Virginia Tech 21, Oklahoma State 30

Riffing on the Hokies' loss to the Pokes.

[Cory Hancock]

Before kickoff, I had absolutely no expectations for Virginia Tech to beat Oklahoma State. Few did. Count Vegas out among the bunch. The Pokes closed as 6-point favorites. Pundits both national and local favored the Cowboys too. Most damning, a bevy of Hokies Twitter shied away from pointing and laughing at the 49-7 whooping Navy laid on Virginia earlier in the day thanks to the strong conviction the Hokies would take their licks later in the day. (Obviously, that did not deter my efforts.)

The skepticism was valid. Point blank, Tech would have to put up points to compete with Oklahoma State and its elite offense. And the Hokies' counterparts on offense stumbled down the stretch with enough ineptitude over four games to make any interested party clad in maroon and orange weary of the matchup. And before you say it, it would've been foolhardy to lean on the Lunch Pail Defense's ability to completely shut down an offense averaging 45.0 points per game (No. 3 nationally). (Sidebar: Bud Foster's unit wasn't flawless, but it undoubtedly provided an opportunity for Tech to win the game.)

The outlook was bleak, against the odds, but obvious and digestible. And then Tech played their butts off. Deshawn McClease was a bolt of lightning out of the backfield. Trevon Hill and Ricky Walker were disruptive. Chase Mummau went incognito and converted a dang fake punt.

Hope is the devil.

A previously unwinnable game was ripe for the taking, but ultimately remained out of reach due to both poor game management decisions and execution on critical downs.

The fumble on the 1st-and-goal inside zone read resulted in a 10-point swing and it was a momentum killer.

It was equal parts a perplexing play call and poor execution. By game thirteen, riding the mesh should be second nature for Josh Jackson. And yet, it seemed to be an unnecessary risk to introduce any possibility (the mesh and read) for something to go awry, especially given Tech more than held its own in the trenches running the ball. Run power and be done with it.

The same could be said for the early fourth quarter 4th-and-8.

A botched snap scuttled any chance for success, but Justin Fuente deliberately passed on a 28-yard field goal attempt. Ten points — 3 plus the aforementioned 7 — look dang good after a 9-point loss.

All it took was four quarters of football to flip expectations; transition from coming to terms with a loss before kickoff to a sinking feeling the Hokies let a marquee win, which has arguably eluded Tech since its 2014 win in the 'Shoe, slip through its fingers.

Ironically, there's a fine duality at play too. The loss, because of how it happened, is certainly disappointing, but at the same time the program is on an encouraging trajectory. The Hokies proved they belonged on the same field as Oklahoma State and left something on the table. Football has levels of feels. Focus in on the loss for a punch in the gut. As Walker eloquently put it post-game, "This one hurts man." However, widen the lens for a more encouraging outlook.

Year three of the Fuente era is underway. Fuente's out of the money the house comped when he took over a program that was struggling for bowl eligibility — the juice on two year's time is costly — and frankly that's exciting.

It's time to see how well Fuente and Brad Cornelsen's offense executes with more than just a couple of capable wide receivers. The quarterback whisper has a loaded room and that'll be the loudest position battle, again, of a long offseason. Foster remains an irreplaceable asset on the balance sheet. Tech has 19 wins and two seasons of momentum to sell on the recruiting trail with the hopes of more 4- and 5-stars buyers (program difference makers).

Early returns do not always predict future results, but nevertheless they are very encouraging. And even though there have been tastes of success along the way, year three is earliest anyone with reasonable expectations for the program would expect Fuente's rebuild to bear fruit. And now it's upon us.


Great thought process in writing Joe. Explains so well what many people thought prior, during and at the end.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Excellent analysis Joe. The future looks very bright indeed...and I must wear shades!

Long live Rasche Hall

The thing that really strikes me watching some of our football games this past year is how much we lack those "wow" players. Besides Settle and Edmunds, we don't have many particularly impressive athletes....especially on offense. We have some guys like Cam Phillips and McClease who can really hustle and get the job done but there's no one truly catching the NFL scouts' attention. Even Bucky Hodges and Isaiah Ford from last year were very late draft picks and Hodges got cut early. The coaches have done a great job of getting production from the talent they've had to work with.

