As soon as the score went final, a 35-17 Pitt win, I couldn’t help but chuckle. I had predicted the correct final score in a Virginia Tech game, history had been made…too bad I got it backwards. Pitt looked like a completely different team than the Panthers we saw lose in weeks one and two. They dominated the point of attack all game long, ran the ball down the Hokie’s throats, and made all the big plays they needed to hold VT at bay. Now Frank Beamer needs to go back to the drawing board to keep his team competitive; neither side of the ball earned their lunch on Saturday.
The Hokie’s went into Pitt riding the nation’s longest road winning streak with 13 straight victories away from Lane Stadium. The way the Panthers struggled against Youngstown State and Cincinnati during the first two weeks of the season, it seemed as though VT would cruise to their third win as they try to round into form…not so much.
Pitt QB Tino Sunseri passed for 282 yards and 3 TD’s, but everything the Panthers stemmed from their ability to run the ball whenever and wherever they wanted. The Hokie D stood no chance as they allowed Pitt to run for 254 yards (4.6 per attempt); freshman RB Rushel Shell led the Panthers with 157 bruising yards while Senior RB Ray Graham scored three times, twice on the ground and once through the air, to set the tone for Paul Chryst’s newfound offense.
The Panthers were in total control for most of the game, up 21-0 until a late 2nd quarter field goal spoiled the shut out. Their offense had the look of a big time college program, their offensive and defensive lines were dominant while making the Hokies look inexperienced, undisciplined, and downright bad at times.
For the Hokie offense there’s not much to say. QB Logan Thomas continues to struggle with his accuracy and decision making. He finished the game 14/31 for 265 yards with one touchdown and 3 INT’s, the touchdown coming from an 85-yard Marcus Davis catch-and-run (the Hokies lone big play on offense). If not for Kysheon Jarret’s 94-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the third quarter the game could’ve been a lot more one-sided.
The Hokies only touchdowns came off big plays, no consistency from the running game will do that. Once again a non-running back led the Hokies in rushing, Logan Thomas with 28 yards. Without a run game the play-action pass was ineffective, and without big plays from the passing game the VT offense was dormant. On a day when the defense didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, the young offense showed signs of growing pains and the Hokies paid for it with their first loss of the season.
A running back has yet to set themself apart as the Hokie lead-back, the receivers are beginning to develop into a solid core but need time, the offensive line is in shambles, and the pre-season All-ACC QB looks like anything but the first-round NFL draft pick he’s been touted as. Virginia Tech may be in more trouble than originally thought. This offense needs a kick start, fast, before the usual ACC powers enter the picture.
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.