Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Game Preview - Georgia Tech


Virginia Tech vs. Georgia Tech - 3:30 PM Saturday September 30,2006

"We went up there and the crowd got to the team was the biggest thing. We lost focus, lost concentration, and things just kind of went bad for us." - Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson after suffering a 51-7 blowout at the hands of Virginia Tech in 2005

“The fans are rabid about their team and are right on top of you when you come to the sidelines to meet with your position coach.....It’s the loudest crowd you’ll play in front of with the most enthusiastic fans. We had a player who played at Michigan before he transferred and he’d played in the Ohio State-Michigan game and he couldn’t believe how much louder the crowd was.” - a former Big East football player

"Playing at Ohio State, they have 105,000, which was pretty loud. But then you get here and the fans are right behind you and a little bit rowdier, I think. I thought it was a louder atmosphere today than it was at Ohio State, and just having that prior experience helped us out.” - Cincinnati defensive tackle Tony Carvitti

There have been games in the history of Virginia Tech football at Lane Stadium where the crowd was a key difference in the game. I'm talking about actual points-on-the-board difference. I'm reminded of the Hokies 31-7 defeat of Miami in 2003, the drubbing the Hokies handed LSU in the opener of the 2002 season and the bitter 26-24 loss to Miami in 2001. Specifically the 2001 loss, the Hokies were VASTLY and I mean DRAMATICALLY outmatched in terms of talent against that Miami team but the defense and the crowd helped them fight back and play Miami closer that season (10 points closer) than any other team. Just look at the quotes from the players above. Lane Stadium can be one of, if not, the toughest place in college football to come in and get a win.

Going into this game against Georgia Tech without two huge players for the Hokies (WR Josh Morgan and DE Chris Ellis) makes a tough game tougher. Fortunately those appear to be two positions where the Hokies have some of their best players and depth so the blow isn't as critical as it would be say at RB or LB. However, the Hokie offense matches up terribly against the Georgia Tech defense. Miserably to be honest. I don't think VT will score more than 17 points. Virginia Tech's defense matches up well against Georgia Tech as well, so this will likely be a defensive struggle. But make no mistake - there is a much better chance, because of Calvin Johnson, that the Yellow Jackets break out against the Hokies defense, than the Hokies have at breaking out against the Georgia Tech defense. And so I can boil this entire event at 3:30 PM down to a simple analysis - if the Hokie Nation rocks Lane Stadium as loudly or even louder than it has in the past, the crowd can be a difference maker in the outcome of this game. If Lane Stadium is NOT a rowdy, intrusive, impossible-to-audible type of environment there is a very good chance that Virginia Tech loses this game.

I have been in Lane when the walls have been shaking and I have been in it when the crowd has been dead. The reason the crowd is so critical in this game is that you can affect an opponent's offense far more than you can it's defense because, as an intelligent fan knows, when an opponent's defense is on the field, the Hokie offense is on the field and we had all best be staying quiet for that. Hokie QB Sean Glennon needs all the focus and concentration and effort he can muster and to be brutally honest, if he plays poorly, it will likely be too much for the crowd and the Hokie defense to overcome. But when Reggie Ball and that offense are trying to check out of plays and audible and focus on playing at the top of their game, it is CRITICAL that the fans be losing their marbles. Unfortunately, the MadJay family can't make it to this game, but we will be watching on (an insanely nice movie screen) TV and I had better see a place that is out of control.

Due to the level of importance of crowd assistance I will offer a few pointers:

1) When the Georgia Tech offense is on the field and they come to the line of scrimmage let loose your inhibitions (your barbaric YAWP, I believe Walt Whitman called it). All the noise you can make is what is needed here. Save just a little bit for third down. Third down is where home field advantage can shine. Get the Hokie defense off the field and keep it fresh by keeping Georgia Tech from audibling on third down.

2) Don't forget your keychain and wear shoes you feel comfortable stomping in.

3) Whenever the Hokies make a big play on either side of the ball go completely insane. This demoralizes the opponents very badly.

4) No matter what the score, follow the above three rules. College football is about momentum and if the Hokies are ahead, the crowd must keep the opponent demoralized. If the crowd gets quiet, the opponent can begin to focus and respond and swing the momentum their way. The hard part is if the Hokies are behind. I refer again to the best example I have ever seen - the 2001 Miami loss. The Hokies were down 20-3 and nearly came back and won the game because the crowd was so into the game the entire time. If the Hokies start to lose, you have to find a way to turn up the intensity knob another notch.

