Stats, Sack Artists and Saviors: Emptying the Notebook Pre-Syracuse

A sneaky good pass rush, a favorable QB slate, a few thoughts on the biggest standout transfers and what the recent success could mean for the Hokies' last five games of the season.

[Mark Umansky]

I love a bye week, because it gives me the chance to put fully formed opinions around the things I usually just yell at the family and friends in my Hokie text threads.

But now, as the Hokies get set to claw their way back to .500 against a reeling Syracuse team in Lane Stadium on a Thursday night, there's no time like the present to look at Brent Pry's...potentially improved???...Tech squad and wonder a few things out loud.

Bhayshul Tuten is the toughest Hokie to tackle since...

...Ryan Williams?

The NC A&T transfer has forced 34 missed tackles on the year. For reference, during Khalil Herbert's sublime 2020 campaign, Herbert forced 42 missed tackles in 10 games. Tuten might get to 42 after the Syracuse game.

Per PFF, 34 forced missed tackles is the most by anyone in the ACC and tied for 10th most in all of college football, putting him in the league of guys like Wisconsin's Braelon Allen, Notre Dame's Audric Estime and Kentucky tank Ray Davis.

Every year come draft season, there's always a group of players that college fans who actually watch games value more than either the NFL people or "Draft Twitter" do. Whenever he enters the conversation, Tuten will be one of those prospects for me.

His value can't be explained by stats or PFF grades. The offensive line can't block, yet for some inexplicable reason Tyler Bowen kept running Tuten into the back of a guard who had been pushed 2 yards into the backfield. 360 yards on a 3.9 YPC average isn't impressive, same with his six total TDs.

But after watching a pupu platter of pretty mid backs for 11 of the last 13 years — basically the stretch between David Wilson and now, with one Herbert-sized reprieve — I almost forgot how important a game-breaking running back can be. It's almost like having a great three-point shooter in basketball. There are days when they nail seven threes (just like there are days where Tuten will put up 100 total yards and two scores). But even when they're not hitting, the mere threat of their existence creates a sort of gravitational pull on the defense.

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