Sep 3, 2018; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles punter Logan Tyler sits in the end zone after being tackled by Virginia Tech player Jovonn Quillen on a punt attempt at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Rondone/Tallahasse Democrat via USA TODAY NETWORK

Add Florida State to the growing list of programs who had quite a disappointing debut to the 2018 season. A night after the Miami Hurricanes were rolled by LSU, it was Florida State who looked discombobulated from start to finish in a 24-3 loss at home against Virginia Tech. It was far from the kind of performance Willie Taggart hoped to have in his Florida State coaching debut.

The start of the game couldn’t have gone much worse for the Seminoles. Virginia Tech marched right down the field on the opening drive of the game with Josh Jackson getting in a rhythm early with Hezekiah Grimsley and tossing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Damon Hazelton. Florida State’s first offensive series of the season ended with a fumble on the fourth play of the drive, which led to a Hokies field goal to quickly put Virginia Tech up 10-0 in Doak Campbell Stadium. With the offense and defense making plays early, the special teams still had to get involved, and they did.

Backed into their own end zone, Florida State had little room to make a mistake on a punt, but the Hokies broke out that old school Beamer Ball to block the punt and recover it in the end zone for a special teams touchdown.

This all happened in the first half, but Virginia Tech was relentless on defense and continued to come up with stops and big plays in the second half to slam the door on Florida State. It’s the second year in a row Florida State was dominated in the season opener, with the loss to Alabama last year sending the Seminoles’ season down a spiral quickly.

Deondre Francois made it through this game, but he was rough against the Hokies. Francois threw three interceptions and was unable to lead Florida State on a touchdown drive. As a testament to just how good Bud Foster’s Virginia Tech defense was, Florida State running back Cam Akers had an 85-yard run in the fourth quarter and finished the game with 82 yards on 14 carries.

Virginia Tech came into the season with some youth to work with even with a number of returning starters. But despite that youth, the Hokies had the right ingredients in place to seize the opportunity they did Monday night. Virginia Tech’s defensive line was able to penetrate the line all night long against a quarterback who missed all of last season after a season-ending injury in Week 1. Justin Fuente has had a couple of seasons with the Hokies and defensive coordinator is a trusted carryover form Frank Beamer’s staff and still one of the best at his job, whereas Willie Taggart and his staff are just getting started with their program. And more importantly, the Hokies are just a better team at this point in time.

It certainly showed on Monday night, and now Virginia Tech is set up to make quite an interesting run. Take a look at Virginia Tech’s upcoming schedule, which should be loaded with wins:

  • Sept. 8 vs. William & Mary
  • Sept. 15 vs. East Carolina
  • Sept. 22 at Old Dominion
  • Sept. 29 at Duke
  • Oct. 6 vs. Notre Dame

The Hokies are staring at a 5-0 schedule going into a home game against Notre Dame, which could lift Virginia Tech to 6-0 and return to ACC play with some key home games still to play against Georgia Tech, Boston College, and Miami. With one win in ACC play under their belts, Virginia Tech is already in position to make a run to the ACC Championship Game and potentially make some moves up the rankings along the way.

About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Previously contributed to Host of the Locked On Nittany Lions Podcast. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.