Cheers and Jeers: Virginia Tech vs. Miami
When it rains it pours. That was certainly true on this night for the Hokies despite a valiant effort in an incredibly tough situation. It wasn't all bad, but there was a lot to dissect with a critical eye.
Big Play Tré
It's an incredible shame that Turner and Tayvion Robinson have largely had their talents wasted in this offense. Turner has just three touchdowns on the season and Robinson only four which leads the team. They're talented kids who continue to make plays despite a difficult season.
Both quarterbacks ran the ball effectively but took a beating by design. I tweeted late in the second quarter that the dirtiest players on the field should never be your quarterbacks, others agreed with that fairly obvious thought.
QBs' jerseys are dirtier than the OL for VT— Michael Felder (@InTheBleachers) November 21, 2021
Hokies Have Heart
This team clearly cares about each other and the will to succeed and heart it takes to fight are still on display. They'll need that and a lot more in the season finale.
There was a lot of justified finger pointing at star corner Jermaine Waller Saturday night. He played the worst game of his college career which was a bit puzzling given the strong season he's had this year. He was burned in coverage multiple times, had a pick six slip through his hands in the rain, and ultimately limped off with a leg injury late in the game. It wasn't just him though. The entire Tech defense was abused throughout the night with arguably the worst play coming as Dax Hollifield was downfield in coverage against speedy receiver Mike Harley. It went about like you'd expect, for a long and easy touchdown.
The defense has been a solid unit for the Hokies much of the year but it was a liability in this contest. The only mildly good news is that Miami has been doing this to everyone lately. The trouble is so has Virginia with Brennan Armstrong and that's the task next week, possibly without the team's best corner. Yikes.
TVD's last five games:— ACC Network (@accnetwork) November 21, 2021
🏈 357 Pass Yds, 3 TD
🏈 316 Pass Yds, 4 TD
🏈 389 Pass Yds, 3 TD
🏈 426 Pass Yds, 3 TD
🏈 325 Pass Yds, 4 TD@Tyler_Van_Dyke is the only ACC QB over the last 15 seasons with five straight 300+ Pass Yds and 3+ Pass TD games. @CanesFootball pic.twitter.com/8EdnaHdj7k
Situational Playcalling and Personnel
This is a bit of a catch all critique but one that has been a season-long frustration. Brad Cornelsen deciding to go from the run-heavy attack that had been working, to a pass-focused approach in a downpour is a real head-scratcher. And is there any conceivable reason why the team's leading rusher Raheem Blackshear didn't get a single carry until under 8 minutes to go in the game? That's absolute coaching malpractice. You would think after Mike Niziolek's damning piece in the Roanoke Times this week Cornelson would have been getting creative to polish up that resume. At this point he should be unemployable by anyone in football without the initials JF.
Justin Hamilton isn't in the clear either. The Dax mismatch is a good example of what not to do when scheming a defense. He made some nice adjustments at halftime as he normally does, but this was not one of them. The lack of QB pressure in the first half is another tough choice to stomach. I understand the inclination to rush only three lineman and drop everyone else into coverage against a strong passing attack, but when you aren't getting pressure and still getting beat on the back end you've got to switch it up sooner.
When you're winning games some of these decisions and bad moments get brushed aside. Obviously they're magnified in losses particularly when you're staring down a second consecutive postseason spent sitting at home.
One More to Go
You could consider this a positive or negative thing I suppose. As mentioned, with a healthy Brennan Armstrong on deck the chances of the Hokies making it to six wins and a bowl game aren't looking so good. The thought of Virginia starting a streak of their own in the Commonwealth Cup is hard to stomach but that's where things stand. Take your enjoyment where you can and be thankful that change is coming, basketball is rolling, and the holidays are right around the corner.