Maybe it was the crisp autumn night air, maybe it was the 3
So now you're thinking, surely I might have changed my mind on the next Clemson possession when they marched 77 yards for a touchdown. No, my friends, I did not. There were again the intangibles. The crowd was in the game. The tackles were crisp. The yardage, on Clemson's behalf, was earned. Quarterback Will Proctor made some good passes for 14, 19, and 12. But these came after Proctor had to burn Clemson's last 2 time-outs.
The rest of the game belonged to the Hokies.
The Hokies took the field and I saw something else, forward movement.
Clemson would struggle on the next drive. Brendon Hill should have had an interception but instead Clemson went three and out. The Hokies would take advantage of good position on the Clemson 49 and again would put some points on the board. Brandon Pace would kick a 37-yard field goal. The reoccurring theme,
After yet another three and out, the Hokies drove for a little while but that drive would stall. A key pass by Glennon to David "I've got a fever" Clowney for 19-yards. If not for losing his footing, he would have taken it to the end zone. Two holding calls would push the drive back, but punter, Nic "Big as a five bedroom, four bath mansion" Schmitt would pin the Tigers down on their two yard line.
Clemson got the ball back with on the clock. I want you to envision the amount of time left in the game. There are 36 minutes and 30 seconds left in the game. Now I want you to absorb this stat: On this drive, the Tigers would convert for a first down after being pinned in. This would be one of three conversions for the rest of the game. The second would come late in the third quarter. The third would come with time running down at the end of the game.
One more time: with 36+ minutes left in the game, the Tigers had their last first down until nearly the end of the third quarter. In total they would have eight, five of which came on their second drive on which they scored the touchdown. That said, Clemson quickly collapsed and had to punt once again. All told, Clemson would have ten three and outs.
Glennon would make one mistake in this game and it came on the next drive. Glennon has consistently had trouble with blindside pressure. He has fumbled four times this year when hit from behind. It is vital that he work on protecting the ball in these situations. A sack is far better than a fumble, my friends. Thankfully, Will Proctor would mirror the turnover with a fumble of his own.
The defensive battle would continue into the next half. Tech goes three and out. Xavier Adibi would intercept a pass deep in Clemson territory. The next five plays were all hand offs to
The Hokies with the ball in their own territory would be saved by what I think was a controversial fumble call reversal. The play in question was a botched reversal by the Hokies. Eddie Royal fumbled the ball on the Hokies 34-yard line. The play was reviewed and turned over. The play was very close and on further review, I personally think there wasn't enough to overturn the call. But, I'm not a referee and the Hokies would maintain possession and would punt. Guess what, the Tigers again went three and out. The Hokie defense was phenomenal. The Hokies allowed 12 yards in the last 12 plays!
The Hokies would drive again on their next possession, this time with a more balanced attack. This is to say, Glennon made two passes: one to Josh Morgan for 9 yards and one to Sam Wheeler for a huge 40-yard strike.
The next drive the Tigers would convert their seventh first down. But that would be all they could muster and would have to punt once more.
The forth quarter was a ping pong match of dueling three and outs. Two things were pretty evident here. One, all of the back and forth was only eating into the clock. Two, the Tigers looked amazingly like the Hokies did against Georgia Tech. There was a aura of dejection and of shock on the Clemson side of the ball. With only a 17 point deficit, the Tigers seemed to fold it in and were half way back to
A Superfan asked on Thursday, what was Beamer's record against the Tigers. Frank Beamer's first game as head coach of the Hokies in 1987 was a loss to Clemson. He lost again in 1988 and 1989. Since then, Beamer and the Hokies have had the Tigers' number. With wins in
The Hokies moved to 13-2 when playing on ESPN's Thursday night coverage with the 24-7 victory over the Tigers. The two losses both were against the Boston College Golden Eagles. Something tells me, that Athletic Director Jim Weaver will think twice before scheduling that one again!
Monday, October 30, 2006
From Section VIII-3 of the 2006-07 ACC Manual
Two Team Tie
(1) Head-to-head competition between the two tied teams
(2) Records of the tied teams within the division
(3) Head-to-head competition versus the team within the division with the best overall record. (divisional and non-divisional) Conference record and proceeding though the division. Multiple ties within the division broken from first to last.
(4) Overall record versus all common non-divisional opponents
(5) Combined record vs. all non-division teams
(6) Record versus common non-divisional teams based on their order of finish (divisional and non-divisional) and proceeding through other common non-divisional teams based on their order of finish within their division.
(7) The tied team with the highest ranking in the Bowl Championship Series Standings following the end of regular season games shall be the divisional representative in the ACC Championship Game.
(8) The representative shall be chosen by a draw.
Three or More Team Tie
(Once tie has been reduced to two teams, the two-team tiebreaker format is used)
(1) Combined head-to-head record among the tied teams
(2) Records of the tied teams within the division
(3) Head-to-head competition vs. the team within the division with the best overall (divisional and non-divisional) Conference record, and proceeding through the division. Multiple ties within the division will be broken first to last.
(4) Overall record for non-division teams
(5) Combined record versus all common non-divisional teams.
(6) Record versus common non-divisional with the best overall Conference (divisional and non-divisional record) and proceeding through the other common non-divisional teams based on their order of finish within the division.
(7) The tied team with the highest ranking in the Bowl Championship Series Standings following the conclusion of regular season games shall be the divisional representative in the ACC Championship Game, unless the second of the tied teams is ranked within five-or-fewer places of the highest ranked tied team. In this case, the head-to-head results of the top two ranked tied teams shall determine the representative in the ACC Championship Game.
(8) The representative shall be chosen by a draw.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
My esteemed colleagues will bring you a full preview of the Clemson game shortly, but there is a special point (and player) that needs highlighting. Lost in the importance of the victory and all of the stars of the game is the fact that Brandon Gore received a gameball from the coaches and as far as I'm concerned he was the MVP of the game.
Ryan Shuman has had a pretty bad 2006 football season. The sophomore guard was playing miserably and then against Southern Mississippi he finally had a good game. Fortune did not smile upon him though as with 4 minutes left in the first quarter against Clemson he tore his ACL and is now out for the season. We all feel bad for the young man who has worked hard and is making improvement, but the cold hard truth is that he and guard Sergio Render have been the weak links on the offensive line this season.
But in stepped Brandon Gore, to fill in for Shuman at left guard. Gore is a senior with one start in his career and this season he's been spelling Sergio Render at right guard because of Render's poor play and the fact that Render's a freshman who hasn't been ready for the college game thus far. And now that Gore was going to be playing at left guard, Render would have to step up his game against Clemson and he did. But MY GOD, if you go back and watch the tape you will be awed by what Brandon Gore did on Thursday night.
This 350 pound man, who has only been playing sparingly, facing the "best" defense in the ACC, proceeds to have not a single false start or holding call against him. He proceeds to not allow the man he is blocking to be in on a tackle or a sack until midway through the 4th quarter when the game is already in hand. That last sentence was so unbelievable that I had to go back and watch all of the Hokies offensive series again just to be sure. On a night where the Hokies Branden ORE had a huge game and ball control was critical, the backup guard was nothing short of dominant. He blew his man off the ball time and time again. He picked up blitzing linebackers. He was phenomenal to the point of me wondering just what the heck was this coaching staff doing not starting him earlier this season, this man who gave up one single tackle in an entire game against Clemson.
