Few things have as big of an impact on society as a narrative.
For better or for worse, narratives matter.
The narrative around Brent Pry’s tenure at Virginia Tech got off to a rough start in his debut, but the Hokies’ dominating 27-10 win over Boston College allowed Pry to push the reset button on his first season in Blacksburg.
Virginia Tech did this by cleaning up its mistakes from the week prior, while also winning in a fashion that reminded fans of the program’s glory days. And while the win wasn’t perfect, it sure was rewarding.
“I think we took care of some things that were obviously a thorn in our side last week,” Pry said in his postgame press conference. “We protected the ball, we attacked the ball.”
Those thorns, namely penalties and turnovers, weren’t an issue Saturday night. Virginia Tech committed just five penalties and protected the ball for four quarters, of which most of the credit goes to Grant Wells. Tech’s quarterback didn’t dazzle in the box score — he completed 16-of-25 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown — but Wells took care of the ball and was sacked just once.
“I thought he bounced back really well,” Pry said of Wells. “He managed the game, he made good decisions and we have a quarterback that will do that. He made some nice throws… I think it’s a great game to build on.”
The offense’s ability to manage the game allowed another defensive showcase to take center stage. For the second straight week, Tech’s defense was the best unit on the field and Saturday marked an improvement for a group that played well in Week 1.
Boston College mustered just 155 yards of offense. The Eagles were just 2-of-15 on third down attempts and didn’t move the chains on their first seven possessions.
It was a group effort. Tech held up well in coverage, locking down Phil Jurkovec’s receivers early and often. Tech’s pass rushers got home, totaling five sacks. They tackled better than the week before. In all, Tech’s defense was masterful.
“Tackling is a lost art, and I credit Chris Marve and the defensive staff. They really put an emphasis on it,” Pry said. “They got the guys triggering with no hesitation. We were running through those guys and cutting them down.”
In many ways, Saturday’s win against Boston College was everything that the loss to Old Dominion wasn’t. Virginia Tech managed the game offensively, suffocated the opponent with a stiff defense and played sound special teams. That winning formula sounds familiar, no?
Virginia Tech heads into their match-up against FCS Wofford with an entirely different narrative surrounding the program than this time last week. The team is confident and the fanbase once again believes that Pry’s team can be better than advertised.
“Obviously you gain some confidence, but it doesn’t change what we emphasize in the details and the accountability. We’ve got to keep preaching that message,” Pry said. “We’ve got some good leaders on this team, some old heads that get it. They didn’t stiff arm it last week, they didn’t make excuses. They embraced it and that’s why we got better from it.”
The Hokies will need to get better consistently, as tough games lie ahead. And while no one should expect that progress to be linear, Virginia Tech does need to prove they can build on their performance regularly.
Saturday was a stellar start in that effort.