Over the past few weeks, I've guaranteed a very large number of people that we would come away from this game with a win. How could we not? Thursday night at home, whiteout, major celebration at hand, Virginia Tech's been unimpressive at best so far this year...what could go wrong?
A lot, apparently. I was dead wrong about this game.
Let's start with the good. The defense played a solid game, I thought. Of Virginia Tech's 17 points, I really thought they only earned 7 of them. They had a great 91 yard touchdown drive early on in the first quarter, but that came after a 2-play, 27 yard touchdown drive, and preceded an 8-play, 26 yard drive that resulted in a field goal. Three scoring drives. One of them was the Hokies really earning it. The rest of the night, Tech's defense was very stout. Of Virginia Tech's 11 drives, 8 of them ended after 5 plays or less, with 7 of those yielding no points. They gave up a lot of yards, especially though the air, but really are developing a good "bend, not break" attitude. I'm excited about them going forward.
I wish I didn't have to talk about everything else.
The offense was out of sync the entire game. There never came a point where they were just firing on all cylinders. Of their 11 drives, only 4 went more than 5 plays. They turned it over on each of their first two drives, once deep in their own territory, and the other bringing a halt to a drive that was going well (9 plays, 51 yards). Vad Lee was not good passing, going 7/24 for 144 yards and 2 INTs. The protection wasn't particularly good, but Vad missed quite a few open receivers and threw some poorly placed balls in general.
I thought he wasn't helped much by the play calling. I understand trying to establish the option game, and I think doing so pays big dividends over the course of a game, but I hate the idea of trying it, failing at it, trying at it some more, failing at it some more, and then refusing to just let it go and change the strategy. Part of this, to me at least, is the formations we were lining up in. If you're passing from under center, you're at least trying to create the illusion that you might run. Problem is, when you're down 7 with under 10 minutes to go and you've barely broken 100 yards rushing, why would you continue to try and make anyone think you can run the ball effectively. I'd much rather put Vad in the pistol, where he's much more comfortable, line up 4 wide and start the play ready to pass.
Oh, and let's not forget the penalties. Coach Johnson was clearly trying to change the rhythm of the snap count early on, which was a clever wrinkle, but had it backfire when the players were clearly uncomfortable with the concept and couldn't stay still for long enough. There were a ton of false starts, far too many for a team playing at home. It also looked like we were running a lot of plays from the base set, but with both receivers to one side, where the A-Back on that side moves up to be on the line (because of formation rules). That led to some pretty constant confusion as well, and created a penalty on Tech's last drive when Robert Godhigh was trying to get on the line at the moment that the ball was snapped (good for an illegal motion penalty -- declined because Vad sailed a ball over an open Darren Waller). Tech committed 9 penalties for 66 yards as a team, and the only one that wasn't majorly preventable was a pass interference called against Louis Young.
I want to give credit to Virginia Tech. They played an extremely clean game offensively, offering up no opportunities for Georgia Tech's defense to turn the momentum in their own favor. The Hokies' offense wasn't phenomenal, but they were good enough, and most importantly they didn't lose the game.
Georgia Tech took this game, put it on a silver platter, offered it to the Hokies, and Virginia Tech took it. This falls somewhere between "Georgia Tech got beat" and "Georgia Tech downright lost", but I think that Virginia Tech did way too much well for it to be completely the latter.
Luckily we get a few extra days to process here, because it might end up being a very rough trip to Coral Gables next weekend.
Thoughts, Tech fans? Who's at fault? Did VPI win, or did Tech lose?