Miami Hurricanes head coach, Mario Cristobal, and Virginia Tech Hokies head coach, Brent Pry, are two first-year head coaches, in the ACC, meeting for the first time. The “first-year-ness” is the only factor the two share, in their coaching situations. Cristobal has taken over a team with athleticism and talent spread across the field while Coach Pry struggles to field Power Five talent in the starting positions, much less on the bench. On the field, the eyeball test showed that Miami is simply bigger and faster than the Hokie personnel. The talent gap between the two squads is best illustrated by the two one-handed, athletic, deep-ball catches made by Miami receivers while VT receivers couldn’t hold on to balls hitting them in the hands, including a sure touchdown. Today, that dichotomy of realities seemed obvious, during the first half, when the Hurricanes dominated the Hokies, but the players and coaches showed that there isn’t quit in this team. Although the Hokies lost, 20-14, they showed grit and flashes of what they can do.
Miami was heavily penalized with 16 penalties for 144 yards, but even that level of self-immolation could not help the Hokies find the endzone until the fourth quarter when Malachi Thomas caught a 14-yard TD, from Wells, to preserve the VT scoring streak that has lived since 1995. All-in-all the Virginia Tech offense struggled. The Miami defense certainly did their job, but the execution by the VT offensive players, on the field, can only be described as “poor execution.” Beyond the multitude of dropped passes, after showing a semblance of a rushing attack last week, the Hokies failed to repeat, and the running attack fell off with the Hokies rocking a 2.6 average yards per carry for most of the game and only earning 75 total yards. Offensively the Hokies were outgained 381-232.
Miami QB, Tyler Van Dyke, was held to mortal numbers, especially in the second half where he struggled to find much After hanging near 400-yards on UNC the sophomore only dropped 288 yards on the Hokies defense. The Miami running attack woes weren’t as apparent as they were last week, but the Hurricanes still had something of a struggle on the deck. During the fourth quarter, especially, when one would expect a team nursing a lead to want to run, the Miami rushing attack was particularly absent. Along with the Miami dedication to penalties the lack of a running attack kept VT in the game until the very end.
The first half of the game was extremely frustrating, for the Hokies, but they won the second half. The defensive adjustments worked, and VT held Miami to minimal yards and outscored Miami 14-3. Grant Wells, particularly on the Hokies first touchdown drive, put the offense on his back and made things happen to put VT in scoring position. This season the fourth quarter has traditionally been a bad place for the Hokies, but today it was their best of the game. Most impressive was that this team refused to quit, even after being outplayed nearly all game, embarrassingly so in some places, they closed to within one score and all of that happened in the fourth quarter.
VT’s second half performance wasn’t enough to win, but it was enough to change the story of this game from one of despair to hope.