Freshmen Files: The NC State Game
Well, that was not fun – for three quarters, at least.
Virginia Tech dropped its sixth game of the year, this time, with NC State doing the honors. The Hokies led by 18-points late in the third quarter, but could not put the Wolfpack away. Penalties hurt the Hokies greatly, but Brent Pry must simply figure out a way to just win the game, especially when up by three scores. The offense was lackluster, going scoreless for three quarters. The defense, I think, did enough to win the football game, but it could not make stops when needed in the fourth quarter (this would not be an issue if the offense scored just maybe once in the first half or the fourth quarter).
We got a chance to see some freshmen play in the loss. So, let's take a look at what the young guys did in the seventh edition of Freshmen Files..
#13 Dae’Quan Wright (Fr., TE) finished with two receptions for a total of 46 yards. Those two receptions came on back-to-back plays. Wright and wide receiver Kaleb Smith helped spark the explosive third quarter offense for the Hokies. It is pretty astonishing what happens when you start throwing to your top two playmakers on offense…
I think the Hokies and quarterback Grant Wells should continue to try and get Wright and Smith more involved in the offense, because it is pretty simple: our offense is better when those two get targeted. Pitt, and now NC State (for a quarter) are two instances when this Hokies offense has looked pretty solid, and when Wright and Smith have been most involved this year.
#61 Braelin Moore (Fr., OG) played 18 total snaps at left guard against NC State. 14 of those were in run-block. The offensive line had a pretty poor showing, totaling about seven false starts (the three others were committed by non-offensive lineman), but Moore did not move early once on Thursday night.
#23 Mansoor Delane (Fr., CB) started his first game as a Virginia Tech Hokie, playing 79 snaps. Delane finished with a season-high ten total tackles. The true freshmen forced a couple PBU’s, one of which was in the end zone – a ball which he could have intercepted. NC State did start to target Delane, and in a few instances got the best of him. Delane held NC State wide receiver Keyon Lesane to zero receptions. Delane also matched up against veteran wide receiver Devin Carter and fellow freshman Terrell Timmons Jr. at times, both of whom made some big catches. Delane had his “freshman moments” like all freshmen do, but he continues to impress and should be a key player for the future – and the rest of this season.
#27 Jaden Keller (R-Fr., WLB) finished with two total tackles. Keller played a season-low seven snaps. Keller did not play vs. Miami on October 15.
#20 DJ Harvey (R-Fr., CB), #38 Jayden McDonald (R-Fr., WLB), and #21 Keli Lawson (R-Fr., WLB/SLB) all finished with a tackle each.
On Special Teams…
#28 Chance Black (R-Fr., RB/KR) had a rough showing Thursday night, muffing two kickoffs (both which the Hokies recovered), giving the Hokies poor starting field position. This offense is bad enough as it is, and making them start within the ten yard-line does not help. Black finished the game with six returns for 54 yards. Black had no carries on the ground. #22 Bryce Duke (Fr., RB/KR) took over the kick-returning duties for the final kick, taking it out for 14 yards. Duke has always been on the kick-return unit, this time he just rotated down to be the primary returner.
#11 Tucker Holloway (Fr., WR/PR) saw his first real action of the season, taking over the punt-returning duties. The Hokies have shuffled around with DJ Harvey, Jadan Blue, and Will Kakavitsas at punt-returner, but it seems as if special team coach Stu Holt has found his guy. Holloway fair caught every punt he returned, not that he really had a choice. The whole punt-return unit has not been a strong suit for the Hokies this season.
Virginia Tech is back in Lane Stadium on Saturday when it faces Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets (3-5) are coming off a 25-point loss to Florida State.
This is a very winnable game for the Hokies.