Monday, October 29, 2012

Game Preview - VT vs. Miami

Isn't this something? The Hokies are 4-4 which means I've only watched 4 games of Hokie football this year. I know this is going to sound nuts, but the year before I got to Tech the Hokies were 2-8-1. I went to nearly every home game during my career at Tech, missing 2 maybe 3 games total and the Hokies grew into a force to be reckoned with.

I watched the Hokies religiously every year after I left Tech, getting back to as many games as I could, spending god knows how much money on ESPN Gameplan back in its infancy where you had to pay for the entire day and then I'd just watch the Hokie game. And then this year, before the season started, I decided I'm only going to watch wins and the Hokies go back into the tank again.

Maybe there's a karmic connection between my willingness to suffer the pain, wear and tear of supporting Hokie football all-in and the Hokies having great seasons. Even knowing that, I can't go back. The dull, sick feeling of seeing a Hokie loss scroll across my iPhone totally sucks, but it pales next to the wrenching agony I used to be in. My home life is better, my health is better and who knows - maybe this poor performance by the team will force Coach Beamer into making those changes on offense.

Having said that, let me offer what I've seen in the Hokie wins that might tie into what's been going on this season. As if it wasn't plainly obvious what's going on to anyone who has watched Hokie football with even the least bit of zealotry the past few years. The reasons for failure are no different than they have been for a decade or more. The Hokies are missing the gamechangers in the trenches and the offensive scheme and playcalling has reverted to the trainwreck we all witnessed from 2006-2009.

I wonder if there's anything different about how the offensive coaching is structured during the week and on gameday than it was last year in 2011 when Tech's offense showed the first signs of making sense since the Rickey Bustle era? When it relied on rightly timed calls and decent execution instead of the magic of a Tyrod Taylor or a Bryan Randall making a heaping glass of lemonade out of a stinking pile of lemons?

Hmmm, yes that's right. Boy Wonder Bryan Stinespring has left his motivational hot spot on the sidelines where he pumped everybody up during the 2011 season, and joined Coach O'Cain in the booth this year. And during the offseason he brought the pistol and pre-snap motion concepts into the playbook and is doing most of the game-planning work around those during the week. Suddenly, and I'm sure on a COMPLETELY unrelated note, even in Hokie wins, the offense has looked like a circus, complete with damn Benny Hill music and people running around chaotically at 1.5x normal speed!!!!!!!

Now despite this preposterously poor performance on offense, the Hokies find themselves at 4-4 and 2-2 in the conference. And because UNC is ineligible, the Hokies actually are in complete control of their destiny to - and I know how stupid this sounds, believe me - GO TO THE ACC TITLE GAME as the Coastal Division representative.

It starts against a Miami team that is coming off of 3 straight losses but has dealt with a lot of injuries and is now coming off it's bye week. It starts on the road IN Miami on a Thursday night on national TV. And the key to the game will be can the Hokies cobble together an O-line that can get a push on the defensive front and actually execute a sensible offensive gameplan? I think the Hokie defense can hold these Canes to 17-20 pts, but I'm completely unconvinced the offense can put up that many.

And by the way, speaking of defense, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this season, Coach Foster's defense has shown a chink in it's armor, to be sure. But I think it's safe to say they're showing improvement. The defense I saw flying around the field in the final 3 quarters vs. Duke is what I'm accustomed to seeing. And by all accounts, the Hokie D was a force against Clemson, holding it to a season low in yardage.

Lastly, let me go ahead, since I have to do this every few years or so (see item #10) and defend Logan Thomas. All this garbage from Todd McShay and even fans in Hokie Nation about how the "ball doesn't come naturally out of his hand" or any of the other countless ridiculous things that have been said, are just plain dumb. Thomas is on track to have a better season than last year statistically, minus the INT's, and several of the ones I've seen haven't been his fault (tipped balls or heaves at the end of a half). Sure he's had some bad throws, overthrowing most of the time in that case, but this is his 2nd full season as a QB. LT has unlimited talent, he's a leader, he has poise, his receivers have dropped a lot of passes, and the fact is, Thomas has made throws throughout his career that very few QB's are capable of making. Period.

So the Hokies have a shot to hit the reset button on their season on Thursday night. They either will or they won't and it's my personal hope that I get to stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning that night watching a sweet Virginia Tech victory.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

3 Key Plays - VT vs. Duke

Wow, it felt REALLY good to watch a Virginia Tech game again. Although I have to admit, after seeing the score, I was in a complete state of shock watching the first quarter. I was thinking to myself "How in the name of all things maroon and orange are the Hokies going to come back, shut Duke down and rip off 41 straight points?" And what's so interesting about that is that it made identifying the three key plays that much easier.

1) With all the momentum in the world against the Hokies, they faced a 20-0 deficit and a 2nd and 2 at the Duke 44 yd-line late in the 1st quarter. Logan Thomas dropped back and found WR Marcus Davis for a 40 yard bomb that put the ball down on the 4 yd-line and the Hokies would pound it in from there, making the score 20-7. Huge turning point.

2) The next play was the critical play of the game. Ahead 20-10, Duke had driven down to the Hokies 29 yd-line with about 30 seconds left in the half. One more completion and it was a definitely make-able FG for the Blue Devils to recapture the momentum and go ahead 23-10. But QB Sean Renfree's throw hit the all-time leading receiver in Duke's history (Connor Vernon) in the hands at the 20 yd-line and miraculously it bounced off, settling in Detrick Bonner's hands, who returned it to the Duke 42 yd-line.

3) And the coup de gras was Logan Thomas finding Davis all along down the near sideline for a 42 yd TD completion on the very next play to make it 20-17 going into halftime and the Hokies steamrolled in the 2nd half, running away with the game.

Make no mistake folks, the Hokies played with a lot of guts. But that pass to Connor Vernon is caught 99 out of 100 times, and we're talking about a completely different ballgame if that had happened. The Hokies have to execute at a very high level at the skill positions this year, because the offensive line is a MASH unit of injuries and they weren't exactly dominant even when the starters were healthy. Plus they just lost their best lineman in Andrew Miller at center and the backup, Caleb Farris is also out with an ankle.

The team is ok, but they are a long way from being good. We'll see what steps they can take against Clemson. Look for the preview later this week.


