Virginia Tech’s 38-26 loss to Miami was disappointing in many ways, as it would have been nice for interim head coach JC Price to earn a win in his debut.
But it wasn’t in the cards.
The Hokies were outmatched on the field Saturday night, and Tech’s loss confirmed what many already suspected — that there is a talent gap between Virginia Tech and some of the better teams in the ACC.
As a disclaimer, I am fully aware the ‘Canes are now 6-5 and have already lost three games to ACC opponents this season. But if you watched Saturday night, you saw the kind of talent Miami still has on the roster.
You saw what sets them apart.
Miami’s offense, in particular, was markedly better than Virginia Tech’s defense. For large portions of the game, Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke had free reign through the air, connecting on deep pass after deep pass. Charleston Rambo put on a clinic, catching seven passes for 116 yards with most of those completions coming against Tech’s No. 1 cornerback Jermaine Waller.
In total, Van Dyke threw for 357 yards and three touchdowns. And in case you weren’t watching on Saturday, this all happened in the middle of a driving rainstorm.
Virginia Tech’s offense could not have been any more opposite. The Hokies abandoned a normal offense for an option, run-heavy attack led by former Texas A&M receiver Connor Blumrick. Tech rushed 43 times for 227 yards and if it weren’t for mindboggling play-calling and a porous defense, the Hokies might have been able to win.
The stark contrast on display confirmed to Tech fans that the talent gap is one of the the main reason why the Hokies have fallen so far behind their Coastal competitors. We can talk about in-game coaching until the cows come home, but this is a game of men, not of whiteboards.
Virginia Tech’s men have battled with effort all season. Trailing 31-13, the Hokies rattled off two touchdowns in the third quarter to get themselves within five. And while this resurgence fell short in the fourth quarter, Tech’s effort was never in question.
But therein lies the main issue — Virginia Tech isn’t all that highly talented a football team.
Van Dyke and Blumrick are just a microcosm of Virginia Tech’s issues. Miami turned to Van Dyke, a second-year quarterback, when D’Eriq King was injured. Van Dyke took a bit of time to adjust, but he has since been one of the most productive quarterbacks in the conference. The Hokies, on the other hand, don’t have a quarterback on the roster as productive as Van Dyke. None of the three Tech quarterbacks have looked that good for more than one game.
Virginia Tech will lay it all on the field this Saturday vs. Virginia, with retaining the Commonwealth Cup and earning the seniors a bowl game the goal that could push the Hokies to play until the final whistle. But that effort and drive hasn’t been enough for most of the season, and I fear it won’t be enough on Saturday.
The football program needs a rethink, from top to bottom, and hopefully the next head coach at Virginia Tech will provide that. What remains to be seen, however, is if that coach can fill the talent gap that is holding the Hokies back. If they can do that, then perhaps the Hokies will be able to compete on the field with the best of the best.
Unfortunately, as seen in a pouring rain Saturday night, competing with your heart isn’t enough.