The 2017 football season is still in its infancy. Teams are still figuring things out, while others are already redesigning and revamping in hopes to make a late season run. The Virginia Tech Hokies are a team still searching for an identity, but they have the luxury of being 2-0 while searching.
The Hokies are coming off a successful home opener against a FCS opponent in Delaware. The Hokies defeated the Blue Hens by a score of 27-0, recording yet another home shutout for the vaunted Bud Foster defense. However, the game was not as clean as the score suggests.
The starting Virginia Tech defense has been stellar and downright dominant at times. The starters were a force to be reckoned with on Saturday being led by the Edmunds brothers. Both Tremaine and Terrell were all over the field causing turnovers, and making big time stops.
Tremaine led the Hokies with 14 tackles, while brother Terrell chipped in 8 and had a drive killing and potentially shutout saving interception. The starters on defense were constantly getting pressure on the Blue Hens’ quarterback, which was a feat considering how shifty and versatile he was. This group of players might be the best group Bud Foster has had in quite some time.
The punt teams for the Hokies also shined on Saturday from a kicking and returning standpoint. New punter Oscar Bradburn is quickly becoming a great weapon for Justin Fuente. The Aussie is also becoming a fan favorite with his fantastic quotes to the media.
On Saturday, Bradburn was busier than this fan might have liked but he improved on his work against West Virginia which is always good. Bradburn finished with 5 punts for an average of over 46.5 yards. The Aussie is getting a lot of hang time on each punt which also allows for minimal returns. Later in the season this ability to flip the field will be crucial for the Hokies.
On the opposite side, Greg Stroman continues to grow into one of the best punt returners in the ACC. I will admit when he first started, I lamented every time Stroman would run back deep. To me, his upside was not worth the risk he ran of making a bad decision.
This year has been quite different as Stroman has shown a great improvement in his decision to either fair catch a ball, or risk a return. Saturday was more of the same great decision-making as Stroman only had two returns, one of which he took for a score, but always seemed to give the offense great starting position. Now what the offense did with that starting position is another story altogether.
In my opinion, the Hokies’ offense took a small step backwards on Saturday. Now don’t get me wrong, with our defense, 27 points is going to win you most games. That being said, this was a FCS defense we were facing, not a FBS defense. The score definitely should have been more lopsided.
The rushing game is still a very big work in progress. The Hokies only amassed 81 yards on the ground with the leading rusher picking up all his yardage after the outcome of the game was decided.
Josh Jackson played a smart game, like he did against WVU. He didn’t turn the ball over, and made smart decisions when the pocket broke down. However, he struggled to hit downfield receivers (several drops didn’t help), and he sometimes struggled finding the wide open receiver. The receiving corp is going to have to help Jackson out in order for the Hokies to be a force in the ACC landscape. Teams are going to key on Cam Phillips and make other elements of the offense beat them.
The kicking part of the offense was suspect again. Joey Slye was about as automatic as they come last season. However, he has missed three field goals already this year. Slye hit his first career 50-yard field goal on Saturday, but also had a 51-yard attempt blocked. This needs to be fixed pronto as in some games, points could be at a premium.
I praised the starting unit of the defense earlier, and that was by design. The Hokies while having a stellar starting unit, are woefully understaffed on the second team. During the first game of the season, the drop off between units was evident. , and on Saturday even against a supposed weaker opponent, the drop off was there again.
The shear push created by the second team defensive line was laughable. This is frankly unacceptable from a Bud Foster defense. Depth has always been a huge advantage for the Hokies, the ability to run fresh guys on the field at any time and not lose the pressure factor was a luxury only the top teams enjoyed. This year, it appears the Hokies are going to have to make due with some drop off.
However, Bud Foster is a master at making the best out of what many would consider not a great situation. Starting DE Vinny Mihota got some time at defensive tackle with the second team. More than likely, many Hokies are going to be playing a ton of snaps on the defensive side of the ball, AND one can only hope they can hold up.
As this Saturday approaches ,the Hokies have an opportunity to get better while taking on a non-conference opponent. Coach Fuente will have the troops ready to go 1-0 again. Look for the offense to be sharper and defense to be improved. Hopefully next week, I will have to work harder to find errors made by our beloved Hokies. Until next time Hokie Nation, LETS GO HOKIES!!!!
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