And so Ryan Shuman will be back next season to take over at center (Shuman's natural position) for Danny McGrath. I don't know where Brandon Gore will be, since he will have used up his eligibility. I hope he continues to play well enough at guard to justify some attention in the late rounds of the NFL draft. But what I do know is that last Thursday night in Blacksburg, VA, he put on one of the better performances by an offensive guard that I can remember seeing and he did it as a backup filling in for an injured starter. Thanks to the heart and ability of Brandon Gore, Branden Ore was able to have a huge night and lead the Hokies to a big win.
1) Facing 4th and inches from his own 36 yard line and down 7-0, Coach Beamer decides to go for it and calls a QB sneak. Sean Glennon gets the first down and the Hokies go on to complete the drive with a TD to tie the score at 7-7. Two weeks ago, TSF badly criticized Beamer for going for it deep in BC's end with the score 0-0. A field goal was needed on the road in that situation. Under the circumstances of this past Thursday night, however, this was the right call, as the Hokies NEEDED to swing the momentum back after Clemson's TD drive. Credit to Beamer, the offensive line and Glennon for having the guts to make the right call and then executing the play.
2) Late in the second quarter up only 10-7, the Hokies defense recovers a fumbled snap by Clemson QB Will Proctor on 3rd down. This series was following an incredibly bad play by Sean Glennon who fumbled and gave Clemson the ball deep in Hokie territory. The defense rose up and stuffed Clemson on two straight plays and then recovered the fumble to end the scoring threat. This was just an enormous play as it kept Clemson from regaining the momentum going into the half.
3) Midway through the 3rd quarter up 17-7, the Hokies tried a reverse to Eddie Royal. A fumble was called on the play and Clemson would have taken over on the 30 yard line of VT, but the replay booth overturned the call. This was nothing short of karma finally coming back around for the Hokies. After being on the bad end of so many reviews, some of which were blatantly the wrong call, VT finally had a key call overturned in their favor despite the fact that this time there appeared to be minimal video evidence to overturn the call on the field. This truly iced the game because if Clemson got the ball here and scored, the game would likely have turned out VERY differently.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
by Brian "Where's the Ice?"
Clemson ranks first in the ACC in offense with 1564 of passing and
2075 yards of rushing. Clemson ranks first in the ACC in defense
allowing only 576 yards of rushing and 1267 yards of passing. The
Tigers' only loss comes at a one point loss to Boston College.
Besides that single loss, they've assembled a record that includes
seven wins, all but one of which involves a clear victory of more than
It's true that one of the downfalls of the ACC lies in the Carolinas
failure to produce a consistently winning football team, but this
year, Clemson is the real deal. (Whether this continues through
seasons to come, we have yet to observe.)
This week, the Virgina Tech Hokies take on the Clemson Tigers, a team
fast making a name for themselves as the season's best in the ACC.
While each pair of teams can match up against each other differently,
we can still make the observation that Clemson's record against common
opponents fairs better than the Hokies' in their stomping of Georgia
Tech and their single point loss to Boston College where the Hokies
lost miserable to the Yellow Jackets and even more so to the Eagles.
Breaking down the Clemson offense, quarterback Will Procotor has a 61%
completion rate. 5'11', 210 lbs, sophomore running back James Davis
has 961 yards of rushing and 16 touchdowns. James Davis leads the ACC
in rushing, and although he sustained a shoulder injury during their
game against Georgia Tech, Clemson lists him as probably for the game
on Thursday night. His backup, CJ Spiller, also has some impressive
numbers in 573 yards and 7 touchdowns. Moving on to the passing game,
receiver Chansi Stuckey has 331 yards of reception and 3 touchdowns.
Aaron Kelly has caught for 257 yards and has 2 touchdowns. From
watching this team play, I've observed them work as a cohesive
Their defense doesn't make for anything at which to scoff either.
This defense held Calvin Johnson to an unprecedented zero catches.
While you can't consider the way each pair of teams match up against
each other, you also can't help but compare what the Hokie defense did
against Georgia Tech.
Before I close my piece, I want to shed some light on a couple of
things that could give the Hokies the momentum they need to prevail
over the Tigers. (Yes, be believers; it is possible!) First, the
game happens Thursday night in Blacksburg. The Thursday night
Blacksburg crowd has the potency to cripple even the best of the
nation's teams. Also, in their losses to Georgia Tech and Boston
College, the Hokies hit a low point in terms of morale, self esteem,
and expectations, especially considering the suspensions of Chris
Ellis and Josh Morgan. They regrouped against Southern Miss and came
together as a team when they had nowhere to go but in an upwards
direction. The momentum gained from that win and feeling of a good
possibility of spoiling Clemson's season could give the Hokies enough
motivation to win this game on heart alone. Get ready Hokie fans.
It's Thursday night football!
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Well, well, well, I bet you Hokie fans are feeling pretty satisfied. I hate Lee Corso as much as any of you (although let’s be honest, Lou Holtz makes Corso look like a genius doesn’t he? I mean how does Holtz keep that gig? He’s a bumbling fool), but I’m here to say “Not so fast my Calm and Beloved Reader”. Why can’t the Hokies come out and play a sharp first quarter for once? Let’s review the first quarter scores of the games this season –
vs. Northeastern – 21-0
vs. UNC 7-3 (and down 3-0 early on)
vs. Duke 13-0
vs. Cincinnati 5-0
vs. Georgia Tech 7-21
vs. Boston College 0-0
vs. Southern Miss 7-6
With some quick calculations, that’s a total of 53-30 with the edge to the Hokies but honestly, look at that schedule!!! How can the Hokies only have that slight of an edge when 4 of the teams have 2 wins or less?!?!?
Again on Saturday night, the defense played awful early as well. Here’s a question to Bud Foster, whom I admire, but seriously – how many times on the first defensive series of the game are the Hokies going to get burned on a deep seam/post route for a big play??? I count 4 so far. Think the opponents have found something on film there Mr. Foster?
“Oh, but Mr. Madjay, the Hokies had the Golden Eagles stopped on the first possession, it was just a roughing the kicker penalty that let them get a field goal “. Really? Well then explain the second drive of the game when Southern Miss went back down the field and got a second field goal without the aid of any roughing penalties at all. Honestly, I am not questioning the level of heart shown by the VT defense, it’s the heart and soul of this team and they have had their backs up against the wall because of poor offense more times than I can count this season (or at least more times than I can count before I start crying). And I know they were pumped up on Saturday night against Southern Miss and I know they will be even more pumped up with emotions through the roof on Thursday night against Clemson. But the reality is that unless they come out from the first play and EXECUTE and play better than they did against the Southern Miss offense (which was missing it’s one real offensive threat), then my friends, it could be pretty ugly.
On the other side of the ball, I will be the first to admit there was improvement in the offensive unit on Saturday. Sean Glennon threw a great first ball and it was one of my key plays of the game. He pulled the ball down or got rid of it after his 2nd read almost the entire night and made more athletic plays than I thought he was capable of. The offensive line blocked valiantly and there was a commitment to the run that I hadn’t seen thus far this season. Some of that is attributable to better play by the tight ends, but did anyone notice that the Hokies used a whole lotta fullback Saturday night? I’m like Christopher Walken in the now famous Saturday Night Live skit, but instead of more cowbell, I’ve been pleading for more FULLBACK. Let teams fear the REAPER!!!!
