Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Last Week's Results
|Florida St. @ UNC||GT @ UVA|
|Line: UNC -2||Line: Georgia Tech -4|
|Pick: Florida St.||Pick: Georgia Tech|
|Score: FSU 23 - UNC 17||Score: GT 33 - UVA 13|
|Actual: FSU 30 - UNC 27||Actual: GT 34 - UVA 9|
|Maryland @ Duke||BC @ Notre Dame|
|Line: Duke -6||Line: Notre Dame -9.5|
|Pick: Duke||Pick: Boston College|
|Score: UMD 0 - Duke 34||Score: BC 17 - ND 21|
|Actual: UMD 13 - Duke 17||Actual: BC 16 - ND 20|
|Clemson @ Miami||Oregon @ Washington|
|Line: Miami -7||Line: Oregon -7.5|
|Pick: Miami||Pick: Washington|
|Score: Clemson 15 - UM 31||Score: Oregon 21 - UW 33|
|Actual: Clem. 40 – UM 37||Actual: Oregon 43 - UW 19|
|Penn State @ Michigan||This Week (Overall)|
|Line: Penn State -4||Line: 4-3 (23-32)|
|Pick: Penn State||Picks: 5-2 (33-23)|
|Score: PSU 34 - UM 21|
|Actual: PSU 35 – UM 10|
This Week's Picks
Georgia Tech @ Vanderbilt
Line: Georgia Tech -13.5
Georgia Tech steps out into non-conference play before finishing their conference play. Tech is looking solid all around and I see no reason for them to lose this one but it'll be closer than the odds indicate.
Score: GA Tech 28 - Vandy 17
Duke @ Virginia
Line: Virginia -6.5
Duke is on a roll and is looking to become bowl eligible with two more wins. This would be the first time since 1994. Virginia can become bowl eligible with a win on Saturday.
Score: Duke 34 - UVA 15
USC @ Oregon
Line: USC -3.5
This one's the game of the week. Both teams are vying for the PAC 10 championship and a shot at the Rose Bowl. USC still has an outside shot of playing a week later for the national title. Will they survive? Or will Oregon dash the Trojans hopes... again?
Score: USC 24 - Oregon 43
Texas @ Oklahoma St
Line: Texas -9
Oklahoma State stands as Texas's last big obstacle to the Big Twelve title and on to the national title game. Oklahoma St is down a few players and is rolling since a disappointing loss to Houston. Texas still hasn't proved to me that they are a top five team. It took Sam Bradford going down for them to seal the deal against Oklahoma despite OU giving them the ball like a hundred times. A win here might change my opinion.
Pick: Oklahoma St
Score: Texas 27 - Ok St. 37
Miami @ Wake Forest
Line: Miami -7
Miami's loss to Clemson was a shocker. I couldn't believe it and had to look at it twice when I saw it. This team reminds me of some Hokie squads we've seen. Winning huge and looking top ten like one week and losing big and looking like a bottom dweller the next.
Score: Miami 31 - Wake 18
NC State @ Florida St
Line: Florida St. -7.5
With all of the national hype over Bowden/Fisher controversy subsiding, Florida St. can once again focus on football. The Seminoles need to win out to be bowl eligible and I don't foresee them having an issue picking up this win.
Pick: Florida St.
Score: NC St. 17 - Florida St. 34
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
It's a trap!
- Admiral Ackbar
Virginia Tech (5-2, 3-1) is coming off a disappointing loss to, now front-runner in the Coastal Division, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The Jackets (7-1, 5-1), who soundly defeated the Wahoos on Saturday, need wins against Wake Forest and Duke to clinch the title.
Meanwhile, the Hokies have had to deal with having their outside hopes of playing for the national title AND hopes of playing for the ACC title stripped in one fell swoop. The Hokies have had extra time to think about those implications, but this Thursday night's game could very well be a trap game for them.
|29 Oct. 2009|
Last year's showdown between Tech and UNC had similar results. The Tarheels held a 17-3 lead deep into the thirdth quarter, however three quick scores within a six minute span by the Hokies gave Tech the come-from-behind victory in Chapel Hill. The Tarheels will have both losses in mind and either will rally to keep bowl hopes alive or fold to the emotions of defeat. Coaching and desire will define which direction they choose.
