Slept On It: Mistakes and Missed Opportunities Doom Hokies in 45-23 Loss

Revisiting the Hokies' home loss to the Fighting Irish after a short night's sleep.

[Mark Umansky]

I'll give you a sample of the post-game comments from the Hokies. See if you can guess the common theme.

"They just made more plays and executed better than we did. On that long run, they cracked us. We didn't get to crack them so it's pretty much execution." -Ricky Walker

"The small things, of us paying attention to our own assignments, and it kind of got out of hand in the second half." -Reggie Floyd

"I think we could do a lot of things. We could run the ball at times; we could throw the ball at times. We just couldn't do it well enough times altogether." -Damon Hazelton

"We played solid football early, but in the second half, we didn't execute like we needed to do, and they did. That was the difference in the football game." -Bud Foster

A Virginia Tech team that — for periods — effectively moved the football on offense and successfully contained Notre Dame on defense ultimately failed because they struggled to do the simple things throughout. When you play a talented team like the Irish, you need to play sound football from start to finish. Sure, you can make a mistake here or there. But that mistake cannot be ruinous. On Saturday night, the Hokies made multiple back breaking mistakes, seemingly at the worst possible moments.

A wayward and ineligible Christian Darrisaw negated some nifty trickeration from the Tech offense. Tech failed to punch it in from the 1-yard line on three consecutive downs. And then Ryan Willis' attempt to weave through the Notre Dame defensive line like Ethan Hunt versus a vault full of lasers resulted in a 42-yard fumble return for a touchdown. And that was just the first half!

The roller coaster of emotion within Lane was equal parts exhausting, exhilarating and demoralizing. Fans were continuously exposed to moments of euphoria that were almost immediately followed by bewilderment.

Games like that can be memorable for all the right reasons (remember when Tyrod did it, Mikey?). When it's your team that ultimately comes unglued for good, it ruins your evening. It can bring out the worst in the fan base. And it makes the post mortem all the more ulcer-inducing.

I've thought a lot about Saturday night's loss. I initially tried not to, but I couldn't shake the frustration from what I had just witnessed. Inconsistent execution and ill-timed mistakes clearly undid the Hokies. There really is no debating it. Not from the coaches, the players or the fans. I understand that the defense is young and the starting quarterback was only making his 2nd start in orange and maroon. But Tech has had young defenses before and they've managed to not make so many critical mistakes. And in Justin Fuente's third season in Blacksburg, the offense at best looks like it is stuck in neutral and at worst taken a few steps backwards.

This all might sound a little harsh. After all, Notre Dame is more than likely the most talented team Tech will face all season long. Until late in the third quarter, I believe Tech was still out-gaining the Irish on offense despite a 31-16 Notre Dame lead.

Imagine if Tech had converted a couple of those field goals into touchdowns. Imagine if Hezekiah Grimsley's touchdown pass wasn't called back. Imagine if the Hokies were able to lock down the edge — something they had excelled at all season — on Dexter Williams' 97-yard touchdown run, or played assignment football on Miles Boykin's touchdown catch one drive later. Not only are we talking about a completely different football game, but potentially a Virginia Tech rout.

The Irish didn't play a perfect game of football, either. Their shortcomings, however, ultimately proved to be far less impactful. Ian Book missed on a number of deep throws all night long, despite his receivers consistently shaking the Tech secondary out of their shoes. The Notre Dame running game was anemic until Williams broke free on his own doorstep. They were able to adjust and ultimately rise above it. The Hokies, on the other hand, were not.

The Hokies had their best defensive stretch of the game from the late first quarter through the end of the second. During that time, Tech stuffed the run and Book continued to overthrow his receivers downfield. After Williams' long touchdown run, Book seemed to settle down. Rather than play vertically, Book continuously took what the Tech defense gave him. Notre Dame OC Chip Long utilized the wide receiver screen game to bully the Hokies secondary on the outside. Irish receivers found soft spots in the Tech zone, offering Book higher percentage throws that he executed consistently. Rather quickly, a one-point deficit became 22 and the Hokies were reeling.

Good teams overcome moments of poor execution. On Saturday night, the Hokies allowed them to snowball. Does this mean the Hokies are not a good team? Honestly, I really don't know what the Hokies are right now. Heading into the game, I was hopeful. With the ODU debacle still fresh in my mind, I kept my emotional guard up knowing that I had no idea which Tech team we would see against the Irish. Maybe that's my biggest issue right now.

