Friday, November 24, 2006

Game Preview - vs. Virginia

Game Preview – vs. Virginia
by Brian “Where’s the Ice?”

This week the Virginia Cavaliers square off against the Virginia Tech Hokies. This rivalry grew and has continued to exist as one of the most fierce in the conference. For all practical purposes, this serves as the Texas – Texas A&M rivalry of the ACC. The winner of this contest takes home the yearly awarded Commonwealth Cup, named after the Commonwealth of Virginia. (As a brief historical aside about this name, Virginia is not technically a state, but one of the country’s four commonwealths.)

Virginia has had a difficult season which began with suspensions of some of their top players. Their quarterback, Jameel Sewell has struggled through most of his season as well. In spite of all these challenges, the Wahoos have put together a 5-6 (4-3 in conference) record. On Saturday, UVA fights for bowl eligibility while the Hokies have their sights on a high profile, but non-BCS, bowl. Each respective team has a lot at stake on this game.

Let’s examine the Virginia offense. Quarterback Jameel Sewell has a completion rate just under 60% with 133 completions over 226 attempts. He’s passed for 1276 yards on the season, and towers at 6’3”. As a Freshman, you can argue that he has a great deal of experience yet to gain, but many UVA fans will tell you that he’s developed greatly over the course of this season and has finally, “figured out how to play.”

Sewell has Jason Snelling for the UVA running game. Standing 5’11” and weighing in at 233 lbs., he has amassed 751 yards of rushing over 170 carries. Sewell places second behind Snelling in rushing with 180 yards, so the ‘Hoos don’t really have a reliable secondary running back. For passing they’ll look to receivers Kevin Ogletree and Tom Santi. Ogletree standing 6’2” has 50 receptions for 551 yards. The Hokie defense will have to cover this receiver well, but like their running game, UVA doesn’t have a comparable secondary go-to receiver in Santi who has only 29 receptions and 253 yards in passing.

As a team, UVA’s defense doesn’t have the same numbers as Virginia Tech, who ranks first in the ACC for total defense and first in all of College Football in pass defense. Virginia Tech has allowed 1472 yards in passing and 1069 in rushing while UVA’s offense has produced 1821 yards of passing and 1153 yards of rushing, the third worst in the ACC. Considering that UVA’s defense has not faced the teams that have the most offensive potency of the ACC, that further shows UVA's defense is unequipped to stop the Hokie offense while that same Hokie offense has produced good numbers against some of the ACC’s strong defensive teams. {Editor's note: The Hokie offense has also struggled against Kent State}

Virginia Tech’s offense has produced 2070 yards in passing and 1276 yards in receiving while UVA has allowed 1896 yards in passing and 1276 yards in rushing. You can notice the large gap in passing yardage between the two defenses. I’ve repeated this throughout the season: Virginia Tech quarterback Sean Glennon needs to make more use of his receivers. The Hokie receiver squad has a great deal of depth, and they’ve had to rely too heavily on the Branden Ore running game (and Kenny Lewis considering last week’s game against Wake Forest). While part of the blame for this does fall on the shoulders of the developing Hokie offensive line, Glennon could look to his receivers in some greater capacity, and Saturday’s contest against UVA with their weak passing defense (as shown by the stats) serves as the perfect opportunity. Should the Hokies find themselves in a high profile bowl at the end of the season, they’ll most likely need a well balanced running and passing game to win. The time for this high powered offense to prove that it can do that comes on Saturday!

Virginia Cavaliers (5-6, 4-3) vs. #17 Virginia Tech Hokies (9-2, 5-2)
12:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, November 25
Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA
XM Radio

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Game Review - Virginia Tech vs. Wake Forest

Game Review

An amazing defensive effort and a veteran-type showing by some backup running backs, combined with Sean Glennon's best day as a quarterback resulted in Virginia Tech's resounding 27-6 smashing of Wake Forest. And I was there in person to witness the glorious victory. A great day to be a Hokie to be sure.

And I'm sure that you, my Calm and Beloved Reader, is thinking "MadJay finally was proven wrong about Glennon". To that I respond, simply, "No." I will gladly admit that Glennon played his best game of the season. He delivered a few good strikes and made some good decisions with the ball. He also threw some passes very poorly and showed absolutely no ability to sense pressure in the pocket. So I'll sum up Glennon's performance by saying that what we saw is the very best that young man can play. And to his credit he played his very best when the chips were down and his stud running back Branden Ore went out with an ankle injury.

