Sunday, November 25, 2007

Game Review - VT vs. UVA

Virginia Tech won the biggest game in the history of VT-UVA and in the process salvaged a chance at the ACC title, a rematch against Boston College, and at the same time prevented my four week clinical depression I was getting seriously worried about. And believe me with the Hokies ahead 23-21 but losing momentum and the Cavaliers holding onto the ball in the 3rd quarter, the prospect of that depression was becoming far too real. I ran to the bathroom thinking I was going to be nauseous. And that's when I realized how big this football game was.

So I pulled myself together and ran out to see Barry Booker stuff Andrew Pearman on 3rd and 1 and the Hokies got the ball back and went on to a glorious victory. My stomach didn't calm down until later that evening, but my heart was joyous and overwhelmed from the moment the clock read 0:00.

So let's take a look at how the Hokies accomplished this amazing feat.

The first thing that jumped out at me was special teams. This was classic Beamerball, but the special teams opened with some new-school Beamerball by showing off a reverse on the first punt return which put the Hokies in great field position. Jud Dunlevy went on to show just how strongly that pre-season question of "How do we replace Brandon Pace?" has been answered. He hit 4-4 FG's and now is only 1 behind the all-time record for FG's in a season by a VT kicker. And Brent Bowden, who I have been hard on for a while, REALLY responded booming 4 kicks for an average of 48.2 yds/punt including a long of 57 yards!! He boomed one out of his own end zone towards the end of the first half at a time when the team needed it. Of course, we must mention the big blocked punt by Davon Morgan which set up a FG for the Hokies to make the score 23-14 VT. The special teams all year has just been lights out and in this game the difference in special teams proved to be the difference in the game.

The defense played simply average. Now keep in mind that average for the Hokies is still good defense for 100 other football programs out there. The Wahoos were limited to 241 yards and there were several big plays by Tech defenders (Booker's tackle on the 3rd and 1 where I nearly lost my lunch, Brandon Flowers' 5th INT of the season, etc.) But the 3rd down defense was ATROCIOUS (7-17, 41%) for most of the game. Tech couldn't get the Cavaliers off the field, especially after turnovers. 3rd down defense has been a real strength of VT's this season and that "get off the field" mentality needs to return for next week's game against BC. There were several missed tackles and some bad angles by Vince Hall that I saw, so again the defense was average.

I will take this opportunity to highlight Kam Chancellor and Cam Martin. Those two guys bear no resemblance to the two guys that started against LSU in the 2nd game of the season. And while Kam Chancellor has made some strides, (though he's still not as disciplined as I would like in the mental part of the game), I don't know if I can ever remember a player improving more during the course of the season than Cam Martin. I mean he has become a holy terror at whip LB. He is consistently one of the top point getters on the defense each week and he has several hits that are candidates for Hammer awards. Not to mention he has overcome a mid-season bout with mono. I just want to say that Jim Cavanaugh earned his coaches salary with the work he did with these two players this season and don't be surprised to see All-ACC honors for them in upcoming seasons.

Now for the almighty offense. Consistent is the best word I can use to describe them. I said earlier this season that if the offense could just be solid, the entire team would become elite, and that is exactly what has happened. The offensive line contained a guy who is easily a top 10 pick in the draft next season - Chris Long. Yes he got two sacks and caused a fumble but only one of those was the offensive line's fault. The running lanes were there for Branden Ore all day - and while I'll admit Ore has improved, he is still a half step slow compared to last year. But the pass protection also allowed VT to respond every time the Cavaliers tried to capture the momentum. The entire offense has turned around with the play of this offensive line.

As a result the receivers who were also underachieving, have stepped up. I have been hard on Kevin Sherman, but the past 4 games the receivers rose up to the challenge. Not only has their blocking been vastly improved (with only 1 holding call on the receivers in that timespan) but Eddie Royal, Justin Harper and Josh Morgan have EACH had a monster game in the past 4 games, while Josh Hyman has been consistent and made solid plays in every game. Against UVA is was Eddie's turn with a 6 catch, 147 yard, 1 TD effort. But Josh Morgan gets my Tough Man award, for re-breaking the finger he hurt against LSU and the pin that was inserted into it. He went in just before halftime to get it worked on and came back out to make a huge catch in the 3rd quarter. I don't even know how he did it but the whole team was aware of it, be sure of that. It's representative of the toughness this team has and for the 4th straight year they "out-toughed" UVA.

