Virginia Tech Looked Lifeless For Three Quarters vs. Miami in 20-14 Loss

Virginia Tech tight end Dae’Quan Wright fumbled on the first drive of the game, immediately swinging momentum. (Ivan Morozov)

When the best thing to come out of the first three quarters is a Virginia Tech student winning the “Kick for Cash” during a timeout, that tells the story. (That was Sarah Cunningham, my sister, by the way.)

The Hokies totaled 118 yards in the first 45 minutes against Miami in the 20-14 loss in Lane Stadium on Saturday. It wasn’t a pretty showing. Tech (2-5, 1-3 ACC) made it competitive down the stretch thanks to two fourth quarter touchdowns, but it was too little, too late against the Hurricanes (3-3, 1-1 ACC).

“We’ve to maximize what we do well, and we’ve done some things well at times,” Virginia Tech head coach Brent Pry said of the offense after the loss. “We’ve got to make sure that we’re maximizing all that and minimizing what we don’t do well. And I’m not sure we’re doing a great job of that right now, and that’s something we’re going to evaluate closely.”

Pry added that the offensive staff needs to make sure the right personnel is on the field at all times, and it can’t be vanilla. Those two things, along with a combination of other problems, were reasons why the Hokies scored played three quarters of lifeless football.

It started with a mistake on the first drive of the game. On third-and-six from the Tech 34, Grant Wells hit freshman tight end Dae’Quan Wright over the middle on a slant route. After gaining 27 yards, he fumbled. Miami recovered, which set up a quick four-play, 65-yard touchdown drive.

Over the next three series, the Hurricanes kicked a field goal and scored a second touchdown, extending the lead to 17-0. Their second drive was very successful – 18 plays, 71 yards, 7:42. They chewed time off the clock and did everything they wanted against the Tech defense.

Virginia Tech didn’t do much to stop Tyler Van Dyke in the first half. (Ivan Morozov)

At intermission, Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke had 271 passing yards, two touchdowns and had completed five passes of 15 or more yards. It didn’t help that Tech safety Nasir Peoples was ejected for targeting at the start of the second quarter.

“I thought we started slow,” Pry said of the defensive effort. “I thought we were allowing them to catch the ball and tackle them. We’ve got to go compete for balls. That’s a big emphasis. We talked about it at halftime. We talked about it on the sideline. We’ve got to be better there.

“We can’t be a slow starter. We just can’t. You want to start the game fast and you start with a turnover and an easy score and you’re behind 7-0 before you blink. Even though we didn’t do a lot of things well in the first half, you’ve got a chance to be right there.”

Offensively, Virginia Tech was without a pulse. Each of the five drives between the fumble and halftime culminated in a punt. Wells threw for just 62 yards while the running game only posted 44 yards on the ground.

The Hokies’ 353-game scoring streak, which dates to 1995, was a hot topic at halftime. It was the 17th time during that span that they were shutout in the first half. Things didn’t get any better in the third quarter either.

The defense stepped it up, holding its own and allowing just a field goal. However, the offense was still non-existent. Virginia Tech punted three times in that period – twice on three-and-outs – and never tested Miami. Through three quarters, the Hokies only crossed into Miami territory twice.

Moreover, Wells was sacked four times in a span of 11 passing plays between the second and third quarters. The Canes finished with six on the day, and nothing seemed to go Tech’s way.

Miami practically lived in the backfield against the Hokies. (Ivan Morozov)

“He’s got to keep his eyes downfield and look for the open receiver and we’ve got to protect him a little better,” Pry said of Wells. “For me, again, I look at it through the eyes of a defensive play-caller. Sometimes it’s too easy to get a bead on us. … But I do think that it was a combination of him holding the ball, a combination of some protection issues, and they’ve got a nice front.”

Yet, a jolt of life came out of nowhere. It felt as soon as the clock flipped to the fourth quarter, all of the momentum swung the Hokies’ way.

