Hokie fans, the two-year monkey is finally off our backs. Saturday, Virginia Tech completely manhandled the East Carolina Pirates in a 54-17 revenge win. The Hokies, who had been bested by the Pirates for the last two years, came out fired up and on a mission. They came out, put the foot on the accelerator, and didn’t look back. It is safe to say there was plenty of good to come from this game, but as always with the good, comes some bad and ugly, no matter how small the amount.
The good parts of the game were plentiful. First, and the best part in my opinion was the return of Beamer Ball. Before everyone yells at me for saying Beamer Ball, let’s be real, it is always going to be Beamer Ball.
The Hokies did everything perfect on special teams Saturday. First, Greg Stroman, while wearing Beamer’s number 25 I might add, returned the first punt by ECU 87 yards for a score. Next, big Tim Settle got into the action by blocking a Pirates field goal attempt. Adonis Alexander had an opportunity to scoop and score, but was unable to do much more than recover the block. If Alexander had been able to scoop and score, the crowd would have collectively caused an earthquake with all the cheering.
Finally, wide receiver Cam Phillips blocked a punt. The most impressive thing about the block was not the block, but the fact that if Phillips had not gotten a piece of the punt, Bucky Hodges surely would have. Hodges was coming straight up the middle to be on top of the punter as well. Finally, the Hokies recovered a muffed punt late in the game to crush any hope the Pirates had of another score. Special teams directly affected the outcome of the game. The Hokies changed the outcome of the game when they were unable to create any turnovers.
The next good part was once again the play of quarterback Jerod Evans. Evans conducted the Hokie offense with the precision of a surgeon. He passed for 282 yards on 13 of 20 passes, adding 3 touchdowns. Evans also rushed for a team high 97 yards and a score on the ground as well. Evans did all this in just three quarters, as Fuente decided to sit his starter with the game well in hand.
This has been a constant every game with Evans as he continues to get better with each passing week. It has definitely been a welcome site to all Hokie fans. Evans will face his first true road game when he faces UNC next. It will be important for Evans to continue his progression for the Hokies to have a chance to win the ACC championship.
Evans is also part of the bad part, but for a reason you might not think. The Hokies rushing attack was pretty much only Evans, and his yards were inflated by a long touchdown run in the second half. This is bad for two separate reasons.
First, the Hokies need to establish more of a rushing attack to keep their offense balanced. Justin Fuente wants to keep the defense honest so his high powered attack will be able to dominate the game. I know Fuente wants to spread the ball around to the different backs, but only having a back get 29 yards for the game is not part of the plan.
Second is having your quarterback being the leading rusher is a great way to get your quarterback hurt. Most defenses would love nothing more than to get to the backup quarterback so it would stand to reason the more times Evans runs the ball, the greater the chance for him to get injured.
Evans got his ankle caught up during a play in the first half. The whole Hokie Nation held its collective breath to see if Evans would be able to return. Fortunately, he was able to get back in the game. Still, it is important for the Hokies to get a rushing game going minus such a big contribution by their signal caller.
The Ugly part of the game was surprising considering the Hokies defensive ranking coming into the game. The first half was all defense for the Hokies but on the first play on offense for the Pirates in the second half, a long past to the house opened up the scoring. The second half saw the East Carolina passing offense get going and create some big plays. The Hokies ended up giving up 362 yards through the air, a far cry from the stingy pass defense of the last three games.
This needs to be addressed in the bye week before the Hokies’ defense starts giving up more and more big plays. In truth only two plays went for big big yardage and scores. However, it is those big plays which turn the tide for the opposition in close games. It is safe to say Bud Foster will be working with his talented secondary to sure up the gaps in coverage exposed by East Carolina.
The Hokies have a bye week this week, and should take good advantage of the rest. Their upcoming schedule is hard, and will determine if their season will be a success or not. Hopefully, there will be lots more good and not too much bad and ugly for the rest of the season so as always Hokie fans. LETS GO HOKIES!!!!