Virginia Tech Comes Up Short Again at Duke in Seventh Straight Loss

Virginia Tech is now 2-8. (Ivan Morozov)

For the first time since 1951, Virginia Tech lost seven consecutive games. The latest came on Saturday in Durham where, despite taking an early lead at Duke, the Hokies looked lifeless offensively in the 24-7 loss.

“We’re fighting and clawing to have a chance right there in the fourth and it’s 17-7 and you’ve got a chance right there to make it the fourth-quarter game that it needs to be for us,” head coach Brent Pry said after the game. “And we didn’t get the stop necessary defensively. I think we got tired out there. I think we played too many plays.

“We’ve got to control the ball better, earn first downs. And we just fight and claw defensively to hang on, and when we don’t get some help, it just makes it too much to overcome.”

On Tech’s second play from scrimmage, Grant Wells hit Da’Wain Lofton on a 53-yard touchdown pass down the sideline. But from that point forward, the Hokies punted six times, missed a field goal and threw an interception, and they never looked threatening.

Through ten games, Virginia Tech has led in all but one contest: Miami. The total time with the lead: 259:39. That’s 154:49 in the seven losses not counting the Hurricanes, an average of 22 minutes per game.

So, while the Hokies have been in almost every contest they’ve played, the program continues to strikeout when it comes to finishing games. That’s why Virginia Tech is 2-8 for the first time since 1992, when it finished 2-8-1.

“I expect us to play better,” Pry said. “I do. … We’ve got to build depth. We’ve got some good players. We don’t have enough of them. A couple more good players can make a difference in the ballgame.

The Hokies are in games; they just can’t finish. (Ivan Morozov)

“We have to be better, just fundamentally, ground-zero stuff. … There are certain things that we are coaching and teaching and doing that as we move forward should be part of who we are, and you’re not coaching those things anymore. Those are 100-level items that, after a year or two in the system and in the program, the guys understand, and you can start working on some other things.”

Against Duke (7-3, 4-2 ACC), the Hokies (2-8, 1-6 ACC) averaged 5.2 yards per play. Without their lone score, that mark drops to 4.3. But there wasn’t anything creative or dangerous about anything Tech did. No running back had more than 35 yards on the ground, and no receiver outside of Lofton had more than 35 yards.

Five times the group went three-and-out, which left the defense on the field for the majority of the game. Duke controlled the time of possession 38:59 to 21:01 and took advantage of Tech’s tired legs.

“They kept us off-balance,” Pry said of the Blue Devils. “They ran the ball well enough to stay on schedule and then mixed in the play action. I thought they did a nice job really taking a look at what we’re doing.

“We needed to be more patient and not show our looks. Anytime you’re pressuring, if they ID it, it’s not good. We did a poor job of that today.”

Duke racked up 427 yards of total offense (5.9 yards per play) and was methodical in possession. Two of its three touchdown drives took at least eight plays and at least five minutes. Tech simply couldn’t get off the field.

Riley Leonard and Duke controlled the game from start to finish. (Ivan Morozov)

The Blue Devils were two-of-three on fourth down conversions, too. One pickup was in the second quarter when Tech led 7-3. At the VT 37, Mike Elko & Co. rolled the dice. The result was a 13-yard completion on the near sideline to Jontavis Robinson, who had acres of space. On the next play, Duke quarterback Riley Leonard hit Nicky Dalmolin for a 24-yard touchdown.

At the start of the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils gambled again. And they converted once more – this time on an 18-yard pass from Leonard to a wide-open Jordan Moore. Duke found Robinson on the next play for a touchdown.

Two instances where the Hokies could’ve gotten off the field and given their defense a rest, they didn’t.

“I’m not going to lie, it is frustrating, it is hard, but we’ve just got to fight through it,” Tech linebacker Keli Lawson said. “Adversity comes with this sport.”

Even when the Virginia Tech offense had opportunities, it couldn’t convert. Up 7-0, Mansoor Delane intercepted a pass from Leonard at the VT two-yard line in the second quarter. The result: a three-and-out.

Moreover, at the end of the half, the Hokies drove 40 yards in seven plays, setting up a 50-yard field goal. However, Will Ross, who was 8-of-10 on the year and missed his last two attempts, was benched for true freshman John Love. Pry said the staff wanted to give Love an opportunity and wasn’t happy with Ross missing two extra points recently. But Love’s attempt fell a few yards short, sending Tech into the locker room trailing 10-7.