5) You're allowed to criticize the team in general, or playcalling specifically, but when the opponent offense comes to the line of scrimmage all is forgotten in the temporary psychosis.

If you follow these rules and if the crowd is truly incendiary (thanks to Philip Seymour Hoffman in Almost Famous for that word), then they can serve as the tipping point for an otherwise very balanced game. This is the first huge game of the 2006 Virginia Tech Hokies and can be part of the Next Step that Hokie Nation is looking for. It's Wednesday night and I'm so excited I've typed this entire thing standing up. I hope come Saturday 65,000 of you feel the same because the team needs you.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

3 Key Plays - Cincinnati 9/23/06


3 Key Plays

1) On the Bearcats opening drive, after completing a pass that would have given them first and goal on the 5 yard line, Cincinnati QB Dustin Groza (what a game he had) had to watch as Hokie DB Brandon Flowers delivered a big hit that forced a fumble and the Hokies recovered the ball, stopping the threat. Considering how tight this game was, and how poor the Hokie offense was in the first half, I shudder to think what would have happened if Cincinnati had scored a TD on this initial drive. Brandon Flowers is having an All-ACC season at this point.

2) On 2nd and 10 late in the third quarter, the offensive line misses another block, but Branden Ore makes the LB miss in the backfield and proceeds to rip off a 23 yard gain. Seems like an odd choice for key play so let me explain. First of all, Ore only had 22 yards on the ground up to that point. It doubled his rushing output and was the keystone play that led him to finish with 170 yards on the day. Secondly, it began a drive that resulted in a field goal giving the Hokies a 15-13 lead. The Bearcats had JUST finished an 8 minute drive wearing out the Hokie defense and kicking a field goal to go up 13-12. If Ore doesn't break out on this run, it's 3rd and long with the Hokies down by a point and all the pressure lands on Glennon's shoulders. If the Hokies go three and out on that series, Cincinnati has all the momentum, the lead, and a tired Hokie defense would have been taking the field. This was an amazing play by an amazing running back.

3) Following an Ore fumble (he was exhausted, but that's not an excuse - the Hokies ABSOLUTELY MUST find a 2nd option at RB), Cincinnati is deep in Hokie territory and driving to make it a one score game, when Macho Harris picks off a slant route and houses it to cap the scoring at 29-13. This was the play that iced the game and then Macho added another interception for good measure at the end.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Hold Your Horses Twelfth Man!

By Anand “EhhTee” Trivedi

For the last series of this Saturday’s game against Duke, the coaching staff put in Ike Whitaker at quarterback. I’m sure by now you know the deal: Whitaker is extremely athletic quarterback who essentially came in second in practice to Sean Glennon. Glennon was said to be the more ready of the quarterbacks competing for the top slot this spring. We’re certain amongst the TSF circle, that there will once again be a competition in the spring and Whitaker will make the competition very interesting.

However, this year, Glennon is our quarterback. Period.

When Whitaker was announced as the new quarterback for the Hokies, a cheer went up in the crowd. A fan behind me commented on this, saying that the fans need to calm down stating that we don’t need a quarterback controversy. The fan’s companion pointed out that cheering for Whitaker is not a slight against Glennon.

They both made good points, but I think the first fan’s point is more accurate in describing the crowd’s reaction. Don’t get me wrong, Whitaker is going to be an amazing quarterback. The key word in that last sentence is ‘going.’

Glennon may have some trouble getting going in the Hokies’ campaign to 3-0, but he is improving and will continue to do so. If the fans, and through them the media, start to question Glennon’s ability while he continues to win this may cause more distractions than necessary.

North to South! North to South! Duke Recap.

By Anand “EhhTee” Trivedi

BLACKSBURG, VA – The Virginia Tech Hokies mopped the table with the Duke Blue Devils in Saturday’s game at Lane Stadium, but it was not without flaw that they did so. The offense once again took the better part of the first half of the game to get under way and the defense was sloppy early committing way too many penalties. The 36-0 blanking of the Blue Devils was to be expected, but it was the subtleties that may cause one to be a little concerned, especially with more formidable opponents on the horizon. (I know at least one “mad person” who might be concerned.)

The Blue Devils are not what would consider a powerhouse football team. However, their rush defense continues to hold offensive coaches scratching their head. The Hokies were held to a mere 105 yards on the ground.

