Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics/Atlantic Coast Conference
Virginia Tech kicked off their season in impressive fashion with a dominant 45-24 victory over N.C. State that could have been an even bigger margin of victory if not for a late knee on the one-yard line.
Last night saw plenty of standout performances, but two grad transfers stood out the most to earn the first Hokie of the Game honors of the 2020 season.
Offensive Hokie of the Game: RB Khalil Herbert
Khalil Herbert may have only had 8 touches in this game, but he took advantage of those touches and made us wonder why the Hokies didn't give him triple that volume.
Herbert had 6 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown along with 2 catches for 46 yards. In the process, Herbert became the first to break 100 rushing yards in his Hokie debut since Josh Jackson did so against West Virginia in 2017 while also becoming only the fifth Hokie to do so this century.
Did a quick check ... prior to tonight other 100+ rushing in first game with a carry:— Damian Salas (@vthokie) September 27, 2020
9/3/17 - Josh Jackson (101) vs. WVU
8/30/14 - Shai McKenzie (106) vs. W&M
8/31/13 - Trey Edmunds (132) vs. Bama
9/12/09 - David Wilson (165) vs. Marshall
9/7/96 - Shyrone Stith (119) vs. Akron
While Herbert did benefit from an offensive line that was really impressive, he also showed tons of explosiveness and was consistently a big play machine with his longest run being a 37-yard touchdown. Additionally, Herbert also did a really good job as a blocker and looked like the complete package as someone who could run between the tackles and on the edge along with making plays in the passing game.
Tech may have their best running back since David Wilson in Khalil Herbert with Herbert making one thing clear, he should get the ball a whole lot more going forward.
James Mitchell had a strong performance with 3 catches for 68 yards and a touchdown with all three of his catches being impressive either due to the 50-50 fight to win the play or his one reception where he took a hard hit almost immediately after going up to catch the ball. Tayvion Robinson also had a strong game with 4 catches for 40 yards and a touchdown and a couple solid punt returns along with a close call via a muff that was recovered by freshman Dorian Strong.
Braxton Burmeister and Quincy Patterson both had strong performances with Burmeister leading the way as Tech's starter going 7-11 for 106 yards while also running for 46 yards on 9 carries. Meanwhile, Patterson played well especially when he first came in for Burmeister and his hand cramp, with Patterson going 4-6 for 75 yards and 2 TDs along with 47 yards and a TD on 10 carries.
Defensive Hokie of the Game: Justus Reed
Justus Reed's Hokie debut went about as well as anyone could have imagined as the seventh year player showed that experience matters.
Reed was a force on the defensive line with 5 tackles including 2 sacks while he also applied lots of pressure throughout the game and could have had a third sack if not for the fact that Rayshard Ashby just beat him there for the sack.
Defensive end has been a position of concern for Tech which made Reed a priority grad transfer addition. So far, Reed has lived up to the hype and expectation of being the major pass rushing boost that the Hokies were desperately looking for when trying to add a grad transfer defensive end.
Veterans shined in many ways as Preseason All-ACC LB Rayshard Ashby looked the part with 6 tackles including a sack and 2 QB hurries. Meanwhile, Divine Deablo looked like he may poised for his best season yet with 6 tackles along with an impressive interception after picking up a perfect read on NC State's Bailey Hockman as part of the Hokies' impressive first 7.5 minutes.
Keonta Jenkins didn't look like a true freshman making his first career start with the Jacksonville safety impressing with a team high 8 tackles along with a QB hurry. Dax Hollifield was very good with 7 tackles including 0.5 sacks while Chamarri Conner had 6 tackles including one for loss and Zion Debose may be rising the depth charts into the two-deep after having 4 tackles with 2 being half sacks to finish with 1.0 sacks total.