Virginia Tech’s offense sputtered all game, the defense got burned more than once and the special teams play was lousy in the Hokies’ first real test of the season. But as coach Frank Beamer was quick to note after his team opened ACC play with a 23-3 dud against No. 8 Clemson, they have been in this position before, and they have bounced back.
“This thing’s far from over,” Beamer said after his team lost for the first time in 13 Atlantic Coast Conference games, and for the first time in six games against the Tigers. He recalled 2007, when Matt Ryan and Boston College pulled off a dramatic comeback in the final seconds at Lane Stadium, seemingly giving the Eagles the upper hand in the ACC.
“I felt awful that night,” Beamer said of the 14-10 loss on a Thursday night. “It was a game we had wrapped up and all of a sudden they go right down the field, but you know what? “We came back and beat them in the ACC championship game.”
These Hokies, who dropped from No. 11 to No. 21 in the Top 25, have a long way to go before they can even think about making that kind of recovery after an abyssmal showing Saturday night. The offense managed just 258 yards in going without a touchdown at home for the first time since 1995.
Quarterback Logan Thomas was 15 for 27, but for just 125 yards, and one pass that had the potential to be a big gainer hit Jarrett Boykin in the hands and was intercepted. In the fourth quarter, trailing 17-3 and forced to throw, Thomas was sacked three times.
“When you don’t take advantage of some opportunities and you get behind the chains with these guys and let them turn those ends loose, that’s not a good position for us to be in,” Beamer said, also lamenting mental errors and a steady diet of third-andlong situations.
Tailback David Wilson ran for 123 yards, but also lost a fumble. On defense, Virginia Tech was mostly solid, but Tajh Boyd caught Eddie Whitley out of position on a 32-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Allen, and also converted several thirdand- long situations. Mike Bellamy clinched the game with a 31-yard touchdown run in the final quarter.
Perhaps the Hokies’ biggest concern heading into Saturday’s visit from Miami is in the punting game, where Scott Demler not only continued to struggle, but got even worse. Beamer even let Demler try to use a rugbystyle approach, but Demler dropped the ball while moving to his right preparing to kick, and then got off a kick that went just 11 yards.
He finished with a 29.4-yard average for eight punts and was booed repeatedly. Beamer, who has kept competition for the punting duties open in recent weeks, and even used wide receiver Danny Coale a few times in games, seems set on letting Demler get it right. “We still have work to do there, too,” he said.