Virginia Tech Holds on to Emotional Win at Miami

Virginia Tech earned an emotional victory on Saturday in Miami, knocking off the Hurricanes 42-35. It was a game full of errors and mistakes on both sides, but a win is a win.

Let’s be honest — Saturday’s win vs. Miami doesn’t instill a ton of confidence in the Hokies. Consider these notes…

  • Virginia Tech forced five turnovers and totaled six sacks in this game and nearly lost.
  • Tech led 28-7 at halftime and nearly lost.
  • Hendon Hooker turned in three touchdowns and zero interceptions in his first career start, and Tech nearly lost.

Virginia Tech defeated a bad team on Saturday. Miami’s offense is perhaps the most inconsistent unit in the country, scoring 35 points despite turning it over five times and benching entrenched starter Jarren Williams. Miami committed 10 penalties for 75 yards, including an unsportsmanlike conduct flag that gave the Hokies beneficial field position on their game-winning drive.

Miami stinks. There’s no denying that. And Virginia Tech’s narrow victory over the Hurricanes gives Tech at least some hope that they can be competitive for the rest of the season in the ACC. But Tech has their own problems, including an erratic and unpredictable defense and an offense trying to find an identity with a new quarterback.

We’ve covered these problems ad nauseum. Tech’s defense might have forced five turnovers, but the unit allowed 28 second half points and gave up 21 of those points in the fourth quarter. Backup quarterback N’Kosi Perry tossed three touchdowns for 305 yards while running back DeeJay Dallas broke approximately 42 tackles on his way to a 62-yard touchdown run that should have put Miami in the lead. Instead, kicker Bubba Baxa missed the extra point.

The offense produced with the newly minted Hooker in the game, but the unit is still clearly limited. Hooker scored four total touchdowns and took advantage of Miami’s many mistakes, but he missed open throws regularly and completed just half of his passes. The offense largely went into a shell in the second half, save for Hooker’s masterful throw to Damon Hazelton that set up the go-ahead score.

Virginia Tech is a flawed team and we all know this. The offense may be on the verge of figuring something out, but the defense is leaky, and Tech barely won a game when they won the turnover margin by five. The Hokies have a long way to go to right this season’s ship, but that doesn’t mean Tech fans can’t appreciate the win.

The Hokies failed to respond in many situations on Saturday, but showed up when it mattered most. Hooker and the offense punched Miami directly in the mouth en route to a game-winning score, and the defense held on just enough at the end after getting run for much of the second half.

There are still plenty of negatives to worry about. But given how hellish of a week it’s been for the players, the coaches and the fans, it’s okay for all parties involved to take a moment to celebrate. That especially goes for head coach Justin Fuente, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy this win. For the first time all season, there’s finally reason for slight optimism.

5 thoughts on “Virginia Tech Holds on to Emotional Win at Miami”

  1. Ah Ricky, you sound like someone who would gripe if they hung you with a new rope. I thought the game plan was sound (it took nerve to attack their strength with a new QB), the execution was good (in the first half) and the team went after it all game, especially after the knock-down by Duke. To come in away from home that fired up showed me they are fighters after all. Go Hokies.

    1. I agree Tommy. The game was far from perfect but I do feel that the tackling was better, the defensive line got after folks although we could question Miami’s Oline, they are better than Furman and ODU’s Oline and we did lay that many sacks on either of those teams. The offense moved the ball against the best defense they played this year and I doubt we can say that other teams defensive lines were better that Miami’s. Heck, I wondered how the game would have turned if Jerod Hewitt did not make the bonehead penalty that nullified an int returned inside their goaline. A TD there could have been a deflated Miami mentally and charged us to the point that the second half comeback is mute. After all, Miami did score on that possession if my memory served me good.

      We are long ways and no need to get the coastal tickets but I do believe that a glimpse of hope which is what needed was provided to this team which is what they need. After Duke, I began to feel that this team including the coaches, do not know how to win. So yes let celebrate, but let’s also keep it in true perspective which, this team has the capability (outside of ND) of winning every game on the schedule but also have the capability of losing (outside of RI) every game on the schedule. If Hooker stays healthy and improve, I like our chances to achieve the former.

      1. Your comments are objective and accurate. I hope the players and coaches can build on the positives from the Miami game and continue to get better in all phases in each game going forward.

  2. We might have beaten a bad team, but it was a much needed win. IMO, we got conservative on offense in the third quarter which led to several 3 and outs. That in turn kept giving them more time to make s comeback.

  3. This might sound a little trite, since we’ve just seen what happened in the Miami game, but I didn’t think it was such a mystery as to what was wrong with the Va Tech football team. Years ago Don Meredith, who was an announcer on Monday Night Football, said that sometimes a quarterback can fall in love with his arm. I think that happened with Ryan Willis and to some extent with Coach Fuente. Ryan Willis can and has made some amazing throws. And in trying to make those throws, he’ll miss or throw into double and triple coverage resulting in an interception or a ball batted down. It seemed like half of his incompletions were dropped passes by the opposing defense. At the same time his decisions in the read option running game have been poor at best, resulting in very little yardage on the ground. If you throw in the occasional fumbles, the resulting turnovers will eventually be taken advantage off by the opposing offense. That puts our defense in a bad spot, so now the defense looks bad.

    I hate to rag on the guy, because I’m sure he tries as hard as anybody, but if you look at when Willis came in as the starter, including the ODU game last year, we just haven’t looked the same. When I heard that Hendon Hooker might be starting against Miami, I thought we had a chance to win that game. After seeing Ryan Willis play this past year at Va Tech, I can now understand why he did so poorly at Kansas in his freshman year, there. It’s a funny thing that nobody seems to have noticed this before, but looking back on it now, it seems so obvious.

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