Alas, amidst all the good warm fuzzy feelings from the offense, I had to go back and watch the game a second time. Oh dear. If you take away Glennon’s first pass, he was 3-10 for 59 yards, 1TD and 1 INT. I was in the stands for Grant Noel’s all-time worst performance against Miami in 2001 (4-16,71yds, 0TD,4INT and a fumble). I was in the stands for Marcus Vick’s 4 turnover performance against Miami in 2005. This performance by Glennon was not as bad as those, but this opponent wasn’t exactly national championship caliber Miami ; it was the mighty Southern Miss Golden Eagles. And in that context I thought Glennon’s level of play was such that if he doesn’t improve then there is no chance against Clemson. Even Sean’s TD pass to Josh Morgan was a poorly thrown ball that Morgan had to make a great adjustment to.
So I know what you all expect, but BOOOM there goes the dynamite. Ike Whitaker is not ready for the starting role on this team either. I saw flashes of star power in Whitaker on Saturday night. He gives the team another dimension and they will need that at some point in the Clemson game, as well as later this season and in 2007 if he’s not the starter, it is the wrong decision, period. But I will eat my crow with some salt and pepper and say that Whitaker is not NEAR polished enough to start. More than just a better grasp of the offense, he has some fundamentals that still need to be beaten into his head. I was still so glad to see him out there so we could actually evaluate him a little and I re-iterate that the game just seems to flow to him more naturally. But while he is the answer in the future, from what I saw against Southern Miss, Glennon needs to be the starter against Clemson and he needs to not only be better than he was on Saturday, but better than he has been all season.
One last point, and I am going to use a very specific play as an example, so bear with me, but football is a game of inches and I think this play illustrates the small difference between 2006 VT football and 2005’s national-best-defense that’s had a huge impact.
13:38 left in the game, Hokies up 22-6 and Southern Miss faces 3rd and 1 from their own 10 yard line. A stop here basically ices the game. The Golden Eagles snap the ball in the shotgun and the RB goes out wide and they fake a screen pass out there to the RB. Orion Martin, Brendan Hill and Brandon Flowers had it read and completely smothered vs. the one offensive tackle who has run out to that side. The wide receiver who would normally be out blocking on the screen has run inside however to the middle of the field. Vince Hall whose responsibility on this play is the middle of the field, sees the QB look over to that RB like he’s going to throw the screen pass, and Vince, despite having 3 teammates out there to cover the screen, forsakes his assignment and the aforementioned wide receiver sneaks up in the middle where the Southern Miss QB hits him for a 10 yard gain. This is different than a QB looking off a safety downfield. In that instance the safety has over-the-top-help responsibility and he’s trying to help the DB who the QB is looking at throwing against. But in the specific example I mention (and watch it yourself if you have TiVO), Vince does not trust his teammates to make the play and as a result gives up a first down.
Now I am not picking on Vince Hall, but I have seen that issue occur in quite a few instances (tons in the Boston College game), and it sickens me. Darryl Tapp is in the NFL right now because of his discipline on defense. He is nowhere NEAR a prototype defensive end in size or speed, but he was drafted by Seattle and is playing on Sundays right now because he is smart and plays his assignment on every play. How many friggin times are Noland Burchette, Orion Martin and Nekos Brown going to get caught looking into the backfield and giving up the perimeter to a QB rolling out after a fake handoff?????!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? Darryl Tapp is a millionaire because last year he blew that play up at least 10 times by staying on his assignment until teams just stopped calling it period. The 2005 team had many players like that and I would have thought that philosophy would have carried over to this team but it hasn’t. On display Saturday night were missed assignments and if teams like SOUTHERN MISS and CINCINNATI have exploited that weakness on this year’s team, just what exactly do you think a team like Clemson is capable of doing on Thursday night? They won’t be converting those mistakes into just field goals I can promise you.
It’s time to stop singing Kum-Bah-Ya about the win on Saturday night and see just what this team has learned in 8 games. Are they ready to execute early on in a game? Are they ready to trust each other? Can they pull it together for a classic Thursday night showdown against a team that I think is one of the 5 best in the country? My colleagues will do a much better preview of the game on Thursday night for you, so I leave these questions to them and look forward to a HUGE game.
3 Key Plays
1) After Southern Mississippi scored a field goal, the Hokies responded on their first offensive play from scrimmage with a 41 yard bomb to Eddie Royal. Down 3-0 at home to a big underdog, the Hokies could have tanked their season right there, but this successful play led to a TD drive that put the team up 7-3 and gave them the confidence they needed that everything would be all right.
2) Brandon Flowers forces a safety by getting the Southern Miss QB to intentionally ground the ball while throwing from his own end zone. This put the Hokies up 12-6 but more importantly it gave the defense the fire that they played with the rest of the night. After giving up two early field goals the defense seemed to draw strength from this safety and played much better football the rest of the way.
3) Branden Ore busts a 70 yard TD run in the 4th quarter to ice the game at 29-6. This run was so badly needed by Ore and the offensive line. His big run against Cincinnati earlier in the season had been called back due to holding by Eddie Royal but here was a play where the blocking was well executed and Ore made a beautiful cutback to run untouched into the end zone. A feel good play for the team to be sure.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Where are the Hokies' heads?
The Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles are much like the Cincinnati Bearcats were earlier this season. They are outmatched talent-wise against the Hokies but not by very much and they are a very well coached football team. Unfortunately for Southern Miss, they are going to be missing two of their best football players for the game against Virginia Tech – Damion Fletcher their best all-around player who has been 33% of their offense this year and Travis Cooley one of their best offensive lineman are hurt.
One might think that this is great news for Virginia Tech and Virginia Tech fans because it sets the stage for a positive scenario. First of all, the defense needs a team that they can dominate to get their confidence and try to get their sense of “team” back. Southern Miss is a terrible passing team and now they are without a great RB and a great offensive lineman. All factors point to the VT defense just smothering everything Southern Miss tries to do.
And therein lies the problem. It is nearly impossible for the defense to feel good after this game. The only possible way they can feel even decent about themselves is if they destroy this opponent. If the defense isn’t dominant or even worse, plays like it did against Boston College, then there are going to be some VERY, VERY dark clouds over this football program. The only good thing I see here is that even if they hold Southern Miss to 3 points or less it still won’t make them overconfident heading into the Clemson game.
Offensively is where the real opportunity is in this game. I have seen Coach Beamer’s decision at QB and I disagree but that’s all said and done. Sean Glennon is the starter and against Southern Mississippi both he and the entire offense have a chance to get some much needed confidence. These Golden Eagles defense played the high powered Florida offense very tough for a half so scoring a lot of points against the Golden Eagles qualifies as a genuine achievement for the VT offense. The Golden Eagles have a few injuries in the defensive secondary so it’s an even better chance to air out the ball and showcase a strong passing game. If that happens, then the running game can get going. The opportunity for execution on offense is there against an overmatched opponent and I hope that the entire group on the VT offense is excited and plays well. If they do not, watch for the Clemson game to become an absolute disaster. If the Hokies can’t generate a very solid offense and put up points on Southern Mississippi, the team is in for a very long rest-of-the-season.
