David Cooper: Panic
The Virginia Tech Hokies have the longest active 10-win season streak in college football. They currently have eight 10-win seasons in a row and are attempting for their ninth this season. After the Hokies lost to the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday, they have put that streak at serious risk.
Now some may say it is too early to panic, but I am not sure those people really watched the game on Saturday.
The Hokies were beat at the line of scrimmage, allowing Pittsburgh to rush for 254 yards to Tech’s 59. You cannot win games unless you control the line of scrimmage, and it was pretty clear the Hokies did not.
The reason for Hokie fans to panic is that the defensive line was supposed to be the anchor of the team, but on Saturday it was clearly outmatched. Hokie radio commentators, Mike Burnop and Bill Roth, even said they had not seen Virginia Tech’s defensive line get beat like that since the LSU game in 2007. Are we really comparing the unranked Pittsburgh Panthers to the 2007 BCS National Champions?
The defensive line is not the only reason why the defense is struggling; missed tackles play a big part too. Anyone who watched the game knows just how many missed tackles the Hokies had, especially from the linebacker and safety positions.
Have Hokie fans been spoiled by watching great tackling from the defensive backs position over the years? Maybe, but there were still a lot of missed tackles from the defensive backs on Saturday.
Tech turned the ball over four times on Saturday against a defense that hadn't forced a turnover in its previous two games. Quarterback Logan Thomas was picked off three times and seemed to have communication problems with his receivers all game.
The expectations for Thomas were very high coming into this season, but through three games, he has struggled to meet those expectations.
Most believed Thomas would show great improvement due to his experience from last season, but he has struggled against sub-par defenses. I would argue Thomas turned in his worst performance of his career against the Panthers.
On top of a struggling offense and defense, the Hokies schedule will not make things easy. They already were playing both Clemson and Florida State from the Atlantic Division on top of all of the Coastal Division opponents who have been waiting for the Hokies to show signs of weakness for years.
The Hokies will also have to worry about the game in Landover, Maryland against Cincinnati; a team that beat Pittsburgh 34-10 this season. And I cannot leave out a pesky Bowling Green team that hung around with the Florida Gators for a while in their season opener.
The Hokies have an uncanny ability of rebounding after tough losses and have consistently shown this. However, the problems on both lines of scrimmage are a serious concern and the lack of experience on offense puts a lot of pressure on the few returning players. Getting to 10 wins is not going to be easy.