I don’t know about you Hokie fans but my heart is still pumping after that statement win on Labor Day. Virginia Tech travelled into hostile Doak Campbell stadium, faced an extremely talented Seminole team, and came out the other side 1–0. The Hokies once again showed the nation what can happen if you doubt them. Not only did they ruin the beginning of the Willie Taggart era, but turned what FSU had thought might be our season's funeral into an old fashion whipping.
Now I am man enough to admit when I was wrong; I didn’t think the Hokies had the firepower to win, but I’ve never been so glad to be wrong. This young bunch performed in a way many thought impossible but at the same time, they showed they have some room for improvements this season.
The Good: Bud Foster is a Wizard
The Lunch Pail D has always been a calling card of the Virginia Tech Hokies. However, this year's Bud Foster defense was supposed to be young, inexperienced, and a group learning on the job. In the opener the defense was young and inexperienced for sure, but they didn’t show it. As far as learning on the job, it seemed it was the Florida State offense that was being taken to school.
Foster had his defense flying all over the field. Young players who hadn’t really had meaningful snaps in ACC play suddenly looked like seasoned pros. Foster has always been considered one of the best assistants in the business, Monday night he proved he was not one of the best but the best period.
The scary thing about the defensive performance was exactly how good they played. Teams talk about setting the edge and taking away the run to make a team one dimensional, but the Hokies didn’t just talk about it, they did it all night long.
FSU could not get a running game started at all. Aside from one big chunk run, (which was just a missed tackle from being another no gain play or a loss) the Willie Taggart run-happy offense was stuck in reverse against the Hokies. Along with setting the edge the pressure in the backfield was unreal. The Hokies had more tackles for loss (14) than FSU had first downs (12). Think about that for a second, when was the last time you heard that stat from any D1 team. I talked about Ricky Walker in my season prediction being super human, he didn’t have to be. The defensive front four will be giving the FSU backfield nightmares for months to come.
Proof of Foster's great game planning was the turnovers the Hokies caused. The defense not only seemed to know exactly where to be but because of this positioning, they were able to make game-changing plays. Caleb Farley led in this playmaking category. Farley had an interception early in the game where it seemed he ran the route for the receiver before making the interception. Farley capped off the game with a sack and a game-ending interception to complete what was an amazing night for the defense.
The best part was everyone on the unit credited Foster for his excellent coaching and game planning. I tweeted it out after the game that the Hokies brass needs to do whatever it takes to keep Foster in Blacksburg as he and his defensive unit truly are game changers.
The defensive performance overshadowed the return of Beamer Ball. Not only did the Hokies block a punt, but they returned the block to the end-zone Ofor a touchdown. Once again, this aspect of the Hokies team can change the game in the favor of Virginia Tech all season long.
The Bad: How Long Can the Defense Carry the Offense?
Coming into this game, I believed the offensive unit was the least questionable of the two units. However, it seemed that once again, the offense was looking for answers while the defense was soaring high.
The game started so promising as Josh Jackson and company got into a great rhythm and marched right down the field for a score. However, it was fool's gold for fans as the rest of the game, the offensive unit looked at most times timid and sometimes overmatched.
The rushing attack, which needs to improve started off great and for the most part, was there in a serviceable amount, with McClease and Peoples gaining positive yards. It was the receivers (who were touted as a unit who were going to get the Hokies to the next level) that let the team down dropping passes, negating big plays with silly mental mistakes, and not really being a dominant force.
The second half of the game, the Hokies offensive unit spent the majority of the their time on the field in Seminole territory. What did the Hokies come away with four straight possession starting inside the forty: 12 points, 17 points, 21? The answer is none of those numbers as they came away with 0 points.
Let that sink in; at one point, the drive started at the FSU 19 and somehow the Hokies did not score. Granted, some mental mistakes derailed drives, but it was a lack of execution which doomed the unit. The Hokies are going to have to lcapitalize on opportunities which present themselves.
The Ugly: Trap Game Alert Trap Game Alert
The worst part about playing on Labor Day is the short week which follows. This becomes an even bigger issue when you have a young team like the Hokies and when you're coming off a big statement-making win, it becomes even more of an issue. I am sure I’m not the only fan who remembers losing games after winning huge games or playing so well the nation is taking notice. No one in Hokie nation wants another James Madison situation.
The Hokie coaching staff will have to get the team focused and ready in short order as William & Mary will definitely not come into Lane Stadium scared or in awe, they are too well coached for that. The youth of the team could actually help in this situation. They might not know any better than to believe they can be beat by any team. If the team can focus on the task at hand and not still be basking in the national praise for a Labor Day win, things will take care of themselves.
The Hokies no doubt made a statement on Labor Day, but that is just one game in a very long season. Continuing to improve everyday should be the goal of this young, but very talented team. I can't help but be a little excited thinking about if the defense keeps improving throughout the season, and if the offense catches up man how scary could this team be? I can say this, I’m really excited to watch this season, and as always fans LETS GO HOKIES!!!!
Photo Credit: Jake Roth