Bowen's Renaissance

Examining Tyler Bowen's play calling that kept Tulane off balance in the second half of a 41-20 Military Bowl romp. The space created, and threats across the field yielded a dominating ground game led by Kyron Drones and Bhayshul Tuten.

[Virginia Tech Athletics]

Virginia Tech's blowout victory against Tulane created much needed positive momentum ahead of the postseason. Tech's top skill players, particularly quarterback Kyron Drones and Bhayshul Tuten, completely outclassed a depleted, but sound defense. The positive momentum carried over in recruiting, as the Hokies immediately received commitments from Duke d-tackle Aeneas Peebles, JUCO defensive tackle Kemari Copeland, and former Middle Tennessee State middle linebacker Sam Brumfield to address glaring holes on defense.

While the fanbase is focused on the immediate future, Brent Pry clearly wanted to send out his departing players with a win after sticking with the program through a painful transition. Rather than give young players more repetitions, Pry stuck with the same personnel rotations utilized throughout the season. Outside of tight end Harrison Saint Germain (replacing the departing Dae'Quan Wright) and Ayden Greene (replacing an injured Stephen Gosnell), the Hokies talented young players didn't get additional seasoning. Spring football is the next opportunity to see what homegrown young talent will step forward.

Instead, the most interesting story as I watched the film was the evolution of the offensive play-calling from the season opening win against Old Dominion to Drones and Tuten's dominant bowl performance (312 yards rushing). Against Old Dominion, I noted how Virginia Tech's blocking and post-snap movement by the receivers pulled defenders into the middle of the field, taking away time and space for Tuten even on well blocked plays.

As the season progressed, the presence of Drones and a new offensive approach placed tremendous strain on opposing defenses at multiple points. This created space allowed the Hokies run game to thrive. Bowen and his staff not only showed creativity in using formation and motion to disguise what were essentially a handful of bread and butter plays, but as a play caller he showcased the coveted ability for when to change things up and cross up the defense. Through the third quarter and early in the fourth, Bowen repeatedly confused and confounded the Tulane defense as the Hokies pulled away on the scoreboard. Focus on Drones, and Tuten had space on the outside zone read. Focus on Tuten, and Drones could pull the ball and plunge up the middle. Blitz into Tuten while keeping the interior at home... Well, Bowen had something for that as well.

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