Traditionally, you know what you're going to get from the Hokies. A capable offense. A tenacious defense. Solid special teams. That wasn't really the case for me this weekend. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I didn't have the typical confidence in the defense's ability to control the ball game. I wouldn't say it was a product of Notre Dame's offensive prowess, but rather the collective performances we've witnessed from the Hokies in 2018. While they have the ability to be the aggressor, my current perception of them is quite different.

The idea of the Virginia Tech offense being the steadying hand is similarly awkward. Tech has had solid offensive units in the past, but rarely (if ever) have they been paired with such an inexperienced defensive unit. In big games like these, young players feed off of the energy from big offensive and defensive plays. After digging themselves an early 10-point hole on defense, it was up to Ryan Willis and the Hokie offense to shift the momentum. Repeatedly settling for 3 after failing to get 7 does little to inspire the other side of the football. Ricky Walker all but confirmed the emotional impact on the Tech defense, noting:

"It is a little frustrating, them getting field goals and not touchdowns, that's huge. You got to score in these kinds of games against these great teams. Personally it was frustrating seeing referees go like this (incomplete pass sign) all night."

Fans tend to overreact to losses like these, reading too much into their teams' inability to rise to the occasion. Those feelings of inadequacy are only exacerbated by the fact that the loss came in front of a national audience. If you're a Virginia Tech fan, you haven't seen the Hokies beat a ranked team in Lane Stadium since 2009. These stages provide an opportunity to walk into work or class with your head held high, knowing that your team just had a statement win that even the casual sports fan is aware of. Instead, you sulk and grunt your way through the obnoxious conversations that commence with some variation of, "So what happened on Saturday?" Spare me the mental anguish of constantly revisiting an unpleasant memory. It's bad enough that it's Monday.

That's part of being a fan, even if your favorite team is Alabama. You live and die by your team — metaphorically, of course (unless your favorite team is Alabama) — serving as a social ambassador to your non-Hokie colleagues. At the end of the day, you can let it go to some extent because it's not the primary focus of your life. You're a student, an employee, a spouse, parent, etc. It's different for those within the program. They're in control.

Based on what I've read from the coaches and players, I don't get the impression that this is a particularly confident team right now. Confident teams play sound football, knowing that their teammates are going to properly execute their assignments. That lack of assurance showed on Saturday night, from the failed goal line conversion to the second half letdown.

Tech has now lost to one of the best teams in FBS and one of the worst. They've also won twice on the road in-conference, including over a previously undefeated Duke squad. Were it not for the loss to Old Dominion, most people would view losing to the Irish through a different lens, focusing on the positive aspects of the performance. Instead, they're faced with the sobering reality that this young team is an enigma.

While discussing the busted assignments on Boykin's first touchdown catch of the night, Bud Foster noted, "Those are plays that sometimes, until those guys see it, they have to learn how to play it right." Unfortunately, there will be a lot more of these teaching moments this season. The hope is that the Hokies can learn from these mistakes and limit the severity of them. That leads to growth. That inspires confidence.

Comments

That picture made me vomit.

Bud/Wiles 2020

You're not outrunning and tackling that guy if you give him a head start.

Number of in-game action photos I made before that photo: 793
Number of in-game action photos I made after that photo: 245

Sometimes you just know when you have your photo for the upcoming story.

But goddamn if our guys don't look slick.

The team that we saw saturday is the team that I think most of us were expecting this year, flashes of talent but ultimately to young and inexperienced to get it done in the big games. FSU and ODU both skewed the perception of the team and the expectations we have for the season.

Losing on national TV hurts, but we didn't losing anything except some pride on Saturday, we can still win the coastal and, if we can learn from our mistakes, then we have the ability to win to the ACC. Just have to focus on whats ahead and not get pulled down by what's happened so far.

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

We lost by- ND by 22
Willis doesn't fumble- ND by 15
Score on the 1- ND by 11
ND TD in junk time- ND by 4
2 FG's Missed- VT by 2
97yd run- VT by 9
Ineligible receiver(BS call)- VT by 16
These are correctable mistakes.

I don't know what a Hokie is but God is one of them (excluding JMU/ODU)- Lee Corso

Yeh, but "if frogs had wings..." 😐

There's a difference between saying "we should have won" and saying "these are the things we need to address to improve going forward."

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

Ineligible down field. Don't leave that one out I pretty sure that drive ended in a punt after that.

ah thanks, that was a big one.

I don't know what a Hokie is but God is one of them (excluding JMU/ODU)- Lee Corso

Field goal I think. I hated the call because it gets overlooked so often on RPOs, and an OL in a LBs lap on a quick slant has much more impact on the play.

It is worth noting, on the RPO miss to Wheatley, Darrisaw was even further down field and there wasn't a call.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Sadly, you can do the same for them. If Book would have hit a few of those deep balls to wide open WRs then the lose could have been a long worse.

