For the second week in a row the coaches’ and players’ press conference seemed to offer little insight or hope concerning the Hokies’ performance and future.
Coach Beamer took the stage first. In a near mirror image of his ECU post-game conference he provided little to illuminate. Frank offered a plethora of banalities, and was visibly irritated concerning the performance of Virginia Tech. Any hint at specifics was glossed over. The primary message that Beamer communicated was, "This program is not going to stay the way it is right now." He failed to provide any specifics, generally lamenting his desires for squads instead of tangibles that could be built upon. He wishes that various squads on the team had more experience and that players would execute at a higher level. Frank Beamer’s responses were largely vague, but maintained the theme that the status quo would not be maintained.
Foster’s and Loeffler’s statements were largely similar. They highlighted poor execution and a lack of experience on the team. In a confounding portion of the interview Coach Foster mourned the secondary’s inability to shut down the run. That is a sentiment this author finds odd, because normally a team does not want the secondary to need to deal with the run. But, in what is becoming a standard in the VT defense this season, the secondary regularly has to deal with foe’s running attacks. Loeffler reached for the same tropes as Foster and Beamer. He discussed the lack of execution by the players on the offensive line and the inability of the running game to generate production. Next, in what was certainly the most awkward portion of the post-game press conference, the players answered questions. Seriously, the press conference was the best coached portion of the game. Every single player, every single one, maintained the established narrative of poor execution on offense and defense.
Throughout the discussion there was no acceptance or dialogue about the scheme issues on the offensive line or at linebacker. Instead, the story was that the plan was solid but execution was poor. Poor blocking and missed assignments was the name of the game. I cannot argue that execution was good, but the reality is that execution is only a part of the full story. There are no answers for the reality that the Hokies have frequently faced QBs and RBs that are larger and faster than the Hokie LB corps. The Hokie defense cannot stop the run, and that was also not directly addressed. The running game is poor to quite poor… again glossed over. The clear deficiencies on the offensive line was addressed with a confusing statement about a young freshmen that was not ready to play, but was talented. There was no discussion about play calling or scheme. Instead, the majority of the blame was placed on the players on the field not executing.
The interaction, from both coaches and players, was tense. Coach Beamer and QB Motley both demonstrated terse responses to questions. Most certainly that is to be expected after such an ignominious defeat, but there was no sense of optimism or way ahead. The coaches and players trotted out the predictable platitudes expected from losing game, but delivered them in a decidedly hostile manner. The lack of experience and player execution was the primary theme, and fully offered as the primary reason for the dismal loss against Pitt.
There is something altogether disturbing about that entire situation. The coaches never, at any point, offered to take responsibility for the lack of performance. One of the most telling, and disturbing quotes from the conference came from Beamer. He said, "I know they’re young, but they need to start growing up." This quote, in particular troubled me, because it seemed to strongly demonstrate a belief, in the head coach, that the players are immature. Furthermore, that statement implied heavily that the immaturity inherent in the players is the reason for the poor performance of the team. It is certainly reasonable to expect that young athletes could perhaps demonstrate such attitudes. But, such a reality exists within any college athletic effort. If the HC is saying the players need to "grow up" for the team to improve, it seems an attack on the character of the young men playing. If such a situation exists, it could be evidence of a significant wedge, either growing or already existing, between the players and the coaches.
Furthermore, there seemed to be zero ownership by the coaches. I would like to draw a comparison to Buffalo Bills head coach, Rex Ryan and his statements after the New England Patriots soundly defeated his team. Ryan said, "I'm going to tell you exactly like I told our team. First off this loss is squarely on one man's shoulders. It's on my shoulders. We are going to get better as a team there's no question. I have to get better . . . That's how it ended up. It's unfortunate." Here we see a man owning the deficiencies in his team. That is a sentiment that was completely devoid in the VT coaches’ statements during the press conference. It was not their fault - it was young, inexperienced, immature players not executing the coaches’ plans. It was not their fault - it was the fault of derelict children not doing what they are told. Even if that is true, the lack of humility in the coaching staff and unwillingness to shoulder at least a portion of the responsibility, and to simply hang the players out to dry, is difficult to stomach.
Einstein stated that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. When one looks at offensive play calling and the repeated deficiencies in the defensive schemes they cannot help but recognize the reality of the Einstein quote. The fact that every coach fully blamed execution as a reason for losing means they are saying that the players are not doing their jobs. The coaches are, essentially, saying to them, "Play better." The schemes are solid, you guys just do not do them right. Execution is certainly a portion, but in my opinion it is not even the primary reason. That sentiment is a huge problem. The coaching staff has, perhaps, already lost much of the fan base. Are they not now flirting with losing the team… if they have not already?