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Five things that could put the Virginia Tech Hokies back on track

Back to basics.

Yes, the Hokies need to get back to the basics of football on the field, i.e. blocking, proper angles, and tackling. But they also need to get rid of the “new uniform for every game” nonsense and go back to the more traditional uniforms. Especially the all maroons.

You’re probably asking how a simplified uniform combination can help Frank Beamer’s wayward team play better football. The answer is it probably wouldn’t, but it would likely give the players and the fans a greater sense of identity. It would also be one less distraction for the players, who get questions each week about their thoughts on the uniform combination the seniors have chosen. Enough already. You are Virginia Tech, not Oregon University or Maryland.

Shake up the coaching staff.

There, I said it. Specifically, Frank Beamer needs to replace his top level offensive coaching staff. Virginia Tech’s offense has been stagnant, inconsistent, predictable and unreliable for years. It’s time for a change. It’s time for new blood, new ideas and new energy.

Is that an indictment on Stinespring as a person? Of course not. Has he had some success, sure. But college football, like it or not, is a results-driven business. If you don’t win, you eventually get fired. Georgia Tech got through half a season before firing its defensive coordinator, Al Groh, because his defense couldn’t stop a paraplegic sloth.

Stinespring supporters will cry that he’s a great recruiter, but what’s great recruiting if you can’t utilize those players’ skills on the field? Getting great players doesn’t mean squat if your offense and coaching aren’t on par with other college football programs. Underperform long enough and you’ll start to lose recruits to better coached teams.

A sub par season.

What would a sub par season be for Virginia Tech? For a team that’s won at least 10 games during the last eight seasons, anything less than 10 wins would be considered sub par. The Hokies are 3-3 heading into Saturday’s game against Duke. Tech would need to win its final six regular season games just to get to nine wins and then would need a win in the ACC championship game or a bowl game to reach 10 wins. Bottom line - that probably isn’t going to happen.

The Hokies have Duke, at Clemson, at Miami, Florida State, at Boston College, and Virginia remaining on the schedule. Based on what the Hokies have done so far this season, it’s hard to see them beating Clemson and Miami on the road. The Hokies have Florida State at home, but the Noles (5-1) are playing well this season and will likely be favored to win in Blacksburg. And unless Tech gets back on track, and quickly, the losses are going to start piling up.

Boston College and Virginia are both games the Hokies are capable of winning, but Tech has lost two of their last three games at Chestnut Hill. UVA is another winnable game, but given how the Hokies have played so far, it’s hard to say how they’ll do in the regular season finale.

First, the Hokies have to get past a resurgent Duke program that is 5-1 and one win away from being bowl eligible. The Blue Devils are tied with Miami for the Coastal Division lead. Duke pounded the Wahoos last weekend, 42-17, in Durham.

It is not unrealistic to think that Virginia Tech could finish with a losing record this year and miss a bowl game. If Duke comes into Lane Stadium and wins on Saturday, the Hokies will be 3-4 and facing back-to-back road games against Clemson and Miami - not a position Beamer and his staff want to be in.

A 7-5 finish could give Beamer a slight reprieve from the fans, but 6-6, 5-7, or worse will not be acceptable to a fan base that has enjoyed a 20-year streak of winning seasons and bowl game appearances. Worst case scenario (5-7 or worse) and Tech fans will demand change and could question Beamer’s future as the head coach for the first time since the 1992 season when the Hokies went 2-8-1, which is also the last time the program had a losing season.

Mind you, Beamer’s job is not in jeopardy, even if the Hokies finish with a losing record. He’s done so much for the program and the university that he’s earned the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity to turn things around. For those that feel he’s untouchable need only remember the name Bobby Bowden. Beamer’s not there yet, but fail to right the ship and no coach is untouchable.

Review recruiting strategy.

I’m not going to pretend I know enough about recruiting to spell out exactly what’s going wrong, but I know that other successful programs seem to be getting more out of their 4- and 5-star recruits than is Virginia Tech. It could very well be the coaching not being up to snuff. I just don’t know.

I do know is that the Hokies used to get players that no other schools were interested in and then turn them into All Americans and NFL prospects (i.e. André Davis, John Engelberger). As Tech’s program gained more recognition on the national stage, Beamer started getting higher ranked high school prospects to come to Blacksburg and for a time, it was working.

In recent years, however, it seems as though a lot of talented players have not been playing up to expectations and their rankings. Of course you’re going to have players who just don’t pan out in the college game, but it sure seems like an unusually high number of recruits that come to Tech end up lost on a depth chart. Why is that? I’m not sure, but somebody in Virginia Tech’s athletics department needs to address the issue, whether it’s not recruiting the right kind of players for the system, the system itself, or the coaching; changes need to be made.

Ditch the trophy case.

Take the empty national championship trophy case out of the Merryman Center. You can put it back once you’ve won one. Until then, focus on beating a top 10 program and winning a BCS game against a quality opponent (other than Louisville or Cincinnati).