And when the Hokies trailed by 10 in the third quarter and were moving the ball, they stalled. On a third-and-seven from the Duke 24, Wells picked up three yards on a designed quarterback draw. But Tech went for it on fourth-and-four, lobbing it to Kaleb Smith in double coverage in the end zone, where it fell incomplete. The set-up and execution on an obvious four-down series just wasn’t there.

Kaleb Smith and the Hokies had chances, but they couldn’t convert. (Ivan Morozov)

Duke continued to move the ball and churn the clock, and despite the Hokies turning the ball over just once – a tipped pass that was intercepted – and not recording a penalty for the first time since 1987, they were never in the game. It wasn’t anywhere close to complementary football.

“We’ve obviously got to move the ball better,” Pry said. “I think everybody on the staff believed we had a good plan going into it. And we just didn’t get it done. We’ve got to be able to move the ball more effectively. And we’ve got to look at what we’re doing.

“You’ve invested a lot of time in being a certain style of offense, and when it’s not working and you have to get creative, how good can you be at what you’re doing?”

Now, the Hokies turn to Liberty, who lost to UConn on Saturday. Only the Flames and the rivalry game vs. Virginia remain. Even though the season hasn’t gone the way anyone wanted, the players and staff want to play for pride against their Commonwealth foes.

“We have nothing to lose these last few games of the season, so we have to just put it all on the line and write our own story,” Lawson said. “How do we want to be remembered?”

Box Score: Link 

76 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Usually, whe Tn a new Coach comes in, it’s Exuberance-a Shot in the Arm. Pry and the Guy at UVA have basically destroyed pretty good Teams. I realize that there were no Good Coaches left when both got Hired. At some point, Whit Babcock needs to face Facts. He screwed up with Fuente-and this Pry guy is a Disaster. Babcock has made some good Hires-but Football-which is Everything-is now a Joke! Geez, what kinda Contract did He give this Horrible Coach? This is Sad to watch. Tech Fans deserve better.

  2. “The Hokies are in games; they just can’t finish. (Ivan Morozov)” – Are you SERIOUS? After we went down 10, we were NEVER in this game. Lost by 3 scores. I guess we were in the GT game. Not being able to finish has not be a major problem – being in the game has been. Pitt, UNC, etc.

  3. Pry is the best-looking coach in the ACC. Our band looks good. The majorettes look good, but I would like to see more added like TN does. High Techs are a bit jerky in their dance for my taste but they could learn from # 6. He does some very classy and smooth dancing during warmups. I hear ABBA every time in my head when I watch him dance before a home game. Go Dancing Queen! Go!
    FOOTBALL ! Nothing to talk about see above.
    Go Hokies ! PLEASE just beat UVA !

  4. I loved Dukes Uniforms…The shoulder stripes made them look like real football players. Oh, and they played that way. LSU, Ole Miss, UCLA! Looking good! We had to change uniforms because it was hurting our recuring and play. Don’t mean to step on toes or bring out the crow. But….

  5. Hokies All,
    Yesterday proved what we have known since the ODU & WVU games: it is more than lack of talent.

    It is the coaching and the ability of the coaching staff to prepare the team and adjust as the game progresses. Pry and Co. have not shown that. No way does ODU-WVU-GT-DUKE have more talent that we do. Liberty has more talent, and they will ROMP after losing to UConn. GO HOKIES!!!

  6. We were just short by a country mile yesterday.
    Defense balls out a few times then cant get a stop in Q4 when needed.
    Offense is serviceable sometimes. Barely.
    Yesterday the O was awful after 1st series…D just got tired and Duke played smarter.
    Watching Penix yesterday for UofWashington brought back days of Vick and hope for Farrell.
    Get rid of whoever is calling the plays and hire a real dual threat OC QB guy…and reset with Farrell and get the next guy inline/recruited. Maybe its Boyd. Wells is NOT the answer in this O. We look like a worse version of CornFu-O.

  7. Nice article & accurate. VT has to start at the line of scrimmage, improvement in blocking will help us immensely. Looking for help in portal transfers and Yr 2 development. Broken record but a good line makes the O better overnight.

    Let’s Ho… Hokies!!!
    Put out the Flames!

  8. If Pry doesn’t replace Bowen in the offseason, I would be shocked. He has thrown him under the bus for the 4th time in a post gm press conference this wk. I have to believe he isn’t that tactless, and he knows you simply do not do that to the press. That makes me believe that it has been said behind closed doors and he thinks it isn’t sitting in. Pry can’t survive another yr of Boweb, and this has to be glaringly obvious to him at this point, as it is very obvious to the fanbase. I sure hope he gets the ship faith is not high, but I live my Hokies and look forward to better days.

