As Virginia Tech heads to Pittsburgh hoping to avoid another letdown against an old Big East rival, much of the Hokies’ hope swings on quarterback Jerod Evans… with good reason.
If he keeps up his current pace, Evans is on track to have one of the greatest seasons ever by a Virginia Tech quarterback. For the program that produced Michael Vick, Bryan Randall, Tyrod Taylor and Logan Thomas, among others, that’s saying something.
Evans’ five touchdown passes against Boston College already set a school record for a single game, but that might just be the beginning. He could approach or break several season-long marks as well.
Through seven games, Evans has completed 117 of 186 pass attempts with 19 touchdowns and just two interceptions. With 1,605 yards and an efficiency rating of 166.9, the records in all those categories are within reach. He should smash Taylor’s school record of 24 touchdown passes, and no Hokie passer has statistically been as good across the board in terms of accuracy, yardage and producing points.
Like many of the other great Hokie quarterbacks of the past, Evans is a dual threat. Rather than cover up any deficiency in his passing ability, his running game creates better opportunities to throw the ball and avoid critical mistakes.
Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi knows Evans’ combination of size, speed and arm strength could test his Panther defense, which hasn’t been great against the pass this season.
“Evans is a big 6-4, 240-pound guy to tackle. He’s physical, and he’s got a great arm, and he can make all the throws,” Narduzzi said during the weekly ACC coaches’ teleconference. “But it presents a challenge, it really does. But one thing we are fortunate is I think we’re a good run defense. I think our guys understand where they fit in.”
Having a solid run defense is great — the Hokies were able to run wild on Miami last Thursday at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg with Evans and Travon McMillian each going over 100 yards — but Evans’ arm has been the most consistent strength of the Virginia Tech offense.
Even in the Hokies’ surprising loss at Syracuse earlier this month, Evans was productive under center, throwing for 307 yards and two touchdowns.
Evans has thrown for at least 200 yards in every game save the victory at North Carolina played in a severe rainstorm.
It’s not entirely shocking to see a Virginia Tech quarterback put up these numbers with Justin Fuente now in charge of the program. The first-year Hokie coach has a reputation as a quarterback guru after developing Andy Dalton and Paxton Lynch at previous stops.
One can certainly be forgiven for thinking there would be some growing pains with a junior college transfer such as Evans working in a brand-new system and environment.
However, Evans and Fuente have been a match made in Hokie Heaven, and it’s the main reason Virginia Tech would attain a solid position to win the ACC Coastal Division with a victory at Pitt Thursday night.