Sunday, January 07, 2007

Game Review - ChickFilA Bowl


Game Review

There is no comparison between the loss to Georgia in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and any other loss for VT this season. Against Georgia Tech, the Hokies were down by 21 early before the team regrouped but weren’t able to complete the comeback. Against Boston College the entire team just melted down. But against Georgia, Sean Glennon was 80% responsible for the loss by himself. 10% of the blame goes to a bad performance by an injury-riddled offensive line and 10% goes to an INSANE call for an onside kick at the end of the game when there was still plenty of time left.

The Hokies, of course, say you win as a team and you lose as a team. That’s the classy thing to say and most of the time it is absolutely true. Pointing fingers does nothing but splinter a locker room. But since I’m just a fan, let me say this on behalf of the rest of the team - while the offensive line could certainly have been better and Coach Beamer should NEVER have gone for the onside kick with that much time left, the Hokies were only in that position to lose because of one of the worst quarters of football a quarterback has ever played.

I won’t recap many details because they are so painful and because most of you watched the debacle I’m sure. But let’s start with the defense.

First of all, the defense gave up 47 yards and 3 first downs all the way up to the midpoint of the 3rd quarter. Even after the nightmarish performance by the offense in the second half the defense still accomplished the following:

They stopped Georgia after Glennon’s fumble and held them to a FG.
They stopped Georgia after Glennon’s third INT and held them to a 3 and out and forced a 16 yard punt to keep the Hokies in the game.
After Beamer’s horrible decision to go for the onside kick, the defense still stopped Georgia, holding them to a 3 and out and giving the offense the ball back with 1:20 to go and a chance to tie the game.
They held Georgia to 200 yards of offense cementing their position as the #1 total defense in the country.

Keep in mind that the defense did this, DESPITE losing Noland Burchette just before halftime and Brandon Flowers midway through the third quarter. Aaron Rouse played a miserable game in his final performance, missing two sacks, two tackles and blowing the coverage on the tight end on two huge plays in the second half. For a guy with the all-everything hype he had coming into this season, Rouse will be lucky to be drafted by the third or fourth round. But other than Rouse, I just couldn’t be prouder of the effort the team gave in this game and all season. They never pointed fingers at the offense, they just kept digging and they were a force to be reckoned with every game after the BC loss.

The offense on the other hand was ridiculously bad. Even in the first half, Glennon was horrible. His throws were tentative and weak. I have been on a diatribe about Glennon for most of the season so I won’t get into too many things here, especially because I’m certain that even you, my Calm and Beloved Reader probably gets a little worked up thinking about his performance. But let me hit two key points that explain why Glennon isn’t the answer that might give you a little insight instead of just saying “He sucks”.

First of all, Glennon had 4 tipped passes at the line, including one for a huge interception return to the 1 yard line by Georgia. This guy stands 6’4”!!! Marcus Vick last year was 5’11” and I NEVER recall seeing a game where he had more than one or two tipped passes. How can that be one might ask? Glennon types up an email and sends it to the defense when he drops back to throw. He doesn’t look off anybody. He can’t see a throwing lane. He just drops back and locks on to a receiver and throws it to him. That makes it relatively easy for the defensive lineman to jump up or throw his hands up and knock the pass down.

Secondly, Glennon’s throwing motion is an exercise in inefficiency. This guy is a big guy. He set the record for bench press by a QB (350 lbs). But his throws downfield are almost always underthrown and his out route passes have very little zip. The reason is his slow throwing motion. I know this because he throws the ball like someone I know very well – me. I have to wind-up to throw the ball, kind of like a pitcher in baseball. And so does Glennon. The great passers, and even most of the good ones generate zip with a quick compact throwing motion (Philip Rivers is a mind-boggling exception). I would never have had a chance to be a starting QB in Division IA or even IAA. The reason Glennon got a chance is because he is prototype QB size and because Marcus Vick is a thug who got kicked off the team heading into his senior year. By the way, this slow throwing motion may also be a contributor to the tipped passes.

Some people, despite having the physical size and strength, just do not have what it takes to be a QB. Sean Glennon had an entire season to grow and develop and learn the role and the fact is, with the game on the line in his final game of the season, when he should have been at his best, he played the worst he did all season.

Just to put the finishing touch on my game review, after Georgia mounted their comeback off of turnovers, the Hokies found themselves down by 10 and the ball at the Georgia 30 yard line with 5:30 to go thanks to an amazing defense and special teams. The offense was able to move the ball about 10 yards and then the super-clutch Brandon Pace kicked a FG (he really has a shot in the NFL) to bring the game to within 7 points.

At this point, VT’s defense had regained some confidence. There was 3:41 left in the game and the Hokies had a timeout. If they could get a 3 and out, they would get the ball back with about 1:30 left in decent field position. If they couldn’t the game would be over. Onside kicks are recovered about 15% of the time in college football. So the decision for Beamer is – would 25-30 yards of field position be worth taking a 15% chance? With a high powered offense or a miserable defense, I think the math shifts and you have to say the onside kick in that situation makes sense. But VT has neither of those things. And 25-30 yards of field position is like pure gold to this anemic offense.

So HOW ON EARTH could Beamer go for the onside kick? I was screaming myself to the point of puking while in the stands about how stupid the call was, before they even kicked it. Georgia had all of their guys up on the line. All Pace had to do was kick it over their head and the Hokies would have a better chance of recovering it or pinning Georgia down inside the 20. And then when I watched the TV replay at home (thanks TiVo) the commentators were saying that Beamer was surely tricking Georgia because there is no way he would kick the onside kick here. But he did and despite the defense valiantly getting the clutch 3 and out, the miserable Hokie offense did nothing with the ball deep in their own end.

So it was a fitting painful end to a gut-wrenching, sickening experience. A bad coaching call there was the cherry on top of the Sean-Glennon Sundae. And even in post-game the team stuck together which I have to respect. But you know this – every VT fan who watched the game, knows that Glennon was in over his head. If we as fans could see it, how can the players going into 2007 have any confidence in this guy as their leader? How can the coaches? No matter what else one takes away from this game, Glennon simply and absolutely cannot be the starter for 2007. He had his chance and it is only fair for another player to get one, because they could not do any worse than Glennon did. Sounds harsh. It’s a fact.

My head is still spinning and I’m still too disappointed to come up with a good theme for 2007. We, at TSF, will gladly take suggestions from our readers. Post them here on the blog and we’ll decide this spring on the best one. The 2006 campaign to take the Next Step was a failure. With the promising list of starters coming back, let’s hope the 2007 team delivers.

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