Sep 27, 2014; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies running back Shai McKenzie (22) scores a touchdown during the third quarter against the Western Michigan Broncos at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
There was many more good parts of the game this week than in the past two weeks. First, was definitely the Hokie rushing attack. The Hokies need the rushing attack to create a balance which will take pressure off Michael Brewer. In the past weeks, this rushing attack has been not effective and even non-existent in some cases.
The rushing attack not only allows for pressure to be taken off Brewer, but it also sets up play-action and completely opens the playbook. The Hokies, in the first half, seemed destined to have a similar performance to the weeks before. However, at halftime, the preverbal switch was thrown and the Hokies ran wild in the second half as they gained 227 of their 308 rushing yards in the third and fourth quarter.
Marshawn Williams and Shai Mckenzie were the two-headed rushing monster that Hokie fans have hoped for since the first game of the season. Williams finished with 119 yards and McKenzie chipped in 87 yards. The freshman duo was difficult to handle as the game wore on. The offensive line showed a renewed effort to control the line of scrimmage in the second half and basically over-ran the Bronco defensive front.
The second half in general was a huge good part on Saturday. Not only did the offense wake up but the defense stiffened and showed they could still be a dominant force in the ACC. Only team members probably knows what Frank Beamer exactly said to his team at halftime on Saturday. Whatever it was, Beamer should save that speech and revisit it in later games.
The offensive line, which had been pushed around during the first half, showed really how much of a talent difference there was between themselves and the Bronco front seven. Michael Brewer was also a different quarterback in the second half. Brewer’s first half was much of the same from the last two games, mistakes and poor decisions.
However, the second half was a completely different story as Brewer returned to the form from the first two games of the season. He was efficient throwing the ball while not forcing passes. Brewer made smart decisions to either throw the ball away or pull it down and get what positive yards he could. The most important part of Brewer’s game in the second half was the amount of turnovers committed, which was zero.
The defense also was a different team in the second half, only allowing 7 points and stopping any real movement by the Bronco offense. The Hokies were excellent against a running attack that was supposed to be very tough. Bud Foster had a plan for the game and in the second half, the defense executed it to perfection.
The front seven got excellent pressure and the back end players made enough plays to keep the Broncos out of any rhythm offensively. The defense needed this game to prove to themselves they are an elite unit. Even without their main defensive line stalwart Luther Maddy, the Hokies got pressure and created havoc in the Bronco backfield.