During that contest in Keenan Stadium, Quarterback T.J. Yates (Jr, #13) left the game with an ankle injury in the third quarter ahead 10-3. The next play was a 50 yard run for a touchdown giving them the 17-3 advantage, but eventually the Tarheels killed their own momentum with five penalties that kept the Hokies' drive alive on several occasions. Committing three turnovers all giving the Hokies the ball in or near the red zone didn't help their case either.
This year Yates has been healthy but he is still turnover prone. Yates has had decent numbers this year with 1,028 yards passing for seven touchdowns, but his eight interceptions and fifteen sacks have led the Tarheels to a less than stellar start.
Yates' two main targets this year have been Erik Highsmith (Fr, #88, 295 yards with two touchdowns) and Greg Little (Jr, #8, 290 yards with a touchdown), were held to just 65 yards against Florida State.
Junior running back Shaun Draughn (#20) has 481 rushing yards and one touchdown. This pales in comparison to Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams (r-Fr, #34) who has 834 yards rushing with ten touchdowns.
Overall, the Tarheels are highly talented, but perhaps still too young and inexperienced to get the big victories.
In the Hokies' game against the Yellow Jackets, as MadJay predicted, the first play from scrimmage on offense was a play action pass setting the tone for what appeared to be a return to the old ways. If the Hokies are going to win this game, they will need to return to what worked in the weeks leading up to the Georgia Tech loss. Specifically, they need to commit to the run again.
Offensive Coordinator Bryan Stinespring has had flashes of brilliance [Never thought I'd use that word with Coach Stinespring in the same sentence, didya?], and had an actual complete game or two of good coaching decisions this year. He needs to take a good look at what worked in those games and what didn't against Georgia Tech and bring them to the field Thursday.
On defense, the Hokies need to focus on disciplined assignment coverage. Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt (Jr, #9) completed just two passes in just seven attempts. One of those was an interception! Would you believe a quarterback with those stats could lead a team to victory? Defending the run has hurt the Hokies this year and needs to be stepped up this week.
All of this needs to come together for the Hokies to have a solid victory. But what I haven't mentioned yet is that Lane Stadium, or should I say Terrordome, [Yes, Corey Moore realizes that Lane is not actually a dome.] is one of the toughest places to play on the planet on Thursday night. Tech is 15-4 overall and 9-2 at home in their previous 19 appearances on ESPN College Football Primetime. The only teams to beat the Hokies on Thursday night (in the modern era*) are Boston College and Miami.
However, one of those losses to Boston College came in October of 2006, when the Hokies had their national title hopes smashed by Georgia Tech and ten days later played on Thursday night. (Sound familiar?) The Hokies came into that game dejected and let Boston College walk all over them losing 22-3.
What it all boils down to is that this will be an exciting game to watch this Thursday. The last six games between the two schools had been decided by seven points or less. Break out the antacid. Strap in to your favorite chair. And lets watch some Hokie football!
* Tech used to play VMI on Thanksgiving Day each year between 1913 and 1969.
Monday, October 26, 2009
TSF Poll (after week 8)
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Last Week's Results:
|BoiseSt. @ Tulsa||Cincinnati @ S. Florida|
|Line: Boise State -10||Line: Cincinnati -2.5|
|Pick: Boise State||Pick: S. Florida|
|Score: Boise State 43 - Tulsa 27||Score: Cinci. 10 - S. Florida 17|
|Actual: Boise St 28 - Tulsa 21||Actual: Cinci. 34 - S. Florida 17|
|USC @ Notre Dame||S. Carolina @ Alabama|
|Line: USC -11||Line: Alabama -17.5|
|Pick: Notre Lame||Pick: Tide rolls|
|Score: USC 24 - Notre Lame 27||Score: S. Carolina 13 - Bama 45|
|Actual: USC 34 - Notre Lame 27||Actual:S. Carolina 6 - Bama 20|
|Texas Tech @ Nebraska||Virginia @ Maryland|
|Line: Nebraska -6||Line: Virginia -4|
|Pick: Texas Tech||Pick: Maryland|
|Score: TT 21 - Nebraska 24||Score: UVA 21 - UMD 28|
|Actual: TT 31 - Nebraska 10||Actual: UVA 20 - UMD 9|
|Oklahoma vs. Texas||This Week (Overall)|
|Line: Texas -2.5||Line: 2-5 (19-29)|
|Pick: Oklahoma||Picks: 3-4 (28-21)|
|Score: Oklahoma 34 - Texas 24|
|Actual: OU 13 - Texas 16|
This Week's Picks:
Florida State @ North Carolina
Line: UNC -2
Florida State is desperate for a win. Coaching issues aside, I think the Seminoles will pull together and make a decent second half of the season.
