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.


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