The Hokies opened up with what most us envisioned them opening with: the deep ball. After the Duke opening kickoff went out of bounds, quarterback Sean Glennon opened the first drive of the game with a deep pass to David Clowney. (I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more Clowney.) The sixty-yard strike put the Hokies within five yards of drawing first blood. It took Ore three tries, but he finally broke the plane and gave the Hokies six points. “They drew first blood, not me.” Place kicker Brandon Pace had the extra point blocked.

The Hokies would hold off the Blue Devils on there first possession but not without some trouble. Duke’s Justin Boyle was able to rush for fifteen and five yards. The Hokie crowd was in this game from the beginning and inexperienced, freshman quarterback Thaddeus Lewis was forced to call time out due to the noise. (Well done Hokie fans.) The Hokies allowed Duke’s drive to continue with sloppy play. A 15 yard roughing the passer put the Blue Devils in Tech territory. The defense pulled it together and Duke turned on their backup warning. A sack by Brenden Hill/Vince Hall and one by Brandon Flowers, push the Devils back to their own 31. (Anyone notice that we have a lot of Br(e/a)nd(e/o)n’s on the team?) Another penalty on the kick return put the Hokies on their own 26.

On the ensuing drive, Ore had some success running the ball. Conversely, Glennon stopped having success with the pass. Glennon would miss his next six passes, including an interception on this drive. He began this game with a good pass, but started to rush passes and was somewhat inaccurate with these passes. Even the opening bomb was thrown short and Clowney was forced to make the adjustment.

The Hokie defense completely shutdown the Duke offense for the rest of the game. There were another couple of penalties against the defense, including another roughing the passer, which will hurt this team if it continued. On that particular roughing the passer play, Aaron Rouse, team leader, was the culprit. To boot, the hit sent Lewis to the locker room and Marcus Jones would take over for the Blue Devils. This play was wrong all around and I hope that Rouse knows it.

Notably, the play of the game, the so-called Game Day highlight, would have to be Eddie Royal’s 58-yard punt return for Tech’s second touchdown. Royal has a tendency to travel too far east to west on the return. Usually, this results in very little forward progress. In most cases, he would have accumulated more yards going north to south. As I most often do, I began yelling “North-South, Eddie! North-South!” as the ball is in the air and Royal stood ready to catch the ball. And of course, Eddie ignored my instruction. (He’s hated me since I went out with his sister. I didn’t do anything, I swear man.) Well, Eddie through creative use of the blocks ran the 56-yards into the end zone. Actually, I think he ran close to 156 yards because he went from the west side of the field to the east and back to the west before he dove into the end zone.

Glennon’s problems through the air continued until he hit Josh Hyman for 17-yards in the second quarter. The Hokies moved down field to the Duke 25-yard line. Pace kicked a field goal and the Hokies pulled away 16-0.

The next two drives the Hokies moved the ball extremely well with a balanced attack through the air and on the ground. The first drive resulted in a touchdown (23-0) and if not for poor time management the second could have resulted in points but did not as the half came to a close.

The Hokies and Blue Devils exchanged a few drives inside Blue Devil territory to start the second half. Duke, pinned in their own end zone, began using a spread scheme on their punt formations to make the Hokies commit bodies to the outside. The Hokies’ special teams’ play, a.k.a. Beamerball, is so respected, that staffs across the country have come up with schemes to combat blocked kicks. The first I recall such schemes being affective were those run by the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

Finally, Glennon connected with Josh Morgan for a 21-yard touchdown pass to put the Hokies up 30-0 with the extra point.

As the fourth quarter opened, the Hokies were driving down field to what would be the fifth Hokie touchdown. With the game well in hand, the coaches gave us more looks at Elan Lewis and amazingly fast Kenny Lewis, Jr. at the running back position. Lewis Jr. rushed for -2 yards on first play of his collegiate career, but would eventually bounce back to score his first touchdown of said career. You may recall that Lewis Jr. joins the team after spending time with the practice squad. He comes in to replace George Bell on the roster, as Bell’s career has been sadly cut short due to various injuries to his knees.

Again, Brandon Pace would have a PAT blocked and the score was 36-0.

The last drive by the Blue Devils appeared to threaten the shutout. Starting at his own twenty, Marcus Jones was able to lead his team to a first down on the Tech nineteen with a little over two minutes to go. But soon the defense, playing mostly second and third string players, tightened up and pushed the Blue Devils back and finally intercepted a 3rd and 22 pass.

