How did the Underclassmen Recruits fair against Richmond?
It would have been nice, to say the least, for the Virginia Tech fans to see some of the 2020 and 2021 recruits play against the Richmond Spiders. It was much more of the same that we have seen this season, with the core players out of both classes playing. We will look into which of the newer recruits on the roster contributed in Saturday's outing against Richmond, and who may contribute in the future.
Class of 2020:
OL Kaden Moore: Moore got another true start for the Hokies' offensive line this past weekend against Richmond. He has shown that he can be a capable part, with offensive line depth already dwindling down. And with the depth not showing any true changes at this point in the season, it is safe to assume Moore is locked at the right guard spot until next season.
Kaden Moore recorded 62 snaps against Richmond last Saturday. In those 62 snaps, he managed to gain himself a PFF offensive grade of a 61.6 (sixth on the offense). However, his highlight category that game had to be his pass block grade. In the PFF Pass Block category, Moore landed a 66.4 rating for his efforts. Also, he was once again not responsible for any of the offense's penalties this week, proving he play to the whistle.
P Peter Moore: It is safe to say that this was the game that punter Peter Moore finally came into his own as a Hokie. The starting punter from Maryland had his best statistical game in his first four career starts. Moore will need to keep this type of punting up during his tenure on the Hokies' special teams to give the defense some wiggle room.
We saw Peter Moore record a total of 6 punts against Richmond, the most he has had to punt all season. Nonetheless, he managed to average an astounding 44.7 yards per punt. And he even had a long punt that went for 52 punts. It might be alarming for some to see Moore punt this much for a game against an FCS squad, but it allowed Moore to account for 268 special team yards.
Possible New Names: When starring down Notre Dame at home for next Saturday, some names come to mind: S Keonta Jenkins and CB Dorian Strong.
It was a surprise to see both Jenkins and Strong take a dip in their performance over this past weekend's game. In fact, each of the two had a bottom-tier showing in comparison to the two they have played this season. It is expected that they erase this bad mark on their season performance and bounce back for Notre Dame.
Class of 2021:
DL Cole Nelson: Coach Fuente spoke about getting Nelson some more playing time during the week heading into the game. So when Nelson got to take a decent amount of snaps against the Spiders, it only served as a confirmation that the Georgia native had started to become his own in Blacksburg.
In his 7 snaps taken on Saturday, Nelson made himself noticed over some of the other depth players. He recorded a PFF Defensive grade of a 60.4, which ranked sixteenth on the defense. Among his seven recorded snaps, five of those were lined up for the run defense. For his run defense, Nelson was given a PFF Run Defense grade of a 61.1. Expect Nelson to get more snaps going forward, and for his role on the defense to only increase.
WR Da'Wain Lofton: Just when some thought his role and presence on the offense was decreasing, Lofton had himself a game on Saturday. With the same amount as some of his 2021 counterparts, Lofton managed to show that he can be used effectively in the outside run game for the Hokies.
Lofton recorded a total of 8 snaps for the Hokies, 7 of those being of the pass design. However, Lofton's prime statistic for this past matchup was his run block grade. PFF rated Lofton at a 83.7 run block grade, which was second for the whole offense. It would be a surprise to see Lofton get a substantial amount of snaps going forward, but it is important to see the freshmen get some playing time early.
Possible New Names: To see some of the Virginia Tech 2021 recruiting class get time this early has been a great sight. However, some of the names that coaches might allow to gain some more time would be S Jalen Stroman and RB Malachi Thomas.
Jalen Stroman did quite a number for the Hokies' special teams and defense when he suited up to play the Mountaineers. To see him grace the defensive set again this season is almost a guarantee, with his special teams role solidified. Now for RB Malachi Thomas, he had a nice bit of playing time when the Hokies played Middle Tennessee State. It would be interesting to see him get some reps at kick returns or punt returns, as he showed us glimpses of success.