Thursday, October 30, 2008

Game Review vs. Florida State

What a day, what a day, *sigh*. So where do we start? Do we start with coming one minute shy of 8 quarters of no scoring by the offense? Do we start with injuries to the top two Hokie quarterbacks? Do we start with blowing a 10 point first quarter lead? Okay so yeah, pretty bad day. Some things were preventable, and some things weren't, so goes the game of College Football.

Before I break into the ranting and raving, allow me to recap some of the game's highlights. First play of the game, Tyrod Taylor goes down with a high ankle sprain, the same injury as last season. Sean Glennon takes the helm and leads Virginia Tech to a good start with an early field goal and a late first quarter rushing touchdown. Then, the Seminol offense gains 58 yards in 4 plays and in 2:20 to score their first touchdown of the game. In the ensuing offensive, Virginia Tech drive, running back Josh Oglesby fumbles the ball in Virginia Tech territory. FSU capitalizes with a field goal, tie game. After the kickoff, Virginia Tech orchestrates a well formed drive including a 23 yard rush by Darren Evans and a 41 yard completion to Jarrett Boykin by Sean Glennon. Basically, I can summarize this drive as follows: Sean Glennon sacked followed by Sean Glennon pass completion followed by Sean Glennon sack followed by Darren Evans rush and so on and so on. The drive culminates to a 43 yard missed field goal by Virginia Tech kicker, Dustin Keys, who is not in the habit of missing field goals. After another couple of unsuccessful Hokie and Seminol drives, Dustin Keys redeems himself with a 20 yard field goal to put the Hokies up by 3 going into halftime.

Coming out of halftime, the offense only produces a total of 12 yards evenly split between two possessions, while FSU marches 79 yards in 8 plays and 3:29 to achieve a passing touchdown followed by a 45 yard drive in 5 plays and 2:32 that resulted in a rushing touchdown. Virginia Tech fueled one of those touchdowns with a roughing the kicker penalty on a 4th down and 20. And to make matters worse, Virginia Tech lost their number 2 quarterback Sean Glennon to a twisted angle off of a bad fall from a tackle. Late in the third quarter, Dyrell Robers fumbles a punt return. Down by 17 points in the fourth quarter after a 29 yard Florida State field goal, third string quarterback Cory Holt is taking the snaps. Virginia Tech mustered a rushing touchdown on a drive that took 8 plays over 46 yards in 5 minutes. Unfortunately, that would close out the scoring for the day

So let's summarize the top five negatives here.
* Tyrod Taylor injured
* 3rd quarter with 12 yards of Hokie offense
* Sean Glennon injured
* 1 very preventable turnover
* Roughing the kicker penalty costing a change of possession and 15 yards

Now, let's summarize the top five positives (Yea, I had to dig deep)
* Cory Holt played very well for not seeing a snap in a season and a half
* Sean Glennon reminded us with two quarters of play that the Hoikies can have a long passing game (HOPEFULLY, Stiney realizes that)
* The offense got Virginia Tech on the board prior to the opponent
* The offense did most of the scoring on the day
* The loss was outside of the Coastal division

Okay, normally, I'd be foaming at the mouth in rage like Mad Jay after a loss like this, but you know what? I'm not. The Hokies has a bad day, a really bad day, and I can leave it at that. It's a rebuilding year, folks, and learning from mistakes needs to happen, and with the way we've seen the Hokie coaching, they don't learn so much from mistakes made during wins. So a loss in a year when we know the Hokies aren't gunning for the national championship isn't such a bad thing, especially since it hasn't booted us from the Coastal division title hunt.

So from what kind of mistakes does the Virginia Tech squad need to learn? First, when we look at Sean Glennon's passing numbers in comparison to Tyrod Taylor's, we can identify something that the Hokie offense has lacked. On the season, Taylor has thrown for 585 yards in 6 games while Glennon has thrown for 347 yards in 2 games. You don't build a team to make a national title run without a long passing element to your game. Finishing out this season should involve what people called last year the, "Quarterback Carousel." We have a number one quarterback who can run, but now throw long, and we have a number two quarterback who can throw, but not run. Continuing to hand Taylor the starting job as the single full-time quarterback isn't going to send him the message that he needs to develop a long passing game. Of course those comments aren't withstanding the injury situation, which could change the entire landscape of the issue for the rest of the season.

Dyrell Robers, when you run with the football on a punt return, TUCK THE BALL IN! You can't pump your arms back and forth as though you're running a track meet race. It was a Freshman mistake, but it can't happen again.

Late in the game, when your team is trying to orchestrate a comeback, and comeback well within reach, you cannot make mistakes like a roughing the kicker penalty after the defense has backed the opposing offense up to a 4th and 20. Instead of gaining possession at a crucial point in the game, the Hokies gave FSU the ball right back.

This loss doesn't change what the overall goal of this season should be, and that's a win in postseason, wherever the Hokies end up playing.

EhhTee's Picks (Week 10)

This week's marquee match up happens in Lubbock, Texas. The Red Raiders are 8-0. The Longhorns are 8-0. At stake are things like the lead in the Big 12 South, an [insert U-word here] season, and OH YEAH, a chance to play in the MFC! Florida and Georgia square off in another pivotal game. Tulsa faces an SEC opponent to try and keep their [insert U-word here] season alive. And Virginia is in complete control of its ACC Championship bid chances.

Game of theWeek
#1 Texas @ #7 Texas Tech

This one cant be touted more. A Texas victory all but seals a Big Twelve South championship and, with three mediocre teams to finish out the regular season, the Longhorns can cruise into the championship game for a chance to go to the MFC. Texas Tech may have other ideas. Still poised with a shot at the MFC itself (though they need help) the Red Raiders could take this game as a vaulting point to reach the MFC.

In a shoot out, Pick: Longhorns 54 - Red Raiders 45.

The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party
#8 Florida @ #6 Georgia

Both Georgia and Florida come into the game with one loss. Georgia started the season as the favorite sons of the preseasoners. Unfortunately, one only needs to look at the state of the preseason top 3 to know that there shouldn't be a preseason poll. The WLOCP has traditionally favored the Gators, but the Booldogs won it last year.

