This week's Inside The Lunch Pail mailbag may be a little delayed, but is here as a way to get your weekend started. As a reminder, you can send us your questions by tweeting them at us or emailing them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With that said, let's get to this week's questions.
Update on all injuries?— Tom Mishoe (@TomMishoe) October 23, 2019
As you all have probably realized by now, the Justin Fuente era Virginia Tech football program isn't exactly the most transparent with injuries. However, there are good signs that the Hokies should have a few key players back for Notre Dame.
First, But Foster's comments on Caleb Farley and Dashawn Crawford were brief but encouraging with the Hokies expecting both to play in South Bend. Meanwhile, Justin Fuente has continued to maintain that Hendon Hooker did not suffer a "long term" injury against UNC while also stating that they were hopeful early in the second half that he would return this past Saturday.
Quincy Patterson was admirable in his performance against North Carolina, but Virginia Tech's offense is at its best with Hendon Hooker. Hooker has clearly earned the trust to run a more intricate passing attack to compliment his dual-threat nature that has helped the Hokies' rushing attack.
Patterson was great last week but against a more talented Notre Dame, some of the predictably and limited playbook that we've seen with Patterson would be an issue if that were to continue to be the case. Past history with Brad Cornelsen suggests that would be though that's not a certainty.
The Hokies' defensive tackles had their best game of the season against UNC with Jarrod Hewitt and true freshman Norell Pollard combining for 4.5 sacks. Pollard and Mario Kendricks have surpassed normal expectations for true freshman DTs, but VT could also use Crawford back even if his role would be limited.
Justin Fuente and Bud Foster have had plenty of praise for top backup CB Armani Chatman's performance against UNC, but VT really could use Caleb Farley. Farley is argubaly the best cornerback in the ACC among those active and has put up insane numbers the rare times that teams have dared throw the ball his way. Farley is the one cornerback that can consistently be trusted in pure man coverage and going against a talented QB like Ian Book, having a healthy Farley will make a big difference.
How about a run down on our running backs? I'm lost as to who is available versus hurt, etc. Thanks!!— David B (@DB66206) October 24, 2019
While Justin Fuente hasn't said it, Keshawn King clearly doesn't appear to be healthy at the moment. There would be no reason for his non-existent usage otherwise.
In the meantime, Deshawn McClease is having the best regular season stretch of his collegiate career and even when King starts to get healthy, VT would be wise to stick with McClease and use King as a change-of-pace till something changes.
After that, Tahj Gary is probably the third best RB on this team, but after using him briefly against Rhode Island, VT has no reason to let him exceed 4 games. Don't expect to see Gary much till late in the season unless VT's hand is forced.
It also wouldn't be surprising to see Dalton Keene to keep getting carries going forward. The Hokies lack a power back with McClease and King both being speed backs. Keene brings high school experience as a tailback and was okay in the role Saturday. His body should also be able to hold up better and with McClease's size, King being injured, and VT lacking RB depth; Justin Fuente should keep using Keene in that role to help a small back like McClease in regards to limiting the wear and tear on McClease.