Well, no bones about it. That stunk. As your friendly neighborhood booth tweeter, it wasn’t any more or less unimpressive from my point of view. I’ve already made a video (caution: some mild language at the end) on our Facebook page, and while it wasn’t very scripted or prepared, I’ll link it here. For most of you who really don’t want to see 1AM exhausted diatribes from me, I’ll give you the TL;DR version.
Clemson is where Virginia Tech is…seven to eight years in the future. Clemson is currently a mile and a half in front of us in terms of recruiting, and that’s not even close. I was reading a depth chart analysis that our Clemson sister site, Shakin’ the Southland put together. It’s pretty rough. Right now, in average star ranking, Clemson is .75 stars away from us across the board in terms of recruiting depth on offense, and .46 on defense- especially notable are the differences in defensive line talent and quarterback/skill position talent. Consistent success and a recent history of very high NFL draft success has put Clemson in another league in terms of what recruits they can draw into their program. That difference can somewhat be made up by coaching, of course, but when the coaching overall is at a similar level, the more talented team has a better chance to win. I am SO. TIRED. of hearing certain segments of the Hokies fanbase tell us that stars don’t matter. STARS MATTER. RECRUITING DEPTH MATTERS. We’ve been screwed of late by a lack of depth in the secondary and the defensive line on defense and we’ve been blown up in terms of roster cycling because we have a tendency to be lacking in one position group or another every year. Clemson is one of the teams that can make up for it more often than not with the next man up.
Look, I’ve gone into the whole issue with funding and the fact that Virginia Tech fans don’t donate as much money as other ACC Counterparts, Clemson’s big fancy athletic center, etc. etc. But Virginia Tech still has a long way to go to bring their average talent level up to that of Clemson. Let us please also remember that this is Fuente’s second full year of recruiting, something that is a multi-year process per CLASS. He’s still trying to win with a lot of Frank Beamer’s players, and to be honest? He’s also not. But that means all those players that are seeing the field right now that he recruited are TRUE. FRESHMEN. Going up against a still quite talented Clemson team, even if it had lost some people? That was going to be difficult. I wasn’t altogether that far off from the score total- put the two missed field goals on the board and I nailed it.
I didn’t come by the methodology right, though. I didn’t expect that the offense would be completely intractable. When the screen game and the dives didn’t work? There were more screens to throw and dives to attempt. I wasn’t the only one on twitter to think that we’d gone back to the days of Stinespring and Loeffler and other offensive coordinators that have disappointed us. Fuente fell on the sword, of course- they had schemed up the offense for a completely different defensive style, and Clemson pulled a fast one on them. That’s fair. Not changing? That’s not fair.
I don’t think Jackson was BAD last night, but he wasn’t GOOD either. The first interception wasn’t his fault- it bounced off Murphy’s hands. The second was a bad throw. Most of the night I think he was alright in his decision making, but I think that a lot of the plays he was reading were one-read setups and those reads weren’t there- or other things were open and he was missing them because they weren’t in the read series. But the offensive playcalling was not great. End of story. That was disappointing.
A lot of people will be nuts about the running quarterback thing, but I don’t think that the defense was honestly terrible. Staying on field as much as they were the first half? They only gave up 24 points to that offense, and 7 of those were on a completely blown coverage. That’s not awful by any stretch in this day and age. The Clemson wideouts had to bail out Kelly Bryant more than a couple times with athletic plays. Credit to them. And of course, he was sure a pain, yes. But this is the defending national champion. Seriously. Everyone please stop going nuts.
I don’t want to get into it that much more since I did that long video, but this game left me with mixed feelings. Let’s just hope Clemson doesn’t beat us twice and we can get to BC and beat the snot out of them.