Still thing the B00ldogs are overrated, Pick: Gators 31 - Booldogs 24

Upset Special??
#15 Florida State @ Georgia Tech

Is anything really an upset in the ACC these days. We all suck equally so, if Duke beats a Wake Forest, or Virginia beats a North Carolina, who are we kidding? We all suck. Speaking of the Wahoos, Georgia Tech is coming off a humiliating loss to them last week. Florida State actually looked good last week (despite my previous comment of we all suck, including our favorite team). I am going to say that I feel the Yellow Jackets have to win one at home. However, the triple threat seems to be contained. Everyone's figured it out and they can't throw the ball so what now?

Gonna go ahead and pick it this way, but it could be a mistake, Pick: Seminoles 21 - Yellow Jackets 31

#18 Tulsa @ Arkansas

Tulsa has to go to an SEC school and prove that they are legit. Fortunately for the C-USA leader, they get to travel to Arkansas who is 3-5 overall. The Golden Hurricane have a potent enough offense to score the points. Do they have enough to stop the Razorbacks.

Hold them to under 24 points and you win, Pick: Golden Hurricane 28 - Razorbacks 23

West Virginia @ #25 Connecticut

The battle for weakest BCS conference continues as the Big East tries to out-do the ACC for suckiness.

Pick: Mountaineers 45 - Huskies 31

Miami (FL) @ Virginia

Virginia is in control of its ACC Championship hopes. Win out and they're in. The next three games are completely doable and with Tech having a down year, a victory in Blacksburg is all together plausible. It would be the first time since 2003.

But first, they have to wax the 'Canes. Pick: Hurricanes 6 - Boohoos 42

Clemson @ Boston College

BC should have no trouble here. I really struggled to come with games that would be/should be a toss up.

BC makes Tiger steaks, Pick: Tigers 14 - Golden Eagles 31

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

EhhTee's Picks Results (Week 9)

Now that's what I'm talking about. 6-1 last weekend and back over .500. Let's see if I can keep it going this week.

Boise State 37
Boise State 33
1-0 21-21
SJ State 21
SJ State 16
Boise's got a clear line to a BCS bid
OK State 35
OK State 24
2-0 22-21
Texas 45
Texas 28
Texas Tech will be another big challenge for the Longhorns
Penn State 27
Penn State 13
3-0 23-21
Ohio State 21
Ohio State 6
Penn State can cruise into the MFC with no conference championship to deal with.
Georgia 14
Georgia 52
3-1 23-22
LSU 35
LSU 38
Georgia found its offense again. Look out.
Texas Tech 23
Texas Tech 63
4-1 24-22
Kansas 17
Kansas 21
The Big Twelve is amazing.
Virginia 17
Virginia 24
5-1 25-22
Georgia Tech 14
Georgia Tech 17
Wahoos is on top of the Coastal. What?
Boston College 10
Boston College 24
6-1 26-22
North Carolina 62
North Carolina 45
Davis could lead the Tar Heels to a MFC victory before Beamer leads the Hokies to one.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TSF Week Nine Poll is up.

Texas is unanimously at the top. After knocking off three top ten teams in a row, including a then ranked number one Oklahoma. The Longhorns travel to Lubbock to take on the #4 Red Raiders of Texas Tech. More on this in EhhTee's Picks later today.

Other big movers are Oklahoma moving back up into the top five. Georgia moves four spots up to number six. After just barely making the poll last week, Tulsa makes the jump to number twelve.

As a way to start archiving the poll, I'll begin posting them here.

Here's week nine's poll:

1 Texas (3) 75
2 Alabama 71
3 Penn State 70
4 Texas Tech 66
5 Oklahoma 62
6 Georgia 57
7 Oklahoma State 56
8 Florida 54
9 Southern Cal 50
10 Boise State 43
11 Lousiana State 36
12 Florida State 34
12 Tulsa 34
14 Minnesota 32
15 Ball State 30
15 Texas Christian 30
17 Ohio State 28
18 Missouri 26
19 Michigan State 23
19 Utah 23
21 Brigham Young 16
22 North Carolina 15
23 Oregon 12
24 Northwestern 9
25 Georgia Tech 7

Here's week eight's poll:

1 Texas (2) 74
2 Penn State (1) 71
3 Alabama 70
4 Oklahoma State 66
5 Texas Tech 57
5 USC 57
7 Oklahoma 55
8 LSU 53
9 Florida 49
10 Georgia 48
11 Ohio State 42
12 Boise State 34
13 Utah 33
14 Missouri 29
15 Minnesota 28
16 Pittsburgh 24
16 TCU 24
18 Florida State 21
19 Georgia Tech 19
20 Ball State 17
21 BYU 16
22 Kansas 15
23 Northwestern 13
24 South Florida 12
24 Tulsa 12

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Game Review - VT vs. BC

First of all - ouch. The gut wrenching losses to BC now total three in the past three seasons. And the worst thing about it is that unlike rivals UVa, Miami and West Virginia, I find myself unable to hate BC for it. They play hard, they don't talk a lot of trash and they do it with decent but not stellar talent that is nonetheless VERY well coached and plays extremely hard with a blue collar mentality. Hmmmmm, I know a school that used to follow a similar formula, until the talent started getting better and the coaching (in some quarters) began heading the other way.

At the end of the game the scoreboard said 28-23 in favor of the Eagles, which moved them into a tie for first place in the Atlantic Division and dropped Virginia Tech a half game behind Georgia Tech in the Coastal. In the postgame locker room, Coach Frank Beamer talked to all of the players about how people outside the program would try and divide the team and how it was important to stand united. Special teams, defense and offense all contributed to the loss and therefore the team, needing to improve in all phases, was not to begin pointing fingers.

This is the exact right way to handle the situation and the locker room needs to stay tight. The team cannot afford to fall apart in the midst of a battle for the ACC title. But at the same time, you, my Calm and Beloved Reader, probably wants to know what the hell happened in Chestnut Hill on Saturday night and it's my duty to lay bare the carnage in all its graphic detail.

