The Virginia Tech Hokies dropped to 5-6 on the season after a 38-26 loss to the Miami Hurricanes. It was a valiant effort by Tech in J.C. Price’s first game as interim head coach, but VT’s defense had no answer for Miami freshman quarterback Tyler Van Dyke. Van Dyke completed 19 of 33 passes for 357 yards, with three touchdowns.
Miami has a special player in Van Dyke. He’s proven to be quite the upgrade over veteran QB D’Eriq King. Oh, by the way, a quick glance at Van Dyke’s 247Sports profile, and you see no offer from Virginia Tech. Now, that doesn’t mean he would’ve come to Blacksburg, but it further proves that Justin Fuente and Brad Cornelsen didn’t cast a wide enough net at quarterback.
Anyhow, moving on.
Here are our five takeaways from Virginia Tech’s loss to the Hurricanes.
The most significant difference between the Hurricanes and the Hokies on Saturday night was quarterback play. It certainly wasn’t coaching. Sure, Miami has more talent up and down the roster, but that’s always been the case. Virginia Tech always beat Miami because of better coaching and pure heart.
On Saturday, Van Dyke was in a league of his own. The Hokies have one quarterback who isn’t a strong passer and another who can’t pass at all. No one will question Braxton Burmeister’s heart or toughness, and it’s not his fault that Tech’s QB position is where it is or that Connor Blumrick played the majority of snaps.
Burmeister made some good plays with his arm in the first half, and, believe it or not; he kept the ball on the read-option plays. As we learned last week, please don’t blame him for always giving it to the backs. Blumrick couldn’t be stopped even though the Hurricanes knew what was coming. The two QBs combined to rush for 184 yards.
If Virginia Tech had a capable passing offense, it would have won that game on Saturday.
Wide receiver play
We got a glimpse of Virginia Tech’s wide receiver talent on Saturday. Tre Turner made another acrobatic catch for a touchdown before he departed. Price said afterward Turner was fine and could’ve returned, but the team was not taking any risks with his injury.
Check it out.
Tre Turner with the full OBJ pic.twitter.com/oRuGuRoEAx— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) November 21, 2021
I’ll repeat it; it makes me sad Virginia Tech fans didn’t get the whole Tre Turner experience over his four years due to inept coaching.
Then, there was Tayvion Robinson plucking balls out of the air, being, you know, Tayvion Robinson. Kaleb Smith went up and made an excellent play for a touchdown.
But it was two receptions from a pair of freshmen. Jaylen Jones and Da’Wain Lofton had everyone talking. Jones made the first catch of his career, and it was something. Jones went up and brought it down.
Then, Lofton did the same thing.
Hopefully, the new coach can keep some of these kids around, including Robinson, a junior. Perhaps the next coach will understand how to use talented wide receivers.
Keshon Artis — Playmaker
One defender who stood out to me on Saturday was linebacker Keshon Artis. We’ve said this before, but all Artis does is make plays. He has good size, is a good athlete and possesses outstanding instincts. He was credited with four tackles, including three solo stops and one for loss.
Check out this play.
Keshon Artis needs more playing time, has excellent awareness and he's a tackling machine.— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) November 21, 2021
Artis also had a play where he met the Miami running back in the hole on fourth-and-1, and, inexplicably, the officials ruled it a first down. They even missed it on replay. It was an egregious blunder. Roddy Jones was apoplectic on the broadcast.
Artis is one of Virginia Tech’s two best linebackers. He is another player I hope returns next year and finds a role. He can play.
Bad night for Jermaine Waller
It was a tough night for cornerback Jermaine Waller. He was beaten early and often during the game. Waller is a good player and will play in the NFL, but Saturday night wasn’t his night. You have to give Waller credit for even playing. He’s been banged up, yet, he’s making the trip with his teammates and playing when he could’ve sat for the final two games and began preparing for the NFL draft.
Here’s hoping Waller bounces back and has a strong finale against Virginia. Again, he’s a good player.
The effort was there
We knew that Virginia Tech wasn’t going to quit going into this game. They’ve had plenty of reasons to quit the last two seasons yet kept showing up and competing. Saturday was no different. A team with a different mindset would’ve been finished after Miami jumped on them early, but the Hokies kept battling back despite a struggling passing game and defensive issues.
I look back to when the Hokies went for the onside kick and recovered. The pure joy on the sideline when Price and defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton — another former Hokie — shared an embrace.
Players were celebrating with one another and the coaching staff. It was small, but it was something that had been missing. Look, the players liked former head coach Justin Fuente, but the college game is about emotion. Fuente didn’t often display it, good or bad, and it bothered fans. Of course, no one would’ve cared if the Hokies had been winning. But, it was good to see players and coaches showing some emotion after a tough week.
Look on the bright side, Hokies, only one more week of Brad Cornelsen.