Through rain, sleet or snow we get the job done, that is the motto of the United States Post Office. However, after the game this past weekend, the Hokies have the rain part down pat.
Virginia Tech picked up their second conference win over the Tar heels of North Carolina. The Hokies got the win despite the conditions being, well like the Amazon during the rainy season. The fact remains the Hokies came up with a huge win, 34-3, which put them firmly in the ACC coastal division race.
First, as always, let’s look at the good part of this conference win. First has got to be the play of the defense. Bud Foster’s bunch has been playing like the best in the country all season. The Hokies defense has always been a strength, and in this game it was on full display. The high-powered spread offense of the Tar Heels was for the most part shut down by the tenacious Hokies.
UNC only managed a meager 131 yards on offense, well below their season average. Now let’s be fair, the weather forced a change in the play calling for both teams, and a true spread offense is more affected by rainy conditions. That being said, the Hokies were disciplined and disruptive on the defense side of the ball.
The defense was led by the linebackers, which have in the last couple of years been the weakest part of the defense. This has not been the case this year as the duo of Edmunds and Motuapuaka have really come into their own. Motuapuaka, who is Bud Foster’s “eraser” of sorts finished the game with 12 tackles and an interception. His 12 tackles was the leader on the team.
Edmunds finished with 7 tackles and a sack. Edmunds was second on the team in tackles. The tackle numbers don’t really do the duo justice as their presence across the middle gave UNC pause to run their jack of all trades Ryan Switzer across the middle time and time again. The Hokies defense also did a stellar job on third down limiting the Tar heels to just 2-14 on third down. This defensive pressure will continue to help the Hokies win games, and could even propel them towards an ACC championship birth.
The next good part was the just overall play of the entire team facing, not only the weather, but a very good UNC team. The Hokies, like the Tar Heels, were affected by the adverse weather conditions, but were more mentally tough to not allow some small mistakes to color the outcome of the game. Mental toughness is what Justin Fuente has preached all season long. It is great to see the team is buying into the plan, and executing on both sides of the ball.
This toughness will have to continue on during the rest of the season. I can almost guarantee every game is not going to be a blowout. When the game is on the line, fans can be confidant the Hokies will be able to handle the moment and make the right play.
If you had told me the Hokies would score 34 points with two of their best receivers only combining for one reception, I would have called you crazy. However, that is exactly what happened on Saturday. The Hokies’ passing attack was grounded on Saturday. Quarterback Jerod Evans only completed 7 passes for 75 yards. Now, fans could blame the weather on the lack of production, however that was only partially true. The Hokie signal caller overthrew several open receivers. Thankfully, the Hokies have a get right game for Evans before they take on stiff foe Miami.
Obviously, one bad part of the game on Saturday was the weather. Seriously, the rain was a little outrageous. The weather played havoc on both teams causing the Hokies to put the ball on the ground 7 times. However, as luck would have it the Hokies only lost one of these fumbles. The ball security was suspect but because of the weather some slack can be given. The weather also caused the Tar heels to put the ball on the ground 3 times, 2 of which they lost.
The Hokies’ struggles to take advantage of Tar Heel turnovers early is a very ugly part of an otherwise stellar game. On two early UNC possessions, the Hokie defense created two turnovers starting the Hokie offense deep within Tar Heel territory. However, the offense was unable to punch the ball into the end zone. Not scoring touchdowns in the red zone will surely doom many offenses. In games where the Hokies are going to be pushed, finishing drives with a touchdown will become paramount.
The Hokies once again had a lot of good in this game. Hopefully, the upcoming conference game against the Syracuse Orange will be more of the same. As Coach Fuente says, let’s focus on just going 1-0. Until next time fans, LETS GO HOKIES!!!