On a Saturday the BCS championship landscape drastically changed, and per-usual the ACC continued to take hits. With FSU losing at N.C. State, Miami losing to Notre Dame, and VT falling at the hands of UNC, it’ll be a wide-open race to the ACC championship game from here on.
Football is a win-now, what have you done for me lately business. So what if Orange Bowls and ten-win seasons are synonymous with your program? So what if the NFL calls your players’ names each and every year at the draft? No one cares about your pre-season ranking if you can’t go out and back it up on the field. Now, at 3-3 (1-1) for the season it’s becoming clear what type of team the 2012 VT Hokies are: average at best.
UNC’s Giovani Bernard had a career day (23 carries for 262 yards and a TD), the UNC offense was rarely challenged as the Tar Heels sent the Hokies home looking for answers; winning 48-34 Saturday afternoon.
No running back has ever fared better against a Frank Beamer/Bud Foster defense. Giovani Bernard is a talented back for sure, but he is surely not the second coming of Barry Sanders. With the running lanes that the VT defense gave Bernard, he looked like a Heisman hopeful. Giving up 48 points and 533 total yards is simply not going to cut it. The defense, for the first time in a long time, is the problem in Blacksburg.
This is the worst start for the Hokies since the 1992 season (they started 2-3-1 that year). Things are happening to Frank Beamer and Co. that just don’t happen at Virginia Tech. Like the Sean Tapley 90-yard kickoff return for a TD Saturday, the first kickoff returned for a TD against the Hokies since ’93. The Hokies don’t give up scores on special teams, they don’t allow almost 50 points, and they do not allow over 500 total yards in consecutive weeks; with teams like Clemson and FSU on the upcoming schedule this could get much worse, before it gets better.
It’s hard to say how the VT coaches can go about fixing this defense. Not only are they susceptible to the long pass, but they also can’t stop the run or get penetration into the backfield. So, when an offense is running the ball the way UNC did Saturday, the Hokie D is forced to pick their poison. Send more men up to the line of scrimmage and man up on the outside (only to get beat deep for big plays) or keep the safeties back and get gashed in the run game.
Next Saturday, with Duke coming into Lane Stadium, will be the last chance for VT to catch their collective breath. They’ll travel to Clemson, then to Miami on a Thursday night, then host FSU on a Thursday night in consecutive weeks. Those three weeks will be the Hokies season. Can they come out and take care of Duke at home to move above .500? Or will this slide turn into one of the worst seasons in Hokie history?
With as much talent as this team has on both sides of the ball it’s time to wake up and become accountable. If this team is ever going to play up to their potential the next four weeks will be the time and place to do so.
Up Next: at home against Duke, Saturday Oct. 13th @ 12:30 EST
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.