To continue the scoring streak, Wells hit running back Malachi Thomas in the flat, who took it 14 yards to the house with 12:10 remaining. Then, while the defense kept them in the game, the Hokies scored a touchdown with 3:20 remaining to cut it to one score.

Miami hurt itself throughout the game, bailing Tech out time and time again. Mario Cristobal’s squad finished with 17 penalties for 159 yards, the second-most flags ever against the Hokies. Two big ones occurred on that scoring drive: unnecessary roughness and pass interference. The latter put VT in the red zone for the first time all afternoon.

Just when things looked promising, though, Virginia Tech was backed up five yards on third-and-10 due to a false start – one of six penalties on the day – on left guard Jesse Hanson. But the unit didn’t fret.

Back-to-back pass plays to Nick Gallo picked up 22 total yards, one of which came on a fourth-and-nine when Tech ran four verticals against three-deep coverage. That energized the Hokies, who punched it in from three yards out on the next play via Wells.

Nick Gallo had a big catch on fourth down that set Virginia Tech up for its second touchdown. (Ivan Morozov)

“That kind of just showed us the confidence we do have on offense when it’s rolling,” captain Kaleb Smith said of Gallo’s fourth down conversion. “We know we have players on the team that can make a tough catch like that in a critical situation, we just have to get that more consistent throughout the game.”

However, the Hokies came up short in the end. It’s the third time in five seasons that they’ve lost four consecutive games, which never occurred in the final 23 years under Frank Beamer. They’ve got an open week now, which comes at a convenient time, and there’s plenty to discuss and review. But Pry’s message to his players remains the same: the potential is there.

“I sound like a broken record, but there’s just so much evidence of who we can be as a team,” Pry said. “We’ve got to stop stubbing our toe and finding ways to not make people earn it. We’ve got to stop that. There’s signs of the team we can be. … They don’t quit. Our culture’s moving the right direction.

“Our confidence, we get shaky with some adversity. And that was apparent today. I think the way the game started, man, we didn’t handle it very well. And I’ve got to do a better job. … We’ve just got to be more consistent.”

Box Score: Link 

28 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Well, Syracuse added the OC from UVa, and now they are undefeated. Look at DUKE, kinda same thing. Kansas, new coach, and they are playing well. Look at GT. They hired a new guy, and are playing much better. Maybe Pry is the right guy? Time will tell, and I really hope he is our guy.
    But going up the middle over and over and over, even when it doesn’t work, has got to stop!
    Go Hokies!

  2. Hokies all, Miami has better players that we do at all 24 starting positions (including the Punter & Kicker) Therefore, we lose.. Pry and his staff better be EXCELLENT developers of talent, because 4-5Stars won’t be coming to Hokie land. Yes, Fuente should have been fired much sooner.

  3. Fuente did so much damages to VT FB. Fuente was handed a program not at the 1999 peak but was still fundamentally sound with coach Beamer’s players (still winning in the first 2 Fuente years).
    So be fair to Pry, what we have clearly seen in 6 games, Pry will have to rebuild this program from scratch, everything from recruiting, retention, players development, physical skills and mental focus. This VT program will need probably a 2-3 years rebuilding time. “This is my school, this is home”, if we are asking Pry to sell this brand then we have to believe in it ourselves (good times and bad, yes, we are terrible for now). Go Hokies…

    1. I keep saying I am less concerned about how we do this year as I am that we do better next year, and even better the year after that. I would like to see 6 wins and a bowl game, mainly for the extra practices.

  4. I was out of town, and my group had to go to a Mexican-themed bar to find the game on TV. The ready availability (and numbing effect) of margaritas, mezcal, and cerveza was a godsend during the awful first 3 quarters.

  5. There is NO football toughness whatsoever with this team in all three phases of the game. You cannot win football games being soft.

  6. David, lifeless is a good word for the first 3 quarters of the game. It was hard to watch. The offense has ZERO creativity. It’s the same stuff over and over. How many times do we run up the middle for 2 yards? Wells throws bullets regardless of the situation–the bad pass to Holston is just one example. When we try to extend the field, the throw is rarely on target. The punter is wildly erratic. And the punt returners play with no confidence. We seem content when we even manage to catch a punt. I am willing to be patient to a point. But there is so much to fix!

