Photo Credit: Jake Roth
Virginia Tech announced tonight that they will be without 23 players and two full-time coaches for their season opener against N.C. State with Norm Wood of the Daily Press reporting some specifics on who is missing.
Tonight’s Unavailability Report pic.twitter.com/AvFUsAdGJJ— Virginia Tech Football (@HokiesFB) September 26, 2020
#Hokies offensive players out tonight:— Norm Wood (@normwood) September 26, 2020
Hendon Hooker, Darryle Simmons, Peyton Kemmerlin, Terius Wheatley, Keshawn King, Jalen Hampton, Nikia Peerman, Silas Dzansi, T.J. Jackson, Dallan Wright, Jaden Payoute, Elijah Bowick, Conner Dusenbury
#Hokies defensive players and coaches out tonight:— Norm Wood (@normwood) September 26, 2020
Tyree Rodgers, Ny'Quee Hawkins Jermaine Waller, Nasir Peoples, John Ransom, Matt Johnson, Trey Maxwell, Derrell Bailey
Coaches: Justin Hamilton, Tracy Claeys
Ryan Smith calling defense
Long snapper Oscar Shadley also out.
Most of the players are farther down the depth chart, but a couple notable starters are out in QB Hendon Hooker and CB Jermaine Waller. Additionally, the Hokies will be without defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton and LBs coach Tracy Claeys with CBs coach Ryan Smith taking over as the defensive playcaller.
The fact that Tech only has two offense/defense starters missing is definitely a relief in many ways for the Hokies along with only have a few expected backups out as well. Additionally, that group of players include a few guys we know have been out due to injury including Nasir Peoples and Jaden Payoute.
The loss of Hooker is definitely significant, but Justin Fuente's comments this week have shown lots of confidence in Braxton Burmeister who will start in Hooker's place. Burmeister also profiles with a very similar skill set to Hooker so don't expect the Hokies' offense to differ much. Norm Wood did note Hooker was warming up on the field so it may be due to a minor injury or just conditioning if Hooker recently got out of quarantine.
Jermaine Waller being out definitely hurts the Hokies' pass coverage with Waller being out not due to a COVID or contact tracing related quarantine but an injury instead. Brion Murray and grad transfer Devin Taylor will take on larger roles in this game with Armani Chatman likely to be the #1 cornerback for VT. Fortunately for Tech, N.C. State is built around their rushing attack so the loss of Waller may not be as bad as normal.
The loss of Hamilton and Claeys is undoubtedly significant with assistant Pierson Prioleau likely to take on a larger role. This is definitely a significant challenge for Tech to not have Hamilton and Claeys, and have Smith instead though it'll be interesting to see if Smith has some sort of telecommunication with those two from afar similar to what some NASCAR teams have done with suspended crew chiefs working from their facilities for example
Keshawn King is definitely among the notable backups out which will likely mean Raheem Blackshear and Khalil Herbert returning kickoffs and Blackshear taking some carries that King would have received as a speed back. Not having veteran long snapper Oscar Shadley also hurts Tech's special teams with UVA transfer Enzo Anthony, who it's unclear if he's eligible to play or not, and Justin Pollack being potential replacements.
Tyree Rodgers takes away a veteran backup safety on a depleted safety unit that is already without Devon Hunter and Nasir Peoples while Tech's offensive line depth takes a hit without Silas Dzansi and T.J. Jackson.