But on Sunday I watched the Michigan-Ohio State game that I had taped the day before(thank you Tivo). And I can tell you that the performances of Chad Henne and Troy Smith showed what an elite Division I-A quarterback is capable of. Almost all of the passes were on the money. They were looking off defenders and gliding around in the pocket avoiding the rush while keeping their eyes downfield. Glennon looks nothing like those two guys, and I contend that he does not have the potential to get there. Even Wake Forest's redshirt freshman quarterback, Riley Skinner, was making some phenomenal plays that just make you go, "OOOooohh" and Glennon just doesn't do that. Make no mistake - Glennon contributed greatly to the Wake Forest win and I have no problem with him starting the Virginia game and bowl game. But I stand by my statement that in order to take the next step, another answer must be found at quarterback next season.

Now, on to the rest of the offense. What can I say about the offensive line performance except WOW?! Sergio Render as a true freshman won the ACC Lineman of the Week award for his performance against the Demon Deacons. The line was just outstanding, paving the way for George Bell and Kenny Lewis, Jr, who looked nothing like guys getting their first major action of the entire season. They picked up blitzes, didn't fumble the ball and moved the chains. Neither will be mistaken for Ore - Lewis missed two cutbacks for huge runs because he lacks Ore's vision and Bell had one run where if he had Ore's speed he would have taken it to the house - but if Ore can't go against Virginia, a workmanlike performance by Lewis/Bell such as the one seen last Saturday night in Winston Salem will get the job done.

The receivers played extremely well, but here again is another complete black-eye for the Hokies program. Bryan Stinespring is not very good at his job and that's as nice as I can put it. He demonstrated a decent playcalling gameplan for one of the rare times this season against Wake Forest. BUT he does not gameplan with the proper personnel and I'm talking basic things here. For example, during the game I saw a) a deep jump ball-type pass to Royal then b) a deep slant route to Justin Harper followed by c) a fake reverse pass thrown by Eddie Royal. You have to know your personnel and put them in positions to make the plays they are best at.

Eddie Royal is a great athlete, but how many jump ball bombs is our 5'9" receiver going to win as opposed to Justin Harper who has already demonstrated an incredible ability to make plays on the deep ball? And vice versa, why send Harper on that deep slant when it's Royal and Morgan who have been making that play on the few occasions it's been called? And finally, just as I said after the Georgia Tech game, if you have Cory Holt on your team taking snaps at wide receiver, and you want to run a fake reverse pass, you are insane to run it with Eddie Royal. Royal's inability to make that throw (the guy has never played QB so I'm not blaming him here) or rather Stinespring's insistent ignorance of his players, cost the Hokies a game-changing touchdown against Georgia Tech and it took the momentum away from the Hokies in the first half of the Wake Forest game.

Glennon, Whitaker, Holt, Elway, Marino, Montana I don't give a damn WHO the Virginia Tech QB is in 2007, I do not believe the Hokies can take the next step (despite an INSANE amount of NFL-level talent on defense next season) with Stinespring as the offensive coordinator and frankly it sickens me that he is in that position. Someone asked me on Saturday night if I'd take Stinespring or Jeff Bowden who was recently fired from Florida State. It's a no-brainer - give me Bowden. He's won a national title.

I can't say much about the defense that hasn't already been said. Bud Foster is hands-down Assistant Coach of the Year. The defense was nothing short of inspirational and the many Hokie fans that were in attendance (we out-tailgated the Deacons, 75%-25% I can tell you, but the game attendance was more like 60%-40% in favor of the home team - still impressive turnout for the maroon and orange I say) appreciated every minute of it. Barry Booker's 4th and 1 stop on the 5 yard line late in the game to preserve the shutout exemplifies the mentality that this unit has. They believe that the end zone they are defending is sacred ground and they will protect it with everything they have.

