Home Scott German: Dissecting the fallout from Virginia’s 55-17 loss to Virginia Tech

Scott German: Dissecting the fallout from Virginia’s 55-17 loss to Virginia Tech

Scott German
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Photo: UVA Athletics

Was anyone shocked by Saturday’s beatdown by Virginia Tech over the Virginia Cavaliers?

Probably few.

And that’s the problem.

It’s a given that the Hokies, regardless of how good they are, or not, will come out the locker room fired up, punch Virginia in the face and then spend the rest of the game embarrassing the Cavaliers.

Saturday’s 55-17 ass-kicking by the Hokies was true to script.

If you were among the handful of Virginia fans that bothered to show up at Scott Stadium, you missed the best part of the game – which occurred long after the final whistle.

The part when Tech players decided to come back out on the field to lounge around for a photo op at midfield on the V logo.

The problem was the Hokie players picked the exact time the stadium groundskeepers decided it was a perfect time to activate the sprinklers.

What a coincidence.

Some things you can just take to the bank, and Virginia playing horrendously against Virgina Tech is one of those things.

Doesn’t seem to matter who is taking his turn coaching the Cavalier carousel, or if Tech is really that good, or not.

For the record, the 2023 Hokies are 6-6 and one meaningless bowl game loss from another losing season.

So, you decide if Tech’s win Saturday over a dysfunctional Virgina team was of significance.

But to be fair, this year’s debacle against Virginia Tech had its own special foul odor.

And to tell that story, you must start at the end, when UVA coach Tony Elliott, in addressing the media, was taking full blame for the loss, by admitting he had failed at preparing his team for the annual rivalry.

That’s at least five times I have heard that this season.

At over $4 million a year in salary, that is about five times too many.

OK, back to the game (?), and some takeaways as to why this one had an especially stronger stench to it.

Virginia’s fan base is extinct 

Why is this a puzzle? Tech has won 22 of the last 24 meetings, and the 2019 win by Virginia is now just a distant memory. Saturday’s announced crowd of 42,000 was inflated by about 10,000 from the turnstile count. Virginia fans just know what to expect and don’t bother to show up.

Heck, it’s to the point where you point fingers at Hokie Nation for not filling up Scott Stadium.

It’s that bad.

And based upon the effort shown by the Cavaliers today, the fan base will continue to shrink.

Did UVA players make a statement concerning coaching decisions? 

The coaching mentality was on display early. Facing a fourth-and-4 from their own 41 in the first quarter, the decision was made to punt the ball away.

Punter Daniel Sparks, on cue, shanked the ball out of bounds; the result was a 23-yard punt.

Moments later, Tech, on a similar short fourth-down situation, connected for a 44-yard touchdown bomb.


But it gets worse.

A lot worse.

In the third quarter, the game already decided at 31-0, Virginia manufactured an impressive drive that took the ball to the Tech 7.

Facing a fourth-and-6, the Virginia staff decided that a field goal would at least prevent a shutout and elected to kick, making it 31-3.

The logic was that the 31-0 lead represented a four-score deficit and kicking the field goal would … keep it a four–score game?

On the kickoff, Virginia Tech returner Bhayshul Tuten, after being caught up in a scrum at about the 25- yard line, broke free and took it to the house, untouched.

The Virginia not-so-special teams didn’t appear too anxious to even attempt to make a stop.

So much for that momentum theory 

Again, as in many seasons past, Virginia will enter the offseason on a down note.

Any goodwill the Cavaliers may have built over the second half of a season that began 0-5 got shredded to pieces by Tech Saturday afternoon.

Regardless of how Tony Elliott decides to spin this latest loss, the team that tucked their tails and ran away looks like a dumpster fire.

Virginia came out the gates completely lifeless in a game against its in-state rival, and that’s pathetic.

It’s one thing to get beat, it’s another thing entirely to have your opponent take your lunch money from you.

And put up NO fight to get it back.

Virginia enters the offseason being attacked on all fronts.

The 2024 recruiting class, which has no headline-grabbing players, may have additional decommits. UVA will also have to fend off other teams from utilizing the transfer portal to pluck some talent away from the program.

55-17 can have that effect on a program.

Fair or not, Tony Elliott is on the clock 

Yes, it’s been a rough year for Tony Elliott. And I’m not simply referring to the just concluded 3-9 campaign, but back to last November, when the tragedy of losing three members of the football family occurred.

Coach Elliott has done a remarkable and courageous job of supporting his players, no one should question this.

I often have thought about what the tragedy has been like for his family and how it has affected their lives.

But college football is a business. A huge business. And Elliott is now 6-16 at Virginia, and with an underwhelming 2024 recruiting class, unfortunately the phrase “here comes the calvary” doesn’t apply.

A tough, close loss may have made a difference.

Today, it was neither.

Even the most ardent Elliott supporter must question the future of the program.

And making assistant coaching changes might be like throwing deck chairs off a sinking Titanic.

Besides, what coach would want to join that sinking ship?

Coach Elliott will likely be given another year to right the ship.

He deserves that.

But it’s going to take a lot more than rearranging the deck chairs to save the USS Cavalier.

Scott German

Scott German

Scott German covers UVA Athletics for AFP, and is the co-host of “Street Knowledge” podcasts focusing on UVA Athletics with AFP editor Chris Graham. Scott has been around the ‘Hoos his whole life. As a reporter, he was on site for UVA basketball’s Final Fours, in 1981 and 1984, and has covered UVA football in bowl games dating back to its first, the 1984 Peach Bowl.