And finally let's look at QB and offensive coordinator. I have nothing but love for Sean Glennon and I am happy to see him succeed. He threw his best passes of the season on Saturday against the hated Wahoos. I can't stand Bryan Stinespring, but I will admit his playcalling was much improved (notwithstanding the retarded flanker pass option where Royal threw the interception) during the UVA game. He also is balancing the Tyrod Taylor/Sean Glennon QB situation very well despite my disagreement with the decision on principle. I think it's working for two reasons: a) because those two kids are class acts and b) the team hasn't lost yet with this new QB rotation. This sets up nasty possibilities for next season in the locker room in terms of leadership and chemistry, and I still think it hurts both QB's ability to get into a rhythm and the feel of the game. But I must concede that they are making it work and that Glennon is playing at the very top of his game which surprises me.

You want to be playing your best football at the end of the year and there's no doubt that's what happening with this senior-laden class of Hokies. They played with a lot of "want-to" on Saturday but they also executed, which was missing on offense up until the last 4 games. As a result they overcame a road crowd and 2 turnovers to take a big win in Scott Stadium and close out this senior class as going 4-0 against UVA. They also are the first VT class to get 10 wins in all 4 seasons, they sport a 15-1 road record in the ACC and right now are the only team in the nation to get 10 wins in 4 consecutive years (although Texas and USC both have a chance to do that this year as well). The senior class still has a few more goals they want to accomplish but take a minute to appreciate how proud they have made Hokie Nation, and nevermoreso than with everything on the line against a hated rival for the ACC Coastal Division title.

GO HOKIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Game Preview - VT vs. UVA

Well folks, here it is - the single biggest game in the history of Virginia-Virginia Tech. A good bowl game vs. a crappy one. State bragging rights. A chance for the ACC Championship. My sanity. All of these things hinge on the outcome of this already spirited rivalry.

When the Hokies lost to LSU, I thought to myself - "Well if we can just beat Virginia this will be a successful season". When the Hokies lost to Boston College I thought to myself -  "Well as long as the Hokies beat Virginia, this will be a successful season". Now that the big game is here I'm thinking to myself - "If the Hokies lose this game, the season will be a complete failure, and I will have a firsthand glimpse at what Dante's 5th circle of hell looks like." 

I always ignore the statistics when talking about rivalry games because honestly, they don't mean anything in these cases. Does it really matter that the Hokies have a slightly better defense statistically and a slightly worse offense? No. I have taken a look at the matchups and there are a few interesting tidbits there, so I'll lay those out and then tell you what this game will really come down to.

Matchup-wise this will be the toughest defense for the Hokies offensive line since Georgia Tech. Not only do the Cavaliers have Chris Long, who plays like his dad Howie, with a non-stop motor and great balance, but they also play a 3-4 defense which means blitzes can come from any combination of linebackers. The offensive line is JUST coming into form but this will require phenomenal communication made tougher by the fact that the game is on the road. 

If the Hokie QB can get good protection (don't get me started about this rotating QB situation), the Hokie receivers have a distinct advantage on the UVA secondary in terms of height and speed. This class of 4 senior receivers - Eddie Royal, Josh Morgan, Justin Harper and Josh Hyman - have all gone over 1000 yards for their career, which is the first class of receivers to do that in Virginia Tech history. All but Josh Hyman will be either be drafted or make an NFL squad.

