It was a long season for the Hokies. It was predicted to be another solid, 10-win season, and why shouldn’t we have expected that? That’s how we’ve been playing for a long time. However, after beginning the season ranked in the top 25 as usual, we struggled to hold onto our spot among the nation’s elite teams. It was a less than stellar season, for sure, and our name slowly slipped out of the BCS conversation.
Wait, what am I doing here? We all witnessed it. No need to repeat the obvious.
What I can do, or at least try to do, is break it down and find some of the highlights and positives of the season, although that seems like a tough task given the outcome. But we’ve got to be optimistic going forward, right?
So let’s give this a shot: the good, bad, and ugly of the 2012 Virginia Tech football season.
Before I start: I’m not trying to be pessimistic. Really. So if it comes across that way, it’s not my intention. There were just a lot of not-so-fantastic moments in our season this year.
After last year, VT lost several strong players to graduation and the NFL, including Danny Coale, Jarrett Boykin, and David Wilson. While we all knew filling their shoes would be a difficult task, I do believe we have the talent to do that. Many of them are freshmen or sophomores, so they have plenty of time to work and develop. Specific names that come to mind are Michael Holmes, J.C. Coleman, Kyshoen Jarrett and Demitri Knowles. Each of these players had some notable moments this season, and I see them becoming big players in future seasons. I was really afraid that we wouldn’t have a whole lot of guys who would be capable of stepping up and filling the holes, especially those of Coale and Wilson. We also have five-star recruit Kendall Fuller coming in next year (and yes, he is the baby brother of Corey and Kyle Fuller). These guys, among others, left me with hope for next year. They will be able to reach their potentials as they play more and gain more experience playing at this level.
Another really neat game to witness in Lane this year was VT’s largest comeback in program history. Down 20-0 to Duke at the half, I was starting to get nervous. I couldn’t handle losing to Duke, especially in football where we’re supposed to own them. Something must have clicked during halftime, because we came back and scored 41 consecutive points to claim victory over the Blue Devils. It was great to get that win over Homecoming weekend, especially coming off a 34-48 loss to UNC the week before. Beating Duke is fun, no matter the sport!
Oh, and we beat UVA. That counts for something.
We all know that games are often decided based on the little things: that one pass that almost toppled out of the receiver’s hands, or that one defender who almost didn’t grab the runner and bring him down. This year’s squad knows all about those little mistakes, all too well. I’m not going to point any fingers, but there were recurring blunders that we can’t ignore. Too many unnecessary fumbles. Countless dropped passes that should have been easily caught. A few crucial interceptions that changed game momentums. Missed blocks. Pass interferences. Predictable plays. Do I need to say a whole lot more? Little mistakes build up to create huge problems in the long run.
Another annoying piece of this season was our slow starts to games. I don’t know what it was, but we took forever to get going this year. This was aggravating, and I always felt like I was going to have an aneurism or two before the first quarter was over. I would prefer for my head to not explode at a football game, please.
Obviously the little mistakes I mentioned above were not completely chronic, because we came out of the regular season with a 6-6 record. We had moments of absolute brilliance, like that reverse play against Austin Peay (or was it Bowling Green?) or a few of LT3’s epic bomb passes against UNC and UVA. But those moments of brilliance were too few and far between. Inconsistency was our downfall this year. Maybe it had something to do with our players and talent, or the mix of players on the field at any given time. Maybe we should look toward the sidelines. Running plays didn’t work for us this year, so why were running plays still being called? Wherever the issue originated, we have to be more consistent, especially on offense, if we want to be considered an elite team. Sure, all teams make mistakes or have fluke games or what have you, but there is a difference between a fluke and straight-up inconsistency. VT doesn’t go a shaky 6-6 often. It’s not our thing. That has to change next year.
Something else that really annoyed me this season was loss of confidence from the fans’ side. Okay, so maybe it was a frustrating season; I’m not denying that by any stretch. But that does not mean that we should stop going to games just because we aren’t dominating. I cannot count how many times I overheard such statements this season: “I’m not going to the game this weekend, we’re probably going to lose.” “I skipped so many games this year. Looks like I made the right decision.” It hurt me to hear things like that, because I still devoted my Saturdays to jumping in North End Zone and losing my voice yelling and cheering for my team. Our team needs and deserves our support, if for no other reason than they are our team. Yes, I know it was tough this year, but that doesn’t mean we should jump ship and lose confidence. That’s not what Hokies do.
Okay Kate, step down from your soapbox. You’ve said enough on that.
The season isn’t quite over yet. On December 28, the Hokies will take on Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. This is our last chance to prove that we really are better than our 6-6 record shows. I believe we are. While it is not a BCS bowl, we are keeping our bowl streak alive for the 19th straight year. I also believe there are some serious changes that need to be made in several areas during the off-season. But that is another post for another time. For now, I am focusing on the immediate future, and that is the bowl game. I will do a follow-up post once the bowl game has passed.
I love my Hokies dearly, and I only wish the best for them. Was this season a fluke? Perhaps. Only time and changes will tell. I am already looking forward to seeing what next season has to bring. We have a whole reserve of talent, and I can’t wait to see how it develops between now and then.
But until then, you can bet I will be seated in front of my grandparents’ TV on December 28 (because I will be in Charlotte celebrating Christmas with my family by that time) and cheering as loudly as if I were there. I apologize in advance for that, by the way.