Pick: Florida St.
Score: FSU 23 - UNC 17
Georgia Tech @ Virginia
Line: Georgia Tech -4
Tech is the most likely of the 1 loss teams to run the table with a pretty weak schedule coming up. Virginia has been surging but they will not be able to handle the speed of the Georgia Tech offense.
Pick: Georgia Tech.
Score: GT 33 - UVA 13
Maryland @ Duke
Line: Duke -6
Duke is looking good this year and this team led by very talented Thaddeus Lewis will simply embarrass the Terrapins
Score: UMD 0 - Duke 34
Boston College @ Notre Dame
Line: Notre Dame -9.5
This game is always a thriller. Boston College will make this one close as always but the Irish will find a way to win this one.
Pick: Boston College
Score: BC 17 - Notre Lame 21
Clemson @ Miami
Line: Miami -7
Miami is a solid team and if not for the rain in Blacksburg might just be lossless.
Score: Clemson 15 - Miami 31
Oregon @ Washington
Line: Oregon -7.5
Oregon may end up looking forward a week to USC. Washington is firing on all cylinders. Injuries could be a factor too.
Score: Oregon 21 - Washington 33
Penn State @ Michigan
Line: Penn State -4
Penn State's loss to Iowa has left them for dead in the eyes of the media. All the talk about Iowa has left them in the shadows. And that's where they shine.
Pick: Penn State
Score: PSU 34 - UM 21
Monday, October 19, 2009
TSF Poll (Week 7)
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
In this post, I'll touch on a few games of interest played by other teams that could affect the remainder of the Hokies' regular season as well as the post-season. I'll describe what they mean to the Hokies and comment on the impacts of either outcome.
Oklahoma (20) VS. Texas (3)
12:00 p.m. EDT
Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX
Texas holds the number three spot in both the AP and USA Today polls. Virginia Tech holding the number four spot need somebody on the Longhorns' schedule to hand them a defeat to move up to number three. Florida and Alabama, who hold number one and two respectively, will have to play each other in SEC conference championship if they hold on to those rankings for the remainder of the regular season. Texas' schedule thus far has not included any ranked opponents, and only the Red Raiders of Texas Tech gave them a good fight. The Longhorns' season gets tougher starting Saturday against the Oklahoma Sooners, whom Miami (FL) defeated to bolster Virginia Tech's strength of schedule. Thank you Miami! The Texas' squad vividly remembers last season all too well when a final pass to Michael Crabtree ultimately cost them their bid to the National Championship Game. They remember this in light of defeating the Sooners last season, who ended up playing for the national title. If Texas wins, they've taken a big step with a few more left to go before having a substantial claim to the national title. Should they lose, Boise State, USC, Ohio State, and of course Virginia Tech should pass them in the rankings. The official BCS standings doesn't factor the polls, but they usually don't differ too greatly from them either. Hokie fans should pull for Oklahoma to create an upset.
USC (6) VS. Notre Dame (25)
3:30 p.m. EDT
Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN
Notre Dame has played a season thus far only five points shy of not having a loss. They have lost to the USC Trojans in their last seven contests. The Fighting Irish are trying to turn their program around from a couple of lackluster seasons. An upset against USC would give their program exactly what it needs to put them back on the map as a well respected team. USC, only four points shy of having a no loss season themselves, doesn't have the same strength of schedule as the Hokies, but should both teams win the remainder of their pre-bowl season games, USC stands a chance, although not of overwhelming odds, to jump Virginia Tech in the BCS standings. The BCS has done stranger things. An upset, however, would put some comfortable distance between the Hokies and Trojans in the rankings, assuming only one Virginia Tech loss on the season.
