Before diving into my game notes, be sure to read the game recap from Saturday night’s loss to Miami. I’m sure you’d rather forget the game ever happened, but there are some good quotes in there.
Also, the ACC announced on Saturday night that Virginia Tech’s game vs. Georgia Tech will kick off at 12:20 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11. The game will be televised on the ACC Network, and the game is the first noon or 12:20 p.m. kickoff for the Hokies in 2017.
All right, let’s talk a bit more about the game.
Hokies losing one-on-one matchups
Virginia Tech’s offense put together one of their worst performances of 2017 on Saturday night. The Hokies accrued just 299 total yards of offense, a season low. Tech averaged four yards per play, turned the ball over four times, and scored just 10 points. The showing resembled what Hokie fans saw vs. Clemson in September, and it was because Miami’s defense did the same things the Tigers did. Miami’s defensive line owned the line of scrimmage, and their defensive backs won the one-on-one matchups outside.
The Hokies’ inability to win matchups on the outside might have been the biggest problem. Sure, Virginia Tech turned the ball over four times, but the Hokies also forced three turnovers themselves. If Tech had been able to gain some separation on the outside, perhaps the offense could have given the team a chance to win.
“They lined up in one-high the whole game. I mean, it’s not rocket science out there,” said head coach Justin Fuente. “It wasn’t — they lined up in one-high. We knew what they were in. Every play. We either couldn’t hold the ball long enough, or couldn’t win on the outside. Or couldn’t deliver the ball accurately. So, we tried to get the ball out of our hands a little bit quicker. There’s only so much you can do with that. Eventually you’ve got to hold the ball and win those one-on-one matchups.
“There’s two things that scare you as an offense — one is if they play two-high and you can’t run the ball, or the other thing is if they play man-free or one-high, and you can’t hold onto the ball or win the one-on-one matchups. We won a couple but not enough.”
Miami’s stout coverage on the back end made it a long night for Josh Jackson. The redshirt freshman completed 20-32 passes for just 197 yards, while throwing two interceptions.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” Jackson said. “Like, when a team lines up and plays man, you’ve got to win one-on-one or you’re going to lose. That’s kind of what happened. Cam made some good plays, also there was some times where he couldn’t really get open. Same with Savoy. Then me, there were a couple of passes I missed. Then we had some dropped balls. It all kind of accumulates.”
Virginia Tech Offensive line struggles without Nijman
While Virginia Tech’s receivers struggled on the outside, the offensive line struggled in the interior. Virginia Tech averaged just 2.4 yards per rush, and allowed eight tackles for loss and four sacks.
The Hokies were missing starting left tackle Yosuah Nijman on Saturday night. The 6-foot-7, 320-pound junior has made 22 career starts, but suffered a lower body injury vs. Duke last week. Nijman was still on crutches and wearing a walking boot last Tuesday, so it was no surprise to see him unavailable.
With Nijman out, Virginia Tech turned to oft-injured redshirt senior Parker Osterloh. He’s battled injuries throughout his career, and made his first career start on Saturday night.
“I’d have to look at it,” Fuente said of his offensive line’s performance. “Towards the end, it was pretty sloppy. When we were in a true, drop-back situation, it’s tough for us vs. good people. We have made a living, so to speak, without getting in those situations.”
Fuente, Foster disagree with Floyd’s personal foul
One of the turning points on Saturday night was Reggie Floyd’s personal foul midway through the third quarter. Virginia Tech’s offense scored their first touchdown on their opening possession of the second half to make it 14-10 Miami, and Rosier had thrown two interceptions already in the third.
On Miami’s third possession of the second half, the ‘Canes faced a second-and-7. Quarterback Malik Rosier handed the ball off on an option play, and was then leveled immediately after handing it off by Floyd. Floyd was tagged for a personal foul on the play, giving Miami a free first down and 15 extra yards.
After the game, it was clear Virginia Tech did not agree with the call.
“I said, ‘they’re running the midline, and it’s very difficult, it happens so fast, to know who’s got the ball.’ And he said, ‘I agree, but not that time,’” Fuente said of the call. “I mean, I didn’t get to see it again, or look at it or anything.”
Fuente makes a good point. The Hurricanes relied heavily on Rosier’s running ability on Saturday night, as Rosier piled up 84 yards and a touchdown on the ground on 13 carries (including two sacks).
“All game, he’s running like a running back,” said Ricky Walker. “Then one time, we hit him, it’s a flag. I understand he’s a quarterback, I just, I don’t really like that call. I think it was a bad call. All game he’s running for 30 yards, he’s a running back, but the one time he fakes it, and we hit him, it’s a flag. So, I don’t really agree with that call.”
Defensive coordinator Bud Foster declined to comment on the penalty, but it was clear he disapproved.
“It is what it is,” Foster said. “I’m not going to address that. They made the call, and we’ve got to move on.”
Tech eliminated from Coastal race
Virginia Tech can no longer defend their ACC Coastal Division title from 2016. Tech’s loss to Miami mathematically took them out of the race, leaving Miami in the driver’s seat. With that no longer on the table, the Hokies were asked in postgame how they can move on and keep fighting.
“Well, I haven’t had time to think about it,” Fuente said. “I know that we’ve got Georgia Tech on the road, and our guys have a lot of pride. Pride in this program, pride in how they play, pride in the product they put on the field, how they work. I know Georgia Tech beat us last year, at home, and I don’t have a lot of concern that we would be ready to play. We have great leadership, we have great coaches, and we’ll get ready.”
Foster echoed Fuente’s sentiments, while also noting the Hokies can still win 10 games once again. Virginia Tech won 10 games in 2016, their first time hitting the 10-win mark since 2011.
“Well, I mean we’ve got a lot of football left,” Foster said. “A lot of key games left. I mean, we can really do some special things. If we can win out, we can go 10-2, that’s a heck of a year. Is every year going to be a championship year? No, but we’re still in the infant stages under the direction of Coach Fuente, to move forward and take this program to the level we want to take it. That’s what the message is. We’ve got to continue to move forward, and we’ve still got a lot to play for.”