Sports Commentary: Mistakes will kill momentum
The Blue Hens once again lost to another Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team, but somehow, this loss was different. While Virginia Tech (VT) won the game, 27-0, the defense performed well against the No. 18 team in the country, and the offense made strides in their passing game. The Blue Hens, under Head Coach Danny Rocco, came ready to put up a fight.
This game was a challenge to the Hens who attempted to defy the odds –– they came into the game with a one percent chance of winning, according to the ESPN win probability chart.
The Blue Hens made too many mistakes, and didn’t take advantage of the opportunities given to them. The special teams struggled, letting Greg Stroman score on a 61-yard punt return, and kicker Frank Raggo missed an early 28-yard field goal. Penalties were also a problem; the team had 11 on the day for a total of 84 yards.
Quarterback Joe Walker did complete eight of 17 passes for 116 yards. However, against the No. 18 team in the country, the chance of winning the game is low when the QB attempts to throw only 17 times.
That’s not to say that the running game was poorly executed. All three running backs —Thomas Jefferson, Kareem Williams and Kani Kane— saw time in the backfield and the Hens had 107 net rushing yards. A swarm of Hokies, however, swallowed up the running game on multiple attempts. Walker as a dual-threat QB should be an advantage to Delaware but he needs to be able to get out of the pocket and be a playmaker.
Delaware was able to keep VT to 27 points, but it was a 17-0 game through three quarters. Delaware missed several opportunities to get on the scoreboard –– highlighted by Raggo’s missed field goal and a Walker interception on Delaware’s second drive of the game.
Virginia Tech plays a fast-paced offense which put up 469 yards just a week ago against the West Virginia defense. Against Delaware, VT only had a total of 303 offensive yards. Not only did the defense consistently put pressure on VT quarterback Josh Jackson but they limited his rushing yards to a mere 19 on the ground.
Billal Nichols had five tackles and a sack, and Nasir Adderley contributed six tackles and a blocked field goal, leading the way for the Hens defensively. Rocco, defensive coordinator Chris Cosh and the rest of the defensive staff should hold their heads high because their defense kept them reasonably close and has the ability to keep them close in future matchups.
Moving into next week against Cornell and then James Madison, Delaware looks positioned to compete in each matchup. It’s clear that Joe Walker is the starting quarterback and Thomas Jefferson is the go-to running back.
Going forward, Walker must connect with wide receiver Diante Cherry and get comfortable looking to throw to him and other wideouts on every drive. To compete with JMU and other top CAA teams, the Hens must show their willingness to take chances and trust the playmaking ability of Joe Walker.
This team will improve with time. Mistakes and penalties are momentum killers that must be kept to a minimum. The Hens can be a serious contender in the CAA, but they need to show they can consistently put points on the board first. There is no doubt the Rocco-era is going to be different and exciting, so students and fans must be patient with this program, and if one thing is for sure, it’s that Rocco is going to find a way to win future games.