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It Will Be Interesting To See How Fixing The Defense Is Handled...

If you’ve followed my ramblings on this site for any length of time, you know my one concern when Brent Pry was hired as the head coach at Virginia Tech was the fact he’d never been a head coach.

It’s not that this was some insurmountable obstacle, but when you’ve never been the head guy, you really don’t know what you don’t know. While the tendency is that you pick up things fast, you’re really not tested until you run into a crisis.

It’s during that time most new head coaches, company presidents, etc., have to fight the inclination to focus on the areas they’re most comfortable with instead of continuing to be the captain of the ship. The head coach’s job is to hold assistants accountable, provide advice and - if necessary - tough love.

Above all else, a good head coach keeps everyone in their lanes.

Failure to do so for many teams tends to result in everyone on staff offering their two cents about areas that are not their direct responsibility and you end up with a management by committee atmosphere that never works. If you look back to the waning years of the Frank Beamer era, you saw a little of that.

With that in mind, I think the next few weeks are going to be interesting in the development of Pry as a head coach. Two weeks ago against North Carolina, the offense and defense were big problems, but against Pitt, you could see some changes had been made in strategy and the offense scored 29 points. Take away some untimely penalties and dropped passes and the offense could have scored 40 points.

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Maybe It's Time For Hokies To Try A Youth Movement At Corner

Virginia Tech’s defense had rightly been considered the Hokies’ strength through the early portion of the 2022 schedule. In fact, ACC Network broadcasters highlighted it before the game against Pitt, as Virginia Tech’s defense ranked in the top 25 in several categories, including total defense and third-down defense.

But after the last two weeks, there’s no way to look at Virginia Tech’s defense in the same light.

In two games, Virginia Tech has posted some of the worst defensive numbers in the country. Consider these statistics over Tech’s last two games, both of which have been losses:

  • Points Allowed: 86
  • Rush Yards Allowed: 486
  • Pass Yards Allowed: 537
  • Sacks: 1

Virginia Tech’s defensive problems can be blamed on all three levels of the defense, and improvements need to be made in all three.

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Asking For Patience Is Reasonable, But Only If Eventually Rewarded

Following North Carolina’s rout of Virginia Tech Saturday, Brent Pry asked fans for patience.

“It’s not going to be an overnight process,” Pry explained in his post-game press conference. “It’s going to take time. We’re going to do it the right way. We’ve got to recruit better, we’ve got to create better practice habits and we’ve got to keep working on our culture… We’re making progress in all three areas. Sometimes it’s hard to see, but we are.”

Still, Pry should forgive some fans if they are struggling to see the progress claiming to be made.

The Hokies’ 41-10 loss at Chapel Hill was possibly the most incomplete performance of Pry’s short tenure as the head whistle in Blacksburg. We knew that Tech had a talent disadvantage, but a 31-point disadvantage?

I don’t think so. Florida A&M, for example, lost to North Carolina by 32 points earlier this season. Are we to believe that Tech is that close to Florida A&M?

The offense, though, might be worse than the Rattlers. Tech scored just 10 points for the second consecutive week, this time against a Tar Heel defense that allowed 61 to Appalachian State, 28 to Georgia State and another 32 to a struggling Notre Dame offense. The Hokies showed no substantive improvement from the week prior — the Hokies averaged just 2.8 yards per rush attempt and Grant Wells inspired little confidence in his 16-of-26 for 139 yards performance.

In fact, Wells’ errant interception in the second quarter provided a lot of ammunition to fans who believe he isn’t the long-term answer at quarterback.

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If You're A Hokie Fan, You May Want To Keep An Eye On Wisconsin

If you’re a Hokie fan and are not doing so already, you may want to keep an eye on Wisconsin.

There’s a soap opera going on up there that has already benefitted the Hokies 10 months ago, and with the Badgers unbelievably firing head coach Paul Chryst Sunday, there’s a possibility of more to come.

It seems something has been brewing up in Madison for a while if you put the pieces together. I was absolutely elated that the Hokies were able to hire Joe Rudolph away from Wisconsin at the beginning of the year, because he was the architect of their run game, particularly when it came to the development of offensive linemen in their program.

He was exactly what the Hokies needed to start the process of re-establishing an identity in Blacksburg back to the days when if Virginia Tech needed a few tough yards between the tackles, the Hokies were able to get it.

But even with Rudolph coming to Blacksburg, I privately wondered why he’d do it. Rudolph played for the Badgers, coached tight ends from 2008-2011, spent three years at Pitt (including a short stint as interim head coach) and spent the last seven years back at Wisconsin in charge of their offensive line and run game. He was a Badger through and through, much like Frank Beamer has blood type orange and maroon plus.

Based on Sunday’s developments, maybe he saw something coming before the rest of us.

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Sometimes It's Best To Sit Back, Be Quiet, And Watch...

There are times when judging the quality of a football season that it’s perfectly fine to say what’s on your mind.

Then there are times where it’s best to sit back, watch, and see if what you think you are seeing is a trend or a mirage.

I’ve kind of reached that second stage after yesterday’s loss by Virginia Tech to North Carolina.

Doesn’t mean I don’t love Brent Pry, doesn’t mean I’ve given up on what I still believe is going to be a turnaround in the program, doesn’t mean anything other then there’s a time to speak and a time to be quiet.

Now’s the time to be quiet.

If you’ve read my ramblings over time, you know I equate coaching with sales. In both professions you need to keep people fired up, have to make tough decisions on who you keep and who gets let go, and despite everything you do, you know it’s a produce or perish situation. You’ll be given years to turn around bad situations, but you consistently need to show signs that there are new ideas that can produce a turnaround, or you won’t get those years.

