Belk Bowl grades: Hokies QB Jerod Evans impresses as rusher

Highest-graded players and top takeaways from Virginia Tech's comeback Belk Bowl win over Arkansas.

| 5 months ago
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Belk Bowl grades: Hokies QB Jerod Evans impresses as rusher

Virginia Tech Hokies 35, Arkansas Razorbacks 24

Here are the top-graded players and biggest storylines from Virginia Tech’s 35-24 Belk Bowl win over Arkansas.

Virginia Tech Hokies

Quarterback grade: Jerod Evans, 69.4

Evans struggles passing the ball, makes up for it with strong rushing attack

Depending on what Evans was doing, he almost looked like two different players on the field. He was a confident, strong runner, gaining 109 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns. He forced three missed tackles and picked up multiple key first downs for a rushing grade of 91.4. He struggled at times as a passer, though, forcing bad throws and missing receivers. He only targeted receivers beyond 10 yards eight times, and completed four of those attempts for 73 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.

Jerod Evans’ passing chart vs. Arkansas

Evans passing chart

Top offensive grades:

FB Sam Rogers, 80.7

WR Cam Phillips 79.6

G Wyatt Teller, 79.1

T Yosuah Nijman, 73.6

RB Travon McMillian, 73.0

Hokies make most of turnovers, but not real offensive standouts

While Virginia Tech scored 35 points, nobody really stood out for the Hokies’ offense aside from Evans when rushing. Cam Phillips was big at the receiver position, catching six of eight targets for 115 yards, 69 of them coming after the catch. The offensive line was very solid too, allowing just two sacks and four hurries in 43 pass dropbacks. Travon McMillian managed to force four missed tackles and score a touchdown, despite carrying the ball just nine times.

Top defensive grades:

S Terrell Edmunds, 89.3

CB Anthony Shegog, 86.3

CB Mook Reynolds, 84.9

S Chuck Clark, 83.8

ED Trevon Hill, 82.8

Strong secondary play helps Virginia Tech shut out Arkansas in second half

Despite being down 24-0, the Hokies’ pass defense wasn’t playing badly all game. The CB duo of Mook Reynolds and Anthony Shegog were unbelievable, combining to allow three catches on nine targets for 27 yards, an interception, and a pass break-up. They got great production off the edge from Trevon Hill, who finished the game with a sack and an addition five hurries, frequently forcing Austin Allen off of his game. And then there was the play of safety Terrell Edmunds; he made six solo run stops on the day in what was a very impressive bowl outing.

Arkansas Razorbacks

Quarterback grade: Austin Allen, 68.7

Allen struggles under pressure in huge collapse by Arkansas

While this was a tale of two halves for Arkansas, Allen wasn’t playing particularly great in the first half, either. The biggest issue for him was when Virginia Tech blitzed. When they sat back, Austin completed 12-of-17 attempts for 167 yards and two touchdowns to two interceptions (101.5 QB rating). When he was blitzed, however, Allen was a mere 6-of-15 for 111 yards and an interception (38.5 QB rating). While a dropped pass was the cause of maybe his biggest interception, the other two were just really bad throws by Allen.

Austin Allen against pressure in Belk Bowl

Austin Allen vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

WR Keon Hatcher, 83.9

C Frank Ragnow, 71.6

QB Austin Allen, 68.7

G Hjalte Froholdt, 68.1

WR Deon Stewart, 67.3

Lack of run game ultimately dooms Razorbacks’ offense

It was a real struggle for the Arkansas run game, which finished with just 73 yards on 28 carries. They forced just two missed tackles. It wasn’t the fault of just the running backs, however, as they averaged a mere 0.35 yards before contact per carry. Keon Hatcher was a true bright spot for the offense, catching six passes on 10 targets for 105 yards and a touchdown. Many of those catches were really tough plays, as well.

Top defensive grades:

CB Jared Collins, 83.9

CB Ryan Pulley, 81.7

DI Taiwan Johnson, 79.6

DI Jeremiah Ledbetter, 78.3

DI McTelvin Agim, 76.4

Defense strong at points, but breaks a few too many times off poor field position

It’s hard to ask your defense to continue to deliver when they continuously have their backs against their own goal line thanks to turnovers. There were some strong performances from Arkansas’ defense, however. Cornerback Jared Collins allowed six catches on 10 targets for just 48 yards and broke up two passes. Interior lineman Taiwan Johnson finished the game with a sack and four solo run stops in the middle. Ultimately, however, these strong individual performances were not enough to hold Virginia Tech’s offense off when it counted the most.

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. 

| Analyst

Bryson has been an analyst at Pro Football Focus since 2014, and has also been a contributor to 120 Sports.

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