Three Cheers and Three Jeers for Virginia Tech vs. Louisville

By Justin Cates | October 31
Three Cheers and Three Jeers for Virginia Tech vs. Louisville
Hendon Hooker looked like his normal self after a rough start against Wake Forest (Courtesy: Zach Lantz).

The Hokies got a nice road win against Louisville 42-35 in a game that threatened several times to become a blowout. To the Cardinals' credit they fought back numerous times by Tech was too strong on the ground and too efficient through the air.

Virginia Tech is now 4-2 overall and in the ACC with an intriguing non-conference tilt against Liberty next week.

Three Cheers

The Return of Big Play Tre

For the first time this season Tre Turner had a huge impact in the many ways he can. The dynamic receiver finished with four catches for 71 yards, scored on a patient rushing touchdown, and made a nice play to help ice the game on a late two-point conversion catch. He's been battling through injuries and got banged up again in this game, which is nerve-racking given the lack of depth at receiver. Turner is critical to the offense down the stretch and it's good to see him find his footing. If he can stay healthy and get in a groove it may well jumpstart the passing game.

Hendon Hooker Bounces Back

It's hard to imagine a better comeback game after Hooker's rough outing against Wake Forest. Hendon posted a ludicrous 253.7 quarterback rating after completing 10-of-10 passes for 183 yards. He added 80 yards on the ground with three touchdowns.

Some may hope for more passing yardage but when the Hokies rack up 283 yards on the ground, it's not really necessary. This feels like the sweet spot balance wise for the offense. An effective ground game and efficient Hendon Hooker is clearly a potent recipe for success.

Encouraging Signs On Defense

It will get overshadowed by the long plays and late scoring spree by Louisville, but for much of the game the Hokies looked pretty good on defense. Tech showed a renewed ability to pressure the quarterback finishing with six tackles for loss including two early sacks by Justus Reed. Tech forced three turnovers through the air and flew around to the ball in a way familiar to longtime fans of the lunchpail defense. There were plenty of mistakes —we'll touch on that later— but there were more hats on the football than we've seen recently and an aggressive feel to the overall effort. Tech needs to clean some things up to be sure, but there's still plenty of potential on this side of the ball.

Three Jeers

End of The First Half

One play after a near miss on an interception, the Hokie defense allowed a 90-yard touchdown run as time expired to give Louisville all the momentum heading into halftime. After taking a 21-0 lead Tech had a couple of rough drives on offense, including one where they went backwards after a Divine Deablo pick set them up deep in Cardinal territory. Credit goes to Louisville for defensive adjustments, but the long touchdown run is completely inexcusable.

As alluded to earlier in this article, the defense made plenty of mistakes and was ultimately gouged for 548 total yards and 35 points. There's room for optimism but I wouldn't blame folks who have concerns either.

Penalties

There were more than enough flags to go around for both teams in this game and once again Tech earned it's fair share of laundry. The Hokies were penalized seven times for 71 yards including a back breaker on that stalled drive following the Deablo interception. It's not a great trend for a program that has generally been fairly disciplined under Justin Fuente. If there's a bright side, perhaps it's that the extremely motivated Brock Hoffman doesn't get into more scrapes than he does.

Third Down Conversions

Tech continues to get into tough spots on third downs despite moving the ball well the rest of the time. The Hokies were just 1-of-7 in this game and now 24-of-70 (34.29 %) on the season. This goes hand in hand with the penalty issues of late as Tech often gets in its own way to stall out drives. It's certainly something to keep an eye on the rest of the season, particularly in close games like this one turned out to be.

Justin Cates

Justin Cates

My Dad graduated from Tech in 1981 and I’ve been attending Virginia Tech sporting events since I first moved to Blacksburg in 1988. I myself graduated in 2008 with a Communication degree. During my time as a student I was the Sports Director for WUVT and helped establish and run Planet Blacksburg, an independent student-run news website. I’ve since written for numerous publications including SBNation, Inside The ACC, and Sports Illustrated's AllHokies. Currently, I host The Justin Cates Show in addition to other contributions here at Sons of Saturday and various other sites as the need arises. I now live in a fortified compound in upstate New York with my wife and numerous animals. The smell of popcorn makes me think of Cassell.

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