West Virginia has held the Black Diamond Trophy for 340 days. #TrustTheClimb— Black Diamond Trophy (@BlkDiamondTrphy) August 24, 2022
I should stop the preview there and be done.
The Virginia Tech Hokies will have a new head coach when the Mountaineers visit Blacksburg for the first time since 2004 in Brent Pry. This is Pry’s first head coaching stint ever, but he’s worked his way up the ranks, from being a student-coach in 1992 at Buffalo and a grad assistant at Virginia Tech in 1995. He served as the Penn State Nittany Lions defensive coordinator for the past five seasons.
The Hokies will start West Virginia native Grant Wells at quarterback. Wells originally played at Marshall, where he threw for over 5,500 yards in his two seasons with the Thundering Herd. With a strong arm, Wells is not afraid to push things downfield, something that’s been sorely lacking in the offense recently, although he does need to cut down on the interceptions.
The offensive line that was decent in pass protection and paved the way for 185 rushing yards per game needs an overhaul. It lost three good parts to the NFL, but it gets back a strong right guard in Kaden Moore and Parker Clements at tackle. Silas Dzansi and Johnny Jordan return for their sixth years.
If the line can block for Wells, he should have a receiving corps led by Temple transfer Jadan Blue, big-but-speedy veteran Kaleb Smith and up-and-comers Da’Wain Lofton and Jaylen Jones. Tight end Nick Gallo also provides a safety valve for the young quarterback. Kaleb Smith is the leading returning receiver with just 20 catches for 260 yards and two scores.
Gone are Raheem Blackshear is done, and Burmeister was the second-leading rusher, but Malachi Thomas should be ready after running for 440 yards and three scores, and Jalen Hoiston is a decent-sized veteran in the rotation.
No Hokies defensive lineman had more than 3.5 sacks last year. The Hokies are hoping that TyJuan Garbutt, Norell Pollard and Mario Kendricks are capable of bettering those numbers but Tech will need youngsters like Cole Nelson, C.J. McCray, Mattheus Carroll and Wilfried Pene to take a big step forward.
Leading pickoff man Jermaine Waller is gone from the secondary, but the safeties Nasir Peoples and Chamarri Conner should be able to combine for over 170 tackles again. Returning corner Amari Chatman led the team with seven broken up passes, but no one other than Waller came up with more than one pick.
2021 Full Game & Highlights
Prediction that will be right: The Black Diamond Trophy stays in Morgantown
Prediction that will be wrong: There will be blood