MIAMI -- They hadn’t even left the locker room yet following their 40-12 loss to Stanford, and Virginia Tech running backs Ryan Williams and Darren Evans were already facing questions about their possible futures in the NFL.
Both had turned in their paperwork to the NFL advisory board to find out where they might be chosen in this year’s draft, and both had already heard back. Williams said he was projected to be a first or second- round pick, and Evans said he was a fourth-round prospect, possibly higher. They plan to hold a joint news conference in the next few days announcing their decisions.
And yet despite the NFL talent in that loaded backfield, Virginia Tech’s three-headed running back rotation, that also includes David Wilson, went nowhere fast against the Cardinal defense. Evans compared it to an arm wrestling match -- one in which the Hokies got outmuscled and pinned down for a meager 66 rushing yards.
“I thought coming into the game that we would be the more physical team, because that’s just the way that we play,” Evans said. “But they showed us up. The whole game, from start to finish, they were in our tails. It’s a tough one to swallow. It’s kind of like an arm wrestling match. You face up with somebody, and either you’re going to bring their arm down, or they’re going to bring yours down. They definitely brought it to us.”
It was a humbling experience for the nation’s No. 18 rushing offense, which entered the game averaging 208.92 yards per game. While there was 70 yards of lost yardage thanks to eight Stanford sacks, the Hokies finished with an average of 1.9 yards per carry. Evans led the team with 37 yards. Williams had four.
Virginia Tech was beaten soundly up front, and the offensive line had no answer, as Stanford moved its defensive front almost every play. Both Evans and Williams said Stanford was more physical.
Williams said Stanford prepared better, played better, but the worst part?
Williams said the difference in the second half was the Hokies gave up.
“That’s not like Virginia Tech, at all,” he said. “I think we just lost it in our hearts to go out there and play. They wanted it more than we did. So that’s what happened.”