Let's handle the easy one first - the defense. After getting the jump on BC in the first two minutes of the game, the Hokies were up 10-0 and Kam Chancellor had his hands on a 2nd interception that could have changed the entire complexion of the game and he dropped it. Had he picked it and kept his balance he would have scored and up 17-0 that quickly, I think we'd be looking at a different result in the outcome of the game. But he didn't. And the momentum that BC was able to gain from that drop, combined with 3 offsides penalties on one drive on the defense (I can't remember ever seeing that before) took the Eagles to the end zone and brought them to within 10-7. 

At various times in the first half Stephan Virgil was beaten like a rented mule by some awfully slow BC receivers. The read option running play was mixed in to good effect and the defense was left scratching their heads while BC built up a 21-10 lead. However, the momentum in the game took a series of gigantic swings in the final two minutes of the first half. First of all, great pressure by Hokie defensive end Jason Worilds forced Eagles QB Chris Crane into a bad pass and Macho Harris picked the ball off and returned it for a score. With the lead cut to 21-17 and the Hokies forcing BC into 3rd and 11 with time running out on the half, the defense seemed to have survived the onslaught. As we mentioned in 3 Key Plays, Macho suffered a mental breakdown and let Brandon Robinson get behind him for a huge gain. The Eagles converted and took a 28-17 lead into the half along with all of the momentum. And if you were on defense, you know the ass-kicking was going to begin. 

Begin it did. Bud Foster spoke with great intensity to his players at halftime and they made some phenomenal adjustments. The results speak for themselves. In the 2nd half, BC had zero points (including a blocked FG), 55 total yards of offense and lost two more turnovers to a possessed Hokie defense. BC intercepted a pass and forced Tech into a 9 yard punt and the Hokie defense didn't let them get ANYTHING. Anyone who wants to see great coaching adjustments in action just needs to watch the two halves of this game when BC is on offense. That being said, Foster and his defensive staff should have had his players prepared better in the first half and the mental breakdowns were completely unacceptable. Let that happen against Florida State and the Seminoles will hang 50 on VT by halftime. 

But the defense was stellar compared to the vaunted Hokie special teams. Brent Bowden continued to punt extremely well, but his support team is playing, well, terribly. A wide snap resulted in a partially blocked punt in the 2nd half and when VT was trapped DEEP in its own end in the first half, Bowden responded with a 50 yard boomer, only to have a sudden attack of gravity strike the punt coverage team as they allowed Rich Gunnell to house the return and put BC up 14-10. Yes, VT blocked a FG of their own and Dustin Keys made 3 FG's but he missed a 44 yarder and frankly that punt team outweighs any good things happening anywhere else on special teams. It is nothing short of a pants-down EMBARRASSMENT to Coach Beamer that the special teams on the punt unit (again aside from Bowden for the most part) have been this bad this season. However, he probably is having to spend too much time at practice watching what the hell the offense is doing instead of focusing on special teams. And that brings me to.......

The offense. Abysmal. Tragic. Extinct. These are all adjectives that fall short of describing just how bad the offense is right now. There were times watching the game footage that I would rewind it and watch a play over and over. Folks, there were Hokies just FALLING DOWN all over the place. Blake DeChristopher, Chris Drager, Darren Evans, Sergio Render, Greg Boone, I mean these guys looked like a vaudeville act out there for God's sake. Either the BC equipment people sabotaged the cleats on the Hokies' footwear as in like, removed them, or (more likely) guys just don't know where to run or how to maintain leverage. 

I will freely admit that the Hokies' run game was not just hand it off up the middle into the heart of the BC defense. They tried several off tackle plays and even one option play, along with a variety of other outside runs. But, and give BC credit here, they read the plays and outmuscled the receivers on the edge. Their linebackers were as good as advertised. That being said, developing a running game is about execution. Everyone needs to be where they are supposed to be and block who they are supposed to block and they are SUPPOSED TO BE STANDING UPRIGHT ON TWO FEET IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO DO IT. They looked like stumbling clowns and that is a symptom of not knowing exactly what to do and being comfortable doing it. Who is responsible for that?

Let's try a different area - the pass game. Let me dismiss this whole "hitch" thing in Taylor's throwing motion right now. Forget about it. He can throw the ball accurately with it in there, which means he's fine for the rest of the season and it can easily be remedied in the offseason. Look at a guy like Brett Favre - he has a bit of an odd motion but it's very compact and powerful in his normal throwing motion. When moving around though, he has used sidearm, underarm, and a variety of throwing motions to get the ball there. I foresee that Taylor can develop a very nice throwing motion, but that he will always resort to this natural "hitch" when on the move and that's fine as long as it's accurate. 

The hitch isn't the issue. Right now, it's finding the open guy and being on the same page as the receivers. And then it's stepping into the throw and putting it in a catchable place. Taylor has not advanced in that department and I put that squarely on the shoulders of Coach Mike O'Cain. As far as where the safety valves are (tight ends and running backs in the flat) that is right back on Coach Stinespring. All we heard all pre-season was about these tight ends, and to be quite honest, when they get the ball they have done well. However, getting them the ball has been a zero priority in the gameplan and I can't figure it out. Against BC, Taylor threw a total of 3 passes out of 27 to the tight ends and none were completions. 

I planned on reviewing each offensive series, but it was getting ridiculous. Essentially, the Hokies moved the ball when Taylor made a miracle play with his legs after the play broke down. If that didn't happen the Hokies didn't move the ball. Any other good plays were either dropped by the receiver (including two should have been TD catches) or called back due to penalties. Yes the least penalized team in the ACC coming into the game had 10 penalties for 76 yards to go along with the rest of the ineptitude. 

I have already reviewed the 3rd and 1/4th and 1 fiasco in the 3 Key Plays segment, but let me take a second and point out something that any Stinespring apologists (if there are any left) may want to consider. If the Hokie offense was a top 40-50 offense over the course of the past 7 years and suddenly this year, with all this "youth and inexperience" dropped to 110th, I would be the first person to go on the warpath if I heard any anti-Stinespring talk. Bandwagon fans jump whenever they see things start to head south and I have no patience for that. I think it's obvious, however, that that is NOT the case here.