South Carolina (22) VS. Alabama (2)
7:45 p.m. EDT
Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL
This game's outcome holds significance for the Hokies in the way of strength of schedule. Alabama currently has a higher ranking and would quite possibly fall below Virginia Tech, at least initially, with a loss; however, they would eventually jump the Hokies in the BCS standings under the scenario of both teams finishing with one loss seasons. Since the Crimson Tide defeated the Hokies this season, they would deservedly earn the better bowl bid. Hokie fans should have their hopes on a Crimson Tide victory.
Now, you may think to yourself, "Where's the Ice? has gone insane! Why would a Hokie fan not want number two to lose when the Hokies hold number four in the rankings?" Well, I pose the following to explain.
Should Alabama win the rest of their regular season but lose to Florida in the SEC championship, a one-loss Virginia Tech would have a very strong claim to play for the national title. If the Crimson tide loses that game with a prior loss, that claim for the Hokies loses steam. Turning that around, if Alabama has a no loss season and defeats Florida, a one loss Hokie squad still has a strong claim to play for the national title against Alabama for a rematch. Could you imagine a more exciting scenario for Hokie fans?!
Contending for the invitation to play in the National Championship Game in the BCS not only depends on your wins, but also upon the wins of your opponents. Without losses later in the season, Texas, USC, and Ohio State could all finish with the same record as a one-loss Hokie squad, or even better in the case of Texas. At that point, who plays best on the field can take a back seat to which program directors and coaches play better BCS politics. If you don't believe that, look no further than last year when Oklahoma received the bid to play in the national championship instead of Texas who defeated Oklahoma and had only one loss due to a last minute play.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
As for my picks last week was a mediocre week. Against the line I was 3-4. This makes be a very mediocre 17-24 overall. The picks were a little better at 5-2. Overall with the picks I'm 25-17.
Last Week's Results:
|Nebraska @ Missouri||Alabama @ Mississippi|
|Line: Nebraska -2||Line: Alabama -6.5|
|Pick: Nebraska||Pick: Mississippi|
|Score: Nebraska 33 Mizzou 28||Score: Alabama 31 - Ole Miss 27|
|Actual:Nebraska 27 - Mizzou 12||Actual: Alabama 22 - Ole Miss 3|
|Wisconsin @ Ohio State||Indiana @ Virginia|
|Line: Ohio State -14.5||Line: Virginia -6.5|
|Pick: Wisconsin||Pick: Indiana|
|Score: Wisconsin 26 - Ohio St 31||Score: Indiana 35 - UVA 17|
|Actual:Wisc. 13 - Ohio St 31||Actual: Indiana 7 - UVA 47|
|Duke @ NC State||GA Tech @ FL State|
|Line: NC State -14.5||Line: FSU -2.5|
|Pick: Duke||Pick: GT|
|Score: Duke 24 - NC State 17||Score: GT 42 - FSU 17|
|Actual: Duke 49 - NC State 28||Actual: GT 49 - FSU 44|
|Florida @ LSU||This Week (Overall)|
|Line: Florida -9.5||Line: 3-4 (17-24)|
|Pick: LSU||Picks: 5-2 (25-17)|
|Score: Florida 19 - LSU 35|
|Actual: Florida 13 - LSU 3|
This Week's Picks:
#6 Boise State (5-0) @ Tulsa (4-1)
Line: Boise State -10
Boise State faces what many are calling their last great challenge. The BCS suits will probably praying to the football gods for a Tulsa victory. However, they can relax. When the BCS numbers come out next week, Boise State's schedule will hurt them in the end.
Pick: Boise State
Score: Boise State 43 - Tulsa 27
#9 Cincinnati (5-0) @ #21 South Florida (5-0)
Line: Cincinnati -2.5
Poor Bearcats and the Big Least. Even if Cincinnati wins out, the likelihood of them playing for the national title are basically nil. The Big East is just not reputable enough to give them the respect to earn a ticket. No matter, the Bulls will eliminate that possibility anyway.
Pick: South Florida
Score: Cincinnati 10 - South Florida 17
#5 USC (4-1) @ #25 Notre Dame (4-1)
Line: USC -11
USC and the Hokies are comparably the two best one-loss teams. USC lost early to a terrible Washington but beat Ohio State. The Hokies lost late to arguably the best team in the country in Alabama. Notre Lame is looking to redeem their slow start with a signature win. I give you my upset of the week as Notre Lame tries to prove that they are at least better than the Washington Redskins.
