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Nov
14

After Everything That's Transpired, Hokies Deserved It

TyJuan Garbutt said it best as he walked away from the podium.

“I can’t stop smiling, man.”

Virginia Tech’s 48-17 drubbing of Duke was a cathartic experience for everyone involved. It was an excision of frustration and disappointment that has plagued the Hokies for weeks, if not years.

Duke was outmatched from the start and even if starting quarterback Gunnar Holmberg was healthy, it wouldn’t have made a difference. The Blue Devils just weren’t on par with Virginia Tech, a phrase not often used to describe the Hokies’ opponents this season.

On a Senior Day with more than 20 players playing in likely their final game at Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech did what they used to do to lowly opponents. The Hokies’ defense dominated the line of scrimmage and stifled Duke’s few offensive weapons. The offense took advantage of a great matchup, scoring 48 points and racking up 573 yards, both season highs.

Raheem Blackshear exploded for 157 total yards and two touchdowns. Keshawn King emerged from the bottom of the depth chart to add 137 total yards and two scores. Braxton Burmeister battled through injury once again and threw three touchdown passes.

Tech’s performance was a needed one — a deserved reward for the players that have battled through this trying season.

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Nov
12

Senior Day Lineup Suggests Big Changes In 2022 Roster

Virginia Tech’s potential coaching change at the end of the season may end up being just one component of possible turnover facing the program this offseason.

The Athletic’s Andy Bitter revealed the list of players participating in Senior Day ceremonies today and boy, is this roster in for some serious turnover.

Here are the players who are set to be a part of Senior Day ceremonies Saturday — Amare Barno, Cole Blaker, Chamarri Conner, Tae Daley, Drake DeIuliis, Silas Dzansi, Changa Hodge, Brock Hoffman, Keondre Ko, James Mitchell, John Parker Romo, Austin Rosa, Oscar Shadley, Lecitus Smith, Tyrell Smith, Nadir Thompson, Tre Turner, Jermaine Waller, Jordan Williams and Johnny Jordan.

Excluding walk-ons, Virginia Tech has 17 players participating in Senior Day festivities, and many of these players are starters. While there’s no guarantee that participating in Senior Day means that a player is not coming back, it’s usually a good indicator that the player intends to either attempt to go to the NFL, possibly transfer to another school, or otherwise not be a part of the team next season.

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Nov
08

As Far As I'm Concerned, Enough Has Been Said...

After Friday night’s Virginia Tech loss to Boston College, fellow writer Ricky LaBlue sent me a story early Saturday morning, detailing another defeat of the Hokie football team. After posting it, I texted him that maybe we should stop writing about the downward direction of the program for the rest of the season.

Why, he asked.

Because, I replied, it’s all been said. To continue to point out how Justin Fuente has lost control of the program would be like beating a dead horse. There’s an old saying in sales that says you should stop selling once you’ve made the sale. To continue talking can only end up hurting you.

I think that’s the case now with Fuente and Virginia Tech. It’s over. There’s a divorce coming and I don’t believe anyone thinks otherwise. I have in my circle of friends the most positive “the glass is half full” Hokie fans that walk this planet, and during Friday’s game I was getting texts saying “you were right, we need to make a change.”

To continue talking can only end up hurting people, including assistant coaches, players and families.

Everyone knows.

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Nov
06

A Week Ago, Hokies Looked Promising. Now, Not So Much...

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech Athletics)
Nasir Peoples Makes A Stop In 17-3 Loss To Boston College

Following Virginia Tech’s win over Georgia Tech last weekend, I came away thinking the Hokies’ coaches and players hadn’t given up, and were close to playing competitive football for the remainder of the season.

Following last night’s loss to Boston College, I have now come away thinking just the opposite.

I spent the remainder of Friday night and early portions of Saturday morning wondering if I was exaggerating. How can a team go from borderline competence to borderline craziness in the span of six days?

But the more I thought about it, the more I felt convinced the situation in Blacksburg is getting out of hand. Allow me to explain.

Preparation

An offense shouldn’t be completely beheaded when the starting quarterback goes out with an injury. Nobody was expecting the Hokies’ offense to light up the scoreboard when Braxton Burmeister left in the first quarter with a suspected rib injury, but the Hokies’ offense should have at least looked like a college offense.

