Friday, November 11, 2005


VOLUME 006 ISSUE 011 (2005.11.11)

Eleventh issue of the eleventh day of the eleventh month!

Also available at...

Three Key Plays
Game Review - vs. Miami
ACC Standings

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Three Key Plays
by "Mad" Jay

1) Trailing 3-0 to the Canes in the first quarter, Vick led the Hokies on a drive and had 1st and 10 on the the Miami 35. From there, the Hokies went nowhere and the key play was a Miami tackle for a 4-yard loss on a Vick roll-out on 2nd down. This play was an exact replica of one that Vick had made a miracle move on the Miami linebacker just to gain positive yards earlier in the drive. Obviously the Canes had game-planned for this play. And yet Brian Stinespring called it again on the same drive and this time the linebacker made the tackle. Completely oblivious to Miami's preparedness for this play, Stinespring put the Hokies in a 3rd and long, where Vick got sacked and the scoring threat ended. Drives where you answer an opponent's score are key to the
momentum of a football game and this was a hallmark of the Hokies all year. Failing to do so on this drive and coming away with nothing was disastrous and it led to the 2nd key play.

2) On the ensuing drive after the Hokies' punt, the Canes makes it down to the Hokie 1-yard line facing a 4th and goal. They go for it. With their starting running back out of the game and a lead on the road, it was a bad call for Larry Coker to go for it in this situation. The Hokies had the chance to turn the momentum back around with a stop. But despite a very solid effort by the Tech defense for most of the game, on
this play, the Canes wanted it more. They got it, and put up a 10-0 lead.

3) Coming out for the second half, Tech only trails by 10 and has the opportunity to stop Miami who has received the 2nd half kickoff. On the very first play of the second half the Miami backup RB (Charlie Jones) busts a 29-yard run right down the defense's throat. A total breakdown in concentration by the Tech linebackers on this play resulted in Miami getting great field position and they turned it into a FG. This 29-yard run by, again their BACKUP running back, basically set the tone for the
rest of the game.


Game Review - vs. Miami
by "Mad" Jay

After the Miami loss, I am sure you are all expecting a violent burst of outrage and edited out expletives. I know I was. But I never felt it and after a few days to gain perspective I know why, and maybe it's why some of you didn't feel that way either. The answer for me was because I was so stunned. I began attending Virginia Tech at the beginning of the 1993 season. The program was coming off a 2-8-1 season but it has been to a bowl game every season since (I am certain that my arrival and the
football program's success are no mere coincidence). The point, however, is that not one time had I ever seen Virginia Tech lose by 20 points at home. Never. Not in the twelve and a half seasons of Hokie football since 1993 had it happened.

As I rode back home on Sunday recovering from being physically ill over the game (and I am not kidding about that as The Blonde can attest to since she was driving), I also started thinking that the team had played hard. That was such a hard conclusion to reach that I forced myself to watch the game footage (Skycam view on ESPNU - pretty neat). Anyway, in reviewing the game footage, I confirmed that the Hokies did play hard. Think about this - Miami played a quarter without their starting QB. They lost their starting running back for the game and their all-everything playmaker Devin Hester for the game and both injuries occurred in the first half. So even with the loss of Eddie Royal on the opening kickoff (at their deepest position - WR) how could Tech possibly lose?

It was a total lack of focus, not lack of effort, on offense, defense and special teams combined with a Miami team that seemed to have prepared to down to the very last detail that resulted in the outcome of the football game. And then I realized that this has happened to countless Tech opponents during its rise to join the college football elite. I now know how Syracuse felt the year they got beat 62-0. Or two years ago when Miami got beat 31-7. Or how Georgia Tech felt when we beat them 51-7 earlier this season. As Marcus Vick said "We couldn't get it turned around". That's usually what Tech does to its opponents.

I could get into specific failures in focus and decision-making from throughout the game (the coaches waiting too long to put in Branden Ore, Josh Morgan's muff of a possibly HUGE punt return, Marcus Vick's lack of ball security), but I won't. From a big picture point of view I began analyzing what would make the Hokies play the way their opponents normally do when they come into Lane Stadium.

Two major points I have been harping on all season - first, Tech is the "hunted" this season and how would they handle that. Second, how on earth can Marcus Vick perform under such intense scrutiny? Both points came to a head last Saturday.

