Three Offensive Takeaways From Virginia Tech's 27-7 Win Over Wofford

Three Offensive Takeaways From Virginia Tech's 27-7 Win Over Wofford
Photo Credit: Taelor Shema
Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas | @TimThomasTLP

TLP: Editor
Sep 19, 2022

Virginia Tech took care of business Saturday with a 27-7 victory over Wofford as the offense had their ups and downs. Here's my 3 takeaways from Tech's win over the Terriers.

1. Jadan Blue Finds His Rhythm While Christian Moss Emerges

The big positive for Virginia Tech on the offensive side was the play of their wide receivers and specifically two players: Jadan Blue and Christian Moss.

Blue was a known talent with high expectations when he transferred from Temple to Virginia Tech especially after having 95 receptions back in 2019 before a Temple passing attack that completely fell apart slowed his production. However, Blue struggled with only 1 reception in his first two games after a fall camp where he missed significant live practice time due to injury.

Well, Blue found his stride on Saturday with 4 catches for 61 yards and a touchdown making a pair of impressive catches including a leaping catch on 3rd and 18 that kept the drive alive that would turn into Tech's first touchdown plus a really nice sideline catch later on. Blue looked like the playmaker that Tech coaches and fans were hoping with Blue being quickly rewarded this week by being officially a starter after Stephen Gosnell had that spot on the depth chart the first three weeks.

Yes, it was Wofford but Blue found the rhythm that had eluded him for weeks and could be an inflection point for him to hit his stride at Virginia Tech.

Meanwhile, Christian Moss showed signs that he was beginning to climb the Tech depth chart when he got regular second string WR reps during the bits and pieces of fall camp we got to see. However, Moss wasn't the young receiver on most people's radar with Da'Wain Lofton and Jaylen Jones being higher on the list of interest.

Moss showed that he will be near or at the top of the list going forward after a really good game against Wofford with 5 catches for 50 yards making plays both underneath and down the field. This is a team that lacks bigger wide receivers outside of Kaleb Smith who has dealt with some injuries this season including against Wofford. Moss looked the part of a second big, outside receiver that Tech really could use.

Going forward, Moss should definitely get more playing time as part of a Tech offense that has been looking for more answers at wide receiver.

2. Bryce Duke Should Get More Touches Over Jalen Holston, Chance Black

It wasn't till the fourth quarter that we got to see Bryce Duke get significant carries against Wofford and it was Wofford but based on the eye test, Duke showed the potential that his pedigree as the 2021 Washington Post All-Met Player of the Year gave him on paper.

Duke had a 27-yard touchdown reception on a perfectly executed wheel route plus 6 carries for 25 yards for a team-best 4.2 yards per carry. Meanwhile, Jalen Holston had a decent day with 16 catches for 66 yards plus 3 catches for 15 yards while Chance Black had 45 yards on 15 carries.

While Duke barely had a higher yards per carry than Holston, Duke simply looked more explosive and a bigger threat to actually make guys miss on his runs. Neither Holston nor Black have shown much in terms of being able to break tackles with Holston at least having some upside as a power runner and doing the little things.

Yes, Duke is a young guy who may not have the offense fully picked up, but given his use on special teams, it's clear that Tech has no plans of redshirting him. So if you're not going to redshirt him, then why not give him more offensive carries when he's proven to be the more explosive player even if he doesn't have the full offense mastered yet?

Keshawn King and Malachi Thomas will be the top 2 running backs when they are healthy but if neither are healthy Thursday night for West Virginia, then Duke should be the lead guy paired with the veteran Holston and even if King is good to go, Duke should be given touches first among the backups before Holston or Black.

3. Run Blocking Woes Continue

Virginia Tech's run blocking and rushing attack has struggled mightily of late with Tech averaging only 3.2 yards per carry against Wofford. Yeah, that's not good on any level though part of that could likely be blamed on the caliber of running back depth Tech has without Malachi Thomas or Keshawn King on the field.

Add in Thomas or King and those numbers are probably significantly better but averaging under 4 yards per carry against one of the worst FCS teams on the East Coast is a problem that goes beyond one spot.

The run blocking has to improve with Pro Football Focus grades once again not being pretty for Tech's offensive line in run blocking.

Jesse Hanson was the lone Hokie offensive lineman with a 65 or better grade in run blocking against Wofford which should be the bare minimum against a team like the Terriers. Meanwhile, the right side of Tech's offensive line that what was the better side of a struggling unit against BC struggled the most against Wofford with both Kaden Moore and Parker Clements grading under 55.

Now this is a group that has shown more in the past while they seem to have caught on well on the pass blocking front to the shifts in blocking scheme from Vance Vice to Joe Rudolph. This is also a unit where all but Jesse Hanson has significant previous starting experience making these struggles even more odd especially with Hanson being the best run blocker this past week among the starting 5.

Running back play does play a part in the run game struggles, but Tech's run blocking will need to improve whether it's just the current starters getting more comfortable in Joe Rudolph's scheme or Rudolph adjusting some things to maximize what he has right now with his unit.