We made it gang! The final Cheers and Jeers of 2021 takes us through the last game in another lost season for Virginia Tech football. Like most bowl games it had some excitement, a little goofiness, and a disappointing outcome for one of the participants. In this case it was predictably the Hokies on the short end of the stick. Tech's extreme lack of depth was put on full display but given that it was played on a Wednesday afternoon in a baseball stadium, I doubt many people noticed.
*Insert Fire and Corn Emjois*
We all know how shorthanded the Hokies were coming into this game. Still, it felt like Tech came in with an extraordinarily awful game plan. Brad Cornelson had one final pièce de résistance for Tech fans. He spent the day insisting on running poor Connor Blumrick time and time again into the teeth of a defense that knew what was coming. Then he waited until deep into garbage time—which actually started just after halftime—to insert the only non-walk on quarterback on the roster to primarily hand the ball off.
I know it's been beaten to death that Corn is a terrible football coach. NO ONE DENIES THIS. My only reason to repeatedly amplify that fact is that some poor program somewhere might hire him without understanding the true depths of his depravity and incompetence.
If Brad Cornelson ever coaches football again at any level—even Pee Wee or intramural at a rogue community college—it will be too soon.
This game is a job interview for Corny, absolutely nothing to lose, and he is calling the game like it is the spring game.
The defense wasn't in the clear when it came to strategy. I think Justin Hamilton is a good coach and he and his staff have a lot of talented guys, but I won't be the only person ready to wave goodbye to his zone coverage schemes and ill-fated blitzes. He attempted to do something different and it never quite clicked in Blacksburg. He does have a knack for halftime adjustments but there was only so much to be done in this one.
It Could Have Been Worse?
I don't really feel like ripping on the guys who played all that much. There were some missed assignments sure, but I didn't see many lazy plays. I won't rip on the guys who didn't play either, but I have a ton of respect for the players who stuck around and dove head first into the dumpster fire that was this bowl game. They were dealt a bad hand by a coaching staff that handled roster management like a bad Kinko's employee and did a poor job of putting them in a position to win against Maryland. It happens, but it wasn't for lack of effort on the player's part.
Perhaps one day we'll all look back at this game and laugh the way Clemson fans remember that fateful 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the 2012 Orange Bowl. That set the stage for a program revamp and led to as dominant a run as college football has seen outside of Alabama. Tech could be in store for a similar bounce back. I mean we've seen it before. The 1997 team was trounced in the Gator Bowl so that Michael Vick could run circles in the Sugar just two seasons later.
Stranger things have happened.
The Good Bits
Peter Moore's conversion on the fake punt was pretty cool. Jaden Payoute had a nice catch on Blumrick's longest pass of the day. Ummm Tech's helmets and uniforms were very neat. There were a couple of indvidual performances that stood out in a good way. Keshon Artis looks like a potentially solid piece on defense along with Jalen Stroman and D.J. Harvey who made some nice plays. Tahj Bullock placed some solid throws and flashed just enough potential to make everyone angry that he'd been on the sidelines to that point in the game. Given his size and high school film it's easy to see why people are excited about his future. Thankfully it will come with other coaches at the helm.
Beyond that I hope that any Hokies who attended this doomed contest enjoyed the pregame festivities and imbibed heavily but responsibly in the post game. Those $13 stadium beers will really get after ya.
Much like all of you I have no idea how the Brent Pry era will go at Virginia Tech. As the Pinstripe Bowl may or may not have proven, the cupboard inherited by Pry and his staff is pretty darn bare. There's a serious lack of depth in the program though there is still some talent, provided of course those folks stick around.
This roster will look very different next spring and fall after more activity in the transfer portal—both in and out—and an influx of new recruits who plan to enroll early. It's up to Pry and Co. to continue adding to the roster as much as possible and for Dwight Galt IV to get after it with the guys in the weight room. But that will be a process and it's going to take time.
Hopefully, fans, players, and the sporting press show some patience with what at this point appears to be a major rebuild.
If nothing else, it's time for a fresh start. The new staff is a breath of fresh air for a program gasping for anything. Enjoy the ride and thanks for following along with me this season.
My Dad graduated from Tech in 1981 and I’ve been attending Virginia Tech sporting events since I first moved to Blacksburg in 1988. I myself graduated in 2008 with a Communication degree. During my time as a student I was the Sports Director for WUVT and helped establish and run Planet Blacksburg, an independent student-run news website. I’ve since written for numerous publications including SBNation, Inside The ACC, and Sports Illustrated's AllHokies. Currently, I host The Justin Cates Show in addition to other contributions here at Sons of Saturday and various other sites as the need arises. I now live in a fortified compound in upstate New York with my wife and numerous animals. The smell of popcorn makes me think of Cassell.