Virginia Tech Hokies

Duke Blue Devils remain the class of the ACC Coastal by default

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With the results of two games early Saturday afternoon, the fate of three teams in Atlantic Coast Conference were greatly affected.

First and foremost, the No. 22 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets were arguably the least talked about team in college football despite an impressive 9-2 record.

Georgia Tech dominated the No. 19 Clemson Tigers Saturday. The Yellow Jackets’ offense amassed 353 total yards during the 28-6 victory.

The Yellow Jackets were aided by an injury to Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, who reportedly tore an ACL during the game, and backup signal-caller Cole Stoudt tossing a pair of interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Clemson’s loss officially handed the ACC Atlanta division to the No. 3 Florida State Seminoles — although, it was more of a formality than anything else.

As Georgia Tech dominated all phases of the game against Clemson, Paul Johnson‘s squad positioned itself well within the ACC. The Yellow Jackets finished their conference schedule with a 6-2 record and only the rival Georgia Bulldogs still on the docket this season.

Despite Georgia Tech’s impressive performance, the Duke Blue Devils still own the lead in the ACC Coastal division.

However, Duke only retains the lead in the ACC Coastal due to tie-breakers after losing to the Virginia Tech Hokies 17-16. The Blue Devils had a chance to move 5-1 in the conference, but junior kicker Ross Martin missed the potential game-winning field goal attempt with less than three minutes remaining in the contest.

With the loss, Duke is now 4-2 in conference play with games against the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons still on the schedule. David Cutcliffe‘s squad can’t trip up over the next two weeks or Georgia Tech will earn a trip to the ACC Championship Game.

The Miami Hurricanes at 3-2 in the conference are still alive as well and could technically win the ACC Coastal, but a meeting with the Seminoles Saturday night will make that a difficult proposition.

Overall, Georgia Tech became the biggest winner in the ACC Saturday, while Duke is hanging on for dear life atop the ACC Coastal standings.

Ground and pound: Hurricanes establish identity during 30-6 victory over Hokies

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The Miami Hurricanes made a statement Thursday against the Virginia Tech Hokies.

While the program may never return to the winning ways it once experienced while Al Golden is at the helm, the program finally gravitated toward an identity that’s long been forgotten. The vaunted Miami teams from the 1980’s and the early 2000’s used to physically dominate opponents. They did that Thursday night in Blacksburg.

Miami (5-2) captured a dominant 30-6 victory over Virginia Tech (4-4).

When Golden was the head coach of Temple from 2006-10, the Owls climbed their way out of football purgatory by running the football effectively week in and week out. The talent level at Miami supersedes anything Golden had at Temple, but the team’s approach against the Hokies was reminiscent of those Owls.

There was nothing fancy about what Miami did to Virginia Tech. The Hurricanes lined up and jammed the ball down the Hokies’ collective throat. Two running backs combined to run for an impressive 364 yards.

Junior running back Duke Johnson ran like a man possessed. Johnson set a career high with 249 rushing yards on 29 carries.

Sophomore Gus Edwards took over in the second half and managed 115 yards.

The Hurricanes were so dominant in the trenches, freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya was only asked to throw the ball 16 teams. He completed seven of those passes for 92 yards and a touchdown.

Plus, Miami played well on the defensive side of the football.

The Hurricanes shut out the Hokies through the first half of play, before Virginia Tech decided to ride freshman running back Marshawn Williams. Willams carried the ball 21 times for 100 yards. The young back also fumbled twice.

With the ACC Coastal division being wide open, the Hurricanes may have found its identity at the right time. At 2-2 in the division, Miami is now a half game behind the Duke Blue Devils going into this weekend’s games. But Miami holds the head-to-head edge.

If Miami plans to make a run in their division, its ball-control offense will be needed over the next two weeks against the North Carolina Tar Heels and No. 2 Florida State Seminoles.

Miami RB Duke Johnson explodes as Miami leads Virginia Tech 24-0 at halftime

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Welcome to the Duke Johnson show.

The Virginia Tech Hokies simply had no answer for Miami’s running back. Johnson accumulated 185 total yards through two quarters of play as the Hurricanes lead the Hokies 24-0 at halftime.

Miami came into Thursday night’s contest with the intention of establishing the run game, and Al Golden‘s squad did so in spectacular fashion.

As the Hurricanes dominated an undersized Virginia Tech defensive front, Johnson continued to churn out yardage. The junior running back accumulated 148 rushing yards on 19 carries.

The dagger at the end of the first half also came from the running back.

Already leading 17-0, Miami drove the ball to Virginia Tech’s 22-yard line with the clocking ticking within 15 seconds remaining before the horn for halftime blew. With the clock still running, the Hurricanes snapped the ball and freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya found Johnson open out of the backfield for his second touchdown in the half.

