Returns to homepage

Hokie Football Focus: Florida State

By Mike Holmes | October 09
Tuten FSU
AP Photo/Colin Hackley

I think that most Hokies went into this week expecting to lose. The degree of loss, however, varied within the fanbase. Some expected the Hokies to get blown out, others expected us to compete with FSU, and others still held out hope that the Hokies could possibly win. I did not expect VT to come out on top, but thought that the 25 point spread was awfully large. If you just watched the 1st Quarter of this game, the Hokies should have lost by 50+ points. The Hokies made adjustments, controlled the clock for most of the second and third quarter and were able to mount a comeback and pulled within one score. Unfortunately for the Hokies, they couldn’t hold on to the momentum and FSU pulled away in the 4th quarter.

Yes, it's a loss. Yes, the Hokies started slow… again. However, the Hokies did continue to show some life and promise similar to last week in the victory against Pitt. Bowen and Marve made adjustments and allowed the Hokies to stay competitive in the game and slow down the FSU attack with a plodding ball control gameplan. There were some elements to this game that should leave Hokie fans optimistic for the future and showed some growth. There is also a lot to work on. The staff doesn’t do a very good job, seemingly, of getting the team ready to come out of the locker room. I don’t know if it's the way VT schemes and prepares for each week or just the demeanor of the team, but Tech seems to come out flat most weeks. By the time the players get into the flow of the game Tech is already behind and trying to play catch up.

Let’s look at the Film:

Defensive Back Play:

Against FSU, while our DBs did give up a few plays but for the most part the game plan was sound. Keep everything in front of the secondary and limit the deep shots. Make the Noles earn everything. For the most part that is what happened. Delane and Strong made some outstanding plays in coverage, limiting Wilson and Crawford as much as possible.

Improved Screen Game:

Once again, Bowen and Co. found some new ways to get the balls to playmakers in space. By using the screen game, it forced FSU’s DL to be more cautious in their pass rush. In this week's Hokie Hitter, I am breaking down the misdirection RB screen that the Hokies used in the 3rd quarter. This play used motion and misdirection to get FSU defenders out of position and set up Malachai Thomas on a RB screen that if not for an unfortunate tripping over the feet of Meadows, could have gone for a touchdown. This is promising for the Hokies moving forward as Bowen is digging deeper into the playbook and is able to design creative ways to get the ball to playmakers in space.

The first clip shows a RB flare screen out of 20 personnel (two RB, no TE’s) that has Thomas to one side and Tuten to the other, at this point it’s a numbers game and Drones is able to diagnose which is the best matchup and gets the ball to Tuten for a good gain.

Hokie Hitter of the Week

Drones Takes Over:

Against the Noles, a team that is far superior athletically, Kyron Drones did not back away from the challenge. He was able to manage the offense and move the ball with his arm and his legs and keep the Hokies in the game after falling behind early in the game. This clip is from the second quarter that set up the Hokies first scoring opportunity.

Tuten Is a “Dawg and He’s Comin!”

Bhayshul Tuten is a superstar. If he gets the ball in his hands in space he has shown to be able to make plays out of nothing. This week Hokie fans saw examples of Tuten carrying the pile, hurdling a defender to score the first TD of the day, and scoring a 99 yard TD on a kick return. If he keeps this level of play up over the next few weeks, he will be a key component to any success the Hokies will have.

Now the Not So Good:

Stopping the Run Continues to be a problem:

As Hokie fans have seen all season, Stopping the Run continues to be a problem. The Hokies defense seems to be hot and cold with very little consistency. There were too many instances this week where we got ourselves out of position and allowed the OL from FSU to get their hands on the LB and DL and get them out of the way. Another issue that VT still has on defense is over penetration and creation of running lanes by losing gap integrity. Those issues combined with lack of contain on the outside will make it very difficult to stop the run in future games if not corrected.

Offensive, Offensive Line Play:

We had some positives in the run game this week, but still have a tremendous amount of work to do in order to be consistent in the run game. The first play is an example of our inability to get to the second level and get bodies on the linebackers. The second clip needs to be taken in context because Jared Verse is an NFL prospect and a seasoned veteran. In this clip Chaplin gets burned badly on the edge. The last clip is an example of a problem that we have seen all year, which is untimely penalties on the OL. This was a holding call on Brody Meadows that happened late in the game that negated a big play to Gosnell that would have put is in scoring range.

Slow start and gameplanning:

This is a longer clip. This is the second drive of the game. The Hokies went three and out on the first two series and threw the ball all 6 plays gaining 6 total yards. In the second quarter the Hokies started running the ball and moving down the field leading to two scores and keeping the FSU offense off the field. What is troubling is that the Hokies have started out slow multiple weeks this season and have been very good at adjusting, but by that stage VT is usually down by multiple scores. The task of the coaching staff moving forward is to get the team ready to go out of the gate so the Hokies don’t have to play catch-up as much in the coming weeks.


Offense: C

Offense Showed some signs of life. But continued to be consistently inconsistent. Have to do a better job of game week preparation to not have to rely on adjustments to have success on the offensive side of the ball. Tuten had a great day, and Drones continued to show potential and growth.


Drones played well against a far superior team. Had to improvise a lot, and kept drives alive with legs and made some key throws. Still needs to grow in pattern recognition, had Felton open on the Flea Flicker in 2nd qtr and missed the read. Has to prioritize ball security a little bit more as this team cannot afford to give opponents extra possessions.


Tuten and Thomas both played well. Were able to gain ground against a tough front 7 from FSU. Getting the ball to elite athletes in space is key to this offense moving forward.

WR and TE: C+

Still struggled to gain separation consistently, especially against the athletes that FSU had on the back end. Lane and Felton made some plays but consistency is the key moving forward with this group and it's encouraging to see growth from Greene and other youngsters.


Still shows flashes of good but so very inconsistent. Drones and the RB’s made plays in spite of sketchy blocking at times. Pass pro has to improve to give Drones time to find receivers. On the bright side we were able to get some push in the interior at times.

Defense: C

Overall, the defense had trouble containing the athletes on the other side of the ball. FSU has elite speed and strength at all positions and they bullied us at times. The Hokies gave up QB runs too often, and gave up the big runs at the end of the game. On the bright side, Delane and Strong and Canteen played really well against FSUs very talented receivers. Hokies made FSU EARN all of their early TD’s and rarely gave up explosive plays early.


Got to Travis a couple of times. Same problems still exist. Over penetration and creation of cutback lanes is still an issue. Contain on the edge is still a problem and gave up a backbreaking TD as a result.


Lawson continues to grow but needs that breakout performance. Tisdale has been more consistent at Mike Backer but there are still issues in the run fit game that need to be fixed.


Strong, Delane, and Canteen hung with some of the best receivers in the country on the outside. Good QBs and WRs are going to make plays but our DB room showed up even though they got beat a few times. Forced FSU to beat us on the ground.


I am a 5th Generation Hokie. I have Orange and Maroon blood coursing through my veins. I was lucky enough to attend VT from 1999-2003 and graduated with a history degree. I became a history teacher and football coach working my way to spending multiple seasons as Head Coach at schools in North Carolina and Colorado.

I now live in Colorado, with my wife and son and do what I can to follow the Hokies from afar. The outstanding team here at Sons of Saturday was gracious enough to let me talk some football and be able to impart some my knowledge gained from years spent on the sideline.

Aside from following the Hokies in all sports, I am a fan of the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Braves, and Carolina Hurricanes. I also try to play a lot of golf and enjoy skiing out here in the rockies!

Read More of Mike's Articles