All eyes were on Virginia Tech quarterback Grant Wells Saturday night in the Hokies’ season-opener against Old Dominion. Was he going to bounce back from a tough 2022 season or would he look like the same QB who struggled last season?
It was a mixed bag of results for Wells, but in the end, the Hokies won the game, 36-17, but if they are going to become bowl-eligible this season, they are going to need their senior signal caller to be more consistent.
Grant Wells got better as the game went along, but questions still arise
Second-year coach Brent Pry named senior Wells the starter, but he made it clear that Baylor transfer Kyron Drones was going to play. In fact, the Hokies coaching staff had a package for when the sophomore entered the game and that was on display against the Monarchs.
Wells struggled on the first possession and on the Hokies’ second possession, Drones got his first chance in Blacksburg. His first play was a swing pass to Malachi Thomas for 8 yards and a 15-yard targeting call was tacked on when ODU’s Amorie Morrison lowered his head to his Drones after he threw the call. Drones stayed in on the drive and helped get the ball to the 2-yard line where an incomplete pass from Wells on fourth down turned the ball over on downs.
Wells threw multiple passes behind receivers, wide of receivers, and short of receivers all night long. Last season his struggles limited him to just over 2,000 yards of passing. When Drones is in the game, the packages for him are clear, more running plays for him and some option plays.
Wells did throw the first Virginia Tech touchdown pass in the second quarter to Middle Tennessee State transfer Jaylin Lane on the first play of the quarter, and that seemed to settle him down. He finished the half with a TD pass to Ali Jennings, who transferred from Old Dominion to give the Hokies a 16-10 halftime lead.
At halftime, Pry told ESPN reporter Taylor Tannenbaum that Drones was going to play in the second half, but he never saw the field. Wells began the half 7-for-7, threw a second touchdown pass to Jennings, and ran for a touchdown himself. Wells finished 17-for-29 for 251 yards, three passing touchdowns, one rushing, and 27 yards on seven carries.
Early in the season, Pry more than likely will continue to use both quarterbacks to mix things up, but the Hokies return to Lane Stadium to play Purdue next Saturday, which was beaten at home by Fresno State, 39-35, and this all of a sudden which looked like a potential loss on the schedule now looks like a game that they can steal to improve to 2-0 on the season. However, to do that, Wells will need to be more consistent and until he proves the doubters that he can be, there will always be questions about whether he can be better in 2023.