The stakes are much bigger for the Noles Thursday night, but it's no secret the Hokies will be all-in to pull off an upset. We asked Justin, Managing Editor at the Virginia Tech Fan site for his insights on the team, its coaches and how fired up everybody in Blacksburg will be come kickoff.
Logan Thomas is third in the ACC in Total Offense. Is the problem the players around him or the much-criticized offense coordinator?
A: Honestly, it’s sort of an all-of-the-above type of answer. Logan Thomas is a fantastic player and a terrific pro prospect. But, he’s struggled mightily this season for numerous reasons. To an extent, I expected a down year from him this season since we had to replace just about every other player on offense. Tech lost two receivers, four offensive linemen, and all of their running backs at the end of the 2011 season. You just don’t plug new guys in and churn out 500 yards of total offense a game.
Our coaches do deserve some blame since it’s their responsibility to prepare the players and put them in a position to succeed. Over the past two weeks against Clemson and Miami, we’ve been able to move the football. We’ve had over 400 yards of total offense in each game but we’ve scored only three touchdowns combined. Against an FSU defense that ranks 3rd in scoring defense, that’s not going to get it done. Tech is going to have to sustain drives and score points when the opportunity presents itself.
Also, Thomas deserves some blame himself. His mechanics have been off at times this season. He’s airmailed passes he put on the money last season. At times, he’ll throw off his back foot and lose all velocity on the past. He’s not really a natural passer, as ESPN analyst Todd McShay mentioned recently, but he has all the tools to be a tremendous quarterback. Hopefully, the Logan Thomas of last year shows up on Thursday.
Last week's game at Miami was crucial for Tech to turn around its season. Why do you think the team didn't play like it was a key game?
A: The effort was there but it just came down to poor execution and poor coaching. The blocked punt, the fumble on the three yard line, the over throw on 4th and 1 to a wide open Joey Phillips in the flat, the 81 yard kickoff return by Duke Johnson; all of that factored into an 18 point loss.
For whatever reason, we just can’t seem to get out of our own way this season. Poor throws, no running game, poor play calls, and idiotic calls from the officials have doomed us numerous times this year.
If you were Jimbo Fisher, how would you attack VT's defense?
Of course, if Tech can get something going offensively, the Noles may need to attack the middle of the field more, which is where the Hokies are the weakest. Our linebackers haven’t been great in coverage and we have no depth in the secondary. That doesn’t bode well against a senior quarterback with a deep receiving corps.
But, attacking the middle of the field against a Bud Foster defense can be dangerous. A tipped pass leading to an interception could change the game.
The Hokies can go a long way to salvaging the season by beating FSU. Are they physically and emotionally ready to play their best game of the year? And will Tech fans still fill the stands to help motivate the team?
A: Lane will be rocking just because everybody normally schedules for this Thursday off before the season. Plus, if you’re a student what else would you be doing on a Thursday night? I doubt many fans would cancel their trip to Blacksburg because of a poor record. Although we’re out of the ACC Championship race, we still need to keep our bowl streak alive. Those extra practices always help younger players.
As for the emotional side of the game, you know the team will show up to play well in this one. Florida State is a national opponent and a win would salvage this season somewhat. Plus, with nothing to lose you can play looser and not focus on mistakes as much. Also, Tech is 4-0 at home this season. For whatever reason, we’re a decent team inside Lane Stadium this year.
Do you think Beamer will make major changes in the coaching staff after the season? Or is it possible Beamer himself might even retire?
A: Frank Beamer won’t retire after this year but he’s going to need to make some changes to ensure future success. We’ve really been teetering on a season like this for the last seven years. Luckily, we’ve always had a great defense or a dynamic quarterback that’s helped us avoid a 4-5 start to a season.
I think all Virginia Tech fans want a new Offensive Line Coach and a new Offensive Coordinator. I’m not sure Tech fans will get that but somebody is going to have to be used as the fall guy. Most likely, it will be either Coach Curt Newsome (offensive line) or Coach Mike O’Cain (Quarterbacks/Co-Offensive Coordinator).
If Tech loses on Thursday then drops one to either Boston College or Virginia, Beamer might be forced to do a complete overhaul of the offense. Whether he agrees with it or not.