"Welcome to the Terror Dome." -- Corey Moore

You can't 'what if' only one side. If Book hits a couple of the at least 4 times WRs were running wide open behind our DBs, it's 14-21 more on their end too.

True, but now you're getting into "what if the opposing QB had a different skill set?" From everything I saw Saturday night, Book doesn't have a deep ball. (I said exactly that in the live thread.) It seems to be one of his limitations, and it's that limitation specifically that gave us a chance to win this game. Against a QB who can step into the pass rush and throw an accurate deep ball, this defense is going to get torched. But ND didn't have that. All the stuff kylebr2 mentions are actually addressable issues. Suddenly giving a QB an accurate deep ball isn't.

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

This. I don't even count our not being able to punch it in at the one just things that could have gone either way or were bonehead moves. Book wasn't just barely missing on the deep ball they were all over thrown by quite a bit.

Double post.

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

We lost by- ND bs 22

Replace the Hokies with the San Diego Rams and VT wins by 100.

It's simple calculus.

The Poster Formerly Known As The Spirit Of Bernard Basham

Wait, who is in San Diego now? I swear they have been switching around locations in the NFL recently.

They are the Fighting Whale Vaginas.

But seriously, they don't have a team. They took the franchise to LA.

"What are you going to do, stab me? - Quote from Man Stabbed

Good teams overcome moments of poor execution

We did not. PERIOD.

Under CJF we have not lost 2 in a round. We need to learn from this and put it into action, week after week.

We had losses @ Miami and @ GT back to back weeks last year, but I understand the point you're trying to make

Two takeaways from a day+ of thinking about it and now this article:

  1. I dont think we're stuck in neutral on offense. I think its more like learning to drive a stick - offense is having trouble shifting, but when they do they're moving the ball, and
  2. "Those are plays that sometimes, until those guys see it, they have to learn how to play it right."

    ... We're going to get a lot of these moments against GT. I know L-ville is having a down year, but 66 points and 542 yards on the ground isn't a mistake.

Exactly my thoughts, a lot of complaints about the offense not progressing since Beamer but I don't think I went to one game where we put up 500-600 yards consistently on offense under Beamer. We are having trouble capitalizing in the red zone, yes, but consider we are playing with a young center and back up qb who everyone else on the offense also has to get used to playing with. The offense looks better to me, and every time I watch the games back after I've let the madness escape I find that plays I thought were bad calls real time were actually good calls just poor execution (With the exception of not lining up under center when at the six inch line....I will never get off that hill)

I've come to the conclusion that this is a really young team. They are truly an enigma. They flash the speed and the talent at times, but their lack of in-game experience rears it's head at the worst moments. As much as I love Farley, he is young, and he has been thrown into the DBU fire, only to be burned on the edge one too many times this season (pun intended). I can't fault him for the lack of technique, the lack of proper tackling, or the lack of getting his head around when guarding a tall receiver. We've often complained that our DB's don't turn and locate the ball well for YEARS this has been a common complaint, and it's my hope that Coach Nix will help Bud see the need for that. Some of these moments will just be growing pains. What I did see opening night against FSU, is a fast defense that flew from east to west across the field and rallied to the ball. And it gave me the false sense of hope for this season.

I truly think we are one good QB (Hoping it's Patterson), and one good RB (doesn't even have to be a Ford type) from being a prolific offense. I think Coach Fu did a lot more with a lot less at Memphis. And yes, he did it against less talented teams, but AJ Dillon is a 3 star talent. Yet earlier in the season he was touted as one of the best RB's in the ACC. I feel like our offensive line recruiting has picked up substantially, and I feel like building from the trenches is huge! Do we need more DT's, DE's? Sure! But we are getting great LB's in the fold, and speed in the secondary. The ship is moving in a positive direction, it's going at a slower speed than expected, but that first year under Fuente I think was a microcosm of the false sense of hope that the FSU win gave us as a fan base. I'm JUST AS sick of hearing Fuente come to the podium and talk about how great Hokie Nation turnout was only to follow those sentiments up with, our team didn't execute well tonight. However, I feel like there is one good RB out there, a diamond in the rough that will balance this offense out, and turn this program into something great. My O&M sunglasses stay on at night (pun intended), and during the day time, and honestly all I have is hope at this point that we'll start to grade RB talent better, and get the back we need to beat that one on one matchup on the edge. I truly feel it's the notable thing that is holding this offense back.

