Is It Time To Start Explaining the Inexplicable?

There's no reason to overreact to one loss. But what happens when those losses start to become a trend?

We shouldn't be mad.

Okay, maybe we shouldn't be that mad.

College football is a fickle beast, and with the possible exception of three-to-four juggernauts the schedule spares no one. Good teams lose to mediocre ones all the time. North Carolina falls to a Florida State squad basically running the triple option from the shotgun the same week Auburn loses to the most Muschamp of Muschamp performances. Oklahoma falls to Kansas State and Iowa State in back to back weeks. Texas drops one to TCU. Penn State can't beat Indiana. Virginia Tech loses to Wake Forest.

This doesn't change what we've seen from the Hokies through five games. They're a hard running group who wants to get out, hit you and slam the trio of Khalil Herbert, Raheem Blackshear and Hendon Hooker down your throat. We knew the defense was going to be a problem, but it too is not without bright spots.

Divine Deablo has finally become the player we've all hoped he'd be, a versatile weapon in the defensive backfield. Amare Barno has gone from looking like a baby deer in a three-point stance against NC State to explosive pass rusher. Dorian Strong has all the makings of Tech's next great diamond in the rough story. It's not a great group, but it is improving.

And take away two missed field goals and three interceptions, and the Hokies probably win. Sometimes these things happen, right?

Or maybe we should be mad.

The Hokies didn't just make mistakes, they had backbreaking mental lapses. They had a redshirt senior defensive tackle draw a 15-yard penalty after he'd already been tossed from the game for an initial 15-yard targeting flag. 102 of Tech's 110 penalty yards came in the second half, and came increasingly as the game slipped further and further from their grasp.

Losing in an upset is one thing. Losing in an upset due to self-inflicted mistakes is one thing. Losing in an upset due to self-inflicted mistakes specifically caused by you losing your composure? That's another thing entirely.

This was the team with 20 seniors. With the sixth most returning production in the country. If 2018 and 2019 happened because the Hokies had to roll out a bunch of young players who weren't ready, this was the year all the heartburn would start to pay off. It would be a composed group of players who believe in themselves, the program and the #hard #smart #tough mentality that makes for a great Instagram post. This wasn't supposed to be a group that beats itself against an opponent with one NFL caliber player on its roster. We were promised perseverance β€” not panic β€” when shit hit the fan.

But sometimes things just snowball. Sometimes a quarterback plays the worst game of his career and there's just not a whole lot the coaching staff (or anyone else, for that matter) can do about it. Again, this is not some massive referendum on the state of the program.

Well, unless it is.

This isn't the first time we've seen this loss in the Justin Fuente era. While many point to the Syracuse game in 2016 (an unforgettable 31-17 drubbing when Tech was ranked 17th), this one felt like a different disappointment later that year.

After rebounding from their embarrassing Carrier Dome showing, Jerod Evans and company ripped off three straight wins with three different types of performances. They routed Miami, dominating the Hurricanes on the ground and sacking Brad Kaaya eight times. They won a barnburner against Pittsburgh where both offenses put up massive numbers in a 39-36 Hokie decision. And they beat Duke in an outing that needed defense and special teams after the Blue Devils naturalized their white hot attack.

By the time they hosted Georgia Tech, the Hokies had built back their credibility as a borderline top-15 team. The Yellow Jackets had to play their backup quarterback and it felt like Fuente's group was headed for six straight wins to close his inaugural campaign. They took the field ready to go, and promptly no-showed for four straight quarters.

Evans was bad, the first half defense was abysmal and the Hokies fell apart at every level. They fumbled the opening kick off, were down 20-0 at half and 30-7 in the fourth quarter. At the time, it was simply confounding. How can a squad who looked so tough for over a month look like (gestures wildly at the box score) that?

Well, after five straight seasons of absolutely mind boggling losses, it seems like we have the answer. This is part of the program's DNA. There will be at least one completely inexplicable loss every year of the Fuente administration until proven otherwise.

The 2020 edition of Virginia Tech football is still a fun thing to watch. No one can walk away from the loss in Winston Salem pretending that the offense hasn't been an absolute supernova through the first month of the season. And though it's been largely a disappointment it's irrational not to see steps taken by an improving defense (they did, after all, hold the Demon Deacons to just six points in the second half.)

But the real story will be laid out by this program in the next two weeks.

Louisville is, at its core, a program in transition. Scott Satterfield inherited an absolute tire fire from Bobby Petrino, and while he's done a remarkable job in a year and a half, they still have places the Hokies can exploit. The Cardinals are 2-4, lost to Georgia Tech by 19 and have the 88th ranked defense according to SP+.

But they're also mean as hell, coming off a total thumping of Florida State and look far better than their record indicates. If the Tech offense can show up and keep scoring points like it had been before the Wake debacle, everything should be fine. But what if things aren't fine? What happens if Malik Cunningham breaks open a few big plays, Javian Hawkins tears it up on the ground, and the Hokies find themselves in the middle of a dogfight? How will their composure be then?

For the 2020 season to be considered a success, Tech can't have any more inexplicables. They can't lose to a scrappy two-win Louisville team looking to sink their teeth into another ACC foe. And they definitely can't fall to Hugh Freeze and Liberty the next week.

