Josh Sweat: Going, Going...
With so many areas of need in Blacksburg, Virginia Tech fans have had a watchful eye on the school's recruiting progress. One of those eyes, however, has been firmly focused on defensive end Josh Sweat. The high school senior from Virginia is the top defensive recruit of his class and possibly the top prospect in the entire nation. Sweat has been the obvious focus of many programs, but the Hokies felt a quiet confidence that the pull of remaining in Virginia could be a deciding factor for the 6'5", 240-pound end.
The closest competition to the Hokies is believed to be from the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles. Sweat visited Tallahassee this weekend, and will travel to Blacksburg next weekend as Virginia Tech hosts rival Virginia. Sweat suffered a knee injury in September, pushing back his key visits to November but he is expected to be ready for his freshman college season.
At this point however, one would think unless he has a severe case of home sickness or the Hokie recruiters do an unfathomable job convincing him, Sweat will be a Seminole when next year rolls around. It's hard to fault a man who could have his choice of schools, if he were to pick a team that hasn't lost in two seasons over the mess that currently is Virginia Tech football.
Brenden Motley deserves a look
Virginia Tech has struggled finding a solid quarterback since Tyrod Taylor moved onto the NFL and this season has proved that Michael Brewer likely won't make anyone around Blacksburg forget the name Michael Vick anytime soon.
Much like his predecessor Logan Thomas, all of the blame for the Hokies' lack of success can't all rest on Brewer. With a running game crippled by injuries the Hokies have come to rely, perhaps too heavily on the passing game this season. And an offense run poorly by coordinator Scot Loeffler does little to help the growth of quarterbacks like Thomas and Brewer.
By the same token, it is clear that Brewer is limited, his skill set is best suited for a game managing type quarterback at best. Waiting in the wings is back up Brenden Motley, a redshirt sophomore. While Motley hasn't taken many meaningful snaps as a Hokie, he appears to have the tools to be at least as successful as Brewer. Motley is a smart decision maker, and more mobile than the incumbent Brewer. It's not likely Motley will get a chance with the season on the line against Virginia next week, but he deserves a look in training camp, a place he briefly held the starting job at this summer before an injury sidelined him.
The Wake Forest loss was the worst effort from the Hokies this season
Stink. Stank. Stunk. Those are some of the best descriptions of Virginia Tech's effort against Wake Forest Saturday. All the Hokies needed to do was beat then 2-8 Wake Forest to somehow find themselves in a bowl game following a disappointing 2014 campaign—and they laid an egg. Losing to ECU in week three following a huge win against Ohio State was painful. Back-to-back Thursday night losses was a foreign feeling and tough to handle. Saturday's loss to the Demon Deacons was just plain ugly and the worst game of the season for the Hokies in many respects.
Virginia Tech had its opportunities following several missed field goals from Wake Forest and couldn't take advantage. Tech had the ball to start the second overtime, and couldn't get out of its own way with Michael Brewer taking a costly sack and opening the door for Wake. An already maligned offense, lead by coordinator Scot Loeffler, sunk to new low's Saturday as it failed to make it to the redzone in regulation. The defeat is sure to leave a sour taste in the mouth of Hokies fans, as the loss to Wake Forest summed up the Hokies season—a lack of offense, and playing to the level of the competition.
Does making a bowl game still matter?
The college football landscape has become watered down with a series of games featuring teams at or only slightly above the .500 mark. Seemingly any team that can fog up a mirror and can throw together a patchwork season can get into a bowl game. Virginia Tech has become one of those teams.
The Hokies can still become bowl eligible next Friday with a win over rival Virginia to get to an even 6-6 on the season. But should they be bowl eligible? Most of Hokie Nation would still like to represent the school in a post season game, but Tech hasn't done much to convince even the most loyal fan that they deserve to be there.
Virginia Tech hasn't played with any urgency in 2014, suffered an embarrassing Thursday night home loss to Miami, and most recently failed to get up for a game against a subpar Wake Forest side with a bowl bid on the line. That's not exactly an impressive resume for a bowl game, even one played in early December.
Qualifying for a bowl could be a detriment
Stumbling into a bowl game at 6-6 would extend the Hokies' 22-year streaks of .500 or better regular seasons and making a bowl appearance. It would also delay the inevitable house cleaning that needs to take place in Blacksburg. Offensive Coordinator Scot Loeffler obviously needs to be shown the door following a dreadful offensive season. And as unpleasant as the thought might be to some Hokies fans, a fresh start at head coach is also needed.
Frank Beamer is rightfully beloved by Virginia Tech but the team has been stagnant in recent seasons and is now regressing. Yes the team is young. And yes, the team has been hobbled by injuries. However, beyond those issues is the clear fact that Beamer's message simply isn't being received by his players anymore. The elephant in the room is Beamer and his nearly three decade tenure at the school. The Virginia Tech brass can likely see that a change is needed, but who is going to be the one to make THAT decision?
Beamer might be safe either way after this season based on his resume alone, but another bowl appearance all but assures it. A need for change hits every program at one point or another, and that time is now in Blacksburg. Narrowly keeping both 22-year-old streaks alive only delays that change for the Hokies