9/3/19 Inside the Lunch Pail: On Keshawn King, Virginia Tech at QB, More
Welcome Hokies to the first weekly edition of our mailbag that we are calling "Inside The Lunch Pail" that will normally run on Tuesdays but we're running on a Wednesday this week.
As you may have seen on our social media, this will be a weekly feature as part of our Hokies coverage throughout football and basketball season at minimum (and hopefully, it'll almost be year-round). There's no boundary on Virginia Tech related questions that can be asked so don't be afraid to send in questions that go beyond football and basketball to recruiting, Olympic Sports, Hokies in the Pros, etc.
With that, let's dive into this week's Inside the Lunch Pail mailbag with, unsurprisingly, a heavy focus on football after Saturday's season-opening loss at Boston College.
From Trevor Q.: Do you believe King should be receiving the majority of carries going forward? Is he already our clear #1 at RB?
He may not be the clear #1 RB on the depth chart but he should be as the back that offers the most versatility between and outside the tackles.
There was some speculation during fall camp that King could start as soon as week 1 against Boston College. While that never came to fruition, his 13 carries show that Justin Fuente has major plans to use King a lot this fall especially given that it came note against a weak FBS or FCS opponent but a quality ACC team.
In part due to Jalen Holston being out, expect the role of King to climb in the short term a little faster than what was likely expect. Even if Holston was healthy, King's role seems poised to grow anyway from the public praise of King as "explosive" during fall camp to what we've been hearing leading up to the start of this season.
Saturday was the first public evidence that King is the Hokies' beat back offering the most complete package and highest quality of any tailback on the roster. As I predicted before the season, expect King to be the starter by midseason.
From Mark F.: Will we see a QB change?
Not this week.
Yes, Willis' 4 turnovers last week were quite bad especially for a veteran QB but he also did a lot of good as shown by his 4 passing touchdowns and almost 350 passing yards on a day where no Virginia Tech RB averaged more than 3.3 yards per carry.
Willis also has a proven track as someone who usually brings about more good than bad even if he takes his fair share of risks that don't always make Justin Fuente happy. As we all know well, Willis was talked about as one of the ACC's best quarterbacks going into last week before his 4 turnovers proved costly.
While we may not see a QB change yet, it would be wise and not surprising if we see both Hendon Hooker and Quincy Patterson (as one other follower asked about) receive significant playing time over the next two games. The reality is that the competition level drops significantly these next two weeks and should provide opportunities to get Hooker and Patterson some playing opportunities to see what they have.
When they do, the Hokies should not limit the playbook as they have done in the past. Give both Hooker and Patterson a fair chance to see if they might just be able to push Willis or even prove to be a better option.
From Bob M.: How will the injuries to Turner and Hazelton affect the passing game?
The good news is that the Tre Turner seems very minor at best with all indications being that Turner will be at full strength this week and going forward. Of course, these next two games should also allow the Hokies to lighten the load on Turner to make sure he's all good especially with the depth that's emerged at wide receiver as we saw last week.
The Damon Hazelton injury is much more of an unknown and is one area where the elimination of injury reports led to everyone being caught off guard. Given the rise of betting on college football and sports in general, I wonder if this is something that could change in the future given the stakes but back on topic.
The Hokies would be wise to be cautious with Hazelton especially since the Hokies have the receiver talent to get through the next two weeks. If anything, Virginia Tech might be wise to consider not playing him till their Friday night game against Duke at the end of September, giving Hazelton plenty of time to get to full strength.
The bigger concern at this point has to be whether this is something that will linger and hamper Hazelton throughout the season. Having a healthy Turner and Hazelton gives the Hokies a pair of All-ACC First Team caliber receivers with opponents not being able to double cover both players. Hazelton was also Ryan Willis' favorite target by far when he first took over before minor injuries slowed him down last season and would likely emerge as his most trusted guy if he's at full strength again.
The only question is whether this lingers? If it does, it'll absolutely prevent the Hokies' passing attack from reaching what looks like an enormous ceiling if the turnovers can be cleaned up by Willis.
From Tom M.: I am curious about why there were so many injuries last (year), during the summer and the first game this year?
The number of injuries suffered has to be one of the more jarring things coming out of Saturday. Fortunately for the Hokies in the short term, most of the injuries don't appear to be too serious outside of the early mentioned Holston.
Additionally, at least the TyJuan Garbutt injury seemed more related to the way he was hit rather than factors that could raise S&C concerns. However, this is definitely something worth monitoring given some of the types of hamstring type injuries that we've seen or heard about that could be coincidental or a sign of something else.
The more concerning may be that the Hokies, who signed large classes in 2017 and 2018, have some depth issues that, in theory shouldn't be as bad as some seen even with some of the injuries.
From David B.: Any idea how much change needs to be made from a "regular" game since they are going against a team that briefly employed fomer coach Galen Scott, and two former players, with their knowledge of the offense???
This is always one of the more interesting wondering that I think gets overhyped sometimes but the fact of the matter is that Virginia Tech shouldn't do much different just because a couple former players are on their opponent.
Having Eric Kumah and Chris Cunningham may give ODU insight into a couple of techniques that could vary but in that regard, Kumah never worked with new WRs coach Jafar Williams.
More importantly, ODU actually got to face a Hokie offense with Ryan Willis when they played last season. Yes, there may have been some differences but they still got to see some of how Willis sees things in person and should have plenty of tape.
if ODU had never played VT previously, Cunningham and Kumah may be more valuable resources for getting some insight on offensive schematics but given that much hasn't changed, I think the amount that those 2 players can really provide any benefit is limited.
At the end of the day, it still comes down to talent and how that talent executes the gameplan. As long as VT executes their gameplan well, the talent advantage should make this an easy victory, the complete opposite of last season.