It's the morning of the first big game of the 2017 season we are one third of the way through the season, and it's really time to take stock, although a complete view won't be available until the end of October after we've played four ACC games.
Right now, the impression one gets is that for the last three games, interestingly not the first one, the 2017 Hokies haven’t found a soul, yet. So far, there are the trappings of Sandman, Hokie Stone, Jumping at Lane... etc. etc. However, it's all sort of blasé, expected. Even the AD's departmental move to change the show surrounding the football game seems sort of contrived and lame. The Hokey Pokey between the 3rd and 4th quarters may have been a sort of little kid and fuddy-duddy sort of display, but it was fun and had much to do with the spirit of having a good time. Tech is one of the few universities that I know of that has two really good fight songs, though Tech Triumph still rises above the Virginia Tech Victory March. The whole rip and slap job smacked of something artificial and contrived.
This team just doesn't seem to have the sort of "personality" quotient that most fans would like to see. It's earnest, it works hard, but there just isn't that "style", swagger... whatever it is that ignites the emotions of a team and gets it to play above its collective head. Josh Jackson is new and a natural leader, but he has yet to put any sort of stamp on the offense. The Edmunds brothers and Andrew Motuapuaka are fine players with amazing skills. The three of them are earnest, hardworking, and great team players. There just doesn’t seem to be the emotional power of last season's Defense. The lunch pail is really dented beyond repair, and in need of a replacement. Foster's new energy and excitement has helped, but I am not seeing the totally committed launch off the snap from the defensive line. Those exotic and wild blitz packages haven't been deployed much, if at all. The turnovers have been few, and the one pick from last week resulted in Divine Deablo landing wrong on his foot, causing a season ending injury. If that's the story of the defense this season, even if we win big it's going to be a long haul.
Some of the discipline and behavior problems are starting to pop back into potentially crippling relevance. The Tavante Beckett fiasco was a talent drain, but whatever else is going on has rolled Adonis Alexander into some issues; and unlike Beckett who was a minor player, Alexander is a key starter.
Back on offense, the running back by committee "thing" is back, again. Steven Peoples and Travon McMillian look like they are clicking; they are better than any combination last season. There is still no dominant big personality in the mix to provide a character for the running game. What’s indicative of the four game effort is that Colman Fox gained the most ground yardage for the ODU game and that was Garbage Time clock burning.
New players really need to get involved. Henri Murphy is going to need to step up. He board handed a few balls in the last game, and had a few drops in prior games. The "nerves" should be over, by now. Murphy has better catching skills than that. Eric Kumah is suited up and on the active roster. He's huge, and fast. It's really time for his presence to be felt. I still think that A.J. Bush needs to be leveraged out to the slot. He's hungry. He wants to play football, and the team looks like they respond to him being on the field. It's almost a looser sort of feel. It's not a swagger or bravado, but Bush being out there seems to calm some nerves. Maybe it's his experience, or physical talent. It's probably both. But whatever it is, if I am Fuente I am going to find some way to get A.J. Bush into leverage situations even if he isn't playing QB.
Special Teams is even having some fits and starts. Joey Slye is out of rhythm and slicing the ball badly. From the left hash close in that’s not too terrible, but the angles say that it doesn’t take long to be missing wide right. The right hash is has been a point killing zone. We have some solid return work, and there were nearly some punts blocked for the ODU game. The fact still remains that Joey hitting only 50% is not good enough in a pinch.
There is no smearing the 4-0 record at this point of the season. The two shutouts cannot be discounted. Even playing down talent games, teams do score. For all of the moaning about our slow starts, the defense has been making quality stops. Goose Eggs rare things in any season.
The Hokies do have some serious talent on the field, as we said in the Summer roster reviews, the ones and most of the twos on the depth chart are solid to even excellent players. That does make us a bit thin in places, though.
Those are all of the issues that need to be addressed; some of them this evening. All of them need major attention as the season progresses. There is no doubt that the 2017 Virginia Tech Hokies will get a 13 game season. There will be a bowl game in the future. Will there be a 14th game? We won’t have a real clue until late November. After Clemson, the entire Coastal and BC will be standing in the way.
So, for now, let’s punt the question of the end of season record for Thanksgiving weekend when we finally get to see how it all finished. Coach Fuente is fond of reminding the players that it’s time to go 1-0, on this weekend, and focus only on that.
How do you think it’s going so far?
This poll is closed
4-0 is hard to argue with. Better than expected.
Thought we’d be 3-1 get hammered by Clemson and have to scramble for the remainder
I figured we’d be 4-0 but have a rough road looking at Boogers for the Holidays
Hey, we are 12th in both Polls, and that’s pretty amazing but it won’t last