There are certain things in life that happen like clockwork; the sun comes up every morning, goes down in the evening and the Hokies win 10-games (or AT LEAST 8 games) every season. But now ladies and gentlemen, the clock has stopped on that last qualifier, as the Hokies lost 30-12 to the Miami Hurricanes Thursday night on the road.
The Hokies had a bye week to prepare for this young Miami team, yet failed in every area imaginable. The play-calling offensively was markedly improved, but still not up to par. The execution was poor. The tackling was horrendous. No outsider would have guessed based on what they saw Thursday night that the Hokies were fresh and coming off a bye week, simply because, they played bad fundamental football and lacked effort.
Despite the fact that Miami had one of the worst 10 defenses nationally in nearly every major statistical category, particularly being the second-to-worst run defense in college football, the Virginia Tech running game was often stagnant, picking up 238 yards on 45 carries...73 of which were gained on a freak quarterback keeper. Removing that one play from the rushing total results in a total of 165 yards on 44 carries, an average of 3.75 yards. Again, against a team that allows an average of over 249 yards on the ground this year and 5.2 yards per carry. So even with that run, the Hokies fell short of that total.
Once again, the defense performed adequately enough to earn a win for the Hokies. They were not given ideal starting positions due to offensive and special teams gaffes early on, as the Hurricanes started two first quarter drives from inside the Virginia Tech 20-yard line, both of which resulted in touchdowns two plays later.
The Hokies out-gained the Hurricanes 421-347. They had a much better 3rd down conversion rate (9-of-20 vs. 1-of-12). They had almost 10 minutes more possession, even as Miami was able to milk the clock in the fourth quarter, resulting in almost half their possession. But the telling stats centered around the Hokies' missed opportunities. They were 0-of-1 on 4th down and 2-of-4 in the red zone with no touchdowns. Miami by comparison was 6-of-6. The Hokies also committed three turnovers to Miami's none, and missed both an extra point and a field goal.
Stuck at four wins, the Hokies now have to worry about another unprecedented occurrence: missing out on a bowl game. Without winning two of their remaining three regular season games, Virginia Tech will be sitting at home for the holidays without anyone to blame but themselves...well, and the officials for one game, but that didn't ruin their season. The jig was up well before the phantom sack and a botched fumble call/review. That was just adding insult to injury.
What steps will be taken by the players and staff from here on out is not clear. But what is clear is that the fan base has reached a level of frustration and trepidation with the staff/team that is not going away quietly. No longer can Beamer and his assistants hide behind a wall, claim that those fans/opinions are the minority, close ranks and save face. Despite all the criticism the Tech coaching staff/players have endured in years past, they have put together an incredibly successful football program that always found a way to answer those doubters by winning 10-games. But that is no more and the clock has stopped.