Virginia Tech-Miami grades: Hokies roll over Hurricanes
Virginia Tech Hokies 37, Miami Hurricanes 16
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from Virginia Tech’s 37-16 home win over Miami.
Quarterback grade: Brad Kaaya, 76.0
Kaaya struggles with pressure
Much of the game came down around Virginia Tech’s pressure on Miami’s signal-caller. Through the first seven weeks, Kaaya saw pressure on only 21.2 percent of his dropbacks, the 114th-lowest rate among 135 qualifying QBs. But that figure was at 34.8 percent on Thursday, and even more notable was that Kaaya took a sack on half of those plays, with multiple third-down drive-enders. When VT’s rush got to him, his passer rating dropped to 8.3 from 118.5, in part due to a second-quarter throw when he forced the ball into coverage downfield and was picked. Conversely, he looked fairly impressive when given a clean pocket, although a large chunk of his yardage came on Hokie coverage busts against Miami’s switch routes, but Kayaa still managed a few dimes throughout the game, including a pair during the two-minute drill at the end of the first half.
Top offensive grades:
WR Ahmmon Richards, 76.8
QB Brad Kaaya, 76.0
RG Danny Isidora, 71.5
RB Joseph Yearby, 70.7
WR Stacy Coley, 70.2
Miami’s O-line struggles to keep Kaaya protected
As evidenced by Kaaya’s pressure numbers, Miami’s offensive line had a rough game, RG Danny Isidora had the best grade of the group due to his work the run game, but he was below average in pass protection after yielding three pressures. Left guard Kc McDermott had a particularly tough time against tackles Ricky Walker and Woody Baron; he finished with a unit-high five pressures allowed, while in the run game he lost more than he won, including on the first offensive snap of the game.
Among the few bright spots on Miami’s offense were WR Ahmmon Richards and RB Joseph Yearby. Richards made a pair of plays downfield and broke a tackle on another reception, while Yearby forced three missed tackles and averaged 6.6 yards on nine carries.
Top defensive grades:
LB Zach McCloud, 77.0
CB Corn Elder, 75.9
DT RJ McIntosh, 74.8
S Jamal Carter, 74.4
LB Michael Pinckney, 68.5
Miami defense misses 17 tackles and struggles to stop Hokies
While a few players put forth respectable performances, including DT RJ McIntosh, who converted a team-high three pass rushes into pressure, most of Miami’s defense played poorly and much of Virginia Tech’s offensive success was due to taking advantage of those mistakes. As a unit the defense combined to miss 17 tackles, which, along with over pursuit, played a big role on the Hokies’ multiple long runs. Corner Adrian Colbert and Safety Rayshawn Jenkins were among the bigger culprits, with three missed tackles each, while the two also allowed eight receptions on a combined 10 targets.
Virginia Tech Hokies
Quarterback grade: Jerod Evans, 66.8
Evans runs well but struggles passing
Evans ran the ball well, as he’s done several times this season, but he was less impressive as a passer than we’ve seen in recent weeks, despite facing far less pressure than his counterpart. In particular he got away with two balls that could easily have been picked, which dropped his grade substantially, along with a handful of other misfires. For the game Evans completed only two passes that travelled outside the numbers, while he was much more comfortable working the short and intermediate middle of the field, where he completed 14-of-19 for 206 of his 259 passing yards. However, his receivers did much of the work on those plays given 55.5 percent of those 259 yards came after the catch, far more than Kaaya’s 29.2 mark.
Top offensive grades:
LG Wyatt Teller, 81.0
RT Jonathan McLaughlin, 79.0
FB Sam Rogers, 74.4
TE Chris Cunningham, 74.0
LT Yosuah Nijman, 73.9
Hokies’ O-line helps get offense going
The top two grades on Virginia Tech’s offense were both up front; left guard Wyatt Teller and right tackle Jonathan McLaughlin each had a clean sheet in 38 snaps in pass protection, and Teller also made several other positive plays as a blocker on runs and screen passes. Otherwise what stood out was the missed tackles forced by VT’s skill players, including a team-high five from RB Travon McMillian, which bested his quarterback’s total of four.
Top defensive grades:
LB Andrew Motuapuaka, 84.0
DT Ricky Walker, 83.6
LB Tremaine Edmunds, 79.7
S Chuck Clark, 79.7
DT Woody Baron, 73.5
Ricky Walker leads the way up front for Tech defense
From the opening snap, DT Ricky Walker was VT’s most disruptive defender up front; he collected five pressures (1 sack, 1 hit, 3 hurries) in 32 rushes, but did the bulk of his work in run defense, collecting a pair of stops and otherwise causing trouble for Miami’s guard Kc McDermott and center Nick Linder. DT Woody Baron and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds also stood out as pass rushers with Baron getting to Kaaya a team-high six times, while Edmunds converted four of his 10 blitzes into pressure.
In the back seven, no one had a better game than LB Andrew Motuapuaka, who didn’t allow a completion on any of three targets and defensed two of them, the first of which resulted in an interception at 14:05 of the second quarter.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Virginia Tech LB Andrew Motuapuaka