Defensively, the Hokie linebackers matchup very well against an athletic QB and the defensive line has been shutting down the opponent's running game for the past 4 weeks. But I think we will see a commitment to the run from the Wahoos that has been missing from the Hokies' opponents. Unless Tech gets out to a huge lead early, Virginia will probably continue to try and run the ball if for no other reason than the Hokie CB's are better than the Virginia receivers. Brandon Flowers will be All-ACC again and be gone to the NFL where he'll get drafted. Macho Harris will likely be back for his senior season but he's also having a huge season. It should be tough to get big plays through the air for Virginia, but I guarantee they will take a few shots deep in the first half if only because the Hokies aren't expecting it. 

Now, let's face reality. This game, which is already big for both teams because of the rivalry, is made enormous due to the ACC Coastal Division also being on the line. The deciding factor in the game is simply going to come down to who can handle the magnitude of the moment. UVA has been in close, tough games all year (setting an NCAA record by winning 5 games decided by 2 points or less). This Hokie senior class has been in big games as well, winning the ACC title in Miami, beating Clemson at Clemson, crushing UVA 52-14 two years ago in Charlottesville. But the mental toughness is going to decide things like penalties, turnovers, mistakes on special teams. It will be mental toughness that will decide this game. Who can make the fewest big mistakes?

And as crazy as this sounds (I told you not to get me started), if you reason this out with me you will agree that the true freshman is the better player at QB for these circumstances. When have you seen Tyrod Taylor flustered? I saw him angry when he got hurt last week, but I've never seen him shaken up by a situation. Sean Glennon has a history of playing poorly in big games. His one exception is the Georgia Tech game this season, but I have never seen poise like Taylor's. Remember the Clemson game this year in Death Valley at NIGHT? With everything on the line in the 4th quarter, Taylor made a HUGE run down the sideline that led to the score to ice the game. Remember Florida State in Blacksburg? Down by 1 point, in the 4th quarter, Taylor made a throw that an NFL QB would have been proud of that put the ball on the Seminole 2 yd line, then ran in the score himself to give the Hokies the lead on a big 3rd down. It's hard to believe a freshman can have that kind of poise, but in the final analysis I am an engineer, and I have to believe the data. Taylor has proven in similar circumstances he can handle this. Glennon has shown that, for the most part, he cannot. So I love the idea of telling UVA that they need to prepare for both QB's and then after kickoff give the start to Taylor and don't look back. If Taylor gets hurt you have Glennon coming off the bench, who in that situation, might play looser because he wants to prove he should still be co-starter. 

Regardless, this should be a huge hitting game. There will be a lot of trash-talk which the Hokies have done a LOT less of this year (nice job Coach Beamer) but there's no way to avoid it in a game like this. What the Hokies have to be careful of is to not let that extend into stupid game changing personal fouls (either killing their own drive or extending a Cavalier drive). I think all you need to know about the mentality of Virginia comes from their coach, Al Groh. Listen to this direct quote from his opening statement during his press conference on the game -  "with those four receivers that we'll be very pleased to bid adieu to after this game". Who says "bid adieu" when talking about football??? Could you stomach the thought of losing to someone who wants to bid you adieu? It makes me nauseous just thinking about it. Now the Hokies need to show the Cavaliers how to say goodbye in HokieSpeak - "See ya'll later!" - and go and kick some tail in Charlottesville on Saturday. Noon kickoff everyone so be ready early.

GO HOKIES!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

CFB Weekly

We received another invite to do the CFB Weekly interview for this week and were glad to participate. You can check it out at

TSF actually got 2 segments in the show this week so be sure to stay tuned until the end of the show! 


Monday, November 19, 2007

Game Review vs. Miami

In week 11 of the College Football season, Virginia Tech defeated the Miami Hurricanes by a score of 44 to 14. After a rushing touchdown followed by a passing touchdown, the Hokies led the Hurricanes 14 to 0. Virginia Tech kicked a subsequent field goal, and circumstances looked as though the Hokies may run away with the game early. Then, Miami battled back to get on the board with a touchdown just before the end of the first half. Miami would earn 7 more by getting into the paint one last time, but that would be the last of the 'Canes scoring as Virginia Tech would hold them to no subsequent points while putting 20 more on the board themselves.