The Hokies suited up backup quarterback Ike Whitaker to finish out the last of the game. Whitaker passed for a five yard completion and Lewis and Lewis (no relation) ran the ball and the clock out.

Format Change for All You Fans and SuperFans Alike

To ease the posting and to allow for more spontaneity in our posting, TechSuperFans will be going to a more blog like format. We are after all a blog! No more will you be seeing weekly postings of a newsletter, but rather a steady flow of articles throughout the week.

Reviews of the previous games will come out sooner. Previews will come out just in time for the game. Breaking news will come out, well, when they break! Also, if MadJay gets really angry, Where’s the Ice finds the ice, or EhhTee… ehh… um… well you get the picture.

This will also allow us to bring to you better content, including images, sound bites, and video, through the wonderful powers of the Internets.

-TechSuperFans staff



3 Key Plays

1) Branden Ore runs in from the 1 yard line to put the Hokies up 6-0. The extra point was missed but these were the only points VT would need on the day against an outmatched Duke team

2) From his own 10 yard line Sean Glennon rolls out to his left and fires a pass to Eddie Royal who outwants Duke CB John Talley for the ball and then proceeds to shuck and jive across the field for a 40 yard gain. Before this play, Glennon was 1-7 for 60 yards with a pick. After this play, he went 14-18 for 241 yards and 2 TD's and two of those incompletions were drops including a potential 3rd touchdown. This pass seemed to give him the confidence to throw to the receivers knowing they would make a play.

3) Kenny Lewis scores on a left sweep to cap off the Hokie scoring. This is critical because with the absence of George Bell from the team and Elan Lewis showing he isn't ready to be the #2 RB, and the fact that Kenny Lewis still had his redshirt on, the #2 RB position was a very weak point for this offense. But in a play that stirs the echoes of his old man, wearing #20 and all, Kenny Lewis scored a TD in his first game and established himself as the #2 back unless or until Elan Lewis gets his weight down and shows he can get it done.

Cincinnati Preview

The next step in the 2006 Virginia Tech season involves the classic "trap" game. A huge contest looms with Georgia Tech next weekend and if the Hokies lose focus this weekend thinking about that game, Cincinnati is a team that is plenty good enough to beat them. I have seen all of these ridiculous comments on the Internet about how the Bearcats are 0-5 in their last 5 games against I-A teams and they don't have the talent to play with VT. Make no mistake, this team is plenty talented and they are easily capable of pulling off the upset in Blacksburg.

Let's take a closer look at those last 5 games the Bearcats lost. Their opponents at the end of 2005 were - West Virginia, South Florida (the same team that woodshedded the Louisville Cardinals) and a MUCH improved Rutgers team and this year they've played Pittsburgh and Ohio State. Now THAT is a brutal schedule. A lot of teams would go 0-5 against that bunch. I watched the Ohio State-Cincinnati game when it was replayed, and I'm here to tell you that the Bearcats defense is for real. This is the first real test for the Hokies offense this season. The Bearcats held Ohio State to 6 points for 2 full quarters and they have 10 returning starters on the defensive side of the ball.

Offensively, Cincinnati is much worse off. They have the worst offense in the Big East and like the Hokies their weakest link is on the offensive line. Their coach Mark Dantonio does use a lot of different schemes and interesting plays to try and get his running backs out into space. This early in the season, the best plays for Cincinnati have been when the play has broken down and they’ve taken advantage of a lack of discipline by the opposing defense.

The key aspect that I will be paying attention to during this game is Virginia Tech’s focus. This is known in college football as a “trap” game because the highly favored team psychologically dismisses the team they are playing and gets caught in the trap as they look ahead to a big game the following week. The reason this happens in college football as opposed to the pros is because the talent level is different enough in college that the more talented team thinks they can just go through the motions and win the game. Sometimes that’s the case, but often enough the under-matched opponent plays their heart out and the power of emotion and momentum in college football can turn the tide enough to pull off the upset.

