Virginia Tech’s 6-6 season was a massive disappointment; in fact, the Hokies may have been the most disappointing team in the country. It was the worst season in Blacksburg in 20 years and if they want to avoid their first losing season since 1992, then they must beat Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl. There are plenty of reasons to point to when it comes to what happened this season, but the main one is no big secret.
The Hokies running game was terrible this year. The loss of David Wilson to the New York Giants hit Tech and it hit them hard. This season, the offense attempted to use a platoon of backs but it didn’t work and outside of a single play here or there, none of the running backs did much to impress. The Hokies only averaged 157.75 yards on the ground per game, and most of that load was carried by quarterback Logan Thomas.
Thomas ran for 528 yards this season, which is spectacular if he is the second option; the only problem was that he was the first. Virginia Tech’s offense is not designed for a quarterback to lead the team in rushing. It is predicated on running backs making plays and then using play-action passes to get the ball down the field. So, the fact that Virginia Tech didn’t have a solid, reliable running back really hurt the offense.
This is something that Virginia Tech needs to get fixed and fast. The Hokies want to return to their dominance of the ACC next year and that will start in their bowl game against Rutgers. One of the three returning running backs next year (Michael Holmes, Tony Gregory or J.C. Coleman) needs to step up against the Scarlet Knights and show that they have what it takes to be the featured back in 2013.
The Russell Athletic Bowl will come down to one thing: if Virginia Tech can run the football they will win and if they can’t, they will lose. It’s just that simple.