in goal-to-go terms; hoo has thrown 1 pick in every single game since 1o.14. In point of fact, although this Pivot does have some credible airwaves talent; he posted: 51%, 52%, 48% and 52% games on four consecutive funky weeks before snapping outta said funk last week vs. Miami. Kurt Benkert will be the first Virginia quarterback to start in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2oo6 and poor Kurt has a history of shoulder and knee injuries to boot (God Bless). That all said, we catch the ~fiddy-fiddy passing Benkert and we may just be okay, we catch the mid-60’s (or better) passing Benkert and our Commonwealth streak may just get caught. Finally, Benkert has a history of selection based skittish behavior when being pressured and/or hit; Coach Wiles that one is for, you. Though he is 15 lbs. lighter, he’s shed his refugee E.c.u. (transfer) knee-brace, he still easily has the biggest arm in the game and yet he still can’t run. (147 as a starting Qb1 on the ground says so). Likewise now mix in the fact that Kurt has been acerbically sacked 29 times in his last seven games and throw three pick-6’s on the year and you basically have a one man litmus test on your burnt orange or rotunda orange hands.
  • UVA’s best Wr is actually their Tb2 or one Olamide Zaccheaus who paces UVA with a good hands 76 snags thus far. The best actual Wideout is Doni Dowling and the Cavalier catch corps yo-yo’s a bit as the gift of grab goes —as the Top-8 pass catchers with 19 receptions or more check in between 46% and 87% catchability. However, it is worth nothing the guys with the most catches have the most, drops; go fig’ on that? UVA Wr’s: Craft, Hall and Blackman all Out for the year; God bless.
  • The Hoo blocking-5 is lead by left-Ot Jack English and G Jack McDonald. Jack’s legit, pretty close to all-Conference on the inside, after that this is an inexperienced blocking set less two Band-Aid type grad-transfers. With eight new guys in the Hoo top-12. Pass protect might be a bit better than the Hoo run-shapes though neither one is epic. Though don’t forget Hoo was last in A.c.c. rushing last year; so either way the only way to go was up; here.
  • Saw the Hoos in a lotta Shotgun with one flanking Hb and 3 wide. They will use twins an trips and their oLine is close to not being 7-men airplane wing on the LOS (line-of-scrimmage). If I am Wiles I’m working this from play no.1; as we are gonna need every inch we can get in C’ville. Anyhoo… Kurt does not want for velocity or what old-timers call: “zip” on his ball. There are times he could be confused for a next-level playar. Do NOT wanna see him get off to a zippy start either folks; not at all. UVA oLine tries for the U-cup with the two Ot lines-of-sight; not seen this in a while or since half past Curt Newsome. Interesting that Kurt -for having a good arm- does not take much of a drop from the S.Gun. As you do not have *that* far to go to get to him. UVA will split Te’s and they have a lotta short, quick-hitting angular or crossing works. Will motion behind the play as well. #4 Zaccheaus is a damn dawgg with the ball in space; sleep on him and you are sleeping on -6 point hole. Further, the hoo’fese reminded me of the Fu’fense, only moved 1-5 yards further up-field as their throw points (i.e. locations) go. Loved the Bart Starr era 1/2-roll down-out-down patterning to Carol Dale looking play(s). On the ground, UVA has not rushed for over 1oo, yards in their last three games and has 118 total yards in their last 8Q’s of ground-chuck. Which means the flare pass outta the back-field or a dump off to Zach’ is basically their new run. They pull and try to kick out, and they will use splits backs a bit though there is just not a whole lot going on here with a bankrupt man’s Cedric Humes (a.k.a. Jordan Ellis).
  • 43% run:pass 57% mix.