The other reason I hope that the Hokies jump out to a big lead at halftime is that Ike Whitaker at QB and Elan or Kenny Lewis at RB need valuable game time in the second half. These players have to get out on the field in real-live situations and develop experience. Right now the backups have almost no meaningful snaps and that could really bite the Hokies badly if they suffered even a minor injury to the first string. Not to mention these players could be contributors to the program in the future, but you only find that out based on how they play the game. I want someone who practices well, but who the Hokies really need on this team are gamers.
We’ll be able to tell a lot about the mentality of the team watching this game. If they play disciplined football with few penalties and no personal fouls and focus entirely on Southern Mississippi as a team, I’ll believe that the season has a chance to be salvaged, and the coaches and seniors will deserve a lot of credit. If they continue what happened last Thursday night at Boston College, there is no bottom to how low this team can go in the remaining games. As I always say, we’ll find out when they play the game.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
The Cold Hard Truth - MadJay
The loss to Boston College was like a splash of cold water on my face. It opened my eyes and so with this clear vision unclouded by what I wanted to be true, I went back and watched the Cincinnati, Georgia Tech and Boston College games again (thank you Tivo). I've spent 25 years intently watching football games and I offer up this insight into the 2006 Virginia Tech football season at the midway point. Be forewarned, this is the objective, often harsh truth about the team this year. Do not read on expecting empathy or compassion for the team or the program. Not today.
The "Next Step" has been the TSF theme for 2006 and while it was originally intended to support the team taking the next step on its path towards a national title, what it has become is what this team needs to do in order to avoid taking the "Next Step" backwards. Since Michael Vick left for the NFL draft in 2001, the obstacle has been high expectations. Many of you may have heard Kirk Herbstreit announcing the Boston College game on Thursday as he ripped into the Hokies for having a "me-first" attitude similar to the 2003 Hokies. I have been acknowledging this problem since the recruiting boom that has existed since Michael Vick played at Virginia Tech. Herbstreit has been quietly voicing this opinion for about 3 years and he was much more vocal about it last night than he has been in the past. This struggle is less about "me-first" than it is about expectations, but I'll admit they are somewhat linked together. The caliber of player brought in leads the players, coaches and fans to expect to be among the nation's elite every year. That in itself is a good thing. The problem comes in when that expectation is followed up by a feeling of entitlement.
Look at it this way – it is very likely that all of you reading this can accurately throw a 15 yard pass to a very particular spot. You are able to do it. If you practice a lot, you can even begin to expect yourself to be able to throw it consistently. However, you can't just go out and throw the ball up without focus or effort or and expect the ball to go to the right spot. You still have to go out and execute. You have to attempt to go through the same motion that you developed during your practice of throwing. You are not entitled to have the ball go exactly where you want just because you want it to. When the situation is upgraded in complexity with the addition of 11 defenders and 10 other players on your team, it becomes even more critical that everyone execute instead of just expecting that everything will be just fine regardless of their focus. The odds that you can throw a 15 yard pass to the right spot when someone didn't focus on the blocking scheme and you are being hit in the back are extremely low. So yes, Kirk has a point – the focus and discipline on offense and defense are not where they need to be. Plain and simple, the coaches from Beamer on down have not successfully driven the concept of TEAM home to this group of players (after all the TEAM is why you need to have focus and discipline) and the senior leaders have not stepped in and led to the level that is needed.
But my Calm and Beloved Reader, throwing our hands up and saying "Oh yes, the team has too many blue-chip recruits and prima donnas and they just don't have the focus and discipline" doesn't allow us to address the other half of the problem. The one we don't want to admit. That is, the level of play at some positions is not good enough this year. Yes the talent may be there (in some cases), but I think that the turnover in coaching staff combined with the flat-out inexperience at some positions has really been the key factor in VT's poor performance. Let's go group-by-painful-group through the 2006 Hokies.
Secondary – I start with the defensive secondary because it is the perfect example of what I was just speaking of. A new coach (albeit one who I am convinced is right for the position in the long term) in Torrian Gray and a stunning array of physical talent but two sophomores who just don't have the reps and experience to turn it into results. Brandon Flowers is one of my favorite Hokies and he and Macho Harris will be stars in my opinion. But Harris needs a lot of work on his technique and Flowers has blown several coverages that have resulted in huge plays for the opponent. Aaron Rouse COMPLETELY blew the coverage on the nail-in-the-coffin TD by Boston College (hence the argument on the sideline with him and Vince Hall) plus he has far too many late hit fouls to lead by example at this point. D.J. Parker gave up the big pass on the first play of the Georgia Tech game two weeks ago among MANY other mental mistakes he's made this year. Watch for Cary Wade to get significant snaps at both rover and free safety unless or until Parker and Rouse can bring their level of play back up.
Linebacker – Linebacker play has been very solid for the most part. Vince Hall has blown three plays that I've seen (big rush by Cincinnati, the rushing TD by Georgia Tech that made it 21-0 and the big run by Boston College on the play after the critical facemask penalty committed by Chris Ellis). Xavier Adibi missed a few plays in pass coverage, but I am not asking for perfection. The issue at linebacker isn't in the level of play, but rather in their contribution to the lack of focus and discipline. Hall and Adibi are jawing it up and pushing and shoving after every single damn play and Brendan Hill made a complete ass out of himself dancing on the field with the Hokies down 20-3 to Boston College. Symbolically, this is Bud Foster's group to coach on defense and you can be damn sure he is up these guys' ass so far he's coming out of their earhole following the BC game, so let's see how they respond.
Defensive Line – Chris Ellis is symbolically what is wrong with the VT team. Here is a guy who studied under Darryl Tapp and has the ability to become a dominant force but instead he bitches to the refs about being held all the time and doesn't do squaDOOSH in the Cincinnati game and then he commits a game-changing facemask penalty in the Boston College game (the 2 nd facemask penalty he got called for was BS). Oh yeah and he follows it up with a cheap shot personal foul when the game is out of hand. And this is supposed to be one of the leaders of the defense? All-in-all the defensive line has played pretty well against the run but the pass rush has been awful. Their technique on passing downs has been embarrassing – it's almost ALWAYS a spin move. Surely Charley Wiles has taught them more than that. Because of Clemson's offensive line, they have the potential to completely destroy this Hokie defense if the defensive line play doesn't improve and that is just a fact. And by destroy I mean it could be the worst home loss in 15 years.
Defensive Coaching – Bud Foster always has my respect. He has earned it. He isn't happy about what's happening on and off the field right now. But dammit some of this is his fault. Here's a stat for you – 4 sacks in the last 3 games. 1.3 sacks/game against the likes of Cincinnati, Georgia Tech and Boston College? I counted 1 blitz the ENTIRE GAME against Boston College. Their QB, who doesn't remind anyone of Vince Young when he's healthy, had a bum ankle for GOD'S SAKE!! What the hell are the Hokies doing dropping everyone back in coverage when we've already learned the front four can't get the pressure like last year? The defense is the only unit that can stack up on the field with other ACC opponents, but it must have the focus and discipline to execute a good gameplan. Too many plays by Cincinnati and Boston College were simply bad plays by those offenses ( i.e. dropped TD's, fumbles, etc) as opposed to good plays by the defense. If the defense doesn't improve, the Hokies will have a real fight on their hands to be bowl-eligible (wins against Kent State and Southern Miss were pre-season gimmies that now give cause for concern).
