Sunday, September 26, 2010
2) With 15 seconds left in the first half, and the Hokies leading 7-0, the Eagles again had driven down to the Hokie 11 yd-line, but this time they were out of timeouts. Football dictates that you take one shot at the end zone and if it's not there, the QB throws the ball away immediately so that you at least get a gimme FG. BC QB Dave Shinskie decided to try and run for it and SS Davon Morgan made a huge effort play to drag Shinskie down at the 1 yd-line. End of half, and the Hokies still led 7-0.
3) Facing 2nd and 22 and trailing 16-0 with 3:00 left in the 3rd quarter, backup Eagle QB Mike Marscovetra had the only real shot for the Eagles in the 2nd half. He threw a deep jump ball up for 6'6" WR Ifeanyi Momah. Momah pushed off on the play (didn't get flagged for it) and grabbed the ball, but couldn't hang on to it as he landed. It was incomplete, Marscovetra was sacked on the 3rd down play and the Hokie defense dominated the rest of the way.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Hokie fans began to exhale a big sigh of relief when Virginia Tech bean to pull way from the East Carolina Pirates on Saturday afternoon. However, this game falls far short of the execution and level of play needed to take this team to big victories down the road. First, a game summary, and then the analysis.
The ECU pirates sensed a wounded beast in our Hokies after a disappointing loss to Boise State and a demoralizing loss to James Madison University. And with blood in the water of that sort, an energized ECU squad coming off of two big wins had the wind at their backs to hand the Hokies yet another defeat. The underdogs came out swinging and at early points of the game looked capable of delivering a knock out punch.
Comparable to the game against Boise State, against ECU the Virginia Tech defense allowed 17 points in just a little over a quarter of play. During ECU's first two drives of the game, they marched down the field making the Hokie defense appear hapless to stop them from moving the ball. That earned the Pirates a field goal and a touchdown on each drive while having shut down the Hokie offense. Then, Virginia tech responded with a 60 yard drive resulting in a touchdown run into the endzone by Ryan Williams so as not to go quietly through the first quarter.
Upon the opening of the second quarter ECU once again punched in another touchdown off a 7 yard pass from quarterback Dominique Davis to WR Dwayne Harris. On the ensuing VT drive, Tyrod Taylor passed to Jarrett Boykin who caught the ball and subsequently fumbled it only most fortunately such that the Hokies recovered. The play went sloppily for the Hokies, although they ended up with good field position. Ryan Williams left the game early with a hamstring injury. Stumbling their way through the rest of the half, the Hokies put up one more touchdown to close out the half trailing by 3 points.
During the second half, the Hokies took to better form, but before they did Darren Evans fumbled on the Virginia Tech 39 yardline. The defense held the Pirates to a 41 yard field goal on its ensuing drive. The Hokie offense responded with two touchdowns, both on runs by David Wilson.
In the fourth quarter, the Hokies exploded and put on the show that college football fans had expected to see during this weeks game and last weeks game. The defense started getting to the ECU quarterback, opposing drives resulting in punts, and pressure lead to thrown interceptions. Rashad Carmichael's interception lead to a 68 yard run for a touchdown, and Tyrod Taylor completed a touchdown pass of 69 yards to Jarret Boykin. The Hokies ended the day with a 49 to 27 victory.
Obviously, every Hokie fan exhaled a big sigh of relief during the fourth quarter when we realized that our boys wouldn't be going down to 0-3 on the season. After already experiencing the worst season opening in decades, fans rallied behind our Hokies in the hopes of salvaging the rest of the season. But despite this win the Hokies play over the past three games raises some very serious concerns, some of them recycled from seasons past, but one in particular that's very new.
Let me start with the newest and most disconcerting. The Hokie defense hasn't been the terror of seasons past against their opponents. They have a lot of new starters on that side of the ball, but that's never really been a big concern in the past because defensive coordinator Bud Foster knows how to whip his troops into shape to make the lean, mean fighting machine we've all come to know as Hokie defense. The defense has allowed 383, 235, and 361 yards respectively in the first three contests of this season. Against top 25 teams, those make for respectable numbers, but considering contests against ECU and JMU, those numbers are disconcerting. The amount of points scored totals 81 thus far this season, another number the Hokies need to improve. They way the BSU and ECU offenses marched themselves down the field in their respective first quarters of play makes an onlooking Hokie fan want to bury his head into his hands and bite his nails. The defense has traditionally been the rock that keeps the Hokies competitive throughout the season, and the need for that isn't going to go away this season. I hope this breaks down to inexperience that Bud Foster is molding into the defense that we're used to watching as a dominating force on the football field. My suspicion is that we'll see growing improvement, so I'm optimistic that we'll see our Hokie defense come to form. I just hope it happens soon enough so that Virginia Tech can persevere through the ACC in-conference schedule.