Thursday, October 04, 2012

Game Preview - UNC vs. Virginia Tech

Every once in a while, in football, you'll have a game that isn't about the matchup. The personnel groupings of the offense vs. the defense don't mean a damn thing when considering who will win the game. Sure, the Tarheels bring a different defensive scheme and offensive scheme to the table than they did last year. But the defense is the old 4-2-5, bring six on the rush, cover with five that Gary Patterson perfected at TCU. And the offense is the Gus Malzahn/Chad Morris-influenced offense that the Hokies have seen against Clemson, ECU and others. It's the "snap the ball as many times as you can in a game to tire your opponent" philosophy.

Sure, the Hokies struggled to stop Clemson, but the point is that these schemes aren't "new". They are, however, in their first year of implementation at UNC so those players don't have all the execution details down yet. To that point, UNC has played 5 games. Their losses? To Wake Forest and Louisville. Their wins? Against Elon, East Carolina and Idaho. So they haven't beaten anyone good, and they've crushed their less talented opponents.

But all of that is really thrown out the window. Because, this is one of those season-defining games that Coach Beamer has literally built his career on. I remember it, in 1995 coming against Miami. More recently, in 2010 it was against NC State in Raleigh and in 2011 it was against Miami at Lane. The formula is simple. Coach Beamer loses some games in the season he shouldn't lose and the team's back is against the wall. Are they going to get back up off the mat and fight? Or will they pack it in? And you know what? Hokie Nation eats this up and for that matter, so does the rest of the country. The Hokies became the Little Team that Could. Sure we might lose some games we shouldn't, but by golly, we pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and make a good season out of it (with 2003 being the glaring exception, when a huge win against #2 Miami was followed up by a loss at Pitt). Yeah, those losses knock the Hokies out of the national title picture every year, but America loves an underdog right?

And so here in 2012, we till this same ground. The Hokies find themselves at that tipping point yet again, having lost to Pitt and Cincinnati. The players had their obligatory "players-only" meeting this week. The coaches are gee-whizzing and aw-shucksing about how talented the opponent is and how it really isn't about the slow starts. And really, I haven't watched the Hokies losses, but I've read about them and I think it's obvious that the 2012 Hokies team has the talent to beat UNC. They unleashed over 300 yards of offense on Cincinnati in the 2nd half. They held Georgia Tech to 192 yards rushing. These guys can play, but the question is - will they?

There is one defining characteristic easily recognized in most Coach Beamer teams - guts. His teams hit, play physical and almost never give up. I mentioned earlier the 2003 Hokies and they are an exception. That was a team filled with incredibly talented, but selfish locker room cancers, like DeAngelo Hall and Marcus Vick. They did NOT play hard-nosed and go all out, every snap.

Now, I don't get the sense that this year's team is filled with prima donnas, per se, but even in the wins I watched, I didn't see a relentless, gutsy, go all-out like this is your last snap, type of effort that I'm accustomed to. The execution has been sorely lacking to be sure, but I think there's something that's been going on during the week that has led to that. Bruce Taylor tipped me off a little with his post-Cincy-game locker room comments about how "they're ain't gonna be any more joking around during the week. It's all serious now." That same message was re-delivered by Taylor during the players-only meeting on Monday.

I think what he was trying to explain to the younger players is that it takes a hard-nosed approach, ALL THE TIME. In Middle Drill. In position drills, every rep each player has to show toughness and competitiveness. You can't take it easy, joke around during the week and then just turn it on like a light switch at kickoff on Saturdays. So really the game on Saturday at UNC has more to do with if the Hokies are able to play with the intensity, focus and execution that have enabled them to beat more talented teams in the past. I think we're going to learn more about how the season will unfold based on HOW they play this game. If Taylor's message to the team really sank in, they are going to come out and play with guts and intensity from the opening whistle and execute like they are capable of, because during the week they listened to coaching and practiced each rep with that intense focus. If not, they will lose to UNC and the season will likely go off the rails like the 2003 season. Oh and by the way? 2003 was the last time the Hokies didn't win 10 games in a season. I hope this year turns out different.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cincinnati PostGame

I have had several of you contact me and ask how things are going in my new approach to the season where I find out the Hokies football score after the game and then only watch the game in a win. So I would like to take a brief opportunity to address that and then comment on the season to date.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Game Preview - VT vs. Cincinnati

Unlike many of you, I was not that fired up after the Bowling Green win last week. It wasn't a key game, didn't deserve 3 Key Plays in what became a blowout and the Hokies got off to yet another slow start this season on offense. The way the offense looked last season, with Coach Stinespring down on the sidelines and O'Cain in the booth, does any human being on the planet understand why Stiney moved back to the booth this year?

The offense has suddenly turned to mush. Last year's offense was no juggernaut but it seemed somewhat crisp at times, for the only time I can remember in Stiney's tenure. Now there is no way that this change back to sloppy play and slow starts can be just a coincidence. The Hokies go into FedEx Field on Saturday against a Cincinnati team that SMOKED the Pitt Panthers. The same Pitt Panthers that took the Hokies behind the ol' woodshed two weeks ago in a game that I gloriously did not and will not ever see. So Cincy is for real and a slow start could absolutely be the end of the Hokies in this one.

VT Offense vs. Cincy Defense
The Hokies will be without RB Tony Gregory as his knee flamed up after a solid performance last week. Michael Holmes seems to have hit a freshman wall, while JC Coleman continues to improve, so don't be surprised to see Coleman get a lot of playing time. And I'm still trying to figure out why Martin Scales isn't getting more carries. But while the Hokies do need to find some running game, the mission critical key to this entire game is going to be the play of Logan Thomas. LT has to rise up and make some plays. Yes, there have been drops and poor protection at times. But he's going to have to take over a game at some point this season and overcome all of that and Saturday seems like that kind of opportunity. Cincy is a senior-laden defense, they're not going to make stupid mistakes. It's going to take bigtime throws and making plays with his feet for Logan to get the Hokies going on offense. Not average plays, but BIG plays. He certainly has the physical talent, it's time to see how psychologically ready he is.

Cincy Offense vs. VT Defense
Cincy will spread the field and then hit you with the Florida running game. Unbalanced lines, motion, QB read plays, it's the full enchilada of spread offense. The Hokies have made a change in the starting lineup on D, with super-athletic Ronny VanDyke getting his first start over the embattled Jeron Gouviea-Winslow at whip. JGW will still probably play, but you need athletes all over the field on defense to slow the Bearcat offense down. Butch Jones is a helluva coach and Bud Foster has his work cut out for him. If the Hokies can get out to an early lead and make the Bearcats more one-dimensional, that would be a huge help in freeing up the defensive line to pass rush, but it'd also be a huge help if Kate Upton applied to be our house-cleaner. Doesn't mean it's going to happen.

