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.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Regular Season Review

The 2009 Virginia Tech football regular season is in the books.

One tear.

And while it might be wise to wait for VT's bowl game to be played before reviewing the season, since bowl games count toward team record and player stats, I'm not going to. Mostly because I need something to talk about over the next month, and also because we're not exactly certain how Frank Beamer and the VT coaching staff will approach the bowl game this season. By Frank's own admission there's a history of considering the bowl game a "treat" for the players, a reward for a season well played. There's traditionally