On the other side of the ball, we've seen some of the same problems on the field. Sorry to keep beating this dead horse as we do here at TSF so often, but it's a fact. The first thing I noticed was the playcalling. There's a lot of aspects the playcalling to criticize, but I want to focus on one in particular. During this game and prior games of the season, the passing game continuously has gone for the "home run" pass, sometimes as a called play and sometimes as the result of a play breaking down. Sometimes it makes sense to pull a long pass to catch a defense off guard or in times of sheer desperation, but I see the Hokie offense going to this too often. Instead they need to focus on more frequently executing the short pass. It plays into controlling the pace of the drive and the clock, which is extremely important in the later minutes of a close game. Also, I'm uncomfortable with the number of times our quarterback has had to rush to escape the danger of a sack. It's great that Tyrod Taylor's foot speed give the Hokie offense that option, but the frequency with which he has to use it worries me. Quarterback rushing may do well against the non-BCS conference teams, and even against most of the teams in the ACC, but it won't win an ACC championship and it certainly won't win a major BCS bowl. Of these broken down scrambling plays, Taylor had nine rushes for 32 yards. Against a more formidable defense, any of those nine plays could have resulted in big losses for the Hokie offense. Given the experience and talent of this Hokie offense, these problems should be in their rear view mirror, but we'll do what we do as fans every season in this regard, hope that it gets better.
The Hokies open their ACC season against Boston College next week. The's a lot of season left to salvage, and a big win against the Eagles could put the season on the right track towards intra-conference success.
LET'S GO HOKIES
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
- You're supposed to dominate this team and you're confident you will. No sense in not getting any points by turning the ball over on downs.
- You have a very inexperienced kicker in Chris Hazley. What better way to get him some good situational experience than a 42-yard angled kick in the rain?
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Coming off their near miss against Boise State, the Virginia Tech Hokies will take the field against the James Madison Dukes at Lane Stadium for the second game of Hokie's 2010 season. Since just a few short seasons ago, when Appalachian State gave the mightiest of the mightiest of upsets by beating the Michigan Wolverines, every Division IA school would only risk the peril of embarrassment not to consider something of the like happening to them. And I hope that Frank Beamer and the Hokies have that in mind as well. A loss to the James Madison Dukes would probably result in every Lane Stadium attendee running full speed to the Duck Pond screaming in horror at game's end to drown themselves in the most expedited of fashion. But I only conjure this nightmare to paint the worst of the worst pictures. It's not like we ever lost to TEMPLE or anything.
The Dukes come off a crushing win over Morehead State. (That's not a joke. The school's actually named that.) They came away with a 48-7 victory. The offense put on a scoring display that had the game over before the first half ended. Let me describe exactly who the Hokie defense has to contain during Saturday's contest. Senior quarterback Drew Dudzick stands 6' 1” and weighs in at 210 lbs. During last week's game, he threw for 189 yards of passing, which exceeds his total passing of his prior years as a backup combined. He threw for a 53% completion rate. Catching Dudzick passes, wide receiver Kerby Long reached 112 yards of receiving on the day. He stands 5'11” weighing in at 185 lbs. The Dukes have a handful of tailbacks who can carry the ball well. Senior Jamal Sullivan stands 5'9” weighing 220 lbs. He only needs 160 yards this season to pass the 1000 yard career mark. Griff Yancey, another Senior, stands at 5'11” weighing 205 lbs. He had 66 yards of rushing against Morehead and has already broken the 1000 yard mark with 1332 yards on his career with 18 touchdowns. He also has the hands of a receiver, so JMU's playcalling can make use of him more dynamically than just handoffs for rush yardage. And finally, Freshment running back Jordan Anderson had a good day against Morehead State also rushing for 66 yards. He stands 5'11” and weighs in at 200 lbs. One common characteristic you've probably noticed, all the JMU offensive stars stand under 6'0” and don't weigh a whole lot. The Dukes have a serious size disadvantage against the Hokie defense. I expect that Bud Foster's squad will manhandle them unless they've got some really good tricks up their sleeve. On the defensive side of the ball, the Duke's holding of Morehead State to a mere 7 points of offense, coming in the fourth quarter, speaks something about their defensive abilities, but when they face an offense that scored 30 points against Boise State after blowing an entire first quarter, we can safely predict that Virginia Tech shouldn't have much trouble getting themselves on the board early and frequently. But still, let's hope our kicking doesn't go wide right inside the 30 yard line.
I think that the Hokies need to keep their main focus on getting a solid victory to regroup as a team and get some wind back into their sales after the Boise State loss. I really dislike watching my team let big games like that slip through their fingers, but especially with regard to season openers, I've gotten a little used to it. With Boise State's schedule only getting easier from this point onward, the Hokies could well establish themselves as the season opener to beat for a team to march themselves to national champions. Think back over USC, LSU (second game), Alabama, and now potentially Boise State winning the crystal trophy.