Special Teams
The Hokies have been much improved on special teams this season but I think this will be a push between the two teams. Both the Hokies and Bearcats have attempted few FG's, and while Cincy has the edge in punting, the Hokies have the edge in punt returns. I expect field position to be a back and forth tradeoff most of the game.

As it often does, Saturday's game will likely be determined by time of possession and turnovers. Not that it will necessarily be a close game. These two teams are momentum teams, more than most, and if one gets going and scoring points, it could be a looooonnnnnggg day for the opponent. I really hope the Hokies win so I can watch this game, because if they don't, I have a feeling it's because they'll lose worse than they did to Pittsburgh. The crowd leans VT and that could help, so if you're in the DC area, turn out and BE LOUD!!!!


Friday, September 21, 2012

Game Preview - VT vs. Bowling Green

Well, this is certainly an interesting place to find ones' self. For the first time since I can remember (at least 10 years) I have to write a game preview for an upcoming game, without having watched the footage of the Hokies' previous game. Yes, as a recap to those of you who don't know, this season I am recording the Hokie games and then after the game is over, if it's a loss, I won't watch the game. From all the gnashing of teeth I saw on the intertubes this week, I think this decision has served me very well in not watching the loss to a subpar Pittsburgh squad. I can't imagine how the Hokies lost that game, but it was apparently turnover fever on offense, and the defense couldn't stop the run. My heart and liver will take your word for that, HokieNation.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Game Preview - VT vs. Pitt

Pittsburgh is a program in transition in so many ways. They've had 4 coaches in a little over a season. Think about that - 4 COACHES! In addition to that, the Panthers are going to be leaving the Big East and joining the ACC next season. There's just so much in the way of distractions, that it can't help but cause a loss of focus in these players. And that has shown up in their first two games, where they looked terrible and were blown out in both, one of which was to Division I-AA Youngstown State.

3 Key Plays - VT vs. Austin Peay

I was so disgusted with how terrible the Hokies played against Austin Peay for the first and third quarters that I didn't do a 3 Key Plays. But now that I've had some time to simmer down, I will.

1) The Kyshoen Jarrett punt return was THE key play. It fired up the team, put them in position to score the first touchdown and got the fans into the game.

2) 12:32 left in the half and the Hokies had 4th and 1. I couldn't BEGIN to tell you how much this play angers me. INFURIATES me. Ok, so it's at home against Austin Peay and it's 4th and 1 with Logan Thomas under center. Everyone in the stadium, including the folks selling turkey legs under the stands know that he's going to QB sneak it here. Is there REALLY a chance the Hokies are going to lose this game if they fail this 4th down? Is this not the exactly, once-in-a-season, perfect chance to fake the QB sneak and throw the easiest TD pass to a TE or back leaking out of the backfield? Think about it - by running some sort of fake here, you basically strike fear in the hearts of every defensive coordinator you face the rest of the season by showing them that you do have a fake off of this formation. It forces them to prepare for something other than Logan Thomas on the sneak. I was livid that the Hokies didn't fake it here and then I was damn near unconscious when I saw that they couldn't push Austin Peay back enough for him to get a yard. As excited as I was about the 3rd and 1 play action pass to George George against Arkansas State last season, I was at LEAST that furious over the lack of creativity on this play. I swear to you all, there is something wrong with Bryan Stinespring being in the booth this season. I swear it. More on this in a later post, but I know this is causing problems for O'Cain.

3) 3rd and 4 from the Austin Peay 9 yard line with 7:50 left in the 3rd quarter. Michael Holmes makes a great, GREAT cut and gets not only the first down, but the touchdown as well. This score iced the game, but it also gave me hope that Holmes and the Hokies can run the ball in the red zone. He isn't the fastest, nor the strongest back the Hokies have had. But I keep saying, he just has a knack. He's tough to tackle, he carries the ball properly, and he has that instinctive way of sliding off of direct hits. Emmitt Smith (no I'm not comparing Holmes overall to Emmitt Smith, of course) had that same knack to avoid the big hits over the course of a game. It makes you fresher late in the game and you can't teach it.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Game Preview - VT vs. Austin Peay

The Hokies take on the... what?!..the who?!.....the Austin Peay GOVERNORS?! In the history of terrible mascot names that has got to be one of the all-time worst. And other than the Florida A&M Rattlers in 2004 (a game that yours truly attended and saw the first "do-over" kickoff ever when the Hokies recovered the live opening kickoff in the end zone and the refs, out of pity, made them kick it again), this is probably the worst team to ever come into Lane Stadium.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

3 Key Plays - VT vs. GT

Great googly moogly, I can so easily imagine the congestive heart failure I would have suffered watching the Hokies' game live. I'll take being up until 1:30 AM watching it knowing the Hokies had won over probably losing a piece of furniture and yet another remote, not to mention the aforementioned palpitations. For some insane reason, the final drive playcalling was just as bad as it's ALWAYS been in the Beamer era (what were those two passes to Malleck?!?!?!), but Logan Thomas and Corey Fuller refused to go out like that. So much heart shown by both teams, I couldn't have asked for a better opening game to the season. This segment is about the 3 Key Plays and I make a concerted effort to limit it to that, but on rare occasions (and this is one of them) there are more than three plays. In this game there were undeniably 4 plays that decided the outcome. Here they were:

1) Facing 4th and 8 at their own 46 late in the first quarter, freshman AJ Hughes was back to take the snap and punt his second career punt in live college football action. He muffed the snap and the result was a loss of 22 yards with the Yellow Jackets taking over on the Hokie 24 yd line. Up to this point the Yellow Jacket attack had been absolutely shut DOWN by the Hokie defense which already was sitting on a 7-0 lead. This one play flipped the momentum and pulled the Jackets into the game. If the Hokies could have tacked on another score or two they would have forced GT out of their gameplan and probably won going away. Instead, this was just further proof that Beamerball is no longer about stellar special teams, anymore.