In critique of this game let me begin with analysis of the Hokie offense. The return of Eddie Royal added significant value without any doubt. Victor "Macho" Harris is a good punt returner, but Royal is a great punt returner who rushed for 45 yards on punt returns for the day (making him now the all-time ACC leader in punt return yards). Branden Ore had his best game on the season to date with 81 yards of rushing; finally, he looked like a tailback who wasn't injured. Starting quarterback Sean Glennon had 171 yards in passing including an amazing one handed snag by Justin Harper. (It seems like the Hokie receivers are producing roughly one of those in each game.) Tyrod Taylor's substitutions for Glennon produced gains in rushing yardage that set up Hokie scoring. Overall, the Hokie offense performed very well. It followed in suit with typical Hokie wins in getting a big lead early, which often demoralizes the opponent. After a small slip where Miami seemed to be making a game of the contest, the offense responded strongly by putting up big points on the board.

Also, the possession time for each team was almost dead even near 30 minutes. That shows much better offensive control of the play than in some other recent games for the Hokies, such as against Boston College. In an almost paradoxical sense, however, the Hokie offense performed successful drives very efficiently. For example, the following drives all resulted in touchdowns: 61 yards in 2:46, 57 yards in 3:23, 60 yards in 4:32, 68 yards in 2:40, and 65 yards in 1:55. In an area where the offense needs to improve, 6 of 14 successful third down conversions will not cut it against Virginia. That's less than 50%.

Saturday's offensive performance calls for some commentary on the Virginia Tech quarterback situation. Head coach Frank Beamer benched Glennon, the original starter, after a disastrous offensive performance against LSU in the Hokies' second game of the season (disastrous across the board, not just Glennon). Tyrod Taylor relieved him and performed spectacularly against LSU who at the time held the number two spot in the rankings. After Taylor's brilliant performances in subsequent games, Glennon's career as a starting quarterback looked as over as it could be, but a high ankle injury that Taylor sustained against Duke brought Glennon back into the game to once again take the snaps. Even though the opponent was Duke, Glennon put on one of the best displays of his career to date. He played fairly well given the conditions against Boston College and then overachieved against Georgia Tech leading the Hokies to a definitive victory. Moving on to the Florida State game, Glennon sustained a concussion putting him out of the game early. Taylor came into the game as the main quarterback once again, and he led the team on some drives that Glennon most likely could not have, due to some breakdowns in the offensive line over a few plays. That period of the game could have become a turning point for the Seminoles, so Taylor played a HUGE role in securing the victory.

Against Miami, however, Beamer made the call to keep Sean Glennon in the starting spot, and I think that was the right call {note: Mad Jay certainly and respectfully disagrees}. The interchange that we've seen between Taylor and Glennon over the past two games is what I believe to be the best way the Hokies can field the position over the rest of this season. If you turn the clock back a couple of seasons ago, Beamer had a two quarterback situation on his hands of a very different sort. He was trying to share the position between an overachieving Bryan Randall and the rising star, Marcus Vick. This power sharing situation had quite a different makeup, however, because Randall and Vick possessed virtually the same assets. Switching quarterbacks in mid-game served no strategic advantage and ended up hurting the team in the sense of not having a singly identified, established leader. But the situation with Glennon and Taylor is quite different given that both quarterbacks have very different playing styles. This forces an opposing squad to prepare to defend against different styles of play. If the pocket passing approach isn't working, Virginia Tech can switch to an approach more adaptable to scrambling.

Although the cries to pull Glennon from the field have diminished to some extent, I still feel the need to voice something that I wanted to voice at the beginning of the season. Virginia Tech is a football team that adopts a blue collar mentality. Blue collar teams think and act like one unit supporting each other even through rough times, and this should extend into stands where we as fans sit. Tyrod Taylor is going to flourish into one the greatest, maybe even the greatest, quarterback to play in Lane Stadium, and un-redshirting him this season was the right decision. But when Sean Glennon's on the field taking the snaps, he's our guy. HOKIE NATION, GET BEHIND YOUR GUY!