The defense is returning 8 starters and Kam Chancellor will be playing rover which could be an upgrade from Rouse. If the 2007 Hokie defense can avoid the 2003 "NFL Look Ahead" Syndrome, it has a chance to complete one of the greatest 4 year stretch runs ever by being in the top 4 in total defense all four years - a feat that has only ever been accomplished once in the history of college football - Mississippi had an insane 5 year stretch in the top 3 in total defense from 1959-63. By the way I found the answer to my own question about consecutive years with the top total defense - Auburn led the nation in total defense in 1957/58, Southern Miss led the nation in defense in 1965/66, and Pittsburgh did it in 1980/81 but Toledo led in 1969/70/71 and Oklahoma led in 1985/86/87 for an impossible three straight seasons atop the total defense category which is truly amazing. However with today's advanced offense and passing game, I think the Hokies' feat would be potentially even more amazing.

From the ashes of a 4-2 season with a team that looked like it was falling apart against Boston College, the 2006 Hokies have arisen and conquered the team that many felt was the best in the league this year. Wake Forest played hard and nearly mistake-free but this new version of the Hokies played the same way with better athletes and wore the Deacons into the ground. It was a pleasure to watch and if Tech can duplicate that type of performance they are absolutely capable of beating their VERY MUCH hated rival Virginia this Saturday.


3 Key Plays - Wake Forest

3 Key Plays

1) Sean Glennon hits Eddie Royal for a 49 yard strike to open the scoring at 7-0 on the first Hokie offensive drive. This play built momentum and while the offense was unable to execute the rest of the first half, it kept Wake Forest off-balance especially in light of the loss of Branden Ore on the following series. This throw also gave Glennon confidence which he definitely needed in this game.

2) Eddie Royal returns a kickoff 49 yards. This return was after Wake Forest had driven down and scored a field goal in the third quarter to make it 14-6. With it being a one-score game at that point and the momentum shifted to the Demon Deacons, Royal stuck a dagger in their hearts with this big return - his longest of the season. It led to a field goal by the unflappable Brandon Pace.

3) Up 17-6, Xavier Adibi and Aaron Rouse combined to finish Wake Forest off psychologically in a great defensive scoring play. Rouse came up and knocked the stuffing out of the Wake Forest ball carrier at the end of a screen pass play. The back dropped the ball and while most of the players stood around, Adibi alertly scooped it up and took it in for a score to make it 24-6. This was when the Wake Forest fans began leaving the stadium.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tech loses another promising prospect


As reported by Beamerball, Coach Beamer confirms that stud LB prospect Matt Wright has withdrawn from the university.

Wright is D.J. Parker's younger brother and was redshirting this year. Beamer has maintained Wright's privacy and explained the departure as being for "personal reasons".

This makes for three incredibly talented freshmen that no longer are on VT's football team - William Wall, Joey Hall and now Matt Wright. All three showed phenomenal promise and while Wall and Hall are gone permanently, perhaps Wright will be able to return. We at TSF will not speculate on the situation but can only hope that Wright is able to work out whatever issues he may be having so that he is able to come back to school and to the football program.

Wake Forest Posts First Real Threat To New Streak

by Anand "EhhTee" Trivedi

WINSTON-SALEM, NC -- The #19 Hokies (4-2, 8-2) travel two and a half hours south to Winston-Salem this weekend to take on the #14 Demon Deacons (5-1, 9-1) of Wake Forest. The streaking Deacons can go into next weekend's match-up against the Maryland Terrapins strong with a win over the Hokies. The Deacons control their own destiny: win the next two games and they will the Atlantic Division and will travel to Jacksonville for the ACC Championship game. Not bad for the second smallest Division 1-A team. [Quick, name the smallest! Hint: White on...]

The Hokies, who have brushed off the woes of two straight in conference losses and won four in a row, will need two losses by Georgia Tech to make it to the championship game. That is improbable, so the Hokies will need to finish strong if they want a post New Year's Day bowl.

Unlike MadJay, I enjoyed the performance of the Hokies against the Hurricanes a few weeks ago. The Hurricanes are an oddity this season. They have a BCS caliber defense and a Division 1-AA offense. A 17-10 victory in the Orange Bowl is commendable. That gives me a little hope for the Hokies at Wake Forest. Traditionally, the game at Wake Forest is a virtual home game with seventy percent of the stands filled with Hokie fans. This weekend, I would imagine, that it will be closer to playing at a neutral site. Or potentially, with the hype of potentially winning the ACC, the Deacon fans will show up in force!

