The Virginia Tech defense was locked in Thursday night in Atlanta, leading the way to a 17-10 victory against Georgia Tech. Logan Thomas completed 19-of-25 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown and he ran for one more to give the offense enough points for a win in a tough, defensive match-up. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech combined for 549 yards of offense with a fairly even split.
Sitting on their own 33-yard line, down seven with more than half a quarter to play, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson decided to take a chance and failed miserably. Virginia Tech defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins stuffed Georgia Tech running back David Sims two yards shy of the first down, forcing a turnover on downs and setting up the Hokies for a potentially lethal strike. Amazingly, Virginia Tech failed to take advantage when kicker Cody Journell‘s field goal attempt from sailed wide left from 25 yards out. Georgia Tech survived, with the score holding at 17-10.
Still with plenty of time, Georgia Tech attempted to pass their way to a first down but three straight incomplete passes from Vad Lee forced Georgia Tech to punt it away. The defense forced the Hokies to punt but Virginia Tech pinned the home team back on their five-yard line with about three and a half minutes to play.
This game was expected to be a low-scoring game lacking offensive highlights, and it delivered. This game was all about the defenses, and specifically the defense of Virginia Tech. This is the same defense who held Alabama to the second lowest offensive total since Nick Saban took over as head coach, and this defense has continued to dominate the opposition and give the offense a chance to win. Virginia Tech has now held East Carolina to ten points on the road, Marshall’s Rakeem Cato to just 228 passing yards and now has a hard-fought road win at Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech’s success this season will be determined by the play of the defense, because the offense still lacks any sense of a killer instinct.
Virginia Tech now gets three straight home games in ACC Coastal play with North Carolina, Pitt and Duke coming up. This looks like a terrific opportunity to get a firm grip of the division before a game with Miami late in the year. If they play defense the way they did Thursday night, that looks like a favorable.
We cannot rule out Georgia Tech from the conversation just yet, but they must be able to play a much cleaner game moving forward with a more challenging schedule than Virginia Tech. Georgia Tech’s next two games will be played at Miami and at BYU. The Yellow Jackets also have a road game at Clemson and a home game against Georgia before the end of the regular season. These are games Georgia Tech must avoid another nine-penalty performance.
In a stark change from most offseason news in the sport, Purdue has something positive personnel-wise to hang its hat on moving forward.
By way of the Indianapolis Star, head coach Jeff Brohm revealed Friday that David Blough is “way ahead of schedule” and has been cleared to participate in spring practice, which kicks off this coming Monday, for the Boilermakers. Just how much of a participant the quarterback will be remains to be seen, though.
“He’s doing a great job and he will be out there at spring practice and will be participating,” Brohm said according to the Star. ‘Whether it will be fully that remains to be seen. He will be out there Day 1 and doing some portions of practice.
“We’ve got to make sure we protect him, especially in 11-on-11 settings. We’ll see how the first week goes if we can progress on that.”
Blough suffered a dislocated ankle in a November win over Illinois and missed the remainder of the 2017 season. At the time of the injury, it was thought that it and the subsequent recovery process would keep the junior out of spring practice.
Blough had started the two games leading up to his season-ending injury, with Brohm confirming that the rising senior will be the starter as this offseason kicks off in earnest. Elijah Sindelar, who reclaimed the starting job after Blough’s injury, will miss spring practice as he continues to recover from a torn ACL on which he played for the last month of the regular season plus the Boilermakers’ bowl game.
There was some movement on the coaching staff front for Lovie Smith Friday.
Illinois announced earlier today that Gill Byrd has been hired by Smith as the Fighting Illini’s safeties coach. Byrd will also hold the title of passing-game coordinator.
“I’m very pleased to have Gill Byrd join the Illini coaching staff,” said Smith in a statement. “We’ve spent several seasons together in the NFL and I envision Gill bringing a great combination of knowledge and enthusiasm to our program. He will be a terrific influence on the young men he coaches, and, as good a coach as he is, he is probably an even better person.”
Byrd, who played his college football at San Jose State, has spent the past 19 seasons at the NFL level, coaching defensive backs during stops with the St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, most recently, with the Buffalo Bills last season. This will mark Byrd’s first-ever job at any level of college football.
In addition to the hiring of Byrd, the football program also confirmed that Hardy Nickerson has been given the additional title of assistant head coach. Nickerson has served as the Illini’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for each of the past two seasons.
Everything’s bigger in Texas — including the raises.
The Austin American-Statesman reports that the University of Texas System Board of Regents are set to approve several athletics-related contracts next week, headlined by athletic director Chris Del Conte’s multi-million dollar six-year deal and a hefty raise for Longhorns defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.
Orlando, who joined Tom Herman when he came over from Houston prior to last season, was already one of 15 assistants who were making over $1 million in 2017. He was courted by several programs this offseason however and the cost to retain him on the 40 Acres didn’t come cheap as his amended contract is set to pay him a reported $1.7 million as part of a new four-year deal.
Also on tap for the board? The Statesman notes that new offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand has a three-year contract awaiting approval worth nearly $640,000 annually.
While all those new contracts do add up for the Longhorns, it’s not like the burnt orange can’t afford it all as one of a handful of programs who topped $200 million in revenue last year.
CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd recently stopped in College Station to do a deep dive on one of college football’s biggest storylines: Jimbo Fisher’s $75 million move from Florida State to Texas A&M.
While the money — some $90 million for the Aggies when all is said and done — is one of the more eye-catching parts of the story that are broken down, the comments from some at the school probably won’t go unnoticed by those in Fisher’s former conference.
“I’m not going to put words in Jimbo’s mouth, but there are resource issues in the ACC versus the SEC,” Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward told CBS Sports, answering part of the question as to why the national title-winning head coach made the move from one of the sport’s blue-bloods to one of the oft-labeled “sleeping giants.”
We’re guessing those in ACC territory will not take kindly to those comments and note that some schools in the league have no problem raising cash, such as Clemson when it comes to their new football facility that has everything from mini-golf to sleep specialists. They also would probably point out that the conference has just as many national titles in the past five years as the SEC does too.
Still, when you look at the larger picture, there’s little question that the SEC is ahead of the ACC when it comes to revenues as a whole and the slow pace of facilities upgrades in Tallahassee was one of the many public grumbles that Fisher made known about before leaving FSU.
Something says all those ACC-SEC football games in 2018 will see Woodward’s comments brought up again — especially when Clemson heads to College Station to play Texas A&M in Week 2.