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Hokie Football Focus: Purdue

By Mike Holmes | September 11
Jlane purdue
Robert Simmons - freelancer, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Hello Sons and Daughters!

It’s never a good time when you have to write a report on a game where the outcome is not what we as Hokies were hoping for, but even with the loss there were some things that show on film that we can build on. Overall the game was a mess. Delayed start, no sandman, five hour and seventeen minute weather delay, all led to things being a little bit sloppy all around.

A lot of folks who have never been on the field or on a sideline for a football game can't completely grasp what a monumental effort it took for both teams to regroup twice and be able to put a product out on the field. From a players and coaches perspective, literally every minute of game day is scheduled and planned out from the time the players wake up until they take the field. Kudos to both coaching staffs, administration, and grounds crew for even getting the game going again!

Now let's take a look at some pivotal moments from the loss to Purdue.

6:17 1st QTR 1st and 10

Defensive Line was on fire all game. Hudson Card was rarely comfortable in the pocket and where he had success was moving out the pocket and finding guys open in the zone or hitting short routes in the flats. On this play, McCray and Pene do an outstanding job first forcing Card out the pocket, and because Pene gets excellent arm extension on the Purdue OL he is able to shed and provide pressure getting the QB on the run and forcing the incomplete pass

3:20 1st QTR 2nd and 10

This is an example of how a play can look great at first glance because it's successful, but small corrections need to be made to make it perfect. On this play coming off of running Lane on a jet sweep for no gain, VT is behind schedule. For most teams, staying on schedule is getting 3-4 yards a play on first and second down to make sure you have a much easier shot at a conversion on 3rd down. Wells has plenty of time to throw, and Wright runs a pretty good route, but we end up a yard short of the first down marker. Gosnell does this later in the game on a 3rd down and stalls the drive. The receiver needs to have better awareness of where the marker is and make sure to run their route to the sticks.

13:54 2nd QTR 3rd and 7

Outstanding individual effort by Keonta Jenkins on this play. Jenkins, against 11 personnel (1 back, one TE) playing the Star is flexed out covering the number 2 receiver. Purdue sends the TE into the flat with the idea that he only has to make the safety miss one on one. Jenkins does an OUTSTANDING job of reading the play early, containing the play to the outside forcing the TE to not get to the edge and was able to get a hand on the TE and bring him down forcing a 4th down!

12:57 2nd QTR 1st and 10

Wells throws a pick here. 3x1 formation and Gosnell goes in motion to let Wells know that Purdue is playing man coverage across the board. It appears that the route is a slant and the Purdue DB has inside leverage on Lane. The route should be run inside the DB to avoid this potential outcome. Wells, anticipating the route (which would have been open based on coverage) throws the ball and Lane goes outside the DB leading to the pick. After the play, Lane appears to pat himself on the chest to signify his mistake. Picks are not always just on the QB.

7:16 2nd QTR 2nd and 10

Excellent patience and vision by Malachi Thomas on this run and one of the few times we got a little bit of push on their DL. A little misdirection by Bowen here running a Guard/Tackle counter. Great patience by Thomas, waiting for the play to develop and exploding through the hole for a good gain. Shows what we CAN do in the run game once these guys get some experience.

6:50 2nd Qtr 3rd and 3 and 4th and 4

What looks like a rough play call on 3rd and 3 after a good Thomas run, The plan was to option the OLB, but Clements does not reach the ILB in time allowing him to make the play on Thomas. The next play was 4th and 4, a very creative play designed by Bowen to take advantage of Purdue’s aggressive defense. Start out in an empty backfield and motion Tuten into the backfield confusing the defensive backfield as the LB covering Tuten motions to the middle and he gets lost when Tuten hits the wheel route and a good throw by Wells. OUTSTANDING individual effort by Tuten to punch it in for 6! Touchdown Tech!

5:15 2nd QTR 3rd and 5 and 4th and 1

Keli Lawson is a beast! Bright spot in the LB Room. On the 3rd down play, solid form tackle to keep Purdue from gaining the first down. On 4th down, something that Coach Pry said that the defense needed to work on was fitting gaps in the run game. On this 4th down, Lawson fits the gap, makes the play, and gets the turnover on downs. Great individual effort on back to back snaps.

