Justin Fuente earned a signature win. The first bona fide one of his Hokies' tenure. Virginia Tech, a 7-point underdog, went on the road and knocked off Florida State, 24-3. And what a bunch of rude house guests the Hokies were. Use a coaster, damn it! The Seminoles had the perfect evening planned too. Willie Taggart's debut in garnet and gold. The 'Noles dapper in all-black uniforms — formal wear fit to usher in the new era of FSU football. A national audience tuned in for the unveiling of "Lethal Simplicity" on the national stage. The Hokies spoiled it all.
After an offseason where assistant-coach-resigns-after-sex-scandal might not crack the top five bad things to happen to a program, it was surreal.
But it should have been familiar. That was vintage BeamerBall. Check all the boxes:
Blocked punt returned for a touchdown.
The offense didn't turn it over, but squandered field position down the stretch on numerous possessions. (It should have been an even more lopsided win.)
And then the defense. In the face of all the well-documented offseason departures, the Hokies' defense strangled the 'Noles. It was a 5-sack, 3-interception, relentless masterpiece orchestrated by Bud Foster.
Instead of focussing on the departures of Greg Stroman, Tim Settle, Adonis Alexander, Mook Reynolds, and Brandon Facyson, most should have listened to Ricky Walker (this author included).
"As long as Bud Foster is in Blacksburg, I think we're going to be just fine," said Walker at ACC Kickoff.
"In Bud we trust" is cliche, but it's also the damn truth. For Foster, Monday night was another stamp on the program he helped build through two eras of Virginia Tech football.
Go ahead and try to imagine what type of roster Foster would have to have work with in order to field a bad defense. It's tough to do.
You needed a media guide handy to identify all the foreign numbers making tackles. The front-seven, scarily thin at defensive tackle and all, was stout at the point of attack. Subtract the lone busted run from stud running back Cam Akers (85 yards) and FSU netted 9 rushing yards. 😱
Cam Akers is one of the most talented RBs in the country. Tonight, #VaTech--with only four returning starters back on D--have held him to only TWO YARDS on 10 carries. How great is Bud Foster.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) September 4, 2018
Deondre Francois was bottled up and looked average. Tech's young secondary held its own in some tough coverage assignments. The Florida State offense, described as "Lethal Simplicity", was rendered impotent.
Virginia Tech raised expectations for its 2018 campaign on Monday night. That might be a brazen claim based on a one-game sample. And sure Florida State might turn out to be an unranked, seven-win program by season's end. Regardless, the Hokies went on the road, in a hostile environment, and beat a star-studded, conference opponent. That's impressive. (Consider too how ordinary Miami looked in its opener against LSU.)
Moreover, Tech demonstrated it can throw it back to the Beamer years — play smart on offense, capitalize on special teams, and leverage a capable defense. That's an identity that paid dividends. And finally, there's plenty of room for improvement. Take the drives that sputtered on the Florida State side of the field. Now contemplate the makeup of the Hokies if those resulted points and not change of possession. Indeed, that's some rich and delightful thinking.