The Virginia Tech Hokies took down the William & Mary Tribe 62-17 on Saturday in Blacksburg. It’s a game that was never in question and one in which most certainly predicted the outcome. Not sure if fans expected 62 points, so that was a nice surprise. The win moved the Hokies to 2-0 on the season in their first game in front of the home fans.
Here are the five biggest takeaways from Tech’s domination of the Tribe on Saturday.
Offensive Line Rotation
It’s clear that offensive line coach Vance Vice is tinkering with his group in order to find the five best players on the field. It’s a wise strategy while the schedule is lighter. Against the Tribe, the Hokies started true freshman Christian Darrisaw at left tackle before he was injured and another true freshman, John Harris, saw time at right guard. Harris is a player the coaching staff is really excited about.
When Darrisaw went down, redshirt freshman Silas Dzansi returned to left tackle. Both players offer promising upside and Darrisaw’s rise has been a pleasant surprise. All offseason we knew how the coaches felt about Dzansi, however, Darrisaw was a bit of a mystery.
Darrisaw, like Dzansi, came to the Hokies via Fork Union Military Academy. The experience gave both players excellent preparation in between the end of their high school careers and the start of their college career. Darrisaw and Dzansi are two of four current VT offensive linemen who spent a year at Fork Union.
In his Monday press conference, Fuente praised Fork Union.
Fuente says Fork Union especially helpful step for offensive linemen, since it's a developmental position. Allows them to prep for an extra fall before he even starting eligibility clock. #Hokies have four OL who went to FUMA - Nijman, Cannon, Dzansi, Darrisaw.— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) September 10, 2018
Hokies Taking Advantage of New Redshirt Rule
Before the season, college football instituted a new rule which allowed coaches the opportunity to allow student-athletes to compete in up to four games without burning their redshirt. It’s quite honestly a good rule, especially for coaches. In games against overmatched teams you have the opportunity to put a freshman in to get some game experience. You can see if the player is ready to play on a more regular basis or needs to sit a year.
The Hokies are essentially playing everyone thus far. You’ve seen a host of newcomers like Harris, Darrisaw, Dax Hollifield, Tre Turner, James Mitchell, Chamarri Conner, Jermaine Waller, Nasir Peoples and Nadir Thompson see playing time. Hollifield was going to play regardless, but for some of the other kids it’s been to see them get some game action and allows the coaching staff ample time to evaluate their readiness for the college game.
Damon Hazelton Goes Over 100 Yards
There was a lot of hype surrounding the Ball State receiver the last year. Hazelton sat, per transfer rules, last season and coaches and players alike raved about his ability. After just two games, it’s easy to see why Hazelton is such a popular player.
In the opener at FSU, Hazelton beat the heralded Levonta Taylor for an easy touchdown. Against William & Mary, Hazelton caught four balls for 107 yards and a score. He looked like a man amongst boys last week. His sheer size, athleticism and hands set him apart from other receivers. He is already an established red-zone threat and I would expect his role to continue to grow
The top receiving grades from ACC WRs in Week 2 – paced by Virginia Tech's Damon Hazelton pic.twitter.com/smUK1S31Ed— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 10, 2018
Not to knock Isaiah Ford, Bucky Hodges and Cam Phillips, but Hazelton could end up being better than all of them.
Terius Wheatley Carving Out a Role
Heading into the season, we weren’t quite sure what to make of the Hokies’ backfield. We knew Steven Peoples, Deshawn McClease and Jalen Holston would all be involved. We also knew Terius Wheatley was in the mix, but wasn’t quite sure how much of a factor he would be in 2018.
Wheatley carried the ball seven times for 58 yards and a score against the Tribe. As the son of a legendary running back, Wheatley shows all the traits of a good back. He’s patient, allows his blocks to develop and often makes the correct read. Wheatley is also fast. The coaching staff is doing a nice job of involving him in a number of ways, whether it is out of the backfield or on jet sweeps.
Wheatley’s role should continue to evolve over the next several weeks.
We knew Dax Hollifield was going to be special. Sure, he’s just two games into his college career and things could go either way, but there’s just a special feeling about him. You watch him on the field, he knows where to line up on every snap. That’s rare for a true freshman. Not only that, he knows where everyone else should be, too, and that’s the sign of a great leader.
Hollifield essentially played the entire game against William & Mary. He racked up five tackles, including 1.5 for loss. He never once has looked lost and packs a wallop every time he meets the ball carrier.
Bud Foster loves Hollifield. He probably recruited him harder than he’s ever recruited one player before. But he isn’t going to just give Hollifield a starting position. He will have to earn it. And so far, he’s doing just that. Seeing where Hollifield fits in with Dylan Rivers and Rayshard Ashby moving forward should be one of the more compelling storylines to monitor.