Three Cheers and Three Jeers for Virginia Tech vs. Middle Tennessee
Most everyone just hoped for a clean game and a Tech win. They got half of that with a solid 35-14 victory, but it wasn't easy. Much like the Hokies in week one, Middle Tennessee came out and hit their ranked opponent in the mouth. Fortunately, after some halftime adjustments things improved significantly for Tech and folks were able to leave Lane Stadium happy once again.
September 11th is a difficult day for most Americans. Not to make it about me, but it's also my birthday which adds an odd flavor to the already heightened emotions of the day. It should come as no surprise then that when Bill Roth exclaimed, "Touchdown Tech!" on the Hokies' first score that I got a bit misty-eyed. I can't have been the only one. To hear him calling a game in Lane after a lengthy absence, flanked by Eddie Royal who made his Tech debut on my birthday many years ago —when I was also a freshman— just added to the full circle feeling.
Return of the Kick Return
Keshawn King took the opening kickoff into Middle Tennessee territory and it proved to be a harbinger of things to come. King had another nice kickoff return later, blowing past the up man telling him to take a knee. Tayvion Robinson also appears at full strength on punt returns. After a strange stretch of mishandled kicks last season, Robinson has been sure handed so far this time around. He also flashed the speed and elusiveness that makes him so dangerous, also nearly breaking one for a score. A very encouraging sign to be sure.
Air Mail? Hokies Prefer the Ground
Tech had the running game in high gear for this one. The Hokies amassed 224 yards on 5.7 yards per carry with a couple of touchdowns as well. While it would have been nice to see more development in the passing game, seeing the rushing attack continue to grow is also a good sign. Jalen Holston flashed his speed on a long score but overall the group pieced the effort together as a whole. There's no Khalil Herbert so far this season, but the position group is finding a way.
The injury report will be interesting after this one. A number of Tech players limped off the field after taking on an extremely physical MTSU squad. James Mitchell took a rough hit as did Dorian Strong, but all of Hokie nation cringed and held their collective breath when Braxton Burmeister took a rough, but clean hit early in the contest. He would return to action and too a nice touchdown pass, but this is the biggest concern everyone has about the team longterm. BB3 has to stay healthy at all costs.
Stop the Presses
Tech's insistence to once again play soft coverage on receivers in the first half frustrated many. Some credit certainly belongs to Bailey Hockman and his offensive line. He had plenty of time to throw as Tech elected to sit back in coverage much of the game and he put in a much stronger performance than he did last season with NC State. Still, the Hokies allowed quite a few easy plays in the passing game which was something Eddie Royal mentioned as an issue in the pregame. Striking the right balance between pressure up front and among the DBs remains a work in progress.
Not Perfect, But It's a Win
It wasn't the cleanest effort, but Tech came out fired up after halftime and showed plenty of encouraging signs. The team's health will be a question and it comes at a tough time with a monster road test looming in rival West Virginia. It remains to be seen a bit just how good this team really is, which may be a disappointment to some. This questions will likely be answered in Morgantown. For now, just enjoy being 2-0.