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5 Things To Be Excited About After Monday

Quayshawn Nealy had a great game on Monday.
Quayshawn Nealy had a great game on Monday.

Many of us left Monday's game disappointed, and rightly so after such a loss. But after watching that game and others this weekend, here are 5 takeaways that should really excite our fanbase moving forward.

1. A-Backs: Coming into this game, there was quite a bit of uncertainty as to who would replace Roddy Jones at A-Back across from Orwin Smith. As it turned out, Robbie Godhigh got the start, and B.J. Bostic and Deon Hill also saw a lot of time. I was VERY pleased with how this group performed. They had a huge effect in the passing game (all 10 completions from Tevin went to them), and were very successful running the ball as well. Godhigh scored the game's first touchdown on a really neat run that displayed his shiftiness, and Hill scored the touchdown late in the 4th with a catch on a drag route. Also important to note is that this group was responsible for exactly ZERO turnovers. In the past, there have been sloppy moments where fumbles happen off of pitches or just carrying the ball -- in this game, there was none of that. I look forward to watching this group moving forward, especially with the presumable addition of Synjyn Days to the mix.

2. Linebackers: Jabari Hunt-Days was a first-time starter, while Quayshawn Nealy and Brandon Watts saw their first significant playing time. This group, including Jeremiah Attaochu, did a fantastic job keeping Virginia Tech's running game under wraps and allowing no big running plays worth noting. Perhaps an effect of an improved defensive line, the linebackers did a phenomenal job all night long in swarming to the ball and wrapping up. I look forward to seeing what Al Groh can do with these guys going forward.

3. Special Teams & Conditioning: This offseason saw the hiring of Special Teams Coordinator Dave Walkosky and Strength & Conditioning Coach John Sisk. We saw those hirings pay dividends on Monday. Our special teams play was clean and fundamental. They may not have won us the game, but they also didn't lose us the game, which is really the biggest concern with them. There may still be work to do on the kick coverage units, who seemed to give up a lot of yardage on returns, but without giving up anything significant I won't complain yet (they're a hell of a lot better than before). Furthermore, our conditioning late in the game (especially on defense) was outstanding. There was never really a point where you saw the effort drop as a function of energy levels dropping. Even in overtime, it was 3rd and goal and VT ran the dreaded "15 Yard QB Sneak" play that killed us last year, and Thomas got stuffed, even with the defense having spent a lot of time on the field already. That says something. This level of conditioning will go a long way in helping us to win a lot of games this fall.

4. Virginia Tech's Defense: It may be the best we see all year. In our first game, with inexperienced receivers, we still racked up nearly 300 yards of offense and put up 17 points. Not that it's particularly impressive, and I really wasn't a huge fan of much of the playcalling, but at the end of the day when we were less than a minute from victory, I'm happy with the offensive production. That being said, if we can put 300 yards and 17 points up against Virginia Tech, and have shown potency for more with a few better-timed blocks, the offense is in good shape, especially if backed by a defense of the quality ours appears to have.

5. Our 11 Remaining Opponents: None of them looked particularly impressive. Clemson's defense was SOFT in a 7 point win over Auburn. Miami struggled to beat Boston College, and gave up 31 points in the process. Virginia gave up 19 points and only scored 43 against FCS Richmond. UNC did put up 62 points, but against an Elon team that went 5-6 in the FCS last year. BYU may have looked the best winning 30-6 against Washington State, though it was Mike Leach's first game as head coach of the Cougars. Finally, the Dwags were up by only 8 points at halftime to a pretty miserable Buffalo team, and had an overall poor defensive performance, especially against the run. Long story short, I saw nothing on Saturday that has me concerned with how the rest of our games will go. Not to say that Week 1 shows all, but it's not like we're playing any teams that are unbeatable.

Alright readers, this is where you call me a homer. Am I crazy, or should we be quite optimistic as we move towards our remaining 11 games?