Offensive Line – Here's some more cold, hard truth for you: this is the worst offensive line I have seen at Tech. Go back and watch some of the Cincinnati game and you will see just how bad the push was by the offensive line and how much work Branden Ore had to do by himself. Georgia Tech only had 6-7 guys in the box and the Hokies couldn't run on them at all. Boston College only had 7 in the box on 3 RD AND DAMN 1 AND FOURTH AND GODDAMN 1 and the Hokies couldn't get a yard. Realize, for those of you counting at home, that with 7 defenders in the box there's a blocker to hit every defender, and even with a stud like Ore running the ball the Hokies couldn't get 1 yard on 2 attempts. The pass blocking by the tackles and center have been very good but the pass blocking in terms of recognition and even physical ability by both guards is an embarrassment. Holding has cost the Hokies three huge scoring plays this year (which, with this offense, is like taking water away from a man in the desert). This offensive line is outmatched by ACC opponents and frankly will be tested by Southern Miss. The only thing we can hope is that the big recruits on the offensive line this year will be able to contribute next year and that the returning starters on this offensive line have one hell of an offseason.
Tight End - only the biggest disappointment on the entire team. Greg Boone can block but he can't catch the ball and the other two guys, Wheeler and Wang, can catch but can't block. I think it's become evident just how huge a weapon tight end has been over the past two years for this offense. Having a big target on a seam route keeps linebackers from blitzing as often and keeps the safeties honest in the middle of the field. Without that big target, nor the good blocking that has typically been a mainstay for the Hokies, the tight ends have essentially contributed zero to this offense. That will be brought up again when I discuss coaching, but we'll come back to that.
Wide Receiver – Overall the wide receiver play has been excellent. Justin Harper has turned into a serious threat. It'd be nice if this unit could show some respect for the program and themselves and quit getting arrested, but their on-field play has been solid. I also wish David Clowney would spend as much time working on holding onto the damn ball once he catches it as he does talking in the locker room. But the receivers have blocked extremely well this season and really their only trouble has been some drops. Eddie Royal had one HUGE drop against Georgia Tech, David Clowney had a tough drop against Georgia Tech, and Justin Harper had one against Duke. Josh Morgan could have had a TD catch against Boston College if he had turned his head one second sooner. But again perfection is impossible and while is there is plenty of room for continued improvement this is one area where I have to credit the new receiver coach for not screwing up an extremely talented bunch of receivers.
Running Back – Branden Ore is an example of a player who has handled expectations. He can serve as a leader on this team next year. I am proud he is a Hokie and he plays hard and plays well. Yes he missed the block against Georgia Tech that led to the fumble return for a touchdown by the Yellow Jackets, but nobody is perfect and his positives have far outweighed his negatives. As for the rest of the running backs, we have forsaken the fullback for some reason and the backup running back position is a disaster. Billy Hite is too nervous to put Elan Lewis or Kenny Lewis in the game to give Ore a much needed breather. This is required and if Hite doesn't play Elan or Kenny Lewis extensively in the Southern Miss game he won't know if he has the type of player he needs to relieve Ore in later games. The bullet needs to be bitten. Either Elan Lewis or Kenny Lewis can get the job done or they can't, but you're not going to find out the answer by keeping them on the bench.
Quarterback –Ah yes, the position you've all been waiting for. Quite an unexpected result came from my review of the game footage. I expected to blame Sean Glennon a lot more than what he actually deserves. Let me explain, because this will take a while. You see, Sean Glennon is focused and disciplined. He is being coached well. I think he is actually playing at about the peak of his ability. In high school football, the coach would say "he is doing all you could ask" and he'd earn his playing time. Unfortunately this isn't high school football. This is Division I-A football and we are talking about a program that expects to be competing for the ACC Championship and eventually a national title. Glennon is giving it everything he has. Unfortunately the game does not come naturally to him. He has to work at it very hard, and to his credit he does. He benches 350 pounds but his throwing motion is deliberate and the ball doesn't seem to have that "zip" it should have. And I notice nearly all of his mistakes come because he is trying so hard NOT to make a mistake. He is coached not to throw a pick because the offense can't afford a turnover. The result? He holds the ball too long or always checks down to the 3- 4 yard pass. He is coached not to watch the rush, but to keep his eyes downfield. The result? He isn't feeling the rush from blind or front side and keeps fumbling from big hits. And so what we have is a situation where you can't BLAME Glennon but at the same time to give the team their best chance to win you have to start Ike Whitaker. The reason is that if the offense is going to suffer from sacks, fumbles and interceptions, why go with the guy who doesn't have the playmaking ability. Why not give a playmaker the chance to get experience? Follow me here for a second – I work in the composites industry. I can tell you that you can pour resin over carbon fiber and mix it up and re-organize it however you want and all you get is a big mushy pile of resin and carbon fiber. However, if you add a catalyst to that mixture you get something that can stop AK-47 bullets or function as the wing for a jumbo jet. Whitaker can be a catalyst for this offense; he can be the X-factor that defenses have to account for freeing up the receivers and Branden Ore not to mention take a little pressure off the offensive line. And consider the alternative – let's say Glennon starts the rest of this season and Whitaker gets few meaningful snaps. What has the team done to itself for next season? In 2007 how can the coaches justify benching a guy they started the entire 2006 season for a guy who has never started a game? And don't even say Tyrod Taylor to me. At this level of college football, almost all quarterbacks (99%) need a season to get stronger, smarter and learn the system. So there you have it. The answer at quarterback is to thank Glennon and start Ike Whitaker. By the way, if Ike Whitaker doesn't get it done in the remaining 6 games, I have no problem with re-opening the QB competition next spring. Who knows, maybe consistency at quarterback is the only thing the offense will need next season? Unfortunately Beamer won't bench Glennon. It's a hard decision, but it makes sense, and yet Beamer is loyal to a fault sometimes and he will play Glennon until Glennon gets hurt.
Coaching – Well, it should come as no surprise that Stinespring coaches the tight ends. They have been terrible. And let's briefly discuss the gameplan against Boston College. I see that the Eagles were 109th against the pass in Div. I-A headed into this game. The Hokies gameplan? Throw two deep passes the entire night. One was an interception on a miscommunication and the second one was a TD to Clowney which was called back due to holding. I like the short pass to the running back in the flat and Stinespring has used that this year to his credit. The wide receiver and running back screen have also been effective weapons. However you cannot construct an offense with those being your central plays unless you run an entire West Coast offense. And the Hokies still try and run the ball a lot. They also don't utilize the tight ends (because they can't right now). And so trying to run a half-baked West Coast offense leads to no identity on offense. An offensive coordinator has to be able to answer the question "What are you trying to do on offense?" I have no idea what Stinespring's answer would be to that question and I wonder if he does. The fact is that with the tight ends so inept, Stinespring should build gameplans that better utilize the Hokies very good fullbacks. But he doesn't. I said above that Glennon isn't the answer, but people are going to debate that. After this many years, there can be no debate left about Stinespring. Just watch the footage on Beamerball.com. The halftime videos contrast Stinespring talking to the offense with Bud Foster talking to his defense. It is painfully evident that while Foster knows exactly what he wants to do with his defense in the second half, Stinespring fumbles around with vague statements and heads off in 4 different directions. After this season he can no longer be the offensive coordinator. Let him move on.
Kicking/Kickoffs – the single best unit on the entire team. Pace on Field Goals is a machine and Dunlevy/Develli have been stellar on kickoffs. The blocked extra point issue has been resolved. End of story.
