Hokie fans, it has not been pretty and yet there is still time to turn some of the negatives into positives, or at least hope it is possible. First, we need to remember that these are 18-22 year olds that are going to school and playing football, which is a lot harder than many people think it is. The coaches and players hate losing and really want to get back to the winning ways that we, as critics, want so badly.
The four losses that the Hokies have suffered were poorly played and sometimes against opponents that on paper looked worse than the Hokies. Miami seemed to be the nail in the proverbial coffin for many fans. Miami, with a freshmen QB, came into Blacksburg and walked all over Tech on Thursday night. After watching the game again it was little mistakes that killed offensive momentum and lost the field position battle, which is why Duke Johnson was able to score too many times.
Instead of the usual take-away (where I look mostly at the positives) the five listed below are areas that if improved can get VT back to that Ohio State form because this is the same team with the same talent that went in to Columbus and beat Urban and the boys.
1. Play calling has to improve. This is strictly a coaching issue and I think the product of limited personell at running back. JC Coleman has had one productive game in his career and it was two seasons ago. Marshawn has run well, but he is coming off of a high-ankle sprain that takes time to fully heal. These combine to hurt the Hokies running attack and it's forced coach Scot Leoffler to revert to screen passes as the game-plan for running the ball. Now, screen passes are not bad because they get playmakers the ball in space which very good/explosive offenses do really well (i.e. Oregon, Arizona, Ohio State, Alabama, Auburn). The problem is that we have first-year players trying to block experienced secondaries in the process, which has limited the effectiveness of the plays being called. When this happens the coaching staff needs to recognize it's not working and try something different. I really want to see Newsome and Stroman on some end arounds.
#Hokies coach Frank Beamer: "If we'll help Michael Brewer we won't have a slow start. It's right there for us."— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) October 27, 2014
2. QB play needs to be better. Michael Brewer has not showed the manager mentality he did earlier in the year. His passes are lazy, which I think is a product of anxiety. He is anxious and fears turning the ball over, probably because the coaches stress that punting is better than an interception, which is true unless you're down and have to take risks. Mark Leal came in and led the Hokies down the field at the end of the game to preserve the 250 game Virginia Tech scoring streak, but that was against a prevent defense. The difference in each the quarterbacks play is the speed at which Leal can get the ball out and with purpose behind it. I don't know who should start, but I wouldn't mind seeing rotated possessions until one of them gets hot.
3. Bud, C'mon. As bad as we think the offensive staff are at making adjustments the defense has not been much better. Against ECU and GT we were content to put our secondary on islands the whole game and it was taken advantage of. Against Pitt and Miami we were intent on stopping the run with 7 guys but nothing seemed to work. I don't know how much of it is a personnel issue or if the execution is not there, but when Duke Johnson continues to run for seven yards over and over, the coaches have to shift to different looks in order to limit the damage. Now, Johnson is a sure-fire first rounder, but wasn't this supposed to be the fastest VT defense in a long time?
#Hokies C David Wang's message to fans: "Stick behind us, man. It's going to click. Stick with us out there." Said team needs fans now.— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) October 27, 2014
4. Leadership. Leaders tend to stick out when teams are faced with adversity and the Hokies need leadership right now. I don't mean Beamer or other coaches stepping up, but we need leadership on the field. The freshmen are not freshmen after playing this much football and we need for them to come together with some of the upperclassmen to set some goals to get after BC. Boston College has talented players at skill positions and will look to run the football with the QB and RB. Virginia Tech cannot let it happen. Injuries are excuses this time of the year and this team has to come together to win for themselves. I read on another board that the players "should win for Beamer" I disagree and say they need to win for Virginia Tech and themselves because no one likes losing.
I could go on and on, picking out every little deficiency, but I am a Hokie and really do believe this team can win. To do so Virginia Tech needs to come together, the fans need to stop asking for changes and focus on beating Boston College because without the support of every single player, coach and fan the Eagles will come into Lane and win.
Note: I have been guilty of booing, demanding change and bashing players, but this is not the time for that because this is a wounded team and fan base that needs to come together. The changes, if any, will come at the end of the year and we can't control that.