2) 4th and 6 at the Hokie 37 yd-line with 3:03 left in the game. Paul Johnson called for a punt and then 2nd guessed himself and called a timeout to go for it. With the Hokies leading 14-10, and the Jackets with only one more timeout remaining, a stop here might not have completely locked the game up but it sure would have made it much easier to win. And the Hokies totally stuffed the play. But credit to Tevin Washington and BJ Bostic for pulling out some sandlot football and mucho crappy play by Detrick Bonner allowed for a huge 19 yard gain right along the sideline that set up the Jackets winning score.

3) 4th and 4 at the Yellow Jacket 47 yd-line with 13 seconds left in the game. The game looked over. Under quarterbacks not named Tyrod Taylor or Logan Thomas it would have been. But Thomas immediately found a wide open Corey Fuller who turned it upfield for a massive 23 yd gain and a first down at the GT 24yd line, giving Cody Journell his chance to redeem a miss earlier in the quarter and send the game to OT.

4) 3rd down and 6 from the Hokie 10-yd line in OT, and Tevin Washington scrambled to his left. With no one open he just had to throw it away. But he held onto it one count too long and LB Bruce Taylor got there and spun Washington onto his back foot where he couldn't get enough on the ball to throw it away. Instead it settled into the hands of Kyle Fuller whose interception meant that a 2nd Journell FG would win the game, and sure enough it did.

In order to compete for championships, you have to have a few lucky breaks and you have to have a never-say-die attitude. That attitude has been in the Hokie locker room on some teams, but there have definitely been others (I'm looking at you 2003 and 2006 Hokies) that didn't have it. It goes without saying that this Hokie team had a chance to prove right out of the gate that there's certainly no quit in them. I saw a lot to be excited about and a lot to improve on. I definitely hope I get to watch the Austin Peay game and see some more.

GO HOKIES!!!!!!!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Game Preview vs. GT

Well, my Calm and Beloved Reader, the season is finally upon us! And while I won't be doing game reviews this season, I can still get fired up about game previews. The familiar nausea and butterflies are already forming in my stomach as Monday approaches. The Hokies taking the field to Enter Sandman on national TV always plays well across the country. This is a high profile game and the team has been preparing for this all summer. So let's get into it.

First of all, there is no underestimating the importance of this game to Virginia Tech's season. Coach Beamer wanted every meeting with his players this preseason to wrap with him saying "Beat" and the players responding "Georgia Tech". Now I believe he's going to do that for every game this season, but because this is the first game, "Beat Georgia Tech" has been pounded into these guys' heads over and over all summer. And let's not forget that the winner of the VT-GT game has gone on to play in the ACC Championship game for the past 7 YEARS! So there is no mistaking how up for this game the Hokies will be.

VT Defense vs. Georgia Tech Offense:

This is the matchup that has decided every game in this series. GT Head Coach Paul Johnson vs. VT defensive coordinator Bud Foster is literally the best chess match you will see in any game all season. These are masters of their craft; masters of preparing schemes, making adjustments and countering what the opponent tries to do. Already, the chess match has begun with the Hokies shaking up their starting lineup on the defensive line. Corey Marshall starts at one end in place of JR Collins and Tyrel Wilson starts in place of James Gayle at the other end. Luther Maddy and Derrick Hopkins get the start inside. It's about getting athleticism on the field against the Jackets' cut blocking schemes, but it also sends a message to last year's starters (Collins and Gayle) that you have to show up in practice and you have to be tough to be a starter at VT.

The first game of the season is also usually the sloppiest game of the season. If the Hokies can throw a few wrinkles at Georgia Tech and create some turnovers, the crowd can take it from there. I've been in Lane for some potentially tough matchups where the Hokies got a few early scores and then it turned into a blowout as the crowd took the opponent completely out of their game (2005 vs. Georgia Tech comes to mind). The Yellow Jacket offense depends HEAVILY on timing and if that gets a little off, the Hokies can capitalize. However, the VT  has some young guys at the back of the secondary in Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett and I am gravely concerned about them being tricked on play action. I remember an NFL-type player like Kam Chancellor getting toasted on several pass plays against the Jackets in past seasons, so you can understand my apprehension.

More than any other, this defensive scheme is about the linebackers playing their assignments. Fortunately, the Hokies bring Jack Tyler in at Mike, slide Bruce Taylor over to backer and have JGW at whip. This is the game where that group of seniors are worth their weight in gold. They need to be so disciplined in their responsibility and fundamentally sound in their tackling because one missed play and GT can take it to the house. But Tyler and Taylor have been in this game before and been successful, and JGW while held out of this game two years ago and missing last year's due to injury, has made being in the right spot the strength of his game. In fact, he's used that to beat out two physically superior players in Ronnie Van Dyke and Alonzo Tweedy. Now we'll see if they can put all that together out there with the bullets flying.

VT Offense vs. GT Defense

Logan Thomas is getting all the hype, but this year's offensive success is about fitting a lot of new pieces together to make for a cohesive attack. The offensive line is going to involve 4 new starters, the running backs are talented but new, the receivers are new starters and the tight end will be a new starter. On top of all of that, the Hokies are going to a pistol formation and adding some uptempo no-huddle schemes. Other than that, not much is different. But seriously,  that is going to require a TON of alchemy to forge that new group together. And they don't get time to do it because the first game is critical against a very tough opponent.

In previous seasons, I would have just thrown in the towel. I would have said, with that many new faces on offense, and Coach Stinespring as coordinator, the defense would have to hold GT to 14 points or less or a loss was guaranteed. But this is a new day. Mike O'Cain is actually the offensive coordinator (though not in name) and his playcalling last season was actually sane. It actually appears that O'Cain knows how to run an offense that his QB is comfortable with. And while there are new faces everywhere, there is also talent up and down the offense.

Of course, facing the Jackets involves another wrinkle - the 3-4 defense. The Jackets bring 4 linebackers in behind 3 big space-eaters at defensive line. You never know where the pressure or free man is coming from and it's going to be an incredible challenge. While the chess match between Paul Johnson and Bud Foster has been the key in years' past, this year, I think the key to the game will be if the Hokie offense can integrate all these new starters and execute without too much first game sloppiness.