Now, both teams have struggled on offense, but both have found ways to win. For the Hokies, it's been the number one ranked total defense that has kept the Hokies alive. Allowing only an average of 228.4 (127.7 through the air also puts the Hokies at number one in passing defense) the Hokies defense has matured significantly since the two losses. I do not expect there to be too much trouble containing the 102 ranked Wake offense.

And yet, there is still reason to be concerned. The Deacons were able to blank the struggling Florida State Seminoles 30-0 at home. It was so bad, the Coach Bowden was prompted to fire his own son [which he should have done ages ago.] But when you break it down, it wasn't Wake's dominance, it was their ability to capitalize on the Seminoles mistakes. The Seminoles threw four interceptions and lost this game basically due to field position. The Seminoles crossed into Wake territory twice! If the Hokies come out like this, and they are capable of it, then Wake will easily take advantage.

It will all start with ball control. Glennon, and I won't go into that debate here, will need to hold on to the ball when pressured. And believe me, he will be pressured. If it's one thing that teams know to do against this offense, it's send pressure. Expect to see Ore get the ball a lot in that same old predictable Stinespring way. Most times it works and if the Deacons send pressure, he's bound to break a big one or two. But in order to do so they'll need to open it up a bit to the receivers. But when they do, they'll have to watch out for #22 safety Josh Gattis. He's got four interceptions this year.

The games significance has prompted a new game time of 7:00. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2. I believe this is a national broadcast, but have been unable to confirm.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Random Thought


I tried to research this and had no luck. I certainly don't remember it ever happening. When was the last time a team led the nation in total defense in consecutive years? The Hokies are number 1 right now and they have two very tough games left so there's a TON of work left to do to maintain that ranking. But if they are successful, will they be the first team to ever do that in consecutive years?

And before you dwell on that question, think about this - the Hokies were 12th in total defense following the Boston College game. They went from 12th to 1st playing Southern Miss, Clemson, Miami and Kent State. Wow.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Mad Jay is MAD


I am so mad about today's game against Kent State, but first, let's show some Hokie Respect and say that Georgia Tech clinched the ACC Coastal division today with a lackluster 7-0 victory over UNC. Congratulations to the Yellow Jackets for coming to Blacksburg and beating the Hokies 38-21 as that was the decisive game that decided the division. While I am disappointed that the Hokies have been eliminated from contention, if you watched the Kent State-Virginia Tech game today you realize that this offense does not belong in any championship games. The defense surely does, but the offense? No way. When the QB goes 12-22 for 142 yards with a fumble and it is an improvement over his previous 3 games, there is a problem.

I can only fathom that Ike Whitaker looks so unbelievably bad in practice during the week that the coaches won't give him a chance in the game. I wish Coach Beamer would go on record as to why Whitaker isn't getting more of a chance as the passing offense is so horrible. He was finally put in against Kent State with only 4 minutes left on his own 10 yard line. After a running play lost a yard on first down, Whitaker dropped back after a play action fake and made several guys miss to gain two yards and then he handed the ball off again on 3rd and 9. Those were his only snaps.

Now this goes beyond the typical "backup quarterback is always the most popular guy on campus" theory. I want some damn answers from the coaching staff because my claim is NOT that Whitaker's definitely the answer at QB, my claim is that the team needs to find out whether Whitaker is the answer. Why won't they give him a series in the first half? And after being up 6-0 on Kent State at halftime why on earth wouldn't that be the right time to try Ike Whitaker for the opening series of the second half. Can he be any worse? I suppose it's possible that he could be worse, but if he is, it will be readily apparent because Glennon has been bad, and anything worse than that is going to be obvious. If Whitaker was worse than what Glennon's been doing then I don't think the team would have even recruited him.

I have consistently repeated this since the beginning of the season - I like Sean Glennon. I was comfortable giving him the benefit of the doubt to lead this team as the team came out of the gate. I forgave him early season errors as this was his first season starting. But this is the 10th game and he has not improved. It's as if Frank Beamer, Mike O'Cain and Bryan Stinespring think that because they made a decision on who the starting QB would be in the pre-season they aren't allowed to change their mind after seeing the results. I still like Sean Glennon, I think he's a helluva Hokie and would be a solid back-up QB. But it's time to find out whether this team has a QB on the sidelines who can excel in Division I-A, whether it be Ike Whitaker or Cory Holt, or VT risks not only losing the game at Wake Forest next week but also falling short of its true potential in the future.