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

Totally agree. Keshawn King may be that dude, or Gary

I'm hoping it's one of these guys. Because I think the WR talent is there, the OL talent is there, the TE talent is there, and clearly there are some great QB's in the room. We simply need that RB that will matchup one on one with a LB or CB, and shake him enough to make a 3 yard gain a 15 yard gain. Once we get that, defenses will have to respect yet another cog in our offense, a critical cog at that. A running game keeps the opposing offense off the field, the defense fresh, and the T.O.P match-up in one's favor.

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

take your goddamn leg you son-of-a-bitch...

"...sticks and stones may break my bones but I'm gonna kick you repeatedly in the balls Gardoki!"

Not a fan of the finger pointing by Walker. Sure, the offense could have scored more. The defense could have also not given up a 97 yard run and a 40 yard pass for touchdowns. Plenty of blame on either side of the ball to be pointing at the other one.

Also, I'm going to wait until we have the same starting QB two seasons in a row before I evaluate offensive progress.

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

The quotation is taken out of context. Walker wasn't blaming anyone. He was led to this statement when the reporter asked him, "is it frustrating to see the offense have to settle for fieldgoals, even when they get to the 1 yard line?"

Which any true fan of VT would answer, "Yes, it is frustrating"

Gotcha. Yes, that context does make a big difference.

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

Remember than pretty much all quotes from coaches and players are an answer to a question. Those questions will almost always be leading questions.

I would like to see a trend of including those questions honestly since, like you said, context is so terribly important.

The game was exactly what I expected. We showed flashes of being able to hang, and really without some penalties and miscues, should've had the lead at half time.

But a young and depleted defense is going to make mistakes, and they aren't going to be perfect for an entire game. They just got beat by a more seasoned offense that has some play makers. No shame in it. And if that long run doesn't happen, we keep momentum, and possibly take that game down to the wire.

Everyone laments our poor record against top-5, top-6 or top-10 teams. I am always hopeful we will get the big win, but did we seriously think this was the team that would finally do it? I was hopeful, but I knew the reality deep down.

That said, this is probably the least disappointed I've been after one of these losses. You can see the talent and potential on this team. I love the way the offense responded after Willis fumbled for the scoop and score. They marched down in less than a minute before half and got a TD. That was huge! The defense played outstanding in the first half, but just got put on their heels in the second half.

I think this team can improve a ton over the course of the season and into next year. ACCCG very reasonable goal for this season.

--
"It's time to go play Virginia Tech Football longer and harder than anybody else in America!!" -- Justin Fuente
"I put a brick in Sacksburg today." -- Cam Phillips

And in Justin Fuente's third season in Blacksburg, the offense at best looks like it is stuck in neutral and at worst taken a few steps backwards.

This is my absolute biggest gripe with this team. I understand we are young and inexperienced at spots, I knew there would be growing pains on D. But the offense was supposed to be the bright spot with so many guys in their second and third year in the system. Fuente told Bud when he was hired that the D wouldn't have to win all the games anymore. I'm still frankly unimpressed with the production of this offense. Too many drives stalled out on Saturday night. I wondered in the stands how much more Bud could stand trotting his young defense out there putting up a fight as long as they could while the offense was spinning in the mud.

The running game is still not good enough. Too many gadget plays and east to west run plays and jet sweeps. That to me just says we aren't physical enough in the interior to beat the other team. Playcalling is hot and cold from drive to drive. We attack one drive, and the next seems like we are so focused on not turning the ball over or frustrated that the running game isn't going that we completely stall out. We don't know how to sustain momentum, and sometimes the playcalling just reflects a bad feel for that. Willis didn't play a perfect game by any means, but I'm glad we have someone there who at least is giving it his all and trying to make some plays. Ball control and safe outcomes weren't going to win that game, especially when you can't rely on the D this year.

Saw a stat somewhere online that this offense is averaging 19 points in the last 8 or 9 games against the P5. That just isn't good enough and needs to improve significantly.

I feel like it has definitely improved. How many of those drives against ND stalled because of false start penalties (snap infractions between Hoyt and his new QB), ineligible receiver penalty, or the fact that ND has a phenomenal pass rush and Willis held the ball and tried to do too much a couple of times. On drives when we do not have those miscues, the offense looks much better from a scheme perspective than even Jerod's last season. That offense was basically Jerod running the ball every other play and throwing to some of the best receivers we have had.

I think the O does look improved, and I think the receivers look vastly improved compared to last season.

