Only so much can be said after a loss like the Virginia Tech Hokies took Saturday at Clemson.
The Tigers, who defeated the Hokies twice in 2011, were not overly dominant in their 38-17 win.
Offensive coordinator Chad Morris’ prolific offense was held to under 300 yards.
Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins, two of the best receivers in the country, both had less than 100 yards.
Tajh Boyd, who was completing 67 percent of his passes entering Saturday, was just 12-of-21.
So what was the Hokies’ downfall in Death Valley? Well, they shot themselves in the foot.
It is one thing to win an ugly game against a lower tier opponent — it is a whole other thing to play that same game against a team as talented as Clemson.
The Tigers scored four touchdowns on Bud Foster’s defense, but that does not tell half the story. Through turnovers and poor punting, Clemson only had to drive, on average, 41.5 yards on its four scores.
The offense, on which much of the blame has been put, did have its moments. The Hokies drove 58 yards for a touchdown on the opening drive, they finished with over 400 yards of total offense, and Logan Thomas had a career-high 99 yards rushing.
In the postgame interview session, the mood was positive.
“I think we’re good enough,” Thomas said. “We’ve got to put it all together, but I think we’re good enough.”
Frank Beamer, the active leader in FBS wins as a coach, has learned not to panic over his 26 years in Blacksburg.
"It hasn't gone exactly the way you want it to,” he said. “As long as guys are giving effort, you've got to accept what comes down."
It will be difficult for fans to accept exactly what comes down, though, especially when the Hokies were unanimously picked to play in the ACC championship game and extend their 10-win streak.
Instead, the Hokies have four losses before the end of October for the first time since 1992.
A year ago, when Thomas put up record numbers alongside his tailback David Wilson, the Hokies had no trouble winning any type of game. This year, things must go perfectly for the Hokies to win.
“It’s a simple game,” said Mike O’Cain. “It’s making plays. And we didn’t make plays.”
And the Hokies have playmakers. Thomas proved that last year; Marcus Davis is capable of breaking out at any time; J.C. Coleman has showed flashes; and the defense proved Saturday it can hang with a top offense like Clemson.
Putting that all together on the same day is the issue tripping up Beamer and the Hokies.
For now, the Hokies are not mailing in the season quite yet. Back-to-back Thursday night games against Florida powers Miami and Florida State are up next—two opportunities to get back in the hunt.
“It’s pretty simple: we’ve just got to win,” said cornerback Antone Exum. “We’re still in the hunt. As crazy as that sounds, at 4-4, we’re still in the hunt. We have to go down to Miami and handle business.”