The Good, Bad, and Ugly From Virginia Tech's 35-28 Loss at Boston College
Hokie fans, it's September, which means the temps are dropping, kids are back in school, families are trying to squeeze that one last summer vacation in, and the Virginia Tech Hokies are back on the gridiron.
Virginia Tech opened this season with a familiar ACC foe in the Boston College Eagles. Now, I have to be completely honest; I am not a fan of starting the year out with a conference game. There is just too much at stake too quickly. A loss puts you behind before the meat of the season even starts, but a win does catapult you to the front of the conference pecking order.
The Hokies fell victim to an 0-1 start Saturday, dropping a heart breaker to Boston College on the road. 35-28. I say heartbreaker because at several points in this game the Hokies were the better team and should have come out on top. This was a feeling which pained the fans of the Hokies much of last year. As, fellow Tech Lunch Pail contributor Mike McDaniel stated in his game review, the Hokies could be slipping toward that dreaded Mediocrity territory.
Hokies, have no fear, I am here to give you some hope, although that hope is sprinkled with the truth that most of us need to hear.
The Good: Throw It Up and They Will Go Get It
Holy Moly fans, our receivers have the potential to be something very special. Many times in the past, the Hokies would have one perhaps two dominant playmakers at wide receiver and then one other offensive weapon.
This year, the Hokies have talented wide receivers coming out of the wood work. The wide receivers proved they are at least 6 deep, plus two very talented tight ends. The best part about the corp is how young they are, with three of the receivers being sophomores or younger, and James Mitchell at tight end being a sophomore in his own right.
Just to prove how explosive the unit could be; think about this fans, the Hokies had 344 yards receiving with two of their top receivers hurt. Damon Hazelton missed the whole game with a hamstring injury and Tre Turner was less than a 100 percent for most of the game.
Not only did the passing game excel but several youngsters stepped up and recorded their first catches as well as their first touchdowns. The hype was real about Tayvion Robinson and James Mitchell, both showed the ability to get open and make catches in traffic. Add in Kaleb Smith and the Hokies have two separate sets of triplets for Ryan Willis to throw to. Now they just need more consistent passes to come their way.
The Bad: Is This Really The Way We Want to Send Bud Out?
Defense has always been the calling card of the Hokies. More specifically, a defensive front that could get pressure on the opposing quarterback, and a secondary you could leave on an island against the best receivers in the country.
Fast forward to the final part of last season, and the first game this season, the pass rush is really non-existent and the cornerbacks seem to get beat on a regular basis. The front four of the Hokies did not get much of a push at all against the massive offensive line of the Eagles giving Anthony Brown all day to throw in the first half. The Hokies did an excellent job of stuffing AJ Dillon but the pass rush and coverage struggles led to a big day for Brown.
Defensive breakdowns plagued the Hokies throughout the first half. An injury to starting DE TyJuan Garbutt coupled with little depth at that position was the beginnings of a recipe for disaster. A blown coverage here combined with zero pressure from the front four led to many of those big plays that were the bugaboo of the defense last year.
The fact is Bud Foster, in the first half, did not want to bring a lot of pressure for the fear of letting BC playmakers create in the open field. Also, having the corners getting beat when they were one-on-one possibly forced the Hokies DC to play a less aggressive style in order to help his struggling corners.
However, the reason this in not in the ugly category is the fact that after halftime, the Hokies defense locked in holding the Eagles to just 7 points and under 100 total yards in the second half including 0 in the third quarter. Bud Foster made adjustments and used the strengths of his defense to his advantage. If the defense can't create pressure on opposing quarterbacks and relieve some of the stress on the back end of the defense, it could be a very long season indeed.
The Ugly: Valuing the Ball Might be Stressed in This Week’s Practice.
If you told me going in to Saturdays game the Hokie defense would hold AJ Dillion to under 100 yards rushing and Ryan Willis would throw for over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns, I would take that in a second. With a stat line like that I would assume the Hokies would have been victorious, but that assumption would have been very wrong.
What wasn’t factored in was the turnover game. The Hokies committed five of these drive killers on Saturday.
The last time the Hokies turned the ball over that much was in the Battle of Bristol and we remember all to well how that turned out.
Two set Boston College up inside the Tech 35 while two others took points off the board at critical times of the game, very similar to what happened against Tennessee in Bristol. The scary part was Ryan Willis was the culprit for 4 of the turnovers.
The QB1 had 3 interceptions and a fumble. Now I am going to give credit where credit is due, Willis’s last interception was not so much his fault, but an amazing reaction and recognition by Boston College defensive tackle Tanner Karafa. It truly was one of those did he just do that plays.
However, the other two were in simple words, poorly thrown balls. As Willis is known for, he likes taking risks and throwing into tight coverage, but on both of the interceptions in the endzone, Willis missed wide open receivers instead deciding to throw into double or triple coverage.
Granted, Justin Fuente showed great confidence in the senior staying with him where others might have gone to the backup. Not being a quarterback myself, I have no idea how that could affect the mindset of a player, but I would guess it isn’t ideal.
However, one should think the leash on Willis got a lot tighter after that opening game performance. Many are saying the offense does not fit the type of player Willis is, but I disagree.
Willis has the ability to make this offense prolific. That being said if Willis is making the same mistakes he made against Boston College against ODU, Hendon Hooker might need to be ready to take over.
The Hokies will be in front of the home crowd next week, something that should help the team out. Also, the sting of last years defeat at ODU should still be fresh for the upperclassmen and the fact some of their own transferred to the Monarchs has to add even more salt to that still open wound.
However, if the Hokies keep the turnovers down, get a defensive push, and use that talent at the receiver position, all should be well in Blacksburg.
The season is young fans, not time to panic quite yet, as always I'll leave you with words that inspire hope and pride in me every time, I utter them. LETS GO HOKIES!!!!!