Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech athletics
It’s that time of week again. Struggling through your work day? Dreaming about college football Saturday?
Well, thanks for giving us a click and taking a few seconds out of your busy day.
Now, what you came for. The Virginia Tech Hokies return home this week to face the 25th-ranked Liberty Flames. But before we get to that, what should you know about the Hokies headed into Saturday’s match-up?
Let’s take a look at last week’s 42-35 win at Louisville. We continue our “Six Takeaways in 60 Seconds” series.
Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker had a fantastic game this past Saturday. The redshirt sophomore was a perfect 10-for-10 with 183 yards through the air. Hooker also added three touchdowns on the ground, single-handedly putting the Hokies up 21-0 early on.
The best part for Virginia Tech fans was that Hooker still didn’t look the best he could be. The Greensboro, NC native underthrew some wide open receivers badly, but the receivers getting back to the ball kept Hooker perfect statistically on the afternoon.
Look for Hooker to have another big day on Saturday against an unproven Flames defense. Time will tell, but if Hooker plays like he did in the ‘Ville, the Hokies have to like their chances for the rest of the season.
Heisman Back On?
OK, OK, probably not. But Khalil Herbert did return to form last weekend against the Cardinals. The Kansas transfer got loose a couple of times, running for 147 yards and the game-sealing touchdown in the win.
It’s certainly nice to see the Fort Lauderdale native get going again. After being held to just 64 yards in the Hokies’ loss to Wake Forest, Herbert came out ready to play at Cardinal Stadium.
Hopefully for the Hokies, that won’t slow down anytime soon. Virginia Tech needs a difference-maker to be where it wants to be.
Too Much Hanging Around
The one thing Virginia Tech would like to see some improvement on from last week, is the ability to put teams away. This probably should’ve been a blowout. The Hokies were dominating this one and had plenty of chances to put the Cardinals away.
For example, Virginia Tech could’ve put the game out of reach before halftime after the Divine Deablo interception. Instead, the Hokies quickly went 3-and-out, punted, and Javian Hawkins delivered a crushing blow, going 90 yards into the end zone to make it 21-14 at half.
The Hokies also could’ve made it 35-14 and 38-21. Instead, drives stalled in the red zone and Brian Johnson was forced to kick field goals.
Although the Hokies gave up 35 points, the way Virginia Tech played defensively had to be a welcome sight for fans, especially while missing star cornerback Jermaine Waller, and defensive end Emmanuel Belmar.
Star Louisville running back Javian Hawkins ran for 136 yards, but 90 of those came on the long touchdown before the half. That was the lone play Hawkins broke all night.
This was certainly encouraging to see for Virginia Tech. The Hokies have now gone back-to-back weeks with strong defensive efforts. They’ll look to continue that this weekend and get after Liberty quarterback Malik Willis all day long.
A week removed from the Hokies being minus-3 in the turnover margin to Wake Forest, the script flipped last week. The Hokies intercepted quarterback Malik Cunningham three times in this one, winning the turnover battle, 3-0.
Devin Taylor, Deablo, and Chamarri Conner all got in on the fun. Being able to take the ball away and turn Louisville over was huge for the Hokies in this one.
Offensively, everything went better this week too. The Hokies didn’t turn the ball over once. While Hooker looked a lot more confident on his throws, head coach Justin Fuente continued a common theme of bouncing back after upset losses.
For our last takeaway, I’m going to do something a little different than usual.
I actually was lucky enough to be in attendance for the Hokies and Cardinals last weekend in Louisville and it was a blast.
It was so amazing to be able to be back in a college football environment — socially distant of course — and be able to just enjoy a day where I felt some normalcy.
The Hokies played in front of a crowd of 25%, which at this point, will be the most they do all year. From the piped in crowd noise, to the attendants in the bathrooms, to the no tailgating, it was certainly weird. But overall, I was very pleased how authentic the atmosphere felt, and will always cherish going to a game in a pandemic.
I’ve now been to 12 of the 15 ACC Schools (including Notre Dame) and this one might be the most memorable. It was the first time it really hit me that, whoa, college football is back in 2020.
It is back, and it’s something we can kick back and enjoy every Saturday in the fall. So let’s enjoy it while we have it. We’re six weeks away from championship weekend and bowl season.
So yes, let’s enjoy it, shall we?