--
"It's time to go play Virginia Tech Football longer and harder than anybody else in America!!" -- Justin Fuente
"I put a brick in Sacksburg today." -- Cam Phillips

I get what you're saying, but the proof is in the pudding for me. The scheming may be better, receiving talent may be upgraded, but overall production is not where it needs to be (and has declined since Evans). Penalties and execution errors should also be part of it. Loeffler was an excellent gameplanner and schematics coach, and we could run every complex route structure and formation in the book, but it didn't produce at the end of the day and was plagued by penalties and errors. I'll take playmakers at critical positions every day over scheming.

Jerod Evans was two seasons ago.

Jerod's last season

I believe he meant the last season with Jerod, not 2017.

That picture reminds me of the 2011 Orange Bowl. My brother and I had end zone seats and the Tech punt had pinned Stanford inside their 5 yard line. Their offensive line opened a massive truck-sized hole right in front of us. The back (Stepfan Taylor ?) rush for nearly 50 yards on that one play and completely switch the field. Stanford scored on an Andrew Luck pass on the next play.
Another similarity, Tech had pulled to within one point at the end of the first half, but Stanford seemed to pull away without much resistance in the second half. My "hatred" of Harbaugh, Luck and Stanford stems from that game; it was a sour way to end the season.

As a side note, most VT fans think that 2010 -2011 squad was one of our best. Maybe that is a good sign for the future.

We have our most important stretch ahead of us now. UNC, Georgia Tech, BC, Pitt, Miami, and Virginia to close out the season. Six straight ACC games, ordered in a manner that is honestly pretty favorable. We get UNC to bounce back from ND, we get a long week to prepare for GT, a long week to prepare for BC. Then November will be a test of how much improvement our team has made and we get Miami at home. There's some hope here, but it all depends on how we respond and how much we improve in practice.

Random thought:
After re-watching the beginning of the game today, ABC captured Enter Sandman really well. It was incredible in Lane and looked awesome on TV.

Just an observation - no one on this thread has mentioned that they think the Oline is crap this year ---> that is a stunning revelation. Think on that.

For me,
1) running back is still a big issue (the guys are good but we need a great).
2) Divine is key to the D. (we are tiny without him and pretty much lost it seems)
3) Willis is a backup, a good one at that, but we need better QB play to hit the next level.
4) Finally, really missing some players, like Mook, Adonis, Hill, JJ, Settle, Divine, Edmundi....really? step back and consider that - too much for this team. Positive for me is the young O-line and Dbacks will get incredible experience.

"I play real sports, not trying to be the best at exercising..." - KP

#4!!! We do not and never will have the recruiting depth to survive all of those losses on one side of the ball in a single year. With the loss of seniors, early draftees, and suspensions, this became a rebuilding year on defense. Plain and simple. Great news, we still have a great chance at winning the coastal and going to ACCCG, and the young D getting this much experience could pay dividends the next couple of seasons.

I'm encouraged by D-line play (Hewitt for sure), although we did not get much pressure against ND, and Ashby. I think Rivers is out of place and slow to make his reads and get moving down hill. And we definitely need to see improvement from the secondary over the course of this season. But I'm sure we will see the improvement.

1-0 this week. I'll unfortunately be watching the game with some Heels, which is a lose-lose. If we lose, they will be obnoxious as Hell, and if we win, they'll be a bunch of annoying little cry babies and act like they don't care and "I'm done with UNC football, over it", making excuses, etc. I can't stand their fan base, only want to be a fan when they're good, not a true fan base.

--
"It's time to go play Virginia Tech Football longer and harder than anybody else in America!!" -- Justin Fuente
"I put a brick in Sacksburg today." -- Cam Phillips

I have been encouraged by explosiveness that Peoples had shown this year. There are definitely sparks where running game looks good. McClease could turn into that guy, he is still young but definitely need to improve running game overall to support passing.

My man crush on Vance Vice is yuge.

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

Is Newsome still on the coaching staff? No? Ok - we're fine then on the O-Line.

Somehow all of this mess can be traced back to Curt and his tenure....

I maintained that Newsome's o-lines were more of a problem than Stiney's play calling and thought Stiney should have gone back to being our o-line coach (with or without the OC title).

Agree. Not that Stiney wasnt at fault, but in my opinion the problems on offense always began with the line, and were exacerbated by the play calling.

Willis is better than what we have seen in two year of JJ. His arm and quick release puts the ball in WRs hands. If given the right plays, Which VT seems to Lack, He can win more Games than JJ. Tired of people saying such things, He Hasn't Had a Chance at VT . Fuente locks in on His "boy" and hell with the bench !! Until VT gets a OC that can manage a game and fit plays to the QB and his strength. Then Forget about winning any big games..

Jack R.

JJ throws a better slant ball. Willis has missed several.

Willis through a lot of balls behind people on Saturday and into double coverage. I want the best person to play. That said they are playing with a lot of energy right now.