Consider that last year the Hokies had 5 NFL caliber players on offense (Ore was NFL talent) and had the 100th best offense. We have well documented the ineptitude on offense over the past 7 seasons. Let me be very clear about something - Tyrod Taylor is the ONLY reason the team is 5-2 this year. His ability to make a play when things break down is essentially the offense. That cannot be the gameplan for a program trying to compete for ACC titles and eventually national titles. If I am wrong and Bryan Stinespring knows more about football than any living human, I still say he needs to be demoted or fired, because it just means he is ineffective at communicating that knowledge and getting the execution out of the players and the coaches responsible to him. That is what you need your offensive coordinator to do. I mean honestly, did anyone expect the Hokies, when they got the ball back with over a minute left at their own 29 to go down and win the game? How about against East Carolina? Those are tough odds, but usually you want to think that you at least have a CHANCE in those situations.

It's tough to do that when you realize the following - the Hokies had 23 points against the Eagles. 14 of those were on defensive touchdowns. 3 points were on a FG after the Hokies recovered a fumble on the BC 28. 3 points were after the Hokies fielded a punt at midfield after the defense sacked Chris Crane for a 19 yard loss back to the BC 16 yd line. Essentially the Hokies had one scoring "drive" in the entire game and that was for a FG. Seven games into the season, the Hokies look like they did against every other opponent except for Nebraska. There has been no improvement in the offense for neither the past 7 years nor the past 7 games, and certainly not between the first and second half on Saturday night. It is with great dramatic effect that you can compare the Hokie defense from the first and second halves on Saturday night and see a unit that made all the right adjustments. Meanwhile, the Hokie offense was swimming in the same quicksand on every drive. On Saturday night what was shown is that when the player, who you are counting on to bail you out every time, has an off game, you have no chance of winning. I am willing to table the discussion on where they responsibility for that lies until after the season, because a) you already know what I think and b) it doesn't do any good between now and then. 

In closing, give credit to the Eagles for playing a good game, but what I saw out there was a Hokie defense that knew it played poorly in the first half and gave the offense every chance to win the game in the 2nd half. I saw Hokie special teams that were anything but special. And I saw an offense that looked like a bunch of guys playing hard and having no idea what they were doing. 

So Coach Beamer is right that they all need to stick together because they all have room for improvement and a divided locker room doesn't do the team any good. But they are going to group hug themselves right into the cellar of the ACC conference if the offense doesn't play better over the final 5 games of the season. 

Whew, now I can go burn that game footage (also known as the delete button on TiVo).

EhhTee's Picks (Week 9)

This week we'll look at all the games of the week. There are a lot of them as the elite of the elite match up. Someone's going down and it's not going to be pretty.

#12 Boise State @ San Jose State

For all the WAC marbles... and a shot at the BCS. Broncos keep rolling.

Pick: Broncos 37 - Spartans 21

Game of the Week (Tie)
#6 Oklahoma State @ #1 Texas

With MFC hopes on the line Texas holds off yet another high powered Big Twelve offense.

Pick: Cowboys 35 - Longhorns 45

Game of the Week (Tie)
#3 Penn State @ #9 Ohio State

Joe Paterno is leading his team to glory. Could this be the year he goes out on top?

Pick: Nitanny Lions 27 - Poisonous Nuts 21

Game of the Week (Tie)
#7 Georgia @ #13 LSU

The Bulldogs looked good in their victory over the Commodores. But with my luck as its been I said I'd never bet against a Tiger. This time I feel confident that I'd be right in not doing so. LSU at home.

Pick: Bulldogs 14 - Tigers 35

#8 Texas Tech @ #23 Kansas

The Red Raiders are looking good. At 7-0, they haven't look this good in decades. However, one must look and see who've they've beaten and one can't find a good team among them. TT will face its first real test in Kansas.

Pick: Red Raiders 23 - Jayhawks 17

Virginia @ #18 Georgia Tech

Virginia is coming off an emotional victory. As one Cavalier described it, it was the best game she's seen out of them ever. Strange then, how it took overtime for them to win! ;-) Does Al Groh get another one on the road? Or do the Yellow Jackets continue on their quest for the Coastal title?

Pick: Boohoos 17 - Yellow Jackets 14

Boston College @ North Carolina

BC had a tremendous gift on Saturday. Giving up five turn overs, two of which directly to two touchdowns, the Eagles were lucky Stinespring sucks so bad.

Pick: Golden Eagles 10 - Butch Davis 62

Frank Beamer Hopes for Second Victory Over Florida State

Hitch? Wasn't that a movie staring Will Smith? This weeks big topic -- a corollary to the zero points scoring offense in Chestnut Hill -- is Tyrod Taylor's throwing motion; something Frank Beamer, regrettably, called a "hitch". This is something that Quarterbacks Coach Mike O'Cain described as "really not a hitch. It's just a little thing... He's been doing it, and it takes time." The question becomes, can he correct, or at least adjust, in time for Saturday's game against the Seminoles?

This Saturday, the Hokies travel down to Tallahassee to complete the back end of the home-home match up that won't happen again until 2012. Last year, the Seminoles came to town and would eventually take on the leadership of quarterback Christian Ponder. Ponder, then a redshirt freshman, took over for Drew Weatherford who was knocked out of the game in the second quarter by Brandon Flowers. Ponder, a third stringer then, had never taken a collegiate snap. He played well as he added an element of mobility that the Hokies defense has had consistent problems defending. However, the Hokies defense prevailed and the Hokies won 40-21.

This year, Ponder is bigger, stronger, and more experienced. He's led the Seminoles to a 5-1 start with their only loss coming against Wake Forest. Wake, as with much of the ACC, has looked like a powerhouse some weeks, and a division 1AA team on others most notably last week when they got shutout by another team with that same characteristic, the Maryland Terrapins. Furrer4heisman at Gobbler Country interviewed FSUncensored of Tomahawk Nation. FSUncesored stated, "Ponder has grown primarily because he's had actual game experience. He's learning to trust his pre-snap reads, and that's a big part of Jimbo's offense."

They later go on to talk about inconsistent play of the offensive line and the team in general. Ponder's mobility will obviously plague the Hokies. Of late, the Hokies have been over-pursuing in the backfield and under-covering in the secondary. It's a combination that spells trouble on plays that look like tackles for losses but end up large gains for the opposing offenses. Add to the mix a mobile quarterback and we could be in for a long afternoon. [Keys to a Hokie Victory] Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster needs to get it into the boys' heads that they need to stay at home and stay on their assignments. Doing so will limit Ponder's big play ability.

