I wrote about the beginning because the beginning is the trend. This team can’t start games on offense, and Beamer seems to be in denial about it. Those quotes will be in the column.
Here is what play-caller Mike O’Cain had to say about the slow starts:
“You don’t know until you go back and look. You go in with a plan – you feel like you can do this against them, and you don’t know it until you try it. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes it does work. The Georgia Tech game, we took the ball right down the field the first two times…
“Either we’re not getting things matched up right in calls or we’re missing a block here, we’re missing a throw here. We’re second down and 2. If Logan hits that pass we get a first down, we get something going. It’s no different today, probably than it was last week. You’re going to look back and say, if Logan hit that pass we get some first downs we’ve got a chance to go, or if somebody had stayed on a block a little bit longer of if a back had made this cut instead of that cut.
“It’s a combination of every position at one point in time not making a play or not doing exactly the right thing. And that’s the way offensive football is. It’s hard to overcome a mistake in offense. If 11 guys aren’t doing it right, it’s hard to be successful. And that’s kind of what we’ve had a little bit of…It’s not that anybody’s playing poorly when you look at the whole scope of the game. It’s just we’re not hitting on all cylinders at some critical times. And when you’re struggling a little bit, everything’s critical. Every play is critical right now.”
I asked Thomas what the deal is when he throws high. Here’s what he said: “It’s a mixture of things. Sometimes it’s being hit, sometimes it’s letting it go early and not getting my feet completely down. It’s a mixture of things.”
A few other quotes:
Linebacker Bruce Taylor: “We played with pretty good effort throughout the whole game except for a few big plays we gave up. That is still unacceptable. We have to come out on every play focused like it’s your last play, and we gave up a few big plays.”
Cornerback Kyle Fuller on the last play: “It’s really, really hard. I take responsibility. You can say that there [are] plenty of plays that changed the outcome of the game, but I put it on myself and all you can do is learn from them.”
Thomas on the frustration: “It is extremely frustrating. Just because you know you are one thing away from the play you want, the big game you want, the first down you want. It makes it tough on you, and hopefully we get those things corrected.”
Receiver Marcus Davis on the end: “You never really think of things like that. You always see it on TV or you see it in movies or something like that, and you just don’t want to be that team. The feeling inside of you is unreal, but it happens.”
That’s all for now. I’ll post links when they’re up. See you next week from Chapel Hill. As always, thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.
Final: Cincinnati 27, Virginia Tech 24. Back with more later.
Quarter expires with Cincy up 13-7, but Tech is lining up for a short field goal. Better job by the offense that quarter; the runs to the outside found some room, while Marcus Davis got involved with two long catches.
A high throw by Thomas on a well-designed play went off the fingertips of tight end Randall Dunn and got intercepted at the Cincy 3. That was the best chance to score during the period.
Cincy finding some room in the secondary, which has been shuttling Kyle Fuller in and out of the game.
The Hokies lead 7-6 at halftime thanks to their defense. An interception by Kris Harley (tipped by Bruce Taylor) set Tech up at the Cincinnati 13, and Logan Thomas ran it in from five yards away on fourth-and-2 to give Tech the lead.
As for the offensive struggles, well, they’re serious. Tech has 72 yards of total offense. Everybody gets tired of hearing this, but it all comes down to being able to run the ball. Right now, Tech just can’t. The Hokies are averaging 2.7 yards per tote, with Thomas leading all rushers with 13 yards on five carries.
Tech has won consistently over the years because it has played defense and run the ball well enough to control the clock and field position. Don’t underestimate the value that also provides the defense, which gets well rested and is ready to pounce whenever it takes the field. Without that element, the Hokies simply ride the winds of fortune, and the only way to win is by picking off passes and breaking long returns.
Thomas doesn’t look good, and not all of that’s on the running game, but a big chunk of it is. How hard is it to defend the pass when you don’t have to respect the run?
It’s fashionable to bang on play-calling. I view it more in totality than individual plays. In other words, what is your identity, and what are you committed to doing well? You guys are going to blast me for this, but in general, the play-calling is pretty much how would have done it — trying to run the ball until you can get it right. The problem is the blocking isn’t there and none of the backs has separated himself.
The Hokies ran it on first down to start five of their seven possessions (including each of their first four). Only once did they get more than three yards. Once they got nothing, once they got one, and twice they got three. That’s the problem. And until it’s fixed, you’re gonna see this offense struggle, and you’re gonna hear boos.
The Bearcats lead 3-0 but it could be worse for the Hokies, who forced a field goal after a first-and-goal and got away with a turnover in their own territory when the Bearcats came up short on a fake field goal.
Not much going on with Tech’s offense, which looks strikingly similar to the first quarter last week – not much running room for the backs and there’s been significant pressure on Thomas.
Cincy has outgained the Hokies 112 yards to 21. Hokies are averaging 2.1 yards per snap.
UC—FG Miliano 20, 6:02. Drive: 13 plays, 77 yards, 5:46. Key play: Thompkins 37 pass from LeGaux to VT 40. Cincinnati 3, Virginia Tech 0.
UC—FG Miliano 43, 8:25. Drive: 12 plays, 34 yards, 5:53. Key play: Winn 1 run on fourth-and-1 to VT 24. Cincinnati 6, Virginia Tech 0.
VT—Thomas 5 run (Journell kick), 2:41. Drive: Four plays 13 yards, 1:08. Key play: Harley interception at UC 13. Virginia Tech 7, Cincinnati 6.
UC—Thompkins 29 pass from LeGaux (Miliano kick), 6:59. Drive: Eight plays, 80 yards, 3:53. Key play: Julian 30 pass from LeGaux to VT 29. Cincinnati 13, Virginia Tech 7.
VT—FG Journell 28, 14:56. Drive: Nine plays, 62 yards, 4:08. Key play: Coleman 24 pass from Thomas to UC 17. Cincinnati 13, Virginia Tech 10.
VT—Holmes 3 run (Journell kick), 8:37. Drive: Eight plays, 76 yards, 3:02. Key play: XXXX. Virginia Tech 17, Cincinnati 13.
UC—Abernathy 76 pass from LeGaux (Miliano kick), 7:51. Drive: Two plays, 75 yards, :46. Cincinnati 20, Virginia Tech 17.
VT—Fuller 56 pass from Thomas (Journell kick), 1:49. Drive: Six plays, 93 yards, 2:43. Key play: Roberts 25 run to VT 32. Virginia Tech 24, Cincinnati 20.
UC—Julian 39 pass from LeGaux (Miliano kick), :13. Drive: Nine plays, 85 yards, 1:30. Key play: Kelce 15 pass from LeGaux to UC 30. Cincinnati 27, Virginia Tech 24.
Greetings from FedEx Field, where we’re about an hour away from Virginia Tech-Cincinnati. The Hokies (3-1) are a 6.5-point favorite over the Bearcats (2-0), who haven’t played in two weeks.
The Hokies are just 12-18 in neutral site games under Frank Beamer, including an 0-2 mark at FedEx Field.
Decided maroon advantage in the parking lots.
The Hokies have scored touchdowns in 10 of their past 14 red zone trips.
Tech opponents have returned just six of the Hokies’ 21 punts this season for a total of 19 yards.
Cincy is getting $3.5 million for moving this game to FedEx.
Kickoff is 3:30 p.m. See you then (actually a little before for the pregame, but you get the idea).