“What are you going to complain about?” That’s what my wife asked. Hey, there are always things that need improving. However, (nothing like a ‘good but’ not a bad one) there are some things that need to be highlighted just because the ether needs to know the list of “goods” when things go well. Saturday November 11th marked a notable passage in the Pry era, if the team finishes out.
Lots of Goods
Let’s Go Over Some of the Major Good Things for the BC Game, the list is more than a few items, finally!
Kyron Drones and Bhayshul Tuten have arrived.
There are those of us who thought that Kyron Drones should have been named the starting quarterback in the first game of the season, regardless of how ‘ready’ he was to execute the OC’s concept of the Grant Wells based offense. Wells will end up being a solid coach, if he ever wants to engage in that profession, but his skill set just doesn’t match the type of offense that the talent level of the team requires. The “coulda woulda shoulda” probability, of starting Drones would have been a more stable offense going into the Purdue and Marshall games. It’s plainly obvious that he’s getting better and more confident with each game, and the team is responding to him.
He’s has figured prominently in four winning efforts and each one was a bit different in the style of play. Saturday he was parsimonious and mostly careful with the passing. He had no picks, and only one weird fumble that was recovered by Tech, thankfully. That was rewarded with two beautiful touchdown throws and a deep strike to a streaking Da’Quan Felton for 70 yards that lead to a score. He led the team in rushing, but more importantly he led the team, period. Drones is now in full control, making quality key reads on R/O runs and being picky over targets downfield. Next season is going to be amazing.
Drones’s and Tuten’s Stats for the game
Kyron Drones and Bhayshul Tuten’s Stats for the BC Game
|Kyron Drones - Passing Stats|
|Drones and Tuten - Rushing Stats|
Without taking anything away from Malachi Thomas, who had a really nice day that included a huge touchdown run off of a zone run. Bhayshul Tuten has also formally arrived. As Drones has gotten better, more confident, and dangerous as a runner, Tuten has done exactly the same thing in parallel which is exactly what you want when it comes to a Bowling Green Read/Option style offense. Tuten benefits from the distraction of Drones being able to run the ball well. Remember there are two key reads in the merge on the Belly play, and those reads have to be the same between the two players involved. Tuten and Drones are on the same page, making the same reads. When they get into a rhythm, it’s nearly impossible to defend for less than schedule yardage. And when Tuten does get contact as he gets into the first level, he’s breaking that tackle a good deal of the time. His touchdown dragging three players into the endzone with him was his best impression of an Abrams tank. That was just one of his three crossings of the goal line toting the rock.
THE HOKIES HAVE RECEIVERS!
This gem has been building all season, and hopefully Ali Jennings gets a medical redshirt and decides to play next season, but Coach Pry and in particular Coach Fontel Mines deserve massive kudos and thanks from Hokie Nation. At the end of the 2022 season Virginia Tech had one receiver and two or three tight ends who had more than above average possibilities. There just cannot be enough said for the rescue of the receiver room to them and in particular Coach Mines. The receiver corps is deep, it’s talented, and there are signs that the year-to-year conveyor belt of talent is starting to churn. Felton and Lane can fly. The Gosnell brothers are solid and consistent. Dae’Quan Wright is finally making his presence and impact felt. We were talking about the possibilities back in the roster review before the season started that there would be up to 13 starting quality receivers between the WR, TE, and RB rooms, and that has come true in shovels full over the games where the offense was clicking.
The Defense was Solid and Unselfish
There has to be some major kudos thrown out to the defense. The starting defense held a high powered and dangerous Boston College offense led by Thomas Castellanos to two touchdowns, one of which was sort of a bend and burn 2nd half gratis TD and 2-point conversion, that you’d like for them to have stopped but given the time and distance realities, BC was not going to win the game after the first 5 minutes of the 3rd quarter ticked away. BC did score another gratis TD, in 3rd level “Garbage Time”, but that score didn’t count for much more than pride. It didn’t even affect the betting lines since Tech blew by the O/U on its own.
To stop Castellanos, the defensive line had to be completely committed to rush discipline designed to contain him and limit the damage that he can do with his legs. The defense not only shut down Castellanos, it shut down BC’s number 1 back Alex Broome. Castellanos only broke free once for 12 yards, and Broome once for 36. Broome was only handed the ball 9 times, and gained a mere 56 yards net. Castellanos ran it 11 times (which is pretty low) gained 46 yards and even lost 2 on a tackle behind the line of scrimmage that in the old days would have been registered as a sack.
The technicality of no sacks for the defense was not supported by the reality that they kept BC between their 25 and the Tech 40 for most of the game. The Eagles would get something going, and then stall out. They only managed to break that gloom twice with the starters.
