Saturday, the Virginia Tech Hokies took on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Coming off some disappointing losses, the Deamon Deacon head coach Jim Grobe decided to mix things up by putting some second string players into the starting lineup. He had the goal of shaking things up on his squad to breathe some new life into his team. However, the first half of the game amounted to nothing less than a Hokie explosion offense. In the first half, they got into the endzone on all but one of their possessions. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor consistently made completions to receivers Jarratt Boykin, Danny Coale, and even backup quarterback Logan Thomas. Taylor's passing displayed his ability to scramble and move to find the open man. The defense held the Demon Deacons to three and out for their first two drives. They allowed 14 first half points. If this trend continues, the days of the Hokie slow start may well be behind us for the rest of this season, and good riddance if so!
Jayron Hosley has continued to impress me as a developing player in the last few games. First, he had a 58 yard return to set up the Hokies first touchdown. Several times playing corner back, he made difficult tips to prevent pass completions. He also made multiple single tackles, some even causing Wake Forest for a loss of yards. He did fumble one of his put returns, and it seems that having the dropsies was well spread across the Hokies. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor let one slip out of his hands on a quarterback rush. David Wilson also fumbled on a return, but in each case the Hokies recovered. Against a tougher defense, things may have turned out differently. The defense for the most part kept the Wake Forest offense at bay. Both of the Demon Deacon touchdowns resulted from long rushing plays. The first touchdown happened when the Hokie defensive line left a big hole and the safeties found themselves too far out of position to make the tackle. The second happened from a long run resulting from a missed tackle by defensive end Steven Friday.
The third quarter went fairly quietly with only one Wake Forest touchdown and one Virginia Tech field goal. By the third quarter's end, the Hokies controlled the game by a score of 52-21, and some of the Hokie second string had taken the field.
The fourth quarter went by even quieter as neither team scored a single point. Backup quarterback Logan Thomas began taking snaps. He stands a towering 6'6", and seems to have good poise. Thomas didn't really connect for any big plays during his time on the field, but he did show some ability to move the ball. He made a series of single yard gain rushes and found receivers for modest passing yardage gains. In the end he threw 3 completions in 8 attempts for 22 yards. His rushing amounted to 15 yards across 3 carries. He also successfully threw the ball out of bounds under pressure during several plays thus avoiding risky situations that could have led to turnovers. However, he didn't get Virginia Tech onto the board. Not having the agility and speed of Tyrod Taylor, he didn't avoid some of the pressure resulting from Hokie offensive line collapses, something the Hokies' current starting quarterback consistently displays the ability to do. Given that he hasn't seen much action as a backup this season, we can't be too critical of Thomas. I hope we get the opportunity to see him play a couple more quarters before the season ends.
The offense as a whole played well. They earned a total of 605 yards, went 12 for 17 on third down conversions, completed 63% of their passing, rushed for 291 yards, threw for 314 yards, and held possession for 41:26 of the game. This is a welcome change from games passed, even against an opponent like Wake Forest. The defense played well too, but there are still signs of development needed. Missed tackles, big holes in the defensive line, and out of position safeties allowed for some big gains in Wake Forest rushing. The defensive secondary, however, looked nearly air-tight. They only allow 4 completions on 17 attempts for a total of 92 yards. Special teams had a couple of big plays in punt returns, and given some of the mistakes we've seen by those squads this season, only a few positive surprises in this area is a welcome thing.
While overall this resonates as a good win, the Hokies didn't execute perfectly. The biggest lesson I think they need to take away is that they can't bobble the ball. The fumbles they had didn't result in loss of possession as they recovered all of them. However, should all of those fumbles have resulted in turnovers, we could have been looking at a very different game. Against a Miami and Georgia Tech defense, it's nearly certain that one, two, or even all three of those fumbles would have resulted in a change of possession. Turnovers can be the undoing of otherwise good teams, and the Hokie coaching staff needs to drill that into their players heads for the remainder of this season. That's critical if they want to keep their eye on the ACC championship.
LET"S GO HOKIES