That’s where I’m at with Virginia Tech football on this rainy Sunday morning. The initial months of a new coach’s regime have been filled with all the right moves off the field and all the right words behind the podium. Hope has sprung eternal to the point “it’s going to take 4 or 5 years to get this turned around” has become a mantra for most fans.

That’s huge if you’re the new guy because managing expectations is a crucial task in the first year.

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The Highlight Of The Game Has To Be More Than "Enter Sandman"

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech)

All that pomp. All that circumstance.

Dulles District Overlord Dave Scarangella noted right before Virginia Tech’s showdown with West Virginia that the Thursday night broadcast was, “one big ol’ commercial for Hokie football.”

Dave couldn’t have been more accurate.

Virginia Tech’s athletic department staff and fans put together one heck of an atmosphere for Thursday night. They sold out Lane Stadium. We got the full round of pyrotechnics before the game. The ACC Network again displayed the novelty and excellence of Enter Sandman and plenty of people noticed on Twitter.

But Virginia Tech got routed by their rivals to the west, losing to West Virginia 33-10.

It only means so much.

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If You're A Hokie Fan, You've Been Here Before...

At 6:58 AM this morning I found myself out on the patio, enjoying the cool 47-degree temperatures, and wondering how many times I’ve found myself feeling this way after a disappointing Hokie loss.

Let’s not put lipstick on the pig, shall we? Last night’s loss to West Virginia was bad.

Having experienced these kinds of mornings for the last 50 years, I pretty much know how to handle it. Sitting outside and enjoying nature is far better than, say, looking at social media, where I can see folks like the very overrated Pat Forde call Lane Stadium “the most overrated home venue in college football.”

You see, when you’ve never been good, people don’t say things about you when you have a bad loss. That’s because they don’t say, think or care about you at all, as it’s like you never existed.

But when you have been good, then go through the rebuilding process Virgnia Tech is now dealing with, that’s the morning they dance on your grave. Opponents taunt you on everything from your team’s losses to the song you play entering the stadium. One UVA fan even suggested it’s time to retire the tradition of Enter Sandman after the defeat.

Dear UVA fan: fill your stadium first. Then we might consider anything you have to say.

In many cases it’s not even your opponents. A lot of the vitriol last night and this morning is coming from Virginia Tech fans themselves. They want to fire Coach Brent Pry, Athletic Director Whit Babcock, the mayor of Blacksburg and probably the guy that didn’t make their coffee to their liking this morning.

After only 4 games.

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Running Game Continues To Be A Concern For The Hokies

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech)

It’s been over 48 hours since Virginia Tech’s 27-7 win over Wofford, and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to organize my thoughts for consumption.

I’m not sure I’m there yet.

For now, I guess my perspective is this — Virginia Tech held serve Saturday, specifically on offense.

In some ways, Saturday was a no-win situation for the Hokies, as my colleague and friend Dave Scarangella noted this weekend. Virginia Tech’s first-team defense was more than up to the challenge — the Hokies contained Wofford to their side of the field until the fourth quarter, when Tech’s starters had already exited the contest.

Defensively, Virginia Tech was stellar. But it was against the Terriers, who are in the middle of a transition akin to Georgia Tech. Wofford has historically been an option offense, but now embraces a spread-style attack similar to the rest of the sport.

So Virginia Tech’s defense did their job. How much praise is that worth? I’m not quite sure.

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They Didn't Win By 100, But Hokies Took One More Step Saturday

You just knew coming in that Virginia Tech’s game with Wofford was a no-win situation, as the game was such a mismatch, even if the Hokies won by 100 there would still be people saying “yeah but it’s Wofford. You should have won by 107.”

Virginia Tech didn’t win by 100 Saturday – the margin was 27-7 – and yes, there were fans who said it wasn’t enough of a margin.

But there were enough good things that happened that give credence to the belief that each week this program is moving in the right direction.

Everyone had their hair on fire after the season-opening mistake-filled loss to Old Dominion, and for good reason. Improvement needed to start the next week against Boston College, raged the barbarians at the gate, and continue each week.

Despite not gaining 1,000 yards and scoring 12 touchdowns, I believe that’s what the Hokies did Saturday. Against Boston College the previous week, they showed they could fix the mistakes, committing only 5 penalties (after 15 against ODU) and zero turnovers. My initial thought was if you do it once, it could be a fluke. Do it twice, and you’ve got a positive trend.

They made it two in a row against Wofford. Again, only 5 penalties and again, zero turnovers. And unlike either previous game, they had zero pre-snap penalties. No illegal procedure or jumping offsides before a play began, which really is a nice indicator of a team’s discipline. No special teams miscues, no fumbles, no interceptions.

No instances of shooting themselves in the foot.

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Hokies Have Some Position Groups That Have Played Well So Far...

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech)
Connor Blumrick

While Virginia Tech’s 27-10 victory over Boston College successfully reset the narrative surrounding Brent Pry’s first season in Blacksburg, it also got me excited about specific aspects of this football team.

Despite all of their flaws, the Hokies do have some position groups and players that have played well, if not great, in their first two games.

I’ll start with the defensive line, which has far and away been the most productive unit in Virginia Tech’s opening contests.

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Hokies Reset The Narrative By Cleaning Up First-Game Issues

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech)

Few things have as big of an impact on society as a narrative.

For better or for worse, narratives matter.

The narrative around Brent Pry’s tenure at Virginia Tech got off to a rough start in his debut, but the Hokies’ dominating 27-10 win over Boston College allowed Pry to push the reset button on his first season in Blacksburg.

Virginia Tech did this by cleaning up its mistakes from the week prior, while also winning in a fashion that reminded fans of the program’s glory days. And while the win wasn’t perfect, it sure was rewarding.

“I think we took care of some things that were obviously a thorn in our side last week,” Pry said in his postgame press conference. “We protected the ball, we attacked the ball.”

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