The main area of concern in this game is the offense. As I mentioned, the Cincinnati defense will be the toughest test yet for this offense. Sean Glennon had better have his confidence up from the coin toss on, because another 1st quarter performance like he had against Duke could be far more costly against these Bearcats. The perfect gameplan is to strike a balance on offense early, mixing the run and the pass. And then when the secondary has stopped creeping up in run support, the Hokies need to begin establishing a strong running attack. They need to physically overpower the smaller Cincinnati defense to neutralize their speed. The longer this game stays close the more Cincinnati gets the confidence and momentum they need to pull off an upset. Wearing them down with a physical running attack is a way to keep the Bearcats from having anything left in the tank at the end of the game.

Defensively, Tech should have no trouble as long as they play their assignments. I have watched the footage of defensive coordinator Bud Foster at halftime from both the Northeastern and Duke games. He keeps his players focused on getting better, he applauds them when they’ve given good effort and he points out the areas that they need to improve on in the second half. He’s a master at work, and I doubt he will let this defense lose focus during this game. Their new goal is a shut-out every game and they seem to be playing hard for that.

So can the Hokies maintain the focus and discipline needed to execute on both sides of the football? Can Sean Glennon make better decisions in this game against his first major challenge on defense? We’ll find out the answers on Saturday and they will determine the outcome of the game.


Friday, September 15, 2006



Well the Hokies came away with a big win in Chapel Hill. Hokie Nation turned out for the game in force and now the team comes back to Lane for a big game against Duke. Before we go in-depth this week, we at TSF would just like to take a minute and acknowledge backup RB George Bell. He isn't dressing out against the Blue Devils and due to the lack of full recovery on the knee injury he suffered as a junior in high school, he is very likely hanging up his cleats. Here is a player that joined the Hokies as a big name recruit back in 2004 and has done everything this coaching staff has asked of him. To a man, the staff says that Bell represents what a Hokie should be. He works hard and always gives his all, and now for the betterment of the rest of his life and his physical health, he has to give up the game he loves. His final carry may have been a fumble, but we'd prefer to remember him for the tough yards and touchdowns he scored despite his injuries over the past several seasons. George Bell will go on to other things outside of football, but we say that Hokie football is better for him having been a part of it. Best wishes young man.

Three Key Plays

1) With the Hokies down 3-0 in the first quarter, Xavier Adibi picks off a Joe Dailey pass and returns it to the 3 yard line. This play set-up the short field for the offense where they got the touchdown and took the steam out of the crowd and the Tar Heels.

2) Josh Morgan busts through the line and blocks a UNC punt setting up yet another short TD run by Branden Ore. This put the Hokies up 14-3 and added an exclamation point to the already clear statements about the return of BeamerBall this season.

3) Brendan Hill returns a Cam Sexton interception 69 yards for the nail-in-the-coffin TD, making the score 28-3. Much of the credit on this play goes to Vince Hall for applying heavy pressure to Sexton and forcing him to throw off his back foot underthrowing his receiver. If Hall doesn't force the bad throw it could have gone for 7 points the other way. Teams are trying to hide from Hall this year and his stats don't show it yet, but this guy is just a phenomenal linebacker.

Game Review - vs. UNC
by Brian "Where's the Ice?"

VT-35 UNC-10

Sean Glennon took the field for the second time as the Hokies'starting quarterback. For most of the first half he and the VirginiaTech offense produced only seven points with a 1-yard run touchdown by running back Branden Ore. The half seemed like it would progress much like the first half of last year's contest between these two teams. However, the Hokies pulled seven more points away when Branden Ore ran for another 4-yard touchdown. The Hokies went into halftime with a 14-3 lead.