The national media was ready to use Virginia Tech as this year's Auburn - poster child for BCS failure. The Hokie fans were ready to anoint this team as the one ready to fill the national championship trophy case and build on last season's ACC title. The players and coaches knew that they had a better combination of talent and team chemistry than any previous Hokie squad and this, their toughest remaining test was in the friendly confines of Lane Stadium. The build-up was incredible and the team had handled being the "hunted" all season long. Expecting to win is a good thing. Thinking you've already won is a disaster. The Canes were able to play with the chip on their shoulder and with no pressure. Everyone had written them off again this VT team. The roles were completely reversed from how they have historically been.

The "hunted" role is one that the very top programs handle because it is an expectation of the program. It comes as part of the deal at schools like USC, Texas, Oklahoma, Miami, Ohio State, etc. Virginia Tech has only recently (past 5 years) joined this elite group of schools almost always ranked in the top 10 and the program has been built on hard-working players looking to prove they belong. Now that Tech does belong, the coaches have to make the adjustment and build up the standards so that becoming the "hunted" year in and year out is part of the program. They did a very good job all season, but there are a few "games of the season" every year in college football and this game against Miami was one of them. It's games like last Saturday's against the Canes that must become more normal in the mind of the football team.

As far as Vick goes, well, it turns out he is a human being. He had an awful game. Consider what he has done this season, and I think you'll agree it was nearly inhuman to perform week in and week out with that level of expectation and that last name on his jersey. ESPN Sportscenter segments, Sports Illustrated magazine articles, countless interviews and the adoration of a crazy fan base - college football history is absolutely packed with players who couldn't live up to that kind of hype (can you say Ron Powlus?). I can imagine the intense disappointment Vick feels about how he played, but what do you bet DEEEEEEPPPP down inside, he feels incredible relief to know that his worst game is behind him and the fans and team still accept him as their leader. He can take this football team back on his shoulders and lead it to a great record with a chance at a BCS bowl as long as he is able to put this game behind him. It starts with Virginia after this bye week, and we'll learn more about Marcus Vick in that game then we did in this loss to Miami. Is this the game that he uses to fuel the rest of his college career? Or do he and the rest of the team sink into the traditional November funk? I bet it's the former. Time will tell.



ACC Standings

Florida State 5-2 7-2
Boston College 3-3 6-3
Clemson 3-4 5-4
Wake Forest 3-4 4-6
Maryland 2-3 4-4
NC State 2-4 4-4

Virginia Tech 5-1 8-1
Miami 4-1 7-1
Georgia Tech 4-2 6-2
North Carolina 3-2 4-4
Virginia 2-3 5-3
Duke 0-7 1-9



1|USC (57) |USC (56) |USC (2) |USC
2|Texas (8) |Texas (6) |Texas (1) |Texas
3|Miami |Alabama |Miami |Alabama
4|Alabama |Miami |Alabama |Miami
5|LSU |LSU |Penn State |Penn State
6|Penn State |Penn State |Notre Dame |Virginia Tech
7|Notre Dame |Notre Dame |Virginia Tech|LSU
8|Virginia Tech|Virginia Tech |UCLA |Ohio State
9|Georgia |Georgia |LSU |Georgia
10|Ohio State |Ohio State |West Virginia|Oregon
11|Oregon |Oregon |Georgia |Notre Dame
12|Florida |Florida |Texas Tech |Texas Tech
13|Texas Tech |Texas Tech |Ohio State |Florida
14|UCLA |UCLA |Oregon |West Virginia
15|Auburn |West Virginia |Auburn |UCLA
16|West Virginia|Florida State |Florida |Wisconsin
17|Florida State|Auburn |Florida State|TCU
18|TCU |TCU |Georgia Tech |Colorado
19|Wisconsin |Wisconsin |Colorado |Florida State
20|Fresno State |Fresno State |TCU |Auburn
21|Michigan |Colorado |Wisconsin |Michigan
22|Colorado |Michigan |Fresno State |Fresno State
23|Louisville |Louisville |Northwestern |Georgia Tech
24|Georgia Tech |Georgia Tech |Michigan |Minnesota
25|Northwestern |Boston College|UTEP |Louisville


"Mad" Jason Oakley
Anand "EhhTee" Trivedi
Brian "Where's The Ice?" Wrenn


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