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Three Cheers and Three Jeers for Virginia Tech vs. Clemson

By Justin Cates | December 06
Sometimes when it rains it pours, even if there are no clouds in the sky.

The game certainly got out of hand as most predicted and yet it didn't go how anyone expected. There was hope and excitement in the first half for Tech fans. In fact, there were a few fleeting moments when if you squinted a bit it looked like real Virginia Tech football.

Defenders were flying around making plays, the offense was controlling the clock and running the ball. It wasn't a bad time at all.

Then everything else happened.

Three Cheers

Khalil Herbert

Juice scored an early touchdown, went over 100 yards yet again and crossed the 1,000-yard mark for the year. He becomes the first Hokie to do so since Travon McMillian in 2015. To say the Kansas transfer has been a success doesn't remotely begin to tell the story. After the first game opponents knew he was getting the ball and with a few exceptions, they still couldn't slow him down.

His play has been an incredibly bright spot in a dark season.

Knox Kadum

If you had told this kid a week ago he was not only going to play but he'd complete passes and rip off a couple nice runs against Clemson, I can only imagine the look you'd receive. For his part, Kadum looked pretty comfortable and clearly has done his best to be ready to go despite severely limited reps. He'll get plenty now with the situation at quarterback —see the jeers section.

Gameplan (Mostly)

The coaches have taken a beating as the season has trended in the wrong direction, so credit where it's due for coming up with a smart plan for this game —I can already feel the anger from Twitter on this but it's not all positive.

Tech decided the only way to slow Clemson down was to attempt to grind the clock on offense. This is basically what Boston College did in their upset bid, but it's easier said than done. The Hokies ran the ball well and were mostly able to sustain drives as they had hoped. Things could have gone even better minus a few self-imposed errors —fumbles, penalties— on drives into plus territory.

The defense did a nice job of mixing coverages and getting pressure on passing downs. The read option was a killer though, particularly on Trevor Lawrence keepers.

As usual there were some head-scratching calls here and there but on balance the plan was sound. That doesn't let the coaches off the hook for failing to adjust after Clemson did, but for a half plus, things went about as well as they could have.

Three Jeers

End of First Half Clock Management

Ah this old chestnut. The Hokies gave up a quick scoring drive to end the half which you could kind of feel coming, then finished with a puzzling decision to grind the clock down —kind of— with three timeouts remaining.

The reaction to the decision to milk the clock was already pretty spicy, then got more heated after Khalil Herbert broke off a big run and Tech completed a Hail Mary to the Clemson one as time expired. As Mr. McFarling pointed out, what's the harm in trying something there?


This isn't remotely why the Hokies lost. It is frustrating though that Tech didn't take a chance with absolutely nothing to lose. Mostly it's just annoying and I don't like it. You know, like this entire season.


These are always terrible but it couldn't have happened to worse players for the Hokies. Braxton Burmeister played pretty well but went down, as did Hendon Hooker in brief action. Then star tackle Christian Darrisaw limped off only to be followed by Silas Dzansi who got banged up with just 42 seconds left.

The quarterback situation which seemed to be an embarrassment of riches to start the season now appears to be Knox Kadum and a series of question marks. It's an exciting opportunity for him but an overall disaster for Tech. It sounds like Hendon Hooker may be available next week, but we'll have to see how things shake out.

Just All of It

The fanbase is eating each other alive online and former players are openly lobbying for a change at the top. The national media has taken its share of potshots at the program and all that's left now in a once promising season is a redemption game against a surging and despised rival.

Mostly, I feel for the players who hurt more than anyone. They continue to lay it all on the line and deserve better than these results after all they went through in the offseason and continue to deal with week to week just to play these games. Tech has a talented roster that's being let down by the coaching staff.

It's all a major bummer but this staff has run out of supporters outside of immediate family.

The program is at a major turning point and the next few weeks will be interesting to say the least.

The only question left is where does Whit Babcock stand in all of this?


My Dad graduated from Tech in 1981 and I’ve been attending Virginia Tech sporting events since I first moved to Blacksburg in 1988. I myself graduated in 2008 with a Communication degree. During my time as a student I was the Sports Director for WUVT and helped establish and run Planet Blacksburg, an independent student-run news website. I’ve since written for numerous publications including SBNation, Inside The ACC, and Sports Illustrated's AllHokies. Currently, I host The Justin Cates Show in addition to other contributions here at Sons of Saturday and various other sites as the need arises. I now live in a fortified compound in upstate New York with my wife and numerous animals. The smell of popcorn makes me think of Cassell.

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