Hendon Hooker was more confident in his throwing and it paid off. He made big throws when the Hokies needed them and commanded the offense strongly, ending the game with three passing touchdowns and 261 yards. He also ran for multiple important first downs throughout the game, running for 43 yards.
Running Backs: B+
Deshawn McClease and Keshawn King ran all over Rhode Island, ending with 154 yards combined and a touchdown. They both fought hard and ran through tackles, showing not just their speed but their strength as well. King also had a 40-yard catch for the Hokies, showing his skill as a receiver. McClease had a much better rushing game, but King made up for it with his big catch.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: A
The receivers looked great, catching three touchdowns and 221 yards between the group. The Hokies are very happy to have Damon Hazelton back; he alone had 93 yards and two touchdowns off five receptions. The Virginia Tech tight ends are looking more and more important to the team as they show their speed and strength each week. Overall, the receivers were the best position on the team this week getting open, making big catches and continuously fighting for every yard.
Offensive Line: B
The offensive line played well, holding the Rhode Island defense to only two sacks and five tackles-for-loss the entire game. The unit kept the quarterback safe and gave him plenty of time to make big throws. They did their job well and looked much stronger than previous games this season.
Defensive Line: B+
The defensive line was a dominant unit for the Hokies on Saturday. The group did their job all day, filling running lanes and creating pressure. On the day, the Hokies only gave up 24 rushing yards to the Rams in what was an outstanding performance for a unit that is suddenly on the rise. Defensive end Emmanuel Belmar is quietly having a breakout season for Virginia Tech as he was in the quarterback’s face all game and recorded three total hurries.
The linebacking corps was solid as usual for the Hokies. Rayshard Ashby and Dax Hollifield continued to struggle in coverage, but redshirt freshman Alan Tisdale is becoming a star. The young linebacker has seen increased playing time the past two weeks and made plays all over the field Saturday. Tisdale recorded a sack, a tackle for loss and a pass deflection.
The Virginia Tech secondary had arguably its worst game of the season Saturday giving up 286 yards through the air. Outside of Jermaine Waller and Chamarri Conner, the corners and safeties were roasted all day by a talented Rhode Island receiving corps. Seniors Jovonn Quillen and Reggie Floyd were especially bad Saturday, giving up big play after big play. This unit will have to play better as the Hokies face off against one of the best young quarterbacks in the country in Sam Howell and the North Carolina offense this Saturday.