The Virginia Tech Hokies ended a disappointing 2020 season on Saturday with an impressive 33-15 win over the Virginia Cavaliers to bring the Commonwealth Cup back to Blacksburg.
These teams came into the season finale on different trajectories. Virginia had won four in a row, while the Hokies lost four in a row.
Despite all the uncertainty surrounding the Hokies right now, they played their best game of the season since the season-opening triumph over N.C. State.
Virginia Tech has now won 20 of the last 22 meetings with the Hoos.
Here are five takeaways from Virginia Tech’s dominant win over Virginia.
Braxton Burmeister was fantastic
Burmeister made his fourth start of the season in the win over Virginia. With Hendon Hooker out, Burmeister proved to be an outstanding field general for the Hokies.
He completed 15 of 22 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 36 yards and did not take a sack. Burmeister had zero negative plays for Virginia Tech and when under pressure, either tossed the ball out of bounds or found a receiver for a short gain.
Burmeister’s strength isn’t throwing the football from the pocket. He thrives with RPOs and moving outside of the pocket. He can move the offense with his legs and can make big plays in the passing game.
Burmeister played a nearly flawless game for the Hokies on Saturday.
Khalil Herbert appreciation takeaway
All season long, Herbert has occupied space in this section. He is just so good. In the win over the Hoos, Herbert rushed for 162 yards and a touchdown. Some of his best performances — and there are several — have come with Burmeister under center.
Herbert is even better than the Hokies anticipated he would be. He runs with such patience and possesses terrific vision. However, it is the speed that has surprised everyone.
Herbert went from a fringe NFL draft prospect to someone who will be drafted in the middle rounds. What he accomplished this season in essentially nine games of playing time makes his season one of the best in school history.
Herbert is deserving of some All-American honors but team success will likely hinder those chances.
Hokies dominated in the trenches
On both sides of the ball, Virginia Tech won up front and that was difference in the game. On offense, the Hokies kept Burmeister clean, while paving huge holes for Herbert, Burmeister and Jalen Holston.
It’s unfortunate the season ended with a 5-6 record because most around college football do not know how good this offensive line actually is.
Defensively, the Hokies took over in the third quarter. After the first drive, Tech’s defense tightened up as a whole. The Hokies were better in coverage and tackled well.
It was in the third quarter where the defensive line got to Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong. Armstrong had proven to be a capable dual-threat passer in recent weeks, yet VT’s defensive line forced Armstrong off his spot, stayed in his face and ended the game with four sacks.
Amare Barno and Norell Pollard stood out more than anyone. If Barno returns next year, he will be a high NFL draft choice in 2022. His game has grown exponentially since moving to the defensive line this year.
Divine Deablo has monster performance
The senior from Winston-Salem has had a strong career for the Hokies. Since moving to the defensive side of the ball early in his career, Deablo has shown NFL potential. Unfortunately, he battled a few different injuries, including a nagging foot ailment.
This year has been tough for Deablo because of all the turnover in the secondary. Caleb Farley opted out before the season and Jermaine Waller never played. Then there is the issue of projected starter Devon Hunter missing the season, too.
Through it all, Deablo provided a steadying hand for the young secondary and his final game in a Virginia Tech uniform was one of his better performances.
Deablo finished with six tackles and an interception. However, it was physicality that set the tone for the game.
The following hit ensured Virginia Tech’s defensive success this game because Virginia’s pass-catchers wanted no part of Deablo.
That's some Kam Chancellor type stuff right there by Divine Deablo. pic.twitter.com/ZMsT4svEhz— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) December 13, 2020
Hokie fans will miss Deablo. He had a terrific career and is one of the good guys. Head coach Justin Fuente was effusive in his praise of Deablo after the game.
Justin Fuente’s future
There has been a lot of talk about Fuente’s future in recent weeks. Will he remain as head coach of Virginia Tech? If so, will there be massive staff changes again?
Here’s the thing, only athletic director Whit Babcock knows the true answer.
Don’t buy into the talk that Tech cannot move on from Fuente. They can. Will they? We will see.
Fuente seemed relieved the season was over in his postgame meeting with the media. It’s been a tough year on everyone. In all of college football, not just at Virginia Tech.
It’s been tougher on Fuente in the sense that his team has underperformed again, recruiting continues to be an issue and the offense — his specialty — keeps trending downward.
If changes are made, we will keep you posted here as things happen.