Yep, I think that we're seeing the reason that JJ was the starter. We have a small sample size on Willis, but JJ seems to throw the slant better (though not great). There were a lot of missed opportunities on slants on Saturday. I also noticed that Willis had problems hitting moving receivers in the flats too. One in particular had Cunningham wide open with nothing but green grass between him and the EZ (though I won't guarantee that he has the wheels to outrun ND's safeties, at a distance of 70 yds from the EZ).

you saw your chance and capitalized on the moment, that's for sure.

Chem PhD '16

The sample size is too small to make a solid call on Willis v JJ ... yes there were times Willis tried to do too much in this game but he seems to have something going with this offense... I never saw him sit alone and hang his head on the bentch... he always seems to be pushing the offense... I think he throws a lot harder than JJ and the receivers are still learning... in my opinion he gives us a much higher upside than JJ ... he looks like he wants it more but that's just the eyeball test... I'm eager to see him in these next few games....

He's Still Open!!!

Willis has a stronger arm than JJ. He does have some accuracy issues, but the playbook is bigger when he's in there because he can throw it more. I thought he made better decisions in the running game.

I like JJ a lot, but I think Willis has more upside. I think we will see him grow quite a bit this year, as I don't think JJ is going to make it back from injury until next spring.

I'm actually shocked there are so many posts so high on JJ. No way puts up any numbers close to what Willis did against Duke, and ND would have been even uglier considering their pass rush

The only time the 2nd string QB is no longer the favorite player of the fan base is when he's been supplanted on the bench by the injured former starter that he replaced 😜

Run to Win. Pass To Score
Josh Jackson on Ricky Walker - ““He is the captain of this team, He’s the leader. He’s the bell cow, the Pail Holder.“

It could have been much worse if their QB had a more accurate deep ball.. Many times he would have all day to throw, no pressure whatsoever, and a receiver would break open 10 yds behind the defense.. Luckily he almost always overthrew them. Many blown assignments and poor tackling displayed all year by a young defense has me absolutely terrified of teams like GT and Pitt..
For the offense, I cant help but think that they would have fared even worse had our original QB1 not been injured... Willis (outside of the bonehead fumble play) had a solid game against a good defense and seems more willing/able to push the ball down field with accurate throws.

We tackled well against Duke. I think it less about tackling and more about being in position and executing the right reads. We didn't miss a tackle on the long ND run, they were just out of position.

--
"It's time to go play Virginia Tech Football longer and harder than anybody else in America!!" -- Justin Fuente
"I put a brick in Sacksburg today." -- Cam Phillips

I may be mistaken, but I thought the long run was a very similar play to the one that Cam Akers broke in the FSU game. It seems like an identifiable weakness of our defense that has been noticed. I will be very interested in French's breakdown of that play.

"I play real sports, not trying to be the best at exercising..." - KP

Stretch play to Farley's side of the field... likely to be out of place or miss the tackle.

Yeah, Farley had a play, took a bad angle, overran the hole. There is a question about whether it's wise to put Farley in a position where he's the free hitter on a super talented RB, but that seemed to be what happened on that play.

Not sure that one was on Farley (more in the review... lots of moving pieces there.) However, he had multiple plays where he had to fill the alley and was either out of position or didn't make the tackle. It is a growing issue.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Seemed like maybe Floyd or Rogers had that gap but overran and Farley lost the ball and overran farther

Looked like Rodgers the backup FS to me, or more accurately the backside pursuit.

1) Farley had to be ready to cover the outside edge if Williams kept angling to the sideline, because Belmar was double teamed on the edge (pulling LG and TE/Slot) and the extra blocker was opening the sideline alley. So Farley's wider line was fine, IMO.

2) The main problem with this play was at the point of attack Notre Dame had 2 holes. - either side of #79 the pulling guard - and we had only 1 player (Rodgers) there to cover. So Rodgers is going to look bad for choosing wrong. But the fact is that by taking the outside angle he forced the cutback toward what should be backside pursuit.

3) That backside pursuit got walled off. Hewitt got sealed inside without getting penetration, and Rivers got stonewalled by a WR and Ashby let himself getting sealed off by an OL who chipped Gaines before driving 2nd level. Reggie Floyd was MIA. Ladler had to come from the far side of the formation and got there late.
And it's not like those blocks were quick pops, they were sustained engagements where our players got into a shoving match with the blocker instead of fighting past them.

