Quick takeaways from Virginia Tech win
Josh Jackson is the real deal. Joey Slye and the Virginia Tech defense are surprisingly suspect. Those are the takeaways from the Hokies’ 31-24 win over West Virginia Sunday night at FedEx.
First, to Jackson. The redshirt freshman, in his first career start, threw for 235 yards and ran for 101, and turned the game around with a 46-yard scamper through the middle of the WVU defense on a read-option play in the fourth quarter, score tied at 24.
Jackson didn’t turn the ball over, consistently found senior wideout Cam Phillips (7 catches, 135 yards), and fell short in one respect: third downs.
Tech was just 3-of-15 on third downs, astounding for a team that ran the ball as well as the Hokies did (234 yards, 5.2 yards per rush).
Next, Slye. Seems like Slye has been kicking for Tech for a hundred years. The usually reliable senior missed two crucial field-goal attempts, one from 38 yards midway through the third quarter, then a 32-yarder with 1:40 left in the game, with the Hokies up a touchdown, and a chance to salt the game with a successful boot.
Either goes through, and the last-minute WVU drive that ended in the red zone is meaningless.
Finally, the defense. This one is supposed to be among the best in the country, and it may get in that direction, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.
West Virginia put up 592 yards on Bud Foster’s guys, allowing Will Grier, in his first start for the Mountaineers, to throw for 371, Justin Crawford to run for 106, and Gary Jennings to catch 13 balls for 189 yards.
The D did force a turnover, a first-half interception of Grier, and got a critical stop around midfield midway through the fourth, forcing a WVU punt in advance of the game-breaking run by Jackson that broke the 24-24 tie.
The Tech defense did have success on third downs, holding West Virginia to 5-for-19 on third-down plays.
Column by Chris Graham