Three Cheers and Minimal Jeers for Virginia Tech vs. Virginia
379 days. That's how long the Commonwealth Cup was in Charlottesville. It was entirely unnatural and apparently disrupted the universe so much that 2020 happened. Now all is back as it should be. Well, closer anyway. The Cup is home and a vaccine is on the horizon. Not all is well in Tech's football program, but for now everyone gets a brief reprieve.
The Cup Comes Home
The Hokies talked all week about how they were unhappy with the effort from last season. That was never in question this time around. Tech came out and set the tone early despite a nice UVA touchdown drive. The defense adjusted and the offense put together one of the best drives of the season. 17 plays, 75 yards, 7:40 melted off the clock. That's great stuff. The Hokies played like the beginning of the season and won by running the ball and sporting a tough defense.
Wow, what a strange dream that was! Dreamt I was in Charlottesville for the last year. From now on I sleep with one eye open. #Hokies— Commonwealth Cup (@CommonwlthCup) December 13, 2020
Chamarri Conner, Divine Deablo, and Amare Barno all had impressive performances on a standout night for the Tech defense. I've mentioned Barno a number of times this year. He's really turned into one of the best players on that side of the ball. He's still raw, but his ability in pursuit and all around natural talent is so tantalizing. Barno led Tech with 16 tackles for loss this season despite still learning his new position. He has a huge future ahead of him. Conner meanwhile has been the Hokies' best all around player on defense this season finishing with 81 total tackles to lead the Hokies. Deablo will be playing pro ball and has likely donned Frank Beamer's 25 for the last time. A number of other Hokies could join him.
Sending the Seniors Out Right
Transfer Justus Reed is the only player who has formally announced he will not return for another season. With the NCAA considering this year a 'free' season in terms of eligibility, the status of everyone else remains up in the air. Teams will be allowed to exceed the 85-man scholarship limit next year but it remains to be seen who will return for Tech. No matter what happens this victory was a great way to reward all of the guys who have worked so hard in such a bleak season.
Khalil Herbert ran for nearly 1,200 yards despite missing time for a hamstring issue. His play his play has been an unexpected revelation and shown once again that the Hokies own the transfer portal. Juice is another guy who has a shot to make some noise at the next level and will be sorely missed.
The ACC Network
I'd like to end the season on the same note we started with. Legitimately the best part about the ACC Network is the laughably bad infomercials that consistently run as if the target demographic is no one but male viewers 45-70. It's been frustrating for fans across the conference this season to see the terrible coverage provided by the ACC's flagship station. Mispronounced names, completely wrong names, incorrect graphics, just about everything has been a mess.
I will say the sideline reporters have been a bright spot. Katie George and Eric Wood do good work but I couldn't tell you anyone else who has done it. I appreciate the folks who have worked hard to put broadcasts together during a pandemic, but it hasn't exactly been smooth. Hopefully the ACC Network continues to improve across the board.
Deablo on Justin Fuente: "I love him, I'd do anything for the guy." #Hokies— Mike McDaniel (@MikeMcDanielVT) December 13, 2020
The win likely takes some heat off the head coach for the moment, but Justin Fuente's future wasn't decided against Virginia. Whit Babcock will have to determine how to proceed with respect to not only the coaching staff, but the possibility of a bowl game as well. Many of Tech's players are on record as saying they're up for it, so that's something to keep an eye on in the coming days.
The program also appears at a crossroads as a whole. In addition to possible coaching moves, players will be coming and going to and from programs across the country in record numbers with temporarily loosened transfer rules. The Hokies have a number of roster questions and another recruiting class on the way that doesn't appear to offer much immediate help. Clearly a lot of things will need to be addressed soon.
But for now, let all the other stuff rest a minute. Enjoy the return of the Cup. Be appreciative of all the effort to overcome adversity on the field and far beyond football to reach this point.