You know it's a badddddddd loss for the Hokies when an argument that ensues afterward contemplates its rank in the basement among 2010 James Madison, '98 Temple, and 0-0 Wake Forest. For the record, the debacle against the Dukes takes the cake. Regardless, it's a fail that'll follow the Hokies forever.
It was very on-brand for Virginia Tech to pants Florida State, spank William & Mary, have a bye week, then lose by double-digits to an 0-3 non-P5 program that lost to Liberty (10-52).
There is enough blame to pass around. For as impressive of a showing the defense had against Florida State, Bud Foster's side of the ball was equally inept against the Monarchs. The offense stalled in crucial moments. There were costly personal fouls and mental breakdowns. Blocking and tackling were abhorrent. Tech got bullied in the trenches and picked on out wide. The fast and energetic bunch that knocked off the Noles was lethargic in front of an in-state crowd. Overall Tech was unprepared to play a football game on Saturday, and that part is squarely on Justin Fuente and his staff.
And it gets worse. Josh Jackson left the game with a left ankle injury and it's unknown how long he's out for. And then Sunday morning Trevon Hill was kicked off the team cited in-part via a statement from Fuente for "not upholding the high standards that we have for our student-athletes at Virginia Tech".
Confronted with moderate adversity on Saturday, the Hokies wilted.
"What happened was we got in the middle of a real game," said Fuente. "A real competitive game. And things weren't going our way. And that's how we responded. And that's inexcusable. And that starts with me. We have to be a better disciplined football team. And our response was to go the wrong way, instead of buckle down and try and make a play."
Tech regressed, substantially, after a hot start and a bye week. That's perplexing and concerning. An uninspired heavy favorite on the road overlooking a team believing they're in the Super Bowl is a recipe for an upset. ODU set the timer for four quarters and cooked the turkey to perfection. It's also worrisome Fuente was cognizant of it, and was unable to properly focus his squad.
"I told 'em, 'I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you, you were terrible. Everybody told you, you didn't have any chance in that first game, and all you did was work your tails off.' And then now we get all feeling good about ourselves, and we got brought back down to earth," said Fuente. "We got what we deserved."
How Virginia Tech responds moving forward will be telling. Prepare to learn about the team's non-tangible composition and its leader on the sideline. The Hokies flunked one test, but the semester is not over. It is within the Hokies' control whether or not that loss is an anomaly or the start of a season-defining spiral.