Hokie Rountable: What Went Wrong, and What Needs to Change?

The Hokie Roundtable is back. Stephen Newman and Franklin Heinzmann have joined me once again to go over Virginia Tech’s 45-23 loss to Notre Dame. We’ll talk about what went wrong in the game, if there’s a silver lining that can be drawn and what needs to change moving forward.

Without further ado…

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Monday Mail: Frank Beamer’s Shadow, Deablo’s Impact, Hunter’s Redshirt and More

Monday Mail has returned… on a Tuesday?

I apologize for the delay folks. It’s been a rough few weeks for me personally, and things are getting to be a bit much. I needed to take a day to get myself together, and I’m sorry those needed moments pushed back Monday Mail.

But, here we are. Let’s do this.

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Hokie Roundtable: An Introduction, Caleb Farley, Ian Book and More

Welcome to a new feature on The LaBlue Review. I’ve enlisted two of my closest friends to help me with our new Hokie Roundtable, a discussion of timely topics surrounding Virginia Tech athletics.

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Monday Mail: A Brand New Quarterback Situation, Devon Hunter’s Predicament and More

Before we jump into today’s Monday Mail, let’s hit on a few housekeeping items.

First, Virginia Tech is ranked once again. The Hokies reentered the AP Top 25 after knocking off then-ranked No. 22 in Durham. The Hokies are now 24th in the country, fourth in the ACC behind No. 4 Clemson, No. 17 Miami and No. 23 NC State.

Also, Virginia Tech’s kickoff time vs. North Carolina has been announced. The Hokies’ road trip to Chapel Hill will start at 7 p.m. and will be televised on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.

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Postgame Observations: Virginia Tech Rebounds With Resounding Defeat of Duke

The season is not over. In fact, we’re not even halfway yet.

After the Hokies’ loss to Old Dominion last week, it was hard to think that Tech could get this thing turned around. There was too much negativity around the program for this team to get things going and the Hokies destined to struggle for the rest of the season.

Wrong.

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Sustained Success on the Ground Critical for Virginia Tech’s Survival

Good news is hard to come by in Blacksburg at the moment.

Virginia Tech just lost to Old Dominion, previously winless, and fell outside the AP Top 25. The Hokies starting quarterback, Josh Jackson, is out for the foreseeable future with a fractured fibula and Trevon Hill, Tech’s best defender, is no longer with the program.

It’s not quite rock bottom, but Virginia Tech is in a low place right now. However, there is one thing Virginia Tech can hang their hat on right now — an improved rushing attack.

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Monday Mail: Trying to Make Sense of Something That Doesn’t Make Sense

Oh boy.

When I planned on asking for questions for this week’s Monday Mail, I did not think we’d be talking about one of the worst losses in Virginia Tech history. And make no mistake about it, there aren’t enough negative adjectives to describe what happened on Saturday.

Awful. Appalling. Dreadful. All three apply.

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Houshun Gaines Displaying Needed Explosiveness at Defensive End

If I asked you who the most important player on Virginia Tech’s defensive line was, there’s an 80 percent chance (roughly) that you’d select Ricky Walker. And you’d be right.

But who’s next on that list? Most would suggest Trevon Hill, but I’d posit that Houshun Gaines is just as important, if not more so.

Gaines, a redshirt junior defensive end, is coming into his own this season. The process began late in 2017, when Gaines filled in for the injured Vinny Mihota. Gaines started Tech’s last two games vs. Virginia and Oklahoma State and showed why he needed to be in the starting lineup. Gaines totaled four tackles for loss and two sacks in those two contests, displaying an explosiveness that Mihota simply didn’t have on the edge.

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Monday Mail: Florida State’s Problems, Virginia Tech’s Ranking and More

Monday Mail is back! With Virginia Tech’s game vs. East Carolina being canceled, there’s no postgame content to worry about, so let’s get to some questions. The goal is to make this a weekly feature once again, so thank you for submitting your questions. Let’s dive in.


Who’d have thought that I’d be starting this Monday Mail with a critique of Florida State?

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Postgame Observations: Hokies Handle Their Business Against FCS William and Mary

Virginia Tech’s 62-17 win was somewhat boring. The Hokies handled the game from start to finish, despite allowing William and Mary to score two touchdowns. It was exactly what you’d expect to see when a ranked Power 5 team hosts an FCS program.

Because William and Mary simply is not good, we can only take so much away from this game. Here are my postgame observations from Saturday’s win.

The Hokies handled business

Virginia Tech had five days to prepare for the Tribe. Even though William and Mary is an FCS team that beat Bucknell by just seven points, that’s a really short turnaround for college kids.

The Hokies could have easily dealt with a hangover from their convincing win vs. Florida State. Instead, Virginia Tech did what they were supposed to do — easily defeat a lesser talented team in their own stadium. No overly impressive, but solid.

Wheatley isn’t going anywhere

Virginia Tech needs some explosive athleticism at running back. Terius Wheatley gives them that.

Wheatley’s one of the fastest players on the team and is probably the best athlete at the position. He’s not a back that needs to pound the rock between the tackles, but is best when allowed to break outside and get into open space. He’s done that so far, rushing for 80 yards on just nine carries.

He might not be Tech’s No. 1 option, but Wheatley can make an impact. But if the other backs remain inconsistent, maybe Wheatley’s usage will increase. Speaking of inconsistent running backs…

Hold on to the ball, McClease

Not only did Deshawn McClease fumble vs. William and Mary, he ran for just 35 yards on 10 carries. Yes, he scored, but so did several other players.

McClease looked like the clear-cut No. 1 running back after his performance at Florida State. Now, McClease looks like another guy in a crowded room of backs. He’s got time to rebound, but Saturday’s performance left a lot to be desired. He’s got a heck of a matchup this week against East Carolina, who is one of the worst teams in FBS.

The secondary will hold this defense back

Virginia Tech’s front seven has played very well through two games. The Hokies are third in the nation in tackles for loss (23) and tied for 28th in the nation in sacks (six). Despite two newcomers at linebacker, Tech’s has had little problems against the run.

The team’s secondary has been a different story. With two new starters at cornerback and an inexperienced free safety, the Hokies’ performance against the pass has been expectedly poor. Virginia Tech is 82nd in the country against the pass, allowing 232.5 passing yards per game.

Shon Mitchell, William and Mary’s freshman quarterback, played better than one would expect a freshman quarterback to play against a Bud Foster defense. Mitchell threw for 208 yards and a touchdown on Saturday, converting 10 first downs through the air.

Virginia Tech has already allowed seven pass plays for 20-plus yards. The Hokies can hold up against the run, but can they improve against the pass? They need to start this coming Saturday vs. East Carolina.

Kickers continue to impress

Replacing Joey Slye isn’t easy, but Tech’s doing a solid job so far.

Brian Johnson is 3-3 on field goals this season and he hit a career long of 45 yards on Saturday. He doesn’t have the strongest leg, but if Johnson can extend his range into the 45 or 50-yard range, that’s more than serviceable.

On kickoffs, Jordan Stout is getting the job done. After banging four of his five kickoffs against Florida State for touchbacks, Stout registered 11 touchbacks vs. William and Mary on 11 kickoffs. That’s exactly what Slye did while he was in Blacksburg and fans underestimate how important that is when trying to win the field position battle.