|EhhTee's Picks (Week 5 Results)|
|How 'bout 'em Terps.|
|Butch Davis is a force|
|Oh. A safety and a fieldgoal off… Where's Auburn when I need them?|
|Will the real Florida State please stand up?|
|So Wake got woken up.|
|USF may be the flag bearer of the Big East.|
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
For the only the second time since 2001 (the other time was at Miami in 2006), the Virginia Tech offense rose up at the end of a football contest and put the game on their shoulders to win, finishing off the Nebraska Cornhuskers 35-30 in the hallowed ground of Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.
To be honest, the offense executed better than it had the entire season in the toughest environment (Nebraska had only lost 3 home games at night in its storied history) and against the toughest team yet. In fact, it was the defense and special teams that broke down at critical junctures in the game and kept Nebraska in it until the very end, putting on display just how much youth this Hokie team has on the field.
On the Hokies first series, the offense's youth was more than evident. Tyrod Taylor read a busted coverage and threw a ball to Dyrell Roberts that should have been a TD down the far sideline. Taylor unfortunately led Roberts to the outside instead of to the inside for the score. It was still a catchable ball and Roberts got lazy with his footwork and didn't bring the ball down in bounds. It should have been a big play and both young players didn't execute. Fortunately Brent Bowden did execute (other than one critical shank near the end of the game, his punting was outstanding the entire night and kept Nebraska pinned deep in their own end) and he put the Huskers on their 6-yd line. The Hokies defense made their traditional huge stop early in the game, to keep the home crowd from getting going, and Nebraska had to punt after a 3 and out (the Hokie D produced five 3-and-outs during the night which is fantastic). And then Stephan Virgil busted through and blocked the ensuing punt out of the end zone for a safety and the game's first score, to make it 2-0.
That was big, but the Hokies couldn't move the ball on offense after the free kick and had to punt it again. However "Sunshine" Bowden pinned the Huskers on their 11 and then Macho Harris made a veteran play, grabbing a pick off of Husker QB Joe Ganz after disguising his coverage. The Hokies' Darren Evans punched it in, the Hokies went up 9-0 and things were looking great,
Unfortunately, the Huskers began throwing deep passes down the middle, which is where VT has been so vulnerable this year, and marched right back down the field to score on a broken play. I originally was furious at Kam Chancellor for blowing his assignment, but in rewatching the footage, it was actually another Nebraska tight end who fell down right in the path where Chancellor was running to cover his man. Chancellor was tripped up by the fallen player and his guy got free for the easy score. Chancellor has done a nice job getting the Hokies in the correct alignment most of the season, but his individual play in the pass game has been sorely lacking thus far. He's been good in run support (minus the ECU game) but he needs to make better plays out in space against passing teams as the season marches on.
As was on display the entire game, these young Hokies managed the crowd and the game by bouncing right back. All good teams answer a score with a score and the Hokies did just that, led by a magical play from the Wizard himself. Taylor escaped the Nebraska rush and hit TE Andre Smith deep down the field to give the Hokies first and goal. Unfortunately Taylor followed that up by missing a wide open Greg Boone in the end zone by about two feet and the Hokies had to settle for the FG.
I noticed, between the Roberts throw on the first series and the missed throw to Boone that Taylor just seems to be trying to make the throw too "pretty". He appears to try a little too hard on a few of his throws instead of just delivering the ball. I'd like to see Coach O'Cain work with him on getting more comfortable or "natural" with some of these throws instead of overthinking it. He obviously has the accuracy and arm strength so it's up to Coach O'Cain to get him comfortable more often.
Anyway, the Huskers and Hokies exchanged a few more FG's and the Hokies ended the half up 18-10. Talking about youth, Hokie kickoff man Justin Myer is a true freshman who has the leg to boot the ball out of the end zone, but for some reason, his kicks were short all night and that wasn't helping the field position battle throughout the night. Fortunately, the third quarter saw the Hokies extend the game to 28-10 behind some great run blocking and some big-time stops on the Nebraska run game. However, in that 28-10 score there were some hidden problems that pointed to this game not being over like it should have been.
