The Virginia Tech Hokies suffered their second straight loss on Saturday with a 28-22 defeat at the hands of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Tech, already eliminated from Coastal Division contention after last week’s loss to Miami, was hoping to finish the season strong. Unfortunately, Georgia Tech and the triple option had other ideas.
Now that we’ve had a couple of days to digest this ugly loss, here are five takeaways from Virginia Tech’s loss at Georgia Tech.
Freshman quarterback Josh Jackson has started slowly in most of Tech’s games this season. Saturday was no different. It doesn’t help Jackson that most of his receiving options are also young players, too. On Saturday, Jackson didn’t get a lot of help from his receivers, including Cam Phillips.
However, Jackson has struggled at times recently. Whether it’s accuracy or not trusting his protection, Jackson’s play has gotten worse. In his press conference after the game, head coach Justin Fuente hinted at Jackson’s shortcomings without saying as much. Fuente knows what Jackson is. And he’s solid. But what’s his ceiling? Moving forward, Jackson will have his hands full holding off both Herndon Hooker and Quincy Patterson.
Let’s not write Jackson off yet, but recent offensive shortcomings have certainly created cause for concern.
About the offense
The offensive struggles are certainly not all Jackson’s fault. Not even close. This team, outside of Wyatt Teller, struggles to hold their blocks. With left tackle Yosuah Nijman out, their shortcomings are even more glaring. The Hokies can’t consistently run the football which makes Jackson’s job even harder.
As far as the running backs go, there’s no consistency. Travon McMillian is up and down. Why not give more opportunities to Jalen Holston? He carried the ball 10 times on Saturday. Give him a game full of action. It’s time to see which players are ready for larger roles next season. Holston looks like the most complete back on the roster.
As a whole, Tech’s offense finished the game with just 258 total yards. Keep in mind, Georgia Tech’s defense won’t remind anyone of Clemson or Miami’s units. Still, the Hokies could get nothing going.
A lack of playmakers on offense is a major problem. Fuente knows the limitations of this group and on Saturday tried to coach around them and be even more aggressive.
After a red-hot start to the season, Phillips has hit a funk. Sure, he’s battled an injury and is always the focus of opposing defenses. Still, the Hokies need more from Phillips. He had just two catches for eight yards and had a critical—and ugly—drop.
If the Hokies are going to win their final games and extend their winning streak over Virginia, the offense must go through Phillips and he must produce, too.
Stop with the Fuente needs to go talk
Sadly, if you hopped on social media Saturday or visited any Tech message boards, you’d see numerous “fans” calling for Fuente’s head. How ludicrous is that? The second-year coach now has a record of 17-7, with two straight losses. Fans are mad about play-calling, and I get that.
But, as mentioned earlier, Fuente realizes what he has on offense. And he knows what this group is capable of, or more importantly, what they aren’t capable of.
Fans want the backup quarterback. Fans always think the backup quarterback is better. If AJ Bush played and made mistakes, fans would be begging for Jackson. And vice versa. That happens to any fanbase.
And Fuente took a lot of uncharacteristic chances on Saturday. Why not? If they work, Tech wins, if not, the Hokies aren’t winning the ACC anyway. So why not be aggressive and go for it all?
Some Virginia Tech fans have delusions that this program is Alabama. It’s not. Do you realize how many programs would love to have Fuente? So, can we officially stop spouting this nonsense?
Defense beaten for big plays
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets finished the game with 401 total yards. However, the Jackets had three plays that totaled 209 yards, two of which were scores, while the other set up a score. Outside of three plays, the Hokies gave up just 192 total yards. GT had 65 total offensive plays, 62 of those plays went for just 192 yards, while three went for 209 yards. Again, let that sink in. It wasn’t a horrible defensive performance, but it’s the same things that continue to beat this team. The Hokies struggle to stop the big plays.
Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall completed just two of eight passes for 140 yards. Both of his completions went for touchdowns. How does that happen?
Outside of one 69-yard run, VT’s defense held Georgia Tech’s running game to less than four yards per attempt. If you told me that before the game I would’ve said the Hokies win this one going away. However, it all goes back to the big plays.
As good as this defense is, a big play is seemingly always around the corner.