The 2014 college football season has been a roller coaster ride of emotions for many teams and fan-bases across the country and something the Hokie faithful are all too familiar with. This season has been filled with incredible highs--Ohio State Victory--and incredible lows--GT game-winning field goal--for the Virginia Tech football team, but there are some consistent bright spots that I see as very good.
The "Good": The youth movement that has invaded Blacksburg is very exciting and when coupled with the potential of the 2015 recruiting class and new practice facility, makes for a rejuvenated football program that has been average the last several years.
Freshmen are sprinkled all over the Hokie two-deep depth chart and for good reason; They make plays. Bucky Hodges, for example, might be one of the best tight-ends to ever play at Virginia Tech and he has several years to continue to grow. Running backs Shai Mckenzie and Marshawn Williams, regardless of injury, have shown that their careers are indeed going to be special for the Hokies when they both return to full form. Lastly, but not to be overlooked is the stellar play of wide receivers Isaiah Ford and Cam Philips. These two young men, when coupled with Hodges and Cline, might be as talented of a pass-catching corp as the Hokies have ever had. Not to say that Coale and Boykin or Royal, Morgan and Harper were not special, but none of those corps were contributors, so early on, in the same ways that these young guns are today.
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The "Bad": With youth often comes mental mistakes, which should be expected; however, for this Virginia Tech football team the achilles heel seems to be the mistakes that are being made by veteran or more experienced players.
The current offensive linemen have shown glimpses of brilliance, but overall have been disappointing, especially the play of veterans David Wang and Laurence Gibson. Both have had up and down careers at Virginia Tech, but their inconsistency seems to be holding back a Virginia Tech offense that in my opinion could beat anyone in the country--if the offensive line plays well. Key to being consistent is making every play, but more so limiting mistakes such as false-starts and holding penalties. In the 3rd quarter against UNC this past weekend the offense was stagnant at best, which can be attributed to players jumping offsides and holding--the holding calls weren't even in the gaps where the running backs were, but were often on the opposite sides of the play where it was unnecessary.
This offensive line has size and athleticism, which were shown against Ohio State, but has been negated too often due to avoidable penalties. I would like to see Wang and Gibson use this bye week as an opportunity to get back to play fundamentally sound and smart football before facing a talented Pitt and Miami front seven.
The "Ugly": Michael Brewer was labelled as a "game-manager" upon his arrival in Blacksburg and through the first two weeks of the season that is who he was, but over the past 4 games he has reverted back to a Logan Thomas mentality of trying to create plays that are not available. I think he is a very capable quarterback--maybe play calling is to blame--but he seems to make the poorest decisions at the most inopportune times. The upside is that Virginia Tech has played well enough to win all 6 games they have played, but because of mental errors they are 4-2.
For Brewer and the Hokies to continue to be successful they have to manage the game and limit their mistakes on offense as well as defense--where Torrian Gray's prized secondary have given up big plays to less talented opposition. These mistakes are correctable and are most likely due to good players trying to do too much. Moving forward the Hokies should be in a position to win every game on their schedule and will do so if they play fast, physical and most importantly SMART.