Monday, October 10, 2011

3 Key Plays - VT vs. Miami

How epic was this game? Put it this way - our annual open enrollment at work for the various benefits (insurance, dental, etc) is this week. After watching me watch this game against Miami, The Blonde has instructed me to bump up to the next life insurance level. I may also need to add a few things to our house insurance plan in case they "accidentally" get broken. Now, on to the 3 Key Plays.

1) With the Hokies ahead 14-0, the Canes faced a 3rd and 18 at their own 44 yard with 3:45 left in the 2nd quarter. The Hokie offense was looking dominant and the defense was getting the job done as well. The Hokies would get the ball back with enough time to drive down and get a FG before the half and even if they didn't, they would get the ball to begin the 2nd half with a 14-0 lead. Canes QB Jacory Harris made a huge heave down the sideline and for some insane reason (again this was 3RD AND 18!!!!), DB Cris Hill had let Miami receiver Allen Hurns get behind him. Fortunately, Hurns couldn't get a foot down in bounds, the refs ruled it incomplete and the Miami punt team took the field. Mission accomplished. The replay booth decided to review the play. Again, fortunately the replay showed that while the ball first touched Hurns' hands just as he picked up his back foot which was in bounds, he didn't actually pull it in and make a catch until the back foot was in the air and then his front foot came down out of bounds. After watching several replay angles, I was satisfied and went upstairs to get my phone so I could call some fellow Superfans at halftime and discuss the first half. When I came back down, an absolutely i-dont-think-that-word-means-what-you-think-it-means inconceivable thing had happened. The replay booth had somehow not only seen the evidence that the catch hadn't been made, but somehow overturned the call on the field by determining that the INSTANT the ball touched Hurns' hands, that somehow meant it was a catch. If this is in fact, the case, the replay booth is obviously using a different rulebook than the official NCAA rule book regarding a catch. Let's turn in our rulebooks to Rule 2, Article 4, Section 1(a) - talking about the definition of a catch.

"A player 'gains possession' when he secures the ball firmly by holding or controlling it while contacting the ground inbounds. The ball is then in player possession."

There is no wording in there that even SUGGESTS that the instant a player touches the football, it is considered a catch. And this blown call gave the Canes the ball on the Hokie 15-yd line which they converted to a touchdown on a proper, if disappointing application of the rulebook regarding simultaneous catches. The Hokies did go back down and score a touchdown going into halftime, but the Canes got their hope from this scoring drive and it changed the entire complexion of the game. It should never have happened and Coach Beamer has sent this play in to the ACC. Don't expect to hear anything from them on it.

2) With the Hokies having recaptured the momentum by going up 31-21 at the 12 minute mark of the 4th quarter, they brought a halt to the Canes' offensive execution and stopped Miami on a great sack by JR Collins on 3rd and 12 knocking Miami back to their own 38 yd line. Amazingly, after the sack, Jacory Harris stood directly over Collins, taunting him as Collins was LAYING ON HIS BACK and the referee was standing a grand total of 4 inches away!!! Collins made an inexcusable error in throwing the ball in Harris' face, but at worst this was offsetting penalties. Obviously, Harris was committing unsportsmanlike conduct and Collins did as well. Now this was different than most unsportsmanlike calls, where the second guy gets busted. The reason is that the refs usually miss the first guy and just see the retaliation. In this case, the head referee was literally standing there watching Harris taunt Collins and did not throw a flag on both players, but rather just on Collins. I will not defend Collins. In that situation, you absolutely must do whatever it takes to get off the field. Let your performance do the talking and if Collins had just laughed at Harris, the ref might have even thrown the flag solely on Harris. But even if the ref had called it properly in this case, as dead-ball offsetting penalties, it would have been 4th and19 and the way the Hokies offense was playing, the game very likely would have been over. As it played out, the Canes converted that into another touchdown drive to get them back into the game. I just couldn't believe how bad the call was by the ref, but if you're Collins, you literally could have singlehandedly cost your team the football game and despite how well he played in that game, if you fight for your brother to the core, you can't let a jerk like Harris get to you.

3) 1:01 left in the game. Trailing 35-31. 4th and 1, and the game, and some might argue the season, hung in the balance. One of the most well-executed plays in recent Hokie history was pulled off and QB Logan Thomas, who even if the Hokies had lost, had the game of a lifetime, capped it off in a fashion that took his performance from phenomenal to legendary. He galloped 19 yards and into the history books, leading VT to a 38-35 win in one of the great games that Lane Stadium has ever seen.


LuvzAznChix said...

I have a question. Why do the officials (regardless of what conference they're from) tend to stiff the Hokies on some years more than others. For example: last year, T-Mobile's final season, we were one of the least penalized teams in all of FBS. This year we're well on our way, NOT to becoming a top 10, but a TOP 5 MOST PENALIZED teams. Any light you could shed on this? Is there any light ANYONE could shed on this. I just want to understand.

Oh, and could you please explain why when we do get penalized or flagged, it is almost ALWAYS at critical points in the game. Again, I just want to understand.

MadJay said...

I can't explain why we are more penalized this year vs. last year, but the difference is not as great as you claim. The Hokies are middle of the pack this year in penalty yards (58th) vs. last year they were 19th. However, the difference in penalty yards per game is only about 10 yds/game so it's not as big a gap as it seems.

I do know why the penalties are at critical points of the game. The answer is - they're not. It's just that in retrospect the ones that are critical are always memorable for that reason. The Hokies have certainly had some penalties this year that were just mental laziness and that's VERY disappointing but the Miami game is the first time this season I've thought that there were blown calls that really impacted the game. Yes the Hokies still won, but the game should not have been that close and it was because of those blown calls.

Against Clemson that false start was huge but that wasn't an official making a bad call against the Hokies, that was an obvious mistake by Andrew Miller. And in the game against Miami, the overturned incomplete pass wasn't a penalty, just a complete failure by the replay official in the booth to understand the rule.

LuvzAznChix said...

Whatever, like I said, it's just gonna be one of those years for us in terms of officiating. Other than the obvious, not much they can do about it.