After six months of hype, a week chalked full of advertising, and 60 minutes of football; the game ended just as most college football pundits believed it would.
The Hokies traveled to Atlanta to take on a determined Alabama team and came up short, losing 34-24 in front of over 75-thousand.
As much as this loss hurts, Hokie fans needs to realize that there are 11 games left in this season, and in all eleven Virginia Tech will be favored. The reason for this is because the Hokies played pretty well on Saturday, for an ACC team that is.
Tech was able to prove that the top ACC team could hang with the top SEC team, a feat that went by the wayside last year when Clemson was mauled in the same building by the same team.
The Hokies started off this game slow, allowing two long Alabama drives, both of which ended in field goals for the Tide. However, on the returning kickoff, Dyrell Roberts raced 97 yards down the left sideline to give the Hokies the lead in the first quarter.
After Leigh Tiffin and Matt Waldron set of field goals, Alabama regained the lead after a masterful Bama touchdown drive that was capped by a 19 yard Roy Upchurch touchdown run.
However, the Hokies weren’t done as a turnover sparked some life into the Hokies offense as Ryan Williams busted through the offensive line to score his first career touchdown, giving Tech a 17-16 advantage at the half.
The third quarter saw a lot of body shots thrown, but both teams failed to land a haymaker.
That all changed as the fourth quarter saw a large outburst of scoring and it was the Tide who regained the lead on a Mark Ingram six yard touchdown run. McElroy was able to find Collin Peek, the tight end, in the back of the endzone for the two point conversion.
The Hokies turned the ball over on the next possession setting up another Leigh Tiffin field goal, which gave Alabama a ten point lead with just over ten minutes left.
After another beautiful Dyrell Roberts return, Tech was able to punch it in thanks in part to a 32 yard run by impact freshman Ryan Williams. Tech closed to within three but the Alabama offense was rolling and the tired Virginia Tech defense couldn’t stop it. On the next drive the Tide rolled 74 yards on just five plays to put the game out of reach on a 19 yard pass and catch to Mark Ingram.
Tech had one last offensive possession but the Tide defense sacked Tyrod twice and never gave the junior signal caller a chance.
Alabama was able to walk away victorious for the second year in a row in Atlanta, Georgia.
While many Virginia Tech fans will look to point fingers, the loss could be attributed to numerous amounts of factors. Simply, the Hokies were just outmanned and outgunned on the field tonight. Alabama had a more talented team and it showed but the tenacity of this team allowed Tech to stay in it until the very end.
But looking at it at a micro-level, Tech made far too many mistakes to overtake a talented Alabama team. Ryan Williams muffed a punt that lead to a field goal, Davon Morgan fumbled a kickoff, a phantom holding call took away a first down, and a pass interference call gave Alabama a first down even though the ball was uncatchable.
If any of those things bounced the other way, this could have been a completely different outcome.
As much as I like Tyrod Taylor, I thought at times tonight he appeared to be a little timid in the pocket; worrying about the rush more than what’s happening downfield. I say this without having looked at any of the game film. It appears that early on, Tyrod was determined to stay in the pocket more than taking off in running, something he would have done more often last season. Nevertheless, I don’t think you can put any blame on Tyrod’s play tonight. He managed the game well and didn’t turn the ball over.
The offensive line’s blocking in the fourth quarter was atrocious. Dechristopher at right tackle and Greg Nosal at right guard seemed to be lost at times tonight, especially on the last drive where both of those guys were responsible for the two sacks that ended Virginia Tech’s chances tonight.
I am really surprised that Rolando McClain wasn’t ejected from tonight’s game. After two personal fouls including one for shoving an official, McClain was not ejected from the game. For the cheap shot on Render and bumping into a referee, he should have been tossed. In an ACC basketball game, he would have been ejected as soon as he touched an official, not sure why that’s so different in football.
I’m not one to blame anything on the refs as there are always phantom calls or no calls that hurt each team. But it seems like the holding calls were just thrown in randomly. Now, if you ask any offensive lineman or defensive lineman, there’s “holding” going on, on every play. But while Tech got flagged for holding on a few key plays, Alabama got away with two big holds that allowed a few of their drives to keep going. Tech did get a few calls that went their way in this game but if your going to call holding call it consistently on both teams.
Who would have thought our defense would have had such a poor showing last night. Obviously, it wasn’t all there faults but Alabama did have a very good 3rd down conversion percentage so the defense could have saved themselves 10 to 15 plays if they just could have stopped the Alabama offense on third down. But, you very rarely expect an opponent to be able to put up 500 yards of total offense on a Bud Foster defense.
My final point here is one that should register with every Virginia Tech fan. Another shot of launching this program into the arms of the elite falls short due to problems that are consistently on going for this program. Lack of an elite level QB, lack of a great offensive line, and lack of creative play calling along with consistent execution plagued this team again tonight. For some reason we just cannot get over that hump.
While this loss does hurt, I did see a lot of good things out of this team tonight. Two years ago, we couldn’t have even hung with these guys. This year, we hung with them and were a big play away from winning it at the end.
Ryan Williams was our offense tonight and boy is that kid going to be special. When
Evans comes back next season (I’m hoping he gets a medical redshirt making him a sophomore again, might be a bit tricky since he’s already redshirted but there’s a chance he could get one), Tech will have by far the best group of running backs in the nation. The Hokies may struggle a bit this year but boy are these guys going to be fun to watch.
How about Dyrell Roberts getting his first ever kick return TD in his young career. He was a few steps from breaking a couple last season, so it was nice to see him do this against the best team we’ll see this year. Hopefully he can take a few more back to the house this year.
Take away the last two possessions but our offensive line played reasonably well last night. Notice the words “Terrence Cody” never came out of either Herbie’s or Musberger’s mouth last night. Gotta give credit to Sergio and Warren for taking care of the big fella all night long. DeChristopher and Nosal struggled at the end but a large part of that was miscommunication.
After Ryan fumbled the punt return, Jayron Hosley was the man catching the punts the rest of the night. The one return he did have was pretty impressive as he eluded about five defenders before getting brought down for only a small gain. The kid is only a true freshman but it appears he has the “it” factor we need as a punt returner.
Sadly, Brent Bowden could have possibly been our MVP last night. Bowden boomed a couple of punts and really looked a lot more poised than he did last season.
While it would have been nice to win this game, the Hokies at least were able to hang with the best team in the SEC and even slug them in the mouth a few times. It’s clear that the Hokies are not on that SEC level yet but since Tech doesn’t play in the SEC, that spells trouble for the rest of the conference since, let’s be honest, the ACC is pretty pathetic.
The Hokies should be favored in their 11 remaining games and honestly; we should probably win all 11 of our remaining games.
If we can get through September 3-1, watch-out because the Hokies national championship hopes might not be done yet.