College Football: Week 1 & Recap


College Football is back, and for most colleges around the country, so are the fans for the first time in two years. Week One of college football had everything that was missed for filled stadiums; upsets, nail biters, shoot-outs, comebacks, and blowouts.

Week one sometimes sets a precedent for the rest of the season for a team, other times it is a fluke game that looks nothing like the team at the end of the year. Whether or not it gives a good indication of how a season will go for a team, it’s one of the most exciting times of the year. 

#10 North Carolina @ Virginia Tech

North Carolina 10 – Virginia Tech 17

Virginia Tech outlasts #10 ranked North Carolina to pull off an upset propelled by defense, giving them their first win at home against a Top 10 team since September 19, 2009 against Miami. A sellout crowd in Blacksburg, Virginia, their first since before the COVID-19 pandemic, gave a strong home-field advantage to the Hokies, according to Head Coach Justin Fuente. “Our fans were incredible, they played a huge role in the game, in my opinion,” said Fuente, per 

Virginia Tech controlled the game through their defense, allowing only 10 points to the North Carolina offense led by Heisman candidate Sam Howell, including a first half shutout, giving Virginia Tech a 14-0 lead at the break. VT had played keepaway from North Carolina, with 20 minutes of possession in the first half. After the break, the offense had trouble moving the ball, and had to rely on the defense to keep them in the lead. “We tried to deliberately keep the ball away from North Carolina a little bit, it worked pretty well in the first half, second half it didn’t work as well,” said Justin Fuente. 

Quarterback Braxton Burmeister came out throwing 7 of 8 for 126 yards and a touchdown in the first half, along with a rushing touchdown on the opening drive of the year. Burmeister attributed a strong start to “A great game-plan going into the game, we’d been practicing huddling and breaking the huddle early,” according to Virginia Tech forced the running game in the first half, running it 25 times. Virginia Tech started the game off 6 of 6 on Third Down conversions. In the second half, the offense struggled to move the ball, only gaining 97 total yards according to ESPN, and ending the game 6-13 on Third Down conversions, as well as throwing an interception early in the 4th Quarter. Fuente said after the game, “We had several opportunities to end the game and we could not do it, our execution was poor.” 

The defense stayed strong on their end of the football throughout the game, getting constant pressure on North Carolina, generating six sacks, three interceptions, and a turnover-on-downs. Fuente said that they “continued to rise to the occasion, with energy and execution.” The defense continued to play to the end, pressuring Sam Howell to make a poor throw intercepted by Chamarri Conner with 37 seconds left, sealing a game that Virginia Tech was expected to lose. 


West Virginia @ Maryland

West Virginia 24 – Maryland 30

The Maryland Terrapins opened their year on a high note, beating West Virginia 24-30. The Terrapins had 496 yards of total offense, according to ESPN, including 332 passing yards from quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, the younger brother of Miami Dolphins’ QB Tua Tagovailoa. Taulia threw 3 Touchdowns as well, including a 66 yard deep ball to  Dontay Demus in the first quarter. “They came out in the first game and didn’t lose it, they didn’t turn it over, (I) thought the quarterback played really well, didn’t get as much pressure as we thought we would,” said West Virginia coach Neal Brown after the game, per on YouTube.

Maryland went up early, with a 7-17 score in the first quarter, before a kickoff return by West Virginia switched the momentum for the second quarter. West Virginia running-back Leddie Brown had three touchdowns in the first half, helping West Virginia end the half up 21-20. Brown had a strong game, but Coach Neal Brown said that he wished his offensive line gave him more opportunities. “He’s good, he’s gonna break tackles, but we gotta get him to the second, third level… we didn’t do a good enough job,” Neal Brown said of the running game. Leddie Brown was only given eight touches in the second half.

