From the sidelines
By Marty Gordon
Virginia Tech outlasted a stubborn Richmond team on Saturday and left fans scratching their heads about whether there are problems on the offensive side of the ball.
Tech was a 27-point favorite going into the game against an FCS opponent, but at times, the Spiders seemed like an impressive group that made approximately $400,000 to make the trip down I-81 to Blacksburg.
Head Coach Justin Fuente remained upbeat after the game but admitted his team has been inconsistent.
“At times it’s been pretty good, [but] not nearly consistent enough to score like we’re going to need to score as the season goes along,” the head coach said in his post-game interview. “We’ve got huge improvements to make. Shuffling the offensive line around shouldn’t matter. All those guys have played a bunch of snaps. It’s a byproduct of what we had to do, but as a whole, we’ve got to find a way to play better.”
Braxton Burmeister threw for 212 yards and a touchdown to lead Virginia Tech to the 21-10 win Saturday, but some of the calls from the sidelines had fans questioning things. The criticism has come from across the board.
When it comes to Burmeister, Fuente said there was some good and some bad.
“He had a great week of preparation after getting some news that he didn’t like,” the coach said. “I was proud of the way he responded through preparation, [and] he made some plays out there today like he has all week. He made some plays in the passing game. He gave our guys some chances to go catch the ball. Some of them we made and some of them we didn’t. It certainly wasn’t perfect, but I think it was better in terms of getting our guys chances to make some plays.”
The Tech quarterback gave himself a passing grade that would probably be in the C range.
“Yeah, I definitely missed a couple of throws,” Burmeister said after the game. “I feel like from an execution standpoint, I’ve missed a couple of reads. I also feel like I’ve made a lot of plays out of the pocket and throwing on the run, giving our guys a chance sometimes, so I feel like it’s kind of been up and down. I’ve just got to put it all together and we’ll be good.”
The team’s running game is also questionable as it has netted only 661 total yards in four games with Burmeister being the team leader with 211 net yards before the sacks are subtracted from the total. Jalen Holsten and Raheem Blackshear have gotten the bulk of the carries and have 159 and 149 yards respectively this season.
The Hokies are off this week before playing host to No. 12 Notre Dame on Oct. 9.
Meanwhile, some changes need to take place to breathe some life into the squad and maybe cure the offensive woes. While Fuente might not want to depart ways with offensive coordinator Brad Cornelson especially in the middle of the season, he could take over some of the play-calling from his head coaching position.
Running backs coach Adam Lechtenberg also needs to find a reliable starter who can produce more yardage on the ground. Burmeister has shown he can produce, but he needs some help from elsewhere in the backfield.
Nothing gets easier for the Hokies with Notre Dame on the horizon, and changes have to come to save this season. They can still be tops in the Coastal Division.
The negative can be forgotten with a new way that could put the season back on track. The roster is full of lots of talent, and now is the time for it to show it.
In the midst of the chaos, Hokie fans also must slow their roll and realize college football continues to deal with its own problems, and the team in burgundy and orange cannot always be at the top of its game. There is a lot of season left, and the team can still win a majority of its remaining games.
It’s just great to have football back with fans in the stands.