Thursday, October 28, 2010

Drinking the Kool-Aid

Many of you know me as Mad Jay, but on a day like today I can't help but sit back and laugh. To read the past several weeks' reviews by Hokie beat writers and even some in the national media, the commentary can be summed up as: "Well the pressure seems to be off of offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring. He's been a stud the past several weeks". Two things:

A) That goes to show how Hokie Nation really does just want to compete for ACC titles and 10 win seasons
B) The recent resurgence in Hokie offense has certainly been a pleasure to see, but let's take a closer look at what they've really accomplished and what we should attribute that to. After doing so, I believe you, my Calm and Beloved Reader, will also chuckle at the notion that somehow, magically, Stinespring is suddenly a competent offensive coordinator.

Starting from 0-2, let's look at the competition where the Hokie offense has supposedly been "on fire".

East Carolina, North Carolina State, Central Michigan, Wake Forest and Duke. Against those 5 teams, the Hokies averaged 475.6 yds/game and 46.2 points/game. That is the greatest offensive performance in ANY 5 games of a season that I have seen at Virginia Tech since Michael Vick roamed the field. Plain and simple, that is great offensive output.

Pick up your glass of Kool-Aid, but before taking a sip, just take a quick peek at those opponents for a second. The average rank of those 5 opponents' total defense, is 87th best in the country. The average rank of those 5 opponents' scoring defense is 89th. These are some of the worst defenses in all of college football. The talent level and experience gap between the Hokie offensive players and the defensive players on these teams is ENORMOUS. Virginia Tech should have lit them up and did. Raise your glass.

WAIT, WAIT....Hold on for a second before you knock that delicious grape beverage back. It does smell a little bit funny doesn't it? Hmmm. Now during this stretch the Hokies did play one good defense - the Boston College Eagles. The Eagles are 22nd in overall defense and 56th in scoring defense. They have the nation's leading tackler in LB Luke Kuechly, and a great leader in LB Mark Herzlich. The talent level of Virginia Tech's offense overall is still better than Boston College's defense, but it was much closer. The result was the offense only had 343 yds and 19 points. Now don't get me wrong - 343 yds and 19 points from a Hokie offense would have been like water in the desert for me two-three years ago, but the offensive talent is far better now than it was then. The offense was still mis-utilizing players and looked out of sync, particularly throughout the entire first quarter.

Fortunately Boston College's offense is an absolute disaster, the Hokies got out of there with a 19-0 victory and life goes on. But it illustrates a point I've been making for a long time as outlined below:

Virginia Tech has gotten their recruiting to the level of the big boys in college football. They now field a team offensively and defensively with the athletic ability, toughness and football IQ to compete against any of the top programs in the country. I saw it last season against Alabama and I saw it this year against Boise State.

Since the elite teams in college football rarely play each other, that level of recruiting means that the Hokies just have a flat-out better roster than most of their opponents and as a result SHOULD win 8 games a year. When you throw in the fact that you have one of the greatest defensive coordinators in the history of the game on your side, he can take that talent level on defense and get another 2-3 wins a season. In fact 2-3 wins a season is what I think Bud Foster is worth by himself. Give him the Sisters of the Poor Academy, put him in the SEC and I bet Bud Foster goes 2-10. So the 2.5 Foster wins, along with the 8 talent wins adds up to 10-11 wins per year and that's exactly where Coach Beamer sits. Sounds good.

However, when going up against the other top teams, the talent level equals out, the physical play and Coach Foster give Tech a slight edge on defense usually, but the offense is typically UNBELIEVABLY OUTMATCHED, particularly early in games. Why on earth is that? Why does the Hokie offense look strong against weak defenses, look kind of sad against decent defenses and look like they don't even belong on the field in the first half against top defenses?????!?!?

It's not talent level. The answer is coaching. Now I am unhappy with Coach O'Cain because I've been singing the praises of Taylor for years, and it took O'Cain until Taylor's senior season to begin unleashing that talent. I don't like Coach Newsome, as I've seen far too many bullfighters on the offensive line using the OLE!!! technique. And those coaches, along with the poor gameplanning and ridiculous misuse of players are all Coach Stinespring's responsibility. (P.S. I am happy with Coach Sherman at WR coach).

And let me expound on Tyrod Taylor for a second. I recall when many, including some Superfans, weren't that sold on Tyrod Taylor. Yet much of the credit for how well Tech is playing on offense goes to his prodigious talent. Tyrod Taylor has been an X factor throughout his career. Many of the biggest plays made by the Hokie offense the past several seasons have been Tyrod making something out of a broken play. That is not good offensive coordinating, that is having a special player leading your offense and too often having to make something out of nothing.

So in closing, the Hokie offense has produced against scrub defenses in the past 6 weeks and struggled some against one competent defense. They are about to begin what we all know is the key run to this season which involves playing against Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami. Those are some tough defenses, particularly UNC and Miami. It is up to Coach Stinespring to have this team ready for these big games on offense, especially early and especially this season when there's so much youth all over the field on defense and Tech will probably need 25-30 pts to win those games. If the Hokies produce on offense against those opponents, I will personally be serving up the Kool-Aid at my new wet bar and you can have whichever flavor you prefer - though I recommend staying away from the grape.

GO HOKIES!!!!!!!


pixel said...

winning the conference is nice, hard to complain about the coaches when they do that. you make a good point about the recruiting bringing about a certain number of wins though. i have never been too high on stinespring....

Anand "EhhTee" Trivedi said...

Pixel, yes it's "nice"to be able to win the Conference on an annual basis if that were the stated goal. Except, it's not. I mean who's egotistical enough to build a trophy case for a trophy that they will never win… I will bet my retirement fund on it... That case will be forever empty.

MadJay said...

EhhTee, forever is probably too long of an estimate. I'll say again, it will take until Stinespring is gone. If a strong offensive coordinator is brought in who can coach up the players that are brought in and put together a gameplan that plays to their strengths, the Hokies could compete for a national title.

As EhhTee says, winning the conference is nice if that were the stated goal.