So, the hangover is passed. (Or the Blood Pressure Headache in my case, I don’t drink.) The roller coaster thrill has worn off a bit, and as we breathe a bit, we find ourselves sitting out in a field looking for something reflecting news of the thunderous 57 – 0 point two and a half quarter thumping of the East Carolina University Pirates in their house on September 16th. A perusal of the sports websites results in one lone link to an article that doesn’t do much justice to the effort.
It’s like the 3-0 Hokies didn’t even play a game this past weekend. Crickets chirping “Tech Triumph” would get more media attention. Since there aren’t too many people noticing what happened in Greenville,
South North Carolina on Saturday, we’ll go over some of the specifics for you.
We are #13 in both the AP and Coaches’ Polls. We have the number one receiver, by yardage, in FBS. We have a new hot Quarterback who is burning up the playing field. AND there was not one score summary show on any network that I saw who even noticed the game, or announced the score. I think I saw the crawler under an ESPN show fly by in just enough time to be cut off by the commercial.
Well we saw an exciting game that should have gotten some sort of notice, in some kind of just world. Tech has started the season 3-0 for a change. The Hokies were aiming to address some issues from prior contests; but specifically the Hokie offense came out to fix the problems from the Delaware game. This time, Tech passed the ball effectively (more than effectively, actually) and ran the ball by committee with emphasis and balance. It looks like the running back by committee is going to be the standard functional approach for Fuente and Cornelsen. What we saw in the game was something that Fuente’s offense needs, balance. Of 32 first downs in the game, 16 were made rushing. A total of eight players touched the ball for positive yardage. Colman Fox even scored his first collegiate touchdown.
What was obvious though is that Josh Jackson is the offensive leader and Cam Phillips is his go to guy in situations that require good hands, good feet, a burst of speed that is surprising many defensive backs, and something that many college receivers really haven’t developed, intelligent route running. Phillips makes quality reads, gets separation –even in tight traffic, and Jackson has the knack of finding 5 in the swirling mass of bodies. This relationship doesn’t negatively impact the other players and that’s critical. Sean Savoy is becoming a reliable receiver, and his route running is improving with every game. He caught four passes for 30 yards, one of those for 6, and that’s a serious accomplishment for a true Freshman. C.J. Carroll might not always get the ball, but he’s always gumming up coverages, and drawing attention away from the other receivers.
It also looks like Travon McMillian has made a bit of peace with the passing game. Travon may have only gotten 11 carries, but they averaged 6.5 yards. His one pass reception was just a minor affair of 70 yards for a touchdown. That gave Travon 142 combined yards. Three people scored touchdowns on the ground; Steven Peoples, Coleman Fox, and Jalen Holsten, who also scored his first collegiate touchdown. Steven Peoples has risen up to provide quality touches along with Deshawn McClease. A quality four deep depth chart at running back is a luxury that this team has rarely been able to touch. Tech’s 316 yards on the ground for this game should slightly ease some concerns.
Well, if the offense was firing on all cylinders throughout the entire game, it was evident from the first series that the Defense was in a very different quality arrangement. There were probably several factors involved. The first and most obvious was the suspension drama of Tavante Beckett. Then combine that with the game suspension (maybe more, who knows) of a very crucial Adonis Alexander, and add the Pirates curveball of changing their starting QB to their backup, Gardener Minshew. What resulted was a Defense that looked like it was tuned to stop a running QB, and ended up sort of flat-footed and unsure of exactly what to do.
The first quarter defensive results were nothing short of stunningly abysmal. All of the braggadocio and past statistics for how “good” the Hokie D performed in the past, looked like one of those “Shaddap Bob!” sorts of moments. We didn’t get pressure on the QB. We could stop the run with emphasis, but pass after pass went under the zone or outside it. The first drive started off alarmingly and ended with an almost exhausted gasp. The immediate response from Tech’s offense sort of helped, but the 2nd drive from ECU just about ran over everyone’s toes. I don’t think too many people got back from their commercial break pit stop break before the long pass play almost sent folks back because of an attack of the woosies. But you could tell something had changed. The third ECU drive stalled out and they were forced to kick a field goal with 2:34 left in the 1st quarter. The 17 to 7 totals did look backward, and more like a halftime score, but something clicked in the #LPD. The stop was for 3 so it was a partial, but instead of two full scores behind, the Hokies were only down one and a half.
That mild success seemed to do the trick. The Pirates would score nothing for the remainder of the game. The Hokies, meanwhile, addressed some major offensive and special teams issues that needed some focus. The Jackson to Phillips train connected on a 10 yard pass for a touchdown. Joey Slye seemed to fix his early season misfires with three solid field goals from the mid-30 yard range. The Defense contributed with an interception to grab a shot at that last additional FG. Yes, a touchdown would have been wonderful, but it looked very much like the momentum had changed permanently in favor of the Hokies.
The third quarter was pure history as the Jackson to (insert receiver here) combination began to build. Cam for a 31 yard TD on a beautiful post route was followed by Travon with a surprisingly quick 70 yard TD rumble on a Sam Rogers staple pop pass. Then Cam grabbed another post route (more seam than post but they bend in unpredictable directions) for 45 yards and 6. What was special about that was the record that it set, but it was also the quick change from the pounding run attack that was working, to the quick strike. Sean Savoy finally got into the TD act with a nice route and 9 yard toss from Jackson. Then it was over.
Well not really, because the 2’s got into the act. AJ Bush ripped off some serious yardage. Jalen Holston scored his first collegiate touchdown soon thereafter. Then Colman Fox jumped on the 1st collegiate TD bandwagon with a nice run off the left side. Jack Click even got some snaps in.
It was satisfying without feeling like we ran up the score. The Ones sat out a good part of the 3rd, and all of the fourth quarters. Even backup and future starting kicker Brian Johnson grabbed a PAT.
There are a couple of lessons that need to be learned from this game. The first is that this team can still lose football games, and do it in embarrassing ways. The second is that this football team does not like to be embarrassed, and does not give up for one second; period. The Belk Bowl proved both of those lessons, and it seems that even though the former might be a touch forgotten; the latter is never going to be a question.
This Saturday is the opportunity to go 1-0 with Old Dominion University. It will mark another first for the program. We’ve never played ODU. They are a growing recruiting presence (I won’t call it a force, yet) in the 757, and will pose a challenge similar to ECU’s. We need to concentrate on that game, and only that game. The kickoff is at the unusual time of 2:00pm. We’ll be on the sideline with the camera, and up in the booth with the live tweets.
Tell the truth, now, did you think that it was going to be a disaster after the 1st Quarter of ECU?
This poll is closed
No - The offense looked good, I thought we might have a shootout.
No - Never I never admit defeat, ever.
Yeah - I turned off the TV until someone texted me to turn it back on.
Not answering... concentrating on ODU.
Yes, but no. Regardless, I felt lots better after the first drive of the 2nd half.