When you think of unexplainable mysteries, you usually think of things like what happened to Jimmy Hoffa, or if the Ark Of The Covenant is really stashed away in some government warehouse, never to be seen again.
But after Virginia Tech’s crushing win over Boston College today, I’ll now add another: How could a Virginia Tech football team that looked so hopelessly awful last week against Louisville, turn it around and look so good in an impressive 48-22 rout of Boston College?
I mean, if Virginia Tech was a horse and was at Churchill Downs last week, someone would have seriously considered putting it down, it was so lifeless for three hours last Saturday. It was such a stark contrast to the team that showed steady improvement in wins over Pitt, Wake Forest and Syracuse over the previous four weeks, it was a legitimate question to ask which was the real team and which was the exception.
Against BC, the Hokies answered quickly and forcefully. The worries of Chestnut Hill being like a cursed ancient burial grounds where Hokie hopes historically go to die faded almost immediately when Dorian Strong intercepted a pass by BC QB Thomas Castellanos on the game’s first play. That led to 3 points for the Hokie offense, and while Boston College answered with a touchdown for its only lead of the game, Virginia Tech then thoroughly made the argument the Louisville game was the exception by taking a 31-7 halftime lead and never looking back.
Call it what you will – a shellacking, a spanking, getting stepped on like a bug crawling across the kitchen floor when the lights got turned on – but this was one team imposing its will on an opponent like Virginia Tech football of old. The repercussions of this success may end up being felt far beyond just a win in New England, too.
By winning, the Hokies are now 5-5 and one game away from bowl eligibility, but they showed more than just the ability to be a .500 team. Bowl games want teams that travel and are fun to watch; the Hokies have always traveled well, but today they showed an entertaining offense capable of producing the kinds of plays they end up on highlight shows. Virginia Tech racked up 600 yards of total offense with a balance (363 on the ground, 237 in the air) that is enjoyable to watch, because you really don’t know what they will do next.
The Hokies also showed they legitimately have stars at the key skill positions, as the clamor of “this team has no talent so everyone needs to be patient for a few years” is going the route of that bug in the kitchen. I think in games past, Kyron Drones has played like a quarterback looking over his shoulder at times, pressing to make big plays every time he got under center. Louisville anticipated this last week and frustrated him to the point of the offense looking unprepared for what was being thrown at them, a big reason the Cardinals held the Hokies to only 3 points.
Not Saturday. Drones seemed much more comfortable and has accepted that this is indeed his team. He was fine assuming a Jerod Evans-like QB role as a battering ram to gain yards on the ground, but he also never stopped looking downfield in his reads, and when the defense would creep up, he’d calmly throw passes accurately and firmly to the open receiver.
On one play, Drones drilled a laser to Dae ‘Quan Wright where there was less space to throw than Luke Skywalker had when he took the shot that blew up the death star, and he still put the ball exactly where it needed to be on a play that gained 25 yards. On another it was a pinpoint pass to Da’Quan Felton, who is quickly becoming the steal of the season from the transfer portal. On another it was a big gainer to Jaylin Lane. When the defense backed up a little, Drones took it himself for a 59-yard gain.
This variety opened up the running game, as Bhayshul Tuten (another transfer portal steal) scored three touchdowns. When he needed a rest, Malachi Thomas took off on a 35-yard run with a completely different change of pace, reminding me of the old Fire and Ice backfield in the NFL decades ago: Two running backs with power and speed, finding different ways to get into the end zone, but both figuring out a way to do just that.
But this was not just a rootin’ Tuten offense. Tuten, Stephen Gosnell, Lane and Thomas all found the end zone. John Love earned his nickname of “Radar” Love with two field goals, and while it’s odd to say when you’ve scored 48 points, it could have been worse, as several other players came close to getting into the end zone. This team has grown some depth in its weapons locker.
Much like many of us, Coach Brent Pry did not want to hear any more about not winning games on the road, as there was a brief sideline interview with him where he seemed annoyed by the question. It said to me there must have been a come to Jesus meeting during the week in Blacksburg and there would be no more starting off slow and easy and seeing how the day went anymore for Virginia Tech teams. Saturday, the Hokies started fast, kept their foot on the gas, and did not let up the entire game as if they had something to prove.
A week ago, there was a pronounced attitude on social media among Hokie Nation of “we’re not that good and we’re back to square one” after the Louisville loss. Today was so different, I’m not sure I can explain if it’s possible for a team to look so good against Syracuse, so bad against Louisville, then so good again against Boston College. And the Eagles are no slouch either; they entered the game with a 6-3 record and a 5-game winning streak.
Today’s game now sets up something I didn’t think possible, as a 6-win season to me was the absolute pinnacle of possibilities in 2023. But now it is very possible for the team to win its last two games, as the tougher of the two games is at home and in that game, the quarterback who led N.C. State to its biggest wins this season has now decided to redshirt. The easier of the two is on the road in Charlottesville, where Virginia Tech has beaten Virginia in 17 of the last 18 games the two teams have played.
Think about that: After losing three straight and getting off to a 1-3 start, the Hokies could finish 7-5, and maybe get a bowl bid from something better than a GMAC/Novage type bowl, played on a snowy Wednesday night, all in a town no one wants to go to. They could do this in Pry’s second year of coaching the Hokies with players they got in the transfer portal to turn the program around quicker than anyone expected. They could prove they hired the right people, who knew how to evaluate and recruit the right players, and then coach them up to have a winning season.
I can tell you after that loss to Marshall to make them 1-3, nobody thought that.
That it could happen is surprising. That it will probably happen with the same team that looked like Elvis had left the building early in Louisville is shocking. How Pry, the staff and the team did it is so big a mystery, I’m not sure in a thousand years I’d ever be able to explain it.
But they did. Which is why it’s a mystery I now place right up there with Jimmy Hoffa. 😊