Last year, Tyrod Taylor surprised the Seminoles and he was able to have a career day. Taylor came in to replace an injured Sean Glennon so the Seminoles didn't know what to expect. The second quarter scramble, now infamous in the state of Florida, was on the highlight reel all week. The 38-yard scramble on what looked like an impossible third and thirty-one (not exaggerating) kept the Hokies drive alive which would lead to a touchdown. Florida State is more than familiar with Virginia Tech lightning quick quarterbacks. In 1999, Michael Vick was able to dazzle Seminole fans. Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews reflected, "He [Taylor] is one of the most talented scramblers that we've faced since we've been here... And we've played against some good ones."

This year, they'll be ready. Taylor, and his "hitch", will not have the luxury of surprise. Expect a spy, perhaps of the likes of LB Derek Nicholson who leads the teams in tackles. Also expect a lot of blitzing. Other than Danny Coales and Dyrell Roberts, the Hokies receive corp. has been rather ordinary. That said Coales and Roberts haven't been exceptional either. The trouble could be in any number of factors including poor coaching, inexperience, etc. The bottom line is that Florida State will not be too worried about them and will go man coverage to attack Taylor. [Keys to a Hokie Victory] Again, the Hokies will need to play assignment football and pick up the blitz. Taylor will need to be able to throw the ball or we're again in for a long afternoon.

Game time: 3:30 EDT
Weather: 74° F - Sunny
TV: ABC regional

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

3 Key Plays - VT vs. BC

1) The Hokies having just gone up 10-0 at the very beginning of the game have BC pinned in their own end. BC has the ball 1st and 10 on their own 27 and Eagles QB Chris Crane throws a short pass over the middle which Hokie safety Kam Chancellor times perfectly. Chancellor gets his hands on the ball and if he hangs on, the Hokies have a chance to change the entire face of the game and go up 3 scores, effectively making BC one-dimensional (which almost always leads to BeamerBall-type plays). At the very last second, as he turns to run with the ball, Chancellor loses his grip on the ball along with the game-changing momentum it would have created. BC goes on to score a TD on that drive and turned the entire first half back to their favor. Huge play.

2) Macho Harris had just returned a pick for a TD, bringing the Hokies to within 21-17 and 1:30 left in the first half. The Eagles are facing 3rd and 11 at their own 28 yard line and VT is about to head into halftime with all the momentum. Somehow, some way, in some impossible universe, Macho lets Eagles WR Brandon Robinson get behind him and Crane hits him on the run with an excellent deep ball for a 48 yard gain and the Eagles go on to score a TD to make it 28-17 and completely recapture the momentum. What Macho was thinking there on a deep cover 3 (where his only responsibility is to keep everyone on his third of the field in front of him) I couldn't tell you but it was insanely costly.

3) This is really the first time where a Key Play was actually TWO plays together. Obviously this was the 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 sequence at the very beginning of the 4th quarter. I'll use the "M" word again and say that the momentum had just swung hard back to VT as they recovered a BC fumble on the BC 39 yd line trailing 28-20. 3rd and 1 from the BC 30 yd line and at this point, if you are the offensive coordinator, you know you have two plays to get the 1 yard. You should have already made the decision IF the Hokies don't convert here, you are going for it on 4th down and 1. I have no problem with a run from Hokie RB Darren Evans on either down. He is a big back and yes the entire stadium knows he is getting the ball, but giving it to him on either 3rd or 4th down isn't a bad idea because he is good. What murders my soul is that we didn't try anything else (either we didn't have a good play prepared during the week, or what, I couldn't tell you) on either of the other downs. A QB sneak, a play action fake roll-out which would have been the most wide open play in the history of football, considering how much BC expected a run, any other type of play on just ONE of the downs, would have led to a conversion. I don't ask for Boise State levels of creativity on offense, but in bigtime college football, the notion of just lining up and running it with your RB, twice in a row trying to gain 1 yard when the entire defense, which has spent the entire week studying your short yardage running game (and knows it from years past as well), puts everyone up on the line, man coverage on your outside guy, and jumps the running play, is just crazy. It flat out isn't acceptable, UNLESS, of course, if you take it upon yourself to call those runs consecutively like that and you have prepared the team to the level that they out-execute the opponent and you convert anyway. That would be fine, but that isn't what happened. What happened was guys falling down and poor execution AND zero creativity. That two play sequence was a microcosm of the offense the entire game, and frankly, the entire season.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

EhhTee's Picks Results (Week 8)

It's getting so bad, I can't remember if I should go with my gut instinct, or not. The Kansas-Oklahoma game I sat going back and forth several times. I left my original pick up just to reflect the agony! Now, I've fallen below five hundred. At 20-21, I think I need to go back to the drawing board. Maybe, I'll start picking Div 1AA games!

Hawai'i 17 Hawai'i 7 1-0 18-17
Boise State 31 Boise State 27
Boise's smelling BCS
Missouri 29 Missouri 31 2-0 19-17
Texas 51 Texas 56
I think that I got the score so close it makes up for my general suckiness.
Kansas 27 Kansas 31 2-1 19-18
Oklahoma 24 Oklahoma 45
Yeah. Yeah. I had it right the first time. Or was it the second? Arggh!
Vanderbilt 24 Vanderbilt 14 2-2 19-19
Georgia 21 Georgia 24
Go with your gut! Wait no. Wait yes!
North Carolina 42 North Carolina 13 2-3 19-20
Virginia 10 Virginia 16
What's going on here? ACC: every team will be 6-6 at the end of the season!
Wake Forest 13 Wake Forest 0 3-3 20-20
Maryland 14 Maryland 26
Ouch. This was utter domination
Pittsburgh 24 Pittsburgh 42 3-4 20-21
Navy 35 Navy 21
I dunno anymore.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Game Review - VT vs. BC

The Hokies offense is an embarrassment. The program would be better served if Bryan Stinespring was coaching the Blacksburg Middle School football team this week instead of being offensive coordinator for Tech. Put Elmo from Sesame Street in as offensive coordinator right now and it would be an improvement. I'm sick of it. Hokie Nation is sick of it. The offense is an anchor keeping this program from reaching its full potential and it's been that way now for several years. ACC Championships have come in SPITE of the pathetic offense. We'll probably lose Bud Foster because of it, too, as who wants to keep coaching your ass off on defense when you have to carry the entire team every week.

