Slept On It: Ship Shape Up In Boston

Reflecting on the young Virginia Tech wideouts after a good night's rest.

[Virginia Tech Athletics \ Dave Knachel]

Letdown games. Often used as a motivator, they can be exaggerated both in advance and in hindsight. Saturday's journey to Chestnut Hill could have been viewed as such. There were a number of potential factors at play: Travel distance; a post-Clemson hangover; and the Eagles' longstanding residence in the ACC cellar, to name a few.

The final score, 23-10, ignore it. The Hokies strolled into Alumni Stadium and controlled the game virtually all night long. They were by no means perfect, surrendering five sacks and nine tackles for loss to a group of talented BC defenders. They struggled to execute in the red zone, failing to put the ball in the end zone on all four trips inside the 20. Despite those miscues, Virginia Tech cruised to their first ACC win of the season.

Boston College can be a tricky opponent. Historically, they've always been a tough out defensively. When the Eagles went 3-9 and winless in the ACC in 2015, they finished first in the nation in total defense. Offensively, they've struggled in recent years to recruit and develop enough playmakers to compete against high-level P5 programs. They've survived by utilizing talented offensive linemen and emphasizing their few offensive weapons, such as transfer QB Tyler Murphy in 2014. And despite a generally apathetic fan base, they've always had the spectre of jet lag as an added weapon.

The Hokies entered the game without tailback Steven Peoples and slot receiver C.J. Carroll, and then proceeded to lose star wideout Cam Phillips in the first half to a sprained ankle. For an offense still seeking depth at the skill positions, it presented an excellent opportunity for youngsters like Sean Savoy, Eric Kumah, Dalton Keene and Jalen Holston. While Holston struggled on the ground, Savoy, Kumah and Keene had career days in what many hope serve as springboards for greater things to come.

Savoy had little trouble picking up the slack after Phillips exited, torching the BC secondary for a 53-yard touchdown for the game's first score. He finished the night with 139 yards on 9 catches, and continues to look electric in space.

Kumah, for his part, looked like the big bodied receiver many had hoped to see this season. He made a number of timely catches with defenders draped over him, including a powerful catch and run that saw him bulldoze a helpless defender on the way to a 23-yard gain. All four of Kumah's catches led to conversions on third down, including three consecutive instances on the Hokies' second touchdown drive.

"He had some big plays on third down against man coverage," noted Justin Fuente. "It's really encouraging to see Eric win those inside routes and break a tackle and make some big plays. It was nice because it's usually Cam in there. That's what a team does. That's what a team needs. We need our young guys to continue to improve to give ourselves a chance to be the best that we can be."

Brad Cornelsen continued to find ways to utilize Keene in space, with 3 of his 4 catches going for 16 or more yards. The dynamic H-Back has been impressive as a blocker, which has enabled him to exploit defenses that fail to account for him out of the backfield.

Savoy's, Kumah's and Keene's evenings were indicative of the team's performance, as-a-whole. From the opening kickoff, the Hokies played like the more talented team as they bullied and outran the Eagles all night long. They had their lapses, but considering the injuries and surprising number of underclassmen in the game at a given time, it was an impressive performance.

The young crop of pass catchers, for all intents and purposes, shined against Boston College. Tech's top three receivers were true-freshmen or sophomores, and fellow freshmen Drake Deiuliis, Hezekiah Grimsley and Khalil Pimpleton saw action against the Eagles. While these youngsters haven't been relied on to carry the load this season, Saturday night's win provided a glimpse into the future.

Since joining the ACC, Virginia Tech has had a couple of seasons where underclassmen led the way through the air.

  • 2004: 4 out of the top 5 receivers were underclassmen (Eddie Royal, Josh Hyman, David Clowney and Josh Morgan);
  • 2008: 3 out of the top 4 receivers were freshmen (Danny Coale, Jarrett Boykin and Dyrell Roberts);
  • 2013: 3 out of the top 4 receivers were underclassmen (Demitri Knowles, Josh Stanford and Kalvin Cline); and
  • 2014: 3 out of the top 4 receivers were freshmen (Isaiah Ford, Bucky Hodges and Cam Phillips).

Three classes went on to have incredibly successful careers in orange and maroon; however, that 2013 group was an entirely different story that will be best remembered for their unrealized kick return potential, some solid rap skills and a name that made commentators insufferable.