Moving to the other side of the ball, Bud Foster's squad held Miami to only two drives that led to scores. Outside of that, the Hokie defense held the 'Canes to only two drives that produced double digit yardage, one of which ended with a fumble and the other with a turnover on downs. Vince Hall made his return for this game wearing a special cast similar to the one Cedric Humes wore two seasons ago to brace his arm while recovering from a broken bone. Hall made 13 tackles on the day, the team high. Overall the Hokie defense held the 'Canes to 13 first downs, 215 yards of passing, and -2 yards of rushing. They also produced a total of three turnovers.

Including the loss to LSU, Virginia Tech ranks fifth in the country in defense for the season to date allowing 3183 yards of offense from opponents. Take away the LSU game, and that figure is only 2585.

Next, the Hokies turn their attention to what has built up to be the most weighty game of the season so far. They play their in-state rivals, the Cavaliers of Virginia, for the Coastal division title of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Shooting in Victor Harris' Apartment

Fortunately, nobody was hurt in this incident, but Virginia Tech was very close to enduring yet another tragedy. You can read more in this article on the Richmond Times Dispatch website.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Game Review - VT vs. FSU

Wow. That's the first thing I thought of when I watched the game footage of this week's big Hokie win. To go up against Florida State without Vince Hall, Ryan Shuman, or Eddie Royal (all of whom will be back against Miami) and get a win like that says that this team has truly adopted the blue collar mentality and come together to show great resilience.

From the opening snap this was the hardest hitting game since LSU. Sean Glennon got knocked out and Tyrod Taylor came in and had a monster game (more on that later). Players on both sides were getting knocked silly and having to sit out for several plays the entire game. Drew Weatherford took a wicked but clean shot from Brandon Flowers and Weatherford had to sit the rest of the game.

So imagine this - you are a freshman who hasn't taken a snap in college football and your opening snap is on the road in one of the harshest environments in college football with your team trailing. Tyrod Taylor faced that situation against LSU in the 2nd game and FSU backup Christian Ponder had to do the exact same thing on Saturday. Give Ponder credit - he played incredibly well until the very end of the game. Under those circumstances to play like that? I would say that bodes well for the Seminoles down the road. I have always been underwhelmed with Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee for the Noles, but I think they may have a good one for the future in Ponder.

And believe me - the Hokie defense smelled fresh meat and was bringing the lumber. Noles RB Antawn Smith had 50% of his team's rushing yards on the season. Saturday he had less than 10%. The Hokies held FSU to 267 yards of offense. They had 2 picks and a safety. They didn't get any sacks but they had 10 QB hurries on the afternoon. I picked on the defensive line at the halfway point of this season and claimed they were the weakness of the defense and they truly were. But after picking my teeth with some crow bones, let me be the first to say - welcome back Dline!! The level of play from that unit has absolutely been as productive as I've seen since 2004. Every position is playing at the level we all expected at the beginning of the season. Jason Worilds showed the kind of closing speed that VT defensive ends have gotten famous from and he was in the QB's face nearly every snap he played. Barry Booker had a HUGE hustle play chasing down FSU's surprisingly speedy QB and forcing a fumble. Carlton Powell has elevated himself to a 3rd/4th round pick in next year's draft the past 3 weeks. And Chris Ellis' play speaks for itself. He will join former Hokie Darryl Tapp in terrorizing NFL quarterbacks next season as well.

Oh well, just another day at the office for a defense that is REALLY hitting its stride right now at the right time. You may remember that I questioned Foster's calls at the end of the BC game, and I still think he was wrong in that instance, but I wouldn't trade him for any defensive coach in football, period. How's this for a stat - after the LSU game, the Hokies were 95th in defense and 79th in scoring defense. After the FSU game the Hokies rank 8th and 3rd in those respective categories. Can you comprehend how RIDICULOUS that is?! If you throw out the LSU game (and Lord knows I wish I could), or even if you just replace the game stats from LSU with the current Hokies average, the Hokies would lead the nation in scoring defense and be 2nd in total defense with a chance for that third straight year I was talking about at the beginning of the season. In a way, I think by including the 600 yards and 48 points that LSU hung on the Hokies it almost makes their current national rank on defense even MORE impressive because they've had to be that much more dominant over the rest of their opponents.