Pick: Notre Lame
Score: USC 24 - Notre Lame 27
#22 South Carolina (5-1) @ #3 Alabama (6-0)
Line: Alabama -17.5
South Carolina can prove to be a formidable opponent. At 5-1 the Gamecocks are off to one of their best starts. Alabama is, however, just too well focused.
Pick: Tide rolls
Score: South Carolina 13 - Alabama 45
Texas Tech (4-2) @ #17 Nebraska (4-1)
Line: Nebraska -6
Nebraska is one of two teams that would be [insert U-word here] if it were not for the Hokies. (Miami is the other.) Texas Tech has proven to be the spoiler in recent years and they have quite a potent offense putting up 2661 passing yards through six games. Nebraska escapes this weekend but not by the line.
Pick: Texas Tech
Score: TT 21 - Nebraska 24
Virginia (2-3) @ Maryland (2-4)
Line: Virginia -4
This could be the battle of the worst two teams in the ACC. This game will give us good insight into just how bad. Virginia was able to sneak in a win against UNC and put up big numbers against Indiana.Maryland is at home and that's perhaps their only advantage... but it'll be enough.
Score: UVA 21 - UMD 28
Game of the Week
The Red River Rivalry
#18 Oklahoma (3-2) vs. #2 Texas (5-0)
Line: Texas -2.5
Oklahoma's Sam Bradford returned last week and picked up where he left off defeating Baylor soundly. Star receiver Ryan Broyles may also return for the Texas game.
Texas may be down its two starting running backs in Vondrell McGee and Tre' Newton. If they're not able to play Saturday, the Sooners defense will be able to pretty much dial in on quarterback Colt McCoy.
Should these injuries keep the two boys off the field, Oklahoma will be able to pull off this win and keep their Big 12 title hopes alive.
Score: Oklahoma 34 - Texas 24
Monday, October 12, 2009
Something has started to happen with Virginia Tech's offense, and Hokie fans welcome the change. Tyrod Taylor suddenly starts playing the position of quarterback displaying some talent that we haven't really seen before. Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring's playcalling has somewhat started to make sense. On Saturday, the Hokies earned an impressive victory over a struggling Boston College Eagles team.
Although struggling this season, the Eagles certainly amount to much more than an assumed victory, especially after the narrow scoring margin against Duke in last week's game and the Eagle's win over Florida State. Virginia Tech hands them only their second loss of the season, and even with this loss, they still stand a good chance of winning the ACC Atlantic division.
Let's take a look at Virginia Tech's display of offense during Saturday's game. Tyrod Taylor threw for roughly a 70% completion rate and for a 126 yards. Based on the type of the offense I watched and fluidity with which they moved the ball down the field, I think these statistics don't necessarily reflect how well Taylor and his offense performed. Taylor has always demonstrated the ability to scramble, but in the last three games, he has scrambled like an elite quarterback rather than somebody simply looking for the opportunity to rush. No play during this game better exemplifies that than his touchdown pass to wide receiver Danny Coale. On a third and nineteen play, the Eagle defense had broken through protection and put pressure on Taylor. Taylor scrambled, evaded tackles, and from a somewhat awkward position twisted to throw a perfectly placed pass to Coale cutting into the endzone. Taylor also connected with his receivers on some very long and well placed passes, such as Taylor's forty-one yard completion to Jarrett Boykin. Also, an eighty yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Ju Ju Clayton to wide receiver Marcus Davis left a good image in fans' minds of what lies ahead in the post-Taylor seasons yet to come.
Another pleasant surprise came in the relative loyalty of Stienspring's playcalling to the running game. Number one tailback Darren Evan's injury has not slowed down the running game. The Hokies have proven to have a lot of depth in that position. Ryan Williams has exploded in ways nobody outside of the clubhouse could have predicted. David Wilson and Josh Oglesby made a few carries as well to tack a few yards on top of those gained by Williams. The team ran for a combined 235 yards of rushing. Williams alone ran for 159 of those yards. The numbers don't tell whole story, however. During early games of this season and games of seasons' prior, such numbers resulted from successfully executed plays falling in between successive three-and-outs. But these running plays consistently gained first downs and moved the ball down the field with precise execution.