My biggest concern has to do with Divine Deablo. He's missed two games, and we've lost pretty badly in both. From what I've read, his absence is causing problems not just because he's our best secondary player, but because we end up reshuffling the entire deck, moving other defenders around, rather than just putting in the next man at his position. With a defense this young, that strikes me as a risky strategy. Would we not be better off just putting in the next man up at FS and letting everyone else play in their normal roles. These guys are so inexperienced that I think we might be asking a little too much of them by asking them to play multiple roles.

“You got one guy going boom, one guy going whack, and one guy not getting in the endzone.”
― John Madden (describing VT's offense?)

Well they didn't put Ladler at FS, that was one thing I noticed.

"I play real sports, not trying to be the best at exercising..." - KP

I seem to remember reading somewhere that Diablo's issue was/is a hamstring. If that is true, he's likely going to be missing time all season long.

Is it football season yet?

I watched Deablo specifically during warmups. I thought he was playing for sure. He was dressed and fully participated in drills. His issue must be pretty day-to-day. Going to be one to watch all season for sure. He is a real difference maker in a young secondary that needs all the "difference" they can get.

It was mentioned above, but the attrition we saw on the defensive side of the ball this offseason was absolutely brutal. I think every single program in the country not named Alabama would be seeing the same sort of issues if there were a similar attrition problem.

Is it football season yet?

I've slept on it and decided this board needs to calm the hell down. We have three popular vent threads going at the same time with the same hyperbolic world is falling sentiment after losing to legitimate playoff contender in what everyone with a ounce of football understanding and rationality knew would be a rebuilding year.

I was pissed off/dejected during the second half of the game too, I'm super sick of watching us lose in every big game too, but I also knew we weren't going to be in a position this season to do that without a lot of good fortune. I mean honestly, who really thought we were gonna be a one loss type team this season? Who thought replacing 9 defensive starters (really 10 without how little Mihota has played and with Hill gone) was going to be painless?

...We have three popular vent threads going at the same time with the same hyperbolic world is falling sentiment after losing...

...there are multiple ways to ensure the horse is dead...all bases must be covered

Let's Go

HOKIES

allow me to get you green sir. (click)

"...sticks and stones may break my bones but I'm gonna kick you repeatedly in the balls Gardoki!"

Fuente talked about the big game issues in the post game press conference. I thought it was an interesting take.

Mentioned that he thought FSU was a big game until we won. And WVU was a big game until we won. Obviously, FSU in hindsight wasn't as good as expected and wvu was neutral site, but those games we managed to come out alright.

He also mentioned the top 25 wins in lane, and, like others mentioned here, who have we played since he came here at home? We have not had many opportunities.

These top 10 matchups are tough for any program. It's frustrating, and we should perform better, but it's not some big thing in the way of our team, just a few stats that have been blown out of proportion.

This season is the first time I haven't been able to find postgame press conferences online. Where did you find it? Thanks!

Virginian by Birth, Hokie by Choice

Virginia Tech Athletics Facebook page under videos.

Thanks! Leg

Virginian by Birth, Hokie by Choice

I heard that too. People forget that had we lost to WVU and FSU too, heads would be splodin' more than they are now.

Overheard as Duke assistant coaches took elevator down from press box: “Guys, they stopped the run with a three-man front.” - David Teel Tweet 2018

I stayed away from the boards till now to hopefully let them calm down. Here are my thoughts from being at the game.

Early on their defense was better than our offense and kept us out of the end zone again and again.

Their OL was either great or our pass rush was very weak, we never really got home to Book.

Later on the lack of depth was telling in the second half as their offense started moving the ball better.

The 97 yard touchdown rush broke the defense. Notre Dame did whatever they wanted after that point.

I find it so interesting that coaches etc. were talking about the second half and conceding that the first half was well played football. I personally felt while watching it, then after sleeping on it, that we had our chances to win in the first half, blew them, and the whole second half was garbage time.

This is going to be fun to watch the Chicken Little's work their heads around.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

It will be interesting to see how he develops. Ladler has asserted himself as the guy at whip for the near future, not sure if he will grow into a backer or maybe work at Rover to take the reins after Floyd graduates. Right now I don't think he has the coverage ability for DB and not big enough for linebacker. Some have wanted to see him at RB but it looks like he is set on defense. Hope he can continue to grow into a position somewhere.

He's been set up to this point, but with a redshirt it's possible he could switch over to the offensive side of the ball for next year. I don't think that'll happen, but it would be fun to see at the very least.

Building year confirmed #buildingyearconfirmed

I trust Bud/Fuente in all things player development.

I might just be pessimistic right now, but that's frustrating for me to see. I felt like we rushed him onto the field last year to play special teams and now when we're both incredibly young and incredibly thin we lose another defender. I guess losing both Adonis and Mook was pretty unforeseeable and hindsight is 20/20, but I can't imagine how this is the best choice for right now.

