Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
Virginia Tech took care of business with a dominant 28-0 victory over Pittsburgh to turn the Commonwealth Cup into the Coastal Championship as well. The offense had plenty of bright spots and a couple concerns so with that said, here's 3 offensive takeaways from VT's win against Pitt.
1. Tayvion Robinson Continues to Impress
Tayvion Robinson has once again emerged as a big play for the machine, but is doing in three different areas: the passing game, running game, and punt returns.
This has been greatly on display over the past few weeks as Robinson's role has once again grown to where it seemed to be at the start of the season. Over the past two games, Robinson has had 3 plays of 30+ yards, 2 of which came on jet sweeps with a 49-yard run against Georgia Tech and a 32-yard run against Pittsburgh. Robinson also showed off his speed and agility with his 71-yard reception against the Panthers.
However, the most impressive area for Robinson may be what he has done on punt returns over the past few games
Over the past 3 games, Robinson has returned 9 punts for an impressive 112 yards which averages out to 12.4 yards per return. For comparison, Greg Stroman only averaged more than 10 yards per punt return once during his senior season when he averaged 11.3 yards per return.
Robinson has not only re-emerged as a versatile spark plug on offense, but he is developing into a game changer as a punt returner. There are maybe a couple moments where Robinson may be wiser to take a fair catch, but his elusiveness and acceleration have proven to make a big difference and turn punt returns into a special teams strength for the Hokies.
2. Hendon Hooker Continues to be Efficient and Smart
Hendon Hooker continued to be consistent going 10-13 for 153 yards and 2 touchdowns while running for 27 yards on the ground. While this wasn't Hooker's biggest game, the redshirt sophomore still did what he was supposed to while showing great accuracy and not having a pass that felt close to be an interception.
His effectiveness and IQ as a passer hasn't gone unnoticed by advanced stats either with his passer rating since October being among the elite quarterbacks in the country.
Passer ratings since Oct. 1— David+ (@ADavidHaleJoint) November 26, 2019
1. Trevor Lawrence, 198.6
2. Tyler Huntley, 195.7
3. Joe Burrow, 192.5
4. Justin Fields, 186.7
5. Jalen Hurts, 181.6
6. Hendon Hooker, 181.1
10. Kedon Slovis, 167.3*
11. Jayden Daniels, 166.2*
14. Sam Howell, 157.2*
* = true freshman
Yeah, Hooker has had a passer rating that is better than Tua Tagovailoa and is just behind guys like Jalen Hurts. While Hooker may not be as good as either of those 2 guys, it shows that Hooker's play has been on that type of level even if he hasn't put up the biggest numbers.
The Hokies will need Hooker to continue to not only be efficient but also smart with the football as he has been to date. If Hooker can do that, he could have a big game against a UVA secondary that has looked vulnerable since losing All-American caliber CB Bryce Hall for the season against Miami.
Based on what Hooker has done to date, that seems extremely likely.
3. Fumbles Remain a Concern
Virginia Tech may not have lost a fumble against Pitt but they had a couple of close calls from a botched snap to Keshawn King having a brief fumble where he still gained a yard.
To an extent, this is nitpicking in regards to the Tech offensive concerns but definitely remains the highest concern. Tech's interior rushing game wasn't great against Pitt and has remained inconsistent, but the fumbles are the bigger concern against a Virginia team that will be looking to force turnovers and give Bryce Perkins shorter fields to work with.
Now the Hokies haven't been losing these fumbles, but these things always seem to balance out at some point if they continue to happen. Part of the reason for Virginia Tech's significantly improved play has been not only their lack of turnovers, but their lack of close calls with this being a slight regression from that new norm.
Virginia Tech's quality protection of the football both in the passing game and on the ground will be critical against Virginia and if these small fumble issues pop up again this Friday, the cost could be significantly greater.