Virginia Tech has plenty to fix after shocking loss at Pittsburgh

The numbers are just plain ugly for Virginia Tech coming off Saturday’s shocking 35-17 loss at Pittsburgh.


Virginia Tech wide receiver Corey Fuller looks dejected during Saturday’s loss to Pitt. (Keith Srakocic/AP)

It all adds up to Virginia Tech being unranked in the AP and coaches poll for the first time since losing to James Madison two years ago. Coach Frank Beamer addressed all the issues during his weekly Monday teleconference, and it appears he’s well equipped to deal with early-season problems. After all, this is the fifth time in six years Virginia Tech has been unable to escape September without a loss.

“I think everybody’s gonna have adversity somewhere in their life and how you react to it is the deal there,” Beamer said.

Regarding the defense’s surprising breakdowns, especially dealing with Pittsburgh’s multi-faceted run game, Beamer said the problems were three-fold: poor gap fits, missed tackles and communication issues in the secondary. The problems were only exacerbated when cornerback Kyle Fuller left the game with a shoulder injury.

“That was a tough loss for us,” Beamer said. “I said all along we needed to stay healthy in the secondary and when he went down, we were shuffling around a little bit. Guys were playing at positions they hadn’t practiced at, so that caused some confusion.”

To be specific, Fuller’s absence forced sophomore Michael Cole to play extensive at rover, while safety Detrick Bonner moved to cornerback. Sophomore Kyshoen Jarrett switched to free safety, instead of rover, as well.

Beamer would not provide an update on Fuller’s health, saying the team would release its injury report on Thursday. Beamer did note, however, that offensive guard David Wang did not suffer a broken foot, as trainers first feared when he left Saturday’s game.

As for quarterback Logan Thomas and his career-worst three interceptions Saturday, Beamer said the blame should be shared between Thomas, a group of receivers that sometimes ran the wrong routes and Pittsburgh’s pass rush. The running game hasn’t been Thomas’s friend this year, either.

Beamer said freshmen tailbacks Michael Holmes and J.C. Coleman have looked their age on the field, and the result has been an uncharacteristically bad running game for the Hokies. In fact, over the past two weeks wide receiver Marcus Davis is the Hokies’ leading rusher and receiver simply based on a few successful reverses.

“As an offense we’ve got to function better,” Beamer said. “It’s not particularly any one person. It’s one thing here and one thing there. But we’ve got to be more consistent.”

The only bright side to all this is that Virginia Tech still controls its own destiny in ACC play. But with Bowling Green, a team that was tied with Florida in the third quarter two weeks ago, coming to Blacksburg Saturday, the Hokies have a long week of problem solving ahead.

One other note: Jarrett was named the ACC’s specialist of the week after scoring a touchdown on a 94-yard punt return against Pittsburgh. It is the second-longest punt return in Virginia Tech history, and the longest in the ACC since 1970.

Mark Giannotto is a Montgomery County native who covers high school sports for The Washington Post. He previously covered Virginia and Virginia Tech football for five years.

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