    1. We have more problems than OC, but I tend to agree than an inexperienced HC should have picked experienced coordinators to lessen the learning curve. But that said, we NEVER like our OC. I remember that Ricky Bustle wasn’t liked and we wanted him replaced. Then Stinespring, and our last OC as well. In my mind defense is a problem as well. Teams routinely put up 400 to 500 yards on us, and part of the TOP difference is the defense cannot get off the field. Then our kicking game needs work. Lots of problems that need fixing.

      1. Lots of problems, but Pry isn’t wrong that the defense just gets warned down because we can’t possess the ball. We had almost exclusively 3 or 6 and outs yesterday. One thing that eludes me has been why we go hurry up when our defense is drained. We know we don’t score..we should try and go slow paced…but we always tend to go fast when we should go slow (major reason we lost GT w/ 11 pt lead) and we go slow when we need to go fast (1 and 2 min drills).

  9. The results of this game clearly show how how far VT football has sunk. Both Tech and Duke replaced their head football coaches after last season. Duke’s program was in much worse shape (having failed to win a single ACC game in 2021!).
    Duke hired Elko, who in turn hired an staff with experience. Tech hired Pry, who hired coordinators with little or no experience. The results speak for themselves.
    Duke is now 7-2 (after manhandling Tech) and the Hokies are 2-8 (having lost 6 in a row for the first time since 1951!). This hot mess is all on Whit Babcock, who must force Pry to make major changes in his staff this off season (as we are obviously stuck with Pry for the foreseeable future). Sad to see a once proud program turned into such a national embarrassment!

    1. Yep….many of us pleaded and just knew Whit would go out and seek out a proven coach and proven staff to bring here. I think money & competition got in his way and he was relegated to Coordinators and Assistant coaches. Successfull football doesnt work like Basketball; it’s not often you just a non headcoach becomes an instant winner but I am not sure Whit saw it the same way. I think he believed he could defy the odds. Do we cut bait now and start over and trying fixing this with a truly BIG TIME football hire (and except that your 1st loss is probably your best loss unless you include Fuente and call this your 2nd loss ). Could Whit concede and recommend changing course? Or do we ride this thing out like we did with HOF CFB and grind it out and get back to the mountain our own way the old fashion way?
      Or could a strong success plan already be laid out and next year and each year after all of this nightmare will be behind us?

    2. This is 100% accurate. We can stop the, “This goes back to no no, it goes back to the end of Beamer, ” stuff..This goes to this hire this yr. Duke showed you how fast you can conpete with competent people in charge. We have the 3rd highest funded staff in the ACC, we have top 3 facilities in the ACC, we returned plenty of starters and our talent massively outweighs the likes of Duke. But…if you know what you are doing, especially in the ACC coastal, you can win instantly. Duke and Elko bury the excuses for VT about talent, rebuilding and new staff inheriting previous stuff. Pry did not inherit 0-8 in the ACC.

  10. An organization can tolerate a green manager as long as they are backed up by an experienced staff. Similarly, an organization can tolerate a green staff as long as they are led by an experienced manager. But couple a green manager with a green staff, and you have a recipe for disaster. We are watching this train wreck unfold in front of us in slow motion, every week. And it just keeps getting worse. Look at the body language of the players in the photos. They are beaten.

  11. Watching the games tonight just reinforces how bad this crap show is . Caleb Smith one catch today, Gallo 1 catch.Wright has one catch. When you have an OL who collectively is the worst in the league plus a qb who holds the hall too long and can’t make progressions you have a bad team. Pry and staff completely out coached all season. Bowen should leave this offseason

  12. Comes up a little more than short. “VT doesn’t come close to winning in 7th straight loss”

    1. Short would be another 1 or 2 point loss. Four 3 and out and four 6 and out. Longest drive 9 plays 3:49 off the clock and NO points. Duke had five drives longer than that. The offense owes the D some laps for keepiing them on the field all the time. The game was just depressing.

    2. Conspiracy theories are in these days; Maybe PSU actually recommended their DC to us so that he could completely destroy VT football and PSU could then recruit more than 5 in the VA the top 10 recruits this year. They know they need 10 of the VA top 15 so they can dream of beating OSU. This must be planned. So many bad decisions. Hmmmm

      1. You’ve got a point, but P$U has been pillaging the Old Dominion since the days of Rip Engle. Joe Pa elevated it to an art form, until Frank stanched the bleeding temporarily. For the last 15 years, the various poseurs who’ve succeeded Paterno in Happy Valley have run wild in Virginia like Yamamoto in the South Pacific during early 1942.