First, the Hokies were awful in the red zone, having to settle for four straight FG's, although Dustin Keys did deliver on all four in a big way. Again, just like the UNC game last week, Keys was just flat-out clutch on his kicks, in front of the biggest hostile crowd he'd ever seen. But the offense should have punched a few more of those in for TD's. Also the defense was showing more signs of being weak down the middle in the passing game (Brett Warren, you have got to start getting depth in your drops on the passing game and read the QB better) and that was exploited over and over again in the fourth quarter, while the Huskers mounted their comeback. There was a disturbing lack of focus once VT was up 28-10 on defense and special teams and following the fourth longest punt return in Nebraska history, which saw an embarrassing tackling effort from at least three Hokies (Cris Hill, Cody Grimm and Greg Boone) the Huskers brought it back to 28-23 with 7:52 left in the game.
All the ingredients for a melt down were there - hostile crowd, momentum shifting to the home team, seeing an 18 point lead drop to 5 points and the offense had been stagnant for two straight drives. In stepped Tyrod Taylor who made a huge 15-yd scramble on 2nd down deep in Hokie territory and an even bigger throw on 3rd down later in the drive. Then Nebraska melted down by hitting Taylor after he ran out of bounds on a 3rd down play and new head coach Bo Pelini made it even worse by overdoing his argument with the ref. The two personal fouls added up to Hokie ball on the 11 and two incredibly tough runs by Darren Evans later, the Hokies faced third and one from the 1 1/2-yd line. Taylor muscled the ball in on a QB sneak and the Hokies led 35-23. That is what I meant at the beginning when I said the offense put the team on its back and carried them to victory at the end of a game and it's been all too rare. I can give some of that credit to Coach Stinespring. Although the playcalling was far from imaginative the entire game, the execution was better. But I still firmly believe that Taylor is pulling rabbits out of the hat with his poise and athletic ability and that's far more responsible for the offensive success than Stiney. That being said, 35 points is 35 points and I'll take it.
Unfortunately the defense did not ice the game and the Huskers flew down the field to make it 35-30 and the Hokies had to have a big onside kick recovery from Greg Boone (who also had a very nice game) to finally put the game out of reach.
Overall the Hokie offensive line run blocked and pass blocked the best it had to date this season. Sergio Render was pushed off the ball some by the Huskers' star DT Ndamukong Suh, but overall the line was very solid. The Hokie defensive line was also very potent, at least when the first string line was in. Unfortunately the backup defensive line is a major weakness for the Hokies right now and generated no pressure on Ganz. And the LB's were great in run support, though I still don't understand why Purnell Sturdivant doesn't break down and tackle very well. He seems to go for the kill shot instead of making a good tackle and that's frustrating because he missed QB Joe Ganz twice because of it on big plays. Coach Foster preaches that you tackle with your feet and I saw him on the sidelines on several occasions ready to eat his headset
The receivers grew up a lot tonight. The trio of Dyrell Roberts, Danny Coale and especially Jarrett Boykin made some very bigtime catches and blocked well. The tight end play from Andre Smith and Greg Boone was top notch, and the whole night should have gone a long way towards addressing what I was referring to last week when talking about the lack of confidence in the receivers that Taylor exhibited earlier this season. Keep in mind that Nebraska played a lot of man defense and that requires a lot less of the QB and receiver in terms of having to read the defense. The results speak for themselves, but the receivers are still going to face many more zone and matchup zone defenses later this season, so that area still needs improvement without a doubt.
In the end, Nebraska played a helluva game. They were disciplined in their pass rush on Taylor, and contained him effectively 75% of the game. It's only due to his ability that he was able to still make enough plays to move the offense. Nebraska QB Joe Ganz is a gamer and if they would have turned loose the deep passing game earlier in the game it may have been a different outcome. The Huskers didn't give up when they were down 28-10 and proved that under Coach Pelini they are going to be a force to reckon with by the time next season's game in Blacksburg rolls around. I suspect these young Hokies will be much better by then, as well, and that will make for a game that garners even more national attention next year.
Now it's on to Western Kentucky, although without the services of Rover Davon Morgan who really seemed to be coming on this year. He tore his ACL on a cut on a kickoff return (I really hate any form of artificial turf) and is out for the season. Our condolences go out to him, but now it's time for Dorian Porch to step up and be the man.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
So, on to talk about Nebraska. The Cornhuskers program is a truly historied one. Through the nineties, under the direction of Tom Osbourne (namesake of the athletic complex mentioned above), the Cornhuskers to three national titles in 1994, 1995, and 1997. After 24 years, Osbourne retired after the 1997 season. They went on to play in one more national title game (lost to Miami) in 2001 and since then the Huskers have struggled. In the years since '01, the Huskers had failed to make a bowl game twice and have continued of their plight to regain supremacy.