Offensive letter-grade:

U.V.A. Special Teams: (0 return)

6′6″ and 234 lb. r-third year Lester Coleman and UVA are both 1o4th in Net Punting. Lester was a first-team all-state (Va.H.S. Division III) in tennis and he prolly could have done well enough had racketeering been his thing. Oui, his older brother (James) was the other Coleman punter at UVA. This Coleman was a scholastic Te, though that may or may not factor into any throwback trickeration here. Lester has very good leg strength with a cracking good 20 different punts of 50 yards or more thus far and a career long of 68. As this Coleman is not real far removed from being a field-position changer if he only had a better punt coverage squad out in front of his 45 ypp average. And do aim high(er) for any contact-point P&J block attempt here as this P can prolly dunk a basketball if need be.

  • 1o7th in Punt Returns | yet 4th best in KO returns.
  • 123rd in punt coverage | and 118th in suicide-squad.
  • UVA has blocked 2 kicks and allowed no kicks to be blocked.
  • UVA has blocked 2 punts and allowed no punts to be blocked.
  • (BONUS: UVA is o-2 on on-side kicks this season)

A.J. Mejia is a 5′10″, 18o lb. fresh. year K for the Wahoos. A.J. is 100% on P.A.T.’s and a very sporting 80% on his F.G.A.’s. Or to put it another way he is 100% on his FGA’s of ≤38 yards. Catch-44 is… A.J. has no makes beyond 38 yards no matter what. Though it is impressive he beat out all mid-Atlantic rookie K Brian Delaney in the first place. So expect some short punts here in lieu of dialing long-distance on Tracfone kicks. Mister Mejia has had a grand total of four games this campaign where he did not even set-up to attempt a FG itself. A.J. was a scholastic baseball star and he merited four-and-a-half-star kicker rating nationally by Kohl’s Kicking. Tho’ do be awears that both misses have been of the 42 yard+ variety where his low-line-drive punch style kicks could be susceptible to hands in the air. Maybe our ST’s coach will actually read this column this week?

Special Teams letter-grade: (coverage and punt-returns are hemorrhaging UVA field-position; although there is leg talent here and UVA is on the right side of blocking out… hence a B).

Unit Rankings:

  1. VT D.
  2. UVA O.
  3. UVA D.
  4. VT O.


  • motive: With both teams already bowl eligible and with neither team in the A.c.c. Coastal race… you’d have to think one of these two teams is tired of a upmteenth year butt-kicking; and that team is playing at home as well. Edge=UVA.
  • weather: Pretty looking day up @UVA | could amost leave the jacket at home. Edge=N/A.
  • health: UVA’s injury report is about as clean as you could rightfully hope to be in game no.12; whereas VT’s is all 4o77th with both the O&M O and D poised to field 73% of their August starters in late November; (or less). Edge=UVA.
  • penalties: UVA is just a scosche ahead technically speaking; though this is pretty even by-the-bye. Edge=push.
  • intangibles: The hoos are 16th best in TOP (time of possession); just exactly what a physically kicked Hokie halt-unit does NOT need. Lotta quad-leaf-clovers growing over on le lawn too, as UVA Turnover Luck (PPG) is: +1.97. Edge=UVA.
  • fatigue: UVA has balled for seven straight weeks whereas VT has played for approx. five; although VT had the travelgate S.NA.F.U. as well and UVA sleeps in their own bed. Edge=UVA, mild.


R.A.T.T. at 11:30pm, Friday night, what; ...happens???

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Illation, conclusion(s) and OPT digits:

Number of 'hoos who could start @Tech=7

the takeaway:

The takeaway here is… that this is a tough damn game to call. Third one that has had me fenced this year, as hoo knows? Though here, goes…


  1. Δ1=15%, UVA is out-passing opponents by ~900 yards on the year. VT won’t be winning this one through the air although a hot Benkert possibly could propeller UVA to a 1 to 1.5 play win.
  2. Δ2=15%, UVA however is being out-rushed by opponents by ~700 yards on the year. UVA won’t be winning this one through the dirt although a power to the Peoples return possibly could tank VT to a 1 to 2 play win.
  3. Δ3=70%, that this is a one full play (or less) game either way. As UVA is not good enough to beat VT at home every bit as much as VT is not healthy enough to beat UVA on the road. So someone, somewhere, somehow is gonna make that one single game saving or game clinching play in their last at bat or possibly even in an uncommon Commonwealth extra inning or two.

the skinny

Our handy-dandy friend the so-called Forum Guide of Graham Houston fame is calling for a 16 point Hokie triumph here; though that was ~6 Hokie starters ago as well, so that weights this equation down quite a bit in my book. Although it would not be beyond the realm of best-case plausible demonstration to assign a 16 point Hokie win as something of a ½ full ceiling -if not an outright roof- here.

