Clemson 23, Virginia Tech 3: Hokies Take One on the Chin

BLACKSBURG, VA - OCTOBER 1: Dwayne Allen #83 of the Clemson University Tigers runs for a touchdown after a catch against Eddie Whitley #15 of the Virginia Tech University Hokies on October 1, 2011 at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)

Freaking out over a football game while watching wife4heisman freak out over something as trivial and stupid as a baseball game. Sheesh, what's her problem?

In the preview for the Clemson game I said we would learn a lot about the Hokies Saturday night against the Tigers. Boy, did we ever. What we learned was we have a team with a lot of growing to do and with that comes games like the one we saw Saturday. A better team with a better scheme beat us at our own game. Clemson got us behind the sticks, got pressure on the quarterback and disrupted most of whatever it was we were trying to do on offense.

When the Tigers were on offense, they didn't try to do too much, stuck to what they did best and then took advantage of the few mistakes the Hokies did make on D. That's how the Hokies usually win. On Saturday it's how they lost. Clemson was better and it played better, to. Nothing to be ashamed of there.

Unfortunately, there were enough disturbing developments Saturday to have legitimate concerns about this team. It is absolutely possible for this team to get things turned around and have a successful season. But it's also possible this is far from the last loss the Hokies will have this year.

What concerns me most about Saturday's game has nothing to do with the offense. The season-ending ACL injury suffered by junior defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins should not be under-played. Hopkins was the only upper classman on the two-deep on the defensive line and at 306 pounds, the heaviest.

Tech will now turn to a 253-pound true freshman to fill that void until their 283-pound true freshman's gimpy ankle heals. This with the heaviest and most-experienced offensive line in the Coastal Division coming to town this weekend.

Last year, Tech's undersized defensive line got gashed against good power run games like Miami's and Lamar Miller was no different, running for 163 yards on a mere 15 carries. How the Hokies fare against the run from here on out will be the No. 1 story line for a team that can't afford any more injuries on the defensive line less than halfway through the regular season.

On offense, there's plenty of things I could say, but none of them would be as insightful or different than what's said here. Tech's problems on offense against Clemson were systemic and because of that Clemson was able to identify those problems and exploit them.

What worries me is the future. What if Logan Thomas doesn't progress? How long will the coaching staff keep cramming him down our throats because they refuse to admit they were wrong? All the way through the 2013 season? I hope it doesn't come to that and Thomas learns from Saturday's game and improves, but that's not guaranteed.

What if this season goes like 2003 and the problem with leadership coupled with a young quarterback causes the losses to pile up? Will coaches continue to do things like initially deflect blame to ridiculous things that have nothing to do with football?

Again, I'm hoping that doesn't happen. To me, this feels a lot like the 2006 season, when Tech opened with some wins over inferior opponents, got beat by a superior one and eventually got better and ended the regular season strong. This won't be Tech's last loss and the team may not win the ACC, but this can still be a successful season.

What's important now that the goal of a national championship is out the window is to define what makes this season successful. To me, this season will be successful if the Hokies develop their young talent, improve week to week and make progress in general. Unfortunately that's not something that the scoreboard will often show and that's not something a very fickle fan base takes very easily.

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