Virginia Tech Football: Five Takeaways from the ECU Game

GREENVILLE, NC - SEPTEMBER 16: Running back Tyshon Dye
GREENVILLE, NC - SEPTEMBER 16: Running back Tyshon Dye /

After a rough first quarter on Saturday, the Hokies seemed to be firing on all cylinders against East Carolina.

Virginia Tech has finally started to look comfortable with its young offense as they downed the East Carolina Pirates 64-17 on September 16th.  Many young starters and backups had the chance to gain valuable game reps, including true freshman Sean Savoy and quarterback transfer AJ Bush.

Here are five things that Hokie fans can take from Saturday’s game.

The Offensive Line could be one of the best Tech has seen in recent years.  The Offensive line is important. Virginia Tech struggled to protect their quarterback in years past, especially under former OC Scot Loeffler.  This line has been consistently improving at a fast pace under Fuente and  O-Line coach Vance Vice.  There were many questions leading into this season with the loss of big men Augie Conte and Jon McLaughlin, questions that were not really answered when the first 2-deep of the season was released.  However, players from the center to the right have shown vast improvement as the season develops.

Kyle Chung at tackle has been a risk that has paid off tremendously for Vice.  After three shaky years backing up center, his move to the outside has led him to flourish and earn Offensive Player of the Week accolades.

No Ford, No Hodges, No Problem. The Hokies have had a trifecta of receivers in recent years, but had some holes to fill with Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges taking their skills to the professional level.  The combination of young quarterback and young receivers can be one of perfection or great struggles.  With Senior Cam Phillips leading the pack, the Hokies are falling under the latter category.  Phillips currently leads the country in receiving yards with 417 yard, averaging 139 per game.

Sean Savoy and Henri Murphy followed behind Phillips, each recording a handful of catches, and Savoy recording his first career touchdown.

The young squad is handling game pressure well.   Tech mirrored the sloppy Delaware performance in the first quarter, allowing the Pirates to take as much as a ten point lead.  Instead of allowing young players to panic, Fuente and the gang helped rally the Hokies to score 57 unanswered points.

Josh Jackson reacted to the teams slow start;

"“We weren’t very worried because we had that first long drive,” Tech quarterback Josh Jackson said. “Things were clicking. They got us on third down. I could have given [Sean] Savoy a better ball, but other than that, we knew we could move the ball, and I thought we did a good job.”"

Jackson’s incredible performance was outshone by record breaking day.  Phillips had 14 catches and 189 yards, Joey Slye broke the record for career field goals, but Jackson showed strength of his own against the floundering Pirates.

In only his third career game, Jackson recorded unbelievable numbers.  Jackson was 24 of 31 for 372 yards and five touchdowns.

The defense did not struggle without Adonis Alexander and Tavante Beckett. The defense was forced to play without star corner Adonis Alexander and former backup mike linebacker Tavante Beckett after a series of suspensions.

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The upperclassmen did their part. Greg Stroman recorded an interception, and Brandon Facyson showed no signs of his ongoing wrist injury. Backups Bryce Watts, Tyree Rodgers, and Sean Huelskamp handled the transition with ease.

Beckett was suspended indefinitely after being arrested and charged with conspiring to distribute marijuana in an amount more than a half ounce but less than 5 pounds, a Class 5 felony in Virginia that holds a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine. He has been released on bond but his future with the Hokies is still up in the air.

Alexander was suspended from play for, “not living up to team expectations.”

“Adonis has not lived up to our expectations at Virginia Tech,” Coach Fuente said in a statement. “He will continue practicing and participating in team activities. Our staff will continue to monitor his progress and evaluate his progress going forward.”

Alexander has faced suspension before following his own marijuana charges in the past.  He was charged with possession following the 2016 Spring Game. It has been announced that Alexander will be suspended for the second straight week. He will be out against Old Dominion on Saturday.