OK State has one of the best QBs in this year's draft class and two elite WRs. Clemson and Miami both have a lot of NFL-bound talent on their squads. We used to get a few wow players like Tyrod Taylor, David Wilson, Ryan Williams etc. but it seems like we haven't had many on offense for the past 4-5 years. Unfortunately, the last few years of the Beamer era hurt us on the recruiting trail. Hopefully the recent on-field success will bring in some big time playmakers.

Effin A right!

This summarizes my thoughts exactly. Zero expectations, almost pulled it off, gut punch yet encouraged.

Can't wait for next year!

Let's go!!

I'm just glad we've got something to watch. I got my money's worth this year.

I just loved that defense. They gave up a few big plays, and those unexpected QB runs or draw plays gave the guys fits, but you just did NOT run the ball on the Hokies this year. I love how they all played for each other... no hero ball that I could see.

If they keep a hold of the Edmunds', Adonis, Tim, and Ricky, get Divine, Mihota, and Hill healthy, and with Floyd and Ladler coming along.... Good Lord. 2018 could be a historically epic D-squad.

Leonard. Duh.

This was one of those games where, before kickoff, you say, "I just hope we keep it close." Then, by halftime, you say, "Wow, we really have a shot at this thing." Then, at the end of the game, you say, "We should have won that game if this play and this play had gone our way," and you completely forget that before kickoff, you just wanted to prove you belonged on the same field as them. That's how the ones where we know we're going to lose go. Ohio State 2015, Clemson in the 2016 ACC Championship, Oklahoma State in the bowl game (even Kentucky in basketball this season). Also, these losses always seem to sting more than the others even with the expectation of losing before kickoff (at least for me anyway). Sports are funny.

Marshall University student.
Virginia Tech fanatic.

This sums up exactly what I said in another post. You took the words right out of my mouth Joe. As much as the loss hurts, all the pundits said we didn't deserve to be on the same field with this top 4 capable team. We showed everyone that's exactly where we deserve to be, and where we'll eventually stay. I believe! -Go Hokies

"...I'm getting a little tired of hearing how good everybody else is..." -Coach Fu [This week: 1-0]

Hope is the devil.

Truer words have yet to be spoken by a Hokie.

To be a Hokie fan is to be shown the brightest glimmer of hope only to have it snatched from your grasp by the cruel hands of fate.

"How the ass pocket will be used, I do not know. Alls I know is, the ass pocket will be used."
- The BoD


Unfortunately ('99 season aside) it is an embedded identity and character trait of being a Hokie. What pisses me off the most (more than the media mouths & haters) is the record for coach. Didn't get that 2nd consecutive bowl W. Wasn't until the '08 & '09 seasons that Beamer (& Tech) got their first back-to-back. Now I don't think it'll take Coach Fuente as long to do it here. But still, would've been nice to go ahead and knock that out. Anyways, onwards & upwards.

Waho's suck
Uva swallows

I think the game plan Fuente and Corny drew up was masterful, and the game was so damn winnable if a couple situations had not gone haywire. But hey, we had a very young team out there, and we'll be back to make some noise next year and beyond, so it's definitely encouraging. Just a little discouraging knowing what could have been an epic win to finish off the 2017 season, but WE'LL BE BACK!

"That man was violating a city ordinance, and I was just doing my duty to enforce it." - Mike Curtis

"You boys in there smokin' rope?"-Johnny Unitas (circa 1973) to his San Diego Chargers teammates

That game plan resulted in more total yards, more first downs, and more time of possession than the number 3 offense in FBS! Check the stats! The D kept us in it, and the O was a couple of turnovers away. This, without our best receiver, best running back, and one of our best linemen. Wouldn't hang my head because of this one.

In Bud we trust

"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

...but it sure makes Hokie football discouraging sometimes.

Love my Hokies. Future is bright. Good article, Joe.

The pieces are starting to come together. It just hurts when we see what the finished product could look like, but can't get it now...some pieces are yet to come. Looking forward to yr 3, and beyond !

Foster remains an irreplaceable asset on the balance sheet

I see what you accounted for here

Great and much needed perspective here....Thanks Joe!

Great analysis and perspective. I was fine with Fuente passing on the field goal on the fourth and 8 play because at that point to me it seemed like Ok State was scoring at will and we really needed 7 to stay in the game. Hindsight is 20-20 and looking back the TD from the 1 along with that field goal could have won the game, but that call to me didn't have the same cringeworthy, reckless, point chasing feel of the decisions early in the GT game. Overall I was happy with the way we played on both sides of the ball, and am feeling pretty good going into next season. Bring on FSU!!!

