- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 5, 2008

As the final seconds ticked off the clock at Dolphin Stadium on Thursday night, Frank Beamer and Virginia Tech silently sauntered off the soggy turf, hollowed by disappointment and uncertainty.

After two consecutive postseason collapses and the majority of the starting lineup out of eligibility, Beamer and his staff are left with a long, gray winter of pondering the future in Blacksburg.

“You know, it’s just one of those games for us,” a dejected Beamer said moments after the 24-21 loss. “Things just didn’t go the way they should.”

Virginia Tech has had “one of those games” in two straight bowl bouts. Wednesday night’s loss to underdog Kansas marked the second straight bowl game meltdown and the school’s third BCS loss.

Compared with last season’s catastrophe in the Chic-fil-A Bowl — where the Hokies allowed Georgia to rally from an 18-point halftime deficit to snatch a 31-24 victory — Thursday night’s Orange Bowl appears as no more than a mishap.

But the way Kansas coach Mark Mangino outfoxed the Hokies will keep Beamer up at night.

The sixth-year Jayhawks coach beat Beamer at his own game. Two of the games’ crucial plays — a blocked field goal on fourth and short that would have tied the game 17-17 and a fake punt in the third quarter that kept Kansas on a drive — came on special teams, Beamer’s longtime strength.

“Had we been able to kick that field goal and got it back even, I think we’re back in business,” Beamer said. “Daggone if we didn’t get it blocked.”

Frustration may be mounting in Blacksburg, where problems have a habit of repeating themselves.

Inconsistent play at quarterback has remained the Hokies’ Achilles’ heel for the past two seasons, and spotty performances by Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor — who had three interceptions and one touchdown between them — proved costly in the Orange Bowl.

Kansas’ defense — considered the Jayhawks’ soft spot headed into the game — corralled the mobile Taylor for minus-2 rushing yards and forced Glennon into throwing two costly picks. The Jayhawks scored 17 points off Hokies turnovers.

Glennon threw three fourth-quarter picks in last season’s bowl loss and was benched earlier in the year.

“I think I played better this year than I did last year in that bowl game,” Glennon said. “Unfortunately in both games we came up short, and probably in both games the offense didn’t perform like it needed to. With myself being the leader of the offense, I take responsibility for that.”

While Beamer and offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring credited the two-quarterback rotation as an integral part of the Hokies’ ACC championship season, it maybe time to settle on one signal-caller to bring equilibrium to an offense that looked shaky at best.

The toughest obstacle to overcome, however, is the departure of a strong senior class, including linebackers Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall and wide receivers Eddie Royal and Josh Morgan. Beamer must replace the cornerstones of a group that amassed four 10-win seasons.

“They’ve certainly meant a lot to Virginia Tech,” Beamer said of his seniors. “For them to accomplish what they’ve accomplished while they’ve been there says a lot about them.”

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