The special teams on the other hand were well below subpar. How on earth does Frank Beamer give up a fake punt to Bobby Bowden when the entire buildup to this game was how Bowden outdoes Beamer in special teams? Fortunately the Hokies were able to recover the onside kick that Bowden tried later in the game. But Jud Dunlevy missed an extra point and a FG, there was very little in the way of the return game (although I agreed with this - no reason to risk Macho Harris getting hurt on a return with Eddie out) and Brent Bowden went into the TANK. He averaged 35 yards/kick in a game where field position was the key battle and early on the Hokies were losing that battle. I hope this can be chalked up as a fluke and the special teams roar back next week to continue there heretofore stellar level of play.

But the real key to this game was the offense. Just a few weeks ago I was asking when the last time the offense had made a clutch play to win a game and sure enough Tyrod Taylor answered the bell in the 4th quarter. Down by a point with 10 minutes left in the game, Taylor (who had thrown a pick six earlier) rolled to his left and throwing on the run he delivered, and when I say perfect I mean a PERFECT, pass 50 yards downfield to Justin Harper on the sideline at the FSU 2. It's impossible to understand how hard it is to run to your left, and while running, throw the ball to the left, when you're right handed, that far downfield, along the left sideline and keep the ball inbounds, in the one spot where your receiver can make a play on the ball. It was as if Taylor ran the ball 50 yards downfield and handed it to Harper.

The main key to the win was Taylor on offense but let's give some credit where credit is due here. Beau Warren, stepping in for injured starter Ryan Shuman has faced, in 3 consecutive weeks, Boston College, Georgia Tech and Florida State's defensive lines - otherwise known as Murderer's Row in the ACC. He has given up two sacks in those games but more often than not he has fought and scrapped and with great technique and talent, gotten the better of the guy lined up across from him. He also made good line calls (I am sure he had a few mistakes in there, but look at the results). Way to go Beau! Also stepping up were the receivers in place of injured Eddie Royal. Josh Hyman and Josh Morgan attracted coverage and drew penalties against the Seminoles, but Justin Harper rose up and became a true playmaker. He made catches all over the field and he blocked extremely well. It was fun to see him playing at that level.

And now let me address the QB situation in a little more detail. I came up with an analogy (it's great in my mind, see what you think) to describe my thoughts more clearly. Brett Warren has been playing for an injured Vince Hall and I think he's been better than admirable, he's been very solid. I love his effort, he's faster than I thought he was, and I feel pretty good about him competing for the starting job in the spring. Saturday's game against FSU was the first game where I thought, while watching the footage, ok Vince's absence is being felt. Warren wasn't quite able to make a few plays on the QB when he ran the ball and he missed several coverages in the middle of the field that Hall would have made. But Warren was stout in run support and I contend he has been every bit as good in relief of Vince Hall as Glennon has been in Taylor's absence, if not better. However, no one is remotely questioning the fact that when Hall is healthy for the Miami game he will return as the starter. It's a given. You put a player like Vince Hall on the field when he's healthy, end of story.

It's no different at QB. Saturday against Florida State was Exhibit A-Z, your Honor, of why Taylor should be the starter. Glennon played hard but, for example, his first deep ball to Josh Morgan should have ABSOLUTELY been a touchdown. I mean Morgan was as open as you can reasonably ask a receiver to get on a deep route. The bad underthrow of the ball resulted in pass interference, true, but it should have been a touchdown, instead of expecting Morgan to make the super tough play. Taylor had a nearly identical throw later in the game, in much tighter coverage and he threw it perfectly. Glennon has made several very nice passes this season that he never made last season, that is for sure. But he has never made some of the plays, running OR passing that Taylor made on Saturday. It's just the difference between NFL and college talent. Taylor threw some balls like an NFL QB would have (on a good day). And his poise was utterly unshakeable. The perfect throw to Harper when the team was down by a point was thrown as if Taylor was rolling out on the practice field. Now keep in mind, I am ignoring Glennon's stat line (1-4 for 3 yards). I know he can play better than that, and I know that his value in this game was forcing FSU to prepare for both QB's but with an ACC championship on the line, you go with the best guy. Vince Hall at MLB and Tyrod Taylor at QB and you don't look back.

