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Virginia Tech Hokies Football and Bitter Disappointment

What a disappointment, and not an innocent one, either. This was bitter and very hard to take. Virginia Tech’s performance against Georgia Tech is the story of this season writ large. This is the first in a series reviewing the season to date, starting with the disaster of October 27th.

Georgia Tech v Virginia Tech
The story in a picutre
Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

Disappointing; there are several meanings underlying the word. One is fairly innocent, you were hoping for a better outcome; but fortunate circumstances didn’t occur. The other is frustrated, almost bitter. Well, last evening, we jumped from the former connotation to the latter. The bitter frustration with the Hokies this season has passed that innocent disappointment level. So, what the heck went wrong in the Georgia Tech game that left us 1-2 at home and now, a probable middle of the road, barely above 50% finish to the season, at best? To quote some old wisdom, “let me count the ways”. The Defense failed, not partially, not on a couple of breakaways, it flat out failed and the Offense looked to have been shut down very early in the 2nd half. There is no viable group to blame other than the coaches. It was so bad it was embarrassing to be a witness to.

First and most at fault for the loss was the defense. How many times does this program have to face Paul Johnson’s triple option before it does something else? For the third year in a row, Bud Foster looked like a rank armature. This is completely mind numbing when you think about the fact that in his era of football the triple option, in its several variations (mostly wishbone and veer) were high school and collegiate standards. Foster seems to have lost that old defensive playbook loaded with option stopping 6-3’s and “Oklahoma 5-4’s”. Last night’s defense did literally everything wrong from the scheme to the execution. There was no penetration at all. The defense was totally passive, and that plays right into the hands of the option. If you give an option offense 4 yards, it’ll run all day on you four downs at a time. We weren’t even holding the Jackets to 4 yards. Faced with 8 yards they just ran the slant and picked up 10. There isn’t even the care to remember the name of the GT quarterback, because functionally he wasn’t. He was just a moderate sized halfback who took the direct snap, and handed the ball off to a dive or pitched, rarely. He just took the snap, backed up a step and a half, and uncovered or keyed by anyone, ran through the seam in the chop block scheme. It was like a piston in a big diesel… just pounding away with nothing stopping it and no ignition necessary. So, the Hokies just stayed in their base defense, with too many people too deep, and no extra help to push the action into the offense’s backfield.

The world is going to collapse on Sean Savoy. I really feel for him. He was put in a really bad position, and will pay a price for the muffed punt. It was the game turner, because it flipped the scoring dynamic. With the Virginia Tech defense completely unable to stop the Georgia Tech offense, once the Yellow Jackets broke on top of the dynamic, the game was over. The 2nd touchdown to open the 3rd quarter, aided by penalties and more defensive passivity, pretty much put a cap on the game. It could have been ended at that point, everyone sent home, and apologies made – which at least would have prevented any further injuries.

All of which leads me to my final point; and the second disappointment of the game. We have no real confirmation, just an observation. The offense shut down on the very first series of the 3rd quarter. When your team is behind 2 touchdowns, and you have an intermediate passing game working well, what in the world possesses the play caller to relay in a dive for 2-3 freaking yards? That opening bid for the quarter told Georgia Tech’s defensive staff that we had functionally ceded the game. More inscrutable decisions would follow as the “base offense” struggled, and the high powered fast strike offense was ignored. What gives with 4th and anything in your own end, and you run a pattern 30 yards down the field when you only needed a modest 5 or 6 yards to keep the sticks moving? The final touchdown series was near perfection but should have been the standard operation right off the bat in the 3rd. Maybe that energy could have transferred to the defense, or at least allowed it to stay off the field for a few minutes, because the defense was gassed by the 4th quarter, when Johnson finally shut down the afterburner and allowed us to surrender.

There were some players that you felt for, and some real effort going on. There needs to be some credit tossed to Ryan Willis, Damon Hazelton (who was unjustly called for an offensive PI that halted a drive), and Kahlil Ladler who was punished for a poorly considered and unjustly called targeting penalty. The Hokie Offense was decently good when it was given the opportunity to be good. In the 2nd half, for whatever reason, it was not given that opportunity.

This loss falls almost completely on the coaching staff. The defensive scheme was a complete flop, and the offense was seemingly shut down in the 2nd half. This game was a complete coaching disaster, and the remainder of the season is in jeopardy.

That’s all an opinion, though, isn’t it?

The Gobbler Country staff is going to put together a round table discussion about this fiasco and what it signals. Please stay tuned. We told you all that this was going to be a “no-expectations season” and we meant it. Now is not the time to scream for heads, or embarrass ourselves with threats and vitriol.

As a personal note: I remember what happened to Frank Beamer and his family during the tough years after he took over the program. It was vicious and cruel. We will not have that sort of “stuff” in our discussions. Remember that when the round table comes out, please we want you to contribute, too. Being civil makes us all better and at least serves as a place to vent our frustrations and salve that disappointment without the vindictiveness.