The Battle of Bristol had its highs and lows... well mostly lows. The first quarter was great and the Hokies dominated. In the second quarter, they allowed one fumble to kick start a complete collapse. They lost their energy, their drive, and their momentum. Ultimately, they showed their immaturity by allowing that one turnover force the game out of hand.
The bright side is that as bad as the loss to the Tennesse Volunteers looked, the Virginia Tech Hokies still improved. I know that might be hard to believe, but the key to remember is that progress is not linear. There are going to be ups and downs, just as we saw on Saturday, all season. The team is learning a new offense with a new coach and playing at a new pace under a new quarterback. All of this "newness" will take some time and it is important to be patient and appreciate the bright spots.
I keep referencing Coach Justin Fuente's past as a precursor for what is to come for the Hokies. It is how I predicted Jerod Evans would start at QB. Well, in Fuente's first season at Memphis, the Tigers didn't show much improvement at first. After losing 8 of his first 9 games, many Memphis Tigers fans wondered if his process was working. But his players stuck it out and won their final 3 games of the season. When they finally "got it" and bought into Fuente's system, they built a foundation that set them up for future success.
So the improvement by the Virginia Tech Hokies under Fuente may have been tough to see through all of the fumbles at the Battle at Bristol. But look at the highs, like their excellent first quarter against a pretty good Tennesse Volunteers team. Fuente's team will build consistent excellence over time, it just takes a bit of patience to see it through.