This 100%. When I look at a play call I question I want to be conflicted and see it both ways. With a few of those GT play calls I was not conflicted at all. With the calls in this game I could totally see both sides.

If "belonging on the field" with Oklahoma St is the goal, the frankly our goals suck. Okie St. is a program that has accomplished less than Virginia Tech on the gridiron since most of us have been alive (they claim a national title in 1945 I guess) And if it wasn't for a friendly billionaire they would be viewed as more of a little sister to OU than we think of UVA compared to us now.

Okie St. is a program that has accomplished less than Virginia Tech on the gridiron since most of us have been alive

That really has nothing to do with the quality of this year's Oklahoma State squad. And yes, belonging on the field with teams the quality of this year's Oklahoma State squad was a good goal to have this season.

In a historical perspective, VT is much more successful than most think. VT is 15th in all time wins of major schools (taking out Ivy's and D3).

Okie St isn't even on the chart.

VT is just behind Auburn and WVU, ahead of aTm, clemson, UW, GT, UF, Ark, Wisky, Mich St....way ahead of Miami, Stanford, TCU, Oregon, Iowa.....

Wait a tic

You mean to tell me that the cousins are ahead of us?? That's completely unacceptable!

Waho's suck
Uva swallows

We're very green on offense this year. Suit up Evans, Cam, Bucky and Ford against Okie St and we win going away.

It's absolutely not the goal, but it's an indicator of movement in the right direction. Had that been an end of tenure Frank Beamer team in that game (it wouldn't have been because 7-win teams don't get there), it would've been the actual blowout most were expecting.

OK State as a program yes, but as Joe stated, they had two of the top 20 players in the nation this year (and best RB in Big 12) along with lots of Seniors. They definitely won't be a measuring stick next year with all those pieces gone but with this year they were extremely talented.

Cheer up. Something from the past. LMAO when he says he's a browns fan too. This guy is great.

Buckeye Fan

Watch your audio.

"Hey Bud, you wont have to hold the opponent to 17 points anymore."

I've seen a lot of Virginia Tech football, and though the loss is disappointing, I enjoyed the game, and am more optimistic than ever about this program.

Joe, I sometimes forget how good of a writer you are. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and putting this into perspective. I have to agree with APFOW on the "hope is the devil" line.

21st century QBs Undefeated vs UVA:
MV7, MV5, LT3, Jerod Evans, Michael Brewer, Tyrod Taylor, Sean Glennon, and Grant Noel. That's right, UVA. You couldn't beat Grant Noel.

I appreciate the kind words. I wish I had time to write more. I wrote most of this on my iPhone while flying from NY to VA.

Wasn't sure where else to put this.

I really (REALLY) wish I had some of what a lot of Hokie fans seem to be smoking. Going in to this season I was hoping for 8-4 or 9-3. Too many unknowns and loss of experience on offense. To see the pessimism after this bowl game from some, especially the ignorant calling out of JJ (I'm not referring to the thoughtful discourse here, more so the social media shit I've seen), is more discouraging to me than anything I saw on the field.

I just don't see how anyone could look at what we had on offense and think this team was a conference championship caliber team. Raw talent is probably borderline adequate at most positions on offense but without experience you can't expect the mistake free football required to do what some fans apparently expected. We've seen growth in the youngsters in my opinion and have some great talent coming in. The trajectory is unequivocally upward and at a fairly steep rate by my estimation.

I just can't fathom all the hand wringing. I've never been more excited or optimistic about Hokie football. I wish tomorrow was the spring game and the day after that was September.

I think a lot of our fans saw what we did the first few weeks of the season and adjusted thier expectations.

I know a number of people who were upset about not making the ACC championship and a NY6 bowl and raising hell about it, these were the same people with a 7-5 regular season expectation preseason

And now it's time to show the world
That victory is ours tonight

totally agree with this statement and OP. in August, i would have taken 9-4 with a win over lol and run to the bank as giddy as a schoolgirl with a butterfly up her skirt. up until Clemson, i started sipping the koolaid. i'm an idiot.