The Hokies have a long season ahead themselves, and that season consists of a very winnable schedule to get back to the ACC title game, and even a BCS bowl. They certainly have their challenges ahead of them, especially in the Yellow Jackets and Hurricanes, but if the Hokies play at their best, they could win the Coastal division and even the conference title. Alamaba's a great team, but we don't see many teams run the table two straight season in a row. Ohio State could go down to Miami, especially considering how the rebuilt Miami squad has been coming strong out of the gate early in recent seasons. Texas has more than a couple of tough contests on their in-conference schedule. The top of the rankings still leave a lot of room for a VT squad to reach by season's end.
Let's go Hokies!
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Friday, September 03, 2010
The wait is finally over. College football officially made its 2010 debut with last night’s games. This weekend across the country football fans will once again be able to watch the game they love. Can I get a “Woohoo?”
No game this weekend is bigger than the one pitting the #3 Boise State Broncos against the #10 Hokies. (#5 and #6 if you look at the Coaches Poll.) The game will be played at “neutral” FedEx Field in the metro-DC area. Metro-DC, being perhaps the largest concentration of Virginia Tech alum, can hardly be called neutral. It’s like saying sure I can outswim a shark, but only if the race is in my neighborhood pool. Water is still water and he’s still in his element.
Still, one must give AD Jim Weaver and the rest of the decision makers credit for even scheduling
The truth is the Broncos will have to continue to show their dominance in order to gain the respect that they deserve. This brings us to this game on Monday.
The Broncos have everything to gain with a win against the Hokies. Outside of
Conversely, the Hokies have a team that is stacked on offense. That, combined with Coach Bud Foster’s ability to produce diamonds from coal dust, can put the Hokies in a good place if they can pull off this victory.
Here’s a breakdown of the different matchups we’ll see next week.
The Broncos are heading to DC tomorrow evening (which seems late) and will probably still be making adjustments.
The Hokies have some questions here, but I like the likes of Steven Friday, and J.R. Collins. Both did well in the last scrimmage.
Overall, I like this fact: the Hokie offense has vastly improved from years past. What this provides is a great springboard to work on the skills of this less experienced defense.
Much has been heralded about the attack that Kellen Moore’s arm and ability to get to the end zone. His ability in the red zone is sick. In 2009, he had 27 red zone touchdowns with one interception. However, the cat’s out of the bag and the majority of those were Austin Pettis. As we’ll see later in my keys to the game, smothering him, especially in the red zone will be one of the keys to winning this game.
The other receivers are pretty sick as well, most notably Titus Young. The Hokie backfield will have their work cut out for them. Coach Foster's strategy may have been revealed slightly when the travel roster came out last week.
Virginia Tech O-line vs.
There’s been talk about how strong Ryan Winterswyk is at end and how much trouble he may give Andrew Lanier since Nick Becton’s status is still unpredictable with the recent turf-toe injury. [Becton was given the go-ahead to play yesterday, but it’s unclear how much.] While I agree this is a question, especially since we're talking about Tyrod Taylor’s blind side, I think Lanier has been practicing well and I envision 18-eggs-a-day Greg Nosal can help out a bit on this side. David Wang (brother of Ed Wang) is Nosal’s backup and he has already proven to be a valuable asset at guard. Overall, the Hokies O-line looks pretty solid, especially if Becton is back and can be affective.
Also, with four threats in the back-field (Ryan Williams, Darren Evans, David Wilson, and Tyrod Taylor), I’m confident that the Hokies will be wearing these guys down and forcing the defense to put way too many in the box. This should open up the secondary for the big play… if Stinespring has the vision to see that. Play action screens, something that Stiney learned to do late in the season last year will be important once the Broncos are tired and/or when they start to cheat. See keys to victory below.
Virginia Tech Wideouts vs.
The running corp. aside, the Hokie wideouts are tremendously talented. Danny Coale, Dyrell Roberts, Jarrett Boykin, and D.J. Coles all had fantastic summers. I have watched these guys mature over the years and, it wasn’t until mid-season last year, that the coaches figured out how to use them properly. See MadJay’s post on Stiney.
Speaking of big play: the Hokie coaches seem bent on emptying the clip on this year. Every possible weapon they have, they’re using. This includes not redshirting David Wilson and potentially playing second-string quarterback Logan Thomas at tight end. Though, since it’s been announced that Thomas is truly the second-string QB, it’s doubtful the staff will endanger him in this way.
