After a rough start to the opening of the season in Atlanta, the Hokies ran into another rough patch in the same city.
Overall, the Hokies have looked very good this year, and their offense has been a pleasant surprise for many. However, their defense has a lot of room for improvement. (Wait, is that right?) Tech should just avoid scheduling games in and around the Atlanta area for the foreseeable future.
Here's the Hokies' Mid-Term report card:
Compared to other seasons, the Hokies should have an A in this category. But overall this season they have had a lot of good moments and some bad.
Offensively, Tech looked like the same team we have seen the past three seasons after their opening game against Alabama. The time of possession was dominated by Alabama (37-plus minutes) and Ryan Williams was the only bright spot for the offense.
The Hokies responded nicely the following week against Marshall, but then reverted to old form, until the final drive, against Nebraska. Since that point, Tech's offense has been formidable and, for once, they weren't the main reason for the team's defeat against Georgia Tech.
Virginia Tech's defense has been average at best, and inconsistent throughout much of the season. Rushing defense has been their biggest weakness, as exposed by Georgia Tech, who ran for over 300 yards on the Hokies.
Though the defense is very young in the middle, there's no reason for your starters to be missing tackles and allowing so many big plays through the air. Maybe it looks worse than it actually is because of past years' success, but the Hokies have a lot of work to do on the defensive side of the ball.
Excluding this past weekend, when was the last time a Virginia Tech defense was solely responsible for the team's loss?
Special Teams: A
Should this section be titled "Special Teams" or "Dyrell Roberts?" Either way, the Hokies' special teams has once again been one of their strongest qualities.
Roberts is a beast on kickoffs, true freshman Jayron Hosley has been very good on punt returns, and the Hokies have done a pretty good job of defending and blocking punts and kicks of the opposing squad.
Bryan Stinespring, Virginia Tech's offensive coordinator, has been very impressive in his play calling so far this season, and maybe that can be attributed to more experience on offense.
Bud Foster has had a difficult time adjusting to younger linebackers. I've never seen Foster struggle the way he did against Paul Johson and Georgia Tech this past weekend. Every time Foster made a change, Johnson countered and took the Hokies' best playmaker in the secondary, Kam Chancellor, out of the game. Foster and the Hokies were dumbfounded.
Frank Beamer has done a good job of managing the roster as a whole, but I've been a little disappointed in how certain players (David Wilson, Logan Thomas, Greg Boone) have been utilized.
Thomas was one of the top athletes in the nation coming out of high school, but the coaching staff decided he's going to be a quarterback down the line. That's fine, but I was a little disappointed not to see him on the field as a receiver.
Wilson has hardly been used at all outside of the Marshall game, but it seems he's starting to find himself in a few more formations each week. It's still not too late for Wilson to bust out. It's only the mid-way point.
Boone has basically been non-existent this year. He was injured against Alabama, causing him to miss a couple of games. On the field the last couple of weeks, Boone looks like he's just another blocker.
A D never looks good, but the Hokies have once again underachieved.
They were expected to compete for a national title, and did so through six games. That ended in their seventh game, against Georgia Tech, when the Hokies' national title aspirations fell to the wayside and their chances at a third consecutive ACC Championship took a hit.
The ACC Championship is still within reach, or else the Hokies would have received an F in this category. If they end up getting to the ACC Championship game they will likely win because they'll be playing a team from the ACC's Atlantic Division. This also goes for Georgia Tech, Miami and even Virginia because that's how big of a joke the Atlantic has been.
It's tough to say that three straight ACC Titles and Orange Bowl appearances would be disappointing. But when you're not competing for national championships, it's disappointing.
The Hokies have improved in key areas (quarterback, running back, wide receiver, special teams), but they've regressed on defense. Virginia Tech is through the toughest part of their schedule, with a couple of scars to show for it.
If the Hokies run the table, it's not guaranteed they make the ACC Championship game. Right now, the Hokies need to focus on what's in front of them and worry about the technicalities when they come. If they come.