There was a confidence and optimism in Blacksburg this week after the Hokies’ 28-13 victory over N.C. State that Virginia Tech might be able to go on a run, and win the ACC Coastal. The question was whether the Hokies could play as well as they did in the final three quarters against N.C. State for the rest of the season?
The answer was no today.
Virginia Tech suffered a disappointing loss to Miami 30-20 due in large part to four turnovers and a disappointing pass defense. This game saw the return of Michael Brewer after Brenden Motley threw his second interception of the day.
Brenden Motley made his fair share of good plays, but also had three turnovers that started with an awful fumble early to give Miami the ball on the 3 before the Canes capitalized on the next play. Motley made some bad decisions in this game and could have had three interceptions in this game.
Travon McMillian had a big game with 16 carries for 99 rushing yards though a late fumble was nearly very costly for the Hokies, and caused a 17-yard loss. Michael Brewer came in and made some plays for the Hokies including some big passes to lead them down the field on a touchdown drive.
Brewer played well in his limited time until a late interception by Miami’s Artie Burns, his second of the game, sealed the game for the Hurricanes. Brewer is a more consistent passer than Motley, and has the touch that Motley doesn’t have.
Brewer will be the guy again going forward while Motley gave it all he could in what may be his last start for the Hokies as long as Brewer stays healthy with Dwayne Lawson being the future in 2016.
McMillian had a standout game outside of his fumble with what was about to be his first career 100-yard rushing game until his fumble. McMillian is only going to continue to get better and is a big reason why the Hokies’ offense has the potential to be very good with the right coaching next season.
Isaiah Ford made some big plays and is continuing to prove why he an All-ACC First Team caliber WR after having four catches for 76 receiving yards and a touchdown. Cam Phillips, Bucky Hodges, and Ryan Malleck all made some plays today as well, and there is plenty of reason for optimism with the Hokie passing attack with Brewer healthy.
The Virginia Tech rush defense stepped up in this game and limited Miami’s top two running backs to averages of 3.2 and 3.1 yards per carry. This is the Virginia Tech rush defense that everybody expected to see from the beginning and should continue to play well over the coming weeks.
Outside of a costly offsides call, Luther Maddy had another strong game with 7 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and a sack as Maddy continues to be a serious All-ACC First Team contender. Andrew Motuapuaka is getting back in rhythm, and is showing some improvement with 10 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 2 pass breakups.
Virginia Tech’s secondary had a rough day as Brad Kaaya threw for 296 passing yards with plenty of big plays. Chuck Clark did not have a great day in man coverage with Miami’s Stacy Coley beating him in man coverage multiple times.
Kaaya also took advantage of some good matchups when Miami got one of their receivers up against either Adonis Alexander, or linebackers Deon Clarke and Andrew Motuapuaka. Alexander still has a long way to go in man coverage, but is making progress while Clarke and Motuapuaka just don’t have the speed to stay up with Miami’s speedy wide receivers.
Other than a couple of pass interference penalties, Brandon Facyson was once again solid in this game and is a contender and seems likely to receive some sort of All-ACC recognition after the season with a first team being a possibility. Mook Reynolds has a bright future, and showed a lot of potential though he wasn’t perfect in this game today.
At the end of the day, this was a disappointing game for the Hokies that they found ways to give away. Bud Foster’s defense had its fair share of issues and gave up almost 400 total yards while the offense had four costly turnovers that made the task a lot harder than it should have been.
With every loss, it seems more and more likely that this will be Frank Beamer’s last season in Blacksburg. Even if the Hokies go on a tear to end the season, this most likely will be Beamer’s final season as head coach as while Beamer will go down as one of the best of his era, he has lost his edge and it has shown a lot over the last four seasons.
Hopefully, the Hokies can end this season in at least a decent way with a bowl game, and Beamer can end his tenure at a bowl game along with a peaceful retirement instead of a messy ending similar to what happened at Florida State with Bobby Bowden.
The key now for the Hokies is to bounce back, and come out with desperation against a Duke team that will be looking to begin its rise up the top 25 over the next few weeks, and solidify their spot as ACC Coastal favorites.