A few Observations from the Game...

While I don't claim to be an expert in reviewing film, I went back and re-watched the game and noticed a few more obvious things (I'll leave the real film breakdown to French)...

- There's a lot of talk about how UVA won't be better than us next year. Honestly, they weren't better than us this year. That's not to say they didn't earn the win, they definitely did. But they earned it by playing a cleaner game than we did. They had one major mistake in the game, and it wasn't an "unforced" mistake - it came when Floyd hit Perkins and Conner picked off the pass. We, on the other hand, had multiple unforced mistakes that killed us:
a) Connor could have scored on that pick or at least been inside the 10, but someone (I think Ashby) was called for a blindside block that cost us 40-50 yards or so.
b) Our first drive of the game where our O was moving the ball and looking good ended with a Turner fumble.
c) UVA had 0 first downs during entire 2nd quarter and through the first 11 minutes of the 3rd. Our D was dominant. Then, with 4min left in the 3rd, Perkins hit Reed for a huge 40+ yard play that gave them momentum. From what I gathered from Bud's post-game presser, we were in 3-deep coverage, but Chatman missed his assignment and played man rather than being in the deep zone. It's tough to speculate how the rest of the game would have gone, but at that point our O was rolling (we had just had back to back TD drives) and their O had done nothing in their past 6-7 drives. Maybe it's a different game altogether if they don't get that play to spark their O. Or, if nothing else, just one more UVA punt vs a UVA TD on that drive could have made the difference.
d) I know this has been mentioned already, but easily the most frustrating sequence in the game came with 5 min left in the 4th. Game is tied at 30 and we had driven pretty easily to the UVA 40. Then, everything falls apart - TT drops what would have been a 1st down catch, then we have back-to-back false starts. Then, on 3rd & 20, HH throws a pick. Very frustrating sequence, we were in position to win this thing even after the previously mentioned mistakes.
e) Early in the game, TT scored on a jet sweep that was called back for a hazelton false start. We settled for a FG, cost us 4 points that we really could have used later.
...like I said, UVA earned the W by playing clean, and we didn't.

- An unsung hero from this game is Robinson, especially on punt returns. In the 2nd quarter, he had back-to-back huge punt returns and single-handedly flipped the field. Our O went 3-and-out on back-to-back drives, but still got a FG because of the field position created by 83.

- HH threw from the pocket a lot in this game, much more than I remembered from watching the game live. He looked good doing it too, lots of good throws and down-field completions. It looked like we were running the "Willis" offense because we thought UVA was taking away the misdirection game, and HH performed very well and made good throws for the most part except for the final drive. If he can be that good from the pocket, that's even more reason for optimism for next year

- As good as Perkins has been, I get why many programs didn't view him as a QB. On an 3rd & 7 he threw an out to Reed that would have been an easy first down, but the ball floated and took forever to get there, allowing Chatman to make an easy tackle short of the 1st down. There were other examples too - he made some good throws, but doesn't have enough zip on slants and out routes.

- I thought this game was the most effective our WR screen game has been all season. UVA corners were playing way off whenever we had multiple WRs to the same side of the field. Turner had a big gain off of one, and Robinson almost scored on one. Wish we had used this more, and then maybe eventually lure them into the pump-n-go that we used vs UNC.

- The deep post from HH to TT was a thing of beauty. HH stood in the pocket, about to get hit, and delivered a beautiful pass. TT adjusted perfectly and boxed out the corner to make the catch, then shrugged him off for a walk-in TD.

- Brian Johnson was 3/3 in this game and hit a 47 yard FG to give us 30-27 lead, he's much improved from last year.

- With 3 min left in the game and tied at 30, Perkins changed his mind from give to pull on a read play, and ended up running for 10 yards. So often you see a fumble when a QB changes his mind at the last minute like that. Guess it was just their day.

- The "3 sack" drive - personally I put that on the OL, not on HH. The first two sacks, a defender came through completely unblocked. The OL seemed confused, and HH had no chance to even throw it away. On the third sack (in the end zone) - it looked like we finally had all the right assignments, but it was 3rd & 21 so the routes needed time to develop, and Tenuta couldn't hold his block.

- In fact, on the next drive (now down 39-30 with one minute left), HH again showed he can throw from the pocket if given time, working the sidelines and the middle of the field. There was one sack on a stunt where 2 OL passed the DT to each other and he came in unblocked, but otherwise HH had time and made good throws and the OL protected him - again bodes well for the future if HH can throw this well from the pocket.