If the Hokies are a good team β€” and they've shown us every indication of being one through four weeks β€” they rebound nicely and dispatch the Cardinals because it's what you're supposed to do to an opponent in the midst of a rebuild. And then they'll go out and handle a frisky Flames squad looking for a headline-grabbing upset.

Good, top-25 caliber programs make these things happen. But if the struggles against the run continue, receivers keep failing to get open, and the entire team flails against less talented competition, it becomes another conversation entirely.

Because when it's year five and the inexplicable starts to become explicable, the situation tends to become untenable for leadership. Virginia Tech fans shouldn't sharpen the pitchforks for every single poor performance, but if those performances become a trend, maybe everyone has the right to be mad.

Comments

I was reminded of Shane Falco's worst fear of quicksand when watching last week. It only takes one great thing to happen to flip the switch and pull yourself out of the funk. Bit sometimes, every time you squirm you fall deeper.

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

That killer cheerleading crew to cheer him on had to have helped!

Bet you thought I was going to post a picture of Annabelle, didn't you?

Thank you for the great and level presentation. Said this after I was not that bummed with the UNC loss and will say it again. We had 4 winnable games coming up. Get to 6-1 and you have a chance to have a great season. 5-2 could live with. Less than that is bad. On the Hokie Fireman-to-DC Wilson scale, I am near the middle. Probably a bit closer to DC. Team was young and inexperienced 2 years ago. Team was still young last year and did improve enough to keep me near the middle of the HF-DC scale. This year is no excuses. And every other team in the country has to deal with COVID so that is not an excuse either. Put up or shut up this year. Assuming all games are played:

9+ wins = great.
8 wins = depends on what games are won/lost and how we look in those games. I mean lose to Miami and Clemson in at least competitive fashion and win a bowl game and that will be pretty good at this point.
7 wins = not pleased but probably won't go off the deep end.
6 wins or less = I want Fuente gone as soon as we can afford to get rid of him. Unfortunately, that probably won't be for at least another year or two after this one, at which point I suspect we will be a real lousy team unless the recruiting improves dramatically.

Recovering scientist working in business consulting

I agree with everything here, including the win levels and reaction. That said, we can't afford to shit the bed against Liberty. A loss to them might immediately put current state into "get rid of him as soon as we can afford it". That is as close to a must win game that Fuente has had since he became head coach of VT.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

I really think the season is hinging on the Louisville game this weekend. If we come out and pull off a win on the road against a hot UL offense, I think we could surmise a 8-3/7-4 final record. If we lose this one, I'm really worried this thing could snowball. Being 3-3 with 5 games left would be scary with Clemson, Miami, and a few potential trap games left on the schedule. This could very easily turn into a 6-5/5-6 campaign.

That said, if we somehow drop the Liberty game, I think you might as well put a fork in the Fu era, whether this year or next.

In 2016 we played Liberty. Less than 5 seasons ago. Their left tackle had 5 straight false starts IIRC, and they were never in the game. I don't think they crossed midfield until late. Now hear we are where that game is a real legit concern. That tells you a lot about the "state of the program". Clemson would have never signed Stephone Anthony and Tajh Boyd if they struggled to beat or lost to Citadel.

Hugh freeze is a very good coach- please don't lecture about his past transgressions, most schools have a coach or player on the less than honorable list. He will elevate Liberty, and then you will see him again at a P5 school. We should be concerned with Liberty as we just got out coached by Clawsen at WF. Not knocking Clawsen- he is a good coach, and had his team fired up for his game plan.

Also don't forget, Liberty has basically unlimited funding that they can throw at football. Yes, they are limited to the same scholarships, but they could offer every coordinator 1-2 million if they want. Liberty has been having trouble spending all of their income.

Liberty has been having trouble spending all of their income.

Giancarlo Granda says hello

Last year with that unlimited budget, they lost to Louisiana, Rutgers, Syracuse and UVA. Before documented cheater sleaze Freeze got there, they also had an unlimited budget but were a laughingstock. They have been D1 for 5 minutes. VT should blow them out every year- budget or not. If the game is close, it's on us- not them.

This is the truth and I am frankly tired of hearing about them.

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

Since so many are calling this a "free" year, it will still count for records, yards, scores, etc, Coaches have already been fired. Does Fuente get a pass for this year? Probably, and the anti-Fuente crowd may not like that. We're still setup for a good year this year (8 wins), maybe great year (9 wins).

Fuente really needs some of this talent to stay for another year. He doesn't have the recruiting class to fill this back in.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

If Fuente loses to what will be a 2-3 win UVA team at home, he is in deep shit. Trust.

I don't think I could've been further away from DC Wilson after the Miami game in 2017 (pretty sure that was the Bud gets a pass game). Now I basically agree with everything he says. Turns out he's been spot on (although I will not put up with any Bud slander) about the state of the program for years. Most everything he said has unfortunately come true. I guess that's because he was evaluating the program with his head and not his heart, and unfortunately as these inexcusable losses become more common and more numbing, I find myself doing the same. And as much as my heart doesn't want to admit it, my head tells me this is just the new norm for us.

ODU was the "Bud gets a pass game"...

I could've sworn I remembered arguing with you in my Miami hotel room after that loss, but I also recall being grumpy in a Norfolk hotel room after a loss once... They've become so frequent that they all blur together. Also I tend to drink more whiskey than I should after these debacles, so that certainly doesn't help my blurring problem.