  7. David, at this weeks press conference , please ask Coach pry why we continue to use a hurry up offense when we continually go 3 and out. Seems to make no sense and actually hurts what defense we have.

  8. When is Pry going to take responsibility for this disaster. This is the weakest coaching staff Vt has ever had. Totally clueless

  9. Students overall get a F for leaving this game so early. I know the frustration. Too many issues everywhere which tied back to extremely poor player evaluation. Why didn’t Wright play after first series until 4 th quarter. He can help us. Blumrick and Duleius are non entities. Our WR core has severe issues. Loften 3rd game in a row with crucial dropped pass. This team had less than 150 years a going into 4 th qtr. starts with getting playmakers and we have none since last year

  10. The first half was unwatchable – when your MVP is the punter you have serious issues. The passing game was poor and the running game was non-existent, the D could not stop the pass, but did do a better job against the run. Luckily in the second half da “U” started doing U things and the wind started blowing and the offense gots some breaks and the defense started making some stops. VT could have stolen a victory if the offense converts a third down with 6 minutes to go in the fourth – unfortunately the QB threw a fast ball to our 4th string running back who dropped the ball and that was the end of that drive. Also unclear on why VT played coverage on the last Miami drive when they had a chance to get off the field with about 2 minutes left – the QB keeper that no one covered for the final Miami first down was also a head scratcher. I am afraid this team is closer to the one that played the first three quarters than the one that played the fourth, but I will be there to find out. Congratulations to your sister, that kick would have been good from 30.

  11. 8 comments in – after a loss – without a ‘Fire Pry’ or ‘Fire Whit’. So far, so sane. We’ll get it back!!! Go Hokies!!!!!!

      1. Also, where would we be had Hudson and Nester not transferred! Whit let Fuente stay one, probably two years too long!

        1. Fuente wrecked Tech FB and Whit let him do it. Now we’re 2-3 years (at best) from being a team with real toughness. And 2-3 more from being a winning program again. That’s if Pry turns out to be the right guy. A big IF based on what we’ve seen so far.

  12. First game I’ve been to in 3 years. Man….. Just bad. My daughter has an internship with the athletic department and she said HokieNation is still strong which it is! But student section rolls out when they start losing, she nailed that. No surprise. Lots of work to do in all aspects of the game! Hope they can get it done! We need them too!!!! Nice kick by your sister! 20 yarder! Glad she nailed it!

  13. I think the Wright fumble early may have played on the players. I know everyone is working hard and just maybe things will come together sooner than later. I just hope everything that the coaches have done this year starts to pay off next year.

  14. What’s Bullock doing? Because we don’t have a single RB that the opposing D is afraid of getting run over by. Too many “shifty” backs, no “thumpers”.

    1. Blumrick could help in this area too. I am surprised that he hasn’t run the ball a few more times given his success last year.

  15. When your own head coach – a former DC -says “it’s too easy to get a bead on us” about the offense, you’ve got problems. There’s gotta be some blunt conversations with the offensive staff. Good coaches/systems can scheme guys open. Screens, rubs, picks, motion, matchups. I get it’s tough when your primary weapon K. Smith is a former walk-on, but still.

    I’m a little tired of the “Our guys never quit. Our guys play hard. We’re just one block away from breaking one.” commentary. We had that for 6 years with Fuente.

  16. I’m seeing no motion in our offense or lack there of.
    Is it the caliber of players? Is it the OC and his staff?
    I realize that we are lacking play makers and we all know the cupboard was bare, which is a understatement. This is really the first time on the post game show Pry showed his feelings.
    Please Hokie fans don’t give up on this team and Hokie football going forward.

    1. While the talent is not where the fans would like it to be, I think our Offensive coaches need some serious improvement. If a guy can do it at Kansas and have the success they have with the talent level they have access to, VT should be able to as well. If the 2023 offense product looks like the 2022, I think it will be time for swift action by CBP.

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