The season that began with high aspirations after a thrilling overtime victory over rival Georgia Tech ended with a hollow thud after winning over a hapless Virginia, finishing the season at 6-6, the worst single season performance since 1992. Gobbler Country provides a painful but detailed look back at the season, going through each game, and providing some statistics for you to digest. Read on, have a bottle of Maalox next to you, and brave this article.
Raise your hand if you thought a 6-6 season was going to happen. Put your hands down because you are lying. Nobody could have seen this season coming, not even Nostradamus would have seen it without the aid of a time machine.
Georgia Tech (won) Labor Day. ESPN coverage. Night game in an electrified Lane Stadium with fireworks. The winner of this rivalry game has traditionally gone on to represent the Coastal in the ACC Championship game. It was also the first time there was an overtime game in Lane Stadium, where Virginia Tech iced the game with a Cody Journell’s game deciding field goal kick in overtime.
Georgia Tech’s Final Season Stat Rankings: Rushing Offense – 4th; Passing Offense- 115th; Rushing Defense-47th; Passing Defense – 67th; Total Offense – 32nd; Total Defense – 53rd; Jeff Sagarin’s Strength of Schedule – 55th.
Austin Peay (won) Following the victory over Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech hosted FCS’s Austin Peay Governors in what was supposed to be a beat down. Instead, the offense struggled to get tractions, and the defense began to show crack in stopping the runs. However, Virginia Tech finally flexed their muscles, and deliver a blow out that everybody was waiting for. It was later believed the coaches decided to treat the game like a scrimmage.
Austin Peay’s Final Season Stat Rankings (FCS): Rushing Offense – 53rd; Passing Offense – 74th; Rushing Defense – 81st; Passing Defense – 114th; Total Offense – 79th; Total Defense – 107th; Jeff Sagarin’s Strength of Schedule – 137th. Note: Austin Peay is an FCS member, therefore, the stats indicate their standing in the FCS.
Pittsburgh (lost) The game that Hokies Nation wants to forget the same way the Men in Black zaps memories with those fancy gizmos. Either Virginia Tech did not take the Panthers seriously or they decided to not to show up. Either way, it was an embarrassment of epic proportions and they fell out of the top 25 rankings, never to return.
Pittsburgh’s Final Season Stats Rankings: Rushing Offense – 89th; Passing Offense – 43rd; Rushing Defense – 24th; Passing Defense – 25th; Total Offense – 61st; Total Defense – 16th; Jeff Sagarin’s SOS – 63rd.
Bowling Green (won) Coming back home to Blacksburg, licking their wounds after the embarrassment following the defeat to Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech crushed Bowling Green in typical, vintage Virginia Tech fashion. The defense was stout. The offense got rolling. The reserves got to play. It was a feel good win for the Hokies.
Bowling Green’s Final Season Stat Rankings: Rushing Offense – 66th; Passing Offense – 80th; Rushing Defense – 14th; Passing Defense – 7th; Total Offense – 85th; Total Defense – 7th; Jeff Sagarin’s SOS – 136th.
Cincinnati (lost) The FedEx Field Hex was alive and kicking when the Hokies squared off with Cincinatti in an early season matchup. Virginia Tech had the game won, but Cincinnati answered with a last-gasp, Hail Mary pass that went into the end zone just over the outstretched hands of Michael Cole for a demoralizing Hokies loss. It also sparked The Gobbler Country Manifesto to be written.
Cincinnati’s Final Season Stat Rankings: Rushing Offense – 31st; Passing Offense – 63rd; Rushing Defense – 27th; Passing Defense – 72nd; Total Offense – 44th; Total Defense – 41st; Jeff Sagarin’s SOS – 99th.
North Carolina (lost) If the loss to Cincinnati didn’t feel great, the loss to North Carolina drove the most stout Hokie fans to suck back a drink, or ten. North Carolina’s Gio Bernard put on a clinic on how to run wild on a Bud Foster defense. He had a career day, and would go on to earn an All-ACC honor. It also marked the first time on the season that the Hokies gave up a kickoff return for touchdown.
North Carolina’s Final Season Stat Rankings: Rushing Offense – 36th; Passing Offense – 28th; Rushing Defense – 42nd; Passing Defense – 78th; Total Offense – 16th; Total Defense – 57th; Jeff Sagarin’s SOS – 100th. Note: North Carolina is ineligible to participate in any postseason contests.
