Friday, October 05, 2007

I WANTED to do a game review but I got fed up

You know, the task I set out to accomplish seemed easy enough - review the UNC game from last Saturday. I watched it twice as always, made my notes and wrote a game review. It stunk because the game was so formulaic - Hokie offense is terrible, Beamerball puts offense in position to score some points, offense capitalizes and then turns around and stinks some more, tired Hokie defense has to rise up and show heart and win the game. Damn I am TIRED of that story and I hope you are too.

So I decided to scrap the review and write a full blown, position-by-position, 5-games-into-the season-review. You know what, my Calm and Beloved Reader? It's a waste of my time to write it and would have been a waste of yours to read it. I need to learn to give you more credit. There is little I can add to the analysis of this Hokie football team right now because the situation is so obvious. That being said, I scaled it back to the most basic statements just to put a stake in the ground marking the Hokies' current level of play. That way we'll be able to look back on this at the end of the season and see if there was any improvement.

The offense is led by a true freshman who has all the talent in the world but he's still a true freshman. He has poise and can make a clutch play but he has trouble reading defenses. He can run exceptionally well and pressure the edge of the defense but his footwork is awful and leads his passes to float on him most of the time.

The offensive line is much improved from the beginning of the season but that's not saying much. The line play was so bad that the large improvements have just upgraded the line to "below average" right now. Richard Graham, as great a guy as he seems to be and as hard as he plays, just isn't an ACC-caliber offensive guard. Coach Beamer says there's a lot of "want-to" on the offensive line which makes him feel better. Hey Frank, with all due respect, I "want-to" be a sports columnist assigned to the Hokie beat making Kyle-Tucker type money, but I don't have the talent which is why he's a paid columnist and I'm a hack, writing out of my @#$! You need execution and quickness and talent up there blocking for that offense.

Speaking of execution, the skill position players are flat-out not doing that and overall the offense is just ineffective. Everyone can weigh in with their opinion of "it's close", "there's progress", etc. RB Branden Ore has a nick here, a bruised rib there. It doesn't matter. The offense heretofore has been ineffective and if massive strides aren't made by Saturday night at 6 PM in its proper execution of fundamental football (blocking, route running, catching) the game will be ugly. It comes down to plays having to be made. There it is in black and white, forget the talk.

Just as obvious is the defense. The line has been getting no push because Carlton Powell is getting double teamed and Chris Ellis is the only end beating his man in one-on-one battles. The linebackers have been stellar with the exception of the LSU game and the secondary has been up and down due to the inconsistency of Kam Chancellor. The defense has improved overall and played with solid fundamentals lately when they haven't been tired. If the offense can just give the defense at least an even split in time of possession with the opponent, I'll take the Hokie defense every time.

Special teams have been best in the ACC. Punts, punt returns, field goals, kickoffs, kickoff coverage, punt coverage, everything except blocks have been tops in the conference. That needs to continue in order to have a chance throughout the season against the better teams starting Saturday with Clemson.

So there it is. That's where the team is right now. As I said above, all the conjecture and comments about "we are a foot away" or "the team is close to breaking out" don't mean anything starting this weekend. The Hokies have used up their Ohios, and William & Marys where they have dominant talent advantages. Playing anything but solid football against the schedule from here on out (and that includes Duke who pushed Miami til LATE in the 4th quarter) has a high probability of getting the Hokies' butts kicked. This is the 6th game of the season. This team either is what it is - an underachieving, sloppy, 112th out of 119th teams offense, matched with good defense and great special teams - or it will start to play up to its capability. Like my main man Yoda said "There is no 'try'. There is only 'do' or 'do not'". May the Force be with you and the Hokies on Saturday.


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