Losing It: Breaking Down Virginia Tech's One-Point Loss to Georgia Tech

Isolated areas of improvement can't stop mistakes from triggering another fourth quarter implosion as the Hokies extended their longest losing streak in recent memory. 2,700-word, 9-play film review of improved o-line play, praise for Prioleau, and a frozen defense.

[Mark Umansky]

The misery of Virginia Tech's slide into the depths of the ACC's basement continued on Saturday. The Hokies bungled a two-score lead in the fourth quarter against an unremarkable Georgia Tech program led by freshman backup quarterback Zach Pyron. Moments of brilliance, especially a record setting performance by punt returner Tucker Holloway, were offset by an all too common mix of pre-snap penalties, poor pass protection, manic quarterback play, and late defensive meltdowns. With only Duke, Liberty, and Virginia remaining on the schedule, Brent Pry's honeymoon is rapidly turning into a nightmare.

Yet, there were glimmers of hope. Virginia Tech's run game looked the best it has all season. The key ingredient: offensive linemen finally started to engage second-level defenders. The defense had moments of brilliance, as the defensive line in particular delivered a solid effort. And Holloway showcased the kind of ability to break open a long play that has been sorely absent from the offense. As a fan, I am still unsettled. Should we have hope that the Hokies have been increasingly competitive with chances to win their last three games? Or should we focus on the repeated self-inflicted wounds, often the result of mistakes by their most experienced players? For the purpose of our collective mental health, I am going to focus as much as I can on the former, and hope some of the next wave of players continue to make strides in the coming weeks.

Finally Getting some Second-Level Blocking

While there were points of continued frustration with offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen's game plan (particularly the heavy reliance on quarterback designed runs), the offensive line delivered their best run blocking performance for the entire season. While play design is always discussed, the key for the improved running game was offensive linemen initiating their combo block, and then one of the linemen climbing to engage a second-level defender.

On this variation of an isolation play, Bob Schick (No. 75) replaced left guard Jesse Hanson. Left tackle Silas Dzansi (No. 60) used a throw technique (using his right hand to "throw" the edge defender up the field, past the intended path of the back) to run Kyle Kennard (No. 9) up the field. On the backside of the play, Nick Gallo (No. 86) does a terrific job of jamming in the bubble inside of Kaden Moore's (No. 68) block on defensive tackle Zeek Biggers (No. 88) to pick off linebacker Ayinde Eley (No. 2.) To the inside, Schick and center Johnny Jordan (No. 55) combo-blocked on defensive tackle Akelo Stone (No. 97).

While Schick didn't keep his feet as active as I would like to see, he tied up Stone long enough for Jordan to improve his position and bury the d-tackle. Schick then released his block and climbed to the second-level to intercept linebacker Charlie Thomas (No. 1.) Schick's block wasn't pretty. He released too far inside and almost got caught holding Thomas. However, just that little bit of movement on Stone and causing an impediment to Thomas created a nice bubble for running back Keshawn King (No. 23). The space allowed King to win a one-on-one with the unblocked hat that the blocking scheme couldn't account for, boundary safety Khari Gee (No. 23).

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