It will take time to determine how this group of pass catchers stack up against some of the great Hokie receiver groups. The important thing is that they stepped up when called upon and proved that they're ready for more opportunities.

As the Hokies enter the second half of the regular season, opposing defenses will consistently challenge Josh Jackson and the offense. Tech shouldn't expect underachieving teams like UNC and Pitt to roll over; Miami is incredibly talented; Virginia is capable; and both Duke and Georgia Tech rank in the Top 20 in total defense.

The bye week will be a welcome sight for Fuente's squad. With a number of key contributors nursing injuries, it will provide the team with a chance to heal while preparing for the stretch run. Saturday's victory in Chestnut Hill should prove valuable to everyone's psyche. It showed that this team can bounce back and demonstrated how their collection of young talent is ready to pick up the slack when called upon.

Unlike those great young receiving groups of the past, the 2017 Hokies do not need to rely on a bunch of guys learning on the fly. They only need them to supplement established players like Phillips and Carroll. For now, enjoy the win over BC and the confidence boost that could carry the young receivers down the stretch, and worry about their ceilings later.

Comments

There were flashes of excellence followed by headscratching.
I'm thinking more experience is what is needed.

The run game can only be fully corrected with a solid offensive line than controls the D and can impose it's will. That too shall come, in time. In just sorry for the RBs that have to endure less.

Virginia is capable

Congratulations, wahoos!

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

To be fair, "solidly mediocre" is a huge step for them. I'm sure there were plenty a handful a UVA fans who would have cared enough to be delighted with solidly mediocre for several seasons now, dreaming of the "good old days" of Al Groh when they only mostly sucked.

Huge step, cannot be understated.

Bronco has UVA overachieving, with a bunch of inherited players, meanwhile his recruiting has been considerably worse than the time cop in his prime. They should make bowl this season, but the better sign is that Mendenhall is creating a competitive team with less than top-flight talent. We'll see if he can sustain as the last of London's guys move on.

He's overachieving with Mike Londons players. Let's see what happens when the "considerably worse" bronco recruits see the field...

"We'll see if he can sustain as the last of London's guys move on."

Have you watched much of LOLUVA this year? I watched part of Duke and BSU, and saw a team that looked like the same UVA team from the past few years. I'd go with "lucky" over "mediocre" or "overachieving" from what I've seen, but I have not watched them that much. I'm going with Could make a bowl game over Should at this point.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

Yes, I'd strongly disagree with your thought. They are much improved, considering where they were at the last few years.

Watched them really manhandle BSU on the smurf-turf with Rypien back. I watched most of the Duke game, they made Daniel Jones look pedestrian. The defense has been solid, Benkert has played pretty well and not turned the ball over.

Frankly, they need to get their 2 wins for bowl contention in the next 3 games (@UNC, BC, @Pitt). But, all 3 of those games are winnable - and that alone is a MAJOR friggin step up for UVA.

While I agree that UVa is very improved. Daniel Jones has not had a great season. From what I saw, Daniel Jones had plenty of opportunities where a better/more confident QB would have made the play.

"I thought the kid right there you're talking to right there played his nuts off."

Daniel Jones look pedestrian.

Against NCC and NWestern Jones had a passer rating of 140 and QBR of 85. In the 4 games since then (including a game vs Baylor), his passer rating is in the 82-83 range with a QBR of 20-21. It's like a light switch went off. Not sure how much I'd attribute that to UVA being "improved" (ok, I am, but I'll wait for others to weigh in to say "zero").

Duke score looked really good in the season opener - I did not see the game. They looked bad against Miami, and have not recovered. They punted 10 times at Lane North, and their QB had more interceptions than completions on his first 19 attempts. Benkert threw two bad picks against Duke, but Jones looked lost and kept throwing them right back. The part I watched (some of first half) looked like two bad offenses, no good defense. No other team LOLUVA has played has a P5 win. Not the Indiana team they lost to, or the UConn team that lost to ECU. Just saying they have not looked improved with what little I watched. Lets see what they do against a bad but athletic UNCheat this week.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

Dude...they LOST to RICHMOND (FCS) and UCONN last year and went 2-10. Just the fact they are beating "bad teams" like Duke is an improvement. How is this not clear? They were seriously flaming garbage fire tier last year. No one is saying they are a top25 team but there is a huge middle ground between top25 and bottom25.

