It may be time for a change for the Virginia Tech football program.
It was senior night on Heinz Field on Saturday, and the Panthers seniors showed up big time, beating the Virginia Tech Hokies convincingly, 47-14.
Pittsburgh got plenty of production out of its senior contributors throughout the day. Quarterback Kenny Pickett threw for 404 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for a touchdown as well. Running back A.J. Davis rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver DJ Turner caught 15 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown as he torched the entire Virginia Tech secondary all day.
The Hokies came into the matchup with a 4-4 record, and this loss is just another chapter in what has been a disastrous season so far for Virginia Tech.
The Hokies' offense sputtered throughout the day, with the team only able to move the chains 17 times throughout the matchup. Outside of two drives that ended with scores by wide receiver Tré Turner, the offensive unit was relatively lifeless throughout the day. Quarterback Hendon Hooker had one of his worst games of the season, completing only 59% of his passes, throwing an interception, and only averaging 3.8 yards per attempt on the ground. Predictable play-calling by offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen seemed to be the nail in the coffin for the Virginia Tech offense from the outset.
Left tackle Christian Darrisaw was out for the game with an apparent injury, and it was very obvious his absence was felt on the offensive side of the ball.
Turner was a bright spot for the Hokies, catching three passes for 74 yards and two touchdowns.
Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente did not seem too keen on the idea when asked if he would consider taking over play-calling duties in the future.
"That’s the most ridiculous crap I’ve ever heard. Next question," Fuente said after the loss.
The Hokies' defense has been an issue all season, as they’ve dealt with opt-outs, injuries and COVID-19 related problems continuously. However, this is only the second time this season where the offense has struggled. Usually relying heavily on the rushing attack, Virginia Tech has been able to get by with a dynamic running game led by Khalil Herbert and Hooker. The passing game has not been nearly as potent, averaging only 189 yards per game and consisting almost entirely of RPOs, one read concepts and screen passes.
The Hokies' (4-5, 4-4 ACC) season is now looking eerily similar to their 2018 season, in which they also lost to the Panthers in their ninth game of the season and finished with their first losing record since 1992.
Now Virginia Tech is almost surely going to finish with a losing record for the second time in three seasons, and it is clear change is needed. It will be on bye next week and face off against the No. 4 ranked Clemson Tigers (7-1, 6-1 ACC) in Week 14. The Hokies will finish their season against the rival Virginia Cavaliers, who are currently on a three-game winning streak, on Dec. 12 in Blacksburg.
The Virginia Tech football program has been through some rough times over the past couple of years, losing to in-state schools Old Dominion, Virginia and Liberty. Finishing the season with five consecutive losses may prove to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back as Hokies fans are reeling in pain after seeing the fall of a once promising program.