tVirginia Tech took care of business this weekend, beating East Carolina 64-17 due to 57 unanswered points. After the poor first quarter, there was nothing but positives for the Hokies in their dominant victory.
Josh Jackson had the best game of his short career while Bud Foster's defense looked like it it's old self after the first quarter. With that said, here are our takeaways from the Hokies' dominant performance.
1. Josh Jackson is a better passer than Jerod Evans.
Josh Jackson was impressive Saturday completing 24 of 31 passes for 372 passing yards and 5 touchdowns. Jackson was dominant in this game and looked like the quarterback that made plenty of plays against West Virginia to help lead Virginia Tech to a big victory.
Before the season, many wondered if there would be a drop-off going from Jerod Evans to Jackson. In the passing game, Jackson is proving to be an upgrade.
Josh Jackson doesn't have as strong of an arm as Evans, but is significantly more accurate than Evans was. Against ECU, there were plenty of passes that were basically perfect thrown by Jackson including the long James Clark reception that was absolute perfection. Beyond that, Jackson threw accurate passes that were right where the receiver needed them to be not only to make it an easier completion but also to give his receiver a chance to score a TD or gain lots of yards after the catch.
Josh Jackson's execution was just about perfect with plenty of on-time, accurate passes that allowed Justin Fuente's offense to be as effective as we've seen it in Blacksburg. Jackson isn't as good of a runner as Evans, but he's proving to be a better passer than him.
2. Bud Foster's defense is at its best in man coverage with blitzes.
Early on, we saw Bud Foster and the Hokies' defense play a lot of zone coverage and struggle. Virginia Tech's defensive identity hasn't traditionally been in zone coverage and though there are some benefits, it's a transition that is still taking time as the Hokies add more zone coverage wrinkles.
Though part of the first quarter defensive struggles were due to the defense not really showing up, part of it was due to zone coverage that wasn't executed well. After the first quarter, Bud Foster went to his defensive core running lots of man coverage and exotic blitzes that made ECU completely ineffective.
The Hokies only had 2 sacks on Saturday, but their blitzes brought lots of pressure that ECU QB Gardner Minshaw simply couldn't handle. Minshaw finished the day having completed only 11 of his 30 passes as the Hokies' man coverage was stout while their blitzes gave Minshaw nightmares. The Hokies also came close to having a few interceptions with Greg Stroman able to get his first interception of the season.
Bud Foster is a master of in-game adjustments, and his shift to his traditional aggressive, man coverage defense fixed the early issues.
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3. Travon McMillian is VT's Best RB For Now
Virginia Tech has built up a strong stable of running backs with Deshawn McClease having a pair of good games and Steven Peoples proving to be a quality power back. Though McClease and Peoples have been good so far, Travon McMillian is the Hokies' best running back for now.
McMillian played well on Saturday with 11 carries for 72 yards and a 70-yard touchdown on a seam route RPO that worked perfectly. McMillian showed off his speed on that play and some of his carries throughout the game.
More than that, McMillian ran with confidence and intensity on Saturday, two things that have led to this even RB rotation. McMillian looked like the RB that we saw in 2015 who showed lots of potential and gave the Hokies a reliable running game.
Travon McMillian was able to gain 4 or 5 yards fairly consistently, something that should be expected from your top running back. McMillian was aggressive and decisive for one of the few times we've seen in this offense and if he keeps this up, he'll reassert himself as the guy in the Hokies' backfield.
However, that's the question that remains to be answered as well. Will Travon McMillian keep playing with the confidence and intensity that he showed on Saturday? If so, McMillian will remain the Hokies' best RB.
Extra Point: Can AJ Bush Play WR?
For the first time, AJ Bush played for Virginia Tech, making his debut late in the third quarter. Bush came in and looked sharp with a quality pass over the middle. However, Bush impressed fans with his great speed running for 66 yards on only 5 carries. This stat becomes more incredible when you consider Bush's size at 6'4'', 225 pounds.
During fall camp, Justin Fuente said that he felt Bush may be the best athlete on the team and that showed on Saturday. Though the Hokies need Bush still as their backup QB, you have to wonder if Bush could play some WR especially with the Hokies' current lack of healthy tall receivers outside of Eric Kumah who barely played Saturday.
The Hokies still need to get Bush reps at QB in practice to keep him as the backup, but it may be worth giving him some reps at WR in practice to see if he can play out there. If he can, Bush could be a unique weapon later in the season who could shift out there after the season and give the Hokies a trio of talented tall, eligible receivers alongside Damon Hazelton and Caleb Farley.
Bush is an impressive athlete and while the Hokies do need to keep him at QB, they should at least consider giving him a few reps at WR in practice to see if he could play out there.
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