It didn’t.

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Nov
02

VT Football Has Its Issues, But Quitting Isn't One Of Them

Virginia Tech football has many issues, but quitting is definitely not among them.

The Hokies’ rebound from their three-game skid Saturday wasn’t pretty — Virginia Tech failed to put Georgia Tech away on several occasions and settled for five field goal attempts, three of which came from the red zone. Regardless, the Hokies prevailed, and for at least a week, the smell of victory wafts through the Merryman Athletic Center.

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech Athletics)
Tre Turner Caught 7 Passes For 187 Yards, TD

I could sit here and poke holes in the Hokies’ 26-17 victory all day long. If Virginia Tech wasn’t 4-4 and worried about bigger problems come seasons’ end, I probably would. But for today, I'm just going to enjoy the win.

Even though the Hokies settled for five field goals, Virginia Tech’s offensive performance was one of the best we’ve seen this year. Braxton Burmeister completed multiple throws downfield to stretch Georgia Tech’s defense to the brink. Tre Turner had a career day, catching seven passes for 187 yards and a touchdown. Malachi Thomas validated his breakout performance against Syracuse, running for 103 yards against the Yellow Jackets.

In total, Tech amassed 491 yards of offense, 237 of which came on the ground. Raheem Blackshear joined the party with 83 rushing yards of his own. Burmeister chipped in 46.

Virginia Tech went 9-19 on third down and dominated the time of possession battle by 11 minutes. By this season’s standard, the Hokies’ performance on Saturday was incredibly productive.

On the other side of the ball, the Hokies’ defense held up their end of the bargain. They pushed Jeff Sims into two turnovers and held Georgia Tech to just 3-12 on third-down attempts. Even better, the Hokies got stops on two of Georgia Tech’s three fourth-down attempts.

One cannot forget John Parker Romo’s performance — four makes with his only miss coming from 53 yards away. After a shaky start, Romo is now 10-13 on field goals and a perfect 22-22 on extra points this year.

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Oct
29

You Know You'll Be Watching, So Here's What To Focus On

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech)
Virginia Tech Running Back Malachi Thomas

Alright, so here’s the deal — nobody could blame you for tuning out tomorrow when Virginia Tech plays Georgia Tech at noon on a Regional Sports Network (MASN for those of you in Loudoun County), which just so happens to create an annoying acronym that rivals the IRS and NSA.

But you know you’re going to watch. As Dave Scarangella has so eloquently explained before, you’re going to keep watching.

Because you’re going continue tuning in to Virginia Tech football, despite their 3-4 record, you might as well have some things to look forward to. Let’s hit on some of them.

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Oct
17

I Guess The Answer To "Now Or Never" Is Never...

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech)
Tayvion Robinson Makes A Catch Over The Middle For Virginia Tech

I wrote after Virginia Tech’s defeat to Notre Dame that this week was a “now or never” moment for Justin Fuente. He needed to rally his team and help them compete against Pittsburgh in a de-facto Coastal Division title game.

I guess the answer is never.

The Hokies’ 28-7 loss can be described in a number of ways. Disappointing is surely one of them, but the predictability of Saturday’s performance might be the worst of them all. And the most damning.

We knew the Hokies’ offense would struggle. We’ve seen it all season. Once Pittsburgh hit the 21-point threshold, it felt like the rest of the game was a moot point.

Tech only has one conference loss, so they’re by no means eliminated from the Coastal race. But if you watched them against Pittsburgh, you know that this Virginia Tech team needs to worry more about bowl eligibility than winning a divisional title.

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Oct
14

Maybe Justin Fuente Isn’t Virginia Tech’s Biggest Problem

In the famous words of legendary NFL coach Dennis Green, “The [Hokies] are who we thought they were.”

But it's possible Justin Fuente and the coaching staff may have been forced to shoulder too much of the blame.

Virginia Tech enters Saturday’s home game against the Pittsburgh Panthers with a 3-2 record, having just lost to Notre Dame, and they won every other game except for one of the North Carolina/West Virginia rivalry games.

This is exactly what most people expected; yet here we are, feeling as if the Hokies have let everyone down.

