Game Notes: Virginia Tech Loses One-On-Ones, Floyd’s Penalty and Moving On

Virginia Tech’s receivers, including Sean Savoy (15) struggled to get open on Saturday night. (Photo by Darren Altman)

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 football
Virginia Tech’s struggles on the inside and outside made it a rough night for Josh Jackson (17). (Photo by Darren Altman)

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.”

Virginia Tech football
After Saturday’s loss, Virginia Tech must now shift their season goals. (Photo by Darren Altman)

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.”

Click here for all of TSL’s coverage of the Miami game

26 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. The O Line doesn’t seem to concern Fuente. Specifically, the 2018 Class shows only 3 O Lineman with a two star and NO four or five stars. Assuming that one of the three lineman fails to make the grade due to academics or injury, then the situation becomes even more dire. Common sense suggests a class of five to six O Linemen in order to do some needed catching-up. Obviously, I am missing something in the logic of the coaching staff ???

  2. I’m recalling it was a rather late flag, unless our hero had trouble getting it out of his waistband.

  3. Miami is not “back”, they are trending that way, but they are not there yet. Same could be said for us as well. It’s gonna take a little more time. Also, in regards to late hits I saw a Miami player hit our guy out of bounds. Announcers said the hit was an accident so no flag was thrown. I don’t know they rule so if someone does please explain it to me. Does it matter if it was an “accident.” I’m not saying this call would affect the outcome by any means.

  4. Regarding the OL: There were many plays in which #71, #79 and Dalton Keene were left standing blocking no one near the end of plays as the QB or the RB got tackled. There was a play when 4 OL were not engaged with a single defender when the RB or QB was hit. 4 players not engaged with a single defender, just standing there. You would think that OL would be driving defenders, would be trying to pancake, would at least be touching a defender. Nope. Standing. Looking at the play.

  5. Our D strategy was lousy at best. Our O line has been a disaster for at least a decade. Run and pass blocking is/was nonexistent. 7-2 with losses to two top 10 teams is not anything to be ashamed of .. but we must avoid a hangover against GT or the season will resemble a dumpster fire.

  6. I’m sure I’m in the minority but I’m OK with the penalty on Floyd. If you watch it objectively, Floyd wasn’t making a tackle, no wrap, no takedown, he was taking an opportunity to lay a hit on the QB and he took it. He choose to dip his shoulder and hit a player when he knew the QB didn’t have the ball, he is even looking at the ball carrier getting pushed back as he finishes the hit. The QB had stopped carrying out his fake… he slows down and straighten up.
    He took a chance and it was a selfish one.

      1. Not a necessary type of reply. TSL wants real discourse on their site. It is stuff like that this that makes TSL harder to stomach. Give a real response that would invite discussion on the topic. But this is dismissive, rude and unnecessary.

    1. You’re entitled to your opinion, but you’re in the minority because you’re wrong. That call was horsesh*t. That guy was running it all night, and the play was bang-bang. People get hit in football games and that was a clean, hard hit. Game-changing blown call right there.

    2. My only question is how you can be so certain of what “he knew”, it was a ticky tack call at a critical time. The ref’s had let them play all game long on both sides of the ball. However it is pretty much par for the course for the ACC officials as a group.

    3. While I was of course screaming at the tv over the call…he was clearly pretending to have the ball, and most of the night he did have it….the more I thought about it, the more I was ok with it.
      If that was JJ that took that hit we would be incredulous about another cheap shot by a Miami thug. There would be exactly zero people here that would say it was ok for them to hit Jackson like that….and we all know it.

  7. Thought I saw some late hits by Miami out of bounds in front of the refs and our coaches pointing it out. Not the reason we lost but it didn’t help. Thug nation in Miami is back; surprised such a “good humanitarian” coach like Richt allows such behavior. Of course he played there. Focus on the Yellow Jackets and get revenge. Good luck next week.

    1. I’m not surprised. Richt may be a good man, but his Georgia teams were no choirboys either…He gives them a LOT of room….as long as they perform on the field

  8. Has anyone asked the coach why go for the 4th down plays when field goals would have at least put points on the board and the players wouldn’t have felt as much psychological failure. Obviously the 51 yard field goal was encouraging, and 2 more would’ve put the game at an 8 point difference at a crucial juncture……. and possibly motivated a comeback.

      1. IIRC they were 48 yard variety, not exactly gimmies. And we were 4th and short. However, Slye nailed the 50+ yarder so maybe it would have been worth a shot…but that is hindsight.

        What bothers me more is it seems we are like 20% on 4th down conversion tries in the last couple of games.

        The bigger question for me is why can’t we convert 4th and short at a higher percentage…something more like 50%. And we seem to screw up the play somehow…like the bad timed snap.

        1. None of the 40+ yard kicks made sense. Earlier 4th down plays made sense, based on Slyes historical results. After failing on downs twice, VT had to put points on the board, even at a greater risk at that distance. Luckily, Slye made it in.

          I’d definitely go for it on 4th down against the next opponent as well, until we see VT fail to get a 1st down.

          1. Exactly. So many were/are saying we should have “taken the points” with the field goals….I would say, given what we’ve seen this year that the odds of making those kicks were about the same as making a 4th and short.

          2. ..and DO remember, the opponent gets the ball on a missed FG where the ball was spotted for the kick…It is like a 7 yard sack!

    1. til I”m blue in the face: o-line, o-line, o-line. Our o-line can’t push JMU around. Not their fault individually; they were offered scholarships and they’re playing for VT. Great for them. But it doesn’t mean it’s even an ACC worthy group of 5. C’mon folks. Fuente has a shaky kicker and he’s in no man’s land at the 35 yard line. Do you go for 3 points with a shaky leg or try to send a message by boosting the confidence of the 5 dudes on the line and thus, the whole O? You go for 4th and 2 just about every time in those instances. Again, we don’t have the horses but I get what Fu was trying to do. It’s playing to win instead of not to lose. What we need is Fuente personally involved in o-line recruitment and making it his #1 priority. We know he can recruit and coach skill players. Done. Now go get some hoss dudes with attitudes to clear a path.

      1. Preach on brother about the O line. I’ve been preaching for more than a decade about the lack of O lineman and that being the key to a running game and protection of the QB. I’m not a coach but to me after watching football all my life it all begins with the O line. The Beamer coaches and now the current staff seems to think they can fix it without recruiting O linemen. Hell will freeze over first!!!!

      2. Absolutely spot on. In my opinion its the principle reason of what is holding this running game back. Tech CANNOT run inside.

    2. Fuente made a point indirectly. If an offense cannot pass against man – free coverage or you cannot run against a 2 deep look then the offense will find it hard to do anything consistently (its implies that the player acrossed from you is superior). At the point of attack, in this game, the Hokies did not get it done. We could not beat one on one looks. Miami played hard, tough and strong. We played soft and did not achieve any real success. It’s furstrating and disappointing. If this team plays like this in November we will lose every single game. So, it’s time to improve. As alumni all we can do is write bigger checks and cheer on a good but not great Hokie team.

  9. I think the refs were heavily influenced by the crowd on that Floyd call – which was 100% legal IMO. Don’t even ask me about the lack of holding calls.

    1. How? The flag came nearly immediately. Doubt that some booing crowd caused the flag to come out.

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