Doak Campbell Stadium, Sept. 3, 2018 - Trevon Hill (White 94) looks on ominously toward Deondre Francois (Black 12) as FSU prepares to snap the ball into play. (Photo courtesy of TechSideline.com)
TALLAHASSEE – Wow. What a game. In hindsight, I can honestly say I did not see a victory coming. I thought Virginia Tech had a chance to win the game, but I clearly didn’t give Justin Fuente and the Hokies enough credit from the jump. But let me tell you, I have never been more proud to say I was wrong.
First, as a patron who actually attended the week one college football bout, let me give credit to where credit is due. Florida State has incredible fans (for the most part, despite one or two bad eggs in the crowd); they have a beautiful campus, an awesome “downtown” experience, and a breathtaking stadium. Tallahassee is definitely quite the college town.
However, the Seminole football team that was supposed to play inside of Doak Campbell Stadium Labor Day evening was seemingly absent from the experience. I guess it goes to show that preseason rankings don’t mean anything, and hype surrounding a team is just that - HYPE. Unfortunately, as a college football enthusiast, I bought into it.
It also seems as if every media outlet on planet earth thought the Hokies were going to get blown out by the Seminoles. Everyone on ESPN’s College Gameday picked against the Hokies (except guest picker Luke Bryan). I guess when you have the talent, the atmosphere, and a new coach, all signs were pointing to an easy win. I can’t blame anyone for picking the Seminoles. But with all of those yes men, Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster said NO.
There is an old saying that defense wins championships. How true that is, I’m not exactly sure. But I do know that it won Virginia Tech the football game on Sept. 3. The return of Virginia Tech defensive backs Caleb Farley and Divine Deablo (both out for the ‘17 season due to injury) made an immediate impact, as Farley snagged two interceptions and sacked FSU quarterback Deondre Francois once. Deablo had four solo tackles, while young talent such as Dylan Rivers, Tyjuan Garbutt, and Rayshard Ashby all shined in their respective debuts for the Hokies. Junior defensive end Trevon Hill displayed his motor for the Hokies, sacking Deondre Francois twice out of his three solo tackles.
The Hokie offense hit the ground running on the opening drive of the game, where redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Jackson marched the team down the field with what looked like incredible ease. Redshirt sophomore wide receiver (Ball State) transfer Damon Hazelton had his first career touchdown for the Hokies, where he out-muscled Virginia Beach native and star FSU cornerback Levonta Taylor.
Beamer Ball shined in the second quarter, where redshirt junior tight end Chris Cunningham blocked a punt, which was recovered by junior wide receiver Eric Kumah for a 3 yard score. Kumah also had the final Hokie score of the game on a 49-yard touchdown pass from Josh Jackson.
Needless to say – Florida State struggled in every aspect of the game. They allowed 5 turnovers on offense, gave up 24 points on defense, and allowed a blocked punt on special teams. Typically, it is REALLY hard to win the football game when these kinds of mistakes transpire.
However, Florida State has a lot to look forward to in running backs Cam Akers (sophomore) and Khalan Laborn (freshman). Honestly, it surprises me that Laborn didn’t see more touches, as he made the Virginia Tech defense look SILLY on his 37-yard screen pass from Francois.
My Final Thoughts:
- Florida State still has the talent to be very good this season. I think they bought into their own hype and suffered a punishing loss as a result.
- Willie Taggart didn’t look too savvy with his play calling on Monday. Remember, the coaches call the plays and rely on their players to execute. If the play doesn’t fit the situation, you can’t put too much blame on the players when it doesn’t work out.
- Bud Foster’s young defense looks DANGEROUS. Like, unexpectedly dangerous. Who needs five star athletes if they can’t execute like Foster’s unit did on Monday night?
- The Virginia Tech offense still needs performance tuning in certain areas. These next few games should be a great opportunity for Hokie offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen to tighten up the screws.
IF the Hokies can keep a level head on their shoulders and not let this game boost their ego too much, they could be VERY dangerous heading into the Notre Dame game on Oct. 6. I can hear the opening title scroll of Gameday now…