Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
Virginia Tech avoided a complete disaster yesterday coming back from a 14-3 halftime deficit to beat Furman 24-17. Here's a look at three offensive takeaways from yesterday's game.
1. Feed Keshawn King
Yesterday provided the clearest evidence to date that Keshawn King is clearly the Hokies' best tailback. Going forward, King absolutely must be the lead running back with Deshawn McClease being the change-of-pace/third down back.
The best way King proved this was on the stat sheet running for 119 yards on 12 carries compared to 24 yards on 10 carries for McClease. Watch the game tape and you'll see even more how King is clearly the guy and was able to get in a rhythm as he received regular carries, something rarely seen under Justin Fuente.
Yes, what stood out the most with King was his speed and explosiveness but he also showed lots of toughness bouncing off a couple defenders to gain valuable extra yards. Additionally, King showed lots of patience for a true freshman and benefited from his offensive line starting to find their rhythm and play with more confidence.
McClease still does have a role as he's proven to be a capable player in space who fits well as a third down back and can be effective in the passing game. However, Keshawn King is VT's best running back and should be treated as a lead back as such.
2. Jet Sweeps Help Spark Running Game
Virginia Tech's running game came alive to rescue the offense and Hokies as a whole in the second half and while part of that is due to Keshawn King, it's also because of a schematic change.
The Hokies decided to stretch the field with their rushing game using jet sweeps and end arounds to their advantage.
Yes, the much maligned jet sweep proved to be a smart adjustment by Brad Cornelsen that got VT's rushing attack going.
The addition of the jet sweep did two major things.
First, it meant more touches for some of VT's fastest players and most talented athletes including Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson. VT benefited as Turner has 68 yards and a TD on 5 carries while Robinson had a 21-yard carry of his own. Give guys like Turner and Robinson one-on-one matchups to win and they'll likely do so making a big play in the process.
Secondly, a running game that stretches the field forces team to stretch their defense and put less in the box, creating more space that showed. King's 54-yard run was a great example of this as Furman's defense was stretched out and gave VT fewer guys to clear out on the second level, giving King the space he needed to make his cuts and get a big play.
VT has the athletic talent and speed to continue doing this whether the Hokies are facing FCS or ACC competition, and still be effective. That adjustment to focus more on an outside running game showed the template of how VT's running game should change on a permanent basis going forward.
3. Luke Tenuta Seizes Right Tackle Job
Yesterday's game set the stage for a permanent change at right tackle with Luke Tenuta taking the job after a rough performance from Silas Dzansi.
Dzansi's most notable moments came via penalties as his two false starts were quite disappointing with one being a clear drive killer. Additionally, Dzansi got beat again and again making life for Ryan Willis even more difficult on what wasn't Willis' best day anyway.
Dzansi's struggles led to a change to Luke Tenuta sometime either late in the first half or early in the second half. That change brought some stability to the right side with Tenuta playing well in part because he blended in with a lack of mistakes, or at least major ones.
Now Dzansi has played better in the past but yesterday should lead to Tenuta being the starting right tackle at least for now. Of course, the competition there will remain open as Vance Vice always does, but Tenuta looked clearly better at right tackle yesterday and deserves to be the starter even though a short leash may be wise to have for a redshirt freshman.