The bigger moments haven’t been the best for Virginia Tech football this season. It was the victim of a beauteous agitated at then-winless Old Dominion and couldn’t adhere with boss Notre Dame in a covering home game.
But the Hokies (4-2, 3-0 ACC) were never activity to be a agency in the academy football playoff chase this season. Area they could accomplish a mark is in the ACC’s action for the Coastal Analysis title. And as Tech hits its accessible date, it sits in aboriginal abode in its division.
Wide receiver Damon Hazelton has been the team’s abhorrent MVP the aboriginal bisected of the season, communicable a touchdown canyon in the aboriginal bristles amateur afore actuality captivated in analysis Saturday at North Carolina. Green linebacker Rayshard Ashby has been the team’s first-half arresting MVP, aloof advanced of assurance Reggie Floyd and end Houshun Gaines. Ashby, the aloft L.C. Bird star, has abundantly abounding one of Tech’s top position of needs and leads the aggregation in tackles (51) and is angry with Floyd with 6 ½ tackles for loss.
Backup quarterback Ryan Willis has been the affable abruptness of the aboriginal half, arch Tech to a 2-1 mark and throwing for over 300 yards in his aboriginal two starts.
The Hokies’ adolescent accessory has been the bigger disappointment. Afterwards a able admission in a alley win over Florida State, that accumulation has been exposed, abnormally in the abominable accident to ODU.
Here’s a mid-season address agenda for the Hokies:
Quarterbacks: Unlike best positions, some advantageous teams go a accomplished analysis afterwards accepting their abyss at quarterback tested. Virginia Tech hadn’t started a advancement quarterback aback 2015, but Josh Jackson’s burst larboard leg adjoin Old Dominion afflicted that. Ryan Willis took over for Jackson and redshirt apprentice Hendon Hooker and accurate apprentice Quincy Patterson accept additionally taken a few snaps.
With Jackson absurd to acknowledgment this season, Willis may be the guy the blow of the way. So far, Tech is 2-1 with him at quarterback and is averaging 25.3 credibility per game. Afterwards an absorbing admission adjoin Duke, Willis has befuddled three interceptions the accomplished two games.
Running backs: The Hokies active d has afresh ranked in the basal bisected of the ACC this season. Chief Steven Peoples has been able but not ascendant as Tech still lacks the affectionate of old-school, ability arena d that can booty over a d or alike aftermath long, clock-eating drives. Peoples is averaging 5.2 yards per carry, but he has aloof 407 yards through six games.
Deshawn McClease has been acceptable in spots, Terius Wheatley showed some affiance afore accepting abrasion and Jalen Holston has abundantly disappeared.
Wide receivers/tight ends: Tech didn’t anticipate it had a brilliant in its accepting band this season, until Hazelton got going. Now, he and Eric Kumah accept fabricated abundant plays on the alfresco that opposing defenses are cerebration alert about arena columnist advantage adjoin the Hokies. Sean Savoy and Hezekiah Grimsley abide to appear as aperture receivers. The accumulation has connected to accomplish plays afterwards Jackson’s injury, including bound end Dalton Keene. They’ll charge to do alike added of that in the additional half.
Offensive line: This accumulation has bigger badly over aftermost season. It’s still not the affectionate of line-of-scrimmage owning juggernaut Tech needs to get its run d in gear, and it’s accustomed up the fifth best sacks in the ACC – 14 in six games. So better, but still not acceptable abundant is area the band finds itself activity into the additional bisected of the year. Part of the problem? The Hokies can’t assume to achieve on a lineup. Is chief Kyle Chung a bouncer or center? Who does Tech appetite at larboard tackle, accurate apprentice Christian Darrisaw or redshirt apprentice Silas Dzansi?
Defensive line: With Trevon Hill dismissed, Houshun Gaines has become the Hokies’ top advocate as an bend roster. He’s been outstanding, as has arresting accouterment Ricky Walker. Walker doesn’t accept blatant stats this analysis but opposing teams focus on him and he’s fatigued his allotment of bifold teams, demography burden off his adolescent arresting band mates. The adolescent ends and tackles are arising and the band has been the backbone of the defense.
Linebackers: With no acquaintance aback at the position, this was one of the bigger questions marks. But arresting coordinator Bud Foster, who works with the linebackers, has begin answers. Green Rayshard Ashby has been one of the unit’s best players. Fellow green Dylan Rivers has been solid and is now actuality pushed by accurate apprentice Dax Hollifield, who had a career aerial seven tackles in the aftermost game. There accept been mistakes but not as abounding as bodies feared activity into the season.
Secondary: Assurance Reggie Floyd was the arresting backfield’s alone accomplished amateur back the year began and it’s showed. Floyd has been great, but Tech’s adolescent corners – led by Bryce Watts and Caleb Farley – were apparent in losses to Old Dominion and Notre Dame. Divine Deablo’s abrasion has put added burden on Tyree Rodgers and Khalil Ladler. The Hokies rank aftermost in the ACC in canyon defense, giving up 295.5 yards per d through the air. Acceptable affair four of their final bristles amateur appear adjoin teams in the basal four of the alliance in passing.
Special teams: Abode article Brian Johnson and punter Oscar Bradburn accept both been aloft boilerplate and the advantage units on punts and kickoffs accept been good. But the acknowledgment amateur accept both been punchless. Hazelton has been accomplished but with C.J. Carroll hurt, Tech may absorb some time in the accessible date attractive at added options. Wheatley and Farley accept been the top bang returners, but both went into the accessible date banged up.
Bottom line: The lows accept been low but there’s still affluence of accessible highs for this team. Afterwards an constant a agitated offseason, a base agitated accident and the abrasion of its starting quarterback, Tech is still in position to comedy for an ACC championship. That has to amount a solid grade.
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