Stephen Morris made his third straight start and looked real solid the first 45 minutes. He let the running game set the tone and made some fantastic throws but unfortunately his receivers didn’t do their part. Morris was 15-for-33 with 202 yards passing. He threw a touchdown but three interceptions all occurring in the fourth quarter. The first interception was caused by poor communication between he and Travis Benjamin. The other two Morris just made bad decisions. Jacory Harris was healthy and would have been called upon in an emergency situation.
Running Backs: B+
Lamar Miller deserves an A+ for his 163 yards on the ground. Miller averaged 10.9 yards per carry. He has such good vision and patience in the back field. Graig Cooper showed his big time burst ability but always runs into traffic after he clears the battle of the trenches. What brings this grade down is the Damien Berry fumble. 4th and 1 inside the red zone and Mark Whipple decides to go for it. Berry fumbled the football and killed the momentum.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: C-
Benjamin and Aldarius Johnson each dropped easy touchdown snags which would have provided huge separation. Benjamin also missed a route. Leonard Hankerson caught six balls for 79 yards. He hauled in his record breaking 12th touchdown reception this year, which broke hall of fmaer Michael Irvin’s record he set in 1987. Asante Cleveland looked solid and healthy after missing two games with a concussion.
Offensive Line: D+
Poor snap by Tyler Horn caused a fumble. Orlando Franklin, the veteran and senior leader, had two holding penalties that negated big plays. Morris was flushed out of the pocket multiple times. Miller’s efficient running attack was more a product of him than the O-line.
Defensive Line: C-
Too many missed opportunities with this crew. Sure Adewale Ojomo recovered a fumble after Marcus Robinson forced the strip and the UM forced five sacks. But there were so many missed tackles. 84 yard touchdown run comes to mind and Tyrod Taylor’s 18 yard scramble sticks out. This unit represents this team. Too much talent, too inconsistent, not enough playmakers.
Colin McCarthy led the way with 14 tackles. Sean Spence had 2.5 tackles for a loss and he continues to make his presence felt. But the secondary committed two 15 yard penalties that prolonged drives for the Hokies. There were busted assignments and poor execution.
Special Teams: D
Benjamin muffed a punt. Cooper appeared to be afraid of the football one time when he tried to scoop it up. Matt Bosher missed a 47 yard field goal. The only reason why this unit didn’t fail is because VT didn’t block any punts.
The timeouts were used effectively. Can’t blame Randy Shannon too much on this one. He went for it on fourth down three times that showed confidence in his players. He called for a flea-flicker that worked to perfection. He let the running game establish itself. There was energy on the sideline but the same old story with Shannon when it comes to elite opponents. Shannon is 0-3 this year against ranked teams and 4-9 in his four year tenure.
Justin Antweil may be contacted at email@example.com.