Midseason Awards and Outlook

This season is weird. There are 11 regular season games. And if there is a bowl game, there will be 12 games total. I thought it would make sense to do midseason awards after 6 games. With the hopes that the Hokies will play 12 games total this season.

Offensive MVP: Khalil Herbert

This is the easiest call in all the years I’ve been doing this. Imagine this team without Herbert. It’s not the same powerful offense. I still think it would be good. But it wouldn’t be as explosive. You can tell Herbert gets a lot of attention when he’s on the field. That opens the game up for everyone else. We haven’t seen that around here since David Wilson.

Honorable mention: Hendon Hooker, James Mitchell

Defensive MVP: Amare Barno

This one is a lot harder. Like a lot harder. First, let’s start by saying the defensive performance in the first half of the season hasn’t been good. But Barno has jumped off the screen when watching the Hokies. You can tell he is still a raw player but the natural ability is definitely there. He leads the team with 8.5 TFLs and is 2nd on the team with 3.5 sacks. The one thing this defense has done well is get after the quarterback and Barno is one of the big reasons why.

Honorable mention: Justus Reed, Divine Deablo

Special Teams MVP: Khalil Herbert

It’s that man again. One of the things that has driven me crazy in recent years is that there was no threat on kickoff returns. Tech would either start at their own 25 yard line or worse in terms of field position. Herbert gives this team the potential to take it to the house every single kick return.

Honorable mention: Oscar Bradburn, Brian Johnson

2nd Half Outlook:

The schedule gets a lot harder in the 2nd half of the season. The defense will need to show up otherwise a 2-3 finish isn’t out of the question. We’ve already seen their floor but how much better can they get? They looked good against Louisville outside of two horrific plays. They need to build on what they did the rest of the game. That was a good offense they held down most of the day.

On offense, RUN KHALIL HERBERT. It’s that simple. If he’s not getting 20+ carries a game, you’re doing something wrong. Easier said than done, but you need to get your best player involved in the gameplan. He needs to be the center point of this offense. If he’s not getting the ball, your letting the defense your facing off the hook.

Folks have been hard on the defense but I give them a pass. They had no spring practice. They have a new coaching staff and a new scheme. Not to mention they had a TON of players out during fall practice. And that’s on top of having guys out due to suspension, a leave of absence or injuries. That’s A LOT to deal with. The defense is making progress but we need to see more from them in the last 6 games.

This team will be bowl eligible. I’m not exactly sure what the criteria is or what bowl games will be played. But the Hokies will be there. I’d like to see the Tech finish with at least 7 wins in the regular season. I could feel good about that. I’d also like to see them beat UVA and play Clemson close. This is the weirdest season I can ever remember. So dialing expectations too high may be unrealistic. But I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far. This is an exciting offense and I hope we get to see a lot more offensive fireworks in the 2nd half of the season. And enjoy Khalil Herbert. We don’t get guys like him in Blacksburg very often.

Midseason Awards and Outlook

Offensive MVP: Hendon Hooker

Hooker is the straw that stirs the drink. A dual-threat quarterback brings a new dynamic to this offense. Having a quarterback that can run allows the coaching staff to mix up their play calls. Having a running game has also opened up space in the passing game. Hooker’s presence on the field has given this offense more options and more space to work.

Honorable mention: Dalton Keene, Deshawn McClease

Defensive MVP: Chamarri Conner

The light has come on for Conner. He is all over the field. He leads the defense with 4 sacks, 6 passes defended, 1 forced fumble and 22 solo tackles. It’s great to have a versatile player like him at the whip position. Having him there gives Bud Foster more options on defense.

Honorable mention: Rayshard Ashby, Caleb Farley

Special Teams MVP: Oscar Bradburn

This one isn’t even close. Bradburn would be the team MVP if I had to pick one. He’s fourth in the nation in yards per punt with a 48.0 yard average. He booms the ball every time he puts his foot on the ball. He’s a field position weapon that the team needs this year. He may end up as a finalist for the Ray Guy Award. He’s almost a lock for first team All-ACC.

Honorable mention: Brian Johnson, John Parker Romo

2nd half Outlook:

The Hokies didn’t have a great start to the season. They lost two games most expected them to win, and won a game that few expected them to win. I expected the Hokies to be 5-1 at this point in the season, but 4-2 isn’t terrible. The problem is that the Hokies are 90th in total offense and 59th in total defense. That’s not going to get it done in conference play.

The offense has the potential to look better in the 2nd half due to the emergence of Hendon Hooker. It operates more smoothly with him behind center. The coaches can also open up the playbook a bit more with his threat to run. We’ve already seen the last two weeks that the running game has emerged. This has made the Hokies offense more balanced and less one-dimensional.

The defense appears to have the pieces to be effective but the output is less than the sum of their parts. There is individual talent on this defense but they haven’t played well as a unit thus far. There are still far too many mental mistakes. Tackling has improved since last season, which is good to see. But there are still too many breakdowns from a defense that returned a lot of starters from last year.

The challenge for this team will be to get to seven wins to become bowl eligible. That will mean that they need to split wins and losses the rest of the way to get there. It’s possible. All the conference games look winnable. That Notre Dame game looks tough so I’m not expecting a win there. The remaining games represent opportunities to pick up wins. To make a bowl, this team will need to make strides on offense and defense. If we see the same team we saw in the first half, I’m afraid to say this team will not be bowling this season.

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