CRAP!!! my bad... I honestly thought it was ODU... sorry Granville. Braxton Barrios did piss me off to no end. No talent asshole that we had no answer for.

Oh I have long said that the problem with what DC says is not what he says but how the message is said. He tells it like it is far, far more often than many would like to admit. He just tends to be an ass about it when he does, haha.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

There is some truth to this! I admit

Lol you're the living embodiment of that Lebowski gif.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

"I want to punch people from UVA right in the neck." - Colin Cowherd

I give DC a lot of credit for understanding that recruiting success or failure is very prescriptive of future on field performance. He may go WAY over the top in some of his takes, but the net effect of poor to mediocre recruiting cannot be understated. While it's encouraging to hear that the Athletic Department has invested in more football recruiting positions, VT has to have a competitively staffed recruiting department as a foundation for football success. Trying to spread financial resources around the athletic department to compete with UVA or other schools in non-revenue sports is a recipe for disaster when you shortchange the football program that generates the lion's share of AD income. Recruit well, and the money will flow into the program.

VTCC '86 Delta Company, Hokie in Peru, Former Naval Aviator, Former FBISA, Forever married to my VT87 girl. Go VT!

The 2017 Miami game was the end of the Fuente honeymoon for me. Leaving JJ in there to get killed while he was already injured and the game was out of reach really pissed me off.

Marshall University graduate.
Virginia Tech fanatic.
Formerly known as JWillHokieAlum.

Great write up and perspective. No confidence that fuente and company can get this team back on track but I would love to be proven wrong...

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
β€œI served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

I would say this isn't just Fuente era. We have had this type of frustration since the 90's easily.

D. Vick even noted a few games that were though and odd loses while he played.

I mean, this is why we were nicknamed the Chokies.

Previously LowBrau.

The Temple game is always highlighted. Always.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

JMU 2010

We've had bad losses before, yes. Its the frequency of the losses nowadays that is getting people concerned. Based on that earlier thread we have almost 50% more 'questionable' losses in 8 years (17) than we did in the 19 years prior (11).

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

Ah yes, I was a student when we were The Chokies. Don't remember the exact numbers, but there was one year where someone looked at what our record would have been if the games ended at the end of the third quarter and what our actual record was. It was a large difference on the negative side when you added the fourth quarter in.

Recovering scientist working in business consulting

So was I...and back then we were rarely beaten comprehensively from beginning to end (with a few notable examples like LSU, Miami in 2003). But lately, most of these bad losses have been from the opening whistle, not us choking them away at the end. This Wake loss really hurt, I feel like with all the talent on offense and having the most bodies available we've had all season, the effort and execution last Saturday was inexcusable. We were completely outcoached and basically outplayed. Embarrassing.

Were we still The Chokies in 2003? I was going back to the late 1980s. Thought that was when the term first came into being, but maybe it was there even earlier. Definitely way before 2003 as I left in the early 90s.

Recovering scientist working in business consulting

2001 - from 6-0 and #5 nationally to 8-3 and #15 to end the regular season
2002 - from 8-0 and #3 nationally to 9-4 and #18 to end the regular season
2003 - from 6-0 and #3 nationally to 8-4 and unranked to end the season

Yeah... I think the moniker still fit

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

Man, I had forgotten how soul-crushing those three seasons were coming off of the glory years of Mike Vick in 99 and 00. Where's the bourbon when you need it?

VTCC '86 Delta Company, Hokie in Peru, Former Naval Aviator, Former FBISA, Forever married to my VT87 girl. Go VT!

I never felt 2001 was soul crushing because any one could see that Grant Noel was not the replacement we needed. It was just waiting for the shoe to drop.

Was in Blacksburg when the bowl streak started. IMO, the 01-03 seasons were the defining moments that determined which side of the fence we fell on. Meaning, elite or remain in the latter end of the Top 25-30. When the ESPN love affair become center stage with the SEC, it was the beginning of the "Serf's and Elites" we have today. Today, college football is not as exciting as it was in the Big East days (both football and basketball). Unfortunately, I think today's landscape may have landed some permanency we are experiencing and the Hokies, along with a lot of football programs, will be 8 win teams at best.

The big east - it'll git after ya

The difference is that even with those losses we still managed to compete for conference championships, win conference championships, and win 10 games most years. The losses weren't close enough together to take any of those things off the table. Those losses happen entirely too frequently now, and it seriously hampers your ability to compete for anything meaningful because you have to be damn near perfect in every other game. The last time we went to the conference championship and won 10 games was 2016. We had the two aforementioned bad losses that year to GT and Syracuse, but we also had three gutsy wins against Pitt, Duke, and Notre Dame to get us there. I'm skeptical that the culture Fuente has built since can win us all three of those games in 2020.

Marshall University graduate.
Virginia Tech fanatic.
Formerly known as JWillHokieAlum.

I miss when people called us the Chokies. Now we're so irrelevant that we don't even have an opportunity to choke.

Unfortunately, I remember those days.

HTHokie93

Its called Clemsoning. And they for the most part found a guy who cured it. So far Tech hasn't.

