Virginia Tech at Miami

Virginia Tech Hokies Hendon Hooker (2) jumps to escape Miami defenders as he lead the Hokies down the field to score on the opening drive of the game at Hard Rock Stadium, Oct. 5, 2019.

Redshirt sophomore Hendon Hooker made his first career start Saturday against the Miami Hurricanes. Coming into an important game against an ACC opponent having only thrown two passes thus far in his career must have put some pressure on the new quarterback.

Nevertheless, Hooker came out strong. His first drive consisted of mostly checkdowns and a few runs, but by the end of the drive, Hooker was running into the endzone for his first rushing touchdown of his career.

Hooker finished with a stat line of 184 yards and three touchdowns with a 50% completion rate through the air. While his accuracy wasn’t great, he had a decent stat line for his first collegiate start.

He had some beautiful throws right over his receivers’ shoulders highlighted by an amazing pass to Damon Hazelton in the final drive to give Virginia Tech the lead and win the game. However, there were some passes he threw where players were wide open, and he wasn’t quite able to make the pass. Overall, his field vision is there, and he has the potential to become a good pocket passer with time.

While there is work to be done throwing, the young quarterback proved to be a dangerous runner, rushing 16 times for 76 yards and a touchdown. Hooker’s legs add an extra element to the Virginia Tech offense they’ve been missing here since Tyrod Taylor’s tenure at the position. Hooker is much faster and much more elusive than Ryan Willis and understands when to run.

Hooker stayed calm as he finished the game-winning drive for the Hokies, which is unusual for a young starting quarterback. That should excite the fans, as he made big throws to end the game and bring home Virginia Tech’s first conference win, putting the Hokies at 3–2 for the year.

Overall, there seems to be more belief in this new quarterback within the staff and roster. Even on the sideline, the players backed him up, and the atmosphere seemed different from earlier games with Willis taking the field. Fans were excited to see a new number in the pocket.

Hooker still has much to prove, but beating a team like Miami shows he’s ready to lead the Hokies. Much to the surprise of Hokie fans, their team was up 28–7 at the half, a welcome surprise for a team that has struggled to start games off strong on both sides of the ball. Hooker should be proud of his first win, and Hokie fans should look forward to seeing what Hooker accomplishes this season and what he can do for Hokie Nation in the future.

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