For the past several weeks I’ve mentioned that we still had areas that need improvement or it would cost us some wins down the road. Well that’s exactly what happened Saturday against the Hokies. Holes in special teams, the secondary, and Russell Wilson’s carelessness with the football were all factors that led to this loss. The fact that we had a 17-0 lead at home made this game harder to accept. The top flight college football programs win all their home games and until we can do likewise we will continue to be, at best, a mediocre program. Warning: These grades are ruthless so if you are the tiniest bit squeamish you should close your browser now.
Quarterback – Grade: F
Russell Wilson threw for 362 yards and 3 TDs. He also added 34 yards rushing, but it’s those 3 INTs that ruined the day. The interception in the endzone right before the half was inexcusable. If Russell tucks it and runs it’s a likely TD and a 24-7 halftime lead for the Pack that I’m not sure the Hokies could have recovered from. The forced interception at the end of the game when we still had plenty of time to drive down for the win was equally as bad.
Running Backs – Grade: B+
Mustafa Greene had his first game without a touchdown, but still played great (91 yards, 9.1 ypc & 3 receptions, 30 yards). Dean Haynes struggled running the ball (27 yards, 2.2 ypc), but did have a few nice receptions including a touchdown. It’s still a 50-50 split, but it’s time for Mustafa to start getting more of the load since he has shown he’s the much better back.
Receivers – Grade: A-
Owen Spencer (145 yards) and Jarvis Williams (103 yards) both made a few great catches on their way to very productive games, but George Bryan was held in check and neither Darrell Davis or T.J. Graham even had a reception. The three interceptions were such poorly thrown balls that the receivers couldn’t even try to break up the plays. All in all a solid day by this group.
Offensive Line – Grade: B-
The offensive line did much better protecting Russell (only 1 sack) than last week against Georgia Tech and that was with Virginia Tech showing numerous blitz packages and bringing lots of pressure. They also did a decent job opening up holes for the running game as we rushed for 145 yards (4.4 ypc). (Edit: I forgot to take into account the numerous penalties the O-line got that negated some good plays so I’m revising this grade down a full letter.)
Defensive Line – Grade: D-
We allowed 317 yards rushing (8.6 ypc) against a Virginia Tech offensive line that came into the game as the Hokies’ weakest link. We couldn’t plug up any of the running lanes and generated very little pressure on Tyrod Taylor. After playing a great game against Georgia Tech they stunk up the joint in this one.
Linebackers – Grade: D+
Nate Irving, Audie Cole, and Terrell Manning had pretty good days, but they did a poor job of staying in their gaps and thus we got absolutely gashed in the running game as previously mentioned. The same problems we had with UCF’s Jeff Godfrey returned against Tyrod Taylor (121 yards, 7.6 ypc). This unit did have 4 sacks and 7 tackles for loss, but they were mostly in the first half.
Defensive Backs – Grade: D
We only allowed 123 yards passing, but on every one of Virginia Tech’s big plays there was a missed tackle by a defensive back that would have limited the damage. They did everything wrong from taking bad angles to trying arm tackles to just aimlessly diving on the ground. For this game, they looked like the soft incompetent bunch we saw all of last year.
Special Teams – Grade: F
Andy Leffler did a much better job with the punts this game (43.0 avg, long of 56, and 2 inside the 20) and Josh Czajkowski got back on track. Allowing the second half kickoff to be returned for touchdown was the turning point in the game. This is the second kickoff return for TD allowed this year and you just can’t give away points on special teams if you expect to be a good football team.
Coaching – Grade: F
How do you lose a 17-0 lead at home? Seriously. It’s not like it was a couple fluke plays that put us up 17-0. The game plan in the first half was brilliant, but we never made any adjustments and were thoroughly outcoached by Frank Beamer and his staff. The execution by the players was poor at times, but our offensive strategy was chuck it up and hope for the best while our defensive strategy went from being aggressive early to more and more passive as the game went along.