'Hoos hope to give Tech's Hooker his first loss

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Virginia Tech was 2-2 when the team made an early October switch to redshirt freshman Hendon Hooker at quarterback. On Friday, Hooker will lead an 8-3 Tech team into Scott Stadium to face Virginia, with an ACC Coastal Division title at stake.

Hooker has yet to throw an interception this season, and his completion percentage has improved in almost every game since supplanting Ryan Willis as Tech's starter. He's rushed for at least 40 yards in four of his six starts.

Hooker missed the Hokies' loss at Notre Dame earlier this month with a knee injury. He's 6-0 as Tech's starter -- and it's that unbeaten record that most impresses UVA head coach Bronco Mendenhall.

"I think the record speaks for itself. As a starter, that's really how quarterbacks are evaluated, right? Once they lead a team, what's the record, what's the outcome, what's the yield. Very similar for coaches," Mendenhall said. "So it's very difficult to argue against the results, because they just win when he's playing quarterback."

Hooker completed 10-of-20 passes for 184 passes and three touchdowns in his starting debut at Miami. After the Hurricanes took a late lead, Hooker led the Hokies on five-play, 63-yard scoring drive capped by the go-ahead touchdown by Deshawn McClease with 1:03 to play. Hooker also ran for a career-best 76 yards and a touchdown against the Hurricanes.

Hooker followed that performance with a career-high 261 passing yards and three more touchdown throws against Rhode Island. He's completed at least 65 percent of his passes in each of his last four games. In last Saturday's win against Pitt, Hooker completed a career-best 76.9 percent of his passes (10-of-13) and threw two more touchdowns.

After practice on Wednesday, UVA co-defensive coordinator Kelly Poppinga was asked if he saw any similarities between Hooker and the Cavaliers' dual-threat quarterback, Bryce Perkins.

"I think he's bigger than Bryce. He's 6-4, 230," Poppinga said with a chuckle. "I think he's more of a physical runner than Bryce, where I think Bryce tries to avoid contact and run out of bounds, this guy kind of seeks contact at times."

For the season, Hooker has completed 62.7 percent of his passes for 1,134 yards and 10 touchdowns, and no interceptions. He's run for 262 yards and four touchdowns. In Hooker's six starts, the Hokies have averaged 38 points and 418 total yards.

"I think they've just honed in more on identifying exactly who they are," Poppinga said. "And they've had a very similar identity for the last three or four games, and I think that's where their success has come from."