Returns to homepage

Cheers and Jeers: Virginia Tech vs. Virginia

By Justin Cates | November 28
JC Price Stogie


Brutal First Half on Defense

The Hokies got blown off the ball on both sides of things early. The offense wasn't terribly good with the O-line struggling. They committed penalties, and dropped like flies as UVA bashed away. But that wasn't all.

The Cavaliers were faster, stronger, and simply more physical across the board in the first half. I honestly can't remember the last time that was the case but I'm fairly confident you'd have to go back to the dark times of the early nineties. The Hokie defense in particular wanted no part of being physical and turned in a brutal effort until adjustments were made at the half. There were plenty of missed tackles—which has been an issue all season—and wide open receivers all over the place. There was no lower moment than on UVA's first touchdown when Dorian Strong got out of the way at the goal line, wanting no part of a hit. Granted, he wasn't going to stop the score but it sent an awful message and set a bad tone which didn't shift until fairly late in the game. A close second low moment would be when Brennan Armstrong—still nursing a rib injury—ran over three Tech defenders on a goal line touchdown.

We're Just Here to Do the Quarterback Shuffle

Sadly, I called the initial offensive game plan heading into this one in my game pick.

I have this sinking feeling that Tech will just run the QB again in an
attempt to control clock and limit UVA’s possessions, which doesn’t feel
like it will surprise anyone after last week.

— Me

Tech wisely moved away from this tactic for the most part after no success early, but irrationally went back to it with the game on the line with nearly disastrous results. Great things happened with traditional runs as Raheem Blackshear had a career night with 18 carries for 162 yards and a touchdown. Braxton Burmeister also showed out with a handful of designed runs and some improvisation to the tune of 12 carries for 115 yards. Tech kept trying to make Connor Blumrick a thing however and he struggled as the defense was able to key in on him given the lack of passing with him in the game. Blumrick struggled with 10 runs for 28 yards and a crucial fumble as the Hokies attempted to ice the game late.

I know the man is on his way out the door and I'm not trying to continue to rehash things but I have one more general complaint about Brad Cornelson. I realized he shares something fundamental with Bryan Stinespring. Obviously the program results were very different, but there's a basic issue that both men shared as offensive coordinator in my opinion. Stiney was solid at coming up with interesting wrinkles to toss into a game plan. It's actually something I think Cornelson does a decent job of as well. Take the goal line play below as an example. As much as we loathe jet sweeps and oddly timed QB power plays, they can work in short doses and give defenses something else to waste time on during the week. The problem is when you call this stuff too frequently it stops being a wrinkle and just becomes the offense. Bad offense that doesn't fully utilize your talent.


J.C. Price

Hokie Nation is incredibly happy and proud this morning and it's largely thanks to this man.

What a welcome breath of fresh air. Price's passion and love for all things Tech is palpable every time he speaks and it's awesome to see him and his team rewarded with a victory over their biggest rival. He's the ultimate everyman. He is all of us. It's been said many times including on the broadcast last night that a new coach should really find a way to keep Price on staff. How could you not want that man recruiting and selling his school plus firing up the defensive line?

Granted, I'm not a big fan of hamstringing a new coach with a dictated hire. We've already seen how even good looking arranged marriages on paper like Justin Fuente and Bud Foster don't always work out the way you hope. But I think a new coach would do himself a big favor and generate a ton of good will with the fans by keeping Price. Maybe even in some kind of associate/recruiting coordinator role if the new guy has his own defensive coaches in mind.

We'll see how that works out. Regardless, the Price era has been fun and much needed for everyone both on the field and in the stands.

Big Time Plays

Several Hokies stepped up and just went and made a play when they needed them the most. One of the biggest came in the form of big defensive lineman Norell Pollard. On a successful trick play by the Cavaliers the big fella managed to race downfield, strip the football, then pounce on the loose rock for a massive turnover.

Not long after that, Jordan Williams sacked Brennan Armstrong and knocked the ball free which created a UVA safety to put Tech up five points in the closing minutes.
On offense there was of course Blackshear's big game and Braxton Burmeister who accounted for 256 total yards and two TDs despite the QB rotation and yet another physical beating. Tayvion Robinson had a big outing as well with three catches for 89 yards including a 61-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He also threw a touchdown pass at the goal line to Burmeister on a Philly or Hokie Special trick play.

A Great College Football Game

This game was big, dumb, and a whole lot of fun. It will go down as a classic chapter in the Commonwealth Cup rivalry and will not soon be forgotten by either fan base, albeit for very different reasons. You wish the teams had better records going in, but it was still everything there is to love about rivalries and college football.

It's great for Tech's kids that the season will continue with a postseason game to reward them for all of the adversity they've overcome during the past two seasons. While I'd ordinarily agree with the sentiment that lower tier bowls aren't terribly important, this one might feel a little different if you've been battling against Covid and a coaching staff on the skids for two years.

This year consider it good fortune that Tech could scratch out a bowl berth as everyone awaits news on the next head coach. For a while enjoy the current one just a bit longer. In the words of a wise, cigar-smoking man:

"That's my school. This is home."


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.

Read More of Justin's Articles