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.

Midseason Awards and Outlook

Offensive MVP: Ryan Willis

Ryan Willis has been the difference in two conference wins against Duke and North Carolina. Against Duke, he was efficient, made all the throws he needed to make, drove the Hokies up and down the field that night. Against North Carolina, he only needed one drive to win the game and he went 98 yards in just under 6 minutes to seal the win. Even if you don’t have your best game, as long as you can lead the game winning drive, all is forgiven.

Honorable mention: Damon Hazelton, Steven Peoples

Defensive MVP: Rayshard Ashby

Rayshard Ashby has been a very pleasant surprise on defense this year. He is manning the Mike linebacker position like you would hope from a veteran, even though this is Ashby’s first season starting. He leads the team in tackles, tackles for loss and always seems to be in position to make the play. His instincts and ability to make tackles has been impressive.

Honorable mention: Reggie Floyd, Houshun Gaines

Special Teams MVP: Oscar Bradburn

This is a tough one. The Hokies special teams have been excellent this season. I’m going to give this to Bradburn because you can’t play much better than he has this season. He has a 42.76 yard average on his punts, with a long of 63. He has dropped 11 of his 33 punts inside the 20. He’s doing a good job of flipping field position for the Hokies, which has been important given the defense’s struggles.

Honorable mention: Brian Johnson (7-9 FGs), Jordan Stout (35 touchbacks on 37 kickoffs)

2nd Half Outlook

The offense has been a little ahead of schedule and the defense has been a little behind schedule. The defense is bad right now. The biggest issue is giving up big plays. They are arguably the worst team in FBS at giving up big plays. Outside of the big plays, the Hokies defense is pretty solid. The big plays make those numbers look much worse. The Hokies can improve in the second half of the season as some of their young players get more experience. But I wouldn’t expect a night and day improvement. Bend but don’t break needs to be the mantra of this defense.

Considering the Hokies play in the first half of the season, it is almost shocking that they are 3-0 in conference and in position for a chance to win the division. The division is winnable but the Hokies need to play much better on defense. There are no easy wins left on the schedule. The Hokies are going to have to grind out games from here on out. Have the defense get some stops and have the offense outscore the other team’s offense.

Midseason Awards and Outlook

Offensive MVP: Josh Jackson

Josh Jackson is the engine that makes the offense go. He has 1,700 passing yards, 13 TDs and 4 INTs. He’s on pace for 3,400 yards and 26 TDs.  Those numbers look similar to Jerod Evans’ record setting numbers midway thru last season. If he stays on that pace, it would set him up nicely for a possible ACC Rookie of the Year award and All-ACC selection. Very impressive for a freshman quarterback.

Honorable mention: Cam Phillips

Defensive MVP: Tremaine Edmunds

Tremaine Edmunds is leading the Hokies in tackles with 50. He’s one of the few players on the Hokies defense that the offense needs to be aware of on every snap. He goes sideline to sideline better than any linebacker the Hokies have had since Adibi and Hall. He also has 4.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. Hard to argue anyone has been a bigger difference maker on defense than Tremaine Edmunds.

Honorable mention: Mook Reynolds

Special Teams MVP: Oscar Bradburn

As much as I want to give this to Greg Stroman, it has to be Oscar Bradburn. There are plenty of teams across the country with punters who shank punts or can’t get good punts off consistently. Our twenty-year old freshman from Australia might be the best freshman punter in the country. He’s averaging 43.8 yards per punt, nine punts were downed inside the 20 and eight punts have been greater than 50 yards. He played a big role in winning the field position battle against West Virginia. You normally don’t get that kind of production out of your punter, much less a freshman punter. Good on ya, mate!

Honorable mention: Greg Stroman

2nd Half Outlook

The first half of the season has gone according to plan. Hokies won against West Virginia in a big opening game. They took care of business against the rest of their over-matched opponents. And, as expected, took a loss to the defending national champs. So far, they are meeting expectations. What will take this season from good to great are wins against Georgia Tech and Miami. They also need to avoid the upset bug the rest of the way.

Things are setup well for the rest of the season, even if the Hokies lose to Miami and Georgia Tech they would still equal last season’s 9-3 mark. If they win one or both of those games they could finish at 10-2 or even 11-1. The key will be winning both of those games if the Hokies hope to make it back to the ACCCG. Even if they beat Miami and lose to Georgia Tech, the Canes could still win their remaining games and make the ACCCG with one loss to the Hokies. Looks like it’s going to be a tougher-than-usual year in the Coastal. Barring major injuries or a collapse, the Hokies are set up well for a good season (9-3 or better) and a trip to a quality bowl game. Hopefully, they can do what it takes to get a rematch with the Clemson Tigers in the ACC Championship Game.