- I know we're down about this loss, but there's really no way to overstate the turnaround the team had this year. We all talk about the Duke game, but the BC, ODU, and Furman games were ugly too. That's not the same team that took the field vs Miami, URI, UNC, ND, Wake, GT, Pitt, and UVA. These coaches and players deserve ton of credit. I hope they'll be remembered as the team that turned the season around, kept the bowl streak alive, and posted back-to-back shutouts in 2 of Bud's last 3 , rather than the team that lost to UVA.

- There are other posts looking ahead to next year, and the outlook is awesome. We return talent everywhere, we'll know our offensive game plan from the offseason (vs having to re-tool it mid season), and we'll practice hard from the start (none of the pre-duke stuff that CJF had alluded to). Immense potential for next year. I think this is the most excited I've been about a team / season since 2011.

- Damon, Caleb, Divine - please, please, please don't leave us. Please. Please.

- Fuente & Cornelson are very good coaches, IMO. Still learning? Yes. But I'm glad we have those two guys. We are a long, long way from the offenses that drove us crazy and couldn't score under Stiney. I feel like the "fire Cornelson" sentiment picked up steam early when the O was bad in the first 4 games, but I don't think it's at all warranted with how we've been scoring against good defenses later in the year. And Fuente is a very good coach, who manages different game situations well, and I think his players like him and respond to him.

- Bud is the man. I hate that we lost his last one vs UVA, but love the position he's left the defense in, and (obviously) what he's done for the program. Let's send the man out with a bowl win that we can build off of. Here's to 9-4 and a happy retirement day for Bud!

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I'm still not sold on Cornelsen. He should have come out in the first half and gone after their secondary the way he did in the second half. I understand him trying to establish a running game, but the short passes that didn't really stress their secondary were infuriating. For Cornelsen to take that next step as an offensive coordinator, he has to consistently put together full games (like he did against Georgia Tech). I will agree that this was his best year since 2016, maybe a little better, but it's still not quite good enough if we want to take that next step.

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Fair points, I see where you're coming from. But IMO...

If you look around the country, even the high-power offenses have their not-so-great moments / games, except for the ones with elite talent all over the place that can simply impose their will by being better at every position.

Look at UNC and Wake, two of the better offenses in the conference. Both had their games where they couldn't score much, that's going to happen when you don't have Bama / Clemson talent.

As an O coordinator, you're going up against other teams that have smart D coordinators and similarly talented players. It's tough to make the right play call every single time, when the opponent has studied you and your tendencies and is trying to take away what you do best.

In the AD era, the O won us some games when the D struggled (Miami and UNC), and scored plenty against Wake and GT and UVA. Against an elite D in Pitt, the O scored 21 in basically 2.5 quarters before the objective changed from scoring to chewing clock. That's a good outing, and I think we could have scored 28-35 vs Pitt if we needed to.

On the whole, I think our O played well enough to win every game AD, except for ND which was a special circumstance and resembled more of the Stiney-era where our D scored almost as much as the O.

It's easy to say we should have come out throwing more vs UVA, but the flip side is - what if we do, and turn the call over, and get behind early such that we can no longer resort to our run-heavy offense? I think you've gotta try your bread-and-butter first. Did it take too long to change? Maybe, but then again we were spread out throwing in the first quarter and that drive ended with TT's fumble.

Anyway, I'm not saying Cornelsen is perfect or called the perfect game, just saying that I can understand the thought process and overall I think he's got the offense trending up.

In all fairness, TT's fumble has nothing to do with throwing the ball. He could have as easily fumbled on a jet sweep.

a fumble is a is a turn over whenever,

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

I think we are saying the same thing.

My comment was in response to:

Maybe, but then again we were spread out throwing in the first quarter and that drive ended with TT's fumble.

Messed up hit forward vs. edit.

My bad.

I'll just post another set of facts that I posted in another thread (that I got from somewhere).

Looking at the numbers, Perkins was responsible for 475 of their 492 total yards. Of the 181 rushing yards, he accounted for 164.

Also, VT had 25 first downs to UVAs 14.

Perkins' and Hooker's stats were pretty similar with the exception of an extra INT for Hooker that occurred on the last hail mary of the game. Think about that. Our Redshirt Sophomore Quarterback performed similarly to their Senior.

Perkins: 20/33 (60%) for 311 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Hooker: 18/30 (60%) for 311 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT

For the most part, UVA's offense is going to graduate. And Hooker is going to get better

They are losing all but 1 passing TD , all but 6/7 receiving TD's the only thing staying is 17 rushing TD's (losing 11)

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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Who is their QB next year? Anyone know?

