The Virginia Tech Hokies entered last Saturday’s home tilt against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets with a chance to clinch the ACC’s Coastal Division. Suffice to say, things didn’t work out too well for the Hokies as the Yellow Jackets dominated the Hokies, 30-20.
It was a struggle from the beginning as Virginia Tech coughed up the opening kickoff. Georgia Tech capitalized and never looked back. It was another rough day for the defense as they allowed 309 rushing yards, including 143 to running back and 121 to quarterback Matthew Jordan. Jordan, who started for Justin Thomas, gave VT’s defense fits all day long with his size and decisiveness.
There are some concerns about the Hokies coming out of this game, but are they any different than the issues we’ve discussed over previous weeks? This is a team in transition that has—to this point—overachieved.
Now that we’ve had a couple of days to think on it, here are some thoughts about VT’s loss to Georgia Tech.
Jerod Evans is really struggling: From strictly a numbers perspective, the junior-college transfer is having a phenomenal season and is closing in on many of Virginia Tech’s single-season passing records. A deeper look at Evans, though, and you’ll notice he’s had his share of issues.
All season long, Evans has struggled to hit his receivers deep. Another issue is Evans doesn’t throw his receivers open. When Tech’s wideouts run slants or shallow crosses, Evans’ passes are often behind his receivers, limiting what they can do after the catch. Also, as the season has wore on, his carries have gone up due to the team’s overall inability to run the football.
Evans is a solid college quarterback and a great leader. He’s a one-read quarterback and that isn’t going to change. The coaching staff must do a better job to accentuate his positives versus allowing his flaws to be exposed.
Defense gashed—again: Let’s be fair to Bud Foster’s defense, they were on the field a lot defending a difficult and unique offense. But, on the same token, Tech’s overaggressiveness led to bad angles, which led to big plays. The Hokies also struggled to wrap up GT’s ballcarriers.
In the past, Foster’s teams have done a good job of defending Georgia Tech’s triple option. Saturday was not one of those days. It’s possible that Jordan’s insertion in the lineup had a lot to do with this as the Hokies were familiar with Thomas. Jordan was a different type of runner and he could not be stopped.
Red-zone play-calling: Early in the season, it appeared that Virginia Tech was more creative down in the red zone. Recently, it feels like the coaching staff has become a little too predictable in the red zone. Whether it’s a fade to Bucky Hodges, or force-feeding the ball to Sam Rogers and Travon McMillian or a quarterback draw, Tech has lacked diversity.
Why not try and get Cam Phillips the ball on a smoke route? Or line C.J. Carroll up in the slot and take advantage of his speed and quickness? Ford and Hodges are tremendous luxuries for this offense, but their presence also allows for other players to make plays, too.
That’s on the coaching staff.
Carroll caught five balls for 65 yards against Georgia Tech last week, both career-highs. He should be featured more moving forward. And why not run more two tight-end sets? For a coaching staff that looked so dynamic earlier this fall, that has disappeared lately. This offense has the potential to be a very good unit.
This offensive line is a mess: Eric Gallo had another snapping snafu last week and it cost the Hokies. Virginia Tech cannot afford to punt the football that deep in its own territory with Mitchell Ludwig. The center position has hurt the Hokies all season long. Gallo is generally in the lineup because he is a better snapper than Kyle Chung. Chung is considered the better blocker. Either way, it’s inexcusable.
Augie Conte missed several blocks again on Saturday. These plays are killer as they kill drives. Gallo was guilty on many occasions, too. For as much as Wyatt Teller is criticized for his penalties, where would this group be without him? Teller is a future pro and gives maximum effort on every snap.
Both tackles, Yosuah Nijman and Jonathan McLaughlin are solid. Nijman is still a work in progress. He’s shown plenty of promise this season and that’s a positive development. But this team will not get better with Chung, Gallo or Conte holding up two of the starting positions on this line.
Let’s appreciate Isaiah Ford: The junior receiver will destroy all of Virginia Tech’s single-season and career records for wide receivers. He’s a special talent. On Saturday, he became the all-time leader in receptions with three regular-season games to go in his junior season. He’s just 216 yards away for the career mark in receiving yards, that record, too, is held by Jarrett Boykin. He is already the single-season leader and career record-holder for touchdown receptions.
We should appreciate what we have in Ford as we may only see him in a Virginia Tech uniform for 4-5 more games. Ford will surely put his name into the hat for the NFL Draft to at least see where is projected to go. If he’s projected to go in the first two rounds, then it’s a foregone conclusion for him to declare.
Ford is one of the good guys and does everything right. He works hard on the field, in the weight room and is a model citizen off the field. Justin Fuente would certainly love to have him around for one more season, but if he’s not he has still left a tremendous legacy at Virginia Tech.
Ford comes from a prestigious high school (Trinity Christian, Jacksonville) that puts out a lot of talent on a yearly basis. He is looked up to by all of the younger players that come through Trinity. Last weekend, the Hokies hosted three premier talents from the class of 2017 in Shaun Wade, D.J. Matthews and Rasheed Martin. The Hokies remain a long-shot for all three, but the presence of Ford has them in the battle.
Virginia Tech is a better place for wide receivers because of Isaiah Ford and all of his accomplishments over the last three years.