Virginia Tech did not open up their ACC schedule the way they would have liked losing 17-13 to Pittsburgh in an ugly game in Blacksburg.
Here are five takeaways:
A rough day for Motley: If you thought the Hokies were in trouble when Michael Brewer went down with a broken collar bone, you weren't alone. Backup quarterback Brenden Motley has actually been a pleasant surprise playing in relief of Brewer with good games against Furman, Purdue and ECU. Today, however, he took a major step back.
Motley completed only 9 of 20 passes for 91 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. In the second quarter, Motley stared down his receiver and Pitt's Avante Maddox read him like a book, stepping in front of the pass for the easy interception. Motley again stared down his receiver in the third quarter and under threw him by about 10 yards giving Terrish Webb probably the easiest interception he will ever have.
Shredded offensive line: The offensive line has been an issue for Virginia Tech the past few years and boy was that evident today. The Hokies managed only 100 yards of offense against the Panthers and the horrendous performance of the offensive line was the primary reason why. The line gave up seven sacks in an ugly game as Motley had almost no time to find his receivers. The constant punishment Motley took finally seemed to take its toll in the 4th quarter.
On the play in which he threw the second interception, Motley was brought down hard on his right shoulder and walked slowly off the field. It was said he had suffered a shoulder strain on his throwing shoulder. Dwayne Lawson was seen warming up on the sideline, but Motley returned for the next series.
No room to run: The Pitt defense held Virginia Tech to only 9 yards rushing. Obviously the offensive line had a lot to do with that as they could not pass or run block at all.
It also reflects the problem of relying solely on the quarterback draw to establish your rush attack. With a stable of backs including J.C. Coleman, Trey Edmunds and Travon McMillian, the team should have developed some semblance of a rush attack in the early season. Instead, Motley has been the primary rusher for the Hokies with 45 carries heading into Saturday's game. McMillian was second on the team with 26 carries.
Virginia Tech needs to find a primary back, probably McMillian, and get him at least 10-15 carries a game, not relying solely on quarterback draws. That is especially true as all of that punishment is clearly stating to take its toll on Motley. Virginia Tech needs to establish their rushing offense with an actual running back.
Wasted performance for the defense/special teams: Defense was a big question mark heading into this game for the Hokies given how they played last week and the news that Kendall Fuller would be out for the remainder of the season. Defensively, however, Virginia Tech played reasonably well holding Pitt to only 276 yards of offense. They also held star receiver Tyler Boyd to only 48 yards receiving and no touchdowns.
Quarterback Chad Voytik gutted the Hokies on the ground last season, but after both Voytik and quarterback Nathan Peterman combined for 54 rushing yards in the 1st quarter, the defense adjusted well. The two quarterbacks managed only 41 rushing yards for the game and really were not a major factor. Andrew Motuapuaka had something to do with that as he was a force to be reckoned in his return. For the game, he recorded five tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles.
Beamer Ball was also on display as the Hokies blocked a 42-yard field goal attempt in the 4th quarter to keep the score at 17-13. The offense, however, was not able to take advantage.
The bowl streak is in serious jeopardy: With the loss, Virginia Tech now falls to 2-3 and you have to wonder if Frank Beamer is going to be able to keep the 22-year bowl streak alive.
Here is the rest Virginia Tech's schedule: NC State, at Miami, Duke, at Boston College, at Georgia Tech, North Carolina and at Virginia. Virginia Tech's two wins this year have come against an FCS team and one of the absolute worst Power Five teams in the nation. Given how they have played the last two weeks, do you see four more wins in that schedule?
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