Only having access to radio for the first half of the game last week, I didn't really have a complete sense of how the game against Duke progressed, but the scoring updates I got on my cell phone made me feel quite uneasy, especially considering the point differential at the game's end. But the Hokie defense performed excellently against Boston College. The defense held Eagle rushing to just 45 yards and passing to 118 yards. The frequency with which the Hokie defense reached Boston College quarterbacks Mike Marscovetra and Dave Shinskie impressed me. To top things off cornerback Rashad Carmichael caught an interception and ran it back for a touchdown. The defense definitely showed up in full force for this game.
I've got a good feeling about Hokie football right now. I hope that I'm not simply setting myself up for disappointment, because we've all felt that sinking in our hearts when our beloved Hokies crumbled when we didn't expect it. Overall, however, I sense a buzz amongst the team and fans that I haven't sensed in a while.
LET'S GO HOKIES!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Last week's results:
|Clemson @ Maryland||Michigan @ MSU|
|Line: Clemson -13||Line: Meeechigan -2.5|
|Pick: Clemson||Pick: UM|
|Score: Clemson 35 - Maryland 10||Score: UM 55 - MSU 17|
|Actual: Clemson 21 - UM 24||Actual: UM 20 - MSU 26|
|Virginia @ North Carolina||East Carolina @ Marshall|
|Line: UNC -14||Line: ECU -3|
|Pick: UNC||Pick: Marshall|
|Score: UVA 10 - UNC 31||Score: ECU 10 - Marshall 27|
|Actual: UVA 16 - UNC 3||Actual: ECU 21 - Marshall 17|
|LSU @ Georgia||Florida St. @ Boston College|
|Line: Georgia -2.5||Line: Florida St. -5|
|Pick: Georgia||Pick: Boston College|
|Score: LSU 21 - UGA 24||Score: FSU 17 - BC 21|
|Actual: LSU 20 - UGA 13||Actual: FSU 21 - BC 28|
|Oklahoma @ Miami||This Week (Overall)|
|Line: Oklahoma -7||Line: 2-5 (14-20)|
|Pick: Miami||Picks: 2-5 (20-15)|
|Score: OU 15 - UM 34|
|Actual: OU 20 - UM 21|
This Week's Picks:
Nebraska @ Missouri
Line: Nebraska -2
Ndamukong Suh is perhaps the best defensive linesman I've seen this season. He and the Blackshirts should be able to shutdown the potent Missouri offense.
Score: Nebraska 33 Mizzou 28
Alabama @ Mississippi
Line: Alabama -6.5
Alabama is arguably the best team in the country. The Tide will have some trouble as they enter the meat of the SEC schedule. However, they'll come away victorious.
Score: Alabama 31 - Ole Miss 27
Wisconsin @ Ohio State
Line: Ohio State -14.5
Wisconsin is quietly 5-0. They travel to Columbus to face their first real challenge however. This weekend we find out just how for real the Badgers are.
Score: Wisconsin 26 - OSU 31
Indiana @ Virginia
Line: Virginia -6.5
UVA pulled off an unlikely win in Chapel Hill this past weekend. Are the Cavs for real and can they win again? I don't think so.
Score: Indiana 35 - UVA 17
Duke @ NC State
Line: NC State -14.5
Duke's confidence has to be sky high right now. Despite losing, the Blue Devils played an incredible game against the Hokies this past weekend. Look for that momentum to carry them to victory.
Score: Duke 24 - NC State 17
Georgia Tech @ Florida State
Line: FSU -2.5
Georgia Tech has two major contests in front of them. The Yellow Jackets face the Seminoles this weekend and next will face the Hokies. The offense is clicking and have only lost to Miami. Florida State will struggle especially in light of the latest distractions regarding Bobby Bowden and Jimbo Fisher.
Score: GT 42 - FSU 17
Florida @ LSU
Line: Florida -9.5
Here's my shocker upset of the year. Minus Tim Tebow, the Florida Gators struggle and lose to an LSU Tigers squad that's hungry to prove they deserve to be considered one of the nation's best.
Score: Florida 19 - LSU 35
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
For once however, no wait, actually twice in a row, the offense has shown dramatic improvement.