  13. For Coach Pry to blame the players is ridiculous, it’s poor coaching. We definitely have better recruits than several of the teams that have beat us including Duke. Why can’t the coach take responsibility. Like anyone in life until you take responsibility for something you can’t fix it. Worst special Tim’s I can ever remember, worst offense, that’s coaching. Undisciplined and the most penalized team I can remember

    1. you don’t pay attention much do you? Pry has been saying all season that its his responsibility to get the players ready

      1. “I expect us to play better,” Pry said. “I do. … We’ve got to build depth. We’ve got some good players. We don’t have enough of them. A couple more good players can make a difference in the ballgame.
        That’s an insult to the players and poor leadership. He should be saying they should coach better. There’s no excuse for all the specials team errors, unforced penalties this year, awful offensive play calling and poor time management. I paid plenty of attention

        1. He doesn’t mind throwing his OC under the bus weekly as well. Last week he did step up for the first time and put it on himself..but he does far too much finger pointing for my liking. Not the signs of great leadership.

    2. My thoughts exactly. Can’t believe he said that. Most of these losses come down coaching, not putting the right players in the right position to be successful. Look at how bad some of the teams are that we lost too. Teams that do not have the talent that we are supposed to have. Players might have some learning to do in new systems but come on, they are good enough to beat ODU and Duke.

    3. The penalties are on the players. The game plan and lack of in game adjustments is on the coaches.

  14. We’re hiring HCs like a small program and it is yielding results like a small program. VT has had the national brand, stadium, fan support and facilities to hire a proven big-program winner for a head coach… with proven ability to build a winning staff and a a winning recruiting program. INSTEAD, Whit went shopping on the cheap and picked a first time HC and allowed that first-time HC to hire unproven coordinators. 2-10 this year and some horror-show next year (what’s going to change with a more difficult schedule?) will not help recruiting or the portal success. “Come to Va Tech and play for the 125th best coaching staff in the country!”
    I wouldn’t be hammering Whit for this hire if we had won 2 or 3 of those games we should have won. But Pry just doesn’t look like he is HC material. I’d hate to think we have to go down the road with him 2 more years and trust Whitt to make a big-program hire.

    1. Who did you want him to hire. The new head coach UVA hired. Miami’s new coach?
      WVU fans have been wanting to unload their coach. Agree that Pry has to look internally during offseason.

      1. Still way too many freshmen riding the bench when they need to be playing. Example: C.Black,Brice Duke and Tahj Bullock. On running plays using Holston instead (at the goal line -boath ends) makes no sense.

    2. I’m afraid that if your right and then our institution could be possibly staring at needing to replace both an AD and a HC just like Georgia Tech this year. It that’s the case, VT may never recover. That would encapsulate three consecutive hires that have proven to be unsuccessful for Virginia Tech football. What accomplished person of any high caliber would willingly want to interview and follow that precedent here? Could we even woo a Shane or Dino to leave their current posts and choose us at this state of free fall that we are in now? Even even if there was a high caliber results accomplished coach available, does our University have the Capital, the Boosters, and the desire to play ball? This could become really bad for us……like a program with no return to respectability.

  15. Major coaching blunder not going for the FG to make it one touchdown lead and the play call was even worse. This is painful to watch and frustrating part is our lack of improvement since ODU

  16. VT is just a really bad football team right now. There are so many issues and I personally believe Pry isn’t the right person to turn the program around anytime soon. I hope I’m wrong…..

  17. Not sure how to reconcile these two statements:

    “Through ten games, Virginia Tech has led in all but one contest: Miami. The total time with the lead: 259:39. That’s 154:49 in the seven losses not counting the Hurricanes, an average of 22 minutes per game… So, while the Hokies have been in almost every contest they’ve played, the program continues to strikeout when it comes to finishing games. That’s why Virginia Tech is 2-8 for the first time since 1992, when it finished 2-8-1.” Plus the self-quote via Twitter.


    “…and despite the Hokies turning the ball over just once – a tipped pass that was intercepted – and not recording a penalty for the first time since 1987, they were never in the game. It wasn’t anywhere close to complementary football.”

    Which is it?

