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2023 Week 1 Unwatchable Filth: Oh, Hokie, not like this

Giving you the worst game of the week and why

<p zoompage-fontsize="15" style="">COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 25 Richmond at Virginia Tech

Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Not all low-scoring games are necessarily good games, or even competitive. Sure, you occasionally get 2011 Alabama-LSU, a defensive showdown for the ages where 21 of the 22 starters on both squads eventually played in the NFL.

But, more often than not, you get the infamous Tommy Tuberville 3-2 special in Starkville, a game that still hurts my soul when I reflect upon it.

The teams went 3-30 on third down, 1-4 on fourth down. The average 3D to-make was 3rd and 8. The two QBs combined to go 24 of 51, and averaged 4.4 yards per attempt — State averaged 3 yards per attempt, which is awful even for a rushing attempt. Speaking of, the two teams combined to average 2.7 yards per rush — with Mississippi State posting an anemic 1.3 YPC. Auburn was penalized a dozen times. The teams combined for two blocked kicks and four turnovers. There were no kick returns. The game was decided by a field goal vs. a safety. The kickers went 1-of-4. And even the punters were off, combining for just 39 YPA on an ungodly 18 punts.

It truly was worse than you remember.

You don’t expect one of those to cross your path every season. But, we are fortunate in that we may once again receive just such a contest this Saturday. And once again, it will be borne not of defensive prowess, rather offensive ineptitude. I give you:

Old Dominion at Virginia Tech

On paper, this is a game you sort of shrug your shoulders at. It doesn’t look too foul, at first blush. Just a bog-standard bad G5 team collecting a paycheck for a road trip beatdown. Old Dominion is a genuinely awful FBS program — and they weren’t much better as an FCS team. In fact, they had just two winning seasons the entire decade before, and have collected one 10-win season in fifteen years. So, ho-hum, just a regular Big Boy beating, right?

Nope, this one requires we dig a bit deeper.

See, these teams met last year in an absolute farcical experience. Ostensibly, it was an upset for ODU. But I would suggest that there were no winners, despite a 20-17 final score.

It was a contest where the Monarchs averaged 2 yards per carry, and not one of the five running backs on the day hit 4 YPC. In fact, only two went over 3 YPC. Old Dominion threw the ball 35 times for...165 yards. Meanwhile, they completed just a third of their passes. Third down was an exercise in futility: just 2 of 15, and ODU crossed midfield, without the benefit of a turnover, just two times on the afternoon. The offense overall? Just 3.7 yards per play. They punted 8 times, and their kicker had three times the yardage of their quarterback.

Virginia Tech outgained ODU over 23:1, but generated just 17 points. Not that it was an offensive explosion. No, it’s that ODU’s offense was that inept. VT had fewer than 350 yards on the day. The teams combined for five turnovers, including Virginia Tech’s cromulent four interceptions against a Monarchs squad that collected just 12 all season. ODU was among the nation’s worst secondaries too: surrendering 8.2 YPA, 65% completions, and a QBR near 150. And special teams? Hardly that. Beamer Ball, this ain’t. The Hokies averaged a sad, Alabama-esque 37.8 yards per punt and just 1.3 yards per punt return.

Overall team poopiness? Try this on for size: In a combined 143 plays, 69 of them went for no gain, was an incomplete pass, or was a tackle for loss. Six trips to the redzone? Two field goals, one touchdown, and a 50% failure rate. Throw in an ungodly 14 passes defended and knocked down to go with a 44% overall pass completion percentage and four interceptions, and that tells you there was a whole lot of bad throwin...coupled with coaches determined to keep doing it again and again and again.

Even conceding that was terrible, what makes the 2023 iteration as bad, perhaps even worse?

  • Because last year, when these teams met, ODU was a veteran group — it had 15 seniors on the two-deep. This year, just seven total starters return. Losses include:
  • All three QBs with experience — they had to hit the portal to find a guy with any experience: he is from Fordham. He has 13 career passes.
  • That bad running game? Well, it’ll be even worse this season: all four running backs left.
  • Their leading tackler? Gone. 75% of the secondary? Gone.
  • Offensive staff? Gone. A new one is in play, and their first game is a trip to Blacksburg.
  • Offensive line? 80% of them are gone.
  • Wide receivers? Three of the top four are gone.
  • Front seven? Lost its top six tacklers.

And even with those veterans? Old Dominion was still just 115th in total offensive efficiency, 129th in explosiveness, 127th in per-play efficiency, and 96th in drive efficiency — and 116th in scoring offense: a miserable 19.5 ppg

Virginia Tech is hardly better.

Brent Pry, the new coach at VT, spent his career as a Penn State, perhaps one of the most stodgy, run-first programs in the nation. And it showed. Last year, Tech scored fewer than 28 points in an ungodly ten of their contests. It was 119th in total offense, 126th in scoring offense, and 96th or worst in literally every offensive category in the country.

So, how do you fix that deficit? Why naturally you bring in a career TE coach who has never called plays. You give him a thin offensive line to work behind. A running QB who can’t throw, a transfer passing QB who can’t stop throwing interceptions...and you try to adopt Urban Meyers offense and make them fit the pieces you have in place.

No, that’s not a joke.

Sometimes games are bad because the teams are bad. And sometimes they’re bad because, for whatever reason, one or both staffs just get bogged down in ineptitude, and are happier than pigs in a sty to wallow around and hope they have more points at the end of the day. This is going to be just such a game, because these are two such teams.

ODU is a 16.5 underdog in Blacksburg, and the totals on this one are 49.5. I’d be absolutely stunned if this goes over. The winner is likely to have somewhere in the 21-24 point range...if they’re lucky.