CJF and Buzz have us on an upward trajectory. we have the best campus, students, alumni and fans in the world.

just accept what we can reasonably be, and drink another Beast. and laugh at the hapless arrogant fools in hooville.

always good to end the post for the shot at Hooville!

You know, I feel like this game was essentially a microcosm of the season as a whole. We went into the season/game with decently tempered expectations on account of some personnel losses, but when we started things off strong the hype thrusters went to 110% regardless of some extremely tough odds/matchups. This of course made the losses that much harder.

All in all if you told me a few years ago that we would have a second straight 9 win regular season under Fuente after losing 3 of the best skill guys in program history then I would have been a very very happy man.

Using /s is for cowards.

I didn't think of it that way but you are 100% accurate.

Leg sir.


Wasn't sure where else to put this.

It has been pointed out that I have been snarky toward the HH fans fans on the HH train. Apologies to TKP. My new years resolution is to be more like wildturkey84... if I want to share my opinion, do so without the snark.




I used to be terrible especially on TKP during losses. It's a process.

What's HH?

I think HH is Hooker's initials.

Yep, Hendon Hooker. I'm as excited as the next Hokie about him and QP... but they haven't won the quarterback competition yet.




look at the trajectory of our program heading into year 3 with Fuente vs LOLUVA's program heading into year 3 with Bronco. We are on the up while they are scrambling for a new toaster.

1-0 every week

The last game of the year sticks with you all offseason. The last two seasons, their final game couldn't have gone worse.

Agree the future is Bright! But I personally wish we didn't go for it on 4th down as much. I mean you always take the 3 points, unless you are down by an insurmountable amount. That decision the other night is not really a hindsight 20/20 situation IMO.

Anyways, great game, great team, great coaches. Looking forward to next year!

Good summation. We absolutely belonged and '18 is already showing more promise than many of us probably (realistically) expected. The thing that drives me nuts is that the 1-2 combo of some perplexing play calls and execution cost us a chance to be on the podium at the end of the game.

  • The RPO from the 1... that's Peoples' ball. Period. He carried the drive so why do you even consider not letting him finish it off (again... arguably crossed the line on the previous play).
  • The 4th & 8 pass call instead of the FG attempt. The game was still within reach, and regardless of how OKST had been moving the ball they still have to do it again against a bud foster D. If it's me I take the points and stare across the field and tell Gundy his offense has to win it against our D.
  • Offense and Defense Execution on a number of occasions

For me the end result was how I felt after the game against USC at FedEx. We thought we would get blown out, we played super competitive, and in the end we walked away saying "what if?"

Any way, there are lots of positives to build on. We need to make sure we do just that and not stay stagnant.

It wasn't an RPO, JJ made the right call because the end crashed down.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

He probably made the right read, but my point was that play should have never been called in the first place. We had been running the ball just fine and there was no need to get cute with the play calling, especially on 1st down.

It's not cute it's a standard playcall they have run all season, all game.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

may be a standard play but lost too much time in the RPO mesh point. just ram it up the pipe and let the big uglies do the work.

It's not a run pass option play though. It was a run the whole time, the only read is whether he hands off if the end stays or keeps it if the end crashes. The end crashed and he made right choice to keep it.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

What he is saying is that why leave room for error when we could have just done a standard hand off to people's and blast it in the end zone.

I know you understand this.

The RB got blown up behind the line. That play is a standard play in this offense. It's not cute, it's not special it's not a wrinkle, it's just the offense.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

It clearly leaves more room for error than a standard run. That isn't debateable.

Why does it leave more room for error? It's a play Tech doesn't run that often, the line wasn't pushing off that well for short yardage all season. Same thing with going under center.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Because it leave more room for error. The qb is required to make a read at the same time the RB thinks he is taking the football.

Do you not agree this is more difficult to execute than a run between the tackles?

Why does it leave more room for error?

There's an extra step involved, more opportunity for error.

The last time I remember relying on this play, Lee Suggs was earning the nickname of "TD Lee." Our offensive line, for years, has not been able to reliably just push everyone off the ball in short yardage situations. Further, it's perfectly possible to screw up any snap or handoff, as we've seen recently. At this point in the game, the offense was moving smoothly, the run game was working with our RBs, and Jackson had been established as a credible running threat. It was elegant play-calling, and if Peoples had simply let go a split second before he did, Jackson waltzes into the end zone, untouched, and we're all calling Cornelsen a genius.