Second Half:

Second Half was Abysmal. Once Lane left the game, WR struggled to get separation, the run game continued to be garbage, and Wells threw a pick that should have been caught by Felton. In my opinion, the Defense played well enough to win the game, but like last year was on the field too much in the second half and only allowed one score in the 4th Qtr. Wells was beat up all game and finally was replaced by Drones with about two minutes left to go.

Last Drive 2:30 4th Qtr 1st and 10

This play shows why there is potential in Drones. 2x2 set, good protection, fades to the outside and digs from the slot receivers. Drones does a great job of waiting for Wright to get into the window of the Prevent zone being played by Purdue and delivers a strike!

1:54 4th Qtr 1st and 10

This play endeared Drones into the hearts of many fans. After the big pass to Wright, an overthrow to the sideline, Completion to Holloway on the sideline and PI against Benji Gosnell. 2x2 set, clearly a designed QB draw. Line does a good job inviting the rush, Drones takes off and has the Football IQ to know that he has to get out of bounds to try to save the time outs. He lowers his shoulder, gets the 1st Down and keeps the drive going!


Offense: C-

While there were some bright spots. Play calling is not the problem as much as it is execution. Losing Jennings and Lane to injury severely hampered our ability to get WR separation and Wells felt the pressure in the pocket as a result. Our continued inability to run the ball is going to require some creativity in play design to mix things up. Pry and staff have stated over and over again that we want to establish an identity of running the football to set up play-action. After two games, unless changes are drastic, I do not see that happening this year. The Hokies need to alter the scheme and plan of attack in the run game. Our greatest success this week was running counter and pulling linemen to lead through the hole. Drones coming into the game late showed some promise and can potentially force defenses to not pack the box as much because of the threat Drones presents with his legs. If he can show some ability with his arm, it could be a positive change.


Wells did not play terribly, but did not play well either. His 2 INT’s were costly, although not entirely his fault. He lost his top two WR targets in the game and lack of separation from the receivers that were left meant he had to hang on in the pocket for too long. Wells still misses throws and struggles with touch. He too was banged up in the game in 2nd qtr which eventually led to Drones entering the game in the 4th. Drones shows potential and was put into a tough spot in the 4th qtr.


Did a pretty good job in pass protection. Did as best they could with what they had as far as run blocking is concerned. Good to see Tuten get into the endzone. Hopefully changes are made and we get more creative in the run game to give these guys a chance to shine.

WR and TE- C

Losing Jennings and Lane hurt a lot. The Gosnell's made some good catches and the down field blocking was okay, but the lack of ability to create separation without the transfers was evident. Felton missed the ball over the middle that led to Wells 2nd INT, and did not look sharp in his route running throughout the game. Hopefully the injuries are not super serious and we see those two back soon!


Pass Blocking was pretty good again early, as the game went on Wells started to see more pressure as he had to sit back in the pocket longer. The run blocking is ATROCIOUS. We get zero push on the opposition, we have blockers running upfield aimlessly, and we are slow to get off the ball. I believe the root of most of our offensive issues is lack of an effective run game. It has to get fixed before we can have consistent success on offense.

Defense- C

It's never a good thing when your defensive backs lead the team in tackles. run fitting, which was an issue last week, was slightly better, and The D as a whole played a pretty solid 2nd an 3rd quarter. Much needed improvement is still needed in the front seven before we see any major improvement in both the run and pass game.

D Line- B

Pene is the lone bright spot in the interior, so far, that has shown improvement this year. APR, McCray have done some great things. Hopefully Burgos’ injury isn't too serious and we can see some improvement from some of the older guys. Pressuring the passer is still better than it was last year.

LB- C-

Fitting gaps in the run game is still a problem. LB’s are athletic and do much better in open space, but seem lost at times. Show some bright spots and positive moments.


DBs are the most solid unit on the team. Stroman is a beast and did a great job in run support and hopefully Peoples comes back soon as Jones struggled at times. When the DB’s struggled, it was because they had to cover for longer because of lack of Front 7 pressure.

Special Teams- A

Good Execution and coverage in special teams. Peter Moore seems to be back to 2021 form!

The great thing about football is that each week is another opportunity to get better. Let's regroup and get healthy and take out Rutgers! Afterwards, we can discuss whether it's called Taylor ham or Pork Roll! GO HOKIES!!!

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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!

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