Virginia Tech travels to Pittsburgh Saturday for its first road game of the season, and Coach Frank Beamer said Monday during his weekly teleconference with reporters that the biggest challenge could be the sheer amount of “unknowns” the Hokies will have to deal with.
It starts on the injury front, where Virginia Tech could be missing two linebackers. Redshirt Bruce Taylor dressed for this past weekend’s 42-7 win over Austin Peay but did not play. Beamer said his status for the Pittsburgh game is uncertain because, “when you get those ankles, some times they take longer than you expect.”
Beamer didn’t sound optimistic about getting linebacker Tariq Edwards back, either. The redshirt junior has been recovering from offseason surgery to alleviate pain caused by a stress fracture in his shin that required an additional procedure during training camp. He only returned to practice last week and is “working his way back.”
More pressing, though, is how little the Hokies know about first-year Pittsburgh Coach Paul Chryst, who was previously Wisconsin’s offensive coordinator. The Panthers’ season has gotten off to a miserable start, with a season-opening defeat to Youngstown State of the Football Championship Subdivision in which six players were suspended before kickoff and a nationally televised 34-10 loss to Cincinnati last Thursday.
The Bearcats scored a 58-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage against Pittsburgh’s defense, a unit that is currently allowing more than 422 yards per game. We should note, however, that the Panthers are No. 67 in the country in total offense, which is actually higher than the Hokies (No. 74) through two contests. (More on Virginia Tech’s offensive issues later in the week).
Pittsburgh’s struggles are a reflection of the turmoil within the program of late. Including interim coaches, Chryst is the Panthers’ sixth head coach in the past 16 months. Former Coach Todd Graham left for Arizona State earlier this year after just one season on the job.
Chryst, 46, is a first-time head coach, and that lack of experience has left Virginia Tech in a bind this week. The Hokies aren’t sure what he’ll throw at them, especially given the dire straights Pittsburgh now faces.
For instance, Beamer said the Hokies don’t even have game film of Pittsburgh’s goal line defense since the Panthers haven’t used it yet this season.
“There’s just a lot of unknowns. We gotta be ready for a lot of things,” Beamer said.