The Virginia Tech Hokies fell to 7-2 on the season after Saturday night’s loss at Miami. And, at 3-2 in the ACC, Tech’s hopes of appearing in back-to-back conference championship games are history. But, there are still three games left in the regular season and a lot to play for. Head coach Justin Fuente can get to 10 wins and play in a pretty decent bowl game. After all, the Hokies are still ranked No. 17 after the disappointing defeat at Miami.
As the score indicated, this game was never really close. The Hurricanes were always at least two scores ahead and Tech’s offense wasn’t legitimate threat for Miami’s defense.
Now that we’ve had a couple of days to look back, here are five takeaways from Virginia Tech’s second loss of the season.
Play-calling was strange at times
There’s no doubt, Virginia Tech’s play-calling appeared predictable and too safe at times on Saturday night. Of Tech’s first 16 plays, 13 of them were runs. And it isn’t as if the running game was clicking on all cylinders. It wasn’t.
Early in the game, the coaching staff appeared to want to ease quarterback Josh Jackson into the game with a raucous crowd. That philosophy set Tech back on offense. For the Hokies, this was a chance to make a play for the Coastal Division and they were far too conservative. Sure, this offense has limitations, but this was your last shot at winning the division and appearing in the ACC title game. This was Jackson’s eighth start and the coaches must let him play.
Jackson is one tough customer
The freshman quarterback took a ton of big hits on Saturday night. And he kept getting back up. On one series, he appeared to hurt his throwing arm, but he was right back out there on the next series. Late in the game, when the outcome was already decided, the Hurricanes were teeing off on Jackson. He got back up.
Overall, Jackson was sacked four times and brought down a total of 15 times, including times he carried the football. He was hit an additional four times. That’s a lot of shots for a quarterback who isn’t the biggest guy.
Just saw #Hokies QB Josh Jackson leaving Hard Rock Stadium in a walking boot on his left foot.— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) November 5, 2017
The great thing about Jackson is he doesn’t fear the rush. He keeps his eyes downfield and continues to try and make a play. Even with a loss, Jackson earned, even more, respect from Hokie Nation for his toughness.
Lots of questionable penalties
Sophomore safety Reggie Floyd was hit with a 15-yard penalty that appeared to be an egregious call. Go back and watch that one. When you get hit with penalties like this it causes defensive players to be more tentative. You can’t be tentative and be aggressive on defense, too.
Cornerback Adonis Alexander was flagged for multiple pass-interference penalties. Sure, there was a lot of contact, but two calls were close. When it’s that close, you let the players play. Miami had a strategy to right at Alexander and it worked. He did pick off one pass, but it didn’t matter as much as the flags he received.
These flags weren’t why Tech lost the game. Miami is the better team in 2017. There’s no question about that. However, when you continue getting called for flags and you’re by nature an aggressive unit, it changes things.
Miami is good
There were lots of questions about how good Miami was coming into the game. I, for one, questioned the Hurricanes. After watching them for 60 minutes on Saturday night, it’s clear this is a pretty good team. Are they College Football Playoff good? I don’t know about that, but the ‘Canes get a chance to prove they are with a matchup against No. 3 Notre Dame this weekend.
Malik Rosier leaves a lot to be desired at the quarterback position. He has wheels and that will cause opposing teams big problems. It did the Hokies. He also throws into coverage far too often for a team expecting to compete at the highest level. The Hokies picked off Rosier multiple times on Saturday, unfortunately, though, the offense couldn’t do anything with the ball.
The national media is far too consumed with saying “The U” is back, instead of realizing this team is good, not great, at least not yet.
Miami’s turnover chain
Miami, under new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, instilled a new tradition at Miami this year. As a way to incentivize turnovers, Diaz had his players choose a prop to celebrate turnovers. Naturally, Miami players chose a huge and bulky chain to put around every player who created a turnover.
You know it's been a good night in Miami when the turnover chain makes an appearance. pic.twitter.com/zZPxuaIPHV— ESPN (@espn) November 5, 2017
So, of course, ABC/ESPN had to put up a graphic after every Virginia Tech turnover—there were four of them—that said player was the gold-chain recipient. That player kept the chain until the next turnover where the graphic would again show which player was the recipient of the gold chain.
A player could actually break a record on ESPN programming and it would barely get a mention, but if Miami creates a turnover, you get to see a full graphic of the player receiving the coveted chain. While this ‘tradition’ isn’t quite as annoying as Butch Jones and his trash can, it’s a tad over the top. But, if you don’t want to see, don’t turn the ball over.