Published September 28, 2010
BLACKSBURG, Va. – A missed block here, a blown assignment there.
Virginia Tech coaches and players say an offensive awakening is just around the corner. However, after scoring 49 against East Carolina, the Hokies reverted to their off-again ways Saturday at Boston College, scoring only one touchdown in four trips inside the red zone in a 19-0 victory.
"There were several offensive plays where 10 guys are good and one guy misses a block, or blocks the wrong guy or we have a foul," coach Frank Beamer said Tuesday. "I think offensively, when you do that, the play doesn't look very good."
On Saturday Virginia Tech plays at No. 23 North Carolina State, where the results will need to be better. The Wolfpack (4-0, 1-0 ACC) have been the early surprise of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Hokies (2-2, 1-0) rank 81st in the country in red zone efficiency. They've scored nine touchdowns and kicked six field goals in 18 such trips despite a roster of offensive skill players that could accurately be described as loaded.
Besides Tyrod Taylor, the Hokies' dual-threat quarterback, they have tailbacks Darren Evans, Davis Wilson and, perhaps, Ryan Williams back this week. They also have home run hitting receivers in Jarrett Boykin, Danny Coale and Dyrell Roberts, and much more.
Last week, they reached the Eagles' red zone twice on their first three possessions of the second half, and both times settled for field goals by Chris Hazely. They reached the B.C. 23 on the other possession, but that drive also stalled and ended in a field goal.
Hazely is 8-for-9 on field goal attempts this season, but he is being called on too often.
"Definitely, it's frustrating moving the ball all the way down the field and not being able to convert, especially in that red zone area," tight end Andre Smith said, "but all we did is we got together as a group on the sideline, offensive line and everybody together, and just try to realize what we were doing wrong. Again, the accountability thing, if somebody messed up, they admit they messed up and the next time we go out they try to correct it."
It also helped that the Hokies defense put on a stout performance, taking some of the pressure of the missed opportunities away, but Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien sounds like he thinks the Hokies' record of success makes people overreact when things don't go well.
He cited their season-opening losses to Boise State and James Madison as examples.
"This is a heck of a football team coming in," he said. "Everybody's like the end of the world, they lost two games. They're about five plays away from being a top-five team."
But even so, those mistakes have already taken the Hokies out of contention for their top goal, the national championship. And now, with their adjusted sights are set on a fourth ACC title in their seven years in the league, and know that they must improve to get there.
Taylor said he can't always tell who has made the mistake when a play falls apart, but when he does see an error, he's not afraid to call the player out.
"It's just about getting better as a team," he said.
The woes have been something of a surprise, Taylor said, adding that improvement is coming.
"I know we have a very talented team. You could say we've had a slow start, but as the year progresses, like always, the Virginia Tech offense will get better as the year goes on," he said. "I look for a very explosive offense this week and for the rest of the" season.
AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.