This has been my thinking since Clemson stopped Clemsoning. We have to stop doing so if we're going to compete. I understand the transfer portal and kids with less character on average have made building older teams like Beamer did less possible, but given Wisconsin is still doing so I'm not all that sold on the idea we can't do it. For my part, the offensive system, and the defensive system have never mattered. Oline and Dline recruiting and development year to year really seem like the best predictor of success to me. We need to do both, not just one or the other, and then we can recruit 2 star skill players with physical attributes similar to the 4 and 5 star kids and teach them. Fuente seems to still be an energy coach for young players, and we aren't recruiting at the replacement level to take those kids for 2 years and repeat when we do hit them. It all looks like a mess to me the same way Loeffler's offense looked a mess, too many neat ideas shoved together in a disconnected plan. I want to see who Hamilton wants to recruit at DLine linebacker and secondary, and compare that to what he wants to run, but I don't think Fuente has the time anymore. We're gonna have to clean the slate and start again with a guy who has a very specific plan, which we can achieve, to generate results. I feel pretty confident the whole AD office knows this now, the offense wouldn't studder, and the team wouldn't be flat if the coaching staff was the right one. Still think we could have a good year though, just got to see commitment to what the O can do and a defense continuing to stress turnovers.

β€œI remember Lee Corso's car didn't get out of the parking lot.” -cFB
TKPC #666 ...man that was long wait...

Clemson was still clemsoning until fairly recently. 2016 lost to Pitt. 2017 lost to Syracuse and almost lost to NCST. 2018 almost lost to Syracuse. 2019 has been the only season where they didn't have a scare against a clearly inferior opponent.

All of this is true, but Clemsoning has been happening a lot less lately. I remember when we used to beat them regularly they were Clemsoning multiple times a season, not a handful of times a decade like now. Dabo has done a great job there, even though he has a litany of bag men helping him. The results are certainly there (as far as reaching elite program status)....never really thought of Clemson as a sleeping giant but they are now a powerhouse. It's a big depressing that they used to be a punchline and now look at them. Sigh...

The interesting part is Wisconsin has an absolutely clear identity that can be easily articulated. Good rushing and great offensive line play. Doing the same with VT the last 5 years is....difficult at best.

@hokie_rd

VT does have an identity the last several years. It's the program other (previously "lesser") teams upset to get a signature, program-defining win against. Even though these haven't been your father's Hokies for 9 years now. Yet Wake, Syracuse in 2016, etc. celebrate as though they just beat the 2007 team.

I don't get it. VT is not a top 25 program and hasn't been for almost a decade (not talking about poll finishes, more about program clout). The only thing I can think of is that opposing coaches came of age when VT was still actually relevant nationally. I'd argue at this point they're barely relevant regionally

All of that is very fair. I would say in a way we are lucky as a football program, and sometimes should be more appreciative of it despite frustration with shitting the bed randomly. I mean this in the sense that (i) the love for how VT emerged from nothing and rise to a power program, (ii) our relationship with College Gameday, (iii) a relatively rabid but (usually) respectful fanbase, (iv) an aesthetically iconic campus during the height of football season, (v) Frank Beamer's approach / demeanor / general happiness / likability, and (vi) Bud Foster setting expectations nationwide with regard to elite DCs collectively has carried our cachet far longer than is warranted based on performance.

@hokie_rd

VT does have an identity the last several years. It's the program other (previously "lesser") teams upset to get a signature, program-defining win against.

... And there you go.

This wasn't supposed to be a group that beats itself against an opponent with one NFL caliber player on its roster.

I think I get what you are trying to say here, that we should be more composed considering we are an older, more experienced, team now. But I don't think the talent level between us and WF is that different, as far as NFL talent is concerned. We have Darrisaw, but other than that...not many sure-fire draft picks on our roster. Maybe a couple other OL get there eventually. Maybe Diablo or Reed get a shot somewhere. Maybe Herbert. Too early to say on someone like Strong, even though he looks promising.

Ehhhhh, people who I think will get drafted: Darrisaw, Tenuta, Nester, Mitchell, Turner, Herbert, Waller, Deablo. Maybe Conner, maybe Reed, maybe Barno if he grows a bit. Not to mention Bradburn and Johnson will probably get the chance at a cup of coffee in the league.

I see what you're saying, but if the talent level between Tech and Wake isn't different that's another (much more massive) problem to talk about.

I thought about Waller, but his injuries are concerning. And Connor as well, although I think he would be a safety (?) in the NFL, so not sure how him playing in our scheme will affect his draft status.

And yeah, definitely missed on Mitchell...he should get drafted.

if the talent level between Tech and Wake isn't different that's another (much more massive) problem to talk about.

IMO this is far and away the biggest issue of the Fuente era. The play calling is fine, I love Fuente's game management , and the 'PR Issues' are beyond overblown.

Recruiting though... We are probably the 3rd most talented team in the costal (I put Miami above us, maybe UNC, soon to be GT), and perhaps more seriously, I don't think we've done much to separate ourselves from Pitt and UVA.

Recruiting has to improve, especially as UNC and GT improve in this space.

Twitter me

Yeah we were, and are, a much much more talented team. That's part of what makes the loss all the more frustrating. We didn't show up. It's what we used to rib on Miami for doing.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Jet Sweep

Excellent writing, Brian! You continue to nail it...

Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!

So I guess you are saying when we reached a fork in the road we took it.

RIP Yogi, you are still relevant.

The LewDew, Professional Golf Bum

"Well, after five straight seasons...This is part of the program's DNA."