He also IF needed might qualify for a medical redshirt for last year. He had some lingering injury issues including concussions.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Would they have needed to apply for that already? Or is there no statute of limitations on that kind of thing?

You don't apply for that until you need it, so he wanted/needed the 6th year.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

The Ricky Walker plan. Play as a true freshman and then RS.

"We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior" Stephen M.R. Covey

“When life knocks you down plan to land on your back, because if you can look up, you can get up, if you fall flat on your face it can kill your spirit” David Wilson

Does anyone else have the impression that we're tipping whether or not we're planning to hand off the ball to the WR on a jet sweep? Our seats were at the very top of the South EZ. From there, we could see that on almost every play where there was jet sweep action, but no hand off, the DE, OLB and DB's on the side of the ball, where the WR was headed, didn't even pause to determine if the WR had the ball. Then on plays where we did hand off the same DE and OLB would go straight up field, to make a play.

There were a couple exceptions, but for the most part, it seemed like the ND Defense knew ahead of the snap, if the hand off would be made or not.

I couldn't figure out the best place to post this — where in the world do we find postgame coach press conference videos this season? I feel like these have been very hard to find this season. Hokiesports.com used to post them, but I don't see it there anymore.

Any help? Thanks!

Virginian by Birth, Hokie by Choice

Another great piece... nice work

Coaches get a pass on the CB's.... by all estimates they were going to be AA and Jeremy Webb with the freshman backing them up

Hard to give coaches any pass on the cluster that is the safety play without Diablo. Those guys just look lost and totally unprepared.

The DL especially DT is just not cutting it. ND double teamed Walker all night and outside of blitzes the others got no pressure save for one or two plays in the first half. Think about 2015 DT's vs. this year... The DL issues are making the later Beamer years OL recruiting look rosey

2015 DT
Tim Settle Fr
Steve Sobzcak
Ricky Walker So
Nigel Williams Jr
Woody Baron Jr
Corey Marshall Sr
Luther Maddy Sr

'Its easy to grin, when your ship comes in, and you've got the stock market beat,
but the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile, when his shorts are too tight in the seat'

We simply have to admit what this football program is and has been for the last decade or more, an above average team that can sometimes pull out a big win, but more often than not is not talented enough to do it consistently. I understand this team is young, etc., but this game has cemented my expectations for this program until I see a major uptick in the players we sign.

Why continue to torture ourselves, believing that Va Tech football is the same as it was in 98-2004/6. We just cannot compete at a top tier level. Given there were mishaps, etc. in those years as well, but we had the guys that could win those games then. And debatable or not, we were deservedly were ranked in the top ten sometimes.

Our guys are young right now, true, but we have had young freshmen play in the past, e.g., Fullers and others, that could hold their own. These guys simply can't and are seemingly perpetually lost, unconfident and do not believe b/c they know they are outmatch talent-wise. I know that we did not anticipate a full departure of our defense last year / over the summer. However, reloading equivalent performance from 2nd, 3rd, and 4th stringers from last year is not going to happen as it would with other schools.

I am resigned to 8/9 year wins and beat downs from the blue bloods until the talent comes. Hoke through and through but this is the last time I will come into a game like this thinking we can compete on an equivalent level. We'll always need some trickery, outcoaching/game planning or guys playing out of their mind to pull it off.

Our guys are young right now, true, but we have had young freshmen play in the past, e.g., Fullers and others, that could hold their own.

It's easy to be a Freshman when you have Juniors and Seniors surrounding you. It's a lot harder to be a freshman and have freshmen and sophomores surrounding.

Always choose joy.

Indeed, it is.

I don't know where else to put this but I have to share it with you guys. While jumping and screaming during the entrance with Enter Sandman blaring, I entered into a drunken steamroll/bowling ball maneuver that went through about 3 rows of Notre Dame fans. I got up at the bottom and it looked like someone bushhogged a path down to me. I though I would have to fight my way out, but I talked my way back to my seat. I asked the Notre Dame fan standing beside me if he saw that and he simply said "yes, I will forever remember this game because of that."

I consider this both a mistake and a missed opportunity.

You really need to re-post this story in the "Hokies Impress Notre Dame Fans" thread.

"Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing."
-Ron Swanson

"11-0, bro"
-Hunter Carpenter (probably)

HA

I'm come to accept a rebuild year and it probably always was that but we need to see something improve next year... hopefully we don't have a similar offseason ....I'm hopeful that in this string of acc games the offense starts to hum and we finally get a taste of what's to come

He's Still Open!!!