Virginia Tech Blown Out By Pittsburgh 28-7 as Offense Struggles Again

Virginia Tech Blown Out By Pittsburgh 28-7 as Offense Struggles Again
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas | @TimThomasTLP

TLP: Editor
Oct 16, 2021

The Justin Fuente era truly appears to be on its final breaths after an offensive first half nightmare kept an admirable defensive performance from giving the Hokies any sort of chance to take down Pittsburgh with that defense wearing down over the game and Pitt taking advantage.

Virginia Tech lost to Pittsburgh 28-7 to fall to 3-3 on the season including 1-1 in ACC play with the Panthers improving to 5-1 including 2-0 in ACC play. Tech may be in theory only 1 game back (2 in reality given the Pitt tiebreaker) in the ACC Coastal, but it's hard to imagine this Tech team putting up much of a fight with their offensive struggles.

Tech's offense was poor to say the least as the Hokies only had 3 of their 13 drives reach Pittsburgh territory. Meanwhile, their first half was absolutely awful as they had only 4 first downs and 74 yards of total offense while averaging 2.2 yards per play with 5 3 and outs and only 1 drive reach Pitt territory (hint: it wasn't the one that started at the 50).

The Tech offense finished the game averaging only 3.7 yards per play, an inexcusably low number in modern day college football and still way too low in many eras prior to this high scoring one.

Tech's defense did put up an admirable fight with the Hokies holding Pittsburgh to 5.5 yards per play in the first half, the type of performance that should be good enough in many cases to be right in it and especially should be the case in year 6 of a Justin Fuente era that promised to bring an offensive revolution to Blacksburg.

Tech was able to get a good amount of pressure on Kenny Pickett though Pickett showed great veteran poise escaping the pocket time and time again. Tech's pass coverage was also fairly solid holding Pickett to only 203 passing yards while Tech's rush defense has some work to do as they allowed 4.7 yards per carry including 140 yards on 21 carries to speedy Israel Abanikanda. Overall, holding Pitt to 5.1 yards per play and under 30 points (and 40 points) for the first time this season is quite impressive.

Braxton Burmeister is definitely a fighter, but it was a brutal day passing for him as he was 11-32 for 134 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT after he went 5-9 passing in the first quarter. Burmeister did add some scrambling for some of Tech's best offense but the Fuente talk that this would be Tech's passing offense since 2016 are the exact opposite of reality with Burmeister's shoulder injury likely exaggerating those issues.

Tre Turner became the eighth Hokie to break 2,000 receiving yards with 3 catches for 73 yards while Tayvion Robinson had 5 catches for 20 yards and a TD, and Da'Wain Lofton had a 29-yard reception. Malachi Thomas led the Hokies with 33 rushing yards thanks to some garbage time success.

Nasir Peoples led the Hokies with 11 tackles while Amare Barno had a strong performance with 9 tackles and 3 QB hurries. Jordan Williams also played well with 6 tackles including 1.5 for loss (1 sack) while Armani Chatman had 8 tackles and 2 pass breakups. Jermaine Waller had 2 tackles, but missed the second half due to a foot injury and was seen on the sideline in a boot.

Virginia Tech's defense played fairly well, but the offense continued to be a nightmare with playcalling and a lack of offensive identity continuing to be the biggest issue in Blacksburg. The fact that this offense has absolutely no identity in year 6 of the Justin Fuente era, an era that was supposed to bring an offensive revolution to Blacksburg is atrocious.

Yes, the offense played slightly better in the second half, but this was a day where we saw what happens when you have good coaching as shown by the admirable, solid defensive performance which was wasted by Tech's offensive struggles leading to a worn down defense by the end of the half and fourth quarter.

Tech's offensive issues are plenty starting with a clear lack of any identity about what they are trying to do. Combine that with a failure to develop and properly keep the best quarterbacks (ex. Hendon Hooker), use some varied route concepts to give their receivers a chance, make consistently good playcalls, stick with advanced concepts, and more.

At the end of the day, Tech has incompetence not only on offense but at the top with a man who's failure to make changes and implement an offensive identity will almost certainly be his downfall in no more than 6 weeks.