So this is going to start all over again, isn’t it? Two sections of the fanbases at each other’s throats for stupid reasons.
Look, Virginia Tech is no longer ranked. Let’s put that to the side. The team does not deserve it after playing like that against an unranked team. As I stood on the sidelines and sat in the press conference, I saw plenty that kind of gave me a better view of what was going on. So in my opinion- let’s make this quick; I don’t feel like reliving it- the team failed because…
- The defense can do a very poor job of pursuit on attack and gap control. The flow to the ball is almost always to the side and rarely is it downhill. When the defensive tackles are not making plays, they’re being completely washed out of the play. When that’s against an offensive line full of freshmen? That’s embarrassing. Woody Baron made plays, but he also got pushed out of the way or rendered ineffective frequently. We couldn’t force their running game to be one-dimensional at all- the option depends on being able to get both inside and outside. They could have either. It wasn’t consistent, sure, but we didn’t do anything to take anything off the board. If you want to argue passing, that’s simply gravy with an option offense. You have to either consistently plug the dive or flow to and attack the sweep. We did neither.
- Jerod Evans is having a rough go of it right now. He’s not looking off receivers, and has a tendency to get target lock. His head does NOT move that much, as if he doesn’t read a defense or check down that well. The interception to Carroll was him staring down a wide receiver into the middle of the field and not paying attention to defenders around him. Is this a one-read or run offense? Is that what it has to be with Evans? I’m not sure with all the questions that it brings up. Either defenses have been getting smarter about how to defend him and this offense, or the offense or his skill set are not growing.
- In seeing our offensive linemen, they’re not built for the kind of blocking we’re trying to do on interior run-blocking. They’re narrow-framed, which means that they’re athletic and alright with pass blocking, but not great in the short range run-blocking that we can’t get on that interior dive play we insist on running but can’t get going. Guess what. We haven’t been able to run that dive for years with much the same offensive linemen. That’s not going to change overnight.
- The turnovers are truly the killer. It deflates a whole team. You can feel the air go out of a crowd and a sideline when things are going alright and suddenly something goes terrible. But that first intercepted pass was thrown not into double coverage, but poorly into a position where two wide receivers ended. You GENERALLY as an offensive strategist want to avoid that but in desperation heaves like Hail Maries. So was that a miscommunication? Or a failed pass? Or a route run wrong? Either way, it’s part of an offense that’s been out of sync- in the past 7 quarters before the garbage time scoring, the Hokies had scored 21 points on offense, and 7 of that was on a very short field after a GT fumble on their own kickoff.
- It’s a feedback loop. Offense can’t play for longer series, defense gets gassed and gassed and gassed as the game goes on…this team feeds off itself, and when the offense isn’t working, it bogs EVERYTHING down, including the defense.
Look, a loss that bad is a loss all around. Players that don’t perform, coaches that do poor jobs of either adjusting or calling good plays/defenses in the first place -Bud’s subtle fist on the podium when he talked belied his frustration that whatever he was doing wasn’t working- everyone’s to blame.
What I don’t like is already hearing the calls of ‘fake fans’ and ‘fake Hokies’. I get annoyed when fans think you have to be perfectly optimistic all the time. The team has issues and has HAD issues on and off all year. It’s why I’ve repeatedly asked what this team is and where it’s going. There are legitimate questions to be asked. Why can’t we run block at all? Why has Jerod Evans suddenly turned into a pumpkin? Why has Bud STILL not figured out how to defend the running game that well? How come despite decent third down numbers it still seems like we can’t get off the field? What’s with the turnovers always coming in bunches? Why can’t Eric Gallo snap consistently and why is he still playing if he can’t? Why do we still seem to be tied down to just three receivers and only bring in others for certain specific situations that make their usage obvious?
But on the other end of the spectrum, we need to remember this is still a team in transition. The #14 ranking was basically on the merit of 7-2 against a pretty blah schedule and beating UNC- who is in the same boat as us, having just lost to an unranked Duke team. It’s Justin Fuente’s first year here, and Evans’ first year as a major college quarterback. We’re still playing with most of the players that aren’t used to winning and we’ve been saying are parts of less than stellar recruiting classes for years. The fact that it was going THIS FAST was surprising, but this team still has every right to be inconsistent and hard to track.
This team still has every possibility of being 8-4 or 9-3 and winning the Coastal. It also has the ability to never find its offense and end the season 7-5. Guess what? That’s pretty much in line with the beginning of the year projections, to the maybe slightly optimistic side.
So what is this team? For better or worse, we’re still right where we expected to be in a way- even to the tune of maybe exceeding expectations. But we do have a right to be confused as to how we’re getting there. Let’s stop hacking each other’s heads off for saying either one. There are seriously valid reasons for both to be true. And that’s always the confusing part.