These were my words when reviewing the Marshal game. Sitting at the tailgate, these words kept echoing in my head. I knew that defensively we'd be challenged. I knew that offensively, despite what MadJay and many of you other SuperFans have been saying, Logan Thomas has not shown much promise.
The game was clearly a game of an oversized, faster, more athletic team wearing down their opponent. However, in doing so they failed to do what is truly important in games like this.
Again, I will reiterate that I saw Logan Thomas improving throughout the first four games. But I never saw him truly challenged. He never once saw a secondary that covered his receivers well enough that by the time he looked off his first, second, third options, he was in trouble from the incoming pressure.
While that may work for the Dallas, the Cowboys have a field goal kicker worth a damn. For that matter they have a punter worth a damn as well.
There's a lot that went into this loss. Very little of it goes towards the players and some of the plays they made. Jarrett Boykin tipped a pass giving the ball up to Xavier Brewer after the Hokies drove down field. David Wilson, who I know is kicking himself for it, fumbled after another good drive. Scott Demler for dropping the ball during a punt and lets face it for not really belong as a punter in a top-tier program. The secondary for being out of position on three big plays that led to the touchdowns.
- Tajh Boyd's pass to Sammy Watkins for 23 yards. This play was due to blown coverage. I could clearly see the secondary yelling to the sidelines and each other not knowing where to be.
- When Boyd hit Dwayne Allen, Jeron Gouveia-Winslow could be seen waving off the pressure and moved into man coverage. JGW had his man tight, but Eddie Whitley was playing Allen way too softly.
- Mike Bellamy's run for 31 yards for the last touchdown was clearly a result of one tired offense that had been on the field a lot despite the fact that Virginia Tech controlled the clock with nearly 35 minutes of possession.
But outside of those three plays, the defense played lights out. This was an amazing display against a very formidable offense that just had a little more gas than they did at the end.
No, the blame for this loss is clearly on three groups of people. The first group is the couches. Offensively, the play calling was suspect at best.
The first play call that I'd love to mention was the decision to punt from the Clemson 32-yard line. Demler is about as accurate as a drunk blind man who just spun around on a bar stool for twenty minutes. Yes, your defense is killing it, but the best that you will get punting is a punt inside the ten. The worst you'd get with a field goal attempt or even going for the first down is giving them position at the 32. (Unlike the NFL, the ball is placed at the line of scrimmage after a missed field goal.)
From the 32-yard line, Justin Myer would have been looking at a 49-yard field goal. Sure the conditions were wet, but at least he would get a shot. Better yet, keep the offense on the field and try to get the first down. Either decision would have been better than punting.
Throughout the game, there were many head scratching decisions made. MadJay mentions the false start penalty on a 3rd and 2 after a Clemson timeout. A bigger slip up was the play calling on the previous play. With the ball inside the 2-yard line on 2nd down, with momentum on our side, instead of punching it straight up the middle, with the conditions wet and slippery, the play call took the ball to the outside where Wilson actually ended up out of bounds a little behind the line of scrimmage.
The second group that just leaves you head scratching is the entire special teams unit. Demler's punts went for 28, 32 (net 12), 35, 11, 28, 29, 29, and 44 yards for an average of 27 yards. Demler's average of 33.1 yards makes him the 144th best punter out of 159 currently playing in FBS. To compare, Dawson Zimmerman's average over 8 punts was 41.375.
Punting aside, kick returning is something that really needs help. Kyshoen Jarrett not only had trouble holding on to the ball but Jayron Hosley is a bit directionally challenged. The east-west running for net losses needs to stop. This wasn't the first game where he's done it.
And now this brings me to the last group that I blame for this loss. Those that cheer and those leading those that cheer. First, the cheerleaders only led the fans in one rendition of "LETS GO" "HOKIES". ONE! Once! AND IT WAS BEFORE THE PLAYERS WERE ON THE FIELD! It was clear from the start that the fans were cold, wet, and miserable. They needed to cheer and they needed to be led in cheer.
Outside of the cheerleaders, I am still disappointed in our fans. Yes, I know it would have been nice to see some razzle dazzle to juice up the crowd, but it works both way folks. We needed to juice up the players as well. I spent all game focusing my yelling directionally at Tahj Boyd but felt there wasn't the rumble around me. There wasn't the rumble that I felt and heard in that 2003 Miami game that, since suffering significant hearing loss, now requires me to wear hearing protection to games.
In closing, I would like to directly address Mr. David Wilson. Keep your head in the game son. Remember, your goals in regards to the fumbles. Remember all of your goals for this year. That play you made for 19 yards after you almost lost 25 yard was AMAZING! Just don't friggin' do it again!
Go Hokies! Beat Miami!