It has been a tough season fans. Tougher than many can remember. The Hokies have struggled to gain any traction this season. Both sides of the ball have been not that good and have given fans plenty of things to gripe about this year.
Pitt was another example of a winnable game the Hokies let get out of hand. Some poor execution and being in the wrong place cost the team dearly as Pitt went on to have a record setting day.
I as a fan was left scratching my head as to what I had just witnessed and I felt sick for the players on the field as I can see they were giving it their all, but it was just not enough. I wondered how to shape this article to help fans through this terrible season, to be as upbeat as possible about the team. Quickly, as I thought about what I was going to write, I decided that the fan base needed the truth.
The Good: Yes, There is Good From This Awful Game
Even in this terrible game there was a slight glimmer of hope for fans. Ryan Willis is becoming a valuable asset as a signal caller. Willis completed 22 passes for 231 yards and 3 scores. Honestly, he should have had a few more yards and perhaps another touchdown pass, as several of his receivers dropped very catchable passes. Willis is learning to spread the ball around, which is making him an even more dangerous quarterback.
By working off of his favorite receiver, Willis is able to make better plays and create a very formidable passing attack for the Hokies. This is a skill he has improved upon from week to week, which should be a welcome sight to fans.
Another trait Willis is starting to develop is a toughness and willingness to do whatever it takes to win. This is what I am most excited about with Willis. I know the result has not been what anyone has wanted, but you can not argue with me about liking a quarterback that will go and get you the tough yards on 3rd, and in last Saturday’s game, 4th down.
Willis led the team in rushing on Saturday with many of those yards coming via tough runs to move the sticks and keep drives alive. When Josh Jackson is able to come back, Ryan Willis has given Justin Fuente a very tough decision at the quarterback position.
The Bad: The Defense has More Holes Than Swiss Cheese
Like I stated earlier, Pitt haD a record setting day against the Lunch Pail Defense. A defense which has been decimated by attrition. The attrition is somewhat due to dealing with the injury bug which has bitten the Hokies early and often. Also, there have been some departures caused by off the field issues. Fans have a right to be upset about the off-the-field issues.
However, I would rather have a coach get rid of a problem rather than have the NCAA step in and force the program to do more than just get rid of the problem player. That being said, the defense is not up to the standards of the the Hokies or the standards of their long term defensive coordinator.
Foster takes ownership of it though. He stated in the press conference after the loss where Pitt amassed a staggering 654 yards where almost 500 of those came on the ground that the team flat our got whipped and the blame for that started with him.
Trust me, Foster takes pride in his craft and this season has been trying for him as one can only think the injuries have handicapped his play-calling ability. You simply can not run the same coverage and blitz packages when your personnel changes so much. Players will be out of position, and in the case of Saturday’s game, the unit will give up multiple big plays. The defense gave up at least 6 plays of over 40 yards. A team can not do this and expect to win games.
Granted the unit is young but that stopped being an excuse weeks ago. Foster and company just need to have pride and compete as hard as they can, but at the same time, be disciplined which they not been. The defense can not give up near as many yards if the Hokies hope to have any chance at winning their last two games.
The Ugly: Now Its Really Truth Time
Believe it or not, their is a worse part than the defensive performance. In fact I believe it is loads worse. It is the attitude of the fan base. Hear me out folks. Has the team played terrible at times this year? Yes. Has the season been a disappointment after week one? Yes. Are the two streaks fans are most proud of about to come to an end? Possibly, I give it a 65 percent chance to happen right now.
Should we fire the whole staff and start over? Lord no! Trust me fans, you have every right to be angry, disappointed, and downright despondent, but that does not mean Whit Babcock should stroll in to Fuente’s office and tell him to get to stepping. I will agree some changes to how things are handled do need to be considered.
The offensive playcalling is probably the biggest issue right now for the coaching staff. Fuente is supposed to be an offensive wizard, but it might be time for him to start showing us some of his power. I personally would like to see Fuente take a bigger role in calling plays. I am in no means calling for Brad Cornelson’s job, I make it a point to not do such things, but his offensive calls have been very perplexing to say the least.
For instance, the use of Quincy Patterson. I understand the new redshirt rule makes it very attractive to trot Patterson out there to get game experience, but doing it just to be doing it is not a smart call. Not only does everyone in the country know what is coming when Patterson takes the field, but in some cases, it is detrimental to the flow of the offense. Why mess with the unit that has gotten you down the field.
This is a logical train of thought which I can not fault. However, fans wanting blood and putting for sale signs in coach’s lawns like other programs have been known to do should not be tolerated. We as a fan base are better than that. Support our team through the good times and and bad, but do it with the knowledge if we could do any better we would be hired as a coach somewhere.
All things considered, I believe the Hokies have the potential to turn it around. Whether they do or not is yet to be seen. The path is daunting and isn’t going to be easy, but nothing that is worth anything in life ever is. I hope next week, the tune of this article will be better as we are coming off a win against Miami and are closer to keeping this teams name on the right side of history for the Hokies. Until next time LETS GO HOKIES!!!!