It was a crazy atmosphere; it was a crazy game. It was a tremendous effort; it was a tremendous ending. That being said, the Hokies still came away with their sixth loss of the season despite winning most statistical categories.
The Hokies out-gained Florida State in terms of yardage, they out-gained the Seminoles by over 100 yards on the ground (in fact, they held Florida State to -15 yards rushing on the night, the third fewest rushing yards ever allowed under Frank Beamer), and they won the time of possession battle.
All of those stats went in the Hokies’ favor and they still lost. So is this season for Virginia Tech – heartbreak and close-but-so-far seem to be the overlying themes of the year.
After the game, while some Virginia Tech players sat in tears in the home locker room, 2013 commit Holland Fisher addressed the team and gave them words of encouragement. He said that the defense was going to destroy people next year and that he was pumped to be a Hokie. It says a lot about the state of the program when a senior in high school has to address your collegiate team post-game. Either that, or it says a lot about the character of Holland Fisher. It’s probably a little of both.
This story personifies the state of the program right now though. The kids put everything they had into that game last night and it’ll be interesting to see what they have left now that they are left squarely up against a wall. Any mistake from here on out, a single loss will effectively end their season. If they lose one more game, they won’t be eligible to play in a bowl game. However, if they win out, Duke loses a game or two, and Miami self-imposes a bowl/postseason ban, the Hokies might miraculously find themselves playing for the ACC Championship…again.
And that scenario would be the epitome of backing into a situation, but it’s a situation that Hokie Nation should embrace if it rears its head. The Hokies could have, and maybe should have, beaten Florida State last night. The defense resurrected the “Lunch Pail” defense mentality as the front seven played with reckless abandonment. The secondary, minus some lapses, played aggressively and knocked down many passes. E.J. Manuel left that game battered and bruised, but still made the necessary plays in the end.
If those two teams played again, who knows what will happen. But before that can happen Virginia Tech has to take care of business within the ACC. And the mindset of this team will dictate how these next two games play out. If Virginia Tech comes out against Boston College and UVA like they did against Miami, the Hokies will lose both of those games. If the Hokies can muster up the intensity and focus that they played with last night, they will blow both teams out by 20 points.
My biggest fear right now is that this team is so mentally exhausted and downtrodden after an emotional game like that against FSU that they sleepwalk into Boston. In front of a severely less-than-capacity crowd at 1 p.m., I fear the Hokies might lay an egg that will keep them from a crack at the postseason. We’ve seen the Hokies baited into games like this before. Early in the afternoon in a barely filled stadium: it’s a recipe for disaster for a team that has been inconsistent all year.
So this is the point in the season where we discover the true makeup of this team. Will they be victims of circumstance, or will they play for a vision (in the words of Colts head coach Chuck Pagano)? If this team plays for the bigger picture, there’s still hope for a shred of redemption this season. If the Hokies let circumstance dictate their play though, you can kiss this season goodbye.
Like Woody Harrelson said in Zombieland:
It’s time to nut up or shut up.