I said this earlier in the week, it has been a program tradition for a long-time, far predating Fuente.

Win a handful of games early, big heads, lack of preparation from players and coaches, and we lose to terrible or average teams.

Thinking that we still have the mojo from 99/20 and can just go out there and beat people based on talent is such a huge deception for some (me) now. It use to be the case, but in the last decade especially, the talent has slowly dwindled and in '20, we are far cry from being able to waltz out, perform poorly and expect to even keep games close. UNC was NOT close. Wake always felt like it was in control mostly. BC gave us the game. NC is below average and so is Duke. Please do not defend Duke and NC State. If you do then, that is who we are comparing our programs to now? They are good teams, teams to model after??? As a football fan, I realize how lucky I was to be enrolled in '99 - '04.

Jesus, I have a large, framed photo from the 2003 home game vs Syracuse in my home office. The score was 51-7. These type of routings versus conference foes were a given the, regular occurrences that could be counted on just like the whiskey flowing freely @ 10AM before those crappy Noon games. Now, we just hope to be on par with mediocre teams in-conference. So sad. Given how college football is now, I do not think the program is capable than being more than mediocre, or even hardly compete for an ACC championship.

This is not doom and gloom, but FACTS. PLEASE RESPECT MY DECIISION! HANDS TOGETHER EMOJI.

I agree with your sentiment here, and actually think you didn't go far enough. That 51-7 Syracuse win in 03 was nice, but the losses to bad Syracuse teams in 01 and 02 weren't so fun. Even the "good ole days" weren't always so good.

I love noon games though.

This has been going on long before Fuente. This is what happens when recruiting isn't top notch (I'm also not saying that it needs to be top notch for Fuente to be successful. We just need to be a lot more patient because we have to wait for player development to catch up)

When you have to develop players before they produce, then your season hinges on everything going right. The 99 year, no major injuries and a senior team. Only reason we didnt go back to the title game the next year is because Vick got an high ankle sprain. That 2015 team was going to be really good but CJ Reavis gets kicked off the team and all of a sudden a defense that shoudlve been lights out has a huge hole.

Compare that to teams that recruit great, they can usually absorb those hits without a major dropoff. They dont need to wait for someone's junior year either, they can put in a RS F or So and get production from them.

For as long as I can remember, all of Beamer's successful years were built on experience laden teams with Seniors, Juniors all over the depth chart. He was KNOWN to never play freshman. I think this worked because the formula makes sense. Develop players by their Junior/Senior year and then expect them to be production equivalent of 4 and 5 star players.

The last two years we've had an incredibly young team and I dont put those on Fuente at all. This year we SHOULD except to win a bunch of games but COVID removing spring and summer workouts and Hunter getting dismissed were huge hits to fulfilling expectations. Every team has to deal with COVID and we've seen good teams look plain bad (Oklahoma, Texas and Penn State off the top of my head) so I dont think we're the exception at all.

My expectations pre-COVID was a max of 2 losses (UNC was a definite loss and Miami was a toss up but I was expecting us to win every other game). Now, I want to see us get better every week and I want to see players come back next year since this year doesnt count as an eligibility loss. Wake was a bad game, the whole team looked off (to me, the signs of a team reading their own headlines and thinking they just had to show up. all on the coach by the way). We'll have a better idea of how the rest of this season will shake out this weekend. If we dominate Louisville and we can avoid any major injuries down the road, then I think we win every game except for Clemson the rest of the way (although I am really worried about that Liberty game, moreso than the Miami game). If we lose to Louisville, then I think it's entirely possible that we lose to Miami, Liberty, Clemson and have to hope that we beat Pitt and UVa.

For as long as I can remember, all of Beamer's successful years were built on experience laden teams with Seniors, Juniors all over the depth chart. He was KNOWN to never play freshman. I think this worked because the formula makes sense. Develop players by their Junior/Senior year and then expect them to be production equivalent of 4 and 5 star players.

This is very close to the model that Clawson follows at Wake Forest. If you listen to his interviews, it is full of we aren't scheduled to be good until next year style of talk.

I think everyone was hoping that Fuente would improve recruiting and raise the level of the program to where we were no longer on the 1 every 4 years we are good roller coaster.

I am starting to wonder if more scrutiny needs to be shifted to the 'Front Office' to understand the priorities within Whit's office. We all think very highly of Whit but if part of the challenge is allocating the $$$ appropriately to the revenue sports - that's an AD's office challenge and not necessarily Fuente's responsibility.

It's an unwritten law that it's my lunch pail. I've issued the challenge. If someone outworks me, they can get it.
Darryl Tapp

I had a great comment typed up in the 'don't burn the site down thread' but Joe locked it 5 min before I could post.

