The following post was written by Robert Miller.
BLACKSBURG, VA. — The grass was so soggy it prevented the Virginia Tech band from playing on the field at half time because the ground crew was patching it. Fans stood for most of the game, deciding that was a better option than sitting on a soaking seat. Players were sliding around as if they were on a slip-n-slide with water splashing whenever the ball or their feet hit the ground.
But something good came out of the rain, at least for Hokie fans: The pouring rain and a soggy field created a slower environment for Virginia Tech to upset the speedy, and favored, Hurricanes.
The following picture shows the water splashing under the feet of Virgina Tech’s safety. For the second consecutive week, the Hokies got off to a fast start with an early first quarter TD that was set up by good field position. Last week, a kickoff return deep into Nebraska territory set up a TD. This week, a fumble by ‘Canes QB Jacory Harris put the Hokies in the red zone and led to a Ryan Williams TD run.
It was expected that the Hokie offense would need to score without the help of good field position if it intended to outscore the Hurricane’s offense. It did that early with a 48 yard TD pass from Tyrod Taylor to Jarrett Boykin; that gave the Hokies a 14-0 lead. The following picture shows the Hokies starting that 89-yard touchdown drive. After its second touchdown, the Hokie offense looked good at times but would not complete another end-to-end drive. The following video shows a four-yard run by Tyrod Taylor that set up a missed field goal.
After coming close twice before, the Hokies blocked a Hurricane punt for a TD late in the second quarter to give themselves a 21-0 lead. The punt block for a TD was a big momentum boost for the Hokies because they recaptured points lost from the missed field goal. The Hokies also experienced punting problems when a snap sailed through the punter’s hands and gave the Hurricanes the ball on the Tech 23 yard line. The Hokie defense sacked Harris for a loss to neutralize the field position and forced the Canes to punt away. The following video shows Virginia Tech’s Brent Bowden rebounding with a successful 47 yard punt despite a high snap.
The Hokie defense improved its tackling from last week and consistently applied pressure on Harris, even as the Tech lead increased. Sparked by a strong kickoff return, the Hurricanes scored a quick TD to start the second half. Other than that, the Hokie defense stifled the Hurricane offense. The subsequent video shows the Hokies defense swarming and crushing a Canes’ receiver.
Virginia Tech’s offense did better than last week but three of the four Hokie touchdowns came via the special teams and turnovers (Harris had a fumble and an interception). Williams helped Virginia Tech win the time of possession battle with 150 yards rushing and two touchdowns. The Hokie’s passing game is still the big question mark for a team in the driver’s seat to win the ACC Coastal division.
Fans and pundits had been calling for Tyrod Taylor to run more often and, specifically, to run on busted pass plays. Against the Hurricanes he ran 10 times for 75 yards and kept the Hurricane safeties honest. The Hokies move up five spots in the rankings to sixth with Oklahoma idle and losses by Penn State, Mississippi, California, and of course, Miami. Virginia Tech is now the highest-ranked one-loss team.
Thank you to Caroline Miller for providing the pictures and videos.