Early in the second half, Ore notched another 3-yard run into the endzone giving the Hokies a 21-3 lead. The defense also chipped in to get the job done on the scoreboard when linebacker Brendan Hill converted an interception into a 69-yard touchdown. Lastly the Hokie offense finished things off in Jeff King style with a 41-yard pass to tight end Greg Boone coming from backup quarterback Ike Whitaker.
In addition to Hill's interception touchdown, the Hokie defense came up with a total of three other interceptions over the course of the entire game which included a 40-yard runback by Xavier Adibi. Virginia Tech's special teams also got the job done with Josh Morgan's blocked punt in true Beamerball fashion.
Overall the Carolina offense didn't perform too poorly considering their ability to move the ball in the air. Quarterbacks Joe Dailey andCam Sexton threw for a combined 179 yards. On several drives they moved the ball deep into Hokie terriroty through the air. Virginia Tech's defense stood strong creating turnovers when they needed them, but Miami and Clemson aren't going to make those kinds of mistakes. They finish their drives. Had Dailey and Sexton not made the mental errors they did under the pressure of the oncoming Hokie defensive linemen, Hokie fans could have seen a very different game unfold. Considering the opponent, I expected Hokie defensive coordinator Bud Foster's squad to contain the UNC offense more so than they did, especially their passing game. On a positive note, this game did bring Virginia Tech fans back to the days when the defense produced as much offense as the actual offense themselves. That's also true Beamerball.
The irony of Carolina's success in the air goes hand-in-hand with Virginia Tech's reliance on their ground game. I don't know if Glennon hasn't grown comfortable with this passing game, but he madel ittle use of Virginia Tech's best offensive weapon, their wide receivers. This led to a measly total of 107 yards of passing againsta UNC defense whose most potent weapon on defense was the ability to stop the run. For Glennon to lead the Hokie offense past the likes of the Hurricanes, Tigers, and Eagles, they cannot run an offense so one-dimensional. Three touchdowns by Branden Ore marks for a great accomplishment, Glennon needs to develop his gametime ability to go to his receivers.

By Anand “EhhTee” Trivedi

BLACKSBURG, VA – The Blue Devils of Duke University (0-2, 0-1) make the two and half hour road trip (two hours if you drive like me) from Durham, NC to “The ‘Burg” on Saturday. The game looks to be another early afternoon – I wish I were napping – sleepers. And yet, in all seriousness, this is a very important game for the Hokies.
The Hokies opened the 2006 season a strong 2-0 but many questions remain. The young offense has struggled early but also shows signs of steady improvement. The 14th ranked team should be able to roll fairly easily over the undersized, slower, and less athletic Blue Devils team who has been struggling even more than the Hokies.
Last season the Hokies rolled over the Devils 45-0. On defense the Hokies allowed Duke a mere 35 yards, the fewest yards allowed ever. The game is scheduled to kickoff at noon on Worsham Field in Lane Stadium.

The offense has struggled to get started in both of the first two games. There have been several false starts, fumbled snaps, and missed assignments. However, keep in mind only three of this year’s offensive starters had started in previous seasons.
Quarterback Sean Glennon #7, So.) is starting to grow comfortable at the helm. He’s beginning to look to third receivers. He’s also learning the ins and outs of the pocket. The schemes he’s been given have been fairly simple thus far. There have been a lot of quick slot passes, screens, and simple 5 or 3 step drops. Unlike some of the recent quarterbacks who had great speed and agility, Glennon will have to rely on his intelligence and awareness in the pocket to make big plays. Thankfully, these are two of his strong suits. In this – one might call it – final prep-game, Glennon will probably be given a chance to try out some of the more complicated plays in the offensive coach Bryan Stinespring’s playbook.
Glennon has to also hit tight end Greg Boone (#8 Fr.) with relative success. Maturing this option is important to give room to the rest of the stellar receiving core to open up for the big play.
Glennon will have to work on his exchanges with both the center Danny McGrath (#69, Sr.) and his two running backs Brandon Ore (#28, So.) and Elan Lewis (#38 So.). There have been numerous fumbles in these exchanges and if this doesn’t tighten up soon, it could cost the Hokies dearly.
Duke’s defense will be the best of the defenses Tech has seen thus far. The Devils allowed only 57 yards on the ground against Wake Forest and 105 yards against Richmond in their two losing efforts. However, Duke has yet to face a running force with the caliber of Tech’s.

Much can’t be said negatively regarding the performance of the defense to date. The backs are covering well and the unit, as a whole, has performed well. Watch for Brandon Flowers (#18, So. CB) to cover Duke’s Jomar Wright (#81, Jr. WR) and Victor Harris (#1, So. CB) to cover Raphael Chestnut (#86, So WR). These two corners should have little trouble with these two starters despite a slight height disadvantage. Wright and Chestnut racked up big yards against Wake Forest, but failed to score the big points.
A spot where the Hokies may need to tighten up is the coverage at the free safety spot. D.J. Parker (#25, Jr. FS) seemed to struggle early with his coverage. Conversely, Aaron Rouse (#36, Sr. SS) seems to be starting on the right foot with an interception in the end-zone in the second quarter against the Tarheels. These are two veteran players, and Parker should bounce back and cover well against Dukes receiving corps.
Blue Devils quarterback Thaddeus Lewis (#9) is a freshman. He started for the Blue Devils against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and played the majority of the game against the Richmond Spiders. Lewis got the start when, Blue Devils head coach Ted Roof's favorite to start, Zack Asack was dismissed from the team due to an honor code violation in one of his classes.
The Blue Devils offensive line is undersized and not fast. The largest of the Duke starting offensive line are two freshmen at guard and tackle. These two are the only two to break the 300 lb mark at 300 and 305 lbs. To compare, the smallest of the Hokie starting offensive line is RT Jr. Duane Brown at 286, but the next smallest is McGrath at 300. The largest, Nick Marshman (#67, So. LT) weighs in at a whopping 354.
The swarming Hokie defensive line will have little trouble with the run blocking and should make Lewis’s time in the pocket shorter than William Hung’s singing career.

