Shortly before kickoff, the news was released that 23 players alongside 2 fulltime coaches and 2 assistants would be unavailable for the game vs. NC State. Included in this list were assumed starting QB Hendon Hooker, and new DC Justin Hamilton. Rumors were correct with Hendon Hooker, but 23 players is a hefty hit during a season opener where depth is needed.
Backup Braxton Burmeister was given the start and excelled in the home opener. Khalil Herbert started the game with a 21-yard kickoff return followed by a 31 yard run on the first play of the game. A healthy mix of runs from Herbert, Burmeister, and Blackshear, behind a Brock Hoffman led O-line that created massive holes, propelled the Hokies to a quick 17-0 start. Transfer DE Justus Reed recorded VT's first sack on NC state's first drive. Even Enzo Anthony, a transfer from UVA, got the start as VT's LS Oscar Shadley was unavailable. Anthony started 13 games last year for UVA and is a direct descendent of founder Thomas Jefferson, yet still prefers the Hokies over UVA.
Last night's VT team reminded many of some great VT teams as it had many game-changing plays that define VT's identity. VT finally has a quality back in Khalil Herbert that recorded nearly 200 all-purpose yards on just 10 touches. The last 3 Hokie running backs to record at least 100 rushing yards in their opener are Shai McKenzie, Trey Edmonds, and David Wilson. These 4 are in fact the only backs to do so in the last 25 years for Tech. VT proved their dual-threat ability at QB as both backups combined for 93 rushing yards with 1 score. Defensively, VT recorded 2 INTs and 6 sacks with the defensive line getting heavy pressure on the QB throughout the game. You can't forget special teams when playing the Hokies, either. Herbert and Robinson had great returns to set up the offense. Placekicker Brian Johnson drilled a 26, 46, and 49 yard FG going 3-3. Oscar Bradburn averaged 47 yards per punt with 2 inside the 20 and a 61-yard bomb. Not bad considering some snaps were bounced to him.
Despite missing 25 people, the Hokies showed up ready to play starting off with a quick 17-0 lead in 5 minutes. They slowed down after Burmeister's exit with hand cramps. Cornelson has a habit of handicapping QB Quincy Patterson's ability. He called 8 runs in a row with QP in. Then Fuente finally decided to let him throw after an NC State score. QP finished the half 4-4, 75 yards, and 2 TDs. With a 31-10 lead and a few minor injuries, VT played it slowly in the 3rd and had a whole quarter of garbage time in the 4th.
VT looks to go 1-0 again this week as they travel to Duke for a 4:00 PM matchup. Duke is 0-3 (all ACC games) and doesn't pose much of a threat. That being said they beat VT 45-10 at home last year in one of the worst VT performances I've ever seen.
With 3 high caliber QBs, who gets the start this week? How many players will return for Duke? How explosive can this offense be? All good quetions to have for the Hokies this week.
Stats of the game:
Khalil Herbert: 6 carries-104 yards-1 TD, 2 catches-46 yards, 2 returns-45 yards
Quincy Patterson: 4/6 passing-75 yards-2 TD, 10 carries-47 yards-1 TD
Tre Turner: 1 catch-16 yards, 2 carries-53 yards
Keonta Jenkins: 8 tackles, 1 QB hurry
Justus Reed: 5 tackle, 2 sacks, 2 TFL
Divine Deablo & Brion Murray: 1 INT each