To be honest, the Hokies are who we thought they were. A good defense with a solid running game, but no quarterback to lead the way.
Virginia Tech had four weeks to prepare for their conference schedule, but it didn't matter. Clemson is a very good football team with a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. The Hokies are a better defensive team than the Tigers, but offensively these two teams aren't in the same galaxy.
Will this set the Hokies back moving forward? Hard to say, but for now here are the report card grades for the Hokies' game against Clemson.
Logan Thomas is struggling under center, but that's not anything new. Is it unfair to judge the former tight end-turned-quarterback after his first start against a formidable defense? Maybe, but Thomas looked like a deer in headlights for much of this game.
The Hokies were able to move the ball on the ground with Wilson, but had to go to the air after the game was slipping away in the third quarter.
Thomas continues to throw behind receivers, throw into double coverage and scramble around in the pocket when there's no need to.
Thomas' awareness in the pocket is lacking, borderline non-existent, and if the Hokies think they're going to win many more games with performances like this one they've got a few more losses heading their way.
David Wilson carried the ball 20 times for 123 yards. That's a 6.2 yards per carry average. The reason Wilson didn't get more carries is because the game was quickly spinning out of control.
It's hard to fathom why Wilson isn't utilized more in the passing game. You have a young quarterback with an explosive playmaker in the backfield. Mike O'Cain and Bryan Stinespring have to do a better job of utilizing Wilson in the passing game.
Other than Wilson, who fumbled for the third time this season, Thomas, Tony Gregory and Josh Oglesby combined to rush for 11 yards on 19 carries. Wilson saves the grade for this group, but his fumbling has to subside because this offense can't afford a single setback moving forward.
It's hard to believe that the Hokies' coaching staff is able to recruit any receivers. Basically, there are four routes that the Hokies' receivers will run in a game: verticals, outs, screens and slants. That's about it, folks.
Until the offensive playcalling gets a bit more creative (not that Hokie fans haven't been asking for that for almost a decade) the offense will continue to struggle.
This group didn't play badly against Clemson, but there weren't many opportunities to create plays.
Let's start by saying that Andrew Lanier should be embarrassed. If he's not, the Hokie Nation is embarrassed for him. Why? Andre Branch made Lanier look like a high school tackle. Branch had 11 tackles, five for a loss, three sacks and a forced fumble; nothing else really needs to be said about that.
Overall, Clemson had 10 tackles for a loss, four sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. That's what you call dominating the line of scrimmage. However, half of these statistics go to one player who we've already noted: Branch.
This offensive line is much better at run blocking than they are pass blocking, but this unit's biggest issue is poor quarterback play. It's much easier for opposing defenses to know what's coming when you can't throw the ball down the field.
That puts the pressure on this group and they will have to play better moving forward.
The defensive line did a decent job of pressuring Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, but they couldn't wrap him up.
James Gayle had the best day on the line, recording 1.5 tackles for loss and creating pressure multiple times in the backfield.
Consistently, however, this unit did not do its job. The numbers don't lie. Clemson's offensive line held the Hokies' defensive front in check for most of the game. Clemson gained 119 yards rushing on the day, but the Tigers had one rush go for 31 yards; other than that the rushing attack was held in check.
The problem was Boyd had too much time to throw, and when he was able to connect a few big plays were the result.
This group had another solid outing, but struggled in coverage. Actually, the Hokies' linebackers had the receivers covered at multiple times throughout the game, but Boyd was able to rifle it in between three and four defenders.
The defensive line's inability to create consistent pressure on the quarterback hurt this unit's ability to do so.
Still, if this unit has a problem, it's pass coverage. However, they played a solid game overall.
Jayron Hosley got his third interception of the season, and this group was a huge reason that Boyd completed only 13 of his 32 passes.
That being said, too many big plays were given up in the secondary. Boyd averaged 15.7 yards per completion. That's a pretty big number, and the Tigers had a few big plays of 32, 27, and 23 yards. It simply can't happen.
The pressure was on the Hokies' defense the entire game, and likely will remain there for the rest of the season unless Thomas can figure out the quarterback position.
A lack of consistent pressure on Boyd gave him time to scan the field. Although he didn't have a huge day through the air, he was able to make a number of plays against the secondary late.
Right now, there's nothing special about the special teams in Blacksburg. To start the game, the Hokies were hit with a personal foul for running into the kicker.
Why Scott Demler is still punting is beyond understanding. Demler continues his abysmal play. Against Clemson he had eight punts for an average of 29.4 yards with only one of those eight landing inside the 20. Demler even dropped a punt while trying to kick it rugby style. Luckily for him, Clemson didn't attempt to block it.
It's impossible that there's not someone on Virginia Tech's campus that can't do a better job. It simply isn't possible, and it's inexcusable.
The only good thing from the special teams against Clemson was that Cody Journell made his only field goal attempt of the day, which was a whopping 24 yards.
If a team comes out flat, it's usually the coaching staff's fault. Defensively, Bud Fosters' unit was ready to go.
Offensively, the coaching has to get better. Playcalling, creativity, and game planning all seem to be lacking. The running backs aren't being utilized in the passing game, 3rd down playcalling was questionable throughout and the offensive line was unable to adjust to the dominance of Branch.
Special teams continues to struggle and until the Hokies find a new punter, nothing will change.
The only intangibles for the Hokies right now are the ones that are lacking. Despite David Wilson, who had one of the most incredible plays you'll see, running about 90 yards behind the line of scrimmage, the Hokies lack the ability to make plays.
One guy (Wilson) is not going to be able to carry the offensive load. Thomas' most lacking intangible is field vision. He often locks in on one or two receivers and if it's not there he will force it into coverage or step in to the pressure points of the pocket.
It's hard to know how tough this team is as well. The game was a tale of two halves. The Hokies were close, but there was still a ray of hope after the first half. In the second half, there was little life on offense and the Hokies were dominated up front.
The Hokies definitely have some work to do if they want to salvage a decent bowl in 2011, and this game should serve as a wake-up call.