The Hokies are coming off a remarkably embarrassing 35-17 blowout loss to Pittsburgh out of the Big East Conference. The Panthers, despite being in a BCS conference, had been anything but impressive up until that point with a loss to FCS opponent Youngstown State and a blowout loss to fellow conference foe, Cincinnati.
“Pittsburgh just played better than we did,” said head coach Frank Beamer. “Give them credit. I felt that they were prepared, played extremely hard, played extremely physically and I think we can certainly learn from that video and hopefully become a better football team.”
Coming out of the loss, there are question marks for the team across essentially all positions.
One of the main positions facing the most scrutiny is at tailback, which has struggled to produce despite having what the coaching staff calls “four capable starters.” Redshirt-freshman Michael Holmes is the leading rusher with just 100 yards in three games, and the second leading rusher is true freshman J.C Coleman with just 54 yards.
“Freshmen are playing like freshmen at times,” Beamer said of his two young backs. “They have to continue to grow. I think there is a lot going on and I thought Pitt was very tough on defense. We have a couple guys there that are seeing things for the first time. They’re going to be OK though.”
However, right tackle Vinston Painter isn’t ready to put the blame on his running backs quite yet, as he says the offensive line is the reason for the lack of success in the rushing attack.
“The running backs are doing their job,” he said. “Our job is going to make their job a lot easier. The more we help them out, the better they’ll be.”
One problem with the offensive line, was when starting guard David Wang went down with a foot injury. After suffering a broken foot last season, the team was initially afraid they might have lost him for a while.
“It wasn’t broken. At first they thought it might be a fracture there,” said Beamer.
Quarterback Logan Thomas also hopes to see success this week after having arguably the worst game of his career last week with three first half interceptions. Thomas believes if the running game can get going, it will open a lot more opportunities for himself in the passing game.
“Obviously the running game opens up the pass game,” Thomas said. “It does make our job a little tougher when they’re not even paying attention to play fakes to the running back. But at the same time, like last week, I have to take care of the ball when we do throw it.”
Bowling Green, meanwhile, may be the right opponent to allow an opportunity for Thomas to succeed in throwing the ball around a bit. The Falcons are ranked No. 95 nationally in passing yards allowed per game and No. 109 in pass efficiency defense. Beamer believes as a unit, the team must do a better job this week.
“As an offense, we have to function better. It’s not particularly any one person, it’s one thing here and one thing there. We have to be more consistent.”
Despite all of the questions on offense, the almighty defense of the Hokies failed to live up to its preseason expectations in giving up 35 points to what had been a struggling offense.
“No intensity; no passion; inconsistent effort; lack of communication,” said Bud Foster, defensive coordinator. “Just everything that was kind of our keys to success. We have to be more physical. We got pushed around. We had inconsistent efforts. And that’s not who we are. And we’ll get that corrected.”
This week, the team is facing a Bowling Green team, which has struggled offensively, averaging just 16.7 points per game.
Despite these struggles, Beamer doesn’t plan on taking them lightly.