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Freshmen Files: The Pittsburgh Game

By Sam Stromberg | October 10
Pittsburgh running back Israel Abanikanda breaks free in the Hokies 16-point loss. (Photo/ACC-Dan Scifo)

Pittsburgh got the best of Virginia Tech once again at home, but this time only in Acrisure Stadium, not Heinz Field.

Virginia Tech suffered a 45-29 loss to Pittsburgh this past Saturday. There was some good. There was some bad. Because I am not a fan of moral victoires, I will tell it as it is. Brent Pry managed the clock poorly, penalties proved to be very problematic, the offense did not take advantage of opportunities (VT had the ball within the 25-yard line three times and came away with no points each time), special teams had a lackluster performance, and Israel Abanikanda just scored another touchdown. I said it once and I’ll say it again: Virginia Tech has an extremely slim margin for error. However, I liked what I saw from some of the younger guys. Redshirts should be burned and the best players should be on the field, in my opinion. I must give credit to the team for showing fight, though. When things looked rough, they found a way to claw themselves back into the game.

With that being covered, let's dive into the newest edition of Freshmen Files.

The Spotlight

#13 Dae’Quan Wright – Fr., TE

Dae’Quan Wright had another impressive showing, this time hauling in five catches for 47-yards vs. Pitt. That marks two consecutive solid weeks from the true-freshman tight-end. Wright is a serious weapon that must be utilized more. Wright has yet to drop a pass this season – he has been a bright spot in a not so bright season.

Virginia Tech likes to move Wright around: he lined up on the line 46% of the time, in the slot 39% of the time, and wideout 8% of the time, finishing with a Pro Football Focus (PFF) offensive grade of 82.9 (that is very good!). He is lined up in the H-Back position in the embedded video below.

#38 Jayden McDonald – R-Fr., WLB

Jayden McDonald made some huge game-altering plays for this Hokie defense vs. Pitt. McDonald totaled four tackles, including a sack and TFL on the same drive. These two critical plays by McDonald came at a time when the Hokie defense needed a stop (VT trailed by eight with 15 minutes to go). It ultimately led to the blocked-punt-touchdown. McDonald looks fast and aggressive, as he played the most snaps this season at 40. The Salem grad finished with a 79.8 PFF tackling grade. (There are two embedded videos below; must click Watch on Twitter to see both).

Bang-Bang Play – Freshmen Edition

P.J. Prioleau (R-Fr., WR) came in and blocked the punt, only for Nyke Johnson (R-Fr., S/CB) to recover it in the endzone for a touchdown. Virginia Tech then only trailed by two-points in the fourth quarter.

Prioleau is the son of Hokie great and current Safeties coach Pierson Prioleau.

Other Contributors and Notes

#24 Jaden Keller (R-Fr., WLB) finished with three tackles. He played 33 total snaps, rotating in with Jayden McDonald at Will.

#23 Mansoor Delane (Fr., CB) looked promising once again, finishing with three tackles. He played a season-high 33 snaps, giving up only one catch for nine yards.

#40 Jaylen Hoyle (R-Fr., S) and #36 Elijah Howard (R-Fr., CB) both accounted for a tackle.

#20 DJ Harvey (R-Fr., CB) dressed but did not play for the first time this season – will not speculate as to why. Jadan Blue and Will Kakavitsas took over the punt returning duties

#28 Chance Black (R-Fr., RB) had a reception for two-yards. He had no carries for the first time this season because of Malachi Thomas’ return. Black was back deep for the kick returning duties, but had no opportunities for a return.

What's Next?

Virginia Tech is back in action on Saturday at 12:30pm vs. Miami. The Canes are 2-3, coming off a 27-24 loss to UNC.

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Been a Hokie fan ever since I can remember. Immensely passionate about journalism and Virginia Tech sports. Go Hokies!

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