This year, Osbourne is back. He is now the athletic director and a new spark may be lit under the Nebraska fire. They've opened up the season 3-0. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini was LSU’s defensive coordinator last year. "Pelini is 3-0 this season, but those wins haven’t exactly come against national contenders (sorry, fans of Western Michigan, San Jose State and New Mexico State)." -Darryl Slater
A few notes before I begin to break this down by the individual units and match ups.
Nebraska is coming off a bye week. This gave them the extra time to prepare for the Hokies.
According to Frank Beamer, Tyrod Taylor's ankle is "OK. He’s alright. And I’ll say this: We don’t talk about our quarterbacks, and I’ve asked our quarterbacks not to do interviews here this week, once again.”
On the injury front, Xavier Boyce (Fr WR) is doubtful for the game with pain in his knee. Bruce Taylor (Fr DE) is still out with a left shoulder injury.
The game is a late one at 8:00 PM EDT and will be broadcast regionally on ABC and nationally on ESPN360.com.
Virginia Tech Offense vs. Nebraska Defense
To say that the Hokies have struggled on offense would be an understatement. The Hokies have passed (combining the two quarterbacks) for less than 400 yards in four games. That makes them the 114th best (or 6th worst) passing offense in the country. To put things in perspective, Nebraska QB Joe Ganz (r-Sr QB) passed for more yards in his first game and a half. To make things sting a little more, Temple has a better passing game than the Hokies... by a large margin.
Overall offensively, the Hokies aren't much better. The Hokies have been struggling to move the ball on the ground as well, though not as poorly. The Hokies overall are the seventh worst offense in Division 1A.
Taylor still has no confidence in his receivers, though it seems he's beginning to take a liking to Danny Coales (Fr WR).
The Nebraska defense, also known as the Blackshirts, has been one of the program's most precious attributed. Swarming lineman, sticky secondaries, were Nebraska's bread and butter. However, last year the Blackshirts were terrible in all categories. Last year they gave up more than 30 points on average, including a 76 point schalloping by Kansas. (Yes that Kansas.) With Pelini in from LSU, they've been better but still not quite up to par just yet. Through three games the Huskers have managed a total defense ranked 63rd. Remember that these were against teams of the likes of San Jose State.
Breaking down the line, it appears that the tackles our going to be Tech's biggest worries. These guys, Ndamukong Suh (r-Jr NT) and Ty Steinkuhler (r-Sr DT) [Best name ever] start the Husker 4-3 set. Behind them, at both positions they are stacked. At nose tackle, Suh is backed up by Shukree Barfield (Sr NT) and Terrence Moore (r-Fr NT) who are both studs as well. Jared Crick (r-Fr DT) backs up Steinkuhler. All five see playing time and all five have been in quarterbacks faces. Amongst them they have four sacks to date.
The ends are big. Heck the entire line is big ranging from 265 (Pierre Allen (r-So DE)) to 300 (Suh). Zach Potter was a menace last year with 11 tackles for loss.
Against the run, the Huskers have done well, but have yet to face a solid running team. Tech will be their best opponent in this regard so far this year (and that's not saying much.)
In the secondary, expect a lot man-to-man. Why is this important you ask. Well we've got a scrambler. Taylor is good at scrambling away from the rush, which Nebraska will bring a lot of. In a zone defense, you'll see a spy (maybe two) that will mark the quarterback and chase him down if he runs. In man, you don't usually have that luxury. Your linebackers are covering receivers down field. If Taylor doesn't see an open man, the linebackers won't be watching for him to take off. Before you know it he'll be in the secondary.
Key: If the Hokies can muster any rushing yards, perhaps they can open up some routes that Taylor and his receivers feel comfortable with.
Nebraska Offense vs. Virginia Tech Defense
The Huskers will come at the Hokies evenly from the ground and the air. Ganz has close to 800 yard through the air, but he's also a threat on the ground. Marion Lucky (Sr TB) had a 1000-yards rushing last year and has a good start with 179 yards this year.