    1. My sense of it was they won the first quarter, but didn’t make the most of their opportunities to build a lead.

      They were ahead 10-7 at the half, so they literally won the first half. Defense bent but didn’t break to bail the offense out.

      Then there was the familiar story of the second half, when the better team pulled away. Tech wasn’t in it in the second half because they emptied the tank in the first half. They aren’t good enough on offense (coaches + players) to build a commanding lead and they’re not deep enough in any phase to compete for four quarters.

      That’s been the story against good-ish teams this year. It’ll likely be the story next week.

      Against bad teams, we give the game away. We’ll see if we can correct that against UVA.

  18. I think Pry,if he wants to keep his job,should pull the trigger on Bowen.10 games in and our Offence still looks as bad or worse than it did against ODU!Now Liberty is going to hang 40 on us.Harder times are ahead I’m afraid!

  19. Another disgraceful showing by our HOKIES on both sides of the ball, but I will give the defense the benefit of the doubt with the time they were on the field due to our beyond dreadful offense. Needed to the kick the field goal on 4th and 5 rather than going for it- take the points coach! I’m far from being a football genius, but why in the world do Pry and Bowen keep playing Wells and not go with either Brown or Boyd? Hard to believe that they could do any worse than him. And yes jdelalamo, what is complementary football? Just coach’s speak for hey, we can’t really do anything on either side of the ball because we are so pitiful. This crapshow is getting way beyond a joke at this point. I’ve been a fan since the early ’60s and this is about as bad as it has ever been and that’s saying something.

    1. Oh please. The laziest critique is “it’s the quarterback’s fault.” Wells threw for 3500 yards in a season at Marshall, is pretty much the best of the two or three offensive tools we’ve got and people want to blame him. Maybe we don’t have a GOR scheme. Maybe we don’t have the players to execute that scheme. Maybe we don’t have lineman who can block or receivers who will run routes correctly and catch. Don’t blame a competent QB for Tech’s problems.

      1. If you reference the magical 3500 yds also reference the 16 TDs/13 INTs. Paint the full picture. The lazier thing to do is point out one stat that doesnt give a clear picture of a QB.

        1. Yeah – and adding the TDs/Ints doesn’t paint the full picture either. Wells is the not just the important player on this team, but probably the most productive as well. There literally is not one unit which is even average right now. The QB is probably the closest to avg and that’s with no supporting task around him (which I blame largely on Pry’s apparent approach to rebuilding).

      2. When he has time, he has failed to make the throws to move the chains. Plain and simple. Next up.

      3. Based on the performance of the rest of the team, how much of QB problems are Wells versus bad coaching for him?

        1. Probably a combination. I hate the play calling. It is terrible. At this point, why not try another option and see if it creates a spark!

      4. I would, however, like to see Grant Wells demonstrate that he can throw a football at less than 100 mph, considering that a little “touch” is needed at times

  20. Coach says they had a good plan for our offense. It’s 10 games in and we haven’t had an offense this year. The coaches either misjudged the talent they had or they are relying on an poorly designed/schemed offense. They’ve been so ineffective, I’ve told friends they could let the QB make up with a play at the line of scrimmage and it couldn’t turn out much worse . And defensively I can’t tell how much of our woes is our lack of talent and how much is the defensive scheme the coach is using. Sadly the product we are putting on the field on both sides of the ball is terrible and the players, students, fans and alumni all deserve better. Hope there’s a black Friday sale in the portal and the coaches can find a creative playbook on Amazon.

    1. It all comes back to the OL. They either can’t execute what Rudolph is teaching or they can’t learn the new scheme. Rudolph’s OL style of play is a complete 180 from Vice, so you’d expect it to be rough early on and get better through the season.. hasn’t really happened.

  21. Pry said we do have enough good players.
    I think we got at least the talent level of Duke, GT.

    The coaching level at VT is lousy.

    1. We don’t have enough good players because Pry, et al has taken a number of good players and turned them into not good players. The list of returning two-deep players who have appreciably improved from last yr is pretty short. Maybe King a bit, maybe Dax a bit, maybe Kaleb Smith a bit.

      But the natural course of events for college players is they should improve. That so few have improved by so little – or regressed – is on the staff.

    1. When all 3 “teams” work together in harmony…

      It’s not a difficult concept, but we can’t seem to get 2 teams working together let alone 3…

    2. It’s hollow coach-speak for balance. Basically what Beamer did – win the battle for field position, don’t put the defense in a position to fail, score more points than the opponent – pretty or ugly.

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