For postgame quotes and a recap of the Hokies 38-17 loss, head on over to the Collegiate Times. With the Hokies falling to 4-4, hopes of a Coastal Division crown have fallen, but it’s not devastating.
Here’s some thoughts/notes on Saturday’s contest at Memorial Stadium.
1. The defense played good enough to win.
38 points says otherwise, but Bud Foster’s unit played outstanding. Of the two Clemson touchdowns in the first half, one was an interception return. The other was a 26-yard drive set up by the punt that hit Christian Reeves in the back of the leg. Despite allowing just 137 yards of total offense, the Hokies were down 17-10 at halftime.
In the second half, the defense forced five three-and-outs of the eight Clemson drives. Of course, those three other drives were touchdowns, but Tech wasn’t exactly winning the field position battle. The three Tigers’ touchdown drives: 52, 47, and 31 yards.
That’s not even taking into account the fact that Detrick Bonner stripped Sammy Watkins on the second touchdown drive, which may have been one of the worst reviews in the technology’s history. (We’ll come back to this.)
All in all, the defense allowed 295 total yards of offense. To put that in perspective, Clemson’s previous low for offensive output was 426 yards against FSU, and averaged 525 yards coming in.
2. Same story, different chapter. The run game ultimately hindered the Virginia Tech offense.
It’s not like the Hokies had to air out a comeback; Clemson never took a 14-point lead until 4:30 remaining in the third quarter. Virginia Tech even handily won the time of possession battle at 33:57 to 26:03. Logan Thomas rushed for a season-high 99 yards, but the four running backs (Gregory, Scales, Coleman, Holmes) combined for just 93 yards on 26 carries (3.4 yards per carry).
If it’s been said once, it’s been said a million times. It’s extremely difficult for Tech to win when it’s Logan Thomas vs. The Opponent’s Defense.
3. Refs don’t decide games, but they provided the contest’s turning point.
Down by seven points in the third quarter, Thomas appeared to get off a pass to a wide-open Coleman with a defender attempting to bring him down. However, the referee had blown the play dead as a sack, and the Hokies punted.
Two plays later, Bonner appeared to strip Watkins on a first-down catch that the Hokies recovered. During the review, clear evidence of the ball being dislodged before Watkins’ fanny hit the ground was shown. For the Hokie faithful, it seemed as if the offense would get another shot to tie the game. As we all know, the call wasn’t overturned, and the Tigers took a 24-10 lead 5 plays later.
4. Two coaching decisions didn’t cost the game, but it certainly didn’t help.
Up 7-0 and facing a fourth-and-a long one at the Clemson 18, Beamer elected to give the ball to Michael Holmes, who was immediately stopped in the backfield. (Martin Scales, anyone?) Getting a two-score lead in Clemson certainly seemed like the logical choice.
To add insult to injury, the playcall for the Marcus Davis-double pass was severely ill-timed. Beamer said that the play had been open earlier in the game, so they tried it again. Did it ever occur to anyone on the staff that somebody from Clemson saw what Tech was trying to do, and made a halftime adjustment for it? Or just the plain fact that the Clemson defense is expecting a trick-play of that sort up 14?
The Hokies have a bye week coming up, and Florida State comes into town the following Thursday. It should be noted that the Hokies are 4-0 at Lane Stadium this season.