To say the Virginia Tech Hokies’ 2012 season was disappointing would be a massive understatement.
The Hokies finished the regular season with a 6-6 record, 4-4 in the ACC. If this was the SEC one could understand such a mediocre record, but the ACC isn’t to be confused with the SEC.
Since the Hokies entered the ACC in 2004, they have won five conference championships and participated in the championship game on two other occasions. Needless to say, they’ve dominated the conference for some time.
The Hokies’ overall record was their worst since 1992 when the Hokies finished 2-8-1. That was the last time the Hokies missed a bowl game.
With two straight victories to end the season, the Hokies are bowl-eligible for the 20th consecutive season. But how excited could the Virginia Tech fan base be about a trip to the Russell Athletic Bowl?
Here are five individuals who are most responsible for the Hokies struggles in 2012.
In his first season as the starting quarterback in 2011, Logan Thomas displayed steady growth as a passer. His worst game was an early-October loss to Clemson University and he bounced back with the best performance of his career the following week against the University of Miami.
However, Thomas struggled all season, beginning in the season-opener vs. Georgia Tech. While Thomas did lead the Virginia Tech Hokies to victory, he missed several opportunities throughout the game. That would be theme for his junior season.
Even in Thomas’ best performances, he’d miss several easy throws. He struggled in the intermediate passing game in particular.
While Thomas has a strong arm, he is not accurate. For the season, he completed just 52-percent of his passes and threw 14 interceptions. He completed just below 60-percent with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2011.
This has been a problem area for several years now. Even when the Virginia Tech Hokies had all-ACC right tackle Blake DeChristopher, the group struggled as a whole.
Senior offensive tackles Nick Becton and Vinston Painter have been solid for the most part. It is the interior of the line where the Hokies had the most trouble.
Junior center Andrew Miller was expected to anchor this unit, but early in the season the coaches rotated Miller with sophomore Caleb Farris. How and why do you rotate players at arguably the most important position on the offensive line?
Once Miller was lost for the season due to injury, Farris became the starter. Injuries sidelined Farris at times and senior Michael Via played center. Via also lined up at both guard spots.
Junior David Wang, the starter at left guard, also missed time due to injuries. Wang has also been inconsistent for much of the season.
The Hokies also rotated starters at right guard for much of the season with little success. The performance of this unit has allowed the Hokies little chance of developing a consistent running game.
A big part of the offensive line’s problem has been the man responsible for it. Curt Newsome, who came to Blacksburg from FCS James Madison, had very little experience at the college level as an offensive line coach.
During much of Newsome’s tenure, the Virginia Tech Hokies have had issues along the offensive line. Employing mobile quarterbacks like Bryan Randall, Marcus Vick, Tyrod Taylor and Logan Thomas, has often masked the deficiencies of this group.
A big part of the Hokies’ problems in 2012 was the rotation of the interior linemen. The offensive line, more than any position group in sports, relies on repetition and cohesion. How can a group expect to perform consistently if it is constantly changing?
The Hokies have always had a strong running game. Not in 2012. Thomas led the team with only 708 yards.
Do we sense a theme here?
Coaching, in particular the offensive staff, has been and continues to be an issue.
Virginia Tech fans and alumni have been calling for Stinespring’s dismissal for years. Stinespring, the offensive coordinator since 2002, has presided over some strong offensive units. But fans have always felt he didn’t do enough with some of the team’s more explosive players.
Frank Beamer, himself, felt the criticism as he stripped Stinespring of play-calling duties before the 2011 season, but retained him as coordinator.
Every level of the offense was a big reason for Tech’s problems in 2012. Stinespring, as the leader of this group, has to assume responsibility for this unit’s overall lack of success.
When you are the coach of a disappointing team, you have to accept responsibility.
First of all, Frank Beamer is a legend in Blacksburg. He built the program while single-handedly raising expectations. After the Virginia Tech Hokies lost to Florida State University in the BCS title game in the 1999-2000 season, Beamer had an empty trophy case built in the athletic department to hold the national championship trophy he felt would eventually go there.
Needless to say, that trophy case is still empty. In part because of the Hokies inability to win big games under Beamer. The Hokies have struggled against top-10 teams and in bowl games.
And Beamer is the coach of special teams. If anyone has watched the Hokies recently they can attest to the underwhelming performance of this unit. Special teams, aka BeamerBall, used to be a recipe for a Virginia Tech victory. Now, opposing teams generally have the upper hand in this battle.