Takeaways from the Hokies' shutout of Delaware

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By Jimmy Robertson

BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech didn’t play its best Saturday afternoon against Delaware, but the Hokies resorted to a formula that they’ve often used over the years – using terrific defense, getting a big play on special teams and cobbling together just enough on offense.

The end result was a 27-0 win, one that propelled Tech up two spots to No. 16 in The Associated Press poll. It wasn’t a thing of beauty necessarily. It left fans feeling a bit underwhelmed. Yet for head coach Justin Fuente, his group went 1-0 this week, and in the end, that is what matters.

“Obviously, we have a lot of things we need to work on, but I’m proud of them and the way that they played,” he said.

So what can Hokie Nation take away from Saturday’s victory? Well, here are several things:

Short week showed – Fans, media members and others get caught up in the moment while watching a game, but keep in mind that Delaware played the previous Thursday night, so the Blue Hens had three extra days of preparation. The Hokies played a tough, physical game Sunday night against West Virginia, and then they bused all through the night get home, arriving in Blacksburg at 5:30 a.m. They only had four days to prepare. It showed Saturday, as the Hokies looked off, at least on offense, from the opening kick.

A return to form – A week after giving up nearly 600 yards to West Virginia, Tech’s defense played much more soundly Saturday. The Hokies allowed just 223 yards, and Delaware only got into Tech territory three times. More importantly, though, the longest play allowed by the Hokies was just 24 yards. Tech also got some pressure on the quarterback (four sacks) and forced a couple of turnovers. In all, this was a solid effort.

“I thought we were a little more fundamentally sound today,” defensive coordinator Bud Foster said after the game. “We got better as the game went along.”

Edmunds was terrific – Speaking of defense, Tremaine Edmunds played arguably the best game of his career, and he continues to make a name for himself. He finished with 14 tackles, including four for a loss. He also had 1.5 sacks and forced a fumble. One noticed him Saturday. He was the best player on the field.

Hanging in – On a day when it achieved little in the way of momentum, Tech’s offense at least deserves credit for hanging in there and making a couple of big plays. The Hokies took advantage of a short missed field goal by Delaware and marched 80 yards in six plays, scoring on Josh Jackson’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Travon McMillian. Jackson also made a nice throw to C.J. Carroll on third-and-8 that led to his fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Cam Phillips.

Tech’s offense may have finished with only 303 yards. But the Hokies allowed just one sack, committed just one turnover and made a couple of plays. There were positives in this one.

Dominant special teams – The Hokies have played nearly perfect on special teams through two games. Of course, against Delaware, they got the punt return for a score from Greg Stroman, but they also received six touchbacks and a couple of field goals from Joey Slye, including a career-long 50-yarder. Oscar Bradburn averaged more than 45 yards per punt for the second straight week. And Delaware only had one return the entire game.

Tech’s margin for error is slim, and teams with small margins of error can use special teams as a way to gain advantage. The Hokies are doing just that.

“Special teams are always going to be a big part of what we do, especially with the long history of it at Virginia Tech,” Fuente said. “We spend a lot of time on it. I think that’s why we perform at a high level on it, and it’s not always the big plays and touchdowns. It’s consistently winning the field position battle, too.”

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