Mike Tomczak (a former quarterback in the NFL so he might know a thing or two about this) said it best early in the 4th quarter with his analysis after David Clowney made a PHENOMENAL leaping catch over double coverage, so I'll let his exact quote close this thing out - "I like this group of wide receivers. If they had a quarterback who could, you know, wing it a little bit, they would have a field day out there and be a better asset for this team."

The Hokies will never know if they don't try and find out.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Game Preview - vs. Kent State

Game Preview - vs. Kent State
by Brian "Where's the Ice?"

This week, the Virginia Tech Hokies will take on the Kent State Golden Flashes. Kent State plays out of the MAC (Mid-American Conferenc) against teams that have made non-conference games for the Hokies many seasons back including Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Akron, and Miami of Ohio who actually handed Virginia Tech a season devastating loss not too many seasons ago.

You may remember an incident from history class where the National Guard shot four protester students in 1970. Since then, their football program hasn't gone uphill very much at all until this season. In season's past, they haven't compiled many winning records at all. They've struggled with a bad reputation that hurt their recruiting potency, a dilapidated training facility, and players loosing 25 lbs. over a single season. So getting themselves to opening with a 5-2 overall record and 4-0 conference record makes for quite an improvement. They look to reach their first bowl appearance since 1972.

So who's who of the Kent State? Quarterback Julian Edelman has passed for 1490 yards this season with 8 touchdown passes and a 56% completion rate. He's made a name for himself as a dark horse player in that no Division I schools would recruit him. Coach Doug Martin says that he channels the frustration to that in to his play and does so very well. Kent State has one primary go-to receiver in Najah Pruden who has 657 yards of receiving which includes five touchdown receptions. College Football pundits have projected the 6'3" 185 lbs senior to amass nearly 900 yards of receiving by the season’s end. As far as their rushing game, Edelman himself leads the team in carries with 140 and nearly leads the team in rushing with 589 yards. Kent State also has a strong tailback in Eugene Jarvis who despite his small size of 5'5" and 158 lbs. has accrued 592 yards over 120 carries this season.

Kent's defense ranks first in the MAC for passing, but they don't have quite so hot numbers in their rushing defense allowing 1390 yards. Branden Ore shouldn't have any problem further extending his numbers for this season.

The Hokies need to enter this game, not overconfident, but aiming to make some development in areas that they're lacking. Besides the struggling and inexperienced offense line, I've seen one of their most significant shortcomings in quarterback Sean Glennon's lack of ability to make use of the Hokie wide receivers. Virginia Tech has a great deal of depth at the receiver position in Eddie Royal, Josh Morgan, David Clowney, and Justin Harper, and I haven't seen the level of synchronization between Glennon and them that I think they can attain. The Hokies need to take advantage of an opportunity to develop that synchronization in their game against Kent State. Furthermore, backup quarterback Ike Whitaker should have an opportunity to take some snaps as well.

Some Hokie trivia for this week
* The ACC has named Xavier Adibi as ACC Defensive Linemen of the Week
* Virginia Tech could acheive 25 straight wins against non-conference teams at Lane Stadium
* Branden Ore places 10th in Virginia Tech's football history to rush for 1000 yards in a single season
* Virginia Tech's passing defense ranks first in the nation

Kent State (5-4, 4-2)
Virginia Tech (7-2, 4-2)
Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA
3:30 p.m. EDT, Saturday, Nov 11
Television - ESPNU

Monday, November 06, 2006

Game Review - Virginia Tech vs. Miami


"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." -Charles Dickens

Game Review
by Mad Jay

A win is a win is a win, especially when it comes against Miami in the Orange Bowl. Virginia Tech emerged victorious 17-10 against the Canes in a struggle that I contend pitted two of the three best defenses in the entire country against each other (LSU being the other). In that environment against that defense, you can't help but be happy to get a win and move on to Kent State. However, my Calm and Beloved Reader, I am not you and I am not happy.