Punting – Insane. Schmitt has the leg of a professional wrestler and when given a chance booms 50 yarders, but the blocking and snapping have been ridiculous. For a coach like Beamer to hang his hat on special teams and have poor punt coverage, safeties due to bad snaps to the punter and blocked punts, I mean it just makes a mockery of Beamerball. This has to be addressed as again, the lack of focus and discipline is just so blatant here.
Coaching: Frank Beamer failed to reel in his players with $100 fines and 6:00 AM Wednesday morning runs. What difference do those penalties make to a guy who will make a minimum of $500,000/year in the NFL? The only way to enforce how serious Beamer is about on-field and off-field discipline is to have it affect playing time. You can't hurt a draft choice anymore than by taking away his chances to get on the field. Not to mention the black-eye it puts on his "character" which, while seemingly meaningless once you're in the NFL, appears to have a huge impact on where you get drafted. I look forward to seeing what Beamer does here because, just as he was in 2003 against West Virginia, he and his football program were shamed on national TV in a horrible loss, not just by losing but in the way they lost. The easy comparison for the 2006 Hokies is to those 2003 Hokies because of a similar lack of focus and discipline. But the 2003 version was more talented (they destroyed Miami – the GOOD MIAMI - 31-7 that year) so this 2006 team is going to have to go above and beyond to save the season. It won't be easy and requires tough decisions by the coaching staff. It also requires a willingness for the team to be disciplined and focused and I can't overstate how hard that is and how easy it would be for them to just phone it in the rest of the year.
My Calm and Beloved Reader, I told you at the beginning, I would be offering harsh truth in this entry and in the spirit of being honest, I don't expect the coaches to make those tough decisions and those players to respond positively with focus and discipline. If they prove me wrong they have an excellent chance of turning this season into something positive, but if they continue on this path, the Hokies will be playing in a very bad bowl, if one at all and the "Next Step" for 2006 will have been backwards. Your one last ray of hope is that according to The Blonde I am wrong approximately 98% of the time and the other 2% of the time we are both right. You can cheer the team on and help prove me wrong starting this Saturday night against Southern Miss.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
It was announced in mid-broadcast on Monday night and so little was made of it, which we don't understand here at TSF. Future star defensive end William Wall was dismissed from the team. When he didn't make the trip to UNC, we figured this was his freshman moment and he would learn from it and move on. Apparently he did not. He still has many years to get his life in order and we wish him the best, but talk about throwing away an opportunity. William Wall could have been the leader of this defensive line in 2007.
And that's the irony of all this "me-first" attitude where players think they are looking out for their NFL careers. With the litany of defensive line players that have left Tech and gone on to the NFL, William Wall could have continued that tradition by simply being a TEAM-first guy. He had the talent to become a star at a bigtime college program. Now he will end up at Division I-AA school and severely hurt his chances of being a top pick in the draft several years down the line. Hopefully this serves as a solid example for the remaining players on the team. We'll keep you posted as further developments occur.
With 33 total rushing yards, I never thought I would say that the Hokies were terrible on the ground. The Hokies, over the last decade, have always been known for a solid running program. This is not a slight on
The Hokies ended the first quarter with a drive that had promise. They were moving the ball slowly up the field. They would however give the ball to
On the ensuing drive the Eagles had a receiver wide open on his way to the end zone. The player dropped the ball that should have been caught. In fact, this was the second time this happened and the score should have been 14-0 at that point. But like I said, there was some seriously sloppy offensive play that saved the even sloppier Hokies defensive play.
The score remained scoreless until
At the half, the score was 7-3
Both offenses continued to struggle into the third quarter. Glennon would commit his second interception. This time it was a deflection. This came after the Hokies nearly turned it over on the previous play. Though it was eventually ruled an incomplete pass, the Eagles got to Glennon and were able to poke the ball away. They would have had the ball on the Tech 25-yard line, but after the replay, the officials concluded that Glennon's arm was moving forward in a passing motion as the ball came loose.
It was at this point that I concluded that the offensive line is not going to hold this year. Well, I kind of knew it from the beginning. Throughout the Georgia Tech loss and this loss to
The Eagles again struggled and only came away with a field goal on the next drive. The next Hokie drive was the drive where Glennon got hit from behind. He was absolutely leveled and the Hokies turned it over again.
photo courtesy of ESPN.com
It was at this point, I began to feel shame for wearing my
Although, I did not have audio, it has been reported that ESPN announcer Kirk Herbsteit was criticizing the Hokies for their on-field conduct. Tech committed four personal fouls and had a season high 88-yards of penalties. His rant came after the incident with Rouse and Hall.
"The reason this frustrates me in watching Virginia Tech is this is something we've seen for the last ... two or three years, is frustration and talking a little bit too much and not playing enough -- and uncharacteristic of Frank Beamer's teams," Herbstreit said. "When you see that, it's unacceptable and it needs to be addressed, and we keep seeing it from Frank Beamer and the Hokies."
"You can't have late hits. You can't talk trash every play. You cannot do that. ... The problem is more than just you're losing a game. There's issues. There's issues on the team."
While some of you have commented that his comments were not impartial and as an announcer his job is to be impartial, I have to disagree. Kirk Herbstreit is listed as a College Football Analyst for ESPN. Both he and Lee Corso are the senior analysts for ESPN's coverage of college football. When broadcasting a game, they are usually paired with an announcer, such as Chris Fowler. It is the announcer/hosts responsibility to be impartial when calling the game.
When you see Corso and Herbsteit, sitting along side of Chris Fowler on Game Day, it is their job to analyze the state of college football. It is never a secret that each of them is partial to certain universities. Herbstreit is an
Herbstreit's comments hit the nail on the head as far as I am concerned. The team did unravel. The team has unraveled and for the last few years they have not shown the Hokie Respect that they should be showing. Tech is beginning to have, scratch that, HAS the reputation of being a team full of thugs. Dating back to 1996, when eight team members were charged with assaulting Hillard Sumner a Tech track athlete in what was called the "Blacksburg Brawl" and two others (one was also involved in the Brawl) for sexual assault, Tech has seen numerous incidents where the players have been out of control.
The staff seemed to have the right idea last year when it tossed Marcus Vick off the team and instituted several new disciplinary measures. However, those changes have not produced the desired results.
The game ended fittingly with a botched snap on a punt which ended up as a safety for
Friday, October 13, 2006
First there was some crap, then some stupid stuff. Then there were several retarded plays followed by a bunch of lack of effort and internal bickering. Finally there was an undisciplined late hit and a safety off a bad snap to the punter.
P.S. A more professional and appropriate game review will follow from TSF. Excuse me while I go puke.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Boston College walk-on Steve Aponavicius will replace starting kicker Ryan Ohliger. Ohliger has been suspended for this game. Aponavicius will surely have his nerve tested against the Hokies special teams.
Story found by MadJay
Josh Hyman has been suspended by Virginia Tech for an off field violation. The AP reports that the school indicates that Hyman was arrested for driving under the influence.
His suspention is currently indefinite starting with the game against Boston College.
* This game will mark the 300th that Frank Beamer has coached.
* Virginia Tech has 10 interceptions, tied for ninth in Division I-A.
* Nine Hokie players have scored defense or special teams touchdowns.
* The Hokies rank eighth nationally in total defense (243.8 ypg).
* Virginia Tech has allowed only six offensive touchdowns this season.
* The Hokies have won on their last five visits to Boston College.
