No. 21 Virginia Tech found their answers on offense in a 31-24 victory over No. 22 West Virginia on Sunday night at FedExField.
Even though the Hokies entered the game ranked in the top-25, many college football experts didn’t know what to expect from the offense this season. After all, the team lost many of its top weapons from last year, including quarterback Jerod Evans, wide receiver Isaiah Ford, and tight end Bucky Hodges. Given all of these departures, would Virginia Tech have enough firepower to win the ACC Coastal again this season?
Based on what we saw against West Virginia, the answer is a resounding yes.
Sure, the offense got off to a slow start, but it caught fire shortly before halftime, scoring 28 points over the final 33 minutes of the contest. Cam Phillips proved that the receiving corps will be just fine this season, catching seven passes for 138 yards, highlighted by a 32-yard reception that gave the Hokies the lead late in third quarter. At running back, the three-headed monster of Deshawn McClease, Steven Peoples, and Travon McMillan combined to rush for 124 yards and 4.1 yards per carry.
Of course, the real story of the night was the play of quarterback Josh Jackson. While no one expected Jackson to be Jerod Evans, he certainly played like it on Sunday evening. Jackson was solid as a passer, connecting on 15 of 26 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown. However, he also did a great job as a runner, rushing 11 times for 101 yards, including a 46-yard keeper that set up the game-winning touchdown.
Although there’s still plenty of football remaining, it’s hard not to like Virginia Tech’s chances in the ACC Coastal this year. And although the defense did give up its fair share of yardage, it came up huge on third down, allowing the Mountaineers to convert just five of their 19 opportunities. When you couple a Bud Foster-coached defense with an offense just as explosive — if not more so – than it was last year, it adds up to an extremely successful season.
In other words: the Hokies have more than enough weapons to repeat as division champions in 2017, based on their performance in the season opener.