Through the air, Ganz has two big senior targets. Todd Peterson (Sr WR) and Nate Swift (r-Sr WR) are tall and will give the Hokie's secondary some work.
The line will be tough to penetrate as these corn-fed 285 to 320 lb boys will make life difficult for the defense. Mike Smith (r-So LT) may be the weakest point at only 285 lbs. This is his first year starting so it'll be interesting to see if the Hokies line up Orion Martin (r-Sr DE) on him to see if he can sneak by for some tackles for losses or sacks.
Key: Tackle. Tackle. Tackle. If Nebraska has been paying attention, the short dump route has been Tech's biggest weakness so far. Dumping a slant or a curl at four to five yards has been very effective against Tech's defense -- especially after missed easy tackles. The Hokies will need to stay at home and play assignment football.
Orion Martin vs. Mike Smith - As stated above, Smith is the least experienced and smallest of the offensive line. Martin (or Nekos Brown (Jr DE)) need to take advantage of this.
Stephan Virgil/Macho Harris vs Todd Peterson/Nate Swift - The corners will have to stay at home with these guys. Depth at wideout isn't there for Nebraska, so it's imperative to shut these two down.
Tyrod Taylor vs. the Blackshirts - If there ever was an opportunity for Taylor to step up this is it. Taylor will have, in theory, an easier time reading the man coverage, and potentially sneaking past them, with no spy to cover him.
Maryland @ #24 Clemson
Pick: UMD 14 - Clemson 19
Virginia @ Duke
Pick: UVA 10 - Duke 27
North Carolina @ Miami (FL)
Pick : UNC 35 - Miami 27
Rhode Island @ Boston College
They can fit a football stadium in Rhode Island? Pick: RIU 0 - BC 47
Game of the Week
Colorado @ Florida State
Pick: Col 35 - FSU 21
Navy @ #16 Wake Forest
Pick: Navy 24 Wake Forest 27
#13 South Flordia @ NC State
Pick: USF 31 NCSU 24
Technically, the VT @ Nebraska game is the game of the week, but as you know I never predict a Tech game in EhhTee's Picks. The game will broadcast regionally on ABC and nationally ESPN360.com at 8:00.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
First Quarter: The Hokie defense holds UNC's first drive to inside Tarheel territory, resulting in a punt. After the Hokies take over, the offense move the ball 23 yards in 5 plays only to end the drive with an interception. The 'Heels take over at roughly the 35 yard line and bring the ball inside the 15. Again, the defense holds. UNC blows a scoring opportunity with a missed field goal. The Hokie offense subsequently goes three and out. Then, to repay the favor, Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster's squad holds the UNC offense to a three and out series of their own. And yet gain, the Hokie offense goes three and out. UNC takes possesion in Hokie territory, and they finally drove in a field goal.
So what can I say about our defense? Spectacular! And what can I say about our offense? Atrocious! Now being a Hokie fan for more than a decade, I've become quite accustom to saying this, thinking this, and just accepting this. But I mean really??? In this case, we're talking a whopping net gain of 9 yards by the offense against...UNC! The defense did exactly what anyone could have expected of them and more. During every opposing possession, they contained, contained, and contained. The offense looked sloppy, non-fluid, and chaotic. Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor was so disoriented at one point, he called timeout twice in a row. Folks, I can't remember the first or the last time I ever saw a football team call time out twice in a row, save for trying to ice a kicker.
Second Quarter: UNC opens the quarter with a drive to inside the Virginia Tech 10 yard line, and they close it out with another field goal. After the ensuing kickoff, the Hokie offense musters a healthy drive into Tarheel territory, but has to kick it away after 39 yards. Seeing UNC's offense with their backs up against their own endzone, Foster's squad gets hungry and causes a fumble turnover inside the UNC 10 yard line. Then, Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring's squad takes over and moves the ball six yards in three plays. Hokies settle for a field goal. One mediocre UNC drive and another Virginia Tech three and out later, UNC moves the ball 68 yards into the end zone to close out the scoring for the half.
So revisiting the offense, the Hokies moved the ball 58 yards this quarter and managed to get on the the board, albeit with the help of a UNC fumble. The Virginia Tech passing game was virtually nil. Any and all completions were low single digit gains with exception to one 28 yard pass from quarterback Tyrod Taylor to receiver Danny Coale.
