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Halftime: Virginia Tech Hokies Trail Old Dominion Monarchs, 10-7

Virginia Tech opened Brent Pry’s inaugural season, as the Hokies head coach, against Old Dominion, and it’s going a little rougher than expected.

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Old Dominion Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Tech Hokies received the 2022 college football opening kick-off from the Old Dominion Monarchs to start Brent Pry’s first season as the head coach of the Hokies. Transfer QB, Grant Wells, took to the field and started off throwing to TE, Nick Gallo, for a four-yard gain. The Tyler Bowen offense stuck with short to intermediate passes, which hasn’t been seen performed by a Virginia Tech offense in one billion years. In fact, Wells completed four consecutive short-intermediate passes before Keyshawn King ran for a four-yard gain. Sadly, the first incomplete pass of the game resulted in VT having to punt it away, pinning the Monarchs at their 11-yard line. The Hokies held ODU to a three and out after a fantastic blitz and pass deflection by LB, Dax Hollifield. The Fighting Gobbler offense broke it open during their second drive. After a six-yard run by Keyshawn King, to open the drive, Wells hit Kaleb Smith for a 29-yard completion. On the third play of the drive, Wells ran it in himself on an 18-yard bootleg to put the Hokies up 7-0.

Old Dominion spent most of the first quarter trying to establish the run with Blake Watson, and the Virginia Tech defense did a solid job holding the Old Dominion offense in check. An errant throw by Wells, resulting in an interception, set the Monarchs up with their best field position of the day, at the VT 36-yard line. The defense stopped the ODU drive, and the Monarchs collected the field goal consolation prize. Wells tossed his second interception of the game while the Hokies were driving in Old Dominion territory. I am not super pumped that Wells has tossed two INTs in the first half of the first game of the season, and before he has thrown for a TD. The Hokie defense stepped up and forced the punt and the Hokies came to try again from their 18.

There was a lot of back and forth and the Hokies struggled to establish a rushing attack until King ripped off a 32-yard run to place the Hokies into the Monarch red zone. Absolute disaster struck as the Virginia Tech Hokies botched a field goal attempt, due to a high snap, and the Monarchs scooped-and-scored to put ODU up 10-7. The immediately ensuing VT drive nearly ended in disaster when Wells almost threw another INT after being hit mid-throw, from his blindside, deep in VT territory. Instead, the Hokies were able to punt it away, luckily, after another high snap. Virginia Tech finally returned the turnover favor when Holifield forced and recovered an ODU fumble on the first play of the drive. The Hokies attempted a Hail Mary to the end zone. It fell incomplete and the teams headed to the locker rooms with ODU leading VT, 10-7.

So far, Wells has shown some flash with the 39-yard and 24-yard throws and solid accuracy in the short-intermediate passing game, but the decision making that led to the interceptions requires attention. The short-intermediate passing game and tight end use is a welcome change from offense schemes of the past, but the running game is missing the presence of Malachi Thomas. Defensively, the Hokies did a decent job marginalizing ODU’s offensive weapons, with several three-and-outs forced, but need some tackling discipline. Dax Hollifield was all over the field, making his presence known and the shutting down of the Old Dominion passing game is a welcome revelation. I am surprised that there isn’t more offense happening, for both teams, and the first half has been a defensive battle. All Old Dominion points are the result of Virginia Tech turnovers. We shall see what adjustments the Monarchs make for the second half, but I expect their WR, Jennings, and monolith TE, Kuntz, to become much more of a focal point. ODU receives to start the third quarter.