Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
Virginia Tech and North Carolina played one of the most entertaining games of the season this past Saturday with the Hokies winning a six-overtime thriller 43-41. The Hokies' offense had a roller coaster of a game, but a strong performance overall. With that said, here's 3 offensive takeaways from the Hokies' victory over North Carolina.
(You can check out my defensive takeaways here.)
1. Quincy Patterson Should Be The Backup QB
This probably seems obvious, but there is no reason for Quincy Patterson not to be the backup QB behind Hendon Hooker after Patterson's performance. Yes, the playbook seemed very limited, but Patterson's offense was significantly more effective than Ryan Willis', did well at protecting the football, and showed passing prowess.
Now while some may suggest that Willis could be a better choice going on the road to Notre Dame should Hooker be out, Patterson has enough experience to be ready. Patterson has gotten to be immersed in plenty of road environments as he traveled last year while redshirting, while he also played on the road last year at North Carolina and Pittsburgh
Additionally, while Patterson will now have some tape that will allow teams to start to prepare for him, Patterson provides a dual-threat presence that won't give teams an easy solution in the short-term. Opponents had figured how Willis had liabilities as a runner and started to force him into mistakes that he either hasn't learned from or has simply gotten himself stuck in a mental rut that can be hard to escape.
Now some may wonder if Virginia Tech will stick with Patterson as the backup, but the fact that VT even went to Patterson as quickly as they did in the second half shows that VT's coaches are more willing than before to make a QB change when they feel it may be needed.
2. Deshawn McClease Has Found His Rhythm
After a slow start to the season where Keshawn King looked poised to take over the Hokies' backfield, Deshawn McClease has found his rhythm over the past few weeks and emerged as VT's top running back for the time being.
For the fourth-straight game, McClease averaged over 4 yards per carry when receiving double-digit carries while he also had a rushing touchdown for the third-straight game. Overall, McClease didn't have the flashiest numbers, but he was productive with 13 carries 72 yards and a touchdown with a 5.5 yards per carry average.
There's no doubt that part of the reason for the improved play of McClease, and the Virginia Tech running game as a whole, has been due to an improving offensive line. However, McClease deserves plenty of credit as well for his improved play.
Many of McClease's carries may still be coming between the tackles, but he has done well at finding or creating space to turn a short play into a big gain. That has allowed his speed to be on display and made him a greater big play threat that has forced teams more into man coverage without safety help, making it harder to stop a Tech team with All-ACC caliber playmakers like Tre Turner and Damon Hazelton on the outside.
Virginia Tech's running game has improved significantly and while part of that is due to improved offensive line and a mobile starting QB, McClease also deserves credit for the running game's improvement.
3. Luke Tenuta Makes Starting Push
When Silas Dzansi struggled against Furman, Luke Tenuta made his first case as to why he should receive consideration to replace Dzansi as the starting right tackle. While Dzansi has played better since then, Tenuta continues to look like the better right tackle and is starting to get the type of snap load that you would expect given that.
Tenuta also had his best performance against North Carolina with Tenuta earning ACC Team of the Week honors from Pro Football Focus.
What may be most impressive is the fact that Tenuta didn't give up a single pressure on 59 plays according to Pro Football Focus. Combine that with Tenuta, a redshirt freshman, not having a single penalty through seven and it's impressive to see the development of Tenuta.
At this point, Tenuta has made a very strong case to take over the starting job from Dzansi. Of course, that may not happen just yet as Dzansi's experience may help him keep his role for a little longer but if there's a time to make a swap, this bye week could be the perfect timing to do so.
Right tackle has emerged as a place of competition for the Hokies not because of poor play, but because of the significant development of Luke Tenuta.