Many key findings have come to light throughout the early portion of the season, but I challenge you to ask yourself this: How many of these things are actually surprising? Are the Hokies really losing because of in-game coaching decisions, or are there larger issues with the roster that are driving these decisions? Is the coaching staff truly the problem?

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Oct
11

Yeah, I Hated It. But I'll Be Back This Week For More...

Maybe it’s because it’s Columbus Day. Or maybe it’s because last week, just to refresh my memory, I went back and watched the entire first season of The Sopranos.

But in seeing a lot of different reactions to Virginia Tech’s 32-29 loss to Notre Dame Saturday night, I find myself coming back to the same expression in regards to the football program.

It’s the life we’ve chosen.

I’m not going to stand here and try to make you believe all is well in Blacksburg. There were plenty of things I questioned in watching the game, not the least of which is why this coaching staff can’t figure out how to put a decent goal-line offense together. After getting embarrassed against West Virginia with more trips inside the 10 than the entire sports media made trips through the buffet line in the press box, you’d think they’d make that a priority, given how few points they scored after those trips.

Good teams score when they get inside the 5-yard line. They have packages ranging from every tight end on the roster on the field, to maybe a running specialist in a wildcat format, or special plays they only run when get close to the endzone. The team takes pride in being able to impose their will on an opponent in such scenarios, and they practice these situations over and over again because they believe their effectiveness when called upon can make the difference between winning and losing.

I mean, the Hokies had a first and goal at the 1-yard line early in the second quarter, and three plays later, they were still there, having to settle for a 19-yard-line field goal by John Parker Romo with 10:35 left in the first half. If my math is correct, a touchdown and extra point gets you 4 more points, which is not an insignificant amount when you end up losing by 3 points.

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Oct
11

For Hokies, Fuente This Week, It's Now Or Never...

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech)

As is usual after a loss, the most important game is always the next one on the schedule.

For Virginia Tech, this is especially true.

The Hokies’ 32-29 loss to Notre Dame on Saturday served as a yet another heartbreaking loss. Tech’s defense battled exceptionally well for about 56 minutes and Braxton Burmeister gutted out a tough fourth quarter with one healthy shoulder.

But good teams find ways to win. Bad teams find ways to lose.

Notre Dame scored 11 points in the final four minutes, dashing the Hokies’ eight-point lead with 3:55 remaining. Burmeister had just loaded up the offense on his back and carried them 19 yards through a sea of defenders for a touchdown, giving Tech what should’ve been a cemented advantage.

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Sep
27

Maybe There's A Reason 2 Experienced QBs Left Last Year

While many are beating a dead horse about offensive play calls after Virginia Tech’s semi-disappointing 21-10 win over Richmond Saturday, I find myself focusing on two plays that occurred in the second quarter.

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech)

They involved Knox Kadum, a backup quarterback who had enjoyed a good week of practice, was firmly holding on to No. 2 on the depth chart at QB, and was told he’d see some action against the FCS Spiders. Midway through the second quarter with the Hokies up 7-0, he got the call to go in.

But that call was like your boss telling you go make a presentation to the board on 5 minutes notice.

You were doomed to fail.

Having not played any significant minutes when the game was on the line, Kadum was asked to go in when the ball was on the Hokies’ 6-yard line. While he probably ran sections of the playbook in practice all week, he now was thrown into a situation where half the playbook went out the window. Pinned that deep, everyone knew the first play would be a run, and sure enough Raheem Blackshear was stuffed at the line.

Now it’s 2nd and 10. Everyone also knows that the most effective defense against an inexperienced QB is pressure, and Richmond's defense came running - as Lawrence Taylor once said - like a bunch of crazed dogs. Kadum scrambled around his end zone looking for somebody open, then hoped for the best as he launched a pass downfield.

The pass was intercepted and returned to the 16. One play later Richmond scored to tie the score at 7-7. Kadum was taken from the game, never to play another down.

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Ricky LaBlue

Ricky LaBlue

A longtime sports fanatic, Ricky is now channeling that passion into the world of sports media. Meet Ricky LaBlue.

Stephen Newman

Stephen Newman

The only things he loves more than following Virginia Tech and Washington sports teams are dogs. Meet Stephen Newman.

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