Lastly, let me just pat the crowd on the back for a second. Just like against BC that fateful Thursday night, last Saturday the crowd was the old Lane Stadium again. It was rocking, the atmosphere was electric and it was really tough on the Seminoles. They had to burn a timeout, had a key delay of game penalty on a 3rd and 1 and had two false starts, all of which Hokie Nation contributed to. In watching the telecast, Bill Curry announced that his son Bill Curry, Jr. a center for Virginia, claims that Lane Stadium at night is the toughest place to play in college football. Let's keep it that way this coming Saturday for the hated Miami Hurricanes.


3 Key Plays - VT vs. FSU

1) After the Hokies scored the game's opening TD, Jud Dunlevy proceeded to miss his 3rd extra point of the season. Dunlevy has been a phenomenal kicker this year, but these extra points must be addressed. This was the difference between a 21-20 game in the 4th quarter and a tie game. It turned out to be a huge play that set the stage for the Hokies' dramatic comeback but it could have just as easily turned out the other way.

2) Sean Glennon gets knocked out early in the 2nd quarter with the score tied at 6 apiece. Tyrod Taylor comes in for good at that point. On that specific play it was 3rd and 5 and Taylor calmly hit Boone for a first down, keeping a drive alive that eventually led to a Hokies TD. More importantly than that TD, it kept the coaches from continuing the QB carousel which was not the right decision (more on that in the game review). TSF would never wish injury on any Hokie especially one as classy as Glennon, but instead wishes the coaching staff would make the right decision and just start Taylor. Tyrod Taylor playing the last 3 quarters against FSU was the main reason the Hokies won the game.

3) 9:32 left in the 4th quarter, the Hokies had just turned the momentum and taken a 28-21 lead, and the Seminoles were trying to respond. A GREAT hustle play by Barry Booker knocked the ball out of FSU QB Christian Ponder's hands and Cam Martin grabbed the loose ball and gave possession to the Hokies on the FSU 29 yd line. The ensuing drive led to a FG and a two score lead and the defense finished it off from there.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Game Review – VT vs. Georgia Tech

I don't know if you've stopped to think about how difficult it must have been as a Virginia Tech football player to lose that game against Boston College last week. But it must have been even harder to put that loss behind them and rise up to deliver the greatest performance of the season so far. I often criticize Coach Beamer and his staff for gameplans and in-game playcalling, but Beamer has always been a MASTER of having his team ready to play and overcoming the emotions of both big victories and big defeats. It was never on greater display than Thursday night against the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta.

First and foremost let's tip our collective hat to Sean Glennon. For a guy who has gone through a lot of lows in his career, the latest of which involved being benched in the 2nd game of this season, he showed why I have been a fan of his as a Hokie for so long. I have been very critical of his play and his talent, but I have NEVER questioned his heart and his toughness and he showed both in spades against Georgia Tech. The team needed the backup QB to play his very best and Glennon did that on the road in a big time ACC game.

But let's not get too caught up in this shall we? Glennon is still a backup QB in terms of his playing ability. I won't nitpick his plays, but even offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring was able to recognize (from his post-game comments) that Sean left a lot of plays on the table against the Jackets. Lord knows, if Stinespring can see it, it's obvious to the point of a 72 font, all bold, exclamation point billboard. I am glad Glennon is on the team and if we need him against FSU I know we can count on him to play his best then as well, but Tyrod Taylor was the starter when he got hurt against Duke. Until Tyrod shows that he isn't continuing to make progress, then when he is healthy, he needs to be the starter again. He has talent and ability that Glennon doesn't have, plain and simple. And more than that, a starter in college football should never lose his job to injury. If the backup is playing better than the starter, then certainly I understand making the change, but Taylor was 5-0 as a starter and was getting better every game. The decision is obvious, which probably means the coaching staff will go completely against it and start Glennon against FSU. Of course, I guess the absolute worst case would be some sort of QB carousel like Beamer tried to implement with Marcus Vick and Bryan Randall in '03. But I think the lessons Beamer learned that year were so painful, I doubt he would try it again.

