Two sandlot plays save inept Hokies offense

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BLACKSBURG

Virginia Tech was 88 yards from the winning touchdown. The Hokies had gained 58 yards on their previous six possessions. Combined!

Can you say "dead team walking"?

Virginia Tech was 11 yards from the winning touchdown, and Tyrod Taylor was throwing toward Dyrell Roberts. The same Roberts who had dropped a fourth-down pass moments earlier. The same Roberts who hadn't caught a single ball all day.

What was Taylor thinking?

Such were the Hokies' predicaments early Saturday evening against Nebraska.

For more than 58 minutes, their offense had defined inept. But for Roberts' 76-yard return of the opening kickoff, they never would have penetrated the Cornhuskers' 20.

That Nebraska led by only five points was testament to a defense that had not yielded a touchdown and had forced a punt a mere three plays after the Cornhuskers had first-and-goal at the 6.

But still, what were the odds?

Sure, Ryan Williams had rushed for 107 yards. But 94 of those came in the first half.

Yes, Taylor oozes big-play potential, with his arm and feet. But his longest run was a meager 4 yards, and when he did throw accurately, receivers failed him.

"A daunting, daunting task," said offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring, who contributed plenty to the malaise with some odd play-calls.

Daunting but not impossible.

By now you know how this story ends.

Taylor-to-Danny Coale. Redemption for Roberts.

Lane Stadium inside-out crazy. Prone Cornhuskers pounding the turf in frustration.

Virginia Tech 16, Nebraska 15.

Naturally, superlatives flew during postgame interviews, Stinespring going so far as to rate the experience with his wedding day and the birth of his children. Call it drunk on drama.

But sober reflection is inevitable, and with resurgent Miami next on the docket, the sooner the better for the 13th-ranked Hokies (2-1).

"It's pretty obvious we're going to have to be a better football team," coach Frank Beamer said.

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