VT Special Teams vs. GT Special Teams

This is the first season that Georgia Tech has a dedicated special teams coordinator. But even with that, I think the Hokies have the edge on special teams. Cody Journell worked through his off season legal "challenges" and enters as the starting placekicker. And returning kicks the Hokies have Demetri Knowles and JC Coleman who are super-dynamic players with the ball in their hands, while Dyrell Roberts makes his "return" to the return game as the starting punt returner. Georgia Tech might have an edge in the punting game as the Hokies have chosen one true freshman over another in going with AJ Hughes. But Hughes will be better and more consistent than the three headed monster of Demler/Branthover/Coale was last season, IF Hughes can get over the true freshman issues of playing his very first game in front of 67,000 people. Fortunately this game will be in the friendly confines of Lane Stadium.

The Money Shot

When you boil it all down, the Hokies have traditionally played so terribly at the beginning of games and at the beginning of the season that it's easy to see how they could bomb on Monday night. Georgia Tech is far better on offense than people are giving them credit for. This is their best offensive line in the PJ era and Tevin Washington runs the option EXTREMELY well as a senior. And unlike the Hokies, Georgia Tech has a history of big plays early in the game. I do genuinely think this game could be settled in the first quarter. If the Hokies contain Georgia Tech with their defense and can make some plays on offense to get on the board early, the Hokies can win going away. But if the Hokies get behind and GT gets their offense going with their time-eating and going for it on 4th down approach, this will be a hard way to open the season. All of you will be watching the game on Monday night, whereas if the Hokies win I will be watching it late into the wee hours of Tuesday morning. But either way,


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Summer Camp Week 2

Another 10 tidbits and musings for you now that 2 weeks of pre-season practice are in the books.

1) Michael Holmes will sneak up on you. I was absolutely unimpressed by the film I watched on him in high school. But if there's one thing that film can't show, it's how hard someone is willing to work and Holmes has just worked his ass right on off. He used his entire redshirt year to get bigger, stronger, faster and learn the offense inside and out. A very dependable blocker, he's still not dropping my jaw with his running ability, but then we've been spoiled the past 4 years haven't we? Holmes is far better than I thought he would be. He's got good patience, sets up his blocks VERY well, is slippery in traffic and he holds on to the rock. In other words, he's a perfect back for a Coach Frank Beamer type of offense and despite the talent behind him, Holmes has truly earned the #1 spot.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Summer Camp Week 1

Below are the 10 key takeaways from the first week of summer camp:

1) The biggest takeaway from camp so far is that the injuries are starting to add up - Get past Tariq Edwards and DJ Coles who have been out all camp recovering from their surgeries at the end of last year. There were a TON of players who needed to play in Saturday's scrimmage who didn't. James Gayle has re-tweaked both ankles which was a problem from all of last season, and he needs to be on the field as one of the biggest keys to this entire defense. Yes the d-line is deep but Gayle is a difference-maker. Demetri Knowles was out with a neck strain, Davion Tookes needs all the reps he can get at cornerback but didn't play and the list goes on. Mike Goforth is a busy guy and he needs to get this team healthy in time for week 1.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Welcome back to Hokie Football!!!!

Well, my Calm and Beloved Reader, Hokie football has finally returned. I feel like a man in the desert finally coming across an oasis. My neighbors and I have succumbed to the fever - we've begun blocking and tackling each other, sprinkling phrases like Tampa 2 and 7-technique into our conversations and are just in general being unbearable for our wives to be around. The Blonde always says that the very worst time of the year for football fever is the time after camp begins but before the first game. And that is where we are now.

Before we discuss the team, I should address something I wrapped up last season with - namely my inability to watch Hokie games live on TV this upcoming season. While my TV remote and my furniture will be forever grateful for this turn of events, it certainly is still tinged with sadness for me personally.As physically and emotionally draining as the madness is over the course of a season, it has been a part of my life for the past 19 years. Yes, my "Hokie football insanity" is old enough to vote. I can count on one hand the number of games in those nearly two decades that I didn't watch in person, live on TV, or on tape delay without knowing the outcome. And two of those, I listened to on the radio (one during a wedding). But I know this is the right decision for me and my family, and surprisingly, I've found that it hasn't lessened my passion for Hokie football. While I won't be able to write game reviews since I don't know if I'll be watching the game until after I know if the Hokies win or lose, I can and will still contribute freewheels and game previews. And I find myself just as nervous and excited about the opening kickoff against Georgia Tech as I would be if I were going to watch the game not knowing who will win. So with that said, let's talk about HOKIE FOOTBALL!!!!!

The summer camp has been a lot of drills and meetings and conditioning up to this point in its first week. Realistically, camp begins with the scrimmage today when they put on pads and go through some actual football situations. The coaches will be deciding the traveling squad and who's legitimately competing for the 2-deep (4-deep in the case of the running backs and wide receivers) this week and it kicks off with the mini-scrimmage going on as I type this. We will do the full breakdown once we know who's in the mix, but here are the main areas of focus for the coaches:

Running Back - it starts here as the talent pool is nearly as full as the experience pool is empty. Michael Holmes looks to have the starting spot locked up, but there is a major battle behind him to see who else gets carries between Martin Scales, Daniel Dyer, JC Coleman, Chris Mangus and Trey Edmunds. Speaking of Edmunds, I still think it's a bad move to play him at running back. Watching film from practices thus far, he runs too upright and isn't natural at change of direction. He is a born linebacker and the cupboard is already full of talented running backs, so what the hell is he doing there? I don't get it.

Offensive Line - while the recruiting at offensive line has been awful both in the '12 and what's shaping up to be the '13 class, the current players are actually pretty impressive. The Hokies have talent and athleticism up and down the line and if they can actually execute at the level of last year's group, they have the ability to be even better. This group will be all about depth and chemistry and Coach Newsome needs to hammer out his lineup and rotation early in camp and then hammer them with reps until the first game. Vinston Painter and James Gayle have been in some EPIC battles in nearly every practice, having to be separated by teammates 3 different times. And word is that Painter has been giving as good as he's getting in that battle which is saying something, since Gayle is probably a 2nd-3rd round pick at defensive end in next year's draft.

Linebacker - All 3 starting linebackers are coming back from injury and Backer Tariq Edwards is probably going to undergo another surgery on his knee before the season. Now this isn't much of a concern early on because Jack Tyler is a stud in the middle and Bruce Taylor can slide over to play Backer, but Edwards adds another level of athleticism and is coming off a great season last year. The Hokies need him back, Taylor needs to show he can play through pain and JGW (Jeron Gouviea-Winslow) is holding off two players who are physically more gifted than he was at 100% much less returning from his Lisfranc injury. Linebacker is more of a chemistry issue than anything else.

