Well Hokie fans, last Saturday was extremely disappointing. The Hokies went into the Carrier Dome in control of their ACC destiny. Granted, they are still in control of their destiny, but it is far less certain. The Hokies were honestly outplayed in every aspect on Saturday. Syracuse had a great game plan, and some very unfortunate breaks cost the Hokies any chance of coming back to grab a conference win. Amid all this terrible play, there were a few good plays which could be built on. However, if I was Justin Fuente, I would burn last week’s game tape.
I was always taught in all losses, there is always something a team can take away as a positive. This game was so bad that it was really hard to find a good part of the game. Fans, I think I did find a good part though.
Though the scoreboard does not show it, the offense did play well. The offense put up 468 yards of total offense, which in most cases is enough to win you a lot of games. Jerod Evans threw for over 300 yards in the loss. Even with a balanced rushing attack to go along with the passing, some costly mistakes stalled many drives. The offense is a far cry from what most Hokie fans are accustom to in the past.
It is safe to say the Justin Fuente offense is rounding into form as the season goes on. Even with some mistakes, it is safe to say this offense has the potential to explode at any time. The question is can the Hokies keep up this torrid pace? Also, it is important to find out if the Hokies can continue to improve on the offensive side of the ball, and become a scoring juggernaut to go along with the staunch defense they already possess.
I just finished saying the Hokies possessed a very staunch defense. However, this defense decided to stay in Blacksburg this last weekend. The Hokies’ defense gave up an eye-popping 561 yards of total offense. This is an extremely high number, even for an explosive offense such as Syracuse. That’s right folks, their offense is very good, and is capable of big days. However, Saturday’s game was just as much a product of poor effort and discipline as it was Syracuse being explosive.
That being said, Syracuse did have two very big plays which resulted in scores including one from a deep pass that went for a touchdown on their opening drive where it looked like blown coverage by Mook Reynolds. I believe he thought he had help over the top, but that was not the case at all. The next was a half back pass that was executed to perfection. Every one of the back end players was sucked up by the toss action which left the Syracuse receiver running free to the end zone.
The defense was not only poor on the deep plays, but on short downs as well. Syracuse was exceptional on fourth down, and these were not fourth and inches. It seemed the Hokies were concerned about being burnt deep again. On these downs Syracuse slanted the Hokies to death.
The last lapse on the defense came with containing the Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey. Dungey just added to the belief the Hokies are unable to stop running quarterbacks. Time and time again, Dungey used his legs to escape the front line rush and turn a negative play into positive yards.
Time and time again, there was no QB spy even on obvious running downs for the QB. Was this a lack of adjustment by Bud Foster, or was it just him being just too trustworthy in his team’s ability to maintain gap assignments? The fact is adjustments will need to be made or teams are just going to keep spreading us out, and running the quarterback up the middle.
Face it Hokie fans, there was a lot of bad and ugly parts of this game. Like I said before, I would be in favor of just burning the tape before showing it. However, two really ugly parts jump to mind. First, the penalty situation, not the amount, but the timing of them. The Hokies committed 7 fouls for 53 yards, which was actually less than Syracuse committed. However, these penalties came at the worst times with one taking a score off the board for the Hokies.
Another, if it hadn’t been for a goal line stand by the defense, would have led to a score. Both of these penalties were at best suspect in nature. There were many times it seemed the penalties were either terrible no calls or phantom. I don’t like blaming refs, because in the grand scheme of things they control very little of the outcome. However, this game seemed to be affected by their presence more than usual.
The second ugly was the turnovers. Now you might say the Hokies only had two turnovers, that isn’t terrible. However, the timing of these turnovers could not come at worse times. Both were by Hokie signal caller Jerod Evans. Evans threw a pick inside the 5-yard line that definitely took points off the board. Evans needs to make a better decision in this case by either throwing the ball away, or turning the ball up field and getting what he can.
The fumble Evans had was late in the game, as the Hokies were trying desperately to get back into the game. Evans once again was trying to do too much. He was stripped of the ball while trying to get more yards. Evans was not holding onto the ball with two hands. These mistakes will need to be corrected if the Hokies hope to take down Miami on Thursday.
Miami rolls into town tomorrow, and all these aspects have to be corrected. The penalties need to be next to none, and turnovers need to be non-existent. If these aspects don’t get corrected, the Hokies could be in for a long Thursday night once again.
The offense is going to be fine, and the defense will need to be more disciplined than ever. Miami offense presents a whole new set of challenges that I believe the Hokies are more than up to. Blacksburg is a magical place on Thursday nights, and magic seems to find the Hokies a lot when they play the Hurricanes. This game represents a stepping stone back in the right direction. I think Justin Fuente will have his team more prepared than on last Saturday. As always Hokie fans, LETS GO HOKIES!!!!!