Guys, I wrote an article about the game, and the morning after. Hope you enjoy it.
The Morning After
By Mark Reif
I love Virginia Tech Football so much. There are few things more exciting or exhilarating than watching the Hokies flood onto Worsham Field while perched high in the walls of Lane Stadium, and Enter Sandman plays over the sound system. Being an alumni and seeing so many games over the years, the team and the experience of highs and lows just becomes imprinted on you and what some may see as just a football game takes on a lot more significance. But there are good days and bad days as a fan, just like life in general. There are days when things are clicking on both sides of the ball and the game seems almost effortless, and the Hokies cruise to a victory. Then there are days where the team is like a motor with some finicky problem deep inside and needs a going over to diagnose and fix it. As I write this on Sunday, October 25, 2020, it's unfortunately the morning after a gut wrenching loss to Wake Forest.
The morning after a Hokies victory is always a nice time to bask in the moment. I'll enjoy my coffee by the window as the sun rises and read the articles lauding the team and their excellent performance the day before. Various stats will be posted from the game, highlighting successes on both sides of the ball, and how certain players are really coming into their own. All over Twitter, posts tagged #Hokies will be full of optimism at the previous day's win and how great it is to be a Tech fan. The positivity is wonderful and all is well in the world of Hokies football.
Then there are mornings like today. There's a bleak mood and you think of what if's from the day before and wonder why things went wrong. It's a task wading through all of the negativity being written. I've seen how hard the team works and the endless hours of practice put in, and we all want the them to be performing at their best, and winning. Sadly, there are games when things just don't work, no matter how much planning or preparation goes into it.
As yesterday's game against Wake Forest approached, I was feeling good but expecting a battle. The Hokies had been playing great on offense the past two games, scoring 40 or more in each, and the combination of running and passing from Khalil Herbert and Hendon Hooker was an ideal two pronged attack. Both players were reeling off chunk gains on the ground, with nice passes sprinkled in here and there. The media lauded Tech's running and scoring, and the Hokies appeared to be ready to enter the top 15 with a win. But Wake was a strong team too, featuring a gunslinger of a quarterback going against the Hokies' new look defense that had struggled at times this season. As the ball was teed up for the kickoff, my heart pounded and I was concerned with how it would go.
From the opening snap, it was apparent it wasn't the Hokies' day. After receiving the kickoff, they sputtered on offense, just unable to get things going. After so much success in the previous few games, it was discouraging seeing the team unable to move the ball. Khalil Herbert had no holes to run through. Routine passes weren't connecting with receivers. Uncharacteristic turnovers happened. Tech racked up penalty after penalty for their highest total in years. It was reminiscent of watching the team play in deep mud rather than a groomed gridiron.
Wake Forest was the opposite, smoothly rolling off passes and runs, almost gaining yards at will at times. They would march down the field methodically, over and over again. Even when repeatedly facing 3rd and 4th downs, they'd move the sticks, continue the drive and usually score.
One bright spot was the Tech defense never gave up. Even after a series of gains by the Deacons, the guys would keep fighting, digging in and working. But I can't fault them for getting worn down after the Deacons would drive the length of the field, score, and Tech subsequently would run a handful of plays before having to punt again. There just wasn't a way for the defense to overcome the lack of offensive production.
As the game progressed and Tech tried to fight back over and over again, nothing would work. As soon as a hopeful situation would emerge, like driving into the red zone, it would be snuffed out by a turnover or the simple inability to gain yards. It was disheartening watching a team you know is so capable come away empty handed over and over.
There have been some crushing losses over the years for the Hokies and this is one of them, unfortunately. It's not the same as losing to Notre Dame in 2019 by one point after a valiant effort. Nor is it the same as taking #8 Florida State to the brink in 2012 before losing in the final minutes. Yesterday's game is a disappointment because of the untapped potential and what could have been.
The 2020 Wake Forest game was a tough loss and will take some time to wear off. Seeing the team struggle, as though some invisible hand was stopping them, made for a trying watch and a bleak Sunday morning. I admired the fight and never give up attitude of the defense and remain optimistic about the potential of the offense. I'm still a dyed in the wool Hokie and can't wait to be back in Lane Stadium. But all I can do today is get through the day and hope for more wins in the future, and to once again have that good feeling as I drink my coffee by the window.