Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
Virginia Tech has released their list of who is out for today's game against Duke with that list including many important players in their secondary including Divine Deablo and their top 4 cornerbacks along with defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton and CBs coach Ryan Smith.
Officially unavailable for the #Hokies today:— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) October 3, 2020
With Hamilton and Smith out officially today, we reported earlier that assistant Jack Tyler is expected to take on the job as the primary defensive playcaller with him and Tracy Claeys taking on larger roles in defensive operations. It's unclear who will take on a larger role with coaching in the secondary though Pierson Prioleau would be a candidate to do so.
Losing Divine Deablo and J.R. Walker definitely hurts Tech's depth at safety with Tyree Rodgers likely to start in place of Deablo at free safety, giving Tech a veteran presence. Additionally, redshirt sophomore walk-on Tyler Matheny played a lot last week and could be poised for a larger role this week.
The fact that the Hokies are without their top four cornerbacks is absolutely brutal with Jermaine Waller potentially still out to injury while Armani Chatman, Brion Murray, and Devin Taylor are all most likely out due to COVID or contact tracing. With those guys out, it's unclear who will in at cornerback though Nadir Thompson, Dorian Strong, and Ny'Quee Hawkins may be among the top candidates to do so.
Duke's receiving corps is definitely one of their biggest weaknesses but this is a major challenge for the Hokies that could hurt Tech even more against a talented UNC passing attack next week. Of course, the timelines in regards to their respective availabilities along with the exact reasoning for them being out is not publicly disclosed so it's impossible to predict the impacts beyond this week.
The Hokies will also be without Alan Tisdale this week with Dax Hollifield poised to be the primary backer outright and Keshon Artis likely to be the third linebacker behind Hollifield and Rayshard Ashby today.
Darryle Simmons is the most notable player out on the offensive side as a backup WR for Tech, but the offense is clearly quite healthy with Hendon Hooker, Keshawn King, and Silas Dzansi all returning today.