It was the most predictable game of Virginia Tech's season. The Hokies went into Winston-Salem, played a horrifying game against an excruciatingly bad opponent and nose-dived their way to a 6-3 overtime loss against Wake Forest.
I'm going to be perfectly honest writing this game story. I dreaded coming to BB&T Field all week. I wasn't apprehensive because it meant that I had to work on a Saturday, or because I elected to miss a basketball game for it. No, I dreaded coming to this specific Virginia Tech football game because I thought I knew exactly what sort of ugliness was in store.
I was so, so wrong.
"It was a tough day at the office, one that I don't think anybody in the organization is particularly proud of," said a somber Frank Beamer in his post-game press conference. "But again individually you say 'what could I have done today and what should I not have done that hurt this football team, hurt our chances to win,' and there's a lot of those for all of us."
For Beamer's offense, the game felt more like going into the office moments before the building was bulldozed. In four quarters and two overtime possessions they managed to total three points, 254 yards and an infinite number of groans from the few thousand Tech fans in attendance. The Hokies' worst flaws were exposed over and over again as the Deacons defense piled up stops. Blockers were blown up, play calls were questionable and the passing game was downright anemic.
Starting quarterback Michael Brewer looked like the second best signal caller on his team, completing 15 of 28 passes for 126 yards with one interception. Recently unveiled Wild Turkey quarterback Brenden Motley, on the other hand, ran an extremely effective series in the third quarter that included completing a 17-yard pass to Cam Phillips.
Inexplicably, after driving his team down to the Wake 26, Motely was pulled off the field in favor of his counterpart. The drive ended with Brewer botching a bubble screen to Bucky Hodges that resulted in a fumble recovery by the Demon Deacons. It would end up being the closest that the Hokies would get to the Wake Forest end zone in regulation.
"We had a plan that we were going to play [Motley] roughly between 8 and 12 snaps," said offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler. "He did some good things. We'll watch the tape to see if we should have kept him in there for the remainder [of the game]."
J.C. Coleman showed flashes for the second week in a row, ending up with 98 yards. He also had one explosive 31-yard fourth quarter run that looked like it would end things in regulation. From the press box it looked like he needed one more block from receiver Isaiah Ford to spring him, but it was all for not.
In case you were wondering, that possession ended with a Tech punt from midfield.
The defense played as well as they were expected to, yet could never catch a break from their counterparts on the other side of the ball. While they weren't perfect by any means, Bud Foster's unit still held their opponent scoreless through four quarters despite being consistently put in tough spots.
"I've never seen a defense have to defend such a short field consistently," said defensive coordinator Foster, "and we had to do it again today."
The only thing that went in Foster and company's favor was the performance from Wake's redshirt freshman kicker Mike Weaver, which could have been labeled NSFW. Weaver missed kicks three kicks in regulation, one from 42 yards and two from 37, keeping the Hokies in the game with each blunder.
Despite the three misses, first-year Wake head coach Dave Clawson had faith in his guy. In overtime Clawson trotted out his kicker and watched him make not just the first kick, but the game winner as well.
"I didn't mind playing for overtime because if you go by the batting average of the kickers that is an advantage for us," said Clawson. "Mike just had to let the early ones go."
For many obvious reasons this loss makes next Friday's game against Virginia even more important. Not only is the win streak against the Cavaliers up in the air, but now the bowl streak is as well. Though that game looms large, it shouldn't overshadow what happened this week.
Forget losing to the Wahoos, losing to a two-win Wake Forest team is the type of game that makes people reconsider things. For fans it makes you reconsider your travel plans on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and perhaps your season ticket plan next year. For a recruit, it could surely make you reconsider whether or not Virginia Tech is the right choice for you. And for administrators like Whit Babcock, it makes you consider all available options going into the most important Commonwealth Cup matchup in recent memory.
Whit doesn't have a comment yet, but after a game like this I can only imagine that he'll have something to say at some point. And when he does, I would wager that he'll have memories of this game burning in the back of his mind.