Every week go 1-0, that’s the new motto of the Virginia Tech Hokies. To my eyes, it seems like this new direction in motivation has been working for the Hokies in all but two games. This past week, the Hokies faced another stiff challenge on their quest to go 1-0.
The Duke Blue Devils offered the Hokies all they could handle and more. The Blue Devils took the Hokies down to the wire, where the Hokies’ offense had come up with some key first downs to salt the game away. I believe this was a good experience for the Hokies in the way they were forced to see if the defense could come up with some big stops late in the game, allowing the offense to end the game. With a game this close, there is much to talk about all across the good to bad spectrum.
First, let’s talk about the play of Jerod Evans. Evans has continued to reward the confidence of Justin Fuente with games in the win column. Evans’s ability to manage the game late was exactly what the Hokies were missing last season. In the previous season, it seemed the Hokies lacked a quarterback who could take the game over, get the tough yards they needed late in games, and control the entire game.
Evans only had 192 yards through the air and recorded no passing touchdowns for the first time this season. However, the most important stat was Evans not turning the ball over. The zero turnovers were crucial to the Hokies getting the win on Saturday.
Evans also kicked in 82 yards and a score on the ground. Late in the game, Evans was the Hokies main threat in the rushing game, picking up key first downs on the last few Hokie drives. Get used to quarterback power folks. Evans is a tough guy to bring down, a fact Duke learned the hard way. The Hokies rushing attack was in a favorable matchup against the Blue Devils, and Evans took advantage of this weak run defense all game long.
The other great part of the game was the sheer amount of Hokie fans at the game. Wallace Wade Stadium has been called Lane Stadium Southeast. This game was just another example of how true this statement really is. The Hokie Nation has been stellar all season long, creating a homefield advantage wherever the Hokies have played. Hokie fans don’t forget how important friendly fans can be to a team.
The bad in the game is easy to identify. First, the fact the Hokies could not put more than 3 points on the board in the second half should be some cause for concern. The game was really a tale of two halves as the Hokies put two offensive scores in the first half, but in the second, they were only able to get a field goal.
This is very different than most games the Hokies played this season. Offense has at times not been a problem at all for the Hokies. Finishing drives has also been a strength for Virginia Tech. What happened in the second half? The answer to this question is more complex. Honestly, playcalling was partially to blame along with the ill-timed penalties, which is a discussion for later. Even though the Hokies were able to salt the game away on the ground, not scoring when given the opportunity can lose you important games.
The next bad part also involved Jerod Evans. Evans has been guilty of overthrowing receivers all season long. However, Evans’s overthrown passes were magnified in this game as the Hokies struggled to get into the end zone in the second half. On two separate occasions, Evans overthrew wide open receivers with nothing but green grass in front of them.
Even with all the good he does this can be a knock on Evans. Part of these overthrows can be attributed to pressure brought by opposing defenses. However, it seems when I watch the games, Evans throws off his back foot. Throwing off your back foot makes the ball sail, which is a cause for overthrows. I believe this can be corrected with a little work that can turn those throws might turn into touchdowns.
The ugly in this game is easy to see. Penalties, penalties, and ill-timed penalties. The Hokies committed 6 penalties for 58 yards. However, the timing of some of these penalties were in a word terrible. Wyatt Teller twice had costly infractions which crippled drives with one penalty six points off the board. What can Justin Fuente do to remedy these mistakes? Honestly, I have no idea. However, I guarantee the coaching staff will be working to try and fix these mistakes.
The last ugly part has to be the situation with Terrell Edmunds. I’m at a loss for words on this whole targeting business. The definition is clearer cut than the definition of pass interference, which I highlighted last week. However, it seems like the officials cannot create any continuity when calling targeting either. Edmunds was not flagged on the field but when the replay official was reviewing the turnover, they called targeting.
How is this possible; if the officials on the field didn’t see it at game speed how can the call be put in the lap of an official who watches the game at half speed. Also, if the officials are calling any hit to the crown of the helmet targeting, why was the hit on Cunningham early in the game not called? The rule is completely based on what the officials think about the hit in question. The fact remains Edmunds was flagged after review and will miss the first half of another crucial ACC matchup.
This week is Georgia Tech week, which means triple option. The Hokies are going to need to be sharp on Saturday, as the opportunities for the offense will be lessened. The Hokies will have the homefield advantage in the upcoming game, and they will need it. However, this train is rolling and I hope it doesn’t stop any time soon. As always folks LET’S GO HOKIES!!!!