Louisville Review: What Virginia Tech Did Well

Virginia Tech
It was a tough day at the office for Virginia Tech on Saturday, but the Hokies did some things well. (Ivan Morozov)

I guess I’m riding a wave of Frank Beamer zen these days, because I don’t think this loss is as bad as it seems. I didn’t watch it live, which probably helps, but I think the main thing for me is that we’ve already seen this. An inconsistent Tech team looked unsettled/unsound and got whomped on the road by the second or third good team (depending on how you feel about Rutgers) on the schedule, with the points of failure already on the record. As a fan, I’m all about seeing this team fight its way to “average” now, and then building off that in ‘24.

Watching the tracker and reading the boards, I thought the Hokies might’ve looked like a catcher’s mitt again, but I think they went after Louisville. The playbook stuff looked good: the offense didn’t pack it in, and it had some wrinkles with Tuten out wide and combined run concepts, while the defense played downhill and tried to put the game on Plummer’s shoulders. The problems were more on the focus/ execution/talent end of things down on the field.

To their credit, Louisville had a plan that respected the Hokies. They risked using Plummer as a runner, they had their screens and quick passes dialed up for the blitz, they knew their Iso game was likely to click, and they let their front four have at it. The Cards were also ready to play—they were coming off a slobber-knocker against Duke and looked banged up (and turned out to be), yet they were more cohesive, focused, and well-prepared than I expected.

Sure, Tech struggled. But is it surprising that they struggled in a hostile environment against the #13 team in the country? And were any of the struggles new? Drones has had his share of iffy moments, it’s just that Louisville was the first team to make him pay in a while…and in some ways, I think he elevated his play a little over what we’ve seen recently. Tech often has freshmen running from guard to tight end on the left, and then sometimes another freshman over on the right, so it’s no surprise the pass protection had issues. And most of the defensive breakdowns were familiar.