Overall Keys To Victory
1) Contain Pettis – Based on what I’ve seen in the travel roster, I truly believe that Foster will be running several plays in the nickle of dime, giving the Hokies an extra back (or two) to contain Pettis. Based on the guys they’re taking, I think Foster is going for one thing: SPEED. They’ll need that speed to close the gaps, especially if they double Pettis and play the other receivers loose. I think Foster is like the lead architect of the second Death Star. You think it isn't ready but when you send in the rebels... cue General Ackbar.
2) Establish the run game, control the clock – This is absolutely necessary for several reasons.
a. Wear down the Broncos' front line
b. Burn the cheating DBs on play action or screen/slant passes.
c. Keep the ball out of Kellen Moore’s hands.
3) Score early – Lets face it, that’s always a key, but remember that this is – for all intents and purposes – a home game. Keep the Hokie faithful involved and force
4) Everyone’s favorite key – Special Teams – We don’t know how our kickers are going to perform at game speed. If they can pull through and knock in those fieldgoals and make field position the Hokies’ friend, MadJay’s and my heart rates will stay just under the danger level.
On that note, I think we’ll have 9-1 dialed into our phones, just in case.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Over the years, we at TSF have called for Coach Stinespring's head on many, MANY occasions. He never deserved the offensive coordinator spot in the first place, and once in it, his flair for buffoonery and ineptitude has really been unmatched in all of college football. An excellent tight ends coach and recruiter, Stinespring has left poor decision after poor decision in his wake when it comes to the Virginia Tech offense. The program has risen to prominence with a tremendous defense and a boat anchor for an offense. And we've called Coach Beamer to account for tolerating this incompetence.
On top of all of that, we've blamed Stinespring for Mike O'Cain who is an absolutely terrible QB coach. Yes, Tyrod Taylor is starting to get recognized this year, and while we're happy to finally have some company on that bandwagon, let's not forget that this is in SPITE of O'Cain not because of him. Taylor is a prodigious talent who should have reached this level earlier in his career. If Stinespring really knew football, he would have had Coach O'Cain forced out long ago. All that said, I detect a difference in the offense this season, and it comes from the high standards Coach Stinespring is setting in pre-season practice. Standards that were never in place before, because he didn't have the credibility from the players to be able to set them.
Following the utter debacle against Nebraska last year, saved only by two completely MIRACULOUS plays by Tyrod Taylor, we heard something from Coach Stinespring that had never been heard before. He owned up to the disaster. For the first time, it wasn't the talent-level, or the rotating QB's or a guy just "not getting it done" out on the field. It was Stinespring, standing up in a team meeting and acknowledging the role that he had played in the offensive failure and then going hard to work on how to correct it. We don't know whether Coach Beamer sat Stiney down or not, but it doesn't matter. From that point on the season changed.
Coach Stinespring began using some ideas like a middle screen, and a moving pocket for Tyrod Taylor and combined with the enormous talents of Ryan Williams, Tyrod Taylor and the receiving corps, the offense actually started being productive. And all this team has needed to compete at the elite level of football is for the offense to just become productive. It doesn't need to be a record setter. It doesn't have to be a top 10 offense. It just needs to be efficient.
The fact remains that Stinespring still does not have a good feel for the game and I don't like how he calls it most of the time. His insistence on misusing his personnel continued even through the Hokies' strong run on offense to end the 2009 season. But he's sitting on the greatest collection of talent EVER on offense - and that includes the 1999 season. There are at LEAST 8 NFL caliber players on this offense - Williams/Evans/Wilson/Taylor/Boykin/Marcus Davis/Andre Davis/Brooks. Stiney knows that if he tries to get too fancy with an offense like this and blows it, not even whatever blackmail material he has that's kept him in this job thus far (ok so it's probably just Coach Beamer's blind loyalty) will be enough to save him this year.
Now in the interest of being fair, I do want to take one second and acknowledge something I have been wrong about with this offense. WR Coach Kevin Sherman, when he came over from Wake Forest looked like a surefire disaster and his first season in 2006 was not impressive at all. I wrote about what a mistake bringing him on staff was. But since then I have been nothing less than ecstatic with what Coach Sherman has been doing. Yes, he has had some great raw material to work with - and does again this year - but the receivers block properly (when was the last holding call on a receiver you can remember?) and they have really become a weapon in the offense, overall. Kudos Coach, for proving me wrong.
Speaking of being wrong, I have also said on more than one occasion, that VT will never win a national championship with Coach Stinespring running the offense. You don't know how badly I want to be wrong about this. I hope I get to write mea culpa, after mea culpa and eat crow for breakfast, lunch and dinner about how great this season is. But if the first play from scrimmage on Monday night against Boise State is an attempted bomb off of a play-fake that ends up in an 8 yd loss on a sack, you'll know where to find me - I'll be throwing myself off my roof.