Monday, September 29, 2008

3 Key Plays - VT vs. Nebraska

1) Nebraska had just scored to make the game 9-7 and Memorial Stadium was beginning to sense a shift in momentum. The Hokies faced 3rd and 10 from the NEB 43 yd-line. Tyrod Taylor eluded the Husker rush and while drifting to his left, fired a pass across his body to Andre Smith 40 yards downfield. The Hokies' drive bogged down and they were held to a FG but this really recaptured momentum for VT and answered the Nebraska score.

2) Again, Nebraska had turned the tide and gotten the crowd back into the game with a huge punt return to bring them back within 5 of VT. The Hokies were faced with 3rd and 3 at their own 45 with 6:00 left and the stadium as loud as it was all game. Taylor exhibited his now becoming trademark poise and calmly rolled to his right and delivered an accurate throw to Dyrell Roberts for a 12 yard gain. An incompletion there would have changed the entire complexion of the game and potentially the outcome. But just like last week's play against UNC on a critical 3rd down, Taylor-to-Roberts came through in the clutch.

3) Think back to Boston College in the middle of the '07 season. Believe me it hurts me as much as it hurts you. But the Hokies had dominated BC all game and gave up two scoring drives at the very end (marked by big plays down the deep middle of the field) to lose the game. In between those drives, the Hokies had a chance to recover an onside kick and end the game. As we all know, Josh Morgan stepped in front of the ball for some reason and it bounced off him and into BC's hands. Ok enough of that, before I get completely sick. Now fast forward to last Saturday and the Hokies having dominated Nebraska all game, give up a quick TD drive marked by passes down the deep middle that brings the Huskers to 35-30. While Nebraska was lining up for the onside kick, I had a massive sense of deja vu, but suddenly, Greg Boone leapt HIGH into the air and pulled the onside kick down, allowing the Hokies to run enough time off the clock to basically seal the win. It's the first onside kick I can remember the Hokies recovering by an opponent since, well I can't even remember the last onside kick the Hokies recovered by an opponent - so if you know when that was please let us know. Bottom line, this was a key play.

As a postscript, everyone was talking about the personal foul on the drive when the Hokies had failed on 3rd and 4 and Nebraska's defensive lineman hit Taylor late out of bounds. That really wasn't nearly as big as the 3rd down conversion earlier on that drive from Taylor to Roberts. The flag occurred on the Husker 35 yd-line. Even if they don't throw the flag, the Hokies have moved the ball into Husker territory and run the clock down under 4 minutes. Faced with 4th and 2, they could have tried a 52 yard FG, pinned Nebraska deep with a pooch kick or gone for the 1st down anyway. The momentum had already been shifted back to the Hokies. So yes, the personal foul (and Coach Bo Pelini's losing his self-control compounding the penalty) was a big play, but not as key as the conversion earlier in the drive.

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