Third Quarter: Virginia Tech opens the half with an offensive drive that moves the ball 25 yards in three plays, but ends with a second interception thrown by Tyrod Taylor. The Hokie defense holds the ensuing UNC drive to nine yards in nine plays. After another Hokie three and out, UNC orchestrates a one play drive resulting in a 50 yard rushing touchdown, the only breakdown in the Hokie defense during the contest. Tyrod Taylor and the rest of the Hokie offense, however, had an answer to that with an 89 yard drive resulting in a rushing touchdown by Darren Evans. Also, in this quarter, UNC quarterback TJ Yates sustains a twisted ankle, and he doesn't return for the rest of the game.
Taylor's interception was reminiscent of the second half of Sean Gleannon's first bowl game against Georgia at the end of the 2006 season. It was essentially a, "jump ball," as the announcers put it. We can talk about the inexperience of the Hokie wide receiver core, but that type of interception can't happen. It looked like a throw of desperation. On the other side of the ball, the defense broke down in a way that we don't observe too often. UNC running back Greg Little cut through the Virginia Tech defense with some shake and bake while making good use of his blockers. It was a rarity in Bud Foster's track record, and I can guarantee you that all eleven of them wanted to have a change to defend that play gain.
Fourth Quarter: Virginia Tech moves the ball 35 yards in 6 plays to tie the game with a rushing touchdown. UNC's offense doesn't convert on third down and punts. The Hokie offense moves the ball a pitiful 1 yard in 3 downs, but capitalizes on a field goal. UNC's offense, with backup quarterback Mike Paulus at the helm, moves the ball 38 yards down the field in eight plays. Paulus in panic throws an interception caught deep in Hokie territory caught by Victor Harris. Virginia Tech's offense burns 4:23 during their following possession, leaving the 'Heels with 3 minutes to march down the field. Tyrod Taylor exits the game not to return with a twisted ankle. The Orange and Maroon defense hold 'em, and game ends.
So, watching this game, I began having the sudden physical ailments that Mad Jay often describes of himself when he can't believe what he's watching. First and foremost, on that note, we were trailing UNC (That's North Carolina of the ACC for crying out loud!!!!) for most of this game. Our entire offense slept walked through the entire first half. Folks, I know it's a rebuilding year, but rebuilding means steady, albeit maybe slow, improvement. It doesn't mean zero progress in a critical facet of the game. Waiting until late in the third quarter to turn on the jets just isn't going to cut it against our opponents in inter-conference and bowl play. (And yea, the ACC has some serious PR headway to make in its out of conference performance. I'll have more on this further down in this post.) After watching Tyrod Taylor during last season and the last two games, I'm starting to loose faith in this hybrid running back/quarterback approach to offense. When Taylor's taking the snaps, the passing game is reduced to too great of an extent.
If we can't design a playbook that develops Tyrod's ability to throw the ball now, Stienspring might as well play with 10 linemen to block and have Taylor run every play. Maybe every so often he could only play nine linemen and send out Kenny Lewis Jr. That way, we could keep the opposing defense guessing...as to which will run the ball. [sarcasm, in case you couldn't tell]
All kidding aside, I have to admit that it's a fun style of play to watch, especially when I think back to days of Michael Vick and Bryan Randall. However, what's happened to Taylor this season and last? He's had to exit the game early due to an ankle injury, last year's more serious than Saturday's. When your quarterback is rushing almost as much as your number one running back, that's a risk, and that's a problem. Look at the Michigan's, the Ohio State's, the USC's (the one in California), and the Florida's around the NCAA. They've developed programs that can boast inter-conference and post-season success year after year, and the approach they take at quarterback is very different from Virginia Tech: quarterback first, athlete second. Repeat after me: "quarterback first, athlete second." Taylor or course has the posture, the judgment, and the all around ability to be that type of quarterback, but I think we're leaning on his running back skills too much. Now let's be fair. If he wasn't running the way he was against UNC, Virginia Tech wouldn't have stood a chance. But that's a different problem that we need to address at the, ahemmmm, offensive coordinator role. And I know this next statement is going to evoke some groans, but the Hokie offense is not making enough use of quarterback Sean Glennon. He's one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the ACC. He has a great arm, and he's very accurate when executes properly. He'd probably still be the starter if (a) he didn't make one to two completely bone-headed plays a game and (b) if ECU hadn't blocked Virginia Tech's punt at the end of the Hokie's season opener. Between Taylor and Glennon at this point, Glennon has better demonstrated the ability throw the long ball, and that's an important part of every offense that succeeds at the highest level of the NCAA. By the time Taylor's in his Senior year, he'll likely have all the same, or probably better, throwing talent of Glennon. But for now, the Hokies need that element in their offense, even it's just 30-40% of the snaps.
