Let me start by giving the Hokie Nation some good news right off the top. It doesn't look like the Hokies will have a "neutral" site game next year to open their season. Considering Virginia Tech has done this the last three years and have zero wins in those three games, that's something to look forward to.
Now, about the game. Despite the first quarter, it was a really great game to watch between these two teams. Virginia Tech and Boise State clearly have two of the best quarterbacks in the nation, and both teams will likely find themselves in BCS bowls at the end of the season.
However, Virginia Tech came out in their opener once again and only played three good quarters of football. The Hokies did this against Alabama last year, but saved their worst quarter for the fourth. Miscues, penalties and one of the most lackadaisical efforts you'll see by a player who's supposed to be blocking on your punt unit led the Hokies to a 17-point deficit in the first quarter.
You don't want to give a 17-point lead to anyone, especially one of the best teams in the nation. The Hokies showed a lot of resiliency, and it's pretty unbelievable that the Hokies didn't win with the way Tyrod Taylor performed. Taylor was phenomenal for most of the game, and he's the reason the Hokies were in the lead late.
Here's a look at the Hokies biggest miscues against the Broncos, and a few keys to their success for the remainder of the season.
The special teams looked rough for much of the game and cost the Hokies on multiple occasions. The first miscue was on the punt blocking unit. Martin Scales was the far blocker on the right side of the field and when the ball was snapped Scales literally watched Austin Pettis run right by him and block the punt.
It was one of the worst blocking efforts you will ever see. Go back and watch the highlight. Scales stands there and stretches out his right arm when Pettis runs right by him and then turns back to face the line. There was no effort at all, and he got an earful from Frank Beamer on the sidelines.
Then you had the D.J. Coles double penalty. By this point, the score was already 10-0 after Boise converted on great field position against the defense, and the Broncos punted. Coles ran into the kicker—barely, but he did—and then he hit another player late on the same play and added 15 more yards for Boise State to move up field, and the Broncos eventually scored a touchdown.
These two players, who were both inexperienced and new to playing, cost the Hokies big time in this one. It was truly disappointing to see mistakes that were easily avoidable.
Then we arrive at the kicking game. Beamer may want to hold open tryouts in Blacksburg today or sometime later this week, because fifth-year senior Chris Hazley looked rough. Missing a 34-yard field goal is bad enough, but when you're attempting a 51-yard field goal, and miss it by 15 yards you probably shouldn't be on the field. The 51-yarder didn't count because of a penalty on Boise State, and the Hokies scored on the next play.
Virginia Tech has to get their special teams in order. They did manage to block a punt late in the first half, but time expired on the play. Boise State played a better version of Beamer Ball than the Hokies did.
The first play of the game for the Hokies probably should have been six points. Taylor under-threw his receiver, and the play resulted in a pass interference call, but Taylor has to do a better job of leading his receiver.
He had another chance later, which Taylor under threw again, but Boise committed another pass interference penalty.
Then, Taylor threw a beautiful ball into the end zone, which should have been caught by Marcus Davis who seemed to slow down when the ball was in the air. This was a big miscue and the Hokies had to settle for a field goal, which was the difference in the game.
Otherwise, Taylor was dominant all night and he played a phenomenal game. People say he looked rattled on the final drive of the game, and that doesn't seem accurate. Taylor's first throw on the drive was broken up by a great defensive play by the corner, and poor blocking affected the next play.
It looked like Taylor under-threw Davis—who was wide open—on third down, but it looked like Davis ran the wrong out route after the play ended. Then, on fourth down, Taylor threw a near perfect ball to Jarrett Boykin down the sideline, and, with a little bit of contact, Boykin just dropped it.
The Hokies would have been in field goal range at least, not that anything was guaranteed in that department, but Boykin didn't make the play. Boykin had a good game, but you have to come down with big plays with games on the line.
The Hokies had two offensive lineman to replace and they were both on the left side of the line. On top of that, projected starter at left tackle Nick Becton was injured and didn't start. The inexperience on the offensive line showed, and there was a lot of pressure on Taylor in the pocket early.
There was also nowhere for Ryan Williams to run the ball. Every time he was handed the ball he ran into a wall. What's most concerning about the offensive line is the majority of the time, Boise was rushing only four guys, and the Hokies couldn't stop it more often than not.
The line clearly wasn't ready to go, and it affected the Hokies throughout the entire game. When your star running back carries the ball 21 times for 44 yards, it's clear there's an offensive line issue that needs to be adjusted.
Good thing for the Hokies is they have seven games in a row where they should be heavily favored and they can get everyone on the same page. But it was clear the left side of the line was not ready to play.
The defense played pretty well considering their circumstance. Bud Foster's unit was often times given limited field to work with, especially in the first quarter, and it's hard to stop a high-powered offense when their drive starts on the opponent's 16-yard line—see Boise's first touchdown.
Otherwise, the Hokies defense looked good until Boise State's last drive. Virginia Tech outscored Boise State 27 to 9 in the second and third quarter and added a field goal in the fourth to go up by four. It looked like the Hokies were going to win the game, but then a questionable passing decision on third down that fell incomplete after Boise State had called their final timeout gave the Broncos new life.
Instead of Boise State working with around one minute on the clock, Moore and company had about 1:40 to work with. This is a huge difference with the game on the line. It's obvious the Hokies tried to win the game right there, but they should have told Taylor to throw the ball only if it was an easy completion. Instead, Taylor throw to a receiver who was well defended and the clock stopped.
After a few interesting decisions by the officials, Boise State was in the red zone in a matter of seconds. Instead of Boise State starting back near their own 15 after a block in the back flag was picked up, the Broncos were on their own 44-yard line.
Then later in the drive, Hokies linebacker Bruce Taylor was called for a late hit. This call was comical considering the official hadn't blown the whistle and the wide out was tip-toeing down the sideline and looked as if he was still in the field of play. If they picked up the block in the back flag because they wanted to "let the guys play," the late hit penalty shouldn't have been called.
Considering all that, the Hokies shouldn't have put a linebacker on Pettis, who got open to catch a 13-yard touchdown pass to put the Broncos ahead for good.
Virginia Tech has plenty to work on, but they have plenty of time do it. They don't play a very tough schedule for their next seven games, which should give them time to prepare for their November schedule that includes Georgia Tech, Miami, and North Carolina.
If Taylor plays like he did last night, you would have to expect the Hokies aren't going to lose again this year. The offensive line will get better after they get healthy and more reps together, and that will allow the running game to open up.
The coaching staff also needs to figure out what they're going to do with their running backs. It was clear that Williams is the guy, but incorporating Evans and David Wilson into the mix is something coaches are going to have to toy with.
Foster will have this defense looking good by mid-season, which should mean good things for the Hokies.
Tech easily could have won this game, but they just had too many miscues. That being said, they're still the best team in the ACC and they will find themselves in a BCS bowl at season's end. They will just find themselves without a national title appearance for yet another year.