Who are you and what have you done with Bryan Stinesping?First, the offense has shown a renewed commitment to the run game. For example, on the first drive, there was one pass in six plays. One of the runs was by a dramatically improved Tyrod Taylor as he checked down field, found nothing, and used his feet to pick up the first down. Using Ryan Williams and Josh Oglesby, who initially was held to limited production, consistently eventually produced yards as well as opened up opportunities for big, and at times huge, plays.
Speaking of big plays. Taylor, who's confidence has increase tenfold since the beginning of the season, was extremely poised in the backfield whether it be maneuvering in the pocket, or, when flushed, buying time with his feet. Converting on huge plays [see MadJay's 3 Key Plays], including a 62-yard pass to Jarrett Boykin and 37-yard pass to Danny Coale, Taylor went 17/22 for 327 yards and two touchdowns.
On defense, the Hokies were extremely aggressive. The Hokies allowed only 38-yards on the ground. However, aggressive defense without discipline coverage leads to big plays. The Blue Devils did indeed produces some big plays which kept them in this game to the very end.
Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis would complete 22/40 passes for 359 yards and two touchdowns. On their second possession of the game, Lewis opened up the scoring on a drive from the Blue Devils' own 21. Outside of some short gains, the drive was aided by costly Hokie penalties that kept Duke moving. Lewis capitalize by hitting a wide open Brandon King for a 48-yard touchdown strike.
Fast forward to the third quarter with the score 17-10 Hokies and we come to the 74-yard pass from Lewis to Conner Vernon. Credit Jason Worilds and Rock Carmichael from preventing the touchdown on the play, but Duke was able to pull to withing four points with a field goal on the drive. Again Vernon, was left wide open on blown coverage.
Lewis would go on to hit a 55-yard pass to Donovan Varner and a 34-yarder to Vernon. In total, Lewis had ten passes for ten or more yards, five of which were greater than 26 yards. The Hokie secondary, who out-sized and out-skilled the Duke receiver corp, was simply out-played by them at times.
Coach Bud Foster will have to take a good long look at what's wrong with the coverage before this weekend's game against Beat Cancer (Boston College). If he's able to correct some of these mistakes, if Coach Frank Beamer can correct some of the special teams mistakes, and if the offense continues to click, then the Hokies will surely succeed this week.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Virginia Tech (6) at Duke
12:00 PM ET, October 3, 2009
Wallace Wade Stadium , DURHAM, NC
This Saturday, Virginia Tech squares off against the Duke Blue Devils in Durham, NC. The Hokie coaching staff has publicly stated they won't look past this game, and I find that reassuring because for those games that you do can lead to trailing late in the fourth quarter while fans burry their heads into their hands asking how things got to such a state. Yes, Duke comes from a pair of states that have never produced a sustained powerhouse in Division I college football. Yes, Duke only completed two passes against Virginia Tech in last season's game. Yes, Virginia Tech turned the ball over five times in the 2008 contest, and still won handily. But you can't add all that together and come to a conclusion that the Hokies can just take Duke lightly and look onward to later contests against Boston College and Georgia Tech.
First, as MadJay noted in his game review against Miami, Virginia Tech's offense displayed a significantly positive shift in its performance. Playing Duke gives the perfect opportunity to keep that momentum going. I haven't reached the point to where I will credit offensive coordinator Bryan Steinspring because, as MadJay also notes, he may well have stuck with the running game against Miami because the weather left him very little choice to do otherwise. If the play calling sustains at that level through the Boston College and Georgia Tech games, I may drift more towards giving him some credit. But something did strike me as very positive, and I noticed it starting to happen during the Nebraska game. Tyrod Taylor has begun playing his position as more of a quarterback who happens to have great athleticism rather than as a great athlete playing the role of a quarterback. He looks for the pass and exhibits patience to find an open man. In seasons prior and even during earlier games in this season, he looked for the pass and if he didn't quickly a target, he went straight to the run. To state things fairly, he didn't always have the luxury of time because of missed blocks, but overall I notice that when the pocket breaks down, he has begun to roll away from pressure to buy time looking for an open man instead of reacting by sprinting for yardage seemingly in desperation. Don't get me wrong. He still executes well when rushing for yardage, but he makes his decision of when to rush with more calculation. Besides, we don't want our number one quarterback taking punishing hits during a rush that he doesn't have to sustain. During the Nebraska game, I started to notice this shift in his play, although many pass attempts in drops as well as overthrown and under-thrown passes, at least until the game's final drive. Against Miami, considering the pouring rain, he executed his passing game very well. While the running game dominated the offense's play calling, the passing game still racked up 98 yards and one touchdown.