While the Hurricanes’ offense running all over the Hokies, Miami’s defense completely shut down the Hokies’ rushing attack. Virginia Tech ran the ball eight times for minus-13 yards.

Because of the Hokies’ inept running game, quarterback Michael Brewer suffered. When forced to throw, Brewer couldn’t step up and make a play. Virginia Tech’s signal-caller finished the half 7-of-12 passing for 49 yards.

The Hokies should expect the same approach from the Hurricanes in the second half. Golden may decide to lighten Johnson’s load (after he establishes a new career high), but Virginia Tech will then get a steady dose of sophomore Gus Edwards.

If Frank Beamer‘s squad has any chance of coming back in tonight’s game, Brewer must take his game to another level. That may be asking too much of the junior quarterback.

Pitt stakes claim as ACC contender with 21-16 victory over Virginia Tech

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The Pitt Panthers snapped a three-game losing streak Thursday with a 21-16 victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies. In doing so the Panthers are now in the thick of the ACC Coastal division race.

Despite a 4-3 start, Pitt is 2-1 in the division, which places the Panthers just behind the 2-0 Virginia Cavaliers. The Panthers are also tied with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Pitt’s success moving forward will be determined by the play of quarterback Chad Voytik.

The Panthers lay claim to a Top 10 defense. Their running game is among the best in college football with a massive offensive line and a workhorse running back in James Conner. And sophomore Tyler Boyd is one of the nation’s most dynamic wide receivers.

The inconsistency the team experienced earlier this season starts behind center.

Voytik was only 10-of-17 passing against the Hokies, but he added a completely different dynamic to Pitt’s offense when the coaching staff decided to place an added emphasis on the quarterback’s mobility. The sophomore signal-caller was the game’s leading rusher with 118 yards. Virginia Tech only managed 26 rushing yards as a team.

During the previous three games against the Iowa Hawkeyes, Akron Zips and Virginia Cavaliers, the quarterback had minus-three yards rushing. As the team moves forward, Voytik’s ability to run the ball should be a bigger staple in Pitt’s offense.

Pitt’s schedule also works out in the team’s favor with their two biggest games against Georgia Tech and the Duke Blue Devils will be played at Heinz Field over the next two weeks. Plus, Pitt doesn’t have to face cross-divisional foes Florida State or Clemson this season.

While Pitt has some control over its destiny, Virginia Tech isn’t as fortunate after a 1-2 start in the division with the Miami Hurricanes next on the docket.

The Hokies have been damaged on offense due to multiple injuries, but the play of quarterback Michael Brewer dropped off precipitously since the team’s Week 2 victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Hokies have a chance to redeem themselves in the coming weeks in conference play if the offense can get on track.

As ACC Coastal play continues this weekend, the Pitt Panthers emerged Thursday as one of the favorites to claim a divisional crown.

Pitt’s defense dominates as Panthers lead Virginia Tech 14-6 at halftime

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Two of the nation’s best defenses met Thursday night at Heinz Field. It’s shouldn’t be much of a surprise both the Pitt Panthers and Virginia Tech Hokies are struggling to move the ball through two quarters of play.

Ironically, two defensive breakdowns helped the Panthers score two touchdowns as Pitt holds a 14-6 lead at halftime.

The game’s initial touchdown came courtesy of a 53-yard touchdown reception by sophomore wide receiver Tyler Boyd. It was a simply fly route up the seam with a trailing cornerback. The mistake came from Virginia Tech safety Kyshoen Jarrett. The senior leader in the secondary took a terrible angle toward Boyd, which gave the wide receiver a free run to the end zone for the game’s first points.

Boyd was the biggest offensive threat for either squad. The wide receiver lead Pitt with 115 total yards. As a team, the Hokies only managed 61 total yards.

Jarrett was on the wrong end of Pitt’s second touchdown, too.

After a fumble, Pitt began its final drive of the first half on the Hokies’ 22-yard line. Three plays later, Pitt running back James Conner plowed through Virginia Tech’s defense for a 15-yard touchdown run. Jarrett met Conner in the hole, and he was in position to make the tackle. Conner simply shrugged off the safety on his way to pay dirt.

Virginia Tech, meanwhile, couldn’t do anything offense. Both of their field goal attempts came courtesy of good field position granted by special teams or the defense. Frank Beamer‘s squad finished the first half with only three first downs and six rushing yards. But it’s still a one-score game.

It’s up to Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Brewer to play better during the second half as long as Beamer doesn’t decide to make a change behind center to senior Mark Leal. Pitt simply needs to keep feeding their super sophomores, Connor and Boyd, and let their defense continue to dominate.