Two days after Virginia Tech was held without a touchdown in a home game for the first time since 1995, Coach Frank Beamer told reporters during his weekly teleconference that his offense is better than the scoreboard showed in Saturday night’s 23-3 loss to Clemson.
The Hokies had two turnovers, punted the ball eight times, and were held scoreless in the second half against a Tigers team that entered the game allowing an ACC-high 6.3 yards per play. But Beamer emphasized Monday that “it’s not like we have no hope.”
“We’re so close on so many plays,” he said. “As you watch the film and how we started out and how physical we were playing, it doesn’t seem right that we only scored three points. We’re close to scoring more, but it’s a matter of getting it done.”
Running back David Wilson did break the 100-yard mark for the fourth time in five games, rushing for 123 yards on 20 carries, and had 61 total yards on Virginia Tech’s first two drives.
Yet the Hokies’ opening possession ended with an interception by quarterback Logan Thomas that should have been caught by wide receiver Jarrett Boykin. Then, Virginia Tech’s second drive of the night stalled when Wilson fumbled for the third time in four games.
Add in t10 third downs in which the Hokies had to gain six or more yards (the offense was just 4 of 16 on third down overall), an inability to convert red-zone chances into touchdowns and a passing attack that’s still very much a work in progress with a new starting signal caller, and the recipe for a miserable evening is there.
But another issue that derailed part of the Hokies’ offensive gameplan Saturday was the left shoulder injury Thomas suffered at Marshall. Beamer said that forced Virginia Tech to limit the amount of designed runs they called for Thomas, something that was successful during the first three games of the season.
“I think he’s fine, [but] I don’t think he needs to take a lot of hits on that either,” Beamer said. “I can tell you it affected our play calling, how many times we want to run him.”
Beamer also indicated the Hokies might need to take more shots downfield to keep defenses honest, but said there are no procedural issues going on with this year’s arrangement of having quarterbacks coach Mike O’Cain call the plays and offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring on the sideline.
As for Thomas’s psyche after getting sacked four times and throwing for just 125 yards in his first start against a ranked opponent, Beamer seemed unconcerned. He mentioned that Stinespring received a text message from former quarterback Tyrod Taylor after the game that read, ‘I missed that guy in the flat the same way when I was just starting out,’ in reference to a Thomas mistake during one play Saturday night.
“He doesn’t need to think anything but keep getting better,” Beamer said of Thomas. “He missed one check off, and [I’d] like for him to throw the ball different places a couple times, but I think that’s all part of growing up, or growing as a quarterback. . . . I think Logan is fine. He’s a smart guy; he’s a poised guy; he doesn’t panic. I like him as our quarterback and I like him as the leader of this football team.”
>> Two other big topics of discussion involving the offense were the false start on third-and-goal from the 2-yard line in the second quarter that Beamer and Thomas partly blamed on the noise created by Virginia Tech’s band, and the left tackle situation after Clemson defensive end Andre Branch finished Saturday’s game with three sacks.
Beamer addressed both Monday.
Regarding the band, I re-watched the game and there’s about three seconds between the time the music stopped and the false start by left guard Greg Nosal occurred. Some band members have told me via Twitter that it was the Clemson band playing before the snap, not the Marching Virginians. So yes, on top of lots of questions about Virginia Tech’s offense, we may have a bona fide band controversy this week.
Here’s Beamer’s take on the penalty, which happened coming out of a timeout:
“They start the 25-second clock, and that got on us a little bit, so now we’re rushing out there to get the play off and I think we surprised the band how quickly we got to line and got ready to run the play,” he said. “I guess the band was playing. They said the noise, they couldn’t hear the snap count.”
Meantime, left tackles Andrew Lanier and Nick Becton, who have been alternating every series this year, had a tough night going against Branch – particularly late in the game when Clemson’s defense could pin its ears back and solely focus on rushing Thomas with the Hokies trailing by three scores.
But like the entire offense, Beamer had a better outlook on the situation than most.
“I think we’re better than what it showed there at the end,” he said. “The guy is getting a great jump, and one time Lanier’s eyes were back inside when the ball was snapped, so he was just a hair late getting off. And one time I thought [Branch] had his hand in the facemask and that kept us from being able to block him. I think we’re better at that position than it came across there at the end. You get into those third and longs, and they know you’re gonna throw and you’ve got a good athlete there on the other side, that’s a challenge.”
>> Beamer confirmed that true freshmen Luther Maddy and Corey Marshall will compete for the starting spot at defensive tackle this week now that redshirt junior Antoine Hopkins is out for the year with a torn ACL. The Hokies will also give more reps to Stafford native Isaiah Hamlette and bring redshirt junior Dwight Tucker up from the scout team for more depth.
>> Miami announced Monday morning that linebacker Ramon Buchanan suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Hurricanes’ 45-14 win over Bethune-Cookman this past weekend. Buchanan had 18 tackles for Miami this year.
However, the Hurricanes will get safety Ray-Ray Armstrong back from a four-game suspension that came as a result of the NCAA’s investigation into impermissible benefits provided by booster Nevin Shapiro. Nine Miami players were suspended for its season-opening loss to Maryland, but only defensive lineman Olivier Vernon will be unavailable when the Hurricanes come to Lane Stadium on Saturday.
>> In non-Miami news, the ACC announced Monday that Virginia Tech’s game at Wake Forest on Oct. 15 will be a 6:30 kickoff and shown nationally on ESPN3.