Maryland’s defense made enough big plays to stop West Virginia from expanding the lead, creating four turnovers and three sacks. Neal Brown said “We had four (turnovers) that went directly for ten points, and they had zero. If you don’t turn the ball over you usually win.” After kicking a go-ahead field goal, Maryland came up with a big takeaway when, after a kickoff return to the 48 yard line, followed by a contested 39 yard catch by Sam James on the sideline, West Virginia quarterback Jarrett Doege threw a pass that was intercepted in the endzone by Jakorian Bennett midway through the fourth quarter. 

Maryland took advantage of the turnover, with Tagovailoa throwing a deep 60 yard touchdown pass to Rakim Jarrett to put Maryland up by 9 with 6:25 to go. West Virginia drove down and kicked a field goal to cut the lead to six, but Maryland running-back Tayon Fleet-Davis broke off a 53 yard run to seal the game for Maryland, capping off a strong game for Maryland’s backfield, with a combined 211 yards rushing and receiving between Fleet-Davis and running-back Isaiah Jacobs according to ESPN. “Defensively, we just got tired… they wore us down,” said Neal Brown. Maryland came alive in all phases of the game in the fourth quarter and grabbed an opening day win. 

William and Mary @ Virginia

William and Mary 0 – Virginia 43

The Virginia Cavaliers opened up their season with a blowout win against William and Mary, with dominance from every position. They were better in almost every category of the stat sheet; Virginia had 545 yards of total offense, W&M had 183, according to ESPN. Virginia’s defense was dominant in the shutout, coach Bronco Mendenhall saying “We tackled well for an opening game, we didn’t tackle much in fall camp,” per Virginia Sports TV on YouTube. Virginia didn’t let William and Mary pick up a first down until midway through the second quarter, and the most ball movement W&M did make down the field resulted in missed field goal attempts. 

Virginia’s offense took a while to heat up, but they came alive by the end of the second quarter. Mendenhall called the offense at the beginning of the game “A little bit jittery… just not quite as confident… and the game just seemed a little fast as we started.” Virginia closed the first half scoring touchdowns on back to back drives to close out, both coming from Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong; one being run in from two yards out, and one thrown to Ra’Shaun Henry with 32 seconds to go, putting Virginia up by 17. Before the half, coach Mendenhall said the touchdown was “Critical, we needed some points right before half just to get some momentum.” Brennan Armstrong finished the game with four total touchdowns, two passing and two rushing.

“I think (in the) first half, I was trying to push the tempo, in my mind I was pushing it, I was just moving a little too fast… once we got to the second half, I wasn’t pleased with what happened in the first half, so I just started to slow things down,” said Armstrong after the game, per Virginia Sports TV. Virginia closed out scoring on four straight possessions, three touchdowns and a field goal, besides the final drive to run the clock out and end the game. 

Virginia’s defense continued to shut out William and Mary’s offense. In the second half, Virginia forced three punts, blocked a field goal, and got a safety after a snap over the head of W&M quarterback Darius Wilson went past the endzone. Bronco Mendenhall said, “I saw enough to be encouraged, and again I thought our leverage and tackling was strong… I thought it was a really nice start for our secondary.”. Virginia exited the game with a lot of confidence and energy, and hopes to continue their strong play in the coming weeks.  

Week 2

Illinois @ Virginia

Illinois 14 – Virginia 42 

The Virginia Cavaliers won with a blowout win for the second week in a row, beating Illinois by a large margin. Virginia had an offensive explosion throughout every quarter, a contrast to last week where it had a slow start offensively. Virginia Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall said on the strong start “Our practices were sequential, methodical, and building to kind of a crescendo at the end, and that’s exactly how we played in game one, and so we just flipped the script,” per Virginia Sports TV on YouTube. UVA opened by having 338 yards in the first half, according to CBS sports. 

Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong threw for 405 yards and a career-high five touchdowns, according to ESPN, with three coming in the first half. Virginia tight-end Jelani Woods also had a career high in receiving yards, with 122 yards on five catches, including a 32 yard touchdown catch on the first drive. “If you choose to put a linebacker on him, he’s likely not as fast… if you choose the secondary route, there’s not many secondary players that are 6’7”, and they might be fast, but they probably don’t weigh 250.” Mendenhall said of Woods. “Really, there’s a matchup issue no matter what direction you go.” 

