Takeaways from the Hokies' victory over Old Dominion

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By Jimmy Robertson

BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech did absolutely what it needed to do Saturday afternoon against Old Dominion, winning convincing 38-0 in advance of next Saturday’s monumental tussle with defending national champion and No. 2-ranked Clemson.

Tech’s offense sputtered a little in the first quarter, but got things dialed up in the second quarter and scored five times in a six-drive stretch spanning the first and second halves. Overall, the Hokies played extremely well. They committed just one turnover, allowed just one sack and had just two penalties – both coming midway through the fourth quarter with the backups in the game. It was the nice, relatively clean performance that coaches love in advance of a game the magnitude of Clemson.

Tech moved to No. 12 in the national polls as a result of its win – the program’s highest ranking since it was at No. 5 in 2011. The Hokies are playing well, and the West Virginia win – the Mountaineers moved to 3-1 with a win over Kansas – is looking better and better.

Everything went well for the Hokies on Saturday. Here are a few takeaways:

• Tech dominated the line of scrimmage – Often, the difference between the Power 5 and FCS levels is the size and talent along the lines, and that stood out Saturday, as the Hokies dominated on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. ODU came into the game tied for the national lead in sacks, but managed just one against the Hokies. Tech’s offense finished with 23 plays of 10 yards or more and rushed for 271 yards. Tech’s defense held ODU to just 64 yards rushing and harassed freshman quarterback Steven Williams all day. The Hokies were just too big and too powerful in the trenches for the Monarchs.

• Dominating defense – Tech’s 2017 defense recorded its second shutout of the season, and while it may not quite be to the level of the 2005 defense or the 2006 defense just yet – both finished No. 1 nationally in total defense – it’s getting closer. ODU had just one play of 20 yards or more. Tech’s defense came to play from the opening kickoff and probably played much better than it did in the shutout of Delaware two weeks ago.

• Feeding Peep – Steven Peoples (aka “Peep”) had the game of his life, scoring three touchdowns. Peoples lacks the juking ability and pure speed of some of Tech’s other tailbacks, but he gains yards. The thing that came as a surprise in the ODU game was his three receptions for 73 yards – and two touchdowns. Tech’s staff rarely uses him in the passing game (and yes, one of his catches was a bit of a fluke), but Peoples caught more passes against ODU than he had in his 30-game career combined. That versatility forces defenses to focus on yet one more thing in the Tech offense toolbox.

• Jackson easy to like – Josh Jackson probably didn’t play his best – he threw his first interception of the season – but he wound up with 275 yards passing and three touchdowns. Many people expected him to be more of a caretaker at the position as a redshirt freshman, at least early on, but he is evolving into a playmaker. His 11 touchdown passes lead the ACC. How many people before the season would have guessed that after four games?

Crazy stats – Tech’s defense only allowed ODU to run two – two! – plays in Tech territory. In contrast, the Hokies ran a whopping 57 plays in ODU territory, including 22 in the red zone. Tech converted on five of six in the red zone, with four of those drives ending in touchdowns.

On to Clemson for the Hokies, who haven’t beaten a top-five team since knocking off then-No. 2 Miami 31-7 in 2003. Let hype week begin!

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