Virginia Tech moved to 3-0 this season with Braxton Burmeister in the starting role, as the redshirt junior completed 15/22 of his passes while throwing 212 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions against Virginia. Despite being injured in his previous appearance against Clemson, Burmeister was the better option on Saturday as the offense established the run early and protected the football with Burmeister at the helm.
On Virginia Tech’s second possession of the game trailing 7-3, Burmeister led a 17 play, 75 yard touchdown drive while completing three crucial third downs. Virginia Tech outscored the Cavaliers 23-8 after regaining the lead on that long touchdown drive.
Burmeister also showed his ability to throw on the run and make plays with his feet, adding 37 yards on the ground.
“The plays that stick out to me were early in the game,” Fuente said after the win on Saturday . “On third down, when the play kind of broke down and he got on the move and found a way to keep those drives alive. We were finding our footing in the game.”
Running backs: A+
Running back Khalil Herbert proved again that he is one of the most dominant runners in the country. Herbert looked dynamic right away against Virginia, ripping off a 39-yard rush on the first drive of the game. Herbert added a 75 yard touchdown run before the first half ended, and finished the game with 166 yards on 20 carries.
Herbert is now fourth in the NCAA with 1,182 rushing yards, while also maintaining the second highest yards per carry with 7.7. After receiving an invite to the Senior Bowl last week, it is certain that NFL teams have an eye on the Virginia Tech star running back if he decides to declare for the NFL draft.
Wide receivers: B
The Hokies top receivers played a crucial role in the offense’s 27-point first half outburst, with Tré Turner running in a jet sweep from six yards out early in the second quarter, and Tayvion Robinson taking advantage of a Virginia busted coverage with a 60-yard touchdown with 30 seconds left in the first half.
Robinson was the leading receiver with 98 yards on five catches, while tight end James Mitchell added another 67 yards on three catches. It was important for the Virginia Tech receivers to play well with uncertainty at the quarterback position. You also have to give credit to Virginia Tech’s play calling that led to wide open receivers for Burmeister to find throughout the game.
Offensive Line: A-
The offensive line proved again to be a strength of this Virginia Tech offense, opening up gaping holes in the defense for Herbert and company to run through. Virginia was unable to record a single sack on Burmeister, and the Hokies ran for 267 total yards on the night. Now that star left tackle Christian Darrisaw is back and 100% healthy, this offensive line showed how they are one of the best in the ACC.
Defensive line: B
The defensive line stepped up after showing no presence of a pass-rush on a 14 play touchdown drive to Virginia on its opening possession. Amare Barno and Jarrod Hewitt both recorded sacks, while Barno led the team with six total tackles. The Hokies were able to sack Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong four times while also forcing the lefty into two interceptions.
Linebackers Rayshard Ashby and Dax Hollifield played a huge role in containing Armstrong, as the dual threat quarterback rushed for 50 yards in the contest. Ashby and Hollifield combined for 10 total tackles and limited Armstrong from making any game-changing plays with his feet.
Defensive backs: A
As depleted and as scrutinized as the secondary has been all year, it stepped up big against the Cavaliers. After the opening scoring drive from Virginia where Virginia Tech defensive backs played soft coverage allowing for easy third down conversions, the defensive backs locked in, not allowing another Virginia point until there were seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Defensive back Dorian Strong and safety Divine Deablo were each able to come away with interceptions on Armstrong, while cornerback Armani Chatman was able to get a sack on the stat sheet as well.
There were two instances early in the game where the Virginia Tech defense needed to respond to some adversity. The first being after the opening touchdown drive, and the second being after a Mitchell muffed punt gave Virginia the ball in Hokie territory.
“I do think that our kids have made a conscious effort to respond, but we haven’t always executed or pulled it off,” Fuente said. “Today, we did on those two occasions. I thought it was great how they took the field. I felt like we played fast on the defensive side of the ball.