By Matt Jones, sports editor
The Hokies lost 27-24 in the final seconds, but that wasn’t the whole story. Hear from the players and coaches…
Thomas, O’Cain evaluate offense
For the better part of three quarters, the Virginia Tech offense looked a lot like it has all year.
Penalties, dropped passes and missed assignments characterized most of the game, before Logan Thomas and the offense turned it on.
“Until you get a few plays, you really don’t know what they’re doing to you,” said Mike O’Cain. “We could just never get anything going. Once you get some first downs, you’re allowed to do some more things. We did a few little different things; we got the ball on the corner a little bit more at the beginning of the second half and had some success there. We had the opportunity to do that because we were getting some first downs.”
Thomas, who finished with 242 yards passing and one touchdown, took responsibility for the poor start.
“I can’t point any fingers, we just have to figure it out soon,” Thomas said.
The lone touchdown, a 56-yard strike to Corey Fuller with 1:49 remaining, came on a play the Hokies had used earlier.
“We called that play earlier I think on the series before or the series before that, where Logan threw the ball to the tight end in the flat,” O’Cain said. “I told him if you can hold it a little bit longer, I think you had Corey coming on the crossing route. Fortunately he didn’t have to hold the ball very long, it opened up pretty quickly. It was something coming into the game, they play some man coverage, like to press our receivers outside, and they were up in our face all night long.”
Overall, Thomas wasn’t his sharpest on the night, finishing just 17-of-30, including an interception in the red zone.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with him, he’s just got to execute it and throw it a little bit better,” O’Cain said. “I don’t have any answer for why he threw the ball poorly.”
The loss, the Hokies’ second on the season, hurts a little more than the Pittsburgh game.
“Any loss hurts, but those that you lose in the last seconds hurt you more,” O’Cain said. “Not that you ever want to get beat badly like we did at Pittsburgh, but those games you don’t look back and say, ‘If we’d just done this, the game would’ve been different.’ They wore our butts out and we would’ve had to do a lot of things differently to have won that ballgame. This one, it sticks with you more.”
Tyler and Taylor give status of defense
After a solid to above average performance against Bowling Green last Saturday, the Hokies allowed 495 yards of offense to Cincinnati.
“It was just one of those things where we didn’t make enough big plays,” said Jack Tyler. “They made a couple big plays toward the end; we just didn’t what it took.”
Those big plays, all second half touchdown passes from Munchie Legaux, spelled disaster for the Hokies.
“Our secondary is good, we just had a few letdowns,” Tyler said. “We’re young back there and switched things up, but some of the things we tried to eliminate we just didn’t get done.”
The Hokies performed admirably for a majority of the game, holding the Bearcats to just 281 yards through three quarters. Things fell apart in the final quarter, however.
“Especially with Cincinnati playing very well coming into this game, I felt like we did a good job keeping their running game to a minimum to the most part,” said Bruce Taylor.
“Nothing really changed (in the fourth quarter), they hit a play and that happens,” Taylor continued. “Those guys are on scholarship, they’re big time athletes as well. It’s just about making plays, and they happened to make a play when we didn’t.”
The final play, a 39-yard pass from Legaux to Damon Julian, was the backbreaker.
“That is obviously the one play that really got us down,” Tyler said. “It was just another letdown by the defense. We weren’t doing the right assignment…there is nothing much more to say than that.”
Much like O’Cain, this loss hurts Taylor more than most losses do.
“It hurts deep, especially a person like me, a competitor,” Taylor said. “I don’t like losing games at all under any circumstances, and it’s just tough.”