Critics of Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer point out that the Hokies have now lost before October in seven of the past nine seasons, and often the defeats have come in games where Virginia Tech is favored.
It’s a criticism that’s the result of the raised expectations Beamer created around Blacksburg and one that was repeated often by fans this week with Virginia Tech coming off a humbling 35-17 defeat at Pittsburgh last Saturday.
However, they usually gloss over just how good Beamer is at getting his teams back on track.
Since 2004, when Virginia Tech’s early-season “struggles” began, not only have the Hokies reeled off 10 or more wins every year, they’re also 13-5 in games immediately following a regular season loss.
The journey toward another turnaround starts Saturday at noon, when Bowling Green (1-2) visits Lane Stadium. And kickoff probably can’t come quick enough for Virginia Tech’s offense and defense, which are both still smarting from sub-par performances last week.
As has been well documented this week, Virginia Tech’s offense is breaking in eight new starters this season, and through two games that uncertainty has shown. Quarterback Logan Thomas doesn’t look comfortable behind a revamped offensive line and the running game has been mostly invisible.
The Hokies will be without starting left guard David Wang (ankle) Saturday and face a Bowling Green defense that returns 10 starters from a year ago. Slowing down senior defensive tackle Chris Jones, who has 3.5 sacks in three games, will be the primary challenge. But the Falcons have struggled to to stop passing attacks so far this season – they’re No. 99 in the country in pass defense – and it could be the perfect remedy for Thomas’s early-season inconsistencies.
But it’s more important to get the running game going against Bowling Green. The Hokies have yet to find a consistent option in the backfield, partly because of an offensive line that hasn’t produced a bevy of holes, and Beamer hinted this week there could be changes coming in Virginia Tech’s tailback rotation. I wouldn’t be surprised if redshirt freshman Michael Holmes and senior Martin Scales see a bulk of the carries, with freshman J.C. Coleman serving as a change-of-pace option. Regardless of who gets the ball, the Hokies need to find their signature power running game or they could be in trouble once ACC play begins in full.
Virginia Tech’s defense is also looking for some redemption after an embarrassing performance at Pittsburgh. Bowling Green is averaging just 16.7 points per game this year, but Falcons running back Anthon Samuel had 112 yards on 16 carries last week in a loss to Toledo and quarterback Matt Schilz has completed more than 67 percent of his passes the past two weeks. He threw 28 touchdowns in 2011.
Don’t expect the Hokies to solve all their issues in one week, but that doesn’t mean Beamer and company won’t rebound. Bowling Green hung with Florida for three quarters before losing 27-14 to open the season, and with Virginia Tech’s offense anything but a juggernaut at this point, the Falcons may be able to do the same Saturday at Lane Stadium.
But the Hokies won’t be lacking for motivation this week, especially with a defense that is almost certain to have a bounce back effort.
My prediction: Virginia Tech 30, Bowling Green 13
But what do you think will happen? Will Virginia Tech put its loss to Pittsburgh in the rearview mirror with a dominating performance? Or is Bowling Green capable of dealing the Hokies another shocking defeat? Vote in the poll below and then let me know how this game will play out in the comments section.