Me? I find the following metrics more indicative indeed…

  • the Season Splits: are calling for a 8 point Hokie win.
  • Home/Away Splits: are calling for a 5 point Hokie win.
  • hoowever, the 3-most recent game splits: are calling for a 3 point Cavalier win!

And suddenly you see what I mean when I mean to say I almost feel the need to split my vote because I am left wondering if Virginia is catching Virginia Tech at just the right, time?

…I say that because although Virginia is just barely treading water at a tired looking ∑=65 total yards off of their season norms; it is Virginia Tech that is all the way underwater by a whopping ∑=185 total yards off our seasonal mean!

Aye, both teams are playing worse of late, although only Virginia Tech is playing its worst composite ball of the year at its greatest insalubrious moment.


the call...

…this leaves us with two mutually exclusive or binary vector functions to direct our outcome track. (As there is nothing more -this side of Praying- to be done for all these Hokie hurts).

First up… Either Kurt Benkert is hot or he’s not. As his start could dang well=the finish here. Kurt rolls hot and this is a long hard out up in HooVille regardless of Hokie health as Hokie forum is so far down of late. This brings us to the next → (vector function).

Secondly… even though UVA does not particularly scare me; we scare me. As we/Virginia Tech are playing worse and worse by the week.  And it’s a low damn watermark we are hugging at the moment. Now, and to be R.A.T.T. transparent, HooVa ain’t that much. Thing is -and this should scare you- …it won’t take much to beat us, here. Or to put another way…

Tech trepidation >>> french fear

Either, Foster gets to Kurt, rattles him, stands him on his head and shakes him up, thereby forcing an immobile statue ‘esque Qb to move and throw while moving and than I like our chances to slowly yet surely wedge an testy game in our favor.

2nd place in a race of two for thirteen years. Tho’ about to be… #1???

Or, if Kurt finds his flow and gets the Caviler O in gear early on, that may be a Bridge Too Far for such a hurting Hokie crew. Our very own sporting Arnhem if you will.

Making this a truly fifty-fifty proposition gents; flip a coin, and if you don’t like it? Flip it best two outta three; as this one is nearly too close to call. All fingers point to that as I foresee two (very, very) tired fighters with legs gone; digging deep; and desperately trying to slug until the final bell —and yet the same as Oak Island, not finding a whole lot when they go digging.

Right up until one of these two leaky looking, sanguine, crimson masked B-side fighters is gonna land some wild drunken roundhouse looping A-side leather -from seemingly out of nowhere- late. That team is victorious by 1-1.5 full plays in a brawl that was half a play nip-n-tuck up throughout most of the championship rounds duration. Because if basketball on grass is your thing these two are about to aerate the lawn; as this one has ugly written all over it.

“Run the damn, ball!” POWER to the Peoples’!!! And here I had this typed out as my closer as up until Thursday afternoon; as I honestly had UVA picked by a play and a half.

i.e. the better Qb, is, finally victorious.

upset Index=50%

Virginia Tech=26, Virginia=2o (OT)







14 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Oh no! Please not OT! Got to drive from Blacksburg to NoVa Saturday morning🙃. How about the last play of the game like last weekend??

    1. Sure.
      I’ll take a forfeit.
      2-zip. 3-2. Whatever.

      Just wanna win and get outta town and get some sleeps.


    2. I have more trepidation about this Commonweath Cup game than most during The Streak. I also think all things considered, including this year’s statistics and resent trends by both teams it’s a ‘toss up’. However it’s really hard for me not to pick Our Hokies, therefore I’ll predict … VT 30 uva 27.

