Photo Credit: ACC Media
Virginia Tech may have been as healthy as they have been all season, but they played their worst game by far of the year with Wake Forest pouncing on Tech's sloppiness and mental mistakes.
#19 Virginia Tech was upset by Wake Forest 23-16 with the Hokies falling to 3-2 on the season and Wake improving to 3-2. With the loss, Tech is basically out of the hunt for the ACC Championship and will certainly drop out of the top 25 this week.
While Tech was clearly the more talented team, their execution was lacking and mental mistakes were aplenty. Entering today, Tech was second in the conference for fewest penalty yards, but that will drastically change after they had a horrendous 112 penalty yards on 11 penalties.
Tech also had a reverse of what happened last week against Boston College with 3 interceptions including 2 while driving into Wake Forest territory with one being a bad overthrow and the other being a slightly off pass and deflection. Combine that with a pair of missed field goals from Brian Johnson and the Hokies left way too many points on the board.
Tech's offense was more efficient than Wake's overall averaging 5.55 yards per play to 5.24 for Wake but mistakes, sloppy play, turnovers, and missed field goals were way too much to over come.
Hendon Hooker had his worst performance of the season as his accuracy seemed slightly off and it showed as he went 17-33 for 223 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions while running for 98 yards on 17 carries. Hooker made lots of good plays both through the air and on the ground but at a position that requires near perfection especially when you have penalty issues aplenty, Hooker just didn't have that highest standard that he's had other weeks.
Khalil Herbert was held under 100 rushing yards for the first time gaining 64 on 14 carries while also having 2 catches for 39 yards. Raheem Blackshear had 34 rushing yards and a 19-yard reception to pair with that.
Tre Turner led Tech's receivers with 5 catches for 61 yards in what was his best game of the season to date while James Mitchell had 3 catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. Tayvion Robinson added 3 catches for 32 yards while Nick Gallo had 3 catches for 21 yards.
Defensively, Chamarri Conner once again led the way with 10 tackles including one for loss. Rayshard Ashby had one of his best games of the season with 7 tackles including 2 for loss, 1 of which was a sack, while Amare Barno had 6 tackles including a team-high 3 for loss.
Jarrod Hewitt led Tech with 1.5 sacks but had a third quarter targeting that was borderline followed by a bad unsportsmanlike conduct that helped get Wake in field goal range, and get points. His targeting came in the 2nd half and will cause him to miss the first half next week at Louisville.
Tech's defense has shown some improvement as they've gotten healthier in recent weeks with holding Wake under 5.5 yards per play being a good sign, but there is still room to grow and there were still some bad mental errors including Hewitt's unsportsmanlike conduct and Norell Pollard's roughing that was light, but late and avoidable.
At the end of the day, Virginia Tech was not prepared well enough or mentally focused enough to win this football game with the penalties, sloppy play, and turnovers being symptoms of that. That starts with Justin Fuente and his coaching staff especially given the fact that Tech has been getting healthier with only Jermaine Waller being out among starters today. It's the coaches job to make sure their players are ready to play and mentally focused, both of which seemed to be lacking in a sloppy, lackadaisical performance.
With the loss, Tech is basically out of the ACC Championship race and for a team that returned so much talent and brought in a breakout Heisman contender in Khalil Herbert, that is unacceptable 5 games into the season. You can blame the unique circumstances of this situation as well to an extent, but this team has been getting healthier and had more consistency with who is available yet somehow regressed in a big way. That can't happen with a team this talented and experienced.