Virginia Tech has had a short week to prepare for their home opener against William & Mary after opening the season on Monday night with a big win over Florida State. This game should present a great opportunity for the Hokies to get many of their younger players chances to play though VT can't afford to overlook W&M or any of their next three opponents no matter the struggles that those teams had either last season or in week 1.
With that said, here is our By The Numbers Breakdown of Saturday's home opener.
6-0: Justin Fuente's Record When Having 4-5 Days Between Games
It's not often that a team has to play less than a week after their previous game yet Justin Fuente has been through several of these games as a head coach. Norm Wood of the Daily Press had this great stat about how Fuente has done in those games.
Preparing for a game on a short week is a challenge for almost any team regardless of level or talent given the decreased amount of time to prepare and recover from the previous game. The fact that Fuente has had such a high level of success on these short weeks is a strong indication that his approach to these type of weeks consistently work.
Fortunately, the Hokies don't have nearly as tough of a test this week playing at home against a FCS team, but Virginia Tech fans know quite well the danger that playing a FCS team on a short week can bring if they aren't ready.
39: Number of Season Jimmye Laycock Has Been a Head Coach at William & Mary
Jimmye Laycock has been coaching at William & Mary for a long time but after 39 years at the helm, Laycock will be retiring after this season. Laycock took over the Tribe in 1980, a little over a decade after his playing career at William & Mary ended, and has transformed the Tribe into a consistent winner in FCS football.
Over the past couple of years, William & Mary has fallen off some going 5-6 in 2016 and 2-9 in 2017. However, the Tribe started Laycock's final season off well with a 14-7 win over Bucknell last week and the Tribe will be looking to send Laycock off from the FCS Playoffs.
Laycock and Frank Beamer coached together briefly for two years as assistants at The Citadel, making it appropriate that Beamer will be involved in how Virginia Tech honors Laycock before tomorrow's game.
Justin Fuente had this to say earlier this week about Jimmye Laycock and his legacy.
"Head Coach [Jimmye] Laycock obviously has done a great job at William and Mary for a long time. I talked about this a little bit on the conference call, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for himself and his program. The longevity and consistency that he’s had, I know his kids will be anxious to play for him throughout the season and this game as well,” Fuente said.
Though Laycock may be on the opposing sideline Saturday, his career is absolutely worth celebrating as the Frank Beamer of FCS football.
25: Number of On-Scholarship True Freshman for Virginia Tech
With the NCAA announcing a new redshirt rule this offseason that allows football players to play in up to 4 games and preserve their eligibility, don't be surprised to see the Hokies play some players who will redshirt this upcoming season along with giving some freshmen opportunities to avoid redshirt over the next few weeks if they play well enough.
The best potential example of this rule being taken advantage of that we may see tomorrow is Quincy Patterson. The former Elite 11 QB is the Hokies' fourth QB at the moment and expected to redshirt this fall, but the new redshirt rule gives Justin Fuente the opportunity to get Patterson some in-game experience without losing a year of eligibility. If this game goes as it should, don't be surprised to see Patterson get some reps in the fourth quarter.
In addition, this game could present an opportunity for younger guys trying to prove they shouldn't be redshirted earn an opportunity. Cole Beck's speed received a lot of praise during fall camp, but now presents a chance for him to make his collegiate debut and see if he can turn that speed into productivity. Watts and Farley established themselves as the top 2 cornerbacks against Florida State, but there is room to compete for backup time behind them including for current true freshman backup Jermaine Waller and other true freshmen like Nadir Thompson and Armani Chatman.
Over the next two weeks, don't be surprised to see Virginia Tech try to give most, if not all, of their true freshmen playing time if things go as they should because of this new rule.
4: The Number of Career Starts for William & Mary QB Shon Mitchell
Shon Mitchell will make his fifth career start for William & Mary tomorrow against the Hokies. The sophomore from the 757 had some major collegiate interest early in his high school career with some pursuing him as an athlete, but he was set on playing quarterback and ended up with the Tribe.
After becoming the first true freshman to start at QB for the Tribe in 3 games last season, Mitchell won the starting QB job on a full-time basis before the start of this season and played well against Bucknell going 21-for-32 for 267 yards. a touchdown, and an interception. This was a huge improvement on last season as Mitchell finished 2017 completing only 22 of 58 passes for 140 passing yards. In addition, Mitchell failed to record a passing touchdown while also throwing 3 interceptions.
However, Mitchell will face a tough test against a Virginia Tech defense coming off a three-interception performance against Florida State. Caleb Farley and Bryce Watts were both unknowns going into the game, but they more than looked the part of being quality replacements for the trio of Greg Stroman, Brandon Facyson, and Adonis Alexander with Farley earning our Defensive Hokie of the Game honors.
Mitchell had his best career collegiate performance last week, but he faces a tough challenge against a defense coming off arguably the best defensive performance that any FBS team had last week given their productivity and competition.
14: Number of Tackles for Loss Virginia Tech Had Against Florida State
Virginia Tech's defensive performance against Florida State was one of the best defensive performance that we've seen from the Hokies during the past decade. Defensively, the Hokies consistently made major plays with those 14 tackles for loss along with 5 turnovers.
Now, the Hokies will look to build on that momentum as they face weaker competition over the next few weeks. Matching the 14 tackles for loss and 5 turnovers that they had against Florida State is an almost impossible challenge, but the Hokies do have an opportunity to get their young defense more valuable reps.
While Virginia Tech's defense did play extremely well, they did have a few moments of confusion. Fortunately against Florida State, the Hokies were able to adapt just in time, but smoothing those things out will be important. Given the competition level of the next few weeks, Bud Foster will have the opportunity to do just that before VT heads on the road to Duke and hosts Notre Dame for a likely primetime national TV game.
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
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