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Virginia Tech comes to NC State carrying a lunch pail’s worth of offensive troubles

The Pack needs this one badly.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 15 Miami at Virginia Tech Photo by Brian Bishop/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s not the case, but it feels like Virginia Tech has had the same problems for about 10 years now. The Hokies have had trouble finding their footing in the post-Frank Beamer era, though the program was already in decline from its peak before he left.

There’s been a revolving door at the quarterback position as Tech has struggled to find not just consistency, but also the kind of talent that can elevate a program. They may have had just such a player in Hendon Hooker, but managed to scare him off to Tennessee, where he’s become a Heisman contender on a potential playoff team.

The larger issue, though, is the slow talent drain from the roster; after eight straight 10-win seasons from 2004-2011, the Hokies have had only one since. Beamer’s last two teams went 7-6, and although Justin Fuente improved on that initially, he eventually sunk to that same equilibrium.

Which is why he is no longer the head coach. Is ex-Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry the man to restore some shine in Blacksburg? About the only thing we do know for sure is that he’s going to have to navigate the first true rebuilding period that Tech had in this century. There’s a good chance the Hokies finish with a losing regular season record for only the second time since 1992. (But also the second time in the last three years.)

Virginia Tech’s offense is the main source of its woes in 2022, as the Hokies rank near the bottom of the league (and FBS) in a number of categories. The Hokies are last in the ACC in yards per play (4.63), 13th in yards per carry (3.16), and 13th in yards per pass attempt (6.0). Here is one passing offense, at least, that’s been worse than NC State’s.

Tech hoped to paper over some of its issues with transfer quarterback Grant Wells, who threw for over 3,500 yards at Marshall last season; instead, Wells has struggled to acclimate, and has been more worse in terms of completion percentage and yards per attempt. He’s cracked 200 yards passing against an FBS opponent just once this season.

The team’s leading receiver is Kaleb Smith, who has 428 yards and two scores on 28 receptions. Among the top five guys in receiving yardage, two are tight ends, and the Hokies have also spread the ball plenty to their backs. They’re just lacking playmakers at wide receiver.

It doesn’t help that the Hokies haven’t been able to generate much threat on the ground, or that leading rusher Keshawn King (259 yards, 5.9 YPC) is questionable to play. Just not a lot going ideally for this offense. We can relate.

They’ve been decent on the defensive side, and particularly on third downs, where they’re limiting opponents to a 29.7% conversion rate. That ranks 15th nationally. League play has exposed their rush defense a bit, as league opponents are averaging 4.6 yards per carry. It’d really help a lot if NC State could take advantage there.

We’re most likely looking at a low-scoring affair no matter what, though. Unless the Wolfpack manages to completely turn around its offense on the strength of one bye week. I don’t know that I’d bet on that.