Home Report Card: Penalties mar final grade for Virginia Tech in Thursday night loss

Report Card: Penalties mar final grade for Virginia Tech in Thursday night loss

Chris Graham
keshawn king
Virginia Tech running back Keshawn King. Photo courtesy Virginia Tech Athletics.

Virginia Tech coach Brent Pry had to be embarrassed with the Hokies’ 15 penalties in the 33-10 loss to West Virginia on Thursday night.

A pair of 15-yarders proved particularly crucial, the first a roughing-the-passer penalty on linebacker Dax Hollified on a fourth-and-five from the Tech 39, the second an illegal-use-of-hands penalty on lineman Norell Pollard on a third-and-14, kept the WVU drive alive, and the Mountaineers converted to go up 23-10.

“We didn’t play complementary football,” Pry said. “We’re at a point right now as a team that we have to do that. We can’t leave too much to overcome in any phase. Either we weren’t making them earn it or we were shooting ourselves in the foot a little bit. We got to own it and be better in a bunch of areas, and we can be. That’s the encouraging thing. That’s a good football team. I don’t want to take anything away from West Virginia. I thought they probably played their best game of the season. They’ve got a pretty good football team. Got some good skill. If we play a cleaner, smarter game – I think it was 16-10 going into the fourth – we got a chance, but we didn’t play very well.”

There was also the fourth quarter picksix thrown by Grant Wells on the first play after a WVU field goal that had extended the lead to 26-10.

The INT sent the fans streaming for the exits on a night that had started with a lot of energy from the Lane Stadium crowd.

“We got to be a team that plays with fundamentals and technique. I’m a big believer in that,” Pry said. “I feel like right now, in tight situations, we have a tendency to press and not play with fundamentals and technique. We play outside the framework and we get out of sorts. We got to fix that, and it’s fixable.”

Tech players chime in

Pry wasn’t the only person in maroon and orange upset by the sloppy play.

“I mean, it’s frustrating for sure,” said wideout Kaleb Smith, who had five catches for 70 yards, and the Hokies’ only TD, a 28-yard scoring pass from Wells in the second quarter that gave Tech a 7-3 lead.

“It’s something that we take on ourselves to work at every day and every week,” Smith said. “It’s hard to win a game as it is, so when you add those penalties on top, it puts more weight on our shoulders.”

“I feel like we made a lot of mistakes,” defensive back Chamarri Conner said. “The guys were trying to go hard and leave it all out there, and sometimes it just works out like that. We got to get better. We got to get better when it comes to those things.”

Grading Grant Wells

Wells, the Marshall transfer, was 16-of-35 passing for 193 yards, a TD and an INT.

Inside the numbers, he only completed two passes (on 11 attempts) that traveled 10+ yards through the air.

Wells was 4-of-4 on screens for 55 yards.

In a clean pocket, he was 14-of-26 for 175 yards, a TD and INT, and a 71.8 NFL passer rating.

On 10 dropbacks under pressure, Wells was 2-of-9 for 18 yards and a 39.6 passer rating.

O line

On 36 pass dropbacks, the line allowed one sack and nine pressures.

Right tackle Parker Clements, a 6’7” junior, had an awful night, allowing five pressures (including the sack), and grading out at 45.6.

Center Johnny Jordan actually graded out lower, at 43.8.

The best grade for the starters was for left tackle Silas Dzansi, who scored a 66.1, per PFF.

Run game: grounded

The low grades for the O line are largely the result of the Hokies not being able to get anything going on the ground.

The run game produced just 41 yards (sack-adjusted) on 17 attempts.

On 11 runs between the tackles, Tech gained 37 yards.

Defense: gashed

WVU put up 421 yards of total offense, 218 on the ground, and QB JT Daniels was 20-of-30 for 203 yards and a TD through the air.

Cornerback Dorian Strong had the best grade of the regulars, at 69.7 on 43 snaps, with five tackles and a 73.8 NFL passer rating against in pass coverage.

The front was only able to get five pressures on Daniels, with defensive end (PFF grade: 56.7) getting the lone sack.

Linebacker Dax Hollifield graded out at 47.8 on 65 snaps, with six tackles, one missed tackle, a 24-yard reception allowed in pass coverage, and two penalties.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the king of "fringe media," is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].