Virginia Tech-Tulsa grades: WR Isaiah Ford stars in Hokies' win
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Virginia Tech Hokies’ 55-52 victory over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, in the Independence Bowl:
Virginia Tech Hokies
– The star of the Virginia Tech offense was wide receiver Isaiah Ford (+2.7). Ford caught 12 of the 16 targets thrown his way for 227 yards (18.9 yards per catch). While Ford did have a solid game statistically, his touchdown came on a very well blocked screen pass he was able to take for a 75-yard touchdown. When targeting Ford, Michael Brewer’s QB rating was 137.5.
– QB Michael Brewer completed 23-of-38 passes for 344 yards, but his -1.5 grade is worse than his box score stats would indicate. Brewer’s lone touchdown came on the previously mentioned screen to Ford. 209 of his 344 yards came on passes thrown less than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage, meaning his teammates were doing the heavy lifting in the yardage department. Brewer threw one interception and failed to make plays with his arm, despite the gaudy final score and yardage numbers.
– Edge rusher and potential NFL draft pick Dadi Nicolas ended up with a negative grade overall (-1.3), as he struggled to hold up against the run, ending the game with a -1.4 run defense grade. However, he was productive as a pass rusher (+3.0 pass rush grade), batting one pass and adding two QB pressures, in addition to the big sack to clinch the game and win Frank Beamer’s final game as the Virginia Tech head coach. Nicolas is a physically talented player that was not necessarily used to his full potential in Virginia Tech’s defensive scheme, and should become an even more productive pass rusher as an NFL player.
LG Wyatt Teller (+7.6)
RG Augie Conte (+3.6)
LT Jonathan McLaughlin (+3.0)
WR Isaiah Ford (+2.7)
MLB Andrew Motuapuaka (+2.2)
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
– Quarterback Dane Evans had a solid performance (+2.0) in this high-scoring affair. Evans completed 27-of-43 passes for 374 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Evans wasn’t throwing the same amount of shallow passes as his opponent but was pushing the ball down the field with greater frequency and success. 158 of Evans’s 374 yards and two of his touchdowns came on deep passes targeted more than 20 yards downfield.
– Wide receiver Joshua Atkinson (+2.5) caught 11 of his 16 targets for 139 yards and one touchdown. He averaged 12.6 yards per catch, and Dane Evans had a 116.4 rating when targeting Atkinson. He also caught both of his deep targets (20+ yards downfield) for a combined 65 yards and his touchdown.
– Tulsa wide receiver Keyarris Garrett is a potential NFL draft pick who put up big numbers in the game (eight catches for 137 yards and a touchdown) but also left some plays on the field. Garrett is a lanky vertical threat who can use his size to make plays at the catch point, but needs to do it more consistently, as he only managed to catch two of his five deep targets (+20 yards downfield), and he dropped two passes as well.
LT Evan Plagg (+3.7)
LG Garrett Stafford (+2.8)
WR Joshua Atkinson (+2.5)
C Chandler Miller (+2.5)
QB Dane Evans (+2.0)