Hokies start 2-0 for the fourth time in the last five seasons
1. Tech’s ground game excelled. The Hokies had 224 rushing yards Saturday and quite a few players came out to pull it off, with four players each having more than 30 rushing yards. red shirt junior Raheem Blackshear led the running back room with a team-high 53 rushing yards and two touchdowns, averaging 5.3 yards per carry, while redshirt junior Jalen Holston had a 29-yard scamper for a touchdown to get him to 31 total rushing yards. The quarterback room also did its part with the California native Braxton Burmeister with 52 rushing yards and native to Texas Connor Blumrick possessing 38 rushing yards and a touchdown. The group had its moments of explosive play, including a 33-yarder from Blumrick, Holston’s aforementioned bum and a Burmeister 18-yard run. The 224 rushing yards versus the Blue Raiders were nearly 100 yards more than Tech’s last game (127, UNC).
2. The backup quarterback game was strong.Burmeister midway through the first quarter did a half slide/dive right in front of a Middle Tennessee defender and was hit in the head/neck area during the game. With Burmeister walking cautiously off the field, freshman’s red shirt Knox Kadum got in and did a great job continuing the drive and getting the Hokies close to the goal line before Burmeister came back and threw a nice fade to the receiver Tayvion Robinson before the touchdown. Kadum, who played in one game last season (Clemson, Dec. 5), would eventually go 3 for 4 for 17 yards in the air. The other backup quarterback who had some time on Saturday was Blumrick, who usually comes in to handle situations à la wildcat-style play. The Texas A&M transfer would run it three times and finish with 38 yards on the ground. He nearly had two touchdowns, tackling the one-yard line on the longest run to date of his engineering career (33 yards). His first to pay dirt was a six-foot QB powerplay with a shotgun while doing the jet sweep at Robinson.
3. Corner defender Jermaine Waller plays at elite level.After battling through injuries last season and not seeing the field as much as he would have liked, Waller has certainly made his presence felt this year, with two interceptions and 12 tackles (7 solo) to date. The Washington, D.C. native was given a pick against then-No. 10 North Carolina last week and one Saturday, making him the first Hokie to receive an interception in consecutive games since safety. Divine Deablo (Clemson, Virginia; 2019).
4. Special teams are arriving.head coach Justin Font said in his weekly press conference last Monday ahead of MTSU that he wasn’t very happy with how few special teams made momentum-changing plays a season ago, as well as against the Tar Heels. So he expected the starting to change compared to the Blue Raiders and his assessment was correct. The biggest of the team special moments came in the second quarter, when Robinson caught a punt return on Tech’s own six-yard line and took it 59 yards before being tackled. Ironically, last season (11 games) the Hokies only had 66 kick returns in total. Thereafter Keshawn King also had a long return, which was a kickoff return, but was recalled for holding. So, with Robinson and King showing flashes of what’s to come in the return game, it should bode well for the future in that realm.
5. Defense does not allow big games.When disturbances occur against ranked enemies, there are typically some defining actions of the underdog who are the haymakers to take down Goliath. But on Saturday, the Blue Raiders failed to play a piece as the Hokies kept everything to themselves, with the longest game of the day for MTSU coming in at no more than 27 yards. Against the Tar Heels, Tech surrendered just one play over 30 yards, a 37-yard pass from ACC Player of the Year Sam Howell in the preseason. So by two games under defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton in 2021, the Hokies have not let the big plays haunt them.
STATS WITH SALAS
TheThe more the better
The 67 players who occupy the field against Middle Tennessee are in 2017 for the second time in the Fuente era with the East Carolina game. Seventy players saw action against William & Mary in 2018.
So far, the Hokies have committed just five penalties in 2021. These are the fewest penalty kicks since 2016 to start the season.
2016: 12-128 m
2017: 7-44 m
2018: 7-75 m
2019: 10-85 m
2020: 8-60 m
2021: 5-55 m
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