Wide Receiver- Similar to running back, this position has got ridiculous talent and very little experience. DJ Coles is looking more like a redshirt every day he misses practice recovering from his knee surgery,  but Kevin Asante, Demetri Knowles and Josh Stanford have all been VERY impressive in camp. Dyrell Roberts and Marcus Davis can hold down the fort in the starting lineup, but there is a lot of playing time for a 3rd and 4th receiver in the more spread-based offense this season and two guys out of the Corey Fuller, Stanford, Knowles, Caleb, Asante group have to step up and earn it.

Secondary - this will be all about depth. The starting secondary is All-ACC caliber at 3 positions, but the backups at each position are unproven or true freshmen. Scrimmage/practice is absolutely huge for these guys and the coaches to sort out who makes the 2-deep going into the season. Kyle Fuller looks poised for an absolutely MONSTER season at corner, it must be said. The receivers have all commented at various points, how they just aren't able to shake him.

Special Teams- Coach Beamer the Elder labels the special teams the most critical component of this year's team. An enormous load was lifted from the kicking game's shoulders with the return of Cody Journell. But punter is still an absolutely wide-open battle between 4 players and one thing we learned after last season is how critical the punting game is. Should be very interesting to see how this shakes out.

Just like always, TSF will have updates after the scrimmages, wrapping up with a more in-depth position-by-position breakdown as the Hokies head into the season. It's just around the corner and as the season approaches, the one thought on my mind is:

GO HOKIES!!!!!! (I didn't make this video but it captures the excitement I'm feeling)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

College Football Playoffs in 2014!!!

News Flash: Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger headed a 12 member committee consisting of representatives of the 11 major conferences and Notre Dame to pitch a 4-team playoff system.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Spring Review

We'll have a post soon on the Hokies who get drafted and/or signed to free agent deals. But for now, let's break down every position group following spring practice. Yes, the Spring Game was cancelled which was a huge downer, but the big recruiting splash the Hokies made that weekend helped ease the pain. And they head into summer with a lot better feel about depth at running back and in the secondary. So here we go:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Goodbye Coach Greenberg

If you've ever had to fire someone that you liked, then you probably know how I feel to see Coach Greenberg leave the program. If you've ever had to fire someone you didn't like, then you probably know how Jim Weaver felt in letting Greenberg go.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Practice Update #2

The Hokies had their second major scrimmage of spring, and people always say that you can't read too much into what happens in the spring, but there are two themes that are becoming apparent about this year's team:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Five Years Ago...

 TechSuperFans would like to take this moment to remember those that fell on April 16th 2007. We will soon return to your regularly scheduled program.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

1st Spring Scrimmage update

In an absolute STUNNER, the offense looked terrible and the defense looked unbelievably good in the first spring scrimmage for the Hokies. For what has been a hotbed of offensive innovation and execution, both fans and beat reporters alike stood slack-jawed as they watched the usually timid and outmatched defense muster up a stone-cold shutdown of the offense. 11 sacks, 2 interceptions and vicious hits at every turn had people wondering if they were in the Twilight Zone.

Ok, so obviously the defense destroyed the offense. In the past 18 years, I can't remember a spring practice where this hasn't the case. You've already read all the stats and interviews with coaches so let's get to what you came here for - there are four main takeaways that you need to know from this scrimmage:

1) Our area of number 1 concern headed into the still our number 1 area of concern. The offensive line was completely manhandled, whamboozled by blitzes and stunts and flat out beat in some of their one-on-one battles. James Gayle, Dadi Nicholas and Luther Maddy each had spectacular plays from their defensive line positions. The O-line needs to get some chemistry and quick.

2) I can't believe I'm typing these words, but I'm giving Coach O'Cain the benefit of the doubt on this awful performance by the offense during the scrimmage. Coach O'Cain has implemented parts of the pistol, spread and option offenses during this offseason and there is so much the players are trying to learn that it is completely understandable if they aren't in sync yet. The ridiculous number of false start and procedure penalties are a strong indicator of that. Now traditionally, under Stinespring, the offense would end up in sync by about the end of November, and they can't afford for that to be the case with all these new bells and whistles in 2012. But the offense looked good from the opening gun in 2011 so again, I'm going to take a bit of a wait-and-see approach to what kind of progress the offense makes over the next week or two.

3) Special teams is a mixed bag to be sure. Coach Beamer is still giving everyone a look at the various positions but Conor Goulding seems to have sneaked into the lead for FG kicker, although look for Branthover to give it a go in the next scrimmage. On the plus side, Kyshoen Jarrett had a pretty punt return for a TD and looks like he has good vision and quickness.

4) The defense is as advertised. The defensive line which was such an area of concern last season, looks very strong as mentioned above. But even more incredible was how the revamped secondary handled all the different blitzes and coverages. Coach Foster has got to be tickled with how Detrick Bonner seems to have stepped up at rover, being a vocal leader and playing well. And newcomer to the whip position - Ronnie Van Dyke seems to be making an extremely strong and unexpected push at whip. Nick Dew, who has always been so unbelievably athletic just can't seem to get the mental part of the position down. And if you listen to Coach Foster, it seems like Van Dyke is actually pushing Alonzo Tweedy for playing time this year (although that could just be motivation for Tweedy at this point).

So there you have it. Don't take away too much from the offense at this point, let's save our panic attacks for the spring game. And hopefully we'll see more growth at the linebacker position during this next week as well. Looking forward to another week of offensive gameplan install, and hitting the blocking sleds for the offensive line. Coach Newsome is going to be working up another case of heartburn.


