Bryan’s deal is the Five Things article. Mine is the “Good, Bad, and Ugly”. Sometimes they overlap a bit, but most times they complement each other. We don’t do it on purpose, but sometimes the facts of things just are so plain that they force the overlap.
In this case we’ll see where he lands on some of this.
I Always Start with the GOOD
The 2021 football season is over. Yes, that’s pretty plain, the season did start out with some serious promise and lots of high hopes - the defeat of North Carolina was fun. But the fundamental problems began to crop up almost immediately. So, closing the door on a fiasco is always a good thing.
We Beat the Wahoos and Kept the Cup
There are some miracles in 2021, that had to have been the brightest spot besides the UNC win, it was actually better and bigger because of the circumstances, away game, interim Head Coach, crippled offense, etc. So, the win to close out the regular season was tonic to lots of fans and players.
The Bad is What it is; BAD
The Fuente Era Coaching was Average to Poor
Without diving into details that we have all mentioned, repeatedly over the years, the outbound coaching staff was just not good. They started out nicely enough, and soon after the 2016 season began to show a tendency to lose key players, run an inconsistent sub-par offense, and have disastrous breakdowns on defense. There were some good position coaches, and we certainly wish many folks the best (especially Hokies) but the 2016-2021 coaching was just unimaginative, ineffective, and sometimes divisive.
The Recruiting was just Horrid
Now, don’t get me wrong, I really don’t give a rat’s rear end about star recruiting in Virgnia. We need to recruit high quality players from wherever we can get them. This state isn’t the be all and end all of places to recruit. That being said, it also shouldn’t be purposely ignored, either. Where in-state recruiting is critical is the depth chart below the #1’s. It should be priority to get good Virginia players in the door to fill those critical #2 and #3 roster spots. In-state success tends to help drag along some higher ranked players. It also tends to turn 3-star players into critical #1’s in the long run.
The Offense was Consistent: Consistently Bad
There is no excuse for how bad the offense was after the 2016 season. Nothing was ever learned, nothing was ever adjusted to, and certainly nothing was ever done to address year-to-year planning and improvement. The quarterback room was terrible. There was a brutal mismatch between talent, physical capability, and trust/respect in that room. The coaches didn’t trust the QBs to actually run the offense, and the QBs obliged that by leaving. When your best QBs were ego ridden Jerod Evans, mis-used Hendon Hooker, and noodle armed Braxton Burmeister you have failed miserably in every single way. (The latter two players, if enabled properly and given the right play concepts might have been college winners, btw.)
And then the Ugly is best Illustrated by the Pinstripe Bowl Fiasco
There was only one way that the remnant Hokies were going to win the Pinstripe Bowl. They had to keep the game close and play way above their heads. They managed to keep the game close in the first half. Then reality and capability dropped in from the skies above the Bronx and that was that. There was no more in the tank as the second half opened and the inexperienced fill-in #3s and #4s on the defense, and the crippled offense were just flamed by what arguably is a lower tier B1G team. The ugly happened in the 3rd and 4th quarters and made me think of the allegory that it presented for the entire prior 6 seasons.
I will quote Bryan’s text to me at the conclusion of the game.
“...No way we could compete. They didn’t lose anyone. We lost so much.”
He was spot on, it was sad, but Bryan was 100% correct. We just lost too much from a roster that didn’t have enough to begin with.
Slamming the Door, YES! BUT! We’d Better Learn Some Lessons
This isn’t personal, it’s just calling it as I see it. We do need to turn the page, close the door, and end the Fuente Era. We just better not forget the lessons that it taught.
The fanbase needs to be more realistic about what this program is and where it can go. (This is the topic for my next article)
The coaching staff coming in needs to concentrate on more than just recruiting hype and gung-ho propaganda. We are seeing signs that the slow-motion hires, lack of transfer portal mining (which is going to be critical for 2022 and 2023), are beginning to worry the more knowledgeable fan base. (Minus those impatient types I’ll go over, later)
Finally, this team is going to be very young in 2022. It’s going to look very much like the personnel mix of 2018 and 2019. Handling that transitional period of problematic skill levels and inexperience is going to be a coaching challenge that the prior regime did not master. Pry and Price need to find a balance and institute flexibility as a primary method of running things. This staff must first, adjust to the talents of the personnel that they have; not try to hammer them into some mythical “scheme” that never works.