Dunno why, thought of this when you said second coming and saw he was the complete opposite of Perkins from a characteristic standpoint.

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Those 17 rushing TDs are all from inside the 5 yard line from Taluapapa (or whatever his name is). He isn't a real threat anywhere else on the field.

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Excellent post. We will not be lights out all the time unless we have blue chip talent top to bottom. I have not been upset with offensive coaching this year.

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." - K

I have not been upset with offensive coaching this year.

With 1 exception. Sticking with Willis when he was having turnover multiple issues while benching RB's for multiple games if they fumble (or in 1 case where Fu thought King "might" fumble) was a bad move. Heck, you had the Furman game where you could have benched Willis after 4 turnovers in the 1st two games. It had to have an effect on the team to see Willis get favorable treatment.

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I would agree with you if I thought he was getting favorable treatment. But, I honestly felt like the coaches had to bite their tongue just to say something positive about Willis. I don't know if we will ever know the whole story, but my deduction is that the young guys missed some time and/or were not performing well in practice and Fuente admitted multiple times that he did not want to send a qb out before he was ready because of his history. Follow all that up with an apparent injury to Willis to make him more ineffective, and Voila it is time for Hooker and I thought the coaches did a great job of highlighting his strengths and hiding his weaknesses. I could have it wrong, but it seems to make sense in my mind.

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." - K

Great post!

I really liked the clock management this game.

The end of both halves was 2 coaches making the right calls to win on both sides of this.

Hoo hatred aside, it was refreshing to see timeouts used so strategically. Felt like a chess match instead of Timecop checkers.

Bronco has one major advantage over Mike London. Bronco has been a coach at BYU for a long time and he knows how to establish a culture of identity. Mike London was finding his way and was clearly in over his head, heck of a recruiter, but poor at "big picture" management.

Agree 100% on this. Fuente did well and Mendenhall possibly better. Clearly Mike London wasn't managing this game!

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No disrespect but I completely disagree. The approach we took at the end of both halves, especially that first half was atrocious. I made the point in another thread but seeing Bama/Auburn throwing the ball down the field and putting up points because of it showed a stark contrast from top programs and us. Time management was questionable at best

Well said. I like your take on the good and bad and that it is definitely more good than bad. We will get the mistakes addressed and coached up for next year. I am very hopeful that we will see a much improved team hit the field from day one next year!

Great write up. Spot on and in proper perspective. I believe Fuente and Co. are on to something that will be their's 100% and we Hokie Nation fans will be surprised to a degree in the next two seasons of how stoked we will be. LETS GO!!!!

On Perkins' first touchdown run, I said, "Have to stop the run," to get the defense off the field facing third-and-short. Instead, UVA's offense sucked VT's defense out of position, and Perkins hit high gear, outracing VT's defenders. Then on the next UVA's offensive possession, the defense was again faced with third-and-short, and got sucked out of position. Give UVA's offense credit for running the read perfectly that bamboozled the LPD.

My criticism of VT's offense is the repeated Hooker keeper where he ran up the gut repeatedly. I don't recall seeing Keene and Mitchell targeted enough. Love McClease and his willing to put his small frame to block, but he doesn't have the ability to hit the high gear once he sees a crease. We need a game-breaking running back that we haven't had since David Wilson left. It's too bad that the staff couldn't convince Feaster to come to Blacksburg instead of being cannon fodder for his former team.

I think it is the second game in a row where Hazelton had brain fart and false started, negating Tre Turner's touchdown run. Of course, it doesn't help that #goacc refs overturned a catch by Hazelton. HOWEVER, I was screaming at the TV for the offense to hurry up and snap because I knew they would review it and overturn it. I just knew. I blame this on Fuente for not recognizing the situation right away instead of congratulating Hazelton for a job well done.

VT's defense had two blown coverage on UVA's touchdown passing that had me shaking my head. Love Connor and him bringing the wood, but whoo, he's a liability in pass coverage (been my beef with him since the UNC game). I realize that he is a sophomore, so I hope with several games under his belt and plenty of time to study films, he will improve his pass coverage technique. Farley being out has hurt the defense since he was having a stellar season.

During the BC game, with my Clemson's father-in-law alum (who also likes VT and said he wished Feaster had went to VT FWIW) watching, I was lamenting that the offense had absolutely no identity with Willis behind center. Funny how French's film review confirmed my lamentation the following week. Then VT's offense slog its way through Furman and Rhode Island, but the bottom fell out when Duke stole the lunch pail and kicked VT in the nuts. I have never seen Fuente looking so lost and rotating three quarterback was desperation to get something going. I give Fuente the credit for looking at himself in the mirror and making the gut-check decision to bench Willis the following week. Then personally challenging the locker room to change their mentality based on Fuente's way. I think the results showed.

