Virginia Tech returned to the Saturday night stage tonight as the Hokies hosted #2 Clemson in what was a rematch of last year's ACC Championship, and what many believe is a preview of this year's ACC title game.
The Hokies showed that they are a quality football team, but Clemson is on a whole different level that none outside of Alabama and possibly Oklahoma are on. Tonight, that became quite clear.
Virginia Tech fell to Clemson 31-17 in a game that was never within one possession after Clemson took a 17-3 lead near halftime. The Hokies got into a 10-0 hole early and were never really able to dig themselves out.
The Hokies got off to a bad start, but after giving up points on Clemson's first two possessions, the defense tightened up and was strong the rest of the night outside of containing Kelly Bryant's mobility at times. Virginia Tech held Clemson to 3.4 yards per carry while Bryant only had 186 passing yards on 12-for-21 passing.
Meanwhile, the offense wasn't bad, but there was lots of conservative, uninspired playcalling from Brad Cornelsen in this game. Meanwhile, a pair of turnovers made a big difference on this game. Travon McMillian's early third quarter fumble zapped the momentum out of VT while Dorian O'Daniel's pick-6 was the nail in the coffin off what was a drop by Henri Murphy, but an extremely unfortunate deflection.
Josh Jackson wasn't too bad in this game throwing 29-for-44 for 251 passing yards and 1 touchdown. Jackson did have 2 interceptions, but one came off a drop from Henri Murphy and the other was by Austin Bryant on what was one of the greatest interceptions I've ever seen a defensive lineman make. Jackson wasn't perfect, but the future is very bright and the redshirt freshman will only be better in future meetings that seem certain to happen.
Cam Phillips led the Hokies' receivers with 7 catches for 74 yards in what was a strong, under-the-radar night for Phillips. Six different players had 3 or more receptions tonight including Sean Savoy who had 4 catches for 35 yards and a touchdown plus 2 carries for 8 yards and a 2-yard rushing touchdown.
Coleman Fox played in garbage time, but he once again led the team in rushing with 39 yards on 5 carries plus 4 catches on 13 yards. Travon McMillian wasn't too bad with 6 carries for 29 yards, but his fumble was significant and helped him find his way into Justin Fuente's dog house.
Virginia Tech's defense was strong tonight led by a very good game from the defensive line. Trevon Hill caused lots of problems with 6 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack while Tim Settle had one of his best games with 6 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack. Terrell Edmunds led the Hokies with 11 tackles, but didn't have a great night in man coverage while Tremaine Edmunds had 9 tackles and played like a future first round pick.
It's easy to be disappointed about this game, but Virginia Tech didn't quit at any point and showed that they are a good, top 15 football team. The thing is, Clemson is an elite football team and the gap between the Tigers and the rest of the ACC is significant for the time being. However, the Hokies have the talent to start closing the gap as they continue to grow and develop.
Stay up with The Tech Lunch Pail for the latest on the Hokies. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our email updates.