But let's start with who I am proud of, and it's a theme because I've been proud of them most of the year - Brandon Pace, Branden Ore and the defense. You couldn't ask for a better kicker than Pace. He has made every field goal this season and the blocked extra points were a busted blocking assignment. He rose up against Miami putting the Hokies on the board first which is a big deal in a road game (remember at Boston College?????!?!?!?! where we went for it like RETARDS while in field goal range and the score 0-0?!?!?!). Branden Ore was his usual amazing self, making big runs when he needed to and dodging Miami tacklers in the backfield all day. The offensive line was not very good in run or pass blocking and it didn't help that Brandon Frye hurt his ankle (questionable now for Kent State), but they and Ore did make a few big plays at the very end of the game to help seal it. Clearly, though the game ball goes to the defense.

The defense won the game, making only one mental mistake (on that busted run by Tyrone Moss) and playing as a group. They were very focused, had only one penalty which was on the second to last play of the game and didn't get sucked into the late-hit-fest that I was worried about. This group is playing as a team now and and never was the "team defense" concept demonstrated so beautifully as on the game-changing play. Xavier Adibi intercepted a pass deflected by Chris Ellis who had time to get through the line because Kyle Wright had to go to his second read due to great coverage on his first receiver. In the end, this play was the difference in the game. Strangely, Nic Schmitt had a very bad game punting and the defense was put in bad field position early and often and they responded by completely shutting Miami down. By the way, why does a Virginia Tech punter have one game each season that is absolutely DAMN TERRIBLE going back the past 4 seasons?! Damn loony punters. But I digress.

In stark contrast, stands the offense. Oh my. Yes, I recognize Miami's abilities as a defense, but this Hokie team offense is not good. They have playmakers all over the field and can't get the ball into their hands. Anyone understand why David Clowney, Eddie Royal and Justin Harper had a total of one pass thrown their way the entire game?! I'm a big Josh Morgan fan and I like Josh Hyman too, but Morgan dropped a touchdown pass and Hyman is probably the least talented of our receivers. At some point, you've got to get the ball in the hands of our other playmaker wide receivers. I know many of you expect me to just bash Sean Glennon, but the weakness on offensive line and tight end were exposed as well. And that brings me to this point of frustration beyond belief. Just sickening frustration and anger.

Bryan Stinespring and Bud Foster are the assistant coach/coordinators for the Hokies. Following the debacle on national TV against Boston College the Hokie defense proceeded to go from 12th in the country to 3rd in total defense. The team came together and Aaron Rouse, despite all the pre-season All-ACC hype at rover, took a seat and made way for Cary Wade. I hate it for Rouse who is a good story and came back for his senior year, but the simple fact is that he is struggling. He has lost his grandfather this year, so I understand he has other things on his mind and he is a true Hokie who hasn't made excuses. But what makes Foster the coordinator he is, is that he made the change and began starting Wade, splitting snaps with Rouse and the results in team unity and level of play on the field have been obvious. Behind Coach Foster, the defense has already taken the next step. It is obvious, painfully so, that this unit is playing at a national-title level.

Let's examine the offense since that Boston College debacle. Since then, they have had good rushing performances against Clemson and Southern Miss. I credit Brandon Gore, the rest of the offensive line, Coach Curt Newsome, Stinespring and Branden Ore for those performances and when the run is working, I say keep on running. But lost in everyone patting themselves on the back for the running game are two incredibly important details.

First, where is the second running back? If Kenny Lewis is your second guy, which I agree with for the record, why isn't he getting snaps? Don't give me this crap about "the situation didn't present itself". BS. The coaches are scared to play their second guy and as the season wears on and injuries are higher risk, the team needs Kenny Lewis getting snaps and Coach Billy Hite knows it.

The second important detail is that the passing game has gone down crapcreek without a paddle and Coach Stinespring was unable to adapt when Miami shut down the running game. Here is Sean Glennon's stat line since the BC game - 18-45, 294 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT. That means that over the past three games, Sean Glennon is the 109th rated passer in Division I-A. There are 117 programs counted in that stat and the players below him, well you don't know them and you don't want to. It doesn't get much better if you look at the whole season. He is the lowest rated passer out of all the QB's playing for a top 25 football team. And he has one of the best running backs in the entire country to carry the load!!! I wouldn't care about the yards due to the running game's success, but the inefficiency is just so hard to watch.