Duke (won) Duke had Virginia Tech on the ropes, as the Hokies spotted them 20 points before the Blue Devils crumbled under a defense that was pitching hissy fits, and a sudden resurgent offense that was the most balanced of the season at that point. It was a game that made Hokie Nation exhale after holding their breath for an eternity.
Duke’s Final Season Stat Rankings: Rushing Offense - 104th; Passing Offense – 32nd; Rushing Defense – 103rd; Passing Defense – 96th; Total Offense – 65th; Total Defense – 104th; Jeff Sagarin’s SOS – 60th.
Clemson (lost) Two controversial calls marred this game for Virginia Tech, leaving a bad taste in the collective fan base’s mouth. After starting off hot, Virginia Tech simply couldn’t keep up the pace, and lost again to Clemson who has owned them recently, starting a 3-0 streak over Frank Beamer.
Clemson’s Final Season Stat Rankings: Rushing Offense – 33rd; Passing Offense – 13th; Rushing Defense – 60th; Passing Defense – 81st; Total Offense – 9th; Total Defense – 74th; Jeff Sagarin’s SOS – 66th.
Miami (lost) Perhaps the worst team in nearly every statistical category to host Virginia Tech somehow beat the Hokies. Coming off of a bye week, the expectation was that Virginia Tech would start a November tear like usual, instead they fell flat on their face. The only bright spot was a 73-yard run by Logan Thomas. As for the bad? Oh, just another special teams gaffe that saw a blocked punt set up Miami’s first touchdown, and a huge yield on punt return set up Miami’s second touchdown. It was not a pretty night in Florida for the Hokies.
Miami’s Final Season Stat Rankings – Rushing Offense – 82nd; Passing Offense – 27th; Rushing Defense – 113th; Passing Defense 101st; Total Offense – 38th; Total Defense – 117th; Jeff Sagarin’s SOS – 47th. Note: Miami elected to self-impose another post-season ban to stay in the NCAA’s good graces when they decide on a punishment for Miami’s infractions with Nevin Shaprio.
Florida State (lost) This was probably, bar none, the best Virginia Tech performance of the season. It was a cold Thursday night game in a raucous Lane Stadium that saw a chance for Virginia Tech to get an upset win fizzle when a poorly thrown Logan Thomas pass to Corey Fuller intercepted to end the game.
Florida State’s Final Season Stat Rankings: Rushing Offense – 25th; Passing Offense – 42nd; Rushing Defense – 5th; Passing Defense – 3rd; Total Offense – 23rd; Total Defense – 2nd; Jeff Sagarin’s SOS – 69th.
Boston College (won) This game included: A viral video caused a Marcus Davis benching in the 1st half, a robbed interception that was overturned by a very poor replay review and an overtime win to survive baffling end of the game clock management by Boston College’s coach. It was also the only road game that Virginia Tech won on the season. Barely. Oh, forgot to mention, they wore that gawd awful helmets in this game as well.
Boston College’s Final Season Stat Rankings: Rushing Offense – 115th; Passing Offense – 44th; Rushing Defense – 112th; Passing Defense – 71st; Total Offense – tied for 97th; Total Defense – 101st; Jeff Sagarin’s SOS – 46th.
Virginia (won) Bragging rights were on the line. The Commonwealth Cup, which was in Virginia Tech’s possession for over 2,000 days was at stake. At stake was finishing above .500 for the 20th consecutive year. Yet, the game was anything but beautiful. Befuddling clock management by Mike London gave Virginia Tech every chance to win the game, which they did. The worst team in modern Virginia Tech history barely won, and Virginia couldn’t beat them. So the Commonwealth Cup stays in Blacksburg for another year.
Virginia’s Final Season Stat Rankings : Rushing Offense – 96th; Passing Offense – tied for 37th; Rushing Defense – 44th; Passing Defense – 34th; Total Offense – 66th; Total Defense – 31st; Jeff Sagarin’s SOS – 58th.
Difficult to beat... Georgia Tech. Their 4th ranked total offense is notoriously difficult to defend and defeat, but somehow, Virginia Tech did it. Yet, by the virtue of North Carolina and Miami being ineligible for the post-season, Georgia Tech went to the ACC Championship Game, thusly making them the default choice of being the toughest opponent that Virginia Tech beat.