  2. Something got in my head earlier today regarding this game……..actually a specific term……..Rope a Dope…….ala the Greatest himself. I see Fuente knowing his team is just holding on, trying to finish out the campaign against their hated rival. I see him knowing we got a mental boost we so desparately need in the final four plays last week, thus he’s got a focused team with a positive attitude this week.

    I think he’s going to Rope a Dope the wahoos tomorrow night, by running Peoples downhill, McClease on the edges, the jet sweeps and as much JJ as possible. He’s going to shorten this game down, keeping the antsy Benkert hopping around on the sidelines. He’s going to be content picking up 10 yards every 2 to 3 snaps, and then………he’s going to hit them with the RPO’s and the trickeration. Get them seeing one thing over and over, then hammer them.

    He’s only got a few bullets left in the chamber and he’s got to use them wisely.

    1. I meant to put a Trickeration prediction in there.
      Agry. Why not? Who are we saving the next punt-fake special play for now?

      That said, let’s just hope UVA ain’t Larry Holmes.
      As you can only languish on the ropes for so long…


  3. The article is bang on. What Hokies team do we have? My hope is that they play their best game of the year. It’s that time of year where u pound the middle and the edges with the run game and u throw to Cam in the slot. Buds Defense is good enough to win this but if the whole team plays well it could be a 27-13 victory (realistically 17-13 squeaker). Kiser and Blanding are probably the best 2 players on the field so UVA will be tough.

    1. I had that very thought as well… those two could be 1 and 1a.


      I’ll take anything here and move on to some Bowl game R&R.


  4. ahhhhhh Your eyes never lie, but something amiss North of the East River, as Thanksgiving is about coming home and Its time for Cam to come back home in the slot and exploit the Hoos DB all night long… meanwhile look for the Sun Bear Defense w/ Edmonds coming off the edge to potential dismember the immobile one from Hoosville…+ Turnovers & touchdowns on Defense….
    Bradburn flipping the field and pinning Hoos deep against their end zone = the word for the day VicTory!

    Let’s Go…Hokies!!!
    Beat WaHoos…

    PS good luck to the Beavers & G-men this weekend!

    1. “Bradburn flipping the field and pinning Hoos deep ”

      That would not hurt, mate.
      Gives us more shots at Kurt. Hoo can make mistakes and outright pick-6’s happen.

      And we are gonna need every point we can get any which way we can.
      In the end.


  5. I will make it very simple! Our QB performance has been AWOL for the last month. UVA has a QB that can throw and keep you in a football game. It will come down to QB performance! Our current QB is not the future for VT football! Go Hokies!

    1. Can’t argue that—->b.street

      Yah; JAX has done about all his body will allow.
      Coaches son or not; there is no way to coach what he’s missing.
      (Unless you are Coach God)

      The guys with the better bodies/talents can’t be that worried; here.

      Though 3 cheers for JAX!!!
      He’s taken more than one for good ole V.P.I.


  6. I ALWAYS look forward to your analysis every week so I had to comment on this week’s version! Absolutely love the historical references as they bring back the phrase “never forget”. In this year’s version of the HOKIE/hoo rivalry, we need to remember that we do have a TE who can catch and why not pull a flanking maneuver on dem hoos? Looking forward to seeing Peoples and McClease running against the somewhat shaky Dline as they do seem vulnerable in that area. As far as our D goes, let’s hope that Bud can keep the pressure on them for 4 quarters without going all sieve-like and allow some of those dreaded long plays across the middle which have been plaguing the Hokies as of late. This is the time for the Hokies to go all Patton/Schwarzkopf on Hooville!!!! GO HOKIES!!

    1. I do try to put some different, references, metaphors, allegories, et al in here.
      This -at least to me- is why you study more than just your discipline.

      Or just like Fred G. Sanford., “I’ve got a mind full of junk.”

      thank you!

      p.s.heard some whispers that Cunningham was <100%
      (God Bless!)

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