The pass defense was equally suffocating. Castellanos’s longest pass was 20 yards and he managed only 110 for the game. He was 10 of 20 and tossed two away to Dorian Strong. But that wasn’t the full effect of the reality that BC just couldn’t break through in either the air or on the ground. It took everyone playing disciplined assignment football, and the Hokies managed that for most of the game.
The Offensive Line was finally GOOD
It took long enough, but it seems that Coach Ron Crook has found a combination of players that finally figured it out. They were blocking, moving people inside, kept Drones on his feet, there was only one sack registered on a jailbreak from the BC defense but it ended up being a nothingburger in the grander scheme of things. One notable difference was the right side of the line, where Brody Meadows, one of our quiet excellent recruiting gets last year, and has really progressed. We’ve seen him at several positions in the line, but Saturday he played at Right Guard, and I suspect he’ll stay there from now on. It’s the new solid core with the Moore brothers at Left Guard and Center. If those three can get going together and get consistent, and we can settle the tackle positions the offensive line could use this experience to make a major turn back into the solid unit that it used to be. Having one coach might just help that situation. Hopefully Ron Crook keeps things moving in that direction and sticks around.
Surprise onside kick. Tech recovery. Touchdown drive! Enough said.
Okay, There are a Couple of Bad’s in the Pile (Thankfully Little)
Sorry for bringing up the skunk and ants at the beautiful picnic but there are some things that Tech needs to work on that nearly stopped the team before it started.
I am not talking about the late field goal with Grant Wells running an offense that was obviously not pushing hard to cross the goal line to run up the score. I am speaking of the first offensive series and then the second one that failed to put up the 7 points that it should have in the first quarter.
The first came on the opening interception from Dorian Strong. Tech started out moving the ball pretty well, but as they crossed the BC 10, began to get tied up, in blast plays. The weird snap infraction penalty on 4th and 1 from the BC 4 foiled the attempt at the touchdown and forced John Love on the field, but Tech shouldn’t have been in that position to begin with. There was some success countering, getting passes out, and not much inside on the ground for that series. The penalty and five-yard backup after having picked up the first down, created an inflection point that the team had to overcome.
The second series was a complete “Return to Go” three and out with Drones in a fixed pocket and some ineffective plays being presented. At that time, BC had scored a pretty emphatic touchdown on a drive that looked like Tech was about to collapse. An offensive drive that resulted in something positive was really necessary, and it aborted pretty much before it started… AGAIN.
The defense fixed that particular wagon though, Strong picked off Castellanos, again, and this time someone told the OC that he was calling an offense for Kyron Drones, not Grant Wells. That realization just took too long to develop. Hopefully, for NC State, and in particular a reviving Wahoo squad, that isn’t an issue anymore. Let Drones be Drones.
Two Out of Bounds Kick-offs
Kyle Lowe has usually been a ball killer, with sail outs, touchbacks, and excellent control. Someone in the Strength and Conditioning room better get to him and figure out if he’s hurt something. He clobbered two kickoffs out of bounds, and they were both short kicks. That usually spells out a physical issue with the kicker. Lowe took a hit to the arm trying to tackle the break away TD return a couple of games ago. Not getting a good foot into a ball is not an arm, and so it might be worth sitting down and figuring out what is bothering him. He’s been a real weapon for the team this season, forcing full field marches on kicks. Giving the opposing offense a free 10 yards is not a particularly good thing. It definitely contributed to the BC opening touchdown drive. Lowe redeemed that with a masterful touch onside kick, but that wasn’t a leg strength thing, it was a touch thing. So, hopefully whatever was bothering him passes quickly. Brennan Armstrong does not need short fields to get shots on.
The Ugly Stuff?
There were no really ugly moments in this one. There were a couple of procedural penalties that didn’t help much, but Tech played a relatively clean game. We won’t mention any “Garbage Time” stuff, but there wasn’t really anything bad in that period, either. Grant Wells’s fumble through the endzone was a sad and unfortunate thing. That’s probably the ugliest thing on the list and it wasn’t on the Hokies. That particular rule is just point blank ugly and totally inexcusable. It needs to be changed to the same rule as a forward fumble out of bounds anywhere on the field. The ball goes back to the point of the fumble and the team with the last possession retains possession. Football needs to fix that one. It’s a STUPID, ugly rule.
Well, that’s a wrap for the Boston College game. The Hokies needed the win. They are now two games better than last season. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. One game at a time.
NC State is next. It’ll be the final home game of 2023, and it’s another sold out crowd for a Hokie Nation fanbase hungry for a return to relevance. Preview up next and basketball coverage this week.