On to another topic, let's not forget that the Hokies have had some major help in their last two victories. Against UNC alone a number of fortunate things happened.
1. First Quarter: UNC missed a field goal
2. First Quarter: UNC delay of game penalty on 4th and 1 at the VT 5 yard line
3. Third Quarter: UNC personal found during VT 68 yard touchdown drive
4. Third Quarter: UNC pass interference deep in Tarheel territory
5. Third Quarter: UNC starting quarterback injured, does not return to the game
6. Fourth Quarter: UNC late hit penalty during VT punt return
All of the above items contributed towards decomposing the momentum UNC had established for itself and giving the Hokies much needed opportunities to get themselves back in the game and finally to pull ahead. If I coached UNC, I would tell my squad THEY lost that game, not that Virginia Tech won. In comparison to what the Hokies have ahead of them, UNC is small potatoes, and other opponents aren't going to make those kinds of mistakes or likely sustain an injury to such a key player.
So looking onward past UNC, Virginia Tech needs to seriously think about how its inter-conference play doesn't just reflect on Virginia Tech, but the whole of the ACC as well. Given the ACC's out of conference and bowls records, other conferences that don't have an automatic BCS bid may start to make a case for why they deserve one and the ACC doesn't. As I utter the infamous words, "I hate to say I told you so," I have to tell you that I did. My very first post to TSF made the argument that leaving the Big East would weaken the Virginia Tech football program, and after the hype of the new ACC has now worn away, by the numbers, the move to the ACC has weakened the program. Now, I'm not stating that Virginia Tech should have stayed in the Big East and forgone that ACC's invitation, given the circumstances. Besides, it's nice being in a conference that doesn't tell you that they carry you the way a pedestrian's tennis shoe carries stepped on chewing gum. But I am saying that the ACC isn't a football conference. The Carolinas have never been a region that prioritizes football over basketball, and that's half of the ACC's make-up. (Yes, the Big East is a basketball conference at the level of those who run the Big East, but the Big East football schools are very football oriented.) So if Virginia Tech wants to shake some of the funk of the ACC, it's football program better start looking at how it performs outside of the ACC. Next up is Nebraska. This is the most important game of Virginia Tech's 2008 season, and post-season.
Let's Go Hokies!
|EhhTee's Picks (Week 4 Results)|
|The Big East is in real dire straits. Embarassed twice on consecutive Thursdays.|
|A lot of folks were calling for the upset. I didn't see the game so I can't tell you how close it really was.|
|Auburn held in there better than I thought they would.|
|Don't let the score fool you. This one was NOT a blow out. Troy had OSU's number deep into the third quarter. OSU finally broke it open on sheer depth alone.|
|ECU disappointed me last week with a meager showing at Tulane. I just had the feeling that they would not be able to pull it this year. A shame really. I've always liked the program.|
|What can I say? Maybe Wake is for real this year.|
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
#21 West Virginia @ Colorado
With a relatively important game tonight for both teams, it will also give us better insight into what WVU's loss to ECU really meant.
West Virginia with something to prove. Pick: WVU 24 - Colorado 17
#3 Georgia @ Arizona State
Georgia has won their last two games but fell a spot in the polls each week, going from #1 to #3. That hasn't happened since 1985. The team that did that in 1985? The team that just passed them to the #2 spot Oklahoma.
A Georgia smack down. Georgia 51 - Arizona State 7
#6 LSU @ #10 Auburn
Auburn fell last week after winning by the
Sorry Tigers. LSU 39 - Auburn 13
Troy @ #13 Ohio State
Ouch. Sorry Troy. Here comes Achilles. And by Achilles I mean Beanie Wells. Troy will get stomped as Ohio State looks to recover from last week's embarassment.