This is serious hindsight bias. They botched the play, so naturally something else would have been better. Unfortunately, there's no way to know that.

I agree. Our poison has been small errors. All I'm saying is why leave more room for error than necessary. Of course this is hindsight, that's all this board is lol.

The fact still remains we fumbled and it cost us 6 points.

I would argue your assertion of "more room for error than necessary." The read option is the basis of our offense. Our guys have run that hundreds of times through this season, and probably thousands in practice. How many times have we lined up under center/I-formation? Probably you can count that number on one hand. So the greater chance for error is in running a play they've done very few times, not the one that appears to be more complicated. They've rehearsed it a ton; it's what they do.

We have struggled executing in the red zone all year. Sometimes simple is better.

I never mentioned I form or under center. I merely suggested a play with less steps involved to insure we were able to get a play off.

If I were the coach, anytime you have 1st and goal from anywhere inside about the 2-yard line, I'd run QB sneaks with my 350-pound DT pushing the pile from behind on every down. If you can't get a half yard on a QB sneak/scrum, something is terribly wrong with your O-line. That would be an informal rule for my offense. Think about it - it's a no brainer. However, not sure I would institute that rule unless the QB was under center, and it doesn't look like our offense is set up for that, since I don't recall the last time I saw Jackson under center. Maybe I'd get Bush into the game in that situation, have him go under center, and fall forward as many times as needed to get the TD.

Hindsight is 20/20, yadda yadda yadda, but I've always had this strategy, and it kills me when teams try to get fancy with passes and tricky run plays when all they need to do to guarantee a score is smash the ball down the throat of the defense. OSU's defense didn't stand a chance if we would have done that.

"That man was violating a city ordinance, and I was just doing my duty to enforce it." - Mike Curtis

"You boys in there smokin' rope?"-Johnny Unitas (circa 1973) to his San Diego Chargers teammates

what would you do if you were against the Hokie defense?

Go Hokies

I think he said run QB sneaks behind his 350 lb tackle.

Ahh man, I miss Suggs. He was the most reliable RB we've ever had IMO. He always fell forward and knew how to find the holes.

Suggs is the greatest short yardage back I have ever seen at VT.

We just had a zone read handoff from Fireman to Guitarman. Nicely done!

Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!

the announcers calling that play an RPO irked me so much. It was a zone read and should be a staple of the Fuente offense, but JJ does not run that play well. He will need to improve, especially on reads and at the mesh point.

On that play, he makes the right read, but too late, pulling the ball out too late. He also should get his shoulders down further and more into an "athletic stance." Standing too tall, too stiff, and arms extended too far out also contributed to the inability to pull it back in time.

If he doesn't fumble, we walks in untouched. behind Keene.

🦃 🦃 🦃

I'm not disagreeing with any of this, but....

1. We did score on the prior play
2. If frogs had wings.... (hindsight is 20/20)

Which also, Keene absolutely manhandles the guy he's blocking. I am so excited for that kid to grow in this system.

I just don't really get how we were at like the half yard line and decided to snap the ball to a QB in the shotgun like four more yards behind the line. Just...stop being cute and sneak it or something

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

What is difficult to grasp is how we can have a rarely used play (fake punt) not only tucked in our hip pocket but with secret-agent style renumbering on a r-Fr (and then perfectly executed by said r-Fr), but cannot seem to develop a "jumbo" or sneak package or similar to get a yard or less on a offensive play that seems to be necessary at least once per game.

We need to have a package where Big Tim is the fb and peoples rb, go jumbo with both Keene and Cunningham and ram peoples up the gut

1-0 every week

Joe Gibbs approves


Click here to destroy wall.

Oh good lordie.

"Hey Bud, you wont have to hold the opponent to 17 points anymore."

Let's talk about the photo. Were the HCs Gatorade bathed during the handshake?


-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

Yeah. At first I was drunk pissed about it. I guess now I'm indifferent.

I thought it was very cool of CJF to take the bath and not give away to Gundy that they were both about to be drenched (he had to at least partially seen it coming), allowing Gundy to "enjoy" the tradition.

Waho's suck
Uva swallows

Wow, I didn't even think of that.

Question: was Savoy out for this game??

Waho's suck
Uva swallows

He had 1 rush for 1 yard and also a dropped reception that was very catchable (which unfortunately seems to be a pattern for him this season -- an early drop). Didn't see him at all really after that. Not sure if that was a coaching decision or because of injury.

