On a big stage, in front of the largest crowd to ever attend a football game, Virginia Tech came crashing down Saturday night in a blowout loss to Tennessee. There were plenty of mistakes, but what are the Hokies doing to correct them for their ACC-opener this week against Boston College? We take a look at five key points from early in the week.
Fumbles on Fumbles on Fumbles
At the Battle at Bristol, Virginia Tech had five turnovers, all fumbles. That came on the heels of four lost fumbles in its season-opening win over Liberty. The Hokies keep fumbling the ball, which is unacceptable, according to coach Justin Fuente.
“We’re fumbling the ball too much,” Fuente said. “That is a fact. We must – it’s not an option – get that fixed.”
As was pointed out in Virginia Tech's press conference Monday, the Hokies have fumbled the ball 10 times total in their two games and recovered just one of them, in the season-opener. But Virginia Tech isn't blaming bad bounces or anything else for that statistic. It starts with getting better at ball control to begin with.
“Nothing major, just hold on to the ball,” Evans said. “It’s simple. We have to be more conscious with holding on to the ball rather than trying to get those few extra yards, if that’s the case.”
Fuente agreed with Evans on the ball security aspect. Fuente said he went in great length discussing the extreme urgency with fixing this fumble problem.
“This is a result of several things,” Fuente said. “Main one, we have to do a better job technically. We have to be less selfish and also tougher.”
Parade of Penalties
Not only are the number of fumbles to blame for the Hokies' demise Saturday, but also the number of penalties. Virginia Tech was whistled for eight penalties against Tennessee, which was double the amount in the Liberty game. Those eight penalties added up to 101 yards. In comparison, the Volunteers received six penalties for 60 yards.
Fuente explained how the penalties resulted in big a setback for the Hokies and created inconsistency among the team.
“I think we certainly know the things we have to address now to give ourselves a chance,” Fuente said. “We have to be a much more disciplined team, which is probably the most disappointing part.”
Fuenete said that upon film review, a few of the calls against Virginia Tech were questionable. But several others were obvious penalties that have to be corrected. Fuente said his players have to not their emotions get the best of them in what he called "an ongoing thing."
Who's at Center?
A twist to the depth chart was revealed at Monday’s press conference. Listed under the center position was 'Eric Gallo or Kyle Chung." Gallo started and played all 13 games at center last season. Chung, a redshirt junior, played four games in 2015 season, one as starter. He started against Tennessee game, but right now, it's up in the air which player will start.
“We have the exact same amount of reps for the one’s and the two’s in everything we do,” Fuente said. “As you go through the season, those two’s become your one’s.”
Fuente acknowledged Chung’s growth, which led him to be a competitor to Gallo. Fuente noted his talent and the opportunity to have depth at that position. However, during the fourth quarter, Chung snapped the ball well over Evans head, which lead to another fumble.
“It is difficult having two centers, but at the same time we get a lot of reps with them both,” Evans said. “It gets easier once I start to get a feel for them and how they snap the ball.”
The same instability is at left guard as well. Junior Wyatt Teller played, but the start went to redshirt sophomore Colt Pettit. It's still undetermined which player will start Saturday.
Poorly Played Practice
A major contributor, repeated multiple times since the loss to Tennessee on Saturday was the “dull and flat” practice performance on Tuesday and Wednesday in the week leading up to it. The listless practices were mentioned after the game and on Monday.
“Practice was not up to standards,” senior offensive lineman Jonathan McLaughlin said. “You have to have a good Tuesday and Wednesday in order to have a good Saturday. We did not.”
Junior linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka agreed by commenting how “dead” practice was. He explained how he viewed the team as just going through the motions as if the team was still in camp. Motuapuaka said he plans to energize the team by reminding the players to perform with the passion and emotion that shows they want to be out there.
Even though Fuente and every athlete acknowledged the fact that practice leading up to Bristol was not up to par, no one explained why nothing was done to boost up the energy during those two days.
“I noticed practice was not what I should be and I pointed it out to them,” Fuente said. “We just have to have better preparation for Boston College.”
Boston College's Familiar Face
Both Virginia Tech and Boston College have a 1-1 record at this point in the season. When matching up with the Eagles, 30-year long defensive coordinator Bud Foster will be facing off with former Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler.
Loeffler coached as the Hokies’ offensive coordinator for the past three years. He joined Boston College in January. Fuente commented on the familiarity aspect that might be on the field, since the two coordinators worked together for three years.
Even with some familiarity, Motuapuaka said he believes that Loeffler will change up plays to prevent ideas. Either way, Fuente said how tremendous of a challenge Saturday would be as they open conference play at home with Boston College.
Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE
“As you can see, when we do things the right way, we look pretty good,” Fuente said. “For Boston College though, much has been made about their defense and that is well deserved. They have a fantastic front seven. They also changed things up offensively. We are ready to attack the week.”