Virginia Tech-Pitt grades: Balanced attack carries Hokies to win

The highest-graded players and biggest takeaways from Virginia Tech's win over Pitt.

| 1 month ago
(Justin Berl/Getty Images)

(Justin Berl/Getty Images)

Virginia Tech-Pitt grades: Balanced attack carries Hokies to win


Virginia Tech Hokies 39, Pittsburgh Panthers 36

Here are the top-graded players and biggest storylines from Virginia Tech’s 39-36 victory over Pittsburgh:

Virginia Tech Hokies

Quarterback grade: Jerod Evans, 75.0

Evans succeeds by taking what he’s given

Evans had a very solid night, passing for over 400 yards and two touchdowns. The offensive line kept him clean, and he took advantage when Pittsburgh tried to blitz him. He was 15-of-21 for 228 yards and a touchdown when blitzed. What was most impressive this game was Evans’ deep-passing numbers. On throws more than 20 yards downfield he completed 9-of-12 for 263 yards. That’s a very impressive number, although somewhat inflated by the strong play of his receivers.

evans-under-pressure

Top offensive grades:

WR Isaiah Ford, 82.5
WR Bucky Hodges, 80.9
WR Cam Phillips, 75.4
QB Jerod Evans, 75.0
G Augie Conte, 66.3

Trio of receivers come up huge for Virginia Tech offense

As stated above, much of Evans’ huge passing numbers came from strong play from his receivers. A quarter of Evans passes were just straight one-on-one jump balls to his receivers. It seemed like every time Pittsburgh blitzed, Evans was just tossing it up. All three receivers ended up with at least six catches for over 100 yards. What’s most telling about the kind of routes they ran was that although the three of them combined for 397 yards, they combined for a mere 65 yards after the catch.

Top defensive grades:

LB Andrew Motuapuaka, 84.9
CB Greg Stroman, 80.9
ED Ken Ekanem, 74.1
DI Rickey Walker, 74.0
DI Tim Settle, 68.8

Stroman continues strong season as top corner for Virginia Tech

Greg Stroman has been strong in coverage all season long, and he did not disappoint in this game either. He was targeted five times and allowed only one catch for four yards. He also had two passes defended. For the season he’s now allowed just 10 catches on 28 targets for 130 yards. He’s allowed three touchdowns, but also has three interceptions and six pass defenses.

Pittsburgh Panthers

Quarterback grade: Nathan Peterman, 51.6

Peterman struggles to find any traction

It was a tough night all around for Peterman, who struggled to get anything going in the passing game. On passes more than 10 yards downfield Peterman completed just 7-of-15 for 203 yards and a touchdown and interception. But he had a couple of very bad passes that should have been picked off if the defender didn’t drop the interception. He also fumbled the ball twice when rushing the ball, which he did five times for 33 yards.

peterman-pass-chart

Top offensive grades:

HB James Conner, 84.0
T Adam Bisnowaty, 76.6
T Brian O’Neill, 76.1
TE Scott Orndoff, 75.2
WR Quandree Henderson, 73.4

James Conner keeps Pittsburgh in the game for as long as he can

Based on Peterman’s play, this game would’ve been over long before it was if not for the play of James Conner. He only carried the ball 19 times but did some serious damage, gaining 133 yards (7.0 yards per carry) and forcing four missed tackles. Conner now has 660 yards rushing and 197 yards receiving on the season, incredible numbers considering everything he’s overcome to get back on the football field this year.

Top defensive grades:

LB Oluwaseun Idowu, 90.4
ED Ejuan Price, 84.4
LB Matt Galambos, 84.3
LB Mike Caprara, 80.6
DI Shakir Soto, 80.2

Big games from big-time players keep Pittsburgh’s defense in the game

If Pittsburgh could have won a few more one-on-one battles with their corners, they likely would have won this game. But it’s not without effort from some of the Panthers’ defenders. Ejuan Price continued his monster season with another high grade, thanks to great run defense. He made four run stops and had multiple other disruptive plays. LB Oluwaseun Idowu was huge in the run game too, making five solo stops and adding a ton of disruptive plays as well.

| 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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