This program is young, but battle tested, having tasted victories and bitter defeat. The trajectory looks good for the program, provided Fuente makes the right hire to replace famed Bud Foster. It will be up to the junior classes to set the tone this spring since they will become seniors in the fall, and the winter workout program should give us some clue on the team's makeup.

The snap the call quickly plan never works. The kid made the catch right in front of him. His ability to lead from an emotional standpoint matters too. This was just a bad call and finding blame is worthless.

I don't know, man. If it was up to me, I would have the offense quickly line up to prevent a review.

I would love to know what the replay reviewer saw that convinced him to overturn the call on the field because I saw nothing that indicated there was an overturn justified, just like with that catch UVA caught that was clearly on the out-of-bound line. For the record, it was a catch.

I agree the overturn wasn't justified. Replay officials suck in the ACC.

On that, we agree.

Weren't the first two TD runs by Perkins on 3rd and 14 and 3rd and 10?

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Yes... They may have been QB draws, but the WRs ran our secondary off the ball and he tucked and ran. It was disappointing after getting them in 3rd and long, especially when you consider they got TDs on both drives.

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On the 67 yard TD run it's a total bust by our guys. 3 guys run outside the to the tackle creating an alley on a draw. I'm not sure if the end should have stunted inside or if Dax (I think) got way out of his gap or something else. Bottom-line is we were very aggressive and didn't execute the blitz right and they had the perfect call.

I was hoping we would be less aggressive on D early and more on O early. I thought Bud would have felt out Perkins more to prevent possible big busts especially with Farley out.

We are still young on D, but you can see watching the sideline these kids care and will keep getting better. I was impressed with the demeanor.

It was Connor on that play. He got sucked outside with two (maybe three) other defenders and should have filled the gap it appears. Would have hit Perkins at the LOS and forced a punt.

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I just checked ESPN.com's play-by-play. On Perkins' first touchdown run, it was 2nd and 5 at VT's 39.

On Perkins' second touchdown run, it was 3rd and 2 (which is what I most likely remembered the most) on UVA's 33.

IIRC, the 3rd & 14 and 3rd & 10 were long runs to pick up 1st downs, in their 1st possession.

It felt like we were leaving the middle of the field wide open, esp on 3rd down, for at least the entire 1st quarter. On the 67 yd TD run, Floyd was a lone DB in the middle of the field. when Perkins dropped back like he was going to throw, Floyd broke to his left side of the field to double cover a deep route. As soon as he did so, Perkins took off running, with the entire middle of the field wide open. UVA's OC schemed us out of position, for those runs by putting everyone wide and keeping them on sideline routes.

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Ahh ok that must have been what I was thinking.

Yeah between allowing those pickups and those TD runs, we gameplanned very poorly to stop or even slow him down from the start.

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One thing I noticed during the game was how many times the hike from the center seemed to be off - high, low, left or right. I imagine that might have thrown off the timing on the RPOs, crossing routes, etc. Corny or Hooker might get criticized for some of the play calling / missed some opportunities where at least some of the blame may fall on another player.

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I haven't watched the game on TV yet as I was there in person (alas). I thought it was Hudson's weakest game on snaps and he had good moments, but also several moments where he did not have his best game blocking wise as well.

That shouldn't be taken as overly critical as here was a true freshman who had never played center and ended up starting in a RPO offense and played well and most importantly improved as the year went along. Very impressed. I do think his long-term future is at tackle, but believe he will challenge at guard next year due to numbers.

I expect Hudson to move to guard or right tackle next year. I am going to write a year in review after my film review of this game, and will include some commentary on some potential position changes.

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Agreed and can't wait! Very rare you have a kid with so much ability to be able to legitimately play all 5 line positions in his career, but I think he is one of them.

If he hadn't done what he did this year the season could have changed dramatically for the worse. Hat off to the kid.

Unless the NCAA changes their transfer eligibility rules again and keeps Brock out. /s

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That is hilarious

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I haven't seen something this funny in a long time 😂😂😂😂

I think the change in game plan with HH throwing more was due to us knowing their secondary is riddled with injuries than anything else. UVa's strength was their line and LBers and it showed. They played great the entire game. I honestly thought we should have passed more often with quicker routes insetad of those QB runs.