I have already said I don't totally blame Glennon. He is playing as hard as he can, he is just not able to lead this offense at a national title or conference title level. The real culprit is Stinespring. Unlike Coach Foster, he is unwilling to make a player change. Even worse he continues to be inept with his playcalling in the passing game. Explain to a rational person how you throw nothing but short passes against the 5th worst pass defense in the country (Boston College) and then throw no short passes to wide receivers against Miami when you are being blitzed on EVERY DOWN? Where was the wide receiver "toss" play to Eddie Royal, or the quick slant against the Canes? Stinespring cannot adapt. He even had the NC State game from 2004 and the Miami game in Blacksburg from last year to learn from. His offense has the slowest developing RB screen pass in the land and it almost never works. It is unacceptable and infuriating. The only way I believe that the Hokies can take the Next Step as a program is to replace Bryan Stinespring at offensive coordinator.

These are dead horses and maybe my Calm and Beloved Reader is tired of me beating on them repeatedly. But I cannot in good conscience watch the team get 139 yards of offense against Miami and then pat them on the back. The defense is too good and works too hard. They deserve an offense that is capable of playing at an elite level and I know, down in my heart, that with Sean Glennon at QB that will not happen. The best you will get with Glennon and Stinespring is an offense that MIGHT not throw away the game and gives the ball to Branden Ore repeatedly. Against other elite teams and over the course of a long college football season you need more than that. So I will continue to watch diligently for signs of improvement and give credit where it's due. And I will continue to call for change where I know it's needed in order for this program to take The Next Step.


3 Key Plays - Virginia Tech vs. Miami


1) Brandon Flowers picks off a Kirby Freeman pass and returns it 24 yards deep into Miami territory. This was a huge play as Freeman had just come in for Kyle Wright and ripped off a huge run a few plays earlier. Miami was trying to recapture the momentum after the Hokies went up 3-0, but Flowers made a great play and the Hokies were able to convert the short field into a touchdown to take a 10-0 lead. Without this play Kirby Freeman might have led the Canes on a scoring drive and been the QB the rest of the way. He couldn't have played much worse than Kyle Wright did and might have played a whole lot better. Instead Wright came back in with his confidence shaken and didn't look very good the rest of the game.

2) Facing 3rd and 1 at midfield, Miami RB Tyrone Moss ran into the line for the first down and since no one brought him down he busted loose and ran for the touchdown to tie the game at 10. The one busted play by the defense cost the Hokies, and give credit to Miami for not going in the tank down 10-0 (I thought they would self-destruct when they fell behind).

3) The score was still tied at 10 with 4 minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Canes had just intercepted Sean Glennon, when Chris Ellis busted through the line and deflected a Kyle Wright pass tipping it into the hands of a diving Xavier Adibi for the interception. This was a gigantic play because the Hokies were immediately in field goal range and thanks to Branden Ore they were able to put it in the end zone for a 17-10 lead which was the final difference in the game.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Game Preview - Virginia Tech vs. Clemson


Game Preview

In the past 6 years, the Miami-Virginia Tech game has produced the very best and the very worst emotional swings that the team and the fans have witnessed. In the 2006 version, the game is rife with psychological overtones, so the team who manages their emotions the best will win. First, let's take a look back:

2000 – Miami 41-21 – Michael Vick’s one missed game that season showed the heart of back-up QB Dave Meyer, but he fell short. Had Vick played, the Hokies would have been playing in back-to-back national title games. This one hurt, but it wasn’t a shocker.
2001- Miami 26-24 – This game was BY FAR the closest any team game to beating Miami that year they won the national championship. Yes the drop by Ernest Wilford on the two-point conversion was like a knife in my heart, but in retrospect, that was one of the best “Hokie” performances of all-time. And while that point is debatable, what isn’t debatable is that Grant Noel had the worst big-game performance by a quarterback of all-time (Grant Noel, 4-16, 71 yards with 4 INT’s and a fumble) and the defense and the special teams nearly overcame that performance. The crowd was in it to the end, and it was just a day filled with mixed emotions.
2002- Miami 56-45 – Brutal lack of defense by both teams, but the Hokies wouldn’t give up, coming back time and time again before finally losing to Willis McGahee’s 6 TD performance. It just sucked losing this game, but Miami was the better team.
2003- Virginia Tech 31-7 – One of the highlights in Hokie history, they beat 2nd ranked Miami on Saturday night in Lane Stadium the week after being embarrassed in a Thursday night loss to West Virginia. This was another overall team performance and it’s a shame the team couldn’t build on this win later in the year as it splintered into factions and fell apart at the end of the season.
2004 – Virginia Tech 16-10 – This win in the Orange Bowl for the Hokies clinched the ACC Championship for the team the first year they were in the league. It was even sweeter to do it on Miami’s turf. This is probably as happy after a win as I have ever been (VT beating Syracuse 62-0 for Michael Vick’s coming out party and victory over West Virginia the weekend the Blonde and I got engaged down in Blacksburg are the other candidates).
2005 – Miami 27-7 – Interesting that the happiest-after-a-win-high of 2004 would be followed by the most-shocked-and-devastated-low of last season. Miami came into town and crushed the 3rd ranked Hokies’ dreams of a national title. VT got beat up in every phase of the game and Marcus Vick showed the country that no, he definitely was different from his brother. His turnover-fest was a main culprit behind the loss.

And so, the stage is set for 2006. The talent on both teams is evident and very comparable. Again, I could go into matchups but in this contest it’s all about the mind game.

Let’s look at Virginia Tech first. They find themselves in almost the identical position to Clemson last Thursday night. They are coming off of a huge emotional win in front of their home crowd and have to go on the road against a tough, talented and psychologically wounded opponent. Can the team get down to business or will they get sucked into all of the trash talking that always happens when you play Miami.

Offensively, this is the one game where I think Sean Glennon has an edge over Ike Whitaker early on in the game. Glennon is not a trash talker, he’s a mature kid and I can see him keeping the offense on an even keel. If he can avoid making mistakes he will set a very good tone for the rest of the offense at the critical early stages. Branden Ore talks some and he could get pulled into some sort of “discussion” that would lead to personal fouls.

On the defensive side of the ball, I am worried. Both Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall at linebacker jabber a lot at their opponents. Write it down, there will be some pushing and shoving after the whistle by these two, with some Miami players but hopefully not enough to get flagged. Brandon Flowers is from Florida and he says he knows some of the Hurricanes so you know he is going to get sucked into some jawing back and forth. The defense HAS to remain disciplined in their play. They must continue to trust each other and build from their performance against Clemson. If their emotions get too out of check they will commit stupid penalties that can cost them dearly against Miami. I am nervous about the defense staying focused, and I think the critical thing for Bud Foster to do is to curtail any extracurricular activities he sees by immediately pulling the player involved for a snap or two.

Now let’s take a peek inside the basket-case that is Miami football. They are a team on the verge of anarchy. It’s got to be difficult for the players to play for someone that they probably view as a lame-duck coach on his way out at the end of the season. The team is hurt and frustrated knowing they can’t win the ACC this year and all of the fallout from the on-field brawl with FIU earlier in the season hasn’t completely blown over. Based on this, I believe this game will be decided in the early going. If the Hurricanes come out and get a lead and start feeling confident, they can get Virginia Tech involved in verbal contests and distract the Hokies from playing up to their capabilities. Yes, Miami got out to a 10-0 lead on Georgia Tech, but that was on the road and now the only thing they have left to play for is pride and their crowd. Don’t forget that this is still Miami in terms of player ability. These players can fly and break big plays all over the field. However, if Tech can score first, I think Miami falls apart.

Virginia Tech isn’t mathematically eliminated from the ACC Championship, but Georgia Tech would have to lose two more games for the Hokies to have a chance. So the motivation for the Hokies is going to be based around building on what they did last week. Playing as a team and winning games becomes a habit that can carry over for these players for next season. And who knows, Georgia Tech is the type of team that can lose two of their next three games no matter who the opponent is.

Either way, I expect to see a big dose of Kenny Lewis (Elan Lewis didn’t make the trip) at RB and Ike Whitaker at QB later in this game so that they get much-needed big game experience in preparation for 2007. That will tell me if the coaching staff has their heads on right and has this team focused on winning the “right way” as Coach Beamer calls it while still preparing the entire team for next year. The players can’t be thinking about 2007 at all, but the coaches better be.