Already this season, the Hokies have blocked three kicks in two games. Duke’s loss to Wake Forest came on the heels of a blocked field goal that would have given them the win. The Duke place-kicking will have it’s hands full as Beamer is sure to unleash the Hokies for the blocked kick. This has been key to the Hokies success at scoring as it has either given the Hokies points or valuable field position.

The Hokies on the field weren’t the only ones needing to work out those off-season kinks. The crowd, or the proverbial “twelfth man,” did not show up to play at this season's first home game. The crowd spent most of the game seated and only came alive once the shutout against Division 1-AA opponent Northeastern was threatened. It might have been an early game – the Duke game is at noon, which is even earlier – but it’s important for the crowd to show up. Last year, despite a disappointing loss, I saw the awe in the recruits' eyes and the mouthing of phrases like “Holy smith” and “You’ve got to be shipping me,” (Lip reading is a hobby of mine.) as they walked down Spring Road during “The Walk.”

Thursday, September 07, 2006




Three Key Plays

1) Following a great Brandon Flowers interception, Sean Glennon uncorks a well thrown 54 yard bomb to Josh Morgan for the game clinching touchdown to make it 14-0. This pass firmed up Glennon's confidence and he played extremely well the entire rest of the game minus one mental mistake.

2) Brandon Pace makes his first field goal attempt of the season in the fourth quarter. This was key just to get Brandon's mind right. Kickers are a strange lot and making his first kick helps him carry over the confidence he was building at the end of last season and confirms the great offseason he had.

3) At the very end of the game, Kory Robertson busts through the line and blocks a Northeastern field goal to preserve the shut-out. Combined with the blocked punt earlier in the game, this validates the hard work on special teams during pre-season practice this year. It also preserved a shut-out to give Bud Foster's defense 12 years in a row with at least one shutout.

Northeastern Game Review

This game went nearly exactly as we at TSF hoped and expected. We called for 30 points at the half, the Hokies had 28. We called for the defense to allow 3 points or less and they got the shutout. All-in-all, it was a textbook defeat of a I-AA opponent. As always, certain things jumped out at me so let's get into it.

The first team offense was very vanilla. No doubt to keep concealed the majority of the playbook from the eyes of Danny Pearman who left this off-season to coach at UNC which is Tech's next opponent. But I must give Bryan Stinespring credit for finally calling some quick receiver and halfback screens. I had nearly given up hope that the Hokies would ever try and develop the pass to the halfback. It was one of my most gigantic arguments against Stinespring being competent. This doesn't bring him all the way back but thank God he finally concluded that maybe 50,000 Hokies could be right and that throwing the ball to the halfback now and again isn't a terrible idea.

The offensive line is as bad as advertised. The loss of probably their best player didn't help. Brandon Frye dislocated his elbow and now there's talk of him being rushed back for the UNC game. I think that's a VERY bad idea. Stupid in fact. The Hokies need Brandon Frye this season. Rushing him back for this game risks his entire year and all the hard work he's put in. He stepped up when Jimmy Martin couldn't play in the Gator Bowl last year, it's Nick Marshman's turn to show that he can do the same thing. PLEASE COACHING STAFF, realize that for the betterment of the entire season, let Frye heal up some more. That being said, when the offensive line needed to move mighty Northeastern off the ball in a few short yardage situations, they couldn't get it done. And Sergio Render made the expected freshman mistakes. Lots of improvement is needed now that ACC play is starting.

