When I arrived home Saturday evening from this debacle, my hands still
chilled into claw shapes from sitting in rain with temperatures in the mid-50s,
my wife said, “I told the kids you’ll be in a bad mood.” Nope. I never
react to dire situations with anger, because when things hit the fan, you have
to stay cool, not pitch a temper tantrum. And a loss to JMU qualifies as a dire
This isn’t a missed opportunity against a top-ten team. This is the exact
opposite, a home loss to a 1-AA school. What this means, and what will happen
next, can’t be plumbed at this point. All I can do is tell you what went wrong
Saturday, and what it tells us about where we are right now. Projecting beyond
that is just guesswork.
First, let’s break it down into the small picture, and analyze the specific
reasons this shocking loss occurred. The coaches have said “blocking and
tackling,” and they are correct. But I’ll go into a little bit more detail.
The Reasons the Hokies Lost
No, it’s not the uniforms, or the rain, or the very, very short break between
games. Virginia Tech lost this game, in my opinion, for three main reasons:
- Tech was whipped at the line of scrimmage.
- Tech tackled very poorly, and Jeron Gouveia-Winslow in particular missed
three critical tackles.
- Tyrod Taylor, instead of being the solution, was part of the problem.
The Hokies’ inability to block JMU — JMU! — was appalling, and it
started right out of the gate. On their opening possession, the Hokies drove 94
yards in 17 plays, taking 8:48 off the clock and scoring a touchdown.
Good, right? Statistically, yes, but the warning signs were there. Ryan
Williams carried the ball 7 times for a paltry 17 yards (2.43 ypc), and one of
those runs was a 9-yard carry. Six of those seven runs went for two yards or
Williams would have six more carries of three or fewer yards, giving him a
total of 12 such rushes. Only 40% of Ryan Williams’ 20 carries went for more
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