Following North Carolina’s rout of Virginia Tech Saturday, Brent Pry asked fans for patience.
“It’s not going to be an overnight process,” Pry explained in his post-game press conference. “It’s going to take time. We’re going to do it the right way. We’ve got to recruit better, we’ve got to create better practice habits and we’ve got to keep working on our culture… We’re making progress in all three areas. Sometimes it’s hard to see, but we are.”
Still, Pry should forgive some fans if they are struggling to see the progress claiming to be made.
The Hokies’ 41-10 loss at Chapel Hill was possibly the most incomplete performance of Pry’s short tenure as the head whistle in Blacksburg. We knew that Tech had a talent disadvantage, but a 31-point disadvantage?
I don’t think so. Florida A&M, for example, lost to North Carolina by 32 points earlier this season. Are we to believe that Tech is that close to Florida A&M?
The offense, though, might be worse than the Rattlers. Tech scored just 10 points for the second consecutive week, this time against a Tar Heel defense that allowed 61 to Appalachian State, 28 to Georgia State and another 32 to a struggling Notre Dame offense. The Hokies showed no substantive improvement from the week prior — the Hokies averaged just 2.8 yards per rush attempt and Grant Wells inspired little confidence in his 16-of-26 for 139 yards performance.
In fact, Wells’ errant interception in the second quarter provided a lot of ammunition to fans who believe he isn’t the long-term answer at quarterback.
But we knew that Virginia Tech’s offense would struggle, even if we thought they’d look a bit better against a leaky Carolina defense. The expectation was that the Hokies’ defense would keep things close.
Instead, North Carolina racked up 527 total yards, averaging a whopping 7.2 yards per play. Virginia Tech offered little resistance to redshirt freshman Drake Maye, who carved up the Hokies for 363 passing yards and five total touchdowns. The Tar Heels finished Saturday with 10 plays of 20 yards or more.
It was the second-straight week that Virginia Tech’s defense looked far behind their offensive counterparts. Against Carolina, the difference was jarring.
Remaking a roster in one offseason is difficult, but Lincoln Riley’s raiding of the transfer portal seems to have benefitted USC. For the Hokies, one offseason might be too big of an ask. But two seasons? That seems more reasonable.
That means that the coming offseason will be of monumental importance. Tech has to find immediate answers to their talent problems, but it's safe to say we won’t know how that goes for quite a while.
But in the meantime, fans should expect to see progress. Fans should expect to see steps being made in the right direction. No one expects the Hokies to win every time out, but they should show signs of strengthening and coming together.
We don't appear to be seeing that on the field so far.
Wells looks less and less comfortable at quarterback and the offensive line continues to struggle in the run game. In addition, now there are legitimate worries that the Hokies’ defense is several steps behind where we thought they were just a couple weeks ago.
At this rate, Virginia Tech will finish 2022 at the bottom of the conference standings. If that’s going to be the case, there should be some notable and visible improvements that those inside and outside the program can hang their hat on.
Former Washington Redskins beat writer Rich Tandler was known for reminding fans to watch what those in power do, not what they say. We know what Brent Pry is saying, but at least four games into the season, we also know that it doesn’t appear to jive with what we’re watching them do.
Asking for patience is reasonable, but only when there’s reason to believe that patience will be rewarded.
After the Hokies’ last two performances, I'm not sure what to believe.