This isn't the full review, and I will post a more in-depth breakdown when I have a chance to watch the game footage, but for right now this is all I can stomach.


Friday, October 17, 2008

EhhTee's Picks (Week 8)

Okay let's do this right this week. Batting five hundred for the year sucks. The last two weeks

Hawai'i @ #15 Boise State

The Warriors aren't as fierce as they have been in the past. Quarterbakc Inoke Funaki hasn't had the spark that Colt Brenna was able to give them. Boise State looks poised to rumble through the WAC once again. Can the Broncos keep their BCS hopes alive on the blue turf this weekend?

Pick: Warriors 17 - Broncos 31.

Game of the Week
#11 Misouri @ #1 Texas

Missouri's coming off a tough loss to the OKST Cowboys. Texas is coming off the Red River Shootout (literally) as the game end up with 80 points on the board. This games at home for the longhorns. Although I would have put Missouri's offense at the top of the division (heck they could probably crush the Oakland Raiders), I going to have to say their devense will not be able to stop Colt McCoy.

Pick: Tigers 29 - Longhorns 51.

Upset Special #1
#16 Kansas @ #4 Oklahoma

Can anyone contest that the Big Twelve is the best conference in college football right now? They have four teams in the top 10 and six teams in the top 16. Kansas will have a mighty task ahead of them as they go into a disappointed Sooners environment. The Sooners shouldn't be too down on themselves. At number 4 only half way through the season, their MFC hopes are still alive. Although my gut tells me to pick a thirsty Jayhawks over a wounded Sooners, I can't see OU offence not rolling over Kansas. I'm gonna hate myself for this...

Pick : Jayhawks 17 - Sooners 30Jayhawks 27 - Sooners 24.

Upset Special #2 (Not really)
#22 Vanderbilt @ #10 Georgia

I hate yo jump on the bandwagon of upsets, and I really don't think it will be an upset, but I'm going to say that Vanderbilt rolls into Georgia and leaves with a victory. Its my gut that put me over the top before, and now I find myself second and third guessing myself and now I myself with only two right last week. No more, I'm listening to my gut here.

Pick: Commodores 24 - Bulldogs 21.

#18 North Carolina @ Virginia

Virginia has resurged after losing to Duke. They shutout Maryland and dominated ECU. Butch Davis continues to prove he's a football god. North Carolina will utterly dominate this game.

Pick: Tarheels 42 - Boohoos 10.

Upset Special #3
#21 Wake Forest @ Maryland

Maryland's been two different teams this year. On the one hand they beat Cal surprising everyone after losing to Middle Tennessee State. Then they beat Clemson as the Tigers spiraled into mediocrity. Wake on the other hand has been strong all season... except for a loss to Navy. Maryland fans are tough and this one goes down to the wire.

Pick: Demon Deacons 13 - Terrapins 14.

#23 Pittsburgh @ Navy

Navy's got some good wins under their belt. The aforementioned victory over Wake Forest and at Air Force. Their losses are to teams that are proving to be relatively decent teams (Duke and Ball State). Navy's at home in Annapolis and may, neigh, will pull off another one.

Pick: Panthers 24 - Midshipmen 35.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Game Preview vs. Boston College

Coming off their win against North Carolina State, Boston College hosts Virginia Tech this Saturday in a contests that pits two one-loss teams against each other. Fans on both sides have some bitter memories left over from last year when a Hokie squad fell apart in the last minutes of a regular season game allowing for a Boston College comeback to preserve their #2 ranking. Also in that mix, Boston College fans remember the payback of which Virgina Tech dreamed and towards which they worked the remainder of the season. That payback of course came in the form of a Hokie ACC title victory against the Eagles. Both teams find themselves in the midst of a rebuilding season, and as a result one wouldn't be too far off the reservation to say the squads match up against each other rather evenly.

So just what do the Hokies face on Saturday night? Filling the very large shoes of last year's Eagle quarterback, Matt Ryan, Chris Crane takes the helm for the offense. Standing at 6'4", the quarterback has passed for 889 yards so far this season. The 5th year Senior hasn't exactly displayed consistency throughout the season, however. Nearly half of his passing yards on the season came against last week's contest against the Wolfpack. Boston College head coach Jeff Jaogodzinski has stated, "If we get that Chris Crane, I think we have a heck of a chance [the rest of the season]"[1] in reference to his play against North Carolina State. Chris Crane looks to wide receivers Rich Gunnel and Branden Robinson. Combined, they have received for 390 yards. You'll notice that the 390 yards doesn't even represent half of the total 889 yards for which Crane has thrown this season. That indicates some depth in the Boston College receiver core. On the Ground, the Boston College offense turns to Montel Harris. Only a Freshman, he stands 5-10 at 192 lbs. He's run for three touchdown and for 313 yards. If he's got the starting job with these numbers, you can be sure about two things: 2008 is a rebuilding year for the Eagles and this player can really run the ball. Sharing the ball carrying duties with slightly more than half the rushing yards of his counterpart, 5'9", 198 lbs. Jeff Smith has run for 289 yards and for 2 touchdowns on the season so far.

Considering what the Eagles have in their offense, I think we will see their early game lean more towards passing than rushing. Since quarterback Chris Cane comes fresh off his best passing performance to date, it makes most sense for their offensive coordinator to take that road out of the gate. If that works for them through the first half, they'll probably stick with it, only calling run plays occasionally. If the passing game doesn't succeed to too great an extent, anybody can probably guess that they'll revert to a running game. Thinking about all of my above stated thought, I begin to worry because from the games I've watched this season, the Hokie rushing defense has outperformed the squad's passing defense. If the successful passer Chris Cane shows up to play, Virginia Tech's Macho Harris will need to play to the top of his game.

Moving on to the Boston College defense, they rank second in the ACC in points allowed per game, second in pass defense, and second in rushing defense. The Hokie offense, as the TSF staff has much discussed this season, probably earns a meager C, maybe a C-; that may even be a little too generous. If this game turns into a high scoring contents, I have some real reservations about whether the Hokie offense can keep up with such a scoring pace. Like so many other games, so much rests on defensive coordinator Bud Foster and his squad.

