Virginia Tech 45, Boston College 7
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com
There, now you know what I look like. Big deal, right? Let's get on with the game commentary!
I thought the Hokies would win, but I didn't think they'd destroy BC by 38 points. When I predicted this game in the preseason and then again a week ago, I said it could go either way. There, that'll teach you to pay any attention to me. I'm assuming for the remainder of this analysis that you watched the game on TV, or at least taped it and watched it later.
People have been asking me for the last two days if Tech was that good or BC was that bad, and I've been telling them that it was a combination of both. I have a hard time believing that the talent BC has put on the field is that awful. I think their biggest problems are that Dan Henning isn't a very good college coach (I don't think players like playing for him), and that they're still trying to learn Elmassian's defensive scheme.
But we're not here to talk about BC. Let's talk about the Hokies.
There were a few small chinks in the armor, which we'll get to in a moment, but overall, this was an impressive showing both offensively and defensively. The Hokie offense uncharacteristically came out of the gate fast, posting TD's on their first three drives. Defensively, after looking rough on BC's first few possessions, the Hokie D shut the Eagles down.
There were two turning points in this game - the first one is obviously Tech's second-quarter defensive goal-line stand after the Eagles had started on the Hokie 8 yard line following a blocked punt. The Eagles had a second-and-goal at Tech's one, but the defense kept them out of the end zone and got the ball back on downs. I turned to the guy next to me and said "That was the kind of defensive stand that defines a defense this early in the season." In the future, look for the Hokie defense to point to that stand as the moment in which they came together this season.
The second turning point came when Tech's first possession in the third quarter yielded a long, workmanlike, efficient drive that netted a touchdown and put the game out of reach, 28-7. The ease with which the Hokies marched downfield sent the message that there would be no comeback by the Eagles.
It's easy to pick out more than a handful of Hokies who played well in this game. Freshman tailback Shyrone Stith had another good game (although his youth showed when he went the wrong way and collided with Brian Edmonds on Tech's first play from scrimmage, and when he was later called for holding because he essentially tackled a BC pass rusher). Stith is really shifty, even more so on artificial turf, and at 5-7 or 5-8, he can get lost and be hard to find behind Tech's hulking offensive line. I like the guy a lot so far. I just wish he didn't have that last name, because it will always remind me of a certain basketball player who used to wear the orange-and-blue (ugh) for you-know-who (ugh).
Druck threw some excellent passes, and he once again avoided stupid interceptions (the one INT he did throw was a great play by the BC defensive back). Druck struggled with the down-and-outs, throwing many of them short, and he didn't throw well on the run, but they'll get that worked out when they look at game films. Corney White made some great catches across the middle and piled up almost a hundred yards receiving. And (lo and behold!) Bryan Jennings had two TD catches. I was glad to see the coaching staff steer the ball his way.
One of the biggest contributors offensively was Brian Edmonds, who proved what a great fullback he is by running for two long touchdowns (21 and 19 yards) and throwing some crushing blocks throughout the course of the game. Beamer should suspend more players for a game, if they're going to come back and play like Edmonds did. Heck, on one pass play, Edmonds blocked two people!
Defensively, it was another solid effort. Cornell Brown was held at bay the whole day, but the attention BC paid to him freed up the rest of the guys for 7 sacks, including two by freshman walk-on John Engelberger. Other standouts were, well, the whole defense.
It's funny how spoiled we've become because of our defense. I thought the defense looked soft up the middle in person, but then I got home and watched the tape, and I found out that BC had only 24 yards rushing in the first half, and about 60 for the game. I thought Hasselbeck had way too much time to throw, and then I read the paper and found out that we had 7 sacks. I guess I just expect the D to repeat the Sugar Bowl performance every time out, and that's unrealistic. If the performance we saw against BC is going to be a typical outing for this defense, I'll take it.
One comment on the D: if it looked like BC had some wide open receivers, a lot of that occurred because Loren Johson was giving a large cushion to Kenyatta Watson and whoever else lined up on his side. Johnson was obviously under orders to lay back and not give up the deep ball, and that's why BC completed so many down-and-outs. Hasselbeck wound up with a high completion percentage, but the strategy worked. BC only scored one TD, and that was on a pass to the tight end.
Overall, this game was a quantum-leap improvement over game 1 against Akron. The Hokies crushed a "name" team on the road on national television. Poll-wise, the victory impressed the coaches more than it did the sportswriters, as usual. Tech moved from #19 in last week's CNN/USA Today poll to #16 this week, vaulting over the hated Cavaliers (ugh) in the process. In the AP poll, we moved up to #18 from #19 last week, while Uva (ugh), who struggled to beat Maryland at home, moved up two spots. Once again, the sportswriters' logic escapes me, because there is none.
Highs: Edmonds, Stith, Corney White, Jennings, the rushing game (200+yards), a blocked punt, 7 sacks, John Engelberger, and stomping BC on national TV. And no injuries (I hate artificial turf)! Also, the team behaved itself pretty well, although I saw a little trash-talking coming from at least one of the Tech players.
Lows: holding penalties and the punting game (one block, two punts for a 28.5 average). BC also found an open seam in the same place a couple of times on kickoff returns, but hey, when you get to return 8 kickoffs, you're bound to have a couple of good ones. It wasn't Kibble's fault, because he kicked off high and relatively deep all day long.
Next up: Rutgers. Tech will do something next week that they've only done twice in the last 11 games - play at home. The Scarlet Knights, who used to put fear into my heart, are pretty rough around the edges this year, despite a good first half performance against Miami last Thursday night. Look for Tech to win big, in front of 45,000 - 48,000 people. I don't think it'll sell out, but I hope I'm wrong. Given the rarity of home games at the end of last year and so far this season, and couple it with some good weather, and the place could be packed. If the spread favors Tech by 20 points or less, bet the house.