Apparently my DVR went schizo this weekend, cutting off with two minutes remaining in the first half of the game. So, here's my thoughts of the first half of the game after seeing the replay (ESPNU will be showing it Wednesday night, so I hope to catch the second half then).
First, I have to praise the offensive line. It's the guys in the trenches that are usually the last to be recognized, and it's especially hard to pick up on it at the game without benefit of replays. But the O-Line was awesome in the first half. They were hat on hat with the Virginia Tech defensive line and getting to the second level to help create some nice runs. Hats off to Lyle Hill, who pulled on a number of plays to create some nice holes.
I've given Jacob Hester a lot of crap over the last two years, but he continued to show why he is still the starter. He didn't have a single run for a loss and is an absolute bull between the tackles. I'd still rather see Keiland Williams getting more carries because he can break the big one, but Hester a tremendous blue-collar runner and I'm ecstatic he's on our side.
As for Matt Flynn, he obviously played a good game, but he still has room to get better. There were a couple of times in the first half that he just made a poor throw and missed an open receiver. He also missed Early Doucet in man-to-man coverage in which he had a step on the defender on a play that could have been a 90-yard touchdown. It's only this third start, so I fully expect him to keep improving, which is scary for opponents.
The defense seems to be more aggressive to me this year. I'm not sure if it's just because I didn't see it last year or not. But on Saturday, Bo Pelini unleashed the hounds and they were all over the backfield. It seemed like every third down, somebody broke free after the quarterback -- something I love to see. Ali Highsmith was all over the field and it looked like any time the quarterback rolled out, he was given the green light to attack. With his speed, he was able to change a quarterback "buying time" into a quarterback "running for his life."
As crazy as this sounds, the 2007 defense looks better than the 2003 defense right now. Tyson Jackson and Kirston Pittman are better on the ends than Marcus Spears and Marquise Hill and Glenn Dorsey is better in the middle than Chad Lavalais. It's really not fair to have to double team Dorsey and Jackson and then have Pittman come from the other end. The corners aren't as good this year as Corey Webster and Travis Daniels were, but they're close. The linebackers are much better with Highsmith and Darry Beckwith.
One amazing thing I noticed throughout the first half, whenever a Hokie got past the first level of defense, it always seemed like a defensive lineman ran him down from behind. There were guys like Dorsey, Pittman and Jackson running down running backs and wide receivers. When you have that kind of speed, it's nearly impossible to do anything against you.
I just can't wait to watch the second half.