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.


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