Anyways, I think of the Devyn Ford miss as a critical point where it became clear that we were no longer on a (consistently) upward trajectory. Since then, Fuente's stint in Blacksburg feels like a series of Bad Luck Brian memes:

  • Wins 9 games in back to back seasons for the first time in 5 years. Loses in-state 5-star recruit who grew up a VT fan
  • Has strong returning cast on defense. Loses 8(?) starters due to injury, rule breaking, etc
  • Kicks off season with big win against blueblood program. Loses to ODU.
  • Gets bowl eligible despite terrible season. Loses bowl to P5 team.
  • Has miraculous turnaround after terrible start to season. Loses to in state rival, fails to win bowl game, has worst recruiting class yet.
  • Has fanbase hyped for 2020 season. Covid happens.
  • Promises great 2021 class with big talent at QB. Loses QB, class drops to top 40.
  • Has great start to season (and is even forgiven for a loss to UNC). Loses to bad Wake Forest Team

The thing is, a lot of these things (not all) were not Fuente's fault. Many of these events have actual explanations (not 'excuses'), and I question if any coach (outside of saban/dabo/meyer/peterson) could have handled it better. But, on the flip side, a fanbase can only put up with so many disappointments before they lose trust. It felt like Beamer never let us have two let downs in a single season. Optics matter, and optics haven't been good since May 2018.

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I very much agree with this. I think the "parity is dead in college football" is only true when it comes to the top 10 teams in the country. Basically meaning that I can be disappointed but not entirely surprised that a rankin Virginia Tech could lose on road to a well coached conference team, even if there is a talent gap. It only takes a couple things to go wrong.

What concerns me more moving forward from a fans perspective is I feel we haven't learned anything from last week. People have basically moved into the same two camps of "we respond after a loss, so we're going to beat a 1-4 Louisville team" or "we suck, we're going to get rolled no matter what."

Personally, I think if we win it is because the offense gets back on schedule, and the defense does marginally better than last week. If we lose it is probably because Louisville has a good offense that took some time to get up to speed this year, and runs through our front seven. But we need to acknowledge that Louisville has been much better coached under Satterfield, their offense is starting to move the ball very efficiently, and this season has had some of the weirdest lapses in preparation, especially early in the season, because we are playing football in a pandemic. To tie this back to your main point, some of these are really quite uncontrollable and just plain bad luck.

What concerns me more moving forward from a fans perspective is I feel we haven't learned anything from last week. People have basically moved into the same two camps of "we respond after a loss, so we're going to beat a 1-4 Louisville team" or "we suck, we're going to get rolled no matter what."

I do think Wake was a bit of an outlier. Guys just didn't execute. Sometimes that happens. Going to DC's golf analogy below, some days you're just off. Based on the box score compared to the rest of the games this season, I think wake was just a bad day for the offense.

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I think it was definitely an outlier. From week 7 to week 8, VT stayed at 21 in the SP+ rankings despite losing to Wake. VT didn't move because SP+ doesn't care that the other team was Wake Forest, it just saw an offense and defense that played about as well as they have been all season. VT lost because of penalties and turnovers in absolutely critical moments, but the level of play was consistent with the rest of the season.

Maybe we are a terrible team and SP+ will catch on and we will fall precipitously I the future. At the moment though, the outcome of the Wake Forest game is an outlier to the overall quality of play over the season.

VT stayed at 21 in the SP+ rankings despite losing to Wake. VT didn't move because SP+ doesn't care that the other team was Wake Forest, it just saw an offense and defense that played about as well as they have been all season.

Minor correction - Our offensive ranking dropped 3ish spots and our defensive ranking increased 3ish as well, leaving us at 21.

But, your point still stands - our performance against wake (except for turnovers and penalties) was pretty much in line with our performance all season

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SP+ doesn't care that the other team was Wake Forest

Not in name, but one of the key elements of SP+ is that it does take into account that the other team was "X" team with "y,z,aa" statistical profile. It doesn't care that Wake Forest is a small private institution without a lot of winning football history, but it does take into account the talent level and the type of team that Wake Forest is because SP+ is opponent adjusted.

Where this is spot on though is.

VT lost because of penalties and turnovers in absolutely critical moments,

SP+ doesn't give a lot of credence to turnovers, as they are largely luck based (Bar1990 posted a great deal of citations on this in a recent thread).

To build off your second point, the Adanced box score (linked here) does give us some insights into how SP+ saw the game. My guess is that our SP+ numbers stayed about the same because we actually showed strong numbers in certain success rate aspects of the game and our rushing predicted points added remained strong. However, you see at the top the box score that the story of the game is that we squandered a lot of those opportunities we generated. We had 8 scoring opportunities (2 more than Wake), and we generated 2 points per opportunity. Brutal.

This advanced box score also paints an expected but poor picture of our passing offense. However, having a poor game passing probably didn't shock the numbers too much because we already had a passing offense that was not viewed very highly by SP+.

Saying SP+ doesn't care that the other team was Wake Forest was misleading on my part, my bad on that one. I think it's telling that we basically performed as expected (by SP+) against Wake, though. Offense wasn't quite as good as expected, but defense was a little better, so overall we performed as SP+ expected.

I'm glad the advanced box score can quantify "penalties and turnovers at critical moments" so well. I think scoring when we have scoring opportunities is something that can and will improve, so hopefully that's the case.

The other thought I had about this games outlier-ness involves Wake's walk-on safety. He made plays and I'm stoked for him that he earned himself a scholarship. I seriously doubt he performs at nearly that level for the rest of the season. Obviously three interceptions in one game is not replicable, but I'm wondering if his impressive play was mostly running into Hooker at the exact right time.

To a certain extend I agree with you. Luck has a big impact. Individual decisions by recruits (for whatever reason) has an impact. Other programs becoming more competent, recruiting landscape changing.

However, Fuente is the head coach. It's his job to mitigate the impact of external circumstances like COVID, have the team ready to play after a big win, develop the players he does recruit.

