Three Cheers and Three Jeers for Virginia Tech vs. Liberty
So ummm how is everybody? It's unseasonably warm this weekend so that's nice. Maybe there's still time to clean up a few more leaves before winter. Plus it's always important to get fresh air.
Oh. Right. The game.
Hooker was called upon to do just about everything and gave it his best effort. He passed for 217 yards and three touchdowns and looked masterful running the two-minute drill multiple times during the game. He also ran for a cool 156 yards and a score.
Personally, I think Hooker was let down a bit by the play-calling. Tech decided to make Hooker the main running back and while it worked pretty well he took a beating. It looked like the old Logan Thomas style offense and much like those days it saw the Hokies on the wrong end of the scoreboard at the end.
Yards Per Play
The Hokies did manage to average 7.21 yards per play on offense which is strong. The problem was that Liberty held onto the ball for a full quarter more than Tech and ran 80 plays. There were a number of chunk plays for Hooker and company but sustaining drives proved difficult. Tech ran 58 plays and easily had it's biggest success in the two-minute drill. Attempts to capture that success and run tempo outside of the end of the halves largely proved fruitless.
Despite getting banged up —joining countless others on the day— Barno had a great game finishing with eight total tackles including two for loss with a sack. He also batted down two passes with his huge frame and generated good pressure throughout the game. His growth in his new role as a defensive end has been one of the bright spots on the defense this season.
Virginia Tech Defense
It's a good thing Tech got rid of the lunch pail during the offseason because this group has done little to earn it.
The Hokies once again got burned deep on a number of plays. Brion Murray was the victim on Liberty's first touchdown when he got turned around along the sideline. Devin Taylor was a factor on that play as well as Liberty's second TD, biting on the run both times and failing to recover in time to stop the score. Tech couldn't slow down the ground game either getting blown off the ball at the line of scrimmage and at the second level all day long.
One of the biggest signs of how far the Hokie defense has fallen is opponents don't even hesitate to go for it on fourth down anymore. And why would you? There's no point in punting against this unit.
Virginia Tech has allowed 15 fourth-down conversions this year, most in the country.— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) November 7, 2020
That's out of 20 attempts. #Hokies
Look, I don't ever like to be the guy who complains about the officials. Both teams have reason to do so after this game however. There was major inconsistency in when plays were blown dead resulting in some curious personal fouls. Liberty got jobbed on an alleged late hit out of bounds on Hendon Hooker and Dorian Strong got the return favor while wrestling down a receiver. Then the officials blew a play dead that review later ruled to be a fumble. It was recovered by Chamarri Conner with nothing but green in front of him, and instead Tech got it at its own nine yard line. The drive yielded a field goal instead. Don't even get me started on adding one second to the clock to end the half for a kickoff.
Liberty got another raw deal on Tech's drive to tie the game late in the fourth quarter when the Flames' No. 6 was whistled for a facemask despite Raheem Blackshear appearing to be the one committing the foul.
Not a sharp day at all for the zebras.
All day long in every facet of the game, the Hokies were out-worked and out-coached. Tech once again came out flat in what has become the trademark of the Justin Fuente era. They failed to adjust to what Liberty did on offense and struggled to fix things on their own offense outside of some great two-minute drills. The defense is a mess as highlighted above and when your opponent converts as many fourth downs (4-4) as your team does third downs (4-10) things aren't looking hot on that side of the ball either.
There were special teams miscues as well and of course there was the final icing on the cake with Tech's disastrous end of the game sequence. My biggest criticism of this staff has always been that sometimes they get a little too smart and end up outsmarting themselves.
Coach Fuente said in the postgame that he wasn't trying to ice the kicker —though it's generally his policy to do so— so much as get the right personnel on the field. That's not really better.