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The Hokies Lose More than a Game to the Hurricanes

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The Virginia Tech Hokies show up for a rivalry game in Sun Life Stadium. Things started off with disaster, recovered to stasis, and then the Hokies just could not keep the Miami Hurricanes from scoring 10 more points in the 2nd half to ice the game at 30-20. It was a bitter disappointment, because the game was winnable right up until the middle of the 4th quarter.

Motley and Brewer - The story of the game.
Motley and Brewer - The story of the game.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

There is a part of me that would have liked to have had the money and the time to go to Sun Life Stadium somewhere outside Miami in the warmer reaches of south Florida.  There were plenty of really good seats available, and the crowd didn't look to be particularly hostile.  It must have been the surprise beautiful beach going weather, and the party atmosphere.  I don't know about all of that, but my TV visit to the stadium to see the Virginia Tech Hokies tee it up to play a three decade rivalry was going to be exciting, right?   Right?

Well, maybe exciting one or two times, okay, I won't be negative maybe five times.  It was exciting when Motley fumbled the ball going back for a pass, and it ended up on the Hokie five yard line.  I felt horrid for Brenden and worse for the Hokies because one play and a kick later and we were down 7 and would never regain any sort of real momentum in the game.   We tied it up twice, just before the half, but completely collapsed defensively on the last series before the break.   We paved the way with yellow hankies, and some of the more curious clock management that I have seen since watching an Andy Reid coached game.   We weren't going to get the ball back and score so why stop the clock and allow a high powered offense who has your number the break that it needs to march down the field and score a touchdown and PAT?  Why?   Are we being more clever than our talent will cover?  The game was tied 13 to 13 and going in to regroup on a tie is not a bad thing, especially when you are getting the ball back to begin the 2nd half.

From the beginning of the game, Tech seemed to be reaching hard to keep Miami in the driver's seat.  The Miami opening drive started off with a gashing 25 yard play mixed in with a few runs, but stalled out on incomplete passes.  The punt put Tech on its own 9 yard line; and on the second play from scrimmage after a 6 yard QB run, Brenden Motley lost control of a pass attempt that ended up being a fumble at the Tech 2.   Miami drove straight into the end zone on the next play, and made the score 7 -0.

Tech would then answer with a respectable but incomplete drive that stalled out on the Miami 13.  Joey Slye connected with the 33 yard field goal, and the score was not out of hand at 7 - 3.  Tech could have given up after the disastrous fumble but it didn't and they kept the first half respectable.  Both teams traded drives for a Miami field goal and Hokie touchdown.  But inexplicably Tech, knotted up with Miami just before the end of the first half, assisted the Hurricanes by stopping the clock twice with time outs, instead of doing everything possible to burn time and go into the half time period with a 13 -13 tie.  That series of decisions along with some bad defensive penalties and some poor coverage down field resulted in a Miami touchdown and PAT to take the break on top with a huge momentum changer.

Frankly, after the half, Tech never regained any sort of real momentum.  There was a brief period when Brenden Motley threw is 2nd interception and Michael Brewer was put in to relieve him.  The touchdown drive that he engineered was a demonstration of how important he is to the team, and the catch in the end zone capped his comeback from injury.  He did take a scary hit, and was hurried several times but Brewer's presence in the huddle seemed to settle the offense down (well it might have just settled me down and I was noticing.) but the comeback was just not to be after the defense failed to stop Miami from scoring on the next series.  Michael Brewer's interception on an ill-fated out route to Isaiah Ford iced things; but we were really two scores down, and had little chance of making up that spread in the 2:41 seconds left at the time of the pick off.   It's what happens when you put a rusty QB on the field and have him throw the most difficult route packages into tight coverage because you are desperate.

Miami wins this one.  It was disappointing.  The Hokies were in the game all the way up until the Hurricanes scored the touchdown just before the half.  The air seemed to come out of the team from then on, and even the return of Michael Brewer didn't provide enough energy and spirit to get the defense to stop Miami in the 4th quarter.

This game is going to be talked about for a while.  Tech's coaching staff made questionable play calls.  The defense just couldn't stop Brad Kaaya's passing game in the seams under the zone.   The offense refused to stay with what worked, and then stayed with what worked too long.   The special teams did well.  Joey hit all his FG attempts and all his PATs.  AJ punted twice and both were solid boomers.  Joey also kicked off routinely for touchbacks or super short yardage.  But that sort of special teams play doesn't win games too often.  Field Goals, maybe, but if you are kicking a field goal in the middle of a game it means that your offense stalled out and you are settling for -4 points.

Negative -4 might be the theme of the game anyway, because Miami left at least 8 points on the field because it stalled drives out deep in the red zone.

There was one other negative that just keeps popping up.  We cannot seem to play low mistake football.  Several times we offered the other team critical yards and first downs.  Our defensive backs must learn to play pro style, turned around and looking for the ball.  Face guarding is illegal in the NFL and though college players get away with it more often, as Facyson found out, college refs will call you for PI if your head isn't turned around.  Besides, ole 31 might have gotten a critical pick instead of a PI if he had just turned around and caught the ball in the end zone, instead of getting hit in the head with it.

I write because I love the story.  There is always a story behind what happens besides the dry stats.  The stats tell you what happened.  They don't say why, and the certainly don't say how.  They are important though, and instead of the big chart, we can look at the offensive summaries, and wonder what happened.  This was a winnable game, and we just didn't seem to be able to find the way to make that win happen.

Virginia Tech Hokie Individual Game Stats*

Passing Leaders

Yds

TD

Int

B. Motley

136

1

2

M. Brewer

65

1

1

Rushing Leaders

Yds

TD

T. McMillian

99

0

B. Motley

26

0

S. Rogers

22

0

T. Edmunds

13

0

Receiving Leaders

Rec

Yds

TD

I. Ford

4

76

1

C. Phillips

4

26

0

T. McMillian

3

16

1

B. Hodges

2

41

0

Miami Hurricane Individual Game Stats*

Passing Leaders

Yds

TD

Int

B. Kaaya

296

2

0

Rushing Leaders

Yds

TD

J. Yearby

60

1

M. Walton

37

0

S. Coley

15

0

W. Tucker

2

0

Receiving Leaders

Rec

Yds

TD

S. Coley

4

63

0

R. Scott

4

31

2

H. Waters

3

89

0

J. Yearby

3

51

0

This will be a week long discussion of what ifs; what if we had started Brewer?  What if the coaches hadn't accidentally helped Miami with timeouts at the end of the first half?  What if we hadn't run an obvious dive play to Edmunds off of the jumbo formation instead of using it for a play action fake?  What if we could have gotten that 4th down stop?  What if...?

Next week we go back to Lane.  The home field advantage is beginning to evaporate, folks.  Will Brewer get enough work to get a win at home?  What if we played a less disappointing game?

Sources:

*provided by Yahoo Sports

http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/virginia-tech-hokies-miami-fl-hurricanes-201510170011/