Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
After being down 14-3 at halftime to Furman, Virginia Tech found a way to survive coming back to defeat the Paladins 24-17 after 21-straight points to start the second half swung the game in Virginia Tech's favor. While there were plenty of disappointing things, there was also some strong performances including from Keshawn King and Chamarri Conner who earned our Hokie of the Game honors this week.
Offensive Hokie of the Game: Keshawn King
The hype around Keshawn King came to fruition today as the true freshman RB shined and helped rescue the Hokies with 12 carries for 119 yards and 2 catches for 16 yards.
While King credited his offensive line in his postgame comments, King also deserves plenty of credit for his strong performance.
One, King's impressive explosiveness and speed showed again and again as he was able to burst through holes and make some big plays on his way to averaging 9.9 yards per carry. Second, King ran with lots of toughness as he was able to bounce off defenders at times and keep on going which was impressive given how his frame is relatively thin.
Third was his patience running the football, one area where he feels he has grown a lot during his first few weeks at the collegiate level.
King: "You have to be patient. I feel like I was rushing things at times." Feels he had to be patient and had to wait for blocks to play out before making his move. "Once I picked up on that, it was over" #Hokies— The Tech Lunch Pail (@techlunchpaild) September 14, 2019
Overall, King looked like a complete with Justin Fuente appearing to trust him as a true lead back during the second half before he suffered an injury that kept him out the rest of the game. Going forward, there's doubt that King should be the guy to lead the Virginia Tech backfield.
Tre Turner had a fumble early, but the sophomore receiver still had a strong game with 4 catches for 29 yards and a touchdown along with 5 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown. Turner was extremely effective on the jet sweeps and end around that were a valuable adjustment for the Hokies on offense that created more space and allowed VT's more talented athletes to win one-on-one matchups in space, something we've been advocating for coming off last week's game.
Defensive Hokie of the Game: Chamarri Conner
Chamarri Conner had his best game yet as Virginia Tech's starting nickelback with 8 tackles including a sack with all of his tackles being unassisted, an impressive mark for the sophomore from Jacksonville.
Conner was all over the field making plays both around the line of scrimmage and in space with Bud Foster mentioning that he felt Conner came out of shell and showed signs of growth due to the early season experience he's gained.
Bud Foster: Says he felt Chamarri Conner came out of his shell and feels he's gaining "valuable experience every week" that showed in his play #Hokies— The Tech Lunch Pail (@techlunchpaild) September 14, 2019
Bud Foster mentioned how productive a nickelback should be in his defense when firing on all cylinders with Conner showing that on the field today.
While Chamarri Conner was solid in his first two games, today was his performance to date as the Jacksonville defensive back showed why he can be a difference maker for the Hokies over the next three seasons.
Emmanuel Belmar also had a strong performance with 7 tackles including 1.5 sacks and 2 QB hurries. The veteran DE hasn't had the best start to the season but was in position again and again today with Bud Foster mentioning that he isn't surprised that Belmar can play this well when he is doing everything "exact."
Dax Hollifield made some noise leading the Hokies by having 10 tackles and forcing a fumble while Caleb Farley also had an interception to go with a pass breakup and 3 tackles. Eli Adams' first start went well as the young DE had 7 tackles and a QB hurry today.