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Cheers and Jeers: Virginia Tech vs. Old Dominion

By Justin Cates | September 02
Odu upsets vt usatsi
There isn't a ton to say about the result in this contest. The Hokies once again fell flat and will be a national punching bag for a time to the extent that the outside world cares anymore. These are part of the growing pains that appear likely for the remainder of this season and possibly longer.

Brent Pry certainly had his struggles in his first game. There were some clock management issues at the end and some interesting personnel choices such as the decision at long snapper which proved crucial. The team also ate it's weight in flags, but we'll get to that. On balance the staff was okay for a first game with lots of room for improvement. This loss isn't entirely on them anyway.

It's not so much that the previous tenant of Brent's office left the cupboards bare, but that he emptied them, ripped them off the walls and somehow Whit Babcock's debit card info in the process.

We've been wronged and robbed and it will take the new sheriff a minute to get things settled.

Anyway, while there's zero positive about the loss itself I'll touch on a few glimmers of hope before the less pleasant stuff.


The Linebackers Show Out

Really the entire defense deserves credit for a strong outing. This loss can't be put on them and it's an encouraging sign. Things got a little ragged at times but that's bound to happen in an opener. The linebackers caught my eye though. Dax Hollifield was incredibly active. He flew around to the football and helped create two turnovers on fumble recoveries. He led the team with 11 tackles including three for loss.

Jaden Keller punched the second of those out. It was a big moment for the redshirt freshman who has turned heads all off-season and was a consistent recipient of praise from the new coaching staff. He finished with three tackles including one behind the line.

There's definitely something to build on here.

Welcome Back Keshawn King

King got the start for the Hokies in the backfield with Malachi Thomas out and Jalen Holston still limited as well. He made the most of the opportunity with 111 yards on the ground and a receiving score. He also laid some impressive blocks as he picked up blitzers in pass protection. That's especially exciting given that was an area of concern for him in the past.

King added a nice kick return and several impressive catches including a whirling run after one swing pass.

As one of my colleagues mentioned in our game chat, if Thomas is the starter over King when healthy then Tech's in good shape at the position.


The Broadcast

This is one of the most commonly recurring jeers and may continue to be now that Brad Cornelson is gone. It's a minor issue given the final score, and you don't expect great things from a Friday night game on ESPNU, but this was a new low.

The broadcasters were generic and easy enough to ignore. The overall production however was an utter disaster.

Multiple plays occurred off camera, somehow cut off by an inability to zoom out enough. My guess is that the size of the stadium was at least partly to blame for the terrible angles but it was rough. This is an allegedly professional broadcast that either didn't know about those limitations or failed to properly account for them.

Speaking of the stadium...

Old Dominion has spent a bunch of money to improve the conditions at the snappily-named Kornblau Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium. That wasn't enough to save the Hokie coaches from creating a spicy new meme though.

Fbs W Fw W Xw AI Mhy V
A new meme for a new era.
There also apparently wasn't enough room for all of Tech's staffers to make the trip due to the limits of the press box.
It may seem like sour grapes but that kind of stuff shouldn't happen at a major college football venue. Score one for the folks searching for reasons not to play these games on the road at ODU.

More Like UN-Special Teams, Right?

The special teams mistakes cost at least 7 points with the botched field goal turned Old Dominion touchdown. Tech wiped out a number of nice kick returns as well with numerous penalties which was a theme for the night.

The Hokies racked up a ludicrous 15 penalties for over 100 yards on all sides of the football. And honestly, it was just an undisciplined night all around for Tech.

Turnover Tosses

We all know about Grant Wells and his penchant for high-risk, high-reward play. He's trying to limit his interceptions and boy did he get off to just about the worst start possible with four INTs.

There was a combination of bad choices by Wells —especially on an ill-fated out route— and some less than sharp plays by his receivers. Miscommunication or a timing issue that results in a turnover you can live with, particularly early in the season. It's tougher when the issue is basic decision making at the most important position on the field.

I still think Wells can be good and there were some encouraging signs from his receivers as well. They've got a lot of work ahead of them though.

Final Thoughts

Again this is all quite bad. In many ways it's a vintage Tech loss with strong defense being undermined by bad offense. I'm not ready to fire Brent Pry yet though. The undisciplined play is on him and will have to get cleaned up but it seems reasonable to expect improvement in that department. This loss is a brutal learning experience but I've seen the Hokies drop games to Temple, James Madison, and...right Old Dominion in similar embarrassing upsets. They don't last and on rare occasions they can serve as valuable motivators and teaching moments.

Let's hope coach Pry is a Rhodes Scholar with a cattle prod. We're gonna need both.

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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