Ready or Not, Here Comes Clemson

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Tech pulled out a comfortable 20-point win at Marshall yesterday, and the outcome was never in doubt. Still, things aren’t operating as crisply as we would like, and Tech has just one week of practice to get things right before undefeated Clemson rolls to Blacksburg sky high off two wins over Auburn and Florida State.

You can nitpick and find plenty of things wrong with Virginia Tech, just like you can do with most teams. However, the two problems that stand out to me are special teams and the inability to convert scoring opportunities into points. If those things aren’t corrected, Virginia Tech will drop a game or two, no question.

Special Teams Not So Special

If you’ve followed Virginia Tech football long enough, you already know the first joke Frank Beamer will make on tomorrow night’s Tech Talk Live …

“Well, I think maybe we need to fire the special teams coach.”

Everyone will laugh, but that doesn’t cover up the fact that the Tech special teams are not playing well right now. We’ve seen missed field goals, shanked punts, a blocked extra point and below average kickoff coverage. Yesterday, we saw something we’ve never seen before … Justin Myer skipping his kickoffs like a rock on a pond.

All of those things didn’t come back to haunt Virginia Tech on Saturday. They beat Marshall comfortably. Easily, even. However, they will absolutely come back to haunt Tech against Clemson, Miami, or Georgia Tech.

The Hokies need to shore up their special teams for a couple of reasons. First, when you have a young quarterback who is starting for the first time, every yard of field position helps. Second, when you have a defense as good as Virginia Tech’s, you have an opportunity to really smother opponents with good special teams play. The goal should be to make them have to drive the length of the field against the defense.

Cody Journell is in his first season as Virginia Tech’s starting placekicker, and he has been up and down. Journell is 4-of-7 on the season, with a long of 41 yards. He’s got the leg, but he has missed from 30, 37 and 40 in the first four games of the season. The Hokies are used to their kickers being automatic from inside 40 yards, and they aren’t getting that kind of production from Journell.

Think about it … on a scale of 1-10, how confident are you that Journell could make a game-winning kick from around 40 yards?