The Virginia Tech Hokies' 2019 season was not quite what fans may have been hoping for. The ending was certainly not special. Losing to Virginia for the first time in 16 years was bad enough, but falling in the final moments of a game that determined the Coastal Division championship made the defeat doubly painful.
But considering where the Hokies were two months prior, just getting to that point wasn’t bad. After getting drubbed by Duke at home, Justin Fuente’s team was 0-2 in the league, and the head coach’s seat was getting warm. Then came five straight ACC wins and a chance to claim their side of the conference.
Here's a look back at the highs and lows of Hokies' 2019 regular season.
Offensive MVP: Hendon Hooker, QB
The entire season changed when Fuente installed Hooker as the starting quarterback. Ryan Willis’s poor performance against Duke was the last straw and Hooker came in and sparked the Hokie revival. His 171.91 quarterback rating would have been good for second in the ACC if he had enough attempts to qualify.
Defensive MVP: Rayshard Ashby, LB
The junior was the heart and soul of the Hokie defense. Ashby led the team in tackles, tackles for lost yardage, and forced fumbles, and he was second in sacks. For his efforts, he was named second-team All-ACC.
Best Freshman: Bryan Hudson, C
The Hokies got outstanding production from guard Doug Nester and wide receiver Tayvion Robinson. But the Georgetown, Ky., product stepped in at one of the offense’s most important positions and was very effective.
Best Play of the Season: Quincy Patterson's TD runs against North Carolina
Virginia Tech and UNC played in the longest game in ACC history in October, and Patterson, the backup quarterback who was filling in for an injured Hendon Hooker, played the hero. Down by a touchdown with under five minutes in regulation, Patterson ran 53 yards for the tying score. He later pushed his way into the end zone in the sixth overtime to give the Hokies a huge, emotional win.
Best Performance by a Player: Hendon Hooker vs. Miami
It wasn’t his best statistical game of the year, but it was the moment that Virginia Tech turned the corner. Hooker threw for three scores, rushed for another, and engineered a late, game-winning drive that was highlighted by a beautiful throw to Damon Hazelton for a 29-yard completion.
Best Game (Team Performance): 28-0 win over Pittsburgh
Before getting to the Virginia game, the Hokies had to beat Pittsburgh to remain alive in the division. In Bud Foster’s final game at Lane Stadium, his defense put on a clinic, holding the Panthers to just 177 yards of total offense in the shutout victory.
Defining Moment: The wild victory at Miami
In the win over the Hurricanes, Virginia Tech blew a 35-14 fourth-quarter lead but kept its composure and rallied for the win. It was the moment the season went from bad to good, as they went on to win six of seven games.
Biggest Surprise: Hendon Hooker, QB
Many Hokie fans were eager to see Hooker get a chance, but most viewed him as a better option than incumbent Ryan Willis due to his running ability. But he ended the year completing 62.1 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns to 2 interceptions.
Biggest Disappointment: Virginia loss
Losing the division, ending the streak, and failing to hold a fourth-quarter lead against the Cavaliers. It doesn’t get much more disappointing than that.
Senior That Will Be Missed the Most: Reggie Floyd, S
The three-year starter is third on the team with seven pass breakups and fifth in tackles (61). Virginia Tech is fairly young on defense and should return a good portion of their production, but Floyd's durability (50 games played) and leadership in the secondary will be tough to replace.
Player to Watch in 2019: Keshawn King, RB
The freshman showed his potential as both a running back and as a kick returner this fall. With another year in the system, King could emerge as the primary ball carrier in 2020.
Offseason Storyline: More stability
Last offseason was full of turmoil with one player after another entering the transfer portal. With most of the team returning next fall, a focus on football would be welcomed.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who has been part of the Athlon Contributor Network for three years, covering the ACC and Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.
(Top photo courtesy of hokiesports.com)