Photo Credit: Jake Roth
Virginia Tech will be without the most starters they've had out in weeks with four starters out today among 12 players that the Hokies announced will not play against Pitt.
Notable players unavailable for the #Hokies today:— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) November 21, 2020
Doug Nester and Dorian Strong join Jermaine Waller and Emmanuel Belmar as starters who are out this week with the cornerback group suffering the most this week.
With Waller and Strong both out, expect the Hokies to go with Armani Chatman and Brion Murray as their starters with Nadir Thompson as the third cornerback. This could also push Tech to shift Devin Taylor from safety back to cornerback at times with Keonta Jenkins and J.R. Walker the top backup safeties who could come in.
Belmar has been out for multiple games with Amare Barno expected to once again start alongside Justus Reed at defensive end. Jaylen Griffin, Robert Wooten, and TyJuan Garbutt will likely be the top backup defensive ends for the Hokies in this game.
Nester is the lone offensive starter out this week with Bryan Hudson expected to start in place of Nester at right guard. Additionally, veteran Austin Cannon may be the first backup interior offensive lineman while Zach Hoyt could also be an option for depth as well.
With Evan Fairs out, Changa Hodge will be the #4 wide receiver for the Hokies behind the trio of Tre Turner, Tayvion Robinson, and Kaleb Smith.
While the Hokies are stating that they will be without four starters, they also may not have their star left tackle with Christian Darrisaw not receiving reps in warmups according to pregame reports from media on site.
Keep an eye on Christian Darrisaw's availability. He didn't take a rep w/1st or 2nd team in pre-game. He's been beat up lately. Dressed, but Tenuta (LT) and Dzansi (RT) were with the ones. Pitt is NOT the team you want to be down your best player, especially if he's a LT. #Hokies— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) November 21, 2020
It is interesting to see that Luke Tenuta would slide over to left tackle with Silas Dzansi at right tackle. However, not having Darrisaw in addition to no Nester could be problematic against a Pittsburgh team built around a strong front 7, especially on the defensive line.
However, Pittsburgh will also be facing significant absences with 16 players out including 7 starters according to pregame reports.
7 starters out among Pitt’s 16 players who will not play vs. Virginia Tech today due to COVID-related protocols, sources told @Stadium— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) November 21, 2020
What's clear is that this could be a messy game for both teams with injuries and COVID issues, especially for the Panthers, forcing plenty of backups into action today.