The Virginia Tech Hokies picked up a shutout win on Saturday, beating Delaware 27-0 and improving to 2-0 on the young season. Now, the Hokies are set to travel to Greenville, N.C., to face old foe East Carolina. We will have more on that game later in the week.
Now, let’s take a look back at Tech’s shutout win over a surprisingly feisty Delaware team.
Josh Jackson has room to grow
Well, duh, he is a freshman, after all. Jackson wasn’t bad Saturday. His final numbers were solid and he took care of the football. That’s especially impressive for a freshman. However, he missed some throws he’d like to have back. This is going to be a progress as he’s a freshman throwing to several other freshmen. He also wasn’t helped by drops. Freshman Sean Savoy dropped a surefire-TD in the first half on a nice throw by Jackson.
These next two weeks are important for Jackson. He needs to continue developing a rapport with receivers other than Cam Phillips and Jackson. The coaching staff needs to involve Deshawn McClease more in the passing game. Get Chris Cunningham and Dalton Keene more involved. Jackson needs more help around him. He needs to be able to trust his receivers. He trusts Phillips, Savoy and C.J. Carroll.
Running game is meh
Again, no surprise here. This isn’t just on the running backs. The offensive line is breaking in two new starters on the right side and it shows at times. But Eric Gallo, Wyatt Teller and Yosuah Nijman need to be better. Too many times, they are getting pushed back, particularly Gallo.
Scheme-wise, head coach Justin Fuente must find more creative ways to get this running game going. Whether it is using James Clark or Henri Murphy on jet sweeps, or creating, even more, motion before the snap, something must change. The Hokies ran for 81 yards against an FCS defense. Make no mistake, Delaware is no pushover defensively and have a defense geared toward stopping the run, but the Blue Hens are still an FCS team.
Fuente knows he can’t run Jackson the way he did Jerod Evans last year. Evans was built like a tight end, Jackson isn’t. Jackson is extremely capable, and he can be more effective if used less. This will likely be an area of concern all year.
It was nice to see Jalen Holston get some snaps and he did well. Unfortunately, it was when the game was over so we can’t take too much out of it. He certainly is deserving of more opportunities moving forward.
Special teams are strong again
Last week, the special team’ unit made some big plays. Freshman punter Oscar Bradburn was solid in his debut, Joey Slye was consistent on his kickoffs and James Clark almost broke two kick returns.
This week, it was Greg Stroman taking a punt to the house and getting the Hokies on the board late in the first quarter after a sluggish start. This unit resembles the Frank Beamer units of old. The Hokies will take more kicks to the house this season, you can count on that.
Bradburn was good again. He averaged 45.6 yards per punt and landed two punts inside the 20. It is nice to have a reliable punter again and I’m certain Bud Foster appreciates the Aussie already.
An area of concern is Slye’s field goals. He missed two more. Yes, both were 50 yards or longer, one of which was blocked. But this is a recurring theme. His missed last week could’ve cost the Hokies the game. And his misses were both less than 40 yards. Tech needs him to be more consistent, especially when the ACC season arrives.
Overall, this is a strong unit, though.
How about those Edmunds’ boys?
It was a banner day for Tremaine and Terrell Edmunds as the brothers from Danville combined for 22 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and an interception that was returned for 55 yards. The brothers were everywhere, meeting in the backfield on a number of occasions.
This Virginia Tech defense is very good. It’s just not deep. But this group will keep the Hokies in every game. They have playmakers at all three levels. Both Edmunds’ brothers can make game-changing plays. Terrell has played every position in the secondary and his versatility, leadership and physicality make him one of the best players in the ACC. Tremaine, he looks like a future NFL first-round pick. He doesn’t just look the part; he brings it on every play.
Hopefully, we get 12 more games to enjoy them this season.
Cam Phillips dominant once again
Last season, Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges made it tough to see that it was Cam Phillips who may have been the best receiver on Virginia Tech’s roster by the of 2016. That isn’t a knock on Ford and Hodges, they were great, but Phillips improved greatly last year as the season progressed.
Ford is the school’s all-time leading receiver (for now) for a reason. He was tremendous as soon as he arrived on campus. He ran terrific routes and had good hands. However, Phillips is quicker than Ford and offers the Hokies more versatility. He can play outside or in the slot. For an offensive-minded coach like Fuente, Phillips is an ideal player.
On Saturday, Phillips caught six balls for 90 yards and a touchdown. On the season, he has 13 receptions for 228 yards and two scores. Expect his production to continue. Phillips could be an All-American this fall, however, he is going to need someone to step up opposite of him on a consistent level or teams will bracket him with consistent double coverage.
Now, it’s time to look ahead to Week 3.