* Brandon Pace places fourth in career scoring with 255 points for VT.
This Thursday night, the Hokies square off against the Eagles of
Boston College, one of the great rivalries preserved from the Big East
fallout to the ACC. Beyond that commonality, several other comparisons
exist for this matchup. One, both teams are 4-1. Two, both teams
dropped their first and only loss of the season so far to an
in-conference opponent. Three, both teams need to win this game to
keep themselves in the race for their respective division titles.
One differentiator between the Eagles and the Hokies track record this
season lies in the Eagles handing a very good team, Clemson, their
sole loss of the season to date. Another lies in Boston College's only
loss. They played a close game against NC State only falling to them
by two points because of a last minute, fluke touchdown. Virginia
Tech, on the other hand, struggled in their loss to Georgia Tech with
a still developing quarterback and an inexperienced offensive line
Sean Glennon still has some development to do before he reaches the
potential needed to carry the Hokies to a second ACC conference title.
His development will continue to progress as a challenging one over
the remainder of the season because the offensive line has needs of
development and growth of their own. However, I expect to see the best
performance to date by the Hokie offensive line this week. Last week's
matchup against Georgia Tech favored the Ramblin' Wreck because the
strongest aspect of their defense exploited the greatest weakness of
the Hokie offense. Georgia Tech's blitz just cut right through the
offensive line over and over again. Also, remember that Sean Glennon
doesn't play the quarterback position as we've observed in Michael
Vick, Bryan Randall, or Marcus Vick. He won't dazzle us with bursts of
speed and agility, but he can pass the football and execute plays.
While we as fans have to get used to watching that style, it can work
for this Hokie offense, especially when you consider the abilities of
the Hokies' running game and depth of their wide receivers.
However, while we as fans watched a gridiron disaster last game, let's
not forget to make two positive observations. One, the Hokies didn't
let their spirits get down when they found themselves trailing 21-0.
They battled back to put 13 points on the board before the half. That
shows some comeback potential, something that hasn't really happened
with great frequency in past seasons of Hokie football. (For the most
part, Beamerball involves getting a few points on the board early and
overwhelming the opponent with rock solid defense and big plays from
The statistics of the games played so far paint a different picture
than a first glance comparison. The Virginia Tech defense has allowed
only 701 yards of passing, the best in the ACC, while Boston College
has allowed 1283 placing them last in the conference. For defense
against rushing yardage, Virginia Tech only outperforms Boston College
518 yards to 577.
On offense, Boston College inches ahead of Virginia Tech's passing
1231 yards to 1222 yards, another statistic that only differs
marginally. For rushing Boston College definitively outdoes the Hokies
630 to 517 yards.
One thing to remember in light of these numbers, Boston College has
had a stronger strength of schedule to date than Virginia Tech.
Considering this, I don't think these numbers resemble an apples to
Who to Watch
The Eagles' quarterback, Matt Ryan stands 6'5" and has passed for 1222
total yards with a 60% completion rate. At this point of the season,
he's almost matched his total numbers from last year, so the Virginia
Tech defense can expect a well seasoned quarterback to show up on
Junior taleback L.V. Whitworth, weighing in at 220 lbs, has amassed
314 yards and one touchdown. Andre Callender, also a Junior weighing
204 lbs., has 266 yards of rushing and one touchdown. These numbers
show Boston College's ability to move the ball on the ground, but they
turn to their passing game more often to get into the paint and put
six on the board.
Wide receiver Kevin Challenger stands 5'9" and has 236 yards on
receiving and two touchdown receptions. Tony Gonzalez stands 5'11" and
has 214 yards on receiving which includes four touchdown receptions.
Challenger is a Senior, and Gonzalez is a Junior. Both of these
players also bring a lot of experience to the Eagles' offense.
Looking at the Eagle defense, linebacker Brian Toal returns from an
injury. Boston College considers him one of them most valuable
defensive players if not the most valuable of all. While the Eagle's
blitz probably doesn't have the punch that Georgia Tech's does, the
Hokie offensive line will have their hands full with Toal. An
interesting note about Toal, he will sometimes carry the ball at the
tailback position, so he can also do some damage on the other side of
Virginia Tech vs. Boston College
Thursday, Oct. 12, 2006, 7:45 pm EDT
Alumni Stadium (44,500)
Chestnut Hill, Mass.
TECHSUPERFANS (TM) - THE NEWSLETTER
VOLUME 007 ISSUE 006 (2006.09.29)
Also available at http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/techsuperfans
Looking for a good place to catch the game? Visit
this site to find Hokie-friendly places and more!
Side Notes (from hokiesports.com)
* This game will mark the 300th that Frank Beamer has coached.
* Virginia Tech has 10 interceptions, tied for ninth in Division I-A.
* Nine Hokie players have scored defense or special teams touchdowns.
* The Hokies rank eighth nationally in total defense (243.8 ypg).
* Virginia Tech has allowed only six offensive touchdowns this season.
* The Hokies have won on their last five visits to Boston College.
* Brandon Pace places fourth in career scoring with 255 points for VT.
* WR Josh Hyman has been suspended for this game for violation of team rules
(reportedly for a DUI arrest in Blacksburg)
Game Preview - vs. Boston College
by Brian "Where's the Ice"
This Thursday night, the Hokies square off against the Eagles of Boston College, one of the great rivalries preserved from the Big East fallout to the ACC. Beyond that commonality, several other comparisons exist for this matchup. One, both teams are 4-1. Two, both teams dropped their first and only loss of the season so far to an in-conference opponent. Three, both teams need to win this game to keep themselves in the race for their respective division titles.
One differentiator between the Eagles and the Hokies track record this season lies in the Eagles handing a very good team, Clemson, their sole loss of the season to date. Another lies in Boston College's only loss. They played a close game against NC State only falling to them by two points because of a last minute, fluke touchdown. Virginia Tech, on the other hand, struggled in their loss to Georgia Tech with a still developing quarterback and an inexperienced offensive line
Sean Glennon still has some development to do before he reaches the potential needed to carry the Hokies to a second ACC conference title. His development will continue to progress as a challenging one over the remainder of the season because the offensive line has needs of development and growth of their own. However, I expect to see the best performance to date by the Hokie offensive line this week. Last week's matchup against Georgia Tech favored the Ramblin' Wreck because the strongest aspect of their defense exploited the greatest weakness of the Hokie offense. Georgia Tech's blitz just cut right through the offensive line over and over again. Also, remember that Sean Glennon doesn't play the quarterback position as we've observed in Michael Vick, Bryan Randall, or Marcus Vick. He won't dazzle us with bursts of speed and agility, but he can pass the football and execute plays. While we as fans have to get used to watching that style, it can work for this Hokie offense, especially when you consider the abilities of the Hokies' running game and depth of their wide receivers.
However, while we as fans watched a gridiron disaster last game, let's not forget to make two positive observations. One, the Hokies didn't let their spirits get down when they found themselves trailing 21-0. They battled back to put 13 points on the board before the half. That shows some comeback potential, something that hasn't really happened with great frequency in past seasons of Hokie football. (For the most part, Beamerball involves getting a few points on the board early and overwhelming the opponent with rock solid defense and big plays from special teams.)
The statistics of the games played so far paint a different picture than a first glance comparison. The Virginia Tech defense has allowed only 701 yards of passing, the best in the ACC, while Boston College has allowed 1283 placing them last in the conference. For defense against rushing yardage, Virginia Tech only outperforms Boston College 518 yards to 577.