So what does the Hokie offense need to do against the Eagle defense? This presents a tough question to answer when the statistics and the numbers indicate Boston College to have a well rounded squad on the other side of the ball. In light of the injury sustained by running back Kenny Lewis, Jr., Virginia Tech turns to Darren Evans and Josh Oglesby for the ball carrying. Kenny Lewis, Jr had the number one spot for good reason, but Oglesby and Evans both have the capability to fill the role. Really, Evans has already done that to a great extent. The Hokies haven't had terribly great success at the passing game. The successes on offense close to evenly divide between tailback running plays and quarterback scrambles by Tyrod Taylor. Folks, it might be ugly, but it probably has the makings of the Hokie's best shot to penetrate the Eagle defense. I've called for the development of the long passing game, and with exception to a few well execute pass plays to tight ends, we really haven't witnessed a well established, consistent passing game, and unfortunately, a contest against Boston College doesn't present the best of opportunities to try new things. Looking at the big picture, I still think our boys have a good shot. Despite the one-loss season for the Hokies, our squad knows they've received some gifts (at least they should know) in prior games this season in the form of irresponsible penalties committed by opponents and questionable referee calls late in the game. Despite head coach Frank Beamer's tap dance in the locker room, I have to imagine the coaching staff knows this and wants to improve upon it. Let's hope the dissatisfaction with last year's regular season loss to Boston College still looms in the minds of Hokie players and coaches so as to serve as a motivator for this season's contest.

Let's go Hokies!

Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008
Kickoff: 8 PM
Alumni Stadium (44,500)
Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Series vs. BC: VT leads, 10-5
Virginia Tech HOKIES 4-1, 2-0
Boston College EAGLES 4-1, 1-1

[1] USA Today:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Quick Triggers All Around

MadJay mentioned earlier this week the firing of Auburn's OC Tony Franklin as we discussed several articles regarding the situation at Tech.

On Monday, Clemson fired Tommy Bowden as the once touted best team in the ACC has fallen to nearly the bottom of the Atlantic Division. It seems odd as they had just recently given him a contract extension.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

EhhTee's Picks Results (Week 7)

Okay, I'm a clean 17-17 for the season. This is terrible. I've thrown out my magic eight ball. I'm going to tarot cards. I've learned never to bet on a Tiger team to win.

Clemson 17
Clemson 7
1-0 16-12
Wake Forest 27
Wake Forest 12
Wake looks tough. Glad we don't have them in the regular season.
Texas 31
Texas 45
1-1 16-13
Oklahoma 42
Oklahoma 35
Red River Shootout indeed. How many lead changes can a woodchuck chuck?
OK State 24
OK State 28
1-2 16-14
Missouri 31
Missouri 23
This surprised me the most.
LSU 35
LSU 21
1-3 16-15
Florida 27
Florida 51
Whoa Nelly! Florida stomped on the Tigers.
Penn State 42
Penn State 48
2-3 17-15
Wisconsin 13
Wisconsin 7
My one that I really got right. I was off on the score bad for the Thursday game.
UNC 10
UNC 2429
2-4 17-16
Notre Lame 21
Notre Lame 2924
Happy to be wrong here.
ECU 35
ECU 20
2-5 17-17
Virginia 3
Virginia 35
What's going on? ECU tanking? UVA winning? What's next Vandy national champs?

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Some of you may have noticed that Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville removed Tony Franklin as offensive coordinator 6 games into the season. Auburn has the 104th rated offense despite having played Tennessee, #19 Vanderbilt and #6 LSU and is 4-2 on the season. The Hokies have the 108th rated offense, have played no other ranked teams and sport a 5-1 record. 

Of interest, Auburn's SCORING offense is also rated 104th, whereas Virginia Tech's is rated 73rd. As discussed ad nauseum in a previous post, this has been a fact over the past 5 years. The Hokie defense and special teams help elevate the scoring offense FAR BEYOND where the offense would get on its own. I think Coach Foster has inadvertenly saved Stinespring's job several times over the years, by putting points on the board, getting turnovers deep in the opponent's end and helping carry the team to its excellent record. 

Even if the scoring offense was as bad as the total offense, would Coach Beamer be able to make the tough decision that Coach Tuberville did? Well, he doesn't have to. While TSF would obviously be ecstatic if Stinespring was replaced in the next 3 minutes, I think Hokie Nation would be fine if Coach Beamer just made the move at the end of this season. By any reasonable analysis, when looking at the offense by itself (instead of throwing in scoring offense and wins/losses which are functions of the entire team) a change in leadership is needed there. Just look at what happened when similar numbers were posted at Auburn.

EhhTee's Picks (Week 7)

Last week kinda hurt so I'm gonna shake the magic eight ball a little harder today. The Hokies are off this week but Separation Saturday is upon us.

Clemson @ #21 Wake Forest

Tonight's game is a big game for the ACC. The winner emerges as the clear favorite in the Atlantic Division. Preseason favorite Clemson has struggled to hold up to the hype. Wake Forest has emerged as the favorite.

Pick: Tigers 17 - Demon Deacons 27

Game of the Week
#5 Texas @ #1 Oklahoma

The Red River Shootout. Can you say GameDay? Oklahoma looks pretty sick. Normally I'd interject my "Hook 'Em Horns!" here but I just don't see it.

Pick: Bevo 31 - Sooners 42

#17 Oklahoma State @ #3 Missouri

Man the Big Twelve looks good. Missouri and Oklahoma look poised to march on down and meet as potentially #1 and #2 in the Big Twelve Championship.

Pick : Cowboys 24 - Tigers 31

#4 LSU @ #11 Florida

LSU looks just to damn good. Florida has had its moments but LSU rolls.

Pick: Tigers 35 - Gators 27

#6 Penn State @ Wisconsin

Wisconsin's coming off a pretty big loss to OSU. They've lost to Michigan and I don't know if they can take another big loss. Do they rise up a-la Tech v. Miami in 2003 or fizzle away.

Pick: Nittanny Lions 42 - Badgers 13

Upset Special
#22 North Carolina @ Notre Lame

I hate to say it, but I see this one going down wrong.

