The Hokies are off until next Thursday night’s huge game at Georgia Tech. Just like the team, I like to use the time off to reflect, recover, and look ahead.
In all honesty Virginia Tech’s season has gone about as well as I thought it would; maybe a little better in fact. Granted, they don’t have that signature win and the only quality opponent they’ve faced beat them by 20 in Blacksburg, but the team has won eight of the nine games they’ve played. They’re breaking in a young quarterback and a new offensive line; there were always going to be some growing pains.
This may be Frank Beamer’s best coaching job to date. This team was in the Orange Bowl last year with a plethora of talent on offense. For once, the offense was the story in Blacksburg and the defense wasn’t holding up their end of the bargain.
The Hokies made a point in years passed to play teams that would challenge (and ultimately beat) them in Alabama and Boise State. This year, knowing they would struggle out of the gate Beamer and his staff put together a more favorable early schedule. After crushing Appalachian State (66-13) in their season opener they limped along against ECU (17-10), Arkansas State (26-7), and Marshall (30-10). The victories weren’t dominant, and the offense was sometimes stagnant, but they were improving.
Then came the 23-3 loss at home to Clemson. Looking back on that game, on how poorly the Hokie offense played, it could have been a lot worse if not for the improved VT defense. As we all know now 23 points is not a lot for the high-flying Clemson Tigers, and although they won the game and continued their undefeated season (GT just handed them their first loss), had the Hokie offense put up some points against Clemson’s questionable defense that game could have gone much differently.
Something happened after the Clemson game. Call it a miracle, a wake-up shot, good coaching, or dumb luck…the offense and QB Logan Thomas started moving the ball through the air! In the week following the Clemson game the Hokies hosted the Miami Hurricanes in what turned out to be one of the more entertaining games in all of College Football’s 2011 season. The Hokies won 38-35 on a last minute scamper by Thomas and from there the offense awoke.
Win’s over Wake Forest (38-17) and Boston College (30-14) would follow as Thomas and, or course, RB David Wilson kept the offense on a roll. Last week’s game at Duke (14-10 win) was reminiscent of some of VT’s early games; the offense couldn’t score or move with any consistency as the Hokies counted on their 8th nationally ranked defense to win the game for them. They won that game and will have to count on their defense in the future, but the offense has to be the catalyst from here on out.
I’ll save the predictions for Thursday night’s game and beyond for future posts.
Playing at Georgia Tech has proved to be disastrous in the past for many teams; just ask Clemson. The triple-option isn’t easy to defend but if there’s one defense in the ACC to stop it, it’s VT. The defense will play up to the standard they’ve set for themselves for the rest of the season; it’s the inconstant offense I’ll be watching. Thomas has done some great things in his first year as a starter; he’s proved me wrong time and again. What I’m looking for is constant improvement, no more regression. David Wilson is the type of back you can lean on late in games (as long as he holds on to the football). Thomas has the tools around him to win the Coastal Division this season, he just needs to trust in his ability.
At #23 GeorgiaTech (7-2, 4-2) on Thursday Night Football, at home against UNC (6-3, 2-3) on Thursday Night Football, and at UVA (5-3, 2-2) in the Commonwealth Challenge is the remaining schedule to close the regular season out.
It’s easily the toughest stretch in the Hokies season. They’ll either emerge from the pack as Coastal Division Champions and move on for the likely re-match with Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, or they’ll falter down the stretch and look towards a mid-level Bowl Game and next season.
Only time will tell, but it’ll be fun to watch.
About the Author
Written by Frank Sullivan
Frank is a graduate of Old Dominion University, sports fan, author, and founder of TheBloosh.com. He's been working with prosportsblogging.com since April 2011, and has covered the Chicago Bulls, Baltimore Ravens, Virginia Tech Hokies Football, and the Washington Wizards. Frank can be reached @franksullivan on twitter.