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Kaleb Smith, Josh Fuga, Keonta Jenkins are the Hokies of the Game Against Pittsburgh

Kaleb Smith 2 VT ODU HT

Virginia Tech may have come up short against Pittsburgh 45-29, but there were several strong performances with a pair of players standing out the most to earn this week's Hokies of the Game honors.

Offensive Hokie of the Game: Kaleb Smith

Kaleb Smith had the best game of his career Saturday at Acrisure Stadium as Virginia Tech's #1 WR proved that with 9 catches for 152 yards though he somehow didn't have a touchdown. Yes, he had that second half fumble that seemed to be the final inflection point in this game, but it's hard to fault Smith too much given how it was a forceful hit by Pittsburgh DE John Morgan that was accurate in landing his shoulder right on the ball to pop it loose. There's not a lot of players across the country who would have held on to the ball with q hit that forceful and accurate.

Smith has built a strong rapport with Grant Wells which showed on some passes, but Smith also made some tremendous catches including an early one with pass interference called on the Pitt DB plus some nice yards after the catch including one underneath where he made the defender missed and turned it into a double-digit yard gain. The unfortunate thing is that the hit by Morgan on the fumble seemed to injure Smith some with Brent Pry stating after that he would be unable to return per postgame video and reporters on site at Pitt.

Overall, Smith showed again that he is a legitimate #1 WR who could end up having one of the best statistical seasons ever for a Tech wide receiver if he can stay healthy.

Malachi Thomas made his 2022 debut in a strong way opening with a 5-yard TD run on his first touch of his game on his way to having 15 carries for 84 yards and that touchdown plus 5 catches for 14 yards. Tech's run blocking wasn't great, but Thomas showed why the hype train was rightly big around him and immediately provided a boost to the rushing attack.

Dae'Quan Wright is making a strong case to be the lead receiving tight end going forward and maybe the top overall TE after having 5 catches for 47 yards following a 4-catch debut at UNC last week. Keshawn King had 26 yards and a rushing TD plus 2 catches for 7 yards in a solid performance while Da'Wain Lofton had 2 catches for 47 yards including his 43-yard TD.

Defensive Hokies of the Game: Josh Fuga, Keonta Jenkins

While it wasn't a very good day for the VT defense as a whole, there were a few players who stood out the most with the honors being split between Josh Fuga and Keonta Jenkins.

Fuga was a force in the trenches as he had 4 tackles including 1.5 for loss while he also had a nice pass breakup early in the game in what was a great show of instinctual football. Fuga made a big impact whenever he was on the field and also graded out well per Pro Football Focus which graded Fuga out in the 80s as the second-best Hokie defender.

Their top guy: Keonta Jenkins. Jenkins put up some strong numbers too with 3 tackles plus his interception, a pass breakup, and a QB hurry as he made plenty of plays and was Tech's best linebacker on a day where VT's LB play wasn't always the best especially in the run game and at the will LB spot that remains open for the taking though Jayden McDonald probably should be the leader there after making some good plays in the second half.

Jaylen Griffin also deserves some recognition as he led Tech with 2.5 tackles for loss among his 6 tackles on the day, stepping up some with star DE TyJuan Garbutt out due to injury.

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