Sunday, April 01, 2012

Spring has Sprung

Beware oh furniture and walls in my house, because the Hokies' spring practice is upon us. I get so fired up watching these guys just go through their blocking sled drills, I can already feel my heartbeat getting ramped up and my spittle ready to fly. From the sound of the practice period horn, to the thump of the football during punter tryouts, to the handfighting of a receiver and defensive back in the pass skeleton drill, to the yelling of Coach Beamer the Younger as he guides his new charges at RB, I love everything about spring football practice. So without further ado, let's take a look at the 3 main areas of concern heading into the spring on this football team. We'll do an update after each scrimmage and then an end-of-spring look at the team position-by-position.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Recruiting Smacktacular 2012

The Year of - We Got Some Horses But Where's the Beef

Contrary to the last minute whiffs on most of the big names that Virginia Tech was in on last year, this year the Hokies closed on 2 out of 3 of the biggest names on their board on Signing Day. There is talent and physical ability up and down this Class of 2012 and there was much rejoicing around Hokie Nation when all of the Letters of Intent were received in VT's recruiting office. We here at TSF are obviously pleased with the skill player talent that the Hokies landed in this class but there are a few factors that keep us from being delirious with the same joy that many of our fellow Hokie fans seem to be experiencing. Before we get into that, please feel free as always to check size, weight and 40 times of the entire class with our friends over at Rivals. Our thoughts on star ratings are well known, but Rivals seems to do a better job than most.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Game Review (with a twist at the end) - Sugar Bowl VT vs. Michigan

Well my friends, I've re-watched the game and I still can't believe Virginia Tech lost this game. It might go down as the strangest loss in the history of the program. The Hokies dominated on offense and defense as much as they did, if not moreso, than in the 38-0 beatdown of the Cavaliers. But instead they lost 23-20 in overtime. It took some of the most ridiculous and ill-timed errors on special teams one could believe, one bad coaching decision, another absolutely jaw dropping bad coaching decision and several mindblowing bad calls by the officiating crew to allow Michigan to win this game. Knowing the outcome ahead of time and then watching these plays, it seemed as if fate had decided that no matter what, Michigan was supposed to win this football game.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Highway Robbery

This season, I've had to devote my time to some non-TSF things that I couldn't do concurrently with producing well-written articles. EhhTee and MadJay have both carried the water this year, and they have done a great job. However, events in overtime of the Sugar Bowl have brought me out of hibernation to author this piece. My primary reason for writing this I withhold until the near end, but please indulge me. This is not the game review. That's coming from MadJay.

Full disclaimer, I am a Hokie fan. I cheer for them every game of every season, and I felt no differently about this game. However, I am an objective fan in regards to officiating. I want the Hokies to win on good calls, and if I see a bad call that benefits the Hokies, I'll say it, sometimes to the frustration fellow fans in the same room. I apply that same objectivity in my comments written for this article.

The Incident

During the Hokies' only overtime possession, quarterback Logan Thomas put a pass in the air that Danny Coale caught with a spectacular dive in the endzone, sending Hokie fans into a cheering frenzy. An official instant replay review overturned the call, bringing up fourth down. The Hokies went to kick the field goal, but third string Justin Myer, who had kicked perfectly thus far on the night, missed the field goal. Michigan kicked a field goal in their first overtime possession to end the game.

Many have cried foul over a bungled overturned call, and many have also claimed that the Hokies made mistakes that they should not have made and thus allowed Michigan to keep themselves in the game. Both are valid claims. For example, calling a time out prior to a fake punt and later going for it on fourth down at midfield baffled me beyond belief. However, this does not erase the Hokies' entitlement to fair officiating, the very crux of this article. That's true for any team for that matter. Pundits who dismiss poor officiating for games where the losing team should have played better dismiss the fact that football has rules that should apply to both teams alike and fairly. In no way shape or form do the Hokies' mistakes give any fan or pundit reason to shrug off errors by officials.

The Catch

Before going forward, let's clearly state the rules of instant replay review. Overturning a referee's call requires indisputable evidence of an erroneous call. An instant replay review can have one of three outcomes. One, it can confirm the call on the field, meaning the referee made the correct call. Two, it can allow the call to stand, meaning the instant replay officials can't verify the correctness of the call and neither can it identify an error. Three, it can identify an erroneous call and overturn it.

Number three happened to Danny Coale's overtime catch. The instant replay booth gets it wrong from time to time. That fact alone does not make this instance stand out. What makes this instance stand out from others is the egregiousness in the error of the instant replay officials' overturning of the call as well as the timing of such an error. Let's examine the video evidence.

Shot 1

Shot 1 clearly illustrates that Coale lands in such a manner that his body obstructs the view of the official, on the right in the shot. The official had no way to verify that Coale did not use the turf to control the ball; therefore, the play warranted review. This shot also shows that Coale initially has both hands and arms around and his chest surrounding the top half football while the bottom half of the football is exposed.

Shot 2

Shot 2 shows the orientation Coale's upper body, arms, and hands all wrapped around the football. You can also see that the football comes into contact with the turf as he lands; however, there is an if, and this is a very big if. The positioning of Coale's body, arms, and hands indicates that the turf did not contribute to his control over the ball. If he did use the turf to control it, the football would have changed its orientation with respect to his body upon impact. Such a change did not occurr. (full motion footage below)

Shot 3

Shot 3 shows Coale's elbow coming into contact with the turf in bounds within the endzone. You can see his elbow just behind the football touching the turf. He has the top half of the ball lodged between portions of his forearms, hands, and chest, and he keeps the ball between them during his landing. Again, in the full motion footage the ball does change its orientation with respect to Coale's body.

Shot 4

Just in case you're still not convinced, Shot 4 shows Coale after he has landed on the ground in mid bounce upward at the very beginning of a tumbling roll out of bounds, resulting from the momentum he had in a dead sprint for the ball. Notice that in mid bounce he has the ball completely in his possession and the same portions of his hands, forearms, and chest grasp the ball, primarily the top half. Given the laws of Newtonian physics and friction, there is no possibility that contact with the ground aided in his hold on the ball. On the contrary, it made his hold on the ball more difficult. Again, you really need to see the motion clips, particularly the frame-by-frame clip, to observe this.

Clip of the full motion footage

Frame-by-frame clip

This instant replay review did not happen in the middle of a regular season game. It happened during an overtime possession of a BCS bowl. Furthermore, the footage confirms the original call. Erring on the side of caution, I could understand a replay official ruling that the original calls stands on the simple basis that the ball comes into contact with the turf. But overturning the call robbed Danny Coale of the credit for one of the best catches --maybe even the best-- of his entire career as a Hokie. Of course it also robbed the Hokies of an earned and deserved six points in overtime. Even Michigan coach Brady Hoke confessed he didn't expect an overturning of the call in a post-game interview

This is highway robbery, nothing less. NCAA football introduced instant replay to correct egregious errors in officiating, not create them. The simple fact is that as much as the Hokies deserve it, we can't call the respective squads back to the Superdome, award the Hokies the six points they earned, and finish the game. Although, I wouldn't object to a few lengthy petitions delivered to the NCAA's mailbox. (That's not a joke.) The NCAA should re-examine the protocols and parameters defined for instant replay review. Even if doing so amounted to no substantial changes, the act of doing it would send the message to the officials in the booth to do things by the book, because based on the evidence I do not believe that's what happened on Tuesday night.

