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Cheers and Jeers: Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia

By Justin Cates | September 18
Photo by Zach Lantz.
There are those days when the sun is shining, the tailgating is bountiful, everything is glorious...right up until kickoff. That's become an all too familiar recipe for Tech fans over the years and Saturday in Morgantown was no different.

So what went wrong? Most things. Were there any positives? Did I mention the weather?

Read on for this week's edition of cheers and jeers.

The Jeers

Does anyone smell burnt toast?

The Hokie defense was hit in the mouth early and gouged for chunk plays from the start. It's never a great sign when you give up an untouched 80-yard rushing touchdown on the opening drive. Especially to a team that mostly throws. Armani Chatman had gotten turned around on the previous play which with a better throw also would have gone for six. Chatman was on the receiving end of a great touchdown throw by Jarret Doege on the next drive putting Tech in a huge hole early.

Chatman was hardly the only one to have struggles, and things took a while to improve after that as the Hokies tackled poorly and failed to generate any meaningful pressure up front.

To the unit's credit, they did make some adjustments and held the Mountaineers to three points in the second half. It just wasn't quite enough.

Where are those downfield passes we keep hearing about?

It also wasn't encouraging when the broadcast's keys to the game mentioned that West Virginia needed to get Tech running laterally on offense. The Hokies beat them to the punch and offered themselves as tribute by attempting mostly lateral runs and screen plays early. Five of Braxton Burmeister's first six passes were completed to running backs with minimal success after a 20-yarder to Raheem Blackshear on the opening play of the game.

After the defense created a turnover and gave the offense great field position late, the entire operation was epitomized by calling a wide receiver reverse to the short side of the field on third and goal. Oh and then there was the final drive with the game on the line after a solid comeback.

It did not work.

I'd say open up the playbook, but this is clearly all there is.

Another huge miss for the Hokies

I don't want to go and break down everything that went poorly because it's just deflating. West Virginia did everything they could to give Tech a win and the Hokies once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Perhaps this one won't seem so bad by the end of the season, but that depends on the response. Does anything change or is it more hemming and hawing about Brad Cornelson not being the issue? Will the defense adjust to avoid rough starts to the game, or do the issues keep lingering until halftime?


Tayvion Robinson and Kaleb Smith get involved on offense

It was good to see Robinson finally get involved in the passing game with a number of big catches early. He made a nice play to help his quarterback on Tech's first scoring drive, then made an outstanding adjustment on the ball to haul in a touchdown a few plays later. With a slightly better throw from Burmeister, Tayvion would have had his second score of the day but it was ruled incomplete in the end zone.

Kaleb Smith proved to be the most reliable target leading Tech with six catches for 62 yards. He's more than earned the right to wear the 25 jersey, and he backed it up in a rough game.

Partial credit on the comeback attempt

The Hokies fought despite putting themselves in an awful spot at halftime when they trailed 24-7. The defense rallied and the offense put some plays together but poor execution in the red zone, particularly at the end of both halves was awful.

There is still a lot to play for since this was a non-conference game and the ACC Coastal once again appears to be awful. I'm not sure there's any sort of silver lining after this one. They could have quit and didn't. There's certainly something to be said for that. That Justin Fuente has now lost both the Commonwealth Cup and the Black Diamond Trophy however is not lost on me. Still, seeing how teams respond to hardship is always interesting.

It's just become far too common in Blacksburg.


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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