Troy gets sacked by the Poisonous Nuts. Troy 6 - OSU 42
#15 ECU @ NC State
ECU didn't fair as expected in the Big Easy. They had some serious trouble with Tulane and that's a bit disappointing. After knocking off two (then) ranked opponents ECU struggled against a bottom dwelling Green Wave. NC State is another bottom dweller, but not as low. Does ECU get it together and sweep up the Wolfpack?
Upset special. ECU 17 - NC State 27
Game of the Week
#18 Wake Forest @ #24 Florida State
Who would have thunk that Wake Forest would be the best team in the ACC right now? Who would have thunk that Florida State would break into the rankings this year and that a non-ranked Seminoles team is more the norm these days? This one's gonna show who's for real and who's pretending.
Pretend is not a word in Bobby Bowden's vocabulary. WFU 15 - FSU 34
Technically, the VT @ UNC game is the game of the week, but as you know I never predict a Tech game in EhhTee's Picks. The game will broadcast on ABC and ESPN360.com at 3:30.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
|EhhTee's Picks (Week 3 Results)|
|Nobody could have expected Maryland to pull this off. Go ACC!|
|Pretty much dead on except for the amazing lack of defense on both sides|
|NC State||17||NC State||9||2-1||2-1|
|ECU totally scared everyone in Lane Stadium. Thankfully they pulled off the late drive to win it.|
|Notre Lame||17||Notre Lame||35|
|Fresno St||17||Fresno St||10|
|Fresno State had a chance to win it but "You blew it!"|
|I expected domination, but I was giving OSU the benefit of the doubt. They still can't win big games and are consistently overrated.|
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
So lets begin:
12:00 PM #23 Cal at Maryland
This would be a great game for the ACC -- coming off of a dismal pair of weeks -- to redeem itself. Although UNC's win last night was impressive, it was over Rutgers and another struggling conference, the Big East. The two conferences had a terrible showing over the last two weeks. Cal has had an impressive win over Michigan State and blew out Washington State. Maryland barely beat Delaware and lost to Middle Tennessee. Ouch.
Although they're at home the Terrapins won't survive this one. Cal 31 - Maryland 14.
12:00PM Navy @ Duke
Navy's coming off a loss to Ball State on the national stage. Navy had looked impressive on paper coming into the season and looked as if they might have an impressive season. Navy is 1-1.
Duke has the same record, beating JMU and losing to Northwestern. Duke appears to have a high powered offense.
Navy comes in lackadasically and Duke comes out on fire. Duke 25 - Navy 16.
12:00 PM NC State at Clemson
Two words Death Valley.
Clemson handily beats the Wolfpack. Clemson 44 - NC State 17.
Shut out special:
03:00 PM #14 East Carolina at Tulane
Hurricane Ike is going to miss The Big Easy so it's game on. The Green Wave are no match for the plundering Pirates. The Pirates have batted down two BCS conference teams, one of which had MFC aspirations. Both the Hokies and the Mountaineers couldn't handle ECU... and neither will Tulane.
RRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.... East Carolina 27 - Tulane 0.
03:43 PM Michigan at Notre Lame
3:43???? What the heck is that? Michigan and Notre Lame square off and the only reason anyone's paying attention is that it's Michigan and Notre Lame. Both teams have fizzled into mediocrity and this can only be a game of who stinks less.
Michigan smiles while Touchdown Jesus switches sides and cheers for the Wolverines: Michigan 24 - Notre Lame 17.
#10 Wisconsin at #21 Fresno State
The Badgers have won decisively in their first two games including a crushing of We Are... Marshall. However, they open up conference play next week with Michigan and in two weeks Ohio State.
Fresno opened up by thrashing Rutgers, who appear to have returned to the days of old. Fresno is at home. They are well equipped on both sides of the ball.
The Badgers look too far ahead: Fresno State 17 - Wisconsin 10.
Game of the Week:
#5 Ohio State at #1 USC
Everyone and their grandmother is talking up this game. Unfortunately, everyone knows what happens to Ohio State in the big game. This game is so played up, I don't even want to write another bit about it.
Condoms over Poisonous Nuts. USC 49 - Ohio State 31.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
So, more specifically, what do the Hokies face this week? At the team level, the Yellow Jackets have jumped out in front of the ACC in rushing, totaling 511 yards. The team's passing game isn't quite so strong coming out of the gate with only 208 yards, only surpassing (you guessed it) Virginia Tech on that statistic within the ACC. On the defensive side of the ball, Georgia Tech is beating the Hokies yet again by allowing roughly 50 less yards. However, one aspect of that statistic is that the Hokie rushing defense has outperformed its passing defense. That could match up well against Georgia Tech in favor of the Hokies.
Focusing more on the individual players, quarterback Josh Nesbitt has some attributes with which Hokie fans are familiar. He's quick. He can move within and away from the pocket with agility. He can throw on the run. He can evade defense with his shake and bake. He has almost as many carries as the Yellow Jackets' starting tailback, and he has exactly half the yardage of the running back in rushing. That sounds familiar right? Well, it should because it describes four of the last six Hokie quarterbacks. Nesbitt's weakness lies in his inexperience. He backed up quarterback Taylor Bennett through the 2007 season, and now he's got the starting job. His passing game and overall technique as a quarterback leave room for some improvement. Overall, though, he's a threat the Hokies must contain.
Running back Johnathan Dwyer, standing 6'0" and weighing in at 228 lbs., presents another concern for the Hokie defense. He has amassed 220 yards in rushing during his first two games this season. With that statistic, he ranks second in all of the ACC, trailing Da'Rel Scott of Maryland by exactly 100 yards. Many players at the college football level get into trouble with too much East to West, but Dwyer executes well with a clear North to South vision of running. He exhibits a great deal of power and ability to break tackles. Receivers Demaryius Thomas and Tyler Melton have each caught for 65 and 22 yards, respectively.
So how to the Hokies combat the Georgia Tech offensive weapons? Both the Yellow Jackets' offensive squad and the Hokies' defensive squad are young and inexperienced. So we can kinda think of these as a wash. Next, as noted above, the Yellow Jackets rely primarily on their running game. This year's Hokie defense has demonstrated the ability to stop the running game. Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster has a lot of speed and raw talent on his squad. If Foster's gang mentally prepares themselves for the game, they will contain the Georgia Tech offense. Mark my words, readers. While this Hokie defensive squad is young and inexperienced, Bud Foster will have them transformed into a well oiled machine before season's end.
As for the offense, the Hokies still have a lot of questions. Who's the primary quarterback taking the snaps? I know everybody feels pretty sure Tyrod Taylor will be taking over the job, but I tend to look more closely at history, and that indicates a mix between Sean Glennon and Taylor. After Taylor's 112 yards of rushing last week against Furman, he's tied with Kenny Lewis Jr. in total yardage for the season to date. I expect to see Tyrod Running like that again, and no athlete can be on the field for every offensive play while keeping his lungs from collapsing. For that reason I believe that Glennon plays an important role in the snaps he takes, albeit likely a lower number than Tyrod on Saturday. The Hokies have a brand new receiver core, and our favorite [sarcasm] offense coordinator leads the surly gang. While I've seen some moments of brilliance in the young wide receiver Dyrell Roberts, Taylor and Glennon generally don't have strong receivers on which they can rely. The Hokie offense's success depends on three factors: 1) Tyrod Taylor's success in gaining yardage during quarterback scrambles, 2) Sean Glennon's ability to have his usual handfull of plays where he exhibits brilliance while minimizing or even eliminating the plays where he does something completely foolish in what seems to be pure desperation, and 3) last but not least, the offensive line giving Taylor and Glennon the time to execute. Georgia Tech has a good defense, but it does leave a little be desired in how they stop the running game, which is Tech's most potent offensive weapon.
In closing, I'll say that while listening to the game against Furman, I began to have chills over the thoughts that the Hokies may not even reach bowl eligibility, but after examining the statistics and this match-up more closely, I'm starting to have some optimism, about this game at least. Sometimes the devil is in the details for these contests. Make no mistake, though; Virginia Tech is still the underdog by the numbers and by the sheer momentum Georgia Tech has already established for itself. But don't get too down just yet Hokie fans, I'm thinking we could see a big step towards the rebuilding of our beloved program.
Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Lane Stadium/Worsham Field, Blacksburg, VA
Let's Go Hokies!