I think if Farley plays, we win. There were a good amount of misplays in our secondary that we havent had the past few weeks. I think him not playing also forced Bud to not load the box which opened things up for Perkins.

I think the loss is good in the long run. You just added motivation to this young squad to work hard for this bowl game and again in the offseason. I think this and the Penn State game next year are going to be great offseason motivators.

Next year hinges on who we get to be our DC. If its TG, then theres consistency in the game plan and no learning curve and I would expect a top 10-20 defense. If it's a new person that applies a completely different defense then there's going to be a learning curve that will prob reach to halfway through the season. Even so, with the personnel we have, I think a top 30 defense by end of season should be a gimme.

Next year is also a HUGE expectation year for Fuente. All his recruits, has his multi-year QB, has good RBs, has great WRs, has Oline with experience. Our offense needs to be lights out.

Honestly, they weren't better than us this year. That's not to say they didn't earn the win, they definitely did. But they earned it by playing a cleaner game than we did.

I'm going to take issue with this statement. We had one effective quarter of offense the whole game - Q3, when we scored 21 points, and only two effective quarters of defense - Q2 and Q3. We were not able to force stops when we needed them late, and we weren't able to pick up yards on crucial third down.

You can use whatever word you want; you can say we were more talented (although I think Perkins was the most talented player on the field), you can say that our team has a higher ceiling, but I think that, based on the players who were on the field (I know we were missing Farley, but they were missing players from their secondary due to injury as well), UVA wins that game 6 or 7 times out of 10.

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Yeah and that's why this loss didn't bother me as much as I expected. They were better. We were good, didn't make any significant mistakes that lead to the loss. I don't see the refs as significant factors.

They just made the plays to win that we didn't. And they did that because they are good and they were really quite good all year.

I think this may be a case of resulting. The result (6 points in the first half) make it seem like we got shut down. We moved the ball in the first half but were forced to settle for 2 field goals (one was a td taken off the board due to penalty), had a promising drive killed by a turnover, and another had a holding on 3rd down which killed a drive at the onset.

I wish we had been more aggressive on the drive before halftime and as others have said, used the TEs more in the red zone. I think we win 7-8 out of 10 times.

Great point! Regardless, we left points on the board, which we can't do against good teams.

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Across the board, we're a more talented team, so a loss is disappointing. I agree with the OP, UVA didn't make near the mistakes we did.
I had a couple issues with the offense:

  • Corn's playcalling wasn't good, especially in the redzone. Running 2 sweeps inside the 10 (but outside the 6), when the defense has 11 men within 5 yards of the LOS doesn't work.
  • Our best mismatch was our big WRs and playmaking TEs - and that seemed to be an afterthought offensively (see above, let our WRs make a play).
  • Mitchell has been lights out and it seemed like we just decided to forget he was on the team. Keene has a couple plays, but could have been featured more.
  • We had multiple slow developing plays. Also many where UVA's OLB were showing blitz, and instead of audibling, we'd run slow plays directly into their blitz or take a sack/TFL
  • Where was King?

On defense, our safety play was about as bad as it's been all year. Not sure if Farley has covered for them, but it's not good that a single player being out caused our whole secondary to fold over.
Lack of pressure with our front 4 bit us too. Not being able to generate any pass rush without blitzing an LB gave Perkins all day to make a play, or opened a clear running lane for him.

it's not good that a single player being out caused our whole secondary to fold over.

Given the way we recruit, I think this is an inevitability. It was the same thing with Kyle Fuller in 2013. I could probably think of a few more players who that crucial to our defense in a given season.

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Agreed. Considering we may have an entirely new defensive scheme next year, this may not be the case moving forward.

You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

Given the way we recruit, I think this is an inevitability.

It absolutely is a product of recruiting not being where it needs to be.

. Running 2 sweeps inside the 10 (but outside the 6), when the defense has 11 men within 5 yards of the LOS doesn't work.

Well to be fair it did work at least once, but Hazleton brain farted away the touchdown.

Was talking about our first trip into the RZ. That play has worked for us in past games from the 3(ish) yd line - and did again this game before the false start on Haze. In the first half, we ran wide, and then ran another sweep with Tre from like the 8 or 9 yard line on back to back plays. I think you have to give your WRs or TEs a shot at least once in that series, and we didn't.

I haven't rewatched the game (and probably won't), I have a feeling the TEs had their hands full blocking.

To borrow a phrase, those kids were blocking their asses off.

NFL scouts have to be drooling over both our TE the way they catch and block.