TyJuan Garbutt said it best as he walked away from the podium.
“I can’t stop smiling, man.”
Virginia Tech’s 48-17 drubbing of Duke was a cathartic experience for everyone involved. It was an excision of frustration and disappointment that has plagued the Hokies for weeks, if not years.
Duke was outmatched from the start and even if starting quarterback Gunnar Holmberg was healthy, it wouldn’t have made a difference. The Blue Devils just weren’t on par with Virginia Tech, a phrase not often used to describe the Hokies’ opponents this season.
On a Senior Day with more than 20 players playing in likely their final game at Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech did what they used to do to lowly opponents. The Hokies’ defense dominated the line of scrimmage and stifled Duke’s few offensive weapons. The offense took advantage of a great matchup, scoring 48 points and racking up 573 yards, both season highs.
Raheem Blackshear exploded for 157 total yards and two touchdowns. Keshawn King emerged from the bottom of the depth chart to add 137 total yards and two scores. Braxton Burmeister battled through injury once again and threw three touchdown passes.
Tech’s performance was a needed one — a deserved reward for the players that have battled through this trying season.
“To put forth some of the effort that they’ve been able to, through everything that’s gone on is, I think, remarkable,” Justin Fuente said. “I think quite honestly we could all learn lessons from them.”
Saturday’s game wasn’t perfect — Tech committed 12 penalties and left plenty of chunk plays on the field, but it was an experience that many Hokies inside and outside the program haven’t experienced in a long time — a blowout win.
Virginia Tech’s season isn’t over and when it finally is in a few weeks, I don’t know what the future holds for the program. But I do know that Saturday’s win was wholly necessary for a fanbase tired of mediocrity and a group of men tired of disappointment. It was fitting that Tech’s first blowout win in ages came against Duke, who gave it to the Hokies in a 45-10 shellacking in 2019.
For those who have been at the center of the frustration — the players, the coaches and the support staff — Saturday’s win was a feel-good moment in a season full of heartbreak and disaster. Even Jon Laaser, the Voice of the Hokies, needed this.
“That felt good…” Laaser tweeted after the game.
I’m glad that this group got to experience this. Nobody knows what this program is going to look like in a month’s time. Many of these players won’t be a part of the program and some of the coaches might not either.
But I’m glad that they can’t stop smiling.
After everything that’s transpired this season, they deserve it.