Three Cheers and Three Jeers for Virginia Tech vs. North Carolina

By Justin Cates | October 10
Three Cheers and Three Jeers for Virginia Tech vs. North Carolina
Tre Turner and the offense were a bright spot, but the defense struggled against UNC (Courtesy: Zach Lantz).

For the second year in a row Tech-UNC was a track meet, but this time the Hokies fell short 56-45. The Virginia Tech defense was gouged for 656 total yards and got behind big early. There are big questions on defense, but the offense once again did some big things.

Like any game there was plenty of good and bad to go around.

Three Cheers

Players Getting Healthy

The most encouraging thing about this game was the return of all of the full-time assistant coaches as well as a handful of players including Hendon Hooker and Jermaine Waller. Tech was only missing 15 players for this game which means things are trending in the right direction on that front.

Brian Johnson

The kicker continued his strong performance thus far by nailing a career long 55-yard field goal when the Hokies desperately needed points. He's always had a big leg but this year he's shown improved accuracy and become a huge weapon for the Hokies. He also executed a textbook onside kick which he himself recovered late in the third quarter to swing momentum and jumpstart a Tech rally.

Resilience

I've mentioned it before but this team has some serious resilience. They haven't caught any breaks on player availability or scheduling, yet they continue to do their thing and figure it out as they go. The attempted comeback after getting blasted in the first half tells you a lot about this group and bodes well for the rest of the season.

Bonus Cheer: A Real Broadcast Team

While the result was disappointing, it was nice to watch a Tech game via a competent telecast. Bob Wischusen does a nice job with play-by-play, Dan Orlovsky had some great insights and was complimentary of both teams when earned, and of course Dr. Jerry Punch is a legend in multiple sports. Hopefully you all enjoyed it as it's back to the ACC Network next week.

Three Jeers

Flat-Footed

Each season during the Justin Fuente era there has been one notable game where the Hokies came out and appeared completely shell-shocked by their opponents. This one is 2020's early candidate to continue that trend, with a twist.

The Hokies looked confused and overmatched on defense, particularly early in the game when the Tar Heels raced out to a 21-0 lead. The first handful of offensive drives were listless and the team didn't seem to react well, though they rallied in a massive way in the third quarter. That's a major difference from past instances of poor starts and a credit to the coaching staff. It's something to build on from an otherwise distasteful loss.

Poor Tackling

The Hokies missed quite a few tackles on the day and Carolina capitalized in a big way. A few of the misses came on scoring plays, and a handful of other whiffs led to chunk yardage for the Tar Heels. Some of this may be a reflection of altered practices. I'm not sure how much live contact has been reduced, but this is also just youth showing on defense. A lot of less developed guys have been forced into duty and it shows. But it's not limited to new starters and that's concerning. There's a lot to clean up on defense starting up front where Tech was dominated all day against the Tar Heels.

The Quarterback Rotation

Braxton Burmeister is a gamer and is a valuable part of the team, but he's shown his limitations. He lags behind Hendon Hooker in arm strength, accuracy, and decision-making. The Hokies will undoubtedly need him again this season and he's proven he can win games, but Hendon Hooker needs to see every down when he's healthy. Hooker quickly shook off the rust and reminded everyone why he was named the starter in the preseason with a strong performance. Hooker has that elusive 'it' factor and with him at the helm this offense has a chance to be special.

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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