The Hokies were simply on a mission Saturday afternoon, turning in one of the most dominant performances in recent history as they obliterated the Boston College Eagles 49-0. That donut marks the first shutout for Bud Foster’s group since 2012 against Bowling Green. Get this: the Hokies didn’t fumble. Hard to believe, I know. But it just goes to show how much this team was stopping itself from reaching their true potential, and tonight was a great example of how good the Hokies can be. Virginia Tech’s most notable improvement since last week was in terms of their discipline.
Quarterback Jerod Evans led the way for the offense in what was a very efficient showing. His five touchdown throws tied Bryan Randall’s record for most touchdown passes in a single game in Virginia Tech history. The amazing thing is that this was Evans’ third start – and in two of them he has thrown for at least four touchdowns. He has executed at a high level and proven that he was the right choice by Fuente as the starting quarterback.
Fuente’s offense had not done a great job in the first two games of establishing the running game. While Boston College had a very good run defense, the Hokies were still able to gash them for 223 yards on the ground. It was tough sledding early, but because the Hokies were able to control the tempo and time of possession, they eventually wore the defense down. The head coach also was effective in with his scheme. We did not see as many jet sweeps – instead, there were more QB draws and misdirection, allowing playmakers to get into space and go north-south.
Usually when a team pitches a shutout, there some amount of luck involved. Although Boston College had a touchdown fall through their grasp, the Hokies’ defense deserves all the credit for this performance. Foster came out with an aggressive gameplan. His players came out flying and hit hard. The Eagles’ interior offensive line was getting zero push – Ekanem, Mihota, Baron, and Nigel Williams manhandled the tackle box. Quarterback Patrick Towles was under constant pressure, and the secondary smothered receivers downfield. He was never allowed to settle into the game and get into a rhythm. He was never sacked, but he took some big shots as he let go of the ball. He finished 9-28 for 80 yards and an INT. Simply dominant by Foster’s boys.
I feel slightly guilty in taking pleasure watching Loeffler’s inept offense get completely and utterly shut down. But then again, how can you not laugh at this?
Quite the return engagement for former #Hokies OC Scot Loeffler. Was too busy for media interviews this week crafting plan to amass 0 points— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) September 17, 2016
Special teams is often the forgotten phase of the game, but it was instrumental in the win, especially in the first half. Although his punts were short, Ludwig consistently pinned Boston College deep inside their own territory (4 punts inside the 20). Field position is part of that hidden yardage stat that so many coaches refer to. It is much harder to consistently put together 80 yard drives than it is to do the same with 60 yard drives. During the first three quarters, the Hokies average starting field position was their own 38-yard line, which is outstanding. All three phases for Virginia Tech won their matchups and the 49-0 score line was the result of that.
From kickoff, Virginia Tech looked better prepared, better coached, and more talented (all three of those statements are true, which is a good thing). The first score of the game was an Evans to McMillian connection, on a similar play call to Sam Rogers’ touchdown in Bristol. Travon caught the ball at the 11-yard line but was able to drag a BC defender into the end zone with him. That intensity was evident all over the field throughout the game, and on both sides of the football.
The Hokies forced a quick three-and-out on the Eagles’ subsequent offensive possession. However, the Hokies weren’t able to capitalize on good field position as they started on the +44-yard line. They punted it away, but Mike Knoll was a busy man for the Eagles and was called on to punt it right back to the Hokies.
On the next Hokies’ possession, Fuente and his team suffered a slight injury scare. The play call was a flare screen to our favorite back, Travon McMillian. But instead of being successful, it looked more like this:
However, that did not deter the Hokies’ offense from scoring. Evans threw his second TD pass of the quarter to Isaiah Ford – who else? The junior WR and JUCO transfer have built a solid rapport, especially when Ford gets one-on-one coverage in the red zone. With 1:15 left in the first quarter, Evans dropped a pass right into Isaiah Ford’s bucket in the corner of the end zone. That 8-yard TD pass concluded an eight-play, 58-yard drive where the Hokies moved the ball very efficiently.
The two teams exchanged punts once again, and again, and again. As I stated above, the Hokies were constantly getting the ball with good field position, but at this point in the game they had yet to take advantage. That changed when a 29-yard punt return by Greg Stroman fired the crowd up as well as the offense. It only took seven seconds for the Hokies to strike for the third time in the first half. Evans threw up a prayer to Ford and the junior receiver miraculously caught a ball in double coverage that really should not have been thrown. That is why talent wins nearly every time. Adonis Alexander put a bow on a strong first half with sticky coverage resulting in an easy interception with under 45 seconds left.
So the Hokies, nursing a 21-0 halftime lead, looked to go for the jugular as the second half started. The defense forced another quick three-and-out as they had been doing all afternoon. Then the Hokies faced a 3rd and 3, but a nice play called by Fuente allowed Cam Phillips to get in the open field for a gain of 36. Later that drive, Evans threw another jump ball up to Ford and drew another pass interference penalty on BC. A few plays later, Chris Cunningham walked into the end zone and Evans had thrown his fourth touchdown of the afternoon. The game was over at this point – Boston College had not shown any sign of energy or offensive firepower that would allow them to overcome a 28-point deficit.
After another three-and-out (I was thinking Loeffler would get fired Monday at this point in the game), the Hokies dropped another seven on what was one of top defenses in college football. This is where Marshawn Williams started to make his mark on the game. He had a couple of strong runs which were reminiscent of his freshman year prior to the knee injury. Williams finished the game with 15 carries for 82 yards, and suddenly, it looks like the Hokies are four-deep at running back. That’s certainly good news for Coach Fuente. Evans capped the drive off with TD pass five to a wide open Sam Rogers in the flat.
The next Hokies’ possession was not nearly as smooth. On the second play, Jerod Evans threw his first interception of the season to John Johnson who returned the ball to the Virginia Tech 27-yard line. However, because of Boston College’s sheer ineptitude on offense, they were unable to capitalize. This was their best shot at ending the shutout. Tom Sweeny had a pass thrown to him while streaking down the seam, only to drop it as the football hit him right in the hands. After a couple of false starts (seriously, is Loeffler’s offense cursed?) took BC out of FG range, they had to punt once more.
The Hokies scored once more with their starters for good measure. I thought it was good Fuente never let up on the gas pedal. We see so many comebacks happen because one team thinks they have the game in the bag. But that obviously was not the case today. Travon put the finishing touches for the 1’s with a 7-yard touchdown run where the offensive line opened up a gaping hole on the left. Even Trent Richardson would score on that one.
Boston College was backed up once again on their next possession, and had to punt after a failed 3rd down screen call. After that, both teams went to their second string quarterbacks. Motley came into the game for the Hokies, and a combination of Williams and Motley runs put the Hokies up 49-0. Boston College looked beyond defeated at this point.
Fuente then called for Jack Click to enter the game on the Hokies’ next possession. He successfully led two separate drives that bled 3:45 and 3:02 off the game clock.
ECU is up next. Fuente knows that this will be a challenge, as he alluded to the fact that the Pirates have been a pain in the Hokies’ side for the last two seasons in his post game presser. If the Hokies come out with the attitude and focus that they played with yesterday, the Hokies really should not have a problem next weekend at Lane Stadium.