As Hokie fans, we're all accustomed to the offense doing "just enough" to win. After all, we've watched it happen about 40 times over the past four years. It's all a part of the Beamerball formula.
We usually don't expect just enough to be 471 yards and 34 points.
This week was just downright bizarre. I hate to critique a game I didn't see, but it doesn't take a lot of football smarts to know VT played an ugly game in this one in almost every aspect. Except the offense. Stiney seemed to have his players ready to play, or at least ready-er. There were still some idiotic mistakes, like the clipping penalty that killed an early drive. But by and large, the offense was the one bright spot of the day. Even more bizarre is the fact that I can honestly say that about a game where the opposing team had essentially dismantled VT's rushing game. Ryan Williams couldn't get anything going early on. And while Williams still managed to get his yards (82 rushing) and half of VT's touchdowns were on the ground (2 long Josh Oglesby scampers), it was Tyrod Taylor's arm that staved off the upset.
Taylor had a career day, completing over 77% of his passes for a career-best 326 yards and 2 TDs. Not to say Tyrod's now a Manning. Duke ranks 92nd in pass efficiency defense. The Blue Devils were also stacked against the run for most of the game, daring Tyrod to beat them with his arm. Imagine how surprised they must have been when he actually did it.
For the third time in five games, Bryan Stinespring found what worked and stuck with it. I'm not so sure that's really a call for praise, especially considering that two of the three well-called games under his belt this year have been against decidedly overmatched teams. Except for the fact that he didn't even call good games against those overmatched teams last season. Stiney's offense has been notorious for playing down to its competition, and it's starting to appear that trend might be drawing to a close.
Stinespring does not escape unscathed, however. The biggest blemish on his day was the call with the ball on the Duke 5 yard line that led Taylor to be dropped for an 11 yard loss and forced VT to settle for a field goal in a game that was much too close for comfort. This was the old Stiney, the Stiney we all know and loathe, and for at least that play he reared his ugly head again. Though I suppose to say one play out of the game reminded me of the last three years is a sign of hope...isn't it?
But wait, friends, the bizarreness doesn't end there. Not by a long shot. It was a bizarre day all the way around. Hapless Maryland and hopeless UVA both got conference wins yesterday. Now the Cavs are in sole possession of second in the Coastal and the Terrapins are kings of the mountain - however briefly - in the Atlantic. Boston College, the consensus preseason pick to be the one team that sucked worse than Duke, managed to throttle the last shreds of dignity from what will probably be Bobby Bowden's last season as head coach at FSU. And the oft-maligned ACC managed to win both its non-conference games, notching victories against the SEC and Big XII.
The bizarreness even managed to follow me into today. I spent all morning wondering if VT's struggles against Duke coupled with USC's throttling of Cal would be enough for the pollsters to leapfrog USC over the Hokies, a potentially disastrous turn of events as the number of statement games left on VT's schedule begins to dwindle. But no, in an appropriately twisted turn of events the Hokies were the ones playing leapfrog, switching places with undefeated Boise State and cracking the top-5 for the first time this year in a move that will probably have the senators from Utah challenging Mark Warner and Jim Webb to a tag-team steel cage grudge match.
Can someone please make it stop? I'm getting dizzy.
FBS Mission Statement:
We at FBS believe that offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring bears the largest share of the blame for years of sub-par output from some of the most talented players ever to set foot on Worsham Field. We believe the main objective of the VT football program - a national championship - will escape us as long as Stinespring is making the calls. We therefore advocate the improvement of our football program through the replacement of our offensive coordinator.