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Cheers and Jeers: Virginia Tech vs. Miami

By Justin Cates | November 21
Screen Shot 2021 11 21 at 9 50 58 AM
Courtesy of Virginia Tech Athletics

When it rains it pours. That was certainly true on this night for the Hokies despite a valiant effort in an incredibly tough situation. It wasn't all bad, but there was a lot to dissect with a critical eye.


Big Play Tré

Despite the well-documented journey Tré Turner made to get to the game, he looked as fresh as anyone. Turner made two incredible acrobatic catches before leaving with an injury. J.C. Price said he was okay after getting examined but they were going to be cautious with him. I don't believe he returned to the field after the issue. The first big catch came on a jump ball for a touchdown and the second was a leaping grab between two defenders over the middle. Turner finished the night with five catches for 44 yards and the score.

It's an incredible shame that Turner and Tayvion Robinson have largely had their talents wasted in this offense. Turner has just three touchdowns on the season and Robinson only four which leads the team. They're talented kids who continue to make plays despite a difficult season.

Connor Blumrick

He's not the best option at quarterback, but he sure did spark the Hokies with his galloping runs and surprising — albeit fleeting — success passing the ball. The transfer returned from injury to run for 132 yards and throw for two touchdowns, seizing the quarterback job from Braxton Burmeister for at least one night. Blumrick deserves credit for executing his package of plays but his limitations were also on display while trailing late.

Both quarterbacks ran the ball effectively but took a beating by design. I tweeted late in the second quarter that the dirtiest players on the field should never be your quarterbacks, others agreed with that fairly obvious thought.

Hokies Have Heart

Heart — despite being the lamest power needed to form Captain Planet — is invaluable to a person and a group attempting to act as a team. This team displayed a lot of it Saturday night during a furious comeback which seemed unlikely in an early blowout. Tech battled through a week when their head coach was canned on a random Tuesday morning before practice, a red hot opposing quarterback, and of course the elements to make it a game in Miami after getting cooked early.

This team clearly cares about each other and the will to succeed and heart it takes to fight are still on display. They'll need that and a lot more in the season finale.


The "Defense"

There was a lot of justified finger pointing at star corner Jermaine Waller Saturday night. He played the worst game of his college career which was a bit puzzling given the strong season he's had this year. He was burned in coverage multiple times, had a pick six slip through his hands in the rain, and ultimately limped off with a leg injury late in the game. It wasn't just him though. The entire Tech defense was abused throughout the night with arguably the worst play coming as Dax Hollifield was downfield in coverage against speedy receiver Mike Harley. It went about like you'd expect, for a long and easy touchdown.

The defense has been a solid unit for the Hokies much of the year but it was a liability in this contest. The only mildly good news is that Miami has been doing this to everyone lately. The trouble is so has Virginia with Brennan Armstrong and that's the task next week, possibly without the team's best corner. Yikes.

Situational Playcalling and Personnel

This is a bit of a catch all critique but one that has been a season-long frustration. Brad Cornelsen deciding to go from the run-heavy attack that had been working, to a pass-focused approach in a downpour is a real head-scratcher. And is there any conceivable reason why the team's leading rusher Raheem Blackshear didn't get a single carry until under 8 minutes to go in the game? That's absolute coaching malpractice. You would think after Mike Niziolek's damning piece in the Roanoke Times this week Cornelson would have been getting creative to polish up that resume. At this point he should be unemployable by anyone in football without the initials JF.

Justin Hamilton isn't in the clear either. The Dax mismatch is a good example of what not to do when scheming a defense. He made some nice adjustments at halftime as he normally does, but this was not one of them. The lack of QB pressure in the first half is another tough choice to stomach. I understand the inclination to rush only three lineman and drop everyone else into coverage against a strong passing attack, but when you aren't getting pressure and still getting beat on the back end you've got to switch it up sooner.

When you're winning games some of these decisions and bad moments get brushed aside. Obviously they're magnified in losses particularly when you're staring down a second consecutive postseason spent sitting at home.

One More to Go

You could consider this a positive or negative thing I suppose. As mentioned, with a healthy Brennan Armstrong on deck the chances of the Hokies making it to six wins and a bowl game aren't looking so good. The thought of Virginia starting a streak of their own in the Commonwealth Cup is hard to stomach but that's where things stand. Take your enjoyment where you can and be thankful that change is coming, basketball is rolling, and the holidays are right around the corner.


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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