Sean Glennon played better than even I thought he would and I expected him to play well. Mastery of the offense, one mental mistake and 220 yards with a few TD's is a tremendous boost for his self-confidence. That will be sorely tested in a hostile environment on Saturday but he seems to be up to the challenge. If the offensive line gives him any time at all, I think he'll play well. Ike Whitaker is a massive talent. He is by no means ready in terms of mastery of the offense or managing the game, but when he learns those things Glennon would have to be playing at a Leinart-like level to keep ahead of Whitaker. Either way, in the long run, the team benefits. Watch as much of Whitaker as you can in his back-up role this season as he is just an exciting player.

Brandon Ore was magnificent and got the few carries I wanted him to get to preserve his health. If he stays healthy, he's the team MVP at the end of this season.

Kam Chancellor is 100% the real deal. Here is a true freshman playing in the first game of the season at a position he just started practicing at this summer. He had two big hits, a fumble recovery and an interception and he would have blocked the punt if Cary Wade hadn't gotten to it first. I know the stat sheet doesn't show the pick, but he made it. I saw the footage on Google video and it's indisputable. For some reason, they ruled it an INT on the field and OVERTURNED it in the replay booth. It's like the Aaron Rouse fumble return against NC State in the first game of last season, which was another instance where the video footage confirmed the correct call on the field of a fumble and somehow the booth overturned the field call. I don't know for certain, but I believe that there has not been a SINGLE CALL that has ever been made in Coach Beamer's favor from the replay booth. That karma has got to swing the other way at some point.

The middle of the field was very soft on defense. The Hokies speed was tremendous on the outside and Adibi and the secondary were flying all over the place like banshees. The defensive tackle play of Barry Booker and Carlton Powell was VERY weak. They couldn't occupy any offensive linemen much less get any penetration into the backfield and that allowed the linemen to get out and block Vince Hall and Aaron Rouse which provided a lot of runs up the middle for Northeastern. The tight end across the middle was another effective play against the Hokie defense. On the good side, the backup tackles - Taco Thompson and Kory Robertson - played much better than the first string and Robertson has even earned some more playing time beginning as soon as this weekend according to the coaching staff. The defense is very fast but they need that line to anchor them this season so someone needs to step up starting this weekend.

Finally. the emphasis on the special teams was obviously for real. Eddie Royal had a big return, the Hokies blocked two kicks and Pace made his field goal. The only weak spot was a bad kick by the backup kicker, Develli, but he won't be attempting many more field goals this season.

Well that's it. It's time for Hokie Nation to pack up and turn Chapel Hill, North Carolina into Blacksburg East.


UNC Preview

The Tarheels haven't made a name for themselves in the arena of football as contenders for a conference title, neither prior to nor after the ACC's expansion. They have, however, pulled off an upset or two any given season if not at least given a powerhouse team a run for their money. Last year, the 'Heels kept the Hokies on their heels until halftime, after which Virginia Tech finally broke the game open into a solid victory. But UNC will be looking to create another one of their spoiler upsets.

For starters, UNC has hired offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti from Fresno State. Remember how they crafted a near defeat of USC last year while the Trojans enjoyed the #1 BCS ranking? Running back Ronnie McGill will most likely serve as the 'Heels focal point on offense, but quarterback Joe Dailey will look to sophomore widereceiver Brooks Foster as well. UNC's offense has an even mix of experience and inexperience with starters including four seniors,three juniors, three sophomores, and one freshman. Foster and McGill were amongst UNC's overachievers during the loss to Rutgers. Foster caught for 120 yards of receiving. UNC will rely on him for most of their passing game. McGill rushed for ninety-four yards over fourteen carries.

On defense, UNC has six of their seven front line returning. The UNC defense will most likely try to take advantage of the inexperience of the Virginia Tech offensive line and also that of Sean Glennon. While Glennon performed well in his debut as the starting quarterback, he didn't have to perform under pressure very much. And one of the few times he did, the play ended with an interception. The UNC defense will most likely make their rush on Glennon the focal point of their strategy. While their line may have some success in containing the running game of Branden Ore (if they manage to improve their missed tackles from the Rutgers loss last week), they will have most of their problems covering in the secondary. Virginia Tech's wide receivers simply have too much ability in Josh Morgan, David Clowney, Eddie Royal, and Josh Hyman.

What this really comes down to is how well Virginia Tech's O-line will perform. Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi will almost certainly do their part to lead the Hokie defense in containing the Tarheel offense. Expect to see Virgina Tech's offensive line look a little disheveled towards the early part of the game given that this will be their first ACC contest of the season and then finding their footing before the end of the first half.