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Cheers and Jeers: Virginia Tech vs. Florida State

By Justin Cates | October 08
Screen Shot 2023 10 08 at 11 08 20 AM
Photo by Zach Lantz.
This past summer I agreed to help a buddy of mine DJ a wedding for friends on October 7. I've helped him before but this time I emceed the event and even got to spin some tunes later in the evening. It was a good time.

Of course, I knew there was a game that day but when I scanned the schedule and saw FSU, my heart sank. I figured that might not be the worst game to have the ability to fast-forward through on rewatch. As it turns out, I was only partly correct. Thanks to the magic of Hulu, my recording began with Tech already trailing 8-0 which was not a particularly auspicious start.

Things got far more interesting from there, though the result was ultimately a disappointing 39-17 loss to Florida State.


Bhayshul Tuten...That's the Headline

I hope everyone is appreciating the incredible Bhayshul Tuten and what he's doing for the Hokies. His ability to make people miss or just run through them if he has to is remarkable. He's good at catching the ball and he presents a clear and present danger for opponents on kick returns.

It's hard to say which play was more impressive, the kick return where he proved to be one of the few Tech players who could run by the Seminoles or the nifty red zone touchdown where he casually hurtled an FSU defender for the smooth score.

The results are still pretty rough right now overall but Tuten alone is worth the price of admission and the ground game is slowing becoming a thing worth paying attention to. Tech now firmly has a strong duo at running back with a healthy Malachi Thomas joining Tuten in the fold. Thomas had his best game of the season for the second week in a row. This time he ran 10 times for 58 yards and nearly broke a long score on a 21-yard reception.

This is a bright spot which is hard to believe given where the season began in the run game.

There Were Moments, Oh Were There Some Moments

At 1:06 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, I was nearly kicked out of my home following my reaction as Bhayshul Tuten housed his 99-yard kickoff return during my delayed watch. This proved to be the high-water mark in the game but it capped another in a series of furious rallies that had some impressive plays.

Kyron Drones sparked the surge with a long run which was really the first sign of life after Tech spotted FSU the first 22 points of the game. There's absolutely no way you can question the fight of this team. They dig more holes than Shia Lebouf but they sure rally to get out of them. That isn't a great strategy though and clearly the Hokies need to put down the shovels.

Still, you have to respect the rally.



For a large portion of this game the Hokies went toe to toe with FSU. For three quarters, both teams scored 17 points. It was the overwhelming first quarter where Tech was clearly shocked by just how good the 'Noles are. And to be fair they're pretty much what everyone expected. Mike Norvell has really got something cooking this season and at this point, it's hard not to envision them winning the ACC.

It's difficult to recall a game where Tech was so visibly dominated physically and with incredible speed across the board. Once the Hokies got going they hung tough, but the damage had been done in the first quarter and finished with another outburst late in the fourth quarter.

Hopefully, the team takeaway is they can play with a top-five team if they eliminate the sporadic implosions. Ill-timed penalties and putting the ball on the ground aren't going to get you very far. That's been an ongoing battle and really needs to get better to avoid some of these early holes and late rallies by opponents.

The Roger Dorn of Run Defense?

That's probably a little rude — and possibly an inappropriate reference some will have to learn about on YouTube — but the Hokies got burned on the ground again with a few back-breaking runs. After gaining 189 yards through the first four games, Trey Benson exploded for 200 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries. It's the same situation as normal with a handful of missed assignments leading to dire consequences.

Florida State's speed was on full display and while the Hokies were able to generate some pressure, they struggled at times to match the Florida State offensive line.

Watching on Delay

Okay, I probably won't do that again. I've had pretty good luck recording games in the past but this one went poorly. It's also far more apparent watching through this one just how overrun college football broadcasts have become with commercials. This isn't a new thing, but it's definitely worse this season with the new clock rules. At one point, I counted over six minutes of ads sandwiched around one lousy kickoff. That's a joke. Of course, nothing can be done about it other than going to the games — where you get different ads in stadium and have to stand around awkwardly during all the ones on TV.

Final Thoughts

That was disappointing but not unexpected. Florida State has its sights set on the College Football Playoff while Virginia Tech is learning to walk again after a long injury. It's not a terribly fair fight but Tech gave the fight they could give and it made them sweat and earn it in the Florida sun. Now the challenge of a short week with a winnable game is on the agenda. That might be for the best. Don't dwell, just burn the tape and move on quickly.

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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