Pick: Tarheels 10 - Irish 21

East Carolina @ Virginia

Does ECU have the might to return to its early season victories? Does Virginia ride the wave after its victory over Maryland?

Pick: Rrrrrrr 35 - Bohoos 3

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Hokies Leave Questions Unanswered in Victory

I have to admit I’ve struggled with writing this review. Tech went up early and pretty much held the lead the entire game. There was not an ounce of doubt that the Hokies would beat the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, whose recent admission to Division 1-A hasn’t been going all that well. And yet, the questions that remain after the Hokies 27-13 victory Saturday afternoon outnumber the questions answered.

The Hokies began well. After the kickoff, despite a penalty by Kam Chancellor, the Hokies defense held the Hilltoppers to a three and out which led to a terrible punt by the Hilltoppers. The Hokies had the ball in good field position and started out moving the ball well. Kenny Lewis Jr. began the first drive with a pair of good looking runs. Darren Evans had some good runs as well. Tyrod Taylor, however, still looked shaky. It’s hard to tell from the television coverage, but one of three things is happening. We’ll get into those three things later. Taylor had a completion and a good looking scramble. He also was sacked. The drive stalled and the Hokies sent in Dustin “Clutch” Keys for a twenty-seven yarder. The Hokies went up three.

The Hokies defense would continue to hold the Hilltoppers well. WKU would not have a first down in the entire first quarter and looked like they would have to punt as the quarter ended as they failed to convert third and nine. They lined up for the punt to start the second quarter but faked it and ran all the way down to the Hokie nineteen-yard line. If not for a block in the back, the Hilltoppers were in the red zone with a chance to score a touchdown. The Hilltoppers would not be able to convert for another first and would settle for three.

On the previous drive, the Hokies had their best looking series of the game. Taylor converted on five of five passes including Josh Oglesby’s first reception of his career, two to Victor “Macho” Harris, one to Chris Drager, and the big strike for a twenty-seven-yard pass for a touchdown to Greg Boone. Oglesby also had three carries for good yardage each. Oglesby looked really good. He had good vision and will be a force in the coming years. Taylor looked comfortable in the pocket and only had to scramble on one play to make the completion. The big story about this drive was the positive yardage completions. All three words – positive, yardage, and completion – were important in that sentence.

The drive following the WKU field goal was, by comparison, horrid. Taylor was flushed out of the pocket on several occasions. When Taylor took off he was able to pick up yardage on a few plays. When he tried to get the pass off he would not have anyone open. He was sacked once and fumbled twice. The second would give the Hilltoppers the ball on their own eleven-yard line. The only things moving the drive forward were the penalties by the Hilltoppers. It was an ugly but moving drive that was eventually thwarted by the fumble.

Later, the Hokies would score on a good drive led by the rush of Evans. It was the Darren Evans show as he was handed the ball seven of the nine plays in the drive. The Hokies scored and went up 17-3 with a little under two minutes to play in the half.

The Hilltoppers would only gain one more first down the rest of the half. Quarterback David Wolke threw a key interception to Victor Harris with 0:25 to go in the half. Harris took the ball forty-nine yards and was knocked out at the five-yard line. Unfortunately, the Hokies would only get three on the play. The score was 20-3 at the half.

Taylor opened the second half with what looked like renewed confidence. He hit a twenty-eight-yard pass to Danny Coale and a seventeen-yard pass to Andre Smith. The rest of the yardage came on the ground as the Evans, Lewis, and Taylor led the Hokies to another touchdown.

After another three and out by WKU, the Hokies next drive stalled and ended in a Brent Bowden punt. Starting at their twenty, the Hilltoppers were able to drive on the ground with ease. The Hokies did have their second sting line in at this point, but it still should have been able to stop the run. It wasn’t until it was first and goal did Coach Foster swap back in the first string line. The line held and the Hilltoppers would settle for another field goal.

With the third quarter coming to a close and the Hilltoppers still down three scores, WKU was able to recover an on-side kick. Again the Hokies were able to stuff the Hilltoppers for a fourth and three. The Hilltoppers still down went for it and converted for nineteen yards. Again the Hokies would struggle to contain the run and the Hilltoppers would score easily on the drive. This time the difference was the Hokies had their starters in.

With the score now in hand, Sean Glennon came in to take the remaining snaps. He was immediately sacked twice. In fact, in three possessions under Glennon, he was sacked four times. Glennon, obviously not as mobile as Taylor, was not able to avoid the rush. The game would end with the score 27-13, but that’s not the story.

It brings me to the three things I alluded to earlier. Some combination of the following is happening such that the Hokies have a passing offence ranking of 114th. (That’s fifth from worst.)

The first possibility is that the receivers are not getting open. This could be attributed to a multitude of things: they’re running the routes incorrectly, they’re running the routes correctly, but don’t adjust to the coverage, or they don’t recognize when the quarterback is in trouble and don’t come back to him. At this point in the season, as MadJay mentioned, one cannot still attribute this to lack of experience. They have six games under their starting belt and should know how to work a defense better by now.

The second possibility is that Taylor (and Glennon for that matter) does not have confidence in the receivers and therefore check off a receiver they normally would not.

Another possibility is that Taylor does not have confidence in himself, or more importantly his arm, and checks off when there is a potential play there.

Whichever it is, coming off the bye, the Hokies will begin facing teams where getting by on the rush alone will not produce the results to continue the winning ways.

EhhTee's Picks Results (Week 6)

Pitt 13
Pitt 26
0-1 12-9
USF 38
USF 21
Ouch. The Big East does suck.
Mizzou 41
Mizzou 52
0-2 12-10
Neb 44
Neb 17
Mizzou finally wins one in Lincoln
Oregon 10
Oregon 10
1-2 13-10
USC 47
USC 44
Do I get extra points for being nearly dead on.
Auburn 24
Auburn 13
1-3 13-11
Vandy 1
Vandy 14
Vandy. Vandy. Vandy.
OSU 21
OSU 20
1-4 13-12
Wisc 33
Wisc 17
Mmph! Next time I should leave emotions at home.
UConn 3
UConn 12
2-4 14-12
UNC 28
UNC 38
Butch Davis for President
Duke 14
Duke 0
3-4 15-12
GT 27
GT 27
Welcome back to reality Dukies.