It’s the midway point of the 2017 college football season for the Virginia Tech Hokies. After a 23-10 over the Boston College Eagles Saturday, Tech heads into its bye week with a 5-1 record and a 1-1 mark in ACC play.
More importantly, the Hokies bounced back from a tough loss to No. 2 Clemson to pick up their first win in league play. The final six games remaining on the schedule are all conference games.
So, here are five takeaways from VT’s win on Saturday night in Chestnut Hill.
Cam Phillips hurt
Virginia Tech fans were scared on the Hokies’ second drive as senior Cam Phillips went down with an injury. Phillips would not play the rest of the night. After the game, everyone could breathe a sigh of relief as it was revealed Phillips had a foot sprain and X-rays were negative.
It was certainly good news for the Hokies. And the bye week could not be coming at a better time. Phillips should be good to go for Tech’s stretch run and his continue his assault on Virginia Tech’s record books.
It seems like every time the Hokies travel up to Chestnut Hill, the game is ugly. Perhaps, some of that has to do with the presence of Boston College offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, also a former Virginia Tech offensive coordinator.
Boston College is a long trip from Blacksburg and that probably has something to do with it. However, this also happens to be two teams who are quite familiar with one another and that’s why the Eagles play the Hokies tough at home.
In this one, the Hokies outplayed BC by a mile. Unfortunately, they just couldn’t pull away and the Eagles hung in there until the end despite Tech being the far superior team. It was a good test for Virginia Tech after a tough loss to Clemson the week before. It was imperative the Hokies went into the bye week with a win as they couldn’t afford consecutive losses in ACC play with Miami and others in the Coastal playing so well.
Young receivers step up
Sean Savoy, the freshman receiver from Washington, D.C., finally had a breakout performance. He’s made plays in every game this year but didn’t have that one game where opposing teams can view him as an impact guy. On Saturday, Savoy changed that with nine receptions for 139 yards and a touchdown. Savoy ran a number of different routes and despite one critical drop, is proving to have a nice chemistry with quarterback Josh Jackson.
Eric Kumah, a sophomore, also had a career day catching four passes for 53 yards. All four receptions were on third down. The 6’2”, 220-pounder is talented and showed coaches he’s capable of running a variety of routes. Phillips missing most of this game could end up being a blessing for head coach Justin Fuente as his young quarterback was forced to involve more receivers in the passing game.
Finally, true freshman tight end Dalton Keene got involved in the offense. This one was a long time coming. Keene is a big, impressive dude who is going to be a great player for the Hokies, so it was critical to finally get him some consistent targets. Keene caught four balls for 66 yards. On the season, he now has eight catches for 94 yards. Now, Jackson must keep him involved as it could help the passing game go to another level.
Another strong defensive performance
A final look at the numbers and you’ll see Boston College finished with 344 total yards. It’s important to note that much of that came in the fourth quarter with the outcome no longer in question. The Eagles struggled in the passing game, while the running game broke off a few big runs. Boston College’s only touchdown came late in the fourth quarter on a trick play.
BC quarterback Anthony Brown did rush for 51 yards on seven attempts, but, once again, many of those yards were meaningless with Tech playing back.
Defensively, the Hokies have stayed relatively healthy throughout the first half of the season. To win the Coastal, remaining healthy is crucial.
Offensive line struggles
Jackson was sacked five times on Saturday. Without going back and looking at each specific play, it’s tough to say how many could’ve been avoided. Jackson is a young player and sometimes will hold the ball an extra second hoping for something to open up. However, the pressure Boston College gave Jackson was real. He avoided other sacks by getting rid of the football early.
Run-blocking wasn’t a lot better. On the game, Tech finished with 109 yards on 48 attempts. Fortunately, Travon McMillian had a strong game despite some less-than-stellar blocking and it was his best performance of the season.
Moving forward, blocking will still remain an issue in some games. It’ll be important for Fuente to be creative with the running game, using misdirection to get it going. And we know he likes to rotate backs, but sticking with one guy could also prove to be beneficial.