The West Virginia Mountaineers defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies, 33-10, on Thursday night in Lane Stadium. The final score is as sad and depressing as indicated. No, the game wasn’t a blowout from the beginning, as the Hokies last led only a few minutes before halftime. Unfortunately, things unraveled from there.
The Mountaineers pulled away in the fourth quarter against a tired Virginia Tech defense. However, at one point, the Hokies were in control of this game and let it slip away. Realistically, though, the Hokies were never winning this game. Sure, some of us were optimistic — with hesitation — in our predictions, but we understood the offensive issues would doom the Hokies if WVU’s high-powered offense got going.
Now that we’ve had two days to decompress let’s take a look at some of our thoughts from the game.
Two plays really stood out in the loss. Let’s go all the way back to West Virginia’s second possession of the night. Remember, the Hokies forced a three-and-out on the first possession. On the second possession, West Virginia faced a 3rd-and-4 from its own 8-yard line. Another stop, and the Hokies will have terrific field position.
WVU quarterback JT Daniels found RB/TE C.J Donaldson for a short pass and Virginia Tech cornerback Armani Chatman had a shot at tackling Donaldson for a short gain but missed the tackle. This completely crushed all of Virginia Tech’s early defensive momentum and the Mountaineers would drive the field for 14 plays and 92 yards before settling for a short field goal.
On the above drive, the Hokies would commit four penalties [more on that later], including a pass interference on 2nd and 17. You never know what would’ve happened had the Hokies gotten off the field, but it was a missed opportunity.
The most obvious momentum changer was the 4th & 1 missed conversion. The Hokies were up 7-3 midway through the fourth quarter, and quarterback Grant Wells had just found running back Keshawn King for a nine-yard pass. The Hokies faced a 3rd and 1, which offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen called for a run up the middle to pick up that yard. King didn’t get it, bringing up fourth down.
On fourth down, Bowen had the Hokies lined up in shotgun, calls for a QB sneak up the middle and it’s short. Turnover on downs. Huge missed opportunity. What happens if the Hokies just kick the field goal?
We shouldn’t have to keep discussing this so early in the season. The theme of the loss to Old Dominion was turnovers and penalties. Against WVU, the Hokies committed 15 penalties for 132 yards. Unbelievable.
Look, we can go back and say some were ticky-tack. The roughing the passer penalty on linebacker Dax Hollifield in the fourth quarter was a questionable call. However, WVU had some questionable penalties, too, just not 15 of them.
This is on the coaches. The Hokies lack talent right now, so anything you do to make things more difficult for yourselves is a problem.
There was one sequence where the Hokies were called for a false start. On the very next play, they were called for delay of game. How in the bleep does that happen? These weren’t questionable calls. This falls squarely on the shoulders of Bowen.
If the same guys are committing penalties, particularly procedural penalties, then perhaps the coaches should pull them for a few plays. Something needs to change.
Offensive is a good word for Virginia Tech’s offense right now. And I don’t blame the players. The job of a good coach is to tailor your scheme to your talent. As we’ve stated, the Hokies lack talent. The short passing game with Wells was working. You can tire out the defense with some no-huddle and continue to attack the edges and the middle of the field with short passes. Wells sometimes tries to throw fastballs on his short throws but was better on Thursday.
How many downs do the Hokies waste just running straight up the middle? As a whole, it hasn’t worked for four weeks. It’s reminiscent of what we watched for the previous six years. The Hokies need to get creative with the running game. There are so many things you can do to get the ground game going. Wells isn’t the type of quarterback you want throwing 40+ passes each week to win the game. He needs help.
If the starting offensive line isn’t opening up holes, let’s play some of the young guys; on the offensive line, in the backfield and the wide receivers. The 2022 Hokies aren’t winning the national championship. Let’s find out what some of Virginia Tech’s younger players can do.
The Lane Stadium experience
We have something beautiful and special in Lane Stadium. Not only the stadium but Enter Sandman. Virginia Tech does everything right leading up to the game; the entrance, the crowd, all of it is elite. Then the game starts.
This isn’t new. This has been the case for years. We are mocked. Ridiculed. No one fears playing in Lane Stadium. How sad is that? Look at some of the teams Virginia Tech has lost to in Blacksburg over the years.
Don’t blame the fans. They bring it. The energy inside Lane Stadium when the game begins is unreal. It’s up to the team to make fans bring the same emotion in the fourth quarter.
After the first four takeaways, how can we tell you to relax now? We should. Head coach Brent Pry isn’t going anywhere. I mean, this is his fourth game. Could we argue that he should’ve hired more experienced coaches on his staff? Absolutely. But it doesn’t matter now.
Remember, Pry is a first-time head coach. And I don’t think he’s unwilling to ask for help if he needs it. He’s learning some things on the fly. There are concerns, for sure. We should all be concerned with recruiting. While I think Pry and his staff are putting forth the effort, we still aren’t seeing the results. Now isn’t the time or place to say why, but Pry had lots of ground to make up, particularly in the state of Virginia.
The Hokies need a talent infusion and must do something, anything, to keep some kids in-state. Virginia Tech should be competing with North Carolina, N.C. State, Maryland and South Carolina for recruits — and winning some of those battles. Instead, the Hokies are losing the majority of those battles and competing with Group of Five schools for recruits.
That must change. Somehow, some way.
Let’s regroup and beat North Carolina next week.