The Virginia Tech Hokies picked up their first win of the 2022 season — and the first of the Brent Pry era — Saturday with a 27-10 thumping of the Boston College Eagles.
Heading into the game, there was little optimism after Week 1's mistake-filled upset loss to Old Dominion in Norfolk. However, the Hokies, specifically the defense, put on a show in a game that was never close. Armani Chatman's interception on Boston College's first drive changed the game, and there was no looking back.
Here are five takeaways from Virginia Tech's first win.
Cleaned up the mistakes
We don't know what type of team Boston College will be when the season is over. Heading into the season, we were under the assumption they were going to be a good team with quarterback Phil Jurkovec, wide receiver Zay Flowers and running back Patrick Garwo III leading the way. While ODU is going to be good, no one can say they believe the Monarchs are better than the Eagles.
When the Hokies lost to ODU, it was all about the mistakes. Five turnovers, 15 penalties and the high snap on the kick that led to a touchdown return were all reasons the Hokies lost in embarrassing fashion.
Against the Eagles, the kicking game was cleaned up. William Ross looks like Tech's next great kicker, and the snaps were clean. The Hokies only committed five penalties for 25 yards, and they did not turn the ball over. Even with some limitations on offense, this team has a chance to win enough games to be bowl eligible.
The game plan
It was clear that offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen wanted to limit Grant Wells' turnovers in this game. So he entered the game with a more conservative approach where the Hokies were going to establish the run at all costs and give Wells some high-percentage throws. It worked.
Wells isn't necessarily the game-manager type, but it was a good experience for him Saturday. But when the Hokies needed Wells to have a big drive, he delivered. The Eagles had just scored their only touchdown to trim the lead to 17-10 and Tech's momentum stalled a bit. You could feel it in the air.
Wells wasn't concerned. He delivered a 43-yard strike to Kaleb Smith to get the Hokies into BC territory. He capped off the drive with a short touchdown pass to Smith. It was a good performance from Wells, one in which you hope he shows growth from game to game.
The defensive line
Through two games, Virginia Tech's defensive line has been outstanding. In the win over Boston College, it was senior defensive end TyJuan Garbutt who led the way. Officially, Garbutt finished with three tackles, all for loss, one sack, one forced fumble, a pass breakup and four quarterback hits. Watching the game back, it just felt like Garbutt should have had six sacks. He whipped Boston College's offensive line.
He wasn't the only one.
As a team, the Hokies finished with five sacks and 10 tackles for loss. This was an old-school performance. If you didn't know, you'd think Bud Foster was on the sideline. That's by design. Pry and defensive coordinator Chris Marve have a similar defensive philosophy to Foster’s.
The Hokies tackled well; they were flying around from sideline to sideline and they won up front. That’s Virginia Tech football.
Raise your hand if you ever thought Connor Blumrick would be Virginia Tech’s top offensive player. Many people likely didn’t understand Blumrick returning to Blacksburg for another year, knowing he wouldn’t play quarterback. But give him, Pry and Bowen credit for finding Blumrick a role in which he can help the team.
I felt Blumrick wasn’t used enough in the opener. The Hokies rectified that against Boston College. Blumrick must be on the field. He is too dynamic not to be on the field. He is a threat as a runner and receiver who can also pass the football. Blumrick looks like a natural receiver. He knows how to use his body, and has good hands and speed.
Connor Blumrick may be Virginia Tech’s most important player.
The third-down defense is incredible. We aren’t going to spend any time discussing that side of the ball. The offensive side is a different story. The Hokies converted on just five of 17 third-downs Saturday. Not good. The problem is Wells is facing too many third-and-long situations. How many times were the Hokies facing a 3rd-and-7 or more? The Hokies already show a lack of trust in Wells after his four-interception debut, so they need to build him up with more high-percentage throws closer to the line of scrimmage. I wouldn’t even call it a lack of trust, but rather the two sides are building trust.
No one thinks the 2022 Virginia Tech Hokies are going to win the ACC championship. But why not believe you can? In order to do so, VT will need more from its offense. You can’t change the players this year, but you can put them in positions to succeed. I believe Bowen will do that. This is a flexible staff that is trying to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of the roster.
Bowen wants to establish the run. That’s smart. You need to do that, but if it is not working, you need to do things to put Wells in a position to make some easy completions to the backs and tight ends. That will eventually open things up out wide for Smith, Stephen Gosnell and Da’Wain Lofton.