Wasn't Benkurt our starting Quarterback... wait too much Bourbon that night.

UVA is a much improved team. They are not the team you saw last year.

Nah, they are certainly better. I realize we are VT fans and shitting on UVA, but they are not the same team form last year. Last year they lost to Richmond and UCONN...they are a better team for sure. They will finish better than UNC, Pitt, and Duke this season.

That must have felt really dirty for Pierson to type, much less publish.

All I can say is that I spent a lot of time staring at the screen trying to figure out how best to succinctly phrase UVa's performance thus far.

I bet you wish you had those minutes back in your life...

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

I agree with your assessment. I was more concerned about how we played vs. Delaware and ODU than against BC. When you lose a player like Cam Phillips and have to turn to Freshman your game plan kind of goes out the window. Overall the young players did very well. I think the Red Zone is probably pretty difficult for a group of youngsters to manage. When you consider the average completion was 14.3 yards and the average rushing play was 2.3 yards it's no surprise the red zone was a problem. I can understand that. The defense can compress more vertically in the redone and not have to worry giving up a massive 53 yard play. I'm hoping to see more great things against UNC.

Great reminder of the WR classes from recent years past. What's amazing to think about is this year's class is being led by a RS-Frosh who's just as inexperienced.

Agreed but could we PLEASE get off the cycle where our top 3 WR's are in the same class, so we have a shot at some continuity from year to year. This roller coaster ride isn't good for my alcohol budget.

This is that year.

Chem PhD '16

Paging Tre Turner ...

I guess you can say that Tech ship out to Boston and they found their damn leg?

Hello all you boys and girls I'd like to take you to the inside world It's quite an irregular place to be But never fear you're safe with me. Well maybe

Any word on Samuel Denmark's progression?

I thought I saw him make some nice catches in Practice during Pre-Season, he's another big body. Looking forward to Farley returning and Hazelton next year.

Hokies, Local Soccer, AFC Ajax, Ravens

Since there are about 40 guys ahead of him right now, that's probably a sign he's not progressing as rapidly as the coaches would like.

Isn't he battling injuries?

"Facyson is a baller."
-CFB

Following a disappointing loss to Clemson, this was a decent game against a bad team. In the end, that's all that was needed to roll into the bye. Hopefully these young players will have some time to assess and improve as we start the conference stretch. I am very pleased with the teams current situation.

"with all due respect, and remember I’m sayin’ it with all due respect, that idea ain’t worth a velvet painting of a whale and a dolphin gettin’ it on" - Ricky Bobby

I like the way the youngin's caught the ball in stride and kept rambling and juking. Didn't fall down either.

Where is Lawson?!

Gravity ain't played nobody Paaaawwwl

For me, the truth is I didn't really learn anything I didn't THINK I already knew coming out of the Clemson game. I figured I'd learn more this past week on the road at BC AFTER the hyped Clemson loss. CJ and Peoples aren't active and Cam goes down after his first catch early in the game and yet the outcome never really was in doubt. Cons: We didn't finish well in the red zone and there was some poor execution on offense BUT the Pros of the young WRs stepping up and our smothering 3rd down defense made for a pretty awesome conclusion to the first half of the season. Sitting at 5-1 with the #15 ranking is about as good as any of us could have realistically wished for at this point in 2017. And that GameDay atmosphere last Saturday; freakin' awesome! So let's just finish strong and earn that rematch with Clemson in December and then we can make those Bowl plans for the 25TH STRAIGHT YEAR!!! He@$ Yeah it's good to be a Hokie!

SIDE NOTE: I've got 2 tix available, face value, for the Duke game Oct 28. West side on the aisle. I'll be in town that Friday night and will gladly deal them over a Rail at TOTS. Lemme know.

"Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth."

Admin Q: Is there a protocol for listing my 4 tix for Duke game on TKP? I'm not looking to break community guidelines.

Fellow TKPers: What avenue have you guys found is best for selling any extra VT tix? I just looking for face value.

"Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth."

2013: 3 out of the top 4 receivers were underclassmen (Demitri Knowles, Josh Stanford and Kalvin Cline); and

Those three guys, just wow.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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