Other Articles

I'm not the only author writing about this. Here are a few links of others noting the officiating error.

Bleacher Report: "This should have stood simply because there was no definitive way to say that Coale did not catch it." "Coale's catch should have been a touchdown, and if it wasn't that means that we're dealing with a bad rule."

SB Nation: "Looks like a catch to me."

Hokie MD: “The officiating crew made an error.”
(includes very helpful NCAA rule book citations)

Hokie Class

In the face of the erroneous call, many athletes and coaches alike would explode in reaction to this. Picture Les Miles, head coach of LSU. He'd have barged into the review booth and screamed profanities at such a volume that anyone within a thirty yards would suffer permanent hearing loss. He'd make appearances on ESPN expressing his disgust. While I wouldn't begrudge him for doing so --after all that's his style-- I appreciate the class that Coach Beamer and Coale exhibited post game. I think our players losing with class is an important part of our program, and I take great pride in it as do most Hokie fans.

Proud of the Hokies Season

Finally, to get to the main reason I've written this piece, I'm proud of the Hokies this bowl season. I've become fairly accustom to having my heart broken by my own team. I think back of losses to Georgia, Kansas, and Stanford to name a few. However, this year I feel heart broken for the Hokies rather than because of the Hokies. They made a number of special teams errors, but rebounded from those mistakes well. They made some atrocious play calls, but responded with a well-executed two minute drill. This year, I'm not wallowing in disappointment of Hokie failures. I always begin the season with hopes of a win in a major bowl, and I think they gave us the next best thing. When the officials don't properly enforce the rules of the game at the worst time possible, that creates a serious handicap. I was stunned and saddened when Myer missed the extra point, but given all the last minute turmoil with kickers and an awkward snap, I think he still delivered. He's part of why there was an overtime in the first place. So I conclude this article by asserting that the Hokies held up their end of the deal this bowl season. I know I'm going to take some flack for that given their mistakes, but I'll remember that even with those mistakes, by most measurable stats, they outplayed a respectable Michigan football program.
Category Michigan VT
1st Downs 12 22
3rd down efficiency 4-13 6-15
4th down efficiency 1-1 1-3
Total Yards 184 377
Passing 128 214
Comp-Att 10-22 19-28
Yards per pass 5.8 7.6
Rushing 56 163
Rushing Attempts 30 48
Yards per rush 1.9 3.4
Penalties 4-26 7-68
Turnovers 1 2
Fumbles lost 0 1
Interceptions thrown 1 1
Possession 23:10 36:50

Go Hokies!

3 Key Plays

There were countless player mistakes and bad coaching decisions and bad ref calls in this game (the Michigan kicker took 2 steps before the snap on the fake FG. How on EARTH is that not a false start?) But I think these three, had they gone the other way, would have transformed the game into a Hokie win. Actually I believe that if ANY of these three plays doesn't happen the way that it did, the Hokies would have won. They were that dominant.

1) 7:00 left in the 2nd quarter and the Hokies were already up 6-0 and had a 4th and a very long one yard from close to the 5 yd line. Going for it on this play instead of kicking the FG had incredibly enormous repercussions on the rest of the game and it was the wrong decision. I am not second-guessing, I said so at the time before the ball was snapped ("said" is the wrong word. I was foaming at the mouth, hopping around, hurling epithets and remote controls in every direction). I will elaborate more on why below and in the game review, but it was the wrong call to go for it, it failed and it set in motion an incredibly bizarre sequence of events that turned a 6-0 lead into a 10-6 deficit in the last 7 minutes of the half.

2) 7:30 remaining in the 4th quarter and the Hokies faced 4th and 1 at the Michigan 48 yd line in a 17-17 ballgame. In a move that will undoubtedly go down as his all-time worst in-game coaching decision, Coach Beamer proceeded to call a timeout, setting off the Michigan radar, and then called for a rugby punt/fake punt option play for Danny Coale. This was a real 4th and 1 and Beamer wanted to go for it badly for some insane reason. And don't think for a second that the Hokies' failure to get a yard and a half on 4th down in the 2nd quarter didn't shake Coach Beamer up and force him into this cockamamie move as opposed to lining up with Thomas on another sneak. (See? That first play was incredibly critical) Much less kicking the ball and pinning Michigan deep where they had no chance to score on a defense that was feasting on them.

3) It's been reviewed and said ad nauseum and so I hated putting this play in here but the facts are the facts. 3rd and 5 in the first overtime and Logan Thomas delivered a ball to the left side of the end zone. Danny Coale made a leaping, total sell-out catch that should have been the exclamation point on his remarkable career. The ref right there in the end zone agreed and called touchdown. The replay official overturned the call and said it wasn't a catch. Everyone has their own opinion on whether it was a catch or not. The only thing indisputable about the replay is that Danny Coale caught the ball in the air and landed on his left elbow IN BOUNDS. What happened after his elbow hit is up for debate so what I'll say is this - it is unthinkable to me that the replay booth could overturn the ref's call either way. Had it been ruled incomplete on the field, you'd have a hard time convincing me the replay is indisputable evidence that Coale controlled the ball all the way through enough to overturn the call on the field. Just the same, having ruled it a catch on the field, it's impossible for me to imagine the replay booth official's mindset in thinking he saw something in the replay that could convince him it wasn't a catch. Coale's elbow hits, the ball touches the ground with his hands on it and he appears to maintain control but there is nothing indisputable about any of the 10 angles the catch was filmed from. We've all seen replays where it's clear that the wrong call was made on the field and that's what replay is for. Having rewatched this particular play 100 times, I still can't figure out what the official in the booth saw that made him sure enough to overturn the call on the field. The view of the ref on the field is supposed to be the default call and if there's any doubt in the replay, the call needs to stand. The fact that it didn't opened up the booth official and the entire officiating crew to embarrassing scrutiny and conspiracy theories. Had the catch stood, I'd lay 20-1 odds that the Hokie defense would have kept the Wolverines out of the end zone to secure the win.