When he was hired it seemed that the expectation was to win the Coastal and have a shot at Clemson most seasons....he's done this once with Beamers players.

For whatever reason, there appear to be structural problems with football:

1. Not enough money donated from alumni
2. Poor recruiting because of 1
3. Poor talent development because of 1: Can we honestly say that the coaching staff as a whole is a good ACC coaching staff? It's average at best.
4. Beamer captured lighting in a bottle, but he also was given time to get there. Does the AD give JF the time to get there? Does JF deserve that time? What is the opportunity cost of changing the coach just to change? What is the opportunity cost of stability? Fan bases stops caring, donations go in the tank causing bad recruiting?

I don't know the answer to the last question. Smarter more accomplished people should be able to figure this out.

I have hit every golf shot in the bag. I've gotten a legit hole in 1, I've hit 300 yard drives, I have chipped in, I've hit a hybrid 240 off the deck, I've rolled in 30 foot putts. The reason I don't do those things with ANY regularity is 1. Talent and 2.The time and focus to outwork and out prepare the golf course. If your team is up and down constantly, those 2 things are likely the problem. Just like the decent/better than average weekend golfer.

I would add a third in football - you have to account for your opponent.

But, I totally agree with your analogy. I tend to think it's more the talent just because almost everyone who has transferred in/out of VT in Fuente's time here has performed their best here. Hence why I harp about recruiting more than anything else.

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Great point about the transfers. Nobody has torn it up elsewhere.

I also agree. And DC just reminded me I am a below average weekend golfer. I would add as well that although Fuente seems to somehow get criticised for not being a qb whisperer, by fans that gave him the nickname no less, they have actually gotten pretty impressive production out of average talent at that position. The staff is excellent at planning to player strengths but can sometimes be overprotective of the weaknesses. That would go away with better overall talent. Of course it is up to the staff to find ways to bring in the talent, so it isn't like they are above criticism...it is just sometimes misguided.

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

Yea I agree. Which is why crootin is so damn important.

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It's a tough season to contend for the ACC title game when you can only lose 0 or 1 games.

I really like the almost entirely ACC opponent schedule this season, but having so many teams compete for the ACC title game just based on winning percentage is tough. I hope next season the schedule is still like this year but there's a return to Atlantic/Coastal.

Maybe it just feels this way cause I only follow VT football, but I sorta think this coaching staff has had to overcome a little more adversity in terms of COVID than most others. My only objective evidence is that before the first 4 games it was routine for the commentators to quote how many players/coaches we had out. Don't recall them mentioning the other teams much, and when they did it seemed like the numbers were much smaller. Whether thats a product of the coaching staff not being able to effectively limit the spread as well as other teams, or a reflection of how much more seriously VT has taken things than other schools: hard to say. It sorta seems like the latter. Also Caleb Farley not coming back is huge. That, to some degree, probably is a product of relationship to coaches, expectations of visibility, etc. Can't fault Farley for his decision at all, but for one reason or another many schools seemed to have gotten those guys back out on the field (though I could be myopic in that assessment as well).

All in all, I think each season Fuente has had legitimate excuses for failing to meet expectations. I like his style, but unless we have a monster rest of the season, I don't see us flipping any high quality recruits back to our '21 class and don't see '22 or beyond being much different. I think this season is make or break, and while I think any coach would have faired about the same as Fuente given the obstacles put in his path, it may be irrelevant to the fact that a ceiling has been established. If that ceiling isn't palatable, maybe we hit the reset in the next year or two.

Whether thats a product of the coaching staff not being able to effectively limit the spread as well as other teams, or a reflection of how much more seriously VT has taken things than other schools: hard to say. It sorta seems like the latter.

Notre Dame and Florida were hit really hard. Also, I'm a little salty about how the media portrayed it as 'VT missing two straight games' - the first of those was an NC State cancelation (although I know we may not have been prepared). Also, also, supposedly we didn't really have full support/direction from the university at large.

Also Caleb Farley not coming back is huge. That, to some degree, probably is a product of relationship to coaches, expectations of visibility, etc. Can't fault Farley for his decision at all, but for one reason or another many schools seemed to have gotten those guys back out on the field (though I could be myopic in that assessment as well).

Georgia lost their starting QB who opted out. PSU lost Mikah Parsons. A lot of guys with (realistic) NFL hopes are sitting out. I don't think this has anything to do Farly's relationship with Fuente.

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Georgia lost their starting QB who opted out. PSU lost Mikah Parsons. A lot of guys with (realistic) NFL hopes are sitting out. I don't think this has anything to do Farly's relationship with Fuente.

Very fair counter-points

I think Etienne staying at Clemson this season kind of skewed everyone's perspective about opting out. He had every reason to go to the draft before the season but came back. I think that example says more about the Church/Cult of Dabo than anything else.

To add to your point about Farley- I feel like Fuente just doesn't have the relationship with his players that you need to be successful. Farley decides to opt out, and throws Fuente and team under the bus about covid. Was he making and excuse to not play or was it legit?? Either way, it would seem to his best interest to just play, or not discuss the issue and move on. Other schools- players don't seem to do this. Look at Clemson- Etienne and Lawrence both want to play, and Etienne could have been drafted this year! Lawrence could have sat home on his ass and still been the No. 1 pick. Something is off with our culture, and I don't think any of Frank's players would have done him this way. Not sure what is wrong with our culture, but something is up, and recruits know about it.

