Virginia Tech showed heart:
While there may truly be no moral victories in the world of sports, Virginia Tech should be able to take some positives from their second half effort against Boston College. After falling behind to Miami 24-0 at halftime last Thursday in Blacksburg, the Hokies did little to mount a second half comeback. This week Virginia Tech surged in the final quarter, turning a 13 point Boston College lead into a one point advantage in their favor in the first eight minutes of the fourth. The Eagles quickly regained the lead, and put the game on ice with a late 57 yard touchdown run from quarterback Tyler Murphy, but Virginia Tech didn't let a double digit deficit turn into a rout this week. Following the Murphy touchdown run, Michael Brewer again led the Hokies down the field to cut the deficit to two points, before the comeback simply ran out of time. Given more time Frank Beamer's team may have caught the Eagles, or perhaps continued chasing them in vain, but in any event the young Hokies team can be proud of their offensive effort in the games waning moments.
Michael Brewer stepped up for the Hokies:
Junior quarterback Michael Brewer answered the critics who spent the last week clamoring for backup Mark Leal to start Saturday with a 345 yard, two touchdown performance against Boston College. Brewer passed for more than 200 yards for only the second time in his last five games, and nearly guided the Hokies to a much needed victory. He completed 31 of his 48 passing attempts, and was able to distribute the ball well among several of his key receiving targets. Five Hokies receivers had their longest completion of the day go for 24 yards or more, including a 44 yard Brewer to Willie Byrn completion that was a team long. With the rushing game still struggling to find any meaningful yardage on the ground, a solid effort from Brewer was key. While Brewer couldn't do enough to secure a victory, he showed Virginia Tech that they have a capable signal-caller as the rest of the young offense matures next season.
The offensive line cost Virginia Tech the victory:
The Virginia Tech effort, while far from perfect, was improved over the last two Thursday night games. The area that faltered again Saturday, and probably turned a narrow Hokies win into a narrow defeat was the much maligned offensive line. Featuring senior anchors such David Wang and Caleb Farris, this group was likely never going to be confused with the Oakland Raiders offensive lines of the early 1970's, but has been even worse than advertised. Virginia Tech's already banged up backfield was held in check again with only 69 yards, thanks largely to the inability of the offensive line to open any holes for them. Ironically even Michael Brewers success through the air can be attributed to the lines lack of blocking, as he was chased out of the pocket all day and forced to throw on the run. As several upperclassmen make their way out of Blacksburg, it is clear the schools recruiting eye needs to be focused like a laser on upgrading the offensive line.
Coaching is holding back the teams progress:
Several factors have lead to Virginia Tech's disappointing 2-5 skid following their week two upset of Ohio State in Columbus. Injuries to key players have decimated much of the progress made after that signature win over the Buckeyes. The Hokies are also a young team and have been prone to mistakes and mental lapses this season. However, the key ingredient to the team's downfall has been their lack of effective coaching. Bud Foster's defensive unit has routinely failed the contain the oppositions biggest offensive target, usually a mobile quarterback. Scot Loeffler's abysmal offensive play calling hasn't allowed his unit to enjoy sustained drives, which also leaves the Hokies defense gassed late in the game. And yes, the man who built Virginia Tech football, Frank Beamer hasn't stepped up to sort out the mess his coordinators have made. Several freshman such as Marshawn Williams, Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges provide Hokie Nation hope for the future, but the coaching situation does not. With the likes of Loeffler and Beamer leading offensive weapons such as those freshman, it resembles a Ferrari owner who can't drive a manual transmission -- never able to harness the performance they should. Injuries heal. Youth matures. Poor coaching and out of touch leadership will continue to stall a programs growth.
I asked Virginia Tech junior QB Michael Brewer if he believes #Hokies can win 2 of 3 to make bowl game: "Absolutely, no doubt."— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) November 1, 2014
Two streaks are likely over:
Two streaks that began for Virginia Tech in 1993 may now be only a month from extinction. 1992 marked the last time the Hokies had a losing season, and missed a bowl game. The Hokies will now have to win two out of their next three games just to finish at .500 and maintain hope for bowl eligibility. Following next weeks bye they will face Duke (7-1), Wake Forest (2-6) and rival Virginia (4-5) on three consecutive weekends to close out the regular season. While Wake Forest and Virginia have the look of games the Hokies should win, 2014 has shown us that anything is possible, and nothing in certain. Some would say Virginia Tech doesn't deserve a bowl appearance this year. Others want the streak to continue, even if for nothing more than a sentimental reason. Whatever the case, having this conversation in November shows the sign of the times in Blacksburg.