Virginia Tech fans got their first look at the 2018 football team during the Spring Game this Saturday.
The Hokies took the field in front of a crowd that was ready to see some action. 36,814 fans made their way into Lane Stadium to see what the Hokies have been working on this spring. The scrimmage pitted the offense against the defense in a battle of four 12-minute quarters. The defense was awarded seven points for a turnover, three for a three-and-out, and one for a stop. The offense was awarded seven points for a touchdown and three for a field goal.
Josh Jackson started the first series at offense with a couple of quick passes to Hezekiah Grimsley, but the defense would not be stopped.
Virginia Tech’s defense led 14-0 at halftime as the offense was not able to get anything going. Redshirt sophomore Khalil Ladler recorded an interception in the game while Emmanuel Belmar scored a safety for the defense.
Even in scrimmages, though, Tech’s offense is a second half team.
The offense scored four touchdowns in the second half to come back for a 28-26 victory over the defense. Ryan Willis was responsible for two of those scores, throwing touchdown passes to Phil Patterson and Sean Savoy.
Willis, a 6’4” junior who transferred from Kansas, is in his first year of eligibility at Tech. He finished Saturday’s game 10-for-145on passing plays. Willis showed off his arm strength, throwing a few long completions including an 83-yard touchdown to Savoy.
Willis and redshirt freshman Hendon Hooker took most of the offensive snaps in the second half, as the two new quarterbacks need more evaluation than Jackson.
While most eyes were on the quarterbacks, other positions on the offense stood out as well. Grimsley, Savoy, and Patterson, all sophomores, had solid performances on Saturday. Savoy had a standout freshman season in 2017, and he and his fellow sophomores look like they’ll be ready to shine when the Florida State game rolls around in September. Patterson scored a touchdown in the game, but his shining moment was a one-handed catch for a first down in the second half.
The running game was also solid for Virginia Tech as both Coleman Fox and Deshawn McClease scored on the ground. McClease broke free for a long run through the open field, something the Hokies were unable to do last season.
Some of the more experienced players on Tech’s team were sidelined with injuries on Saturday, giving younger players a chance to shine. The Hokies will be a young team overall in 2018, but the rising freshmen and sophomores performed well on Saturday, giving coaches and fan some optimism heading into the summer.