Virginia Tech fell to Georgia Tech on Saturday, losing 28-22 in a frustrating and deflating performance for fans. The Hokies had plenty of opportunities, but couldn’t get it done. You can read my game recap from Saturday’s game here.
Because of Virginia Tech’s loss, they fell out of both the AP Top 25 and the Coaches’ Poll. It’s the first time they’ve been unranked in either poll this season.
If you’re a TSL Pass Subscriber, you should read Chris Coleman’s column as well. He’s always got good insight.
Now, let’s dive into this weekend’s game notes.
Offense falters for second consecutive week
The Virginia Tech offense hasn’t been the only reason the Hokies have lost two consecutive games for the first time under Justin Fuente, but it seems to be the primary reason. Virginia Tech hasn’t registered 300 yards of offense since Tech’s win over Duke on Oct. 28, with the Hokies averaging just 278.5 yards of offense over the last two weeks. Virginia Tech has scored just 40 points in the last two weeks, with six of those coming from Greg Stroman’s interception return for a touchdown vs. Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Against Miami, the Hokies struggled to run the football efficiently, protect quarterback Josh Jackson and the receivers struggled to gain separation in man-to-man coverage. Against Georgia Tech, it was much of the same. Virginia Tech rushed for just 105 yards on 36 carries, allowed two sacks and had just 153 passing yards.
The offensive struggles have been a problem in several games this season, but the Hokies have been unable to overcome them in consecutive weeks. After the loss on Saturday, head coach Justin Fuente was asked about how the offense can get things going and become more explosive.
“I don’t think we’re going to be like that. Like, it’s just not going to happen guys,” Fuente said. “Watch our — we’ve played nine games, 10 games — we’re not going to run up and down the field on anybody. We haven’t done it yet, and we’re not going to. We’re going to have to play great defense, be really good on special teams and be opportunistic offensively. That’s where we’re at.
“So, I’m not saying I don’t trust them, I love those kids. They work their asses off for this program. But, just our makeup, to have a chance to win games, it’s going to have to work that way. It’s worked seven times that way, and three times it has not. So, I don’t think it’s changing.”
Wide receiver Eric Kumah, who led the Hokies with six receptions for 82 yards, says he feels confident in the Hokies’ ability to turn things around with two games left on the schedule.
“I’m not concerned at all. I don’t think many of us are concerned,” Kumah said. “I think we just need to work harder in practice this week and not let the Georgia Tech and Miami losses affect us for Pitt and UVa. I think we need to get back on track and win out those two games, then go find out our bowl and win our bowl game. I think practice will be different this week.”
Fuente’s aggressiveness caused by offense, Slye’s injury
Virginia Tech’s offensive struggles forced Fuente’s hand, when it came to certain decisions. The Hokies opted to attempt a fourth and two from Georgia Tech’s 8-yard-line, likely passing up three points. Fuente said after the game that the offense’s sluggishness, as well as a nagging injury for kicker Joey Slye, played into the decision.
“It was close enough to kick a field goal,” Fuente said. “Joey couldn’t kick off. He tried to kick off, but really couldn’t. He was battling a little bit of a hamstring deal. That probably was the least amount of the reason for it. It was fourth and short, the game was 7-3. Just don’t know how many times we’re going to get down there, quite honestly. It’s fourth and two, and we really felt like that was our best chance. I thought we had a good call. We did not execute worth a darn on it, and we didn’t get the first down.”
To attempt the play, Virginia Tech subbed in backup quarterback AJ Bush and attempted a quarterback run. The play was blown up, and the Hokies turned it over on downs. The Hokies later attempted two two-point conversions, both of which failed. If Virginia Tech made the 25-yard field goal attempt, and then made both extra points, the Hokies would have trailed 28-27 on their final drive, and instead of needing a touchdown to win, Virginia Tech would have just needed another field goal.
“Making first downs and driving the football were both difficult, and they have been,” Fuente said. “We felt like we had an opportunity, with as good a look as we were going to get to go win the game.”