Virginia’s defense limited Illinois to 14 points, with the only scores coming off a 33 yard touchdown catch by Deuce Spann early in the second quarter, and a 21 yard touchdown run by Chase Brown in the beginning of the third. “We played consistentlyconsistent for the majority of the game,  there werewas very few breakdowns and very few things that didn’t fit exactly right. When we  didn’t… Illinois exploited those on both drives they had scored, but 14 points in two games is a really nice start to a season.” Virginia will have to play good defense next week when they take on Sam Howell and North Carolina. 

Middle Tennessee State University @ #19 Virginia Tech

MTSU 14 – Virginia Tech 35 

Virginia Tech lived up to their #19 ranking in the nation by beating Middle Tennessee by 21 points. “Our guys were ready to play, I thought that was pretty obvious by the intensity,” said Virginia Tech Head Coach Justin Fuente. Virginia Tech started out with a 14 point lead midway through the second quarter. MTSU cut the lead to 7 by half, after driving down and scoring a touchdown. “I do feel like when we get up 14 nothing, there was a little lull there… there was just kind of a little bit of relaxation.” Virginia Tech did awaken midway through the third quarter, scoring three touchdowns the rest of the game and not allowing another by MTSU until 27 seconds left in the game. 

Virginia Tech had trouble moving the ball through the air, with only 133 yards passing in the game, according to CBS Sports. In the first half, nobody on Virginia Tech had more than 12 receiving yards. Quarterback Braxton Burmeister threw a lot of short passes, not turning the ball over but not making a lot of big plays. “We made concerted efforts to take some shots down the field, and we just didn’t pull the trigger on them,” said Fuente.

Virginia Tech was, however, able to move the ball on the ground, with 204 rushing yards in the game. “I did think we did a good job there, of finding ways to run the football… we blocked and ran hard,” said Justin Fuente. Junior quarterback Connor Blumrick also came in some packages to run the ball, punching in a two yard touchdown at the end of the second quarter. Running-back Raheem Blackshear had 60 rushing yards and two touchdowns, one from 11 yards out, and another a one yard run at the goal line to put Virginia Tech up by 28 in the fourth quarter and seal the game. 

Howard @ Maryland

Howard 0 – Maryland 62

Maryland was able to blow out Howard again, with now a combined score of 141 to 0 in their last two matchups (they last played in 2019). Maryland had shut down Howard’s offense to 146 yards, according to ESPN. Howard did not convert on third down at all, on eleven tries in the game. “We’re capable of playing at a high level for four quarters,” said Maryland coach Mike Locksley. “I was happy with the way the offense and defense executed… the defense was able to get off the field the way we like, I thought offensively, scoring touchdowns in the red area, which we didn’t do last week, was good.”

Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa threw three touchdown passes and 274 yards with no turnovers, with 128 of them going to receiver Dontay Demus. Tagovailoa came out of the game early in the third quarter, which let backup QB Reece Udinski get playing time, along with a lot of other backups. “Always good when you get to play a lot of players.” Said Coach Locksley. “We’re still in the growth phase, it’s great to be able to play a lot of these young guys, and see them go out and compete.” Maryland had seven different players run the ball, and ten different players with a reception. 

Maryland had a successful rushing attack, with 227 yards rushing according to ESPN. Running-backs Tayon Fleet-Davis and Roman Hemby had a combined 111 yards. Hemby is a freshman for Maryland, and a combined four different freshman and sophomore running-backs had a carry. Mike Locksley said “We started with three running-backs last recruiting class… Roman Hemby was the guy that this summer really stood out to us.” Maryland’s run game was very useful in the second half, draining a clock out of a game that had been won for them long before the game was over.