What a difference five days makes. Last Thursday night, the Virginia Tech Hokies, five days removed from a lackluster game against Syracuse, took on the Miami Hurricanes. What followed in the next four hours was a dominating performance that put the ACC on notice and means that the road to the Coastal might just run through Blacksburg. The Hokies put together a beautiful 37-16 victory in the return of Thursday Night Football to Blacksburg. This was a great bounce-back win for the Hokies, and as always there is plenty to talk about.
First, let’s talk about the atmosphere. In a word, it was electric.
I have always said Blacksburg on a Thursday night under the lights is a magical place. This game was no different, as the crowd was unreal. Not only did the stadium look like a sea of maroon, but the crowd noise had to be a terrible ordeal for the Hurricanes, and it showed in their execution. Crowd noise is a lost art form in the game today. The opposing team not being able to hear themselves think is always an advantage for the defense. The Hokies’ defense definitely took advantage of this loud venue.
Another impressive feat was just how awesome Enter Sandman was for this game. Now, I am well aware of how great the Hokies’ signature entrance is live. The impressive part is how amazing the entrance looked on TV. If I was a recruit watching the game, I would have thought to myself, if this is how this looks and sounds on TV, what would it look and sound like live. It really is a powerful recruiting tool.
Another great part from this game was how well the Hokies’ backups played when forced into starting roles. One of the terrible things about the Syracuse game, other than the loss of course, was the fact the Hokies lost two huge contributors on the defense side of the ball. Ken Ekanem and Nigel Williams both were in street clothes on Thursday. Ekanem, the team’s sack leader, was a huge loss on paper, but the Hokies reserves were more than up to the task of filling his very big shoes.
I say it was only the reserves, but the other two starters were lights out as well. Woody Baron played his best game of the year disrupting it seemed like almost every play. Baron finished with 6 tackles, 4.5 and of which were for loss. Vinny Mihota finished with two sacks and 5 tackles total. Baron and Mihota led what was a great performance by the Hokies front four. Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya was not allowed to get into any rhythm or even set his feet on more than a handful of throws. This is the type of pressure Bud Foster wants to continue to have over the remaining schedule.
Even with a great defensive performance by the Hokies, there were once again too many explosive plays. The Hokies gave up five plays of over 25 yards in the passing game. Two of these passes resulted in touchdown catches for the Hurricanes, and one other would have gone for 6 if it wasn’t for the turf monster coming up to trip the Miami receiver.
These type of plays are becoming more and more prevalent in the Hokies’ defensive identity. For the majority of the game, the Hokie defense was a wall with hurricane force water breaking against it. However, even a small bit of water can get through over time but five times is a little too much.
You ask why is this a big deal? After all, the Hokies won by three touchdowns, but the answer is simple. Right now, the Hokies’ offense is clicking on all cylinders, but there will be a game coming on the horizon where the offense will struggle. It will be a close score, and a big play given up by the defense will be the deciding factor in the outcome of the game. For the time being, this is a moot point, and I hope it remains just that. After all Hokie fans, a Bud Foster defense that can play with the lead is a very dangerous thing.
Once again I struggled to find an ugly part of this game. The offense played great, and was extremely balanced. The defense was lights out except for the five plays I talked about earlier. Heck, we only had two penalties, and zero turnovers. What is the ugly part? Trust me folks I found one part.
The Hokies were not too impressive on third down. Virginia Tech went a meager 4-for-13 on the money down. The silver lining of this stat was the Hokies’ ability to stay out of third down situations. Many times, the Hokies were in such short second down situations that they were able to convert right away.
Third down is an important down for the Hokies this year as the new up-tempo offense limits the rest Bud Foster’s defense gets in between stints on the field. Keeping the offense on the field is going to have to be more important to the Hokies in order to keep the defense fresh.
The Hokies once again are playing on Thursday night this week. This game, like last week’s, is an important battle to keep the Hokies in the driver’s seat for a bid to the ACC Championship. I look for the Hokies to continue their progress as a team, and get another big win. Until next time fans, LETS GO HOKIES!!!!!!