It appeared the D'end was crashing inside and was on Peoples therefore probably no TD on that play. JJ said it was his fault. In our offense this is a common call for two years therefore not a bad call but could argue Peoples and JJ did not have a lot of game experience.

James Lacy

As much as I hate to admit it, here's my take on the 9-4 season.

Hokies were 4-3 against teams with winning records. 5-1 against teams with losing records. 3 of 4 wins against teams over .500 were against 7-6 teams, the other against 7-4 FCS Delaware. The losses to 12-1 Clemson, 10-3 Miami, 10-3 Okie St and 5-6 GT. One bad loss, 0 impressive wins - nothing special for sure.

Until we win some of the "BIG" games we haven't really made progress. Although going 9-1 in games we "should" win is an improvement from the end of Frank's tenure.

Sorry to throw water on a nice fire, just the way I see thus season.

He did it Mikey, Tyrod did it!

Until we win some of the "BIG" games we haven't really made progress.

Yea I get we're not a national powerhouse yet but two straight 9 win regular seasons after two straight 6 win regular seasons is objectively progress.

Using /s is for cowards.

No doubt thats the truth, no big wins. But.....

Young team, needs to learn how to win. This is especially directed towards the offense.

Need to better prepare so slow starts aren't a problem (Clem, Mia, GT)

Need to make the play, In particular, need more explosive plays.

Finally, the offense had the governor on. Need to play faster, push 80+ plays more often. To make that happen: More depth needed at skill positions, more experience needed at QB.

I am in agreement with all of this. But we have to stop hiding behind 'they're young'. Many other programs have freshman and sophomores rocking it. Our young guys are more players that need development. Once CJF gets his program fully in place it will be easier to replace players as others leave. But for now the building process is still going on.

We all have to be content that we made a extremely good game out of this bowl game, even though we suffered some screw ups.

Have faith, GO HOKIES

10-4 and 9-4 seasons after a string from 2012 of going 6-6, 8-5, 6-6, 6-6 is definitely progress. I understand what you mean about winning BIG games, but let me remind you of something interesting about Clemson's rise. We will use 2011 as the start of their current era, coming off a 6-7 season in 2010 Clemson had an excellent bounceback season with a revamped and explosive offense behind Tajh, Sammy Watkins, and Chad Morris and won the ACC. But, let's take a look at their losses that season:

-Blowout loss to NC State, something like 36-6.
-College Gameday at Georgia Tech, mistake filled 35-17 loss,
-South Carolina, rivalry game, manhandled by physically superior team. Don't remember score.
-Orange bowl 70-33 loss to WVU, complete meltdown of the highest degree.

Sure they won the ACC, but they had their share of these heartbreaking/frustrating losses we are going through.

2012, 2013, and 2014, each of these years Clemson failed to win their most important games of the year. Every year they lost to FSU, their most important "BIG" game. They also lost to their rivals USCjr in 12, 13, and finally won in 14 against a bad USC team without Spurrier. They had a few flashy bowl wins, but it wasn't until year 5 of this "era" in 2015 that Clemson started winning all their "BIG" games to take the next step as a program.

In summation, I want to be at that point where we are consistently confident heading into big games that we will win because we've established ourselves as a team that does that, but it normally doesn't happen overnight. Fuente has us trending in the right direction and we've got some kinks and concerns to work out, but we have got to trust the process and realize that it might not happen immediately.

Great point and comparison. The difference is though, they started recruiting in the top 10 with Watkins, Hopkins, Watson, etc etc.- BIG time players they brought and continue to bring in. The VT 2018 class is good- will likely finish around 20-22 overall, but that is not the ELITE classes Clemson has been bringing in.

I would count the win against WVU as a big win. We won against a rival (yes, the rivalry has gone a bit stale, but I do remember when it was a big deal back during the Big East days) and we won at Fed Ex on prime time national TV, no less. I believe everyone believed and felt like it was a big win at the time.
Their final record for the year was only 7-6 but they were considered contenders for their conference going into the season. If they had won the game against us, they would have been 8-5 and so would we have been.

Ut Prosim Ad Dei Gloriam

Yes, when you excercise the FedEx Demon, it was a big win. Also nice to have won 10 out of the last 13 against WVU- that's dominance.