The Virginia Tech Hokies did what they always do on Saturday: Beat in-state rival Virginia. After a few close calls in recent seasons, the Hokies throttled the Wahoos, 52-10, to finish head coach Justin Fuente’s first season 9-3.
Tech clinched the Coastal Division on Friday thanks to UNC’s loss to N.C. State. So, the Hokies entered the game knowing they could relax and try to head into next week’s showdown against Clemson with some positive momentum.
Now that we’ve had a couple of days to let it digest, here are five thoughts from Virginia Tech’s blowout win over Virginia.
How did UVA win two games?
After watching VT dominate this game in all three phases, it was natural to wonder how Virginia has even won a game this season. Sure, the ‘Hoos have some nice players, such as running back Taquan Mizzell, linebacker Micah Kiser and safety Quin Blanding, but overall, this bunch lacks talent. Especially at the quarterback position. When was the last time UVA received even solid play from a quarterback? It’s been a while.
After several years of Al Groh and Mike London, Bronco Mendenhall has his hands full. Mendenhall came to Charlottesville with a sterling reputation after a nice reign at Brigham Young, but after a nightmare 2-10 first campaign, he may have wished he’d stayed out west.
What a way for Sam Rogers to finish his career
Yes, the Hokies still have two games left. Unfortunately, they won’t be in Lane Stadium. Tech graduates some pretty good players on both sides of the ball, including senior fullback Sam Rogers.
Rogers had a career day on Saturday. He carried the ball 15 times for 105 and two touchdowns. All were career highs. Rogers averaged seven yards per attempt.
Rogers is the type of player that Virginia Tech built its program on with a blue-collar, hard-working, team-first attitude. And, of course, a former walk-on.
Hokie faithful certainly let Rogers know how much they appreciated his contributions over the last four years.
Fumbles remain an issue
It’s happened all season, when a player has trouble hanging onto the ball, Fuente goes to the next man. On Saturday, Travon McMillian fumbled as did last week’s golden boy, Steven Peoples. So, Fuente turned to Rogers.
Obviously, fumbles didn’t hurt the Hokies. However, this remains an issue and will haunt Tech if it happens against Clemson this weekend. The Hokies cannot afford to be careless with the football against a team as good as the Tigers on both sides of the ball.
It would be interesting to know what’s going on with Shai McKenzie. With injuries and fumbling issues plaguing the depth chart, Fuente doesn’t seem inclined to give the former 4-star recruit a chance. It looks like McKenzie’s time in Blacksburg is nearing its disappointing end.
Yes, Virginia was the opponent, but the Hokies did what they were supposed to do. They flew around the football, put pressure on the quarterback and lived in UVA’s backfield. Virginia’s receivers failed to get separation against VT’s defensive backs all game long. Now comes Heisman finalist Deshaun Watson.
As good as Watson is—and he’s extremely good—the Tigers are also loaded at the skill positions. All-ACC receiver Mike Williams, All-ACC tight end Jordan Leggett team up with running back Wayne Gallman and receivers Deon Cain and Artavis Scott. The Tigers also feature two All-ACC first-team offensive linemen.
Fortunately for the Hokies, they’ll be at close to full strength with Greg Stroman expected back.
Bud Foster always seems to devise an excellent game plan in big games and he’ll need to this weekend. Foster gives Tech a chance. While the Hokies don’t match up well in talent with the Tigers, Foster has seen this movie before and he’s usually always prepared.
No. 25 jersey strikes again
Either Fuente is clairvoyant or there is something to Tech players being extraordinary when wearing legendary head coach Frank Beamer’s old No. 25 jersey. This past weekend, it was Rogers.
We’ve seen it before with Greg Stroman, Cam Phillips, C.J. Carroll and Divine Deablo all making big plays or having big games when wearing Beamer’s old jersey number. What a nice and classy way by Fuente to ingratiate himself to his new team’s fan base by incorporating this into each game.
Who’ll wear the No. 25 this week? Could it be Isaiah Ford? Whoever it is, you should watch that player closely as big, momentum-changing plays happen when someone is donning Coach Beamer’s number.