Why do dwell on this point? I do so because I hope that he continues to exhibit this type of play on Saturday. To continue to win against teams from other BCS conferences, Taylor's play must continue to improve his passing game, and I think he may have gotten well on his way to doing so.
What to the Hokies face on Saturday? Duke's offensive line showcases some size in Kyle Hill, Jarrod Holt, Mitchell Lederman, Brian Moore, and Bryan Morgan. All stand well above six feet; Lenderman himself stands a towering 6”8'! Thaddeus Lewis takes the snaps for the Blue Devils, and his numbers don't look too bad. He has thrown for 58%
completion rate and 783 yards, although he hasn't faced a defense quite like that of the Hokies. Patrick Kurunwune and Desmond Scott have caught for a total of 221 combined yards. Receivers Johnny Williams and Austin Kelley have very comparable numbers rushing for a combined total of 492 yards.
Accross the ACC, Duke's defense ranks ninth allowing 25.3 points per game. Their offense, however, in the ACC ranks fourth scoring 29.0 points per game, just shy of Virginia Tech's 30.8. Upsets can happen, and Duke very well could make the front page of espn.com on Saturday shocking college football fans with an upset. The Hokies should win this game, and have earned the status of favorites for good reason. At the same time, this contest offers opportunity to exercise some improvements in the offense's performance to set the stage for games yet to come. Let's hope our Hokies earn a good win and execute well on offense!
Last Week's Results:
|Ole Miss. @ South Carolina||S. Florida @ Florida St.|
|Line: Mississippi -3.5||Line: Florida State -14|
|Pick: Ole Miss||Pick: South Florida|
|Score: Ole Miss 37 - USC 21||Score: S. Florida 14 - FSU 24|
|Actual: Ole Miss 10 - USC 16||Actual: USF 17 - FSU 7|
|N. Carolina @ GA Tech||Marshall @ Memphis|
|Line: Georgia Tech -2.5||Line: Memphis -3.5|
|Pick: Georgia Tech||Pick: Marshall|
|Score: UNC 10 - GT 31||Score: Marshall 24 - Memphis 9|
|Actual: UNC 7 - GT 24||Actual: Marsh. 27 - Memphis 16|
|W. Forest @ BC||Rutgers @ Maryland|
|Line: Wake Forest -2.5||Line: Rutgers -3|
|Pick: Wake||Pick: Rutgers|
|Score: Wake 17 - BC 13||Score: Rutgers 22 - Maryland 3|
|Actual: Wake 24 -BC 27||Actual: RU 34 - UM 13|
|Notre Lame @ Purdue||This Week (Overall)|
|Line: Notre Lame -8.5||Line: 4-3 (12-15)|
|Pick: Purdue||Picks: 3-4 (18-10)|
|Score: ND 27 - Purdue 43|
|Actual: ND 24 - Purdue 21|
This Week's Picks:
Clemson @ Maryland
Line: Clemson -13
Maryland is just plain terrible. Clemson should cover by two touchdowns.
Score: Clemson 35 - Maryland 10
Michigan @ MSU
Line: Meeechigan -2.5
MSU spent this week whining about respect. MSU won't get it and will be pummeled.
Score: UM 55 - MSU 17
Virginia @ North Carolina
Line: UNC -14
Can Virginia win a game this year? Probably, but not against UNC.
Score: UVA 10 - UNC 31
East Carolina @ Marshall
Line: ECU -3
This will give us a good understanding as to how good ECU is.
Score: ECU 10 - Marshall 27
LSU @ Georgia
Line: Georgia -2.5
LSU looked terrible last week and probably should have lost. Will UGA be able to maintain at home? Yes, but close.
Score: LSU 21 - UGA 24
Florida St. @ Boston College
Line: Florida St. -5
Boston College may be better than expected.
Pick: Boston College
Score: FSU 17 - BC 21
Oklahoma @ Miami
Line: Oklahoma -7
Upset special! Everyone's already down on Miami for the loss against Tech last weekend. How much of that was the weather? I think it was a significant factor.
Score: OU 15 - UM 34