Difficult loss…Florida State. Their 2nd ranked defense in the country did what they had to do to stop Logan Thomas from delivering another miracle finish in Blacksburg, intercepting his pass to Corey Fuller to preserve their late lead and seal the outcome. Florida State would go on to face Georgia Tech and win the ACC crown.
Impressive victory…The win over 7th ranked defense Bowling Green. This is almost embarrassing to write, but it’s true.
Embarrassing loss…Pittsburgh. How did a team that lost to FCS Youngtown State and Cincinnati beat Virginia Tech? See the answer above. North Carolina also deserves mention as well, but since they are out of the post-season, they don’t get the award.
Defensively, there were struggles. The reshuffled secondary to create artificial depth due to attritition, untimely transfers and injuries left the defense vulnerable to pass-happy teams like North Carolina and Clemson as shown in the chart. The rush defense also showed plenty of vulnerability with their inability to stop the run, funnel the runner to the linebacker, and the run support was lacking.
However, beginning in the Clemson game, the defense finally showed signs of improvement as they started to limit big gains through the air and on the ground. The defensive line finally lived to their pre-season billing as a nasty front four. The secondary began to gel and the linebackers began to roam the field with a purpose.
Worst defensive performance…Cincinnati and North Carolina. Cincinnati hurt Virginia Tech more through the air as Bud Foster sold out the defense to stop the run; while in North Carolina, Larry Fedora’s up-tempo offense had the defense on their heels (no pun intended) all afternoon. As mentioned above, Gio Bernard had the game of his life that afternoon.
Best defensive performance…Florida State by a mile. When was the last time Florida State was held minus 15 rushing yards? 1978. Let that sink in a minute. If it was not for a breakdown in the secondary, Virginia Tech could have possibility won the game on the back of their defense. Regardless, it was the single most impressive defense this season that had the fans shaking Lane Stadium to the foundation with a roar.
Offensively, this is probably the most beaten dead horse ever written about in Virginia Tech history. Face it, Virginia Tech is never going to be known to be a gimmicky or fancy offense like Oregon or West Virginia, but this was probably the worst offense that has been seen in Blacksburg for decades. While Logan Thomas got his share of criticism, the offensive line was the weakest link all season long, and a lack of running game over-burdened Thomas. The offense literally and figuratively lived and died by him.
Worse offensive performance…Pittsburgh. It’s not even close. Three interceptions by Logan Thomas doomed the offense. Second worst was at North Carolina where they registered a measly 40 yards rushing! 40!
Best offensive performance…Duke. As stated above, the offense was at its most balanced. J.C. Coleman had the game of his freshman career, exploding for 183 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Logan Thomas tossed 256 yards and two touchdowns. It was a magnificent performance by the offense. That kind of balanced offense would be seen again in the Clemson and Miami games, but it wasn’t enough to win those games, unfortunately.
Virginia Tech’s Final Season Stat Rankings: Rushing Offense – 65th; Passing Offense- 61st; Rushing Defense – 34th; Passing Defense – 30th; Total Offense – tied 71st; Total Defense – 24th; Jeff Sagarin’s SOS – 57th.
It is tough to keep things in perspective after several years of 10-wins seasons and then for this year to arrive as a down year. It is tough for fans to swallow. Disappointment is definitely an understatement, but understandable. Nobody feels it worse than the players and the coaches who have put in hours of practices and preparations for each game.
The 2013 season is cautiously bright. The 2013 class that is scheduled to arrive on National Signing Day is supposed to be among the best recruiting classes in Tech’s history. It is headlined by five-star Kendall Fuller, the youngest brother of Corey and Kyle Fuller. The class is loaded with defensive backs, and their help is going to be sorely needed. Virginia Tech will also have the chance to start two-way star, Trey Edmunds, rumored to be an explosive and powerful running back that could have been used this year. The X-factor will be if Logan Thomas decides to forego the NFL Draft or return for his senior year.
That is not to say the 2013 season doesn’t have question marks. There are rumors of coaching changes that are supposed to take place after the bowl game against Rutgers. It also doesn’t help that Alabama, a possible national championship winner, will face Virginia Tech in Atlanta (another NFL venue that has not been kind to the Hokies’ football program) to start the season.
However, Virginia Tech does have the pieces in place to make a statement next season. Whether or not it happens, Gobbler Country will be here for fans to rant, rave, and write opinions about all things Virginia Tech.
Let’s go, Hokies!