I feel like Fuente just doesn't have the relationship with his players that you need to be successful.

I would disagree with this statement but this is the image that people outside the program get. I feel like he isn't as open with the program that we as fans were used to. I think this is a large part of why there are so many that haven't bought in, we feel like we don't get as much info about the program as we used to so we feel not as connected with it. IMO, this is the biggest flaw with Fuente. Close second is recruiting.

Let's be honest, 2020 is a bullshit season. Who really cares what happens this year beyond enjoying a game of football on a Saturday. Any success will always have an asterisk attached to it.

The meaningful question is (and always has been): Are the Hokies improving relative to the competition and is that improvement happening at an acceptable rate? Year after year, the answer is no.

agree on your conclusion, but when the success has an asterisk in terms of perception but the failures really don't, i'd still rather have success*

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Of course. But with respect to perception outside the Hokie bubble, VT has been solidly, firmly, resoundingly relegated to also-ran status. There was nothing the program could do this year to get in to the Premier league (so to speak). The best they can achieve is to maintain standing and strengthen a case for future promotion during a "normal" season.

Losing to Wake is bad, sure, but not surprising or really even noteworthy outside the fan base anymore. And a mediocre showing this season would merely be a continuation of a trend line from previous seasons that is obvious to anyone who cares to see it.

Success*

... someone had to be first...

Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!

6 weeks ago I would have agreed with you, but I don't now. It's a weird season, but it's still a real season with real wins and real losses. The way I look at it, if recruits watching at home are evaluating their choice based on how the team looks than it still impacts the future of the program.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Jet Sweep

After WF it became apparent that in perceived trap games VT is more than likely the trap. Unfortunately WF passed the test.

"Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not yet completely sure about the universe.” -Einstein

Hate to admit it, but the game tape and template for beating us is out there and I see us having problems with Louisville too. But maybe it's because I've been listening to Tech Talk Live lately, or maybe it was the rumor Fu called the plays in the NCSU game (no idea if true), I am more positive about Fu than the past couple of years. I am of the camp that our OC needs to be replaced, above all else. I say we should do that, and then see how it works. Not saying I won't change my mind but I see Fu as a great match to VT and Blacksburg, given that some changes are made.

I honestly think the fanbase is so used to blaming offense for stuff that it doesn't know how else to think. While I think this offense is overly one dimensional right now, that hasn't been a trend with this staff. I think they do a pretty good job of maximizing offensive talent they have but sometimes are over protective of the weaknesses. Hooker has never been a drop back passer. So they develop an offense around his strengths but never really allow him to improve the weaknesses. When a game pops up like Wake where the ball is bouncing their way, we have to get out of the comfort zone created for ourselves and it backfired. Long and short, I think this offensive staff does some things really well, but I wish they would attempt to be a little more well rounded. While different, it has similar qualities to Paul Johnson's teams where it works well when ot works and flops hard when it doesn't.

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

How big a check do we need to make Urban?

"Take care of the little things and the big things will come."

Oof no thanks

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Hear me out on this one...

A R T B R I L E S

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

To be honest, I would prefer Art to Urban. Urban has been slime everywhere he coached for over 20 years.

You'd prefer Art Briles to Urban because Urban has been slime? 100% not defending Urban, but Briles is 10000% worse than Urban as a human being. Urban is bad, but Briles is so so so bad.

I don't want either of them, but I still would prefer Art to Urban. The situation at Baylor was horrible, but I have heard nonstop reports of Urban's former players being linked to crimes, etc. I haven't heard the same from the Baylor players once they have left the program.

A good administration should be able to keep Art in line.

I think it's a media thing, Baylor has had their share of former players getting in trouble with the law. But yes I dont want either.

Why? I'd prefer to not become the place where coaches try to rebuild their image from being priced of shit scumbags.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

I thought for sure I wouldn't have to add an "/s" but alas.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

As evidenced above there are people on here who would be happy with him.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

There are certain ethical flaws I would overlook for our next coach (mild NCAA violations, because fuck the NCAA). The ones that Meyer and Briles come with, no way.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

While I fully believe there was shady things going on, the violations they nailed Bobby Bowden on were bad. I can't believe he had to forfeit games for that.

I forgot they even forfeit games, just goes to show you how pointless the punishments are.

But I see your point.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

So even if we wanted Meyer ( no thanks) Tech couldn't even afford his assistant pool, 7 million at anOSU, much less Urbana's salary demands.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

correct, my comment was tongue and cheek.

"Take care of the little things and the big things will come."

I don't know if its time to make some sweeping conclusions about the current coaching staff or not. But I'm thinking we may need some more Dad Jokes to help us cope with the ups and downs of this season...

HTHokie93

Child: Dad, how many points did VT score against Wake Forest?
Dad: 16.
Child: What. Is that some kind of a dad joke?

Recovering scientist working in business consulting

LoL.....ouch. Sigh...Thanks!

HTHokie93

Virginia Tech fans shouldn't sharpen the pitchforks for every single poor performance, but if those performances become a trend, maybe everyone has the right to be mad.

I think its already a trend. I mean started eyeballing my pitchfork sharpener...

Whatever. It was one bad year.

Seasonal Brew means High ABV for football season and standard the rest of the year.