On offense, Boston College inches ahead of Virginia Tech's passing 1231 yards to 1222 yards, another statistic that only differs marginally. For rushing Boston College definitively outdoes the Hokies 630 to 517 yards.
One thing to remember in light of these numbers, Boston College has had a stronger strength of schedule to date than Virginia Tech. Considering this, I don't think these numbers resemble an apples to apples comparison.
Who to Watch
The Eagles' quarterback, Matt Ryan stands 6'5" and has passed for 1222 total yards with a 60% completion rate. At this point of the season, he's almost matched his total numbers from last year, so the Virginia Tech defense can expect a well seasoned quarterback to show up on Thursday night.
Junior taleback L.V. Whitworth, weighing in at 220 lbs, has amassed 314 yards and one touchdown. Andre Callender, also a Junior weighing 204 lbs., has 266 yards of rushing and one touchdown. These numbers show Boston College's ability to move the ball on the ground, but they turn to their passing game more often to get into the paint and put six on the board.
Wide receiver Kevin Challenger stands 5'9" and has 236 yards on receiving and two touchdown receptions. Tony Gonzalez stands 5'11" and has 214 yards on receiving which includes four touchdown receptions. Challenger is a Senior, and Gonzalez is a Junior. Both of these players also bring a lot of experience to the Eagles' offense.
Looking at the Eagle defense, linebacker Brian Toal returns from an injury. Boston College considers him one of them most valuable defensive players if not the most valuable of all. While the Eagle's blitz probably doesn't have the punch that Georgia Tech's does, the Hokie offensive line will have their hands full with Toal. An interesting note about Toal, he will sometimes carry the ball at the tailback position, so he can also do some damage on the other side of the ball.
Virginia Tech vs. Boston College
Thursday, Oct. 12, 2006, 7:45 pm EDT
Alumni Stadium (44,500)
Chestnut Hill, Mass.
"Mad" Jason Oakley
Anand "EhhTee" Trivedi
Brian "Where's The Ice?" Wrenn
This news magazine is in no way affiliated with, or supported by,
Virginia Tech, the Virginia Tech Athletic Department, the NCAA, the
BCS, the Big East Conference, the Atlantic Coast Conference or any
other organization other than EhhTee Productions. EhhTee Productions
is an institution created by the author of TechSuperFans for the
further advancement of the media through electronic means.
TechSuperFans and TechSuperFans.com are trademarks of EhhTee
Productions. EhhTee Productions and its staff are in no way
responsible for any losses or actions taken by its audience.
Friday, October 06, 2006
3 Disgusting Key Plays
1) On the first play from scrimmage Reggie Ball delivers a strike to a WIDE OPEN James Johnson for a 59 yard play. This play set the stage for the entire game. It took the crowd out of the game. It showed the lack of mental focus on the defense in the first quarter (D.J. Parker BLEW the coverage on this play and Branden Hill didn’t bump James Johnson at the line of scrimmage at all). This play washed away the ghosts of the 51-7 loss in Blacksburg the year before and gave Ball the confidence he needed to play a fantastic game.
2) With the Hokies down 14-0 and facing third down deep in their own end, Sean Glennon delivers a nice deep pass to Eddie Royal who then proceeds to drop the ball. The ensuing punt was blocked. If Royal catches the ball the Hokies offense which played decent for most of the game is near midfield and only down two scores. Instead the Yellow Jackets are at the Hokie 30 and they proceed to score their third straight TD. Again a Hokie mistake was costly.
3) On the opening possession of the second half, down 24-13, the Hokies are driving near midfield after a big play by Eddie Royal. Branden Ore completely misses his block which leads to Glennon getting blindsided. Glennon fumbles and it’s scooped up by the Jackets who run it in for the score. Again, if the Hokies convert that drive into a TD it’s 24-20 early in the third quarter. Instead, the mistake turns it into 31-13 leaving only their pride left to save as opposed to the game.
Game Review – Virginia Tech vs. Georgia Tech
The Hokies were outplayed in a 38-27 defeat that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. They got Beamerballed at home in a huge ACC game which served as a shining example of youth and a weak early season schedule costing this team dearly. The 3 Key Plays above were the most important of the game but there were so many chances for Virginia Tech to fight back and win the game and yet they did not. Some of that credit is due to the way that the Yellow Jackets played and the rest of the blame is in missed opportunities that Virginia Tech had.
The first 10 minutes of the game were just shocking. I give a lot of credit to the Hokie coaching staff for not letting the game fall apart with the team down 21-0. For once, I can’t blame Bryan Stinespring for this loss, as his play calling was very solid. I take issue with one play call he made – the reverse pass that Eddie Royal threw to David Clowney. Let me ask you guys something – this is a team that can put THREE DAMN QUARTERBACKS on the field with Cory Holt at WR and Greg Boone at TE and the reverse pass play gets thrown by Eddie Royal?!?!?! If that ball is thrown properly it’s a touchdown and the Hokies are only down 21-14 early in the 2nd quarter with all the momentum. I can’t understand why one of those backup QB’s was not utilized for this play. But for the most part Stinespring called a good game and the offensive line pass blocked extremely well considering the defense they were facing. Branden Ore and the tight ends gave up 3 of the 4 sacks on the game.
But it doesn’t matter as much who messed up, this is a team game after all. There were so many other mental mistakes (aside from Justin Harper and Josh Hyman who had absolutely ridiculous games) that the Hokies just weren’t going to win. Sergio Render’s false start on the 4th down sneak that forced another FG in the 2nd quarter instead of the touchdown. Greg Boone’s dropped passes that would have been definite first and goals if not touchdowns. Branden Ore’s missed block that led to the Yellow Jackets’ killer TD on the opening drive of the second half. Despite giving up 21 points in the first quarter, if these mistakes by the Hokies are not committed they are right in the game.
And let’s take a moment to credit Sean Glennon for his toughness. Yes his fumbles were costly but one of them wasn’t his fault. And yes he threw only 50% completion percentage but he didn’t throw any interceptions. In the second half he began throwing the ball more accurately, but more importantly his never-say-die attitude and heart that he showed out there represented what being a Hokie is all about. I still say that Ike Whitaker is the future as he just appears to have more talent. We won’t know that until he plays in a real game situation. But until that day arrives, I have to respect Glennon for being tough and playing hard. He will make Whitaker earn his spot on the field. However, a few bright spots (Glennon, Harper, Hyman) do not offset the mental mistakes, the weakness in the run blocking, nor the inability for this team to come out and play inspired football in the first quarter in any game this year.
In the end, Georgia Tech came into Lane Stadium and played very well and came away with a win. One key identified in the game preview was the importance of the crowd and the Yellow Jackets knocked the crowd out of the game early. Hell, there were a lot of fans leaving in the third quarter, which, let’s be honest, is DISGRACEFUL. You can’t ask a team to give everything it has on the field if you aren’t willing to give everything you have as a fan. The bottom line is it was a punch in the mouth for the Hokies and as it did in 2004 when they lost to NC State at home, it may very well serve as the wake up call that leads to a phenomenal rest of the season. But it could also lead to the team going into the tank as it did in 2002 and 2003. The talent on this year’s team is obvious, but what they take away from the loss to Georgia Tech will only be obvious when they take the field next Thursday night at Boston College. Until then,