Being Mad Jay, I see a ton of areas for improvement that should involve far more focus than the QB position right now, since both QB's are playing well. The defense missed some tackles (I KNOW Coach Foster will be having them hitting the tackle dummy this week), some of them embarrassingly bad wrap-up attempts. Also, Josh Morgan gives up yards to try and make the big play instead of getting the sure first down. He did that twice in this game and it's simply unacceptable when this offense needs first downs like a man in the desert needs water. I love Morgan down field making plays on the ball, but I don't like him with the ball in his hands out in the open field. Branden Ore STILL is missing that "pop" that he had in 2006. I saw him make one GT player miss in the hole the entire game. He made his living off of making defenders miss last season, of beating the first guy to him, and this year he just isn't doing it. Coach Hite has me completely stumped. Why he won't run a true 2 back offense I can't understand, but it keeps Lewis, Jr. from getting into a rhythm and from being a contributor to the offense. The team will badly need Ore down the homestretch in November and I'd sure feel a LOT better if Lewis, Jr. had some relatively meaningful carries thus far to make certain that Ore isn't overworked or if God forbid, Ore gets injured and has to miss a game.

But enough about that stuff. Revel in the fact that the offense hung 481 yards on the ACC's statistically toughest defense and had the ball for 15 more minutes than the Yellow Jackets. The Hokie defense held the GT offense to 271 yards and forced 6 turnovers. This was the most complete performance by the team yet.

Again, I don't think one can overstate how hard it must have been to recover from a devastating loss like BC and go out and play the best the team played all season. We, as fans, have to show similar character and rebound from the BC game to make the FSU and Miami games just as tough on those opponents as the crowd was for BC. Always remember that being a TechSuperfan means you are expected to leave it all in the stands, just as the players and coaches are expected to leave it all on the field.


3 Key Plays - VT vs. Georgia Tech

1) With 2:18 left in the 1st quarter, on 3rd down from the GT 12 yd line, QB Sean Glennon tried to escape the rush and fumbled the ball. The Hokies were trailing 3-0 and they had just executed a MONSTER drive down the field to get into FG range to tie the game. If that ball doesn't take a perfect bounce to where Glennon can fall right back on top of it, the entire game would have changed. Glennon had a PHENOMENAL night, but his Achilles Heel is that he can't feel pressure from the defensive line and it nearly cost the Hokies a huge amount of momentum.

2) Immediately following the converted FG, Jud Dunlevy executed a perfect onside kick (wasn't I just talking about the Hokies recovering onside kicks in the BC game review?) and fell on the ball after it went 10 yards. This led to a TD scoring drive and it took a real toll on the Georgia Tech defense for the rest of the game as the Hokies for more than 10 consecutive minutes.

3) Up 17-3, the Hokies had Georgia Tech facing a 3rd and 2 with 9:00 left in the 3rd quarter, when backup QB Josh Nesbitt executed a perfect run fake and pulled rover Kam Chancellor up to the line of scrimmage. He then threw over Chancellor to a WIDE OPEN receiver James Johnson but it was slightly overthrown and Johnson made a poor adjustment to the ball. The resulting touchdown would have made the score 17-10 and completely turned the game around. Instead Georgia Tech had to punt. Probably THE key play of the game and depending on what happens from here on out, could be (just like the Eddie Royal TD in Atlanta 3 years ago) the key play of the season.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

CFB Weekly Radio Show

MadJay's not one to pat himself on the back, but we were asked to do an interview for the College Football Weekly Radio Show. CFB Weekly is the premier sports/talk radio show covering college football from the perspective of the sport's most passionate fans: the bloggers!

Here is the show in full: The CFB Weekly Radio Show.