Cheers and Jeers: Virginia Tech vs. Virginia
"After this game versus Tech, after we beat Virginia Tech, this program is going to shoot up and everyone in the country is going to know about us."
It's always a good day to be a Hokie, but sometimes it's a little sweeter than others. A 55-17 thrashing of the Wahoos is among the sweetest of holiday treats.
How 'Bout That Defense?
Seriously, the Hokies teed off on Anthony Colandrea all evening with relentless pressure and while he made some plays in the second half, he paid dearly. Tech racked up six sacks and seemingly hit Colandrea on every one of his 46 pass attempts. Virginia managed just 43 yards on the ground (1.2 YPC) and as alluded to above only piled on some passing yards once the game was well out of reach.
The progress on both sides of the football has been immense for the Hokies this season. While they still miss run fits and struggle against more talented teams at times, this has truly rounded into a classic-looking Virginia Tech defense. They create relentless pressure up front and the back end is incredibly tight when everything is functioning as it should. Plus, there are a ton of Hokie hats flying to the football on nearly every play. I'm not saying they're as talented overall as the great Tech defenses, but they're learning to walk the way they did.
Let's take a minute to appreciate just how special the corner tandem of Dorian Strong and Mansoor Delane is. Delane has been much more physical as a sophomore and has been making great anticipation plays, just missing maybe a half-dozen interceptions this season on top of the ones he's actually pulled in. Strong meanwhile has some of the best recovery skills and body control I've seen. He's so smooth and calm, never panicking, and always managing to be in the right spot when the ball arrives. These guys deserve any and all accolades that come their way and probably even more than that.
You Get A Touchdown! And You Get a Touchdown!
Tech set the program record for points scored against Virginia and the offense produced 500 total yards. That's a pretty good night and the scoring was nicely spread out. The usual suspects in Bhayshul Tuten and Da'Quan Felton had a handful of scores but Stephen Gosnell and Tucker Holloway got into the act as well. Even Malachi Thomas punched in a late TD. Both receivers scored on wonderfully designed plays executed to perfection. Gosnell has emerged as a huge threat and a wonderful compliment to some of the speedier downfield Tech targets. His long touchdown on a fourth and short was a thing of beauty.
Somewhere along the way, the Hokies managed to get shockingly good at wide receiver reverses. These aren't your Dad's jet sweeps (or INSERT TECH COORDINATOR OF CHOICE'S), no these are creative and confusing plays that utilize pre-snap motion and different personnel combinations to run at different angles with varied blocking.
Holloway's score was particularly brilliant as it used Xayvion Turner-Bradshaw on an initial reverse in the opposite direction to pull the defense that way before he pitched it to Tucker. You know the defense had X's long touchdown on a similar play fresh in their minds and understandably overreacted. Holloway then had perfect blocking to escort him down the sideline into the end zone.
There were a lot of similar plays that landed and plenty of examples of great individual effort. There are too many to recount honestly which is how it goes on a night you score 55. Take a look at the highlights, they last nearly an entire quarter!
Penalties, But With A Caveat
The Hokies got a little loose in this category getting flagged nine times for 101 yards on the night. There were some maddening pre-snap penalties and a few instances of hitting the quarterback late, but those happen and nothing proved critical on the night. Some of the late hits weren't even that bad really, but I think there was legitimate concern for the QB's safety which is fair when the defense is so completely overwhelming. And I love a good unsportsmanlike penalty in a game like this. I don't enjoy it as much when the score is tight, but absolutely get wild when you're thumping your in-state rivals.
Let's give a special shoutout to Tuten's penalty. You get to do whatever you like after a 94-yard kick return score that was so dominant he started jogging at the 30-yard line after burning all 11 Wahoos. Sometimes, it's worth the early morning punishments that await following a well-earned 15-yarder.
So yeah, penalties were the only thing I could find to even pretend to be upset about but they weren't actually a significant problem.
We're still in a rebuild but we're making strides.
The *chef's kiss* moment of the night happened after the game when the Hokies returned to midfield to take a team photo. The grounds crew turned on the sprinklers in the ultimate "Get off my lawn!" moment and the only meaningful act of resistance by UVA all night. It didn't deter the Hokie celebration — in fact it probably escalated it — but it is the kind of beautiful and harmless petty nonsense that makes college football great. Credit to the grounds crew for proving that at least someone in that town actually cares about defending their home turf.
The Hokies are headed to a bowl game and have already doubled their win total from Brent Pry's first season. His quote above sums things up perfectly. There's still a long way to go in the rebuild but there have been clear signs of progress and a building sense of momentum as the pieces have started to come together. Not only have the players progressed, but the young coaching staff has developed as well. There are plenty of encouraging signs and the vibes are great around the program right now. Regardless of the result in the final game, this season has been a resounding success.
But while we're at it, let's get one more.