Monday, November 30, 2009

Numbers Mean A Lot In The Commonwealth

2,555. It will be 2,555 days of consecutive Virginia Tech possession of the Commonwealth Cup until the University of Virginia can make an attempt to win it. Also, three. Three straight senior Cavalier classes have never beaten Virginia Tech... Awesome.

The Hokies soundly defeated the Cavaliers Saturday 42-13. However, if you were watching the game, you would not have been able to predict that result at half time. This game was, quite frankly, the ultimate summary of the 2009 Virginia Tech season.

The first half summarized the two Tech losses, outside of the Alabama game, as well as most of the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Save for two amazing plays from Tyrod Taylor, Nebraska should have won that game.

The first drive against the Wahoos was full of highs and lows on defense. The Hokies would contain to bring up third down multiple times on the first drive. But, the Hokies would fail to contain the run on these third downs and allowed Virginia to drive seventy-three yards mostly on the ground behind the effort of quarterback Jameel Sewell. Sewell capped the drive with a 15-yard third down run into the end zone. The Hokies were able to force the Cavs into three third downs on the drive but could not stop them on any of these.

The offense came back firing as Taylor hit Danny Coale twice on the drive for big gains of 41 and 36 yards. Coale's ability to catch these passes demonstrated some excellent hands from what most would ordinarily call a possession receiver. Coale would end up with 135 yards on six catches. Freshman Ryan Williams would punch it in to tie the game. Williams would end up with 185 yards rushing in the game including an amazing four touchdowns.

But I digress. The defense would continue to struggle against the run the rest of the first half. Virginia had runs of 16 and 26 yards on its way to going up with a 33 yard field goal. With this game, and the run of Georgia Tech's Josh Nesbitt, it's pretty obvious that one of this year's defensive squad's major weakness is covering the mobile quarterback.

The teams would settle in for a couple of unproductive drives until a bad punt gave the Hokies position inside Virginia territory. The Hokies would capitalize with another Williams touchdown run, this time from 20 yards out.

Another pair of unproductive possessions, but the Hokies' possession did get down into Virginia territory. Taylor began the drive with a 38-yard toss to Dyrell Roberts.

The Cavs would capitalize with a field goal and that would bring the score to within one at 14-13. It was at this point my Cav friends began taunting... It's also the time, per GobblerCountry's reminder, I began drinking heavily.

The Hokies were showing some of the characteristics of the team as it played in October. I will say this as I rewatched the game. I loved the play of the offensive line, including in the first half. It's going to be tough to replace the likes of guard Sergio Render, tight end Greg Boone, and fullback Kenny Jefferson. These guys have been the pride of the pass protection and run blocking. Even Ed Wang, who at times can be frustrating to watch, had a stellar game protecting and blocking for Williams.

Tech's struggle to contain Sewell continued briefly to start the third quarter. He picked up another 29 yards on his first play after the half. He would end up with 129 yards rushing, 101 of which were in the first half. Sewell would also go 12-22 for 120 yards.

However, after that huge run, Sewell could be labeled absolutely contained. Sewell would not have a positive yard rushing, including two sacks, the rest of the game. Sewell would be forced to throw the ball more as Tech continued to rack up points.

The Hokies would eventually explode offensively starting late in the third quarter. They score four more touchdowns, three of which came from Williams. The other came with a David Wilson run of 10 yards late in the fourth quarter as the Hokies began playing everyone who took the bus ride up 81.

Moreover, the Hokies would shutout the Cavaliers in the second half, fully containing Sewell to minimal gains mostly through the air.

The Hokies will go on to a mid-major bowl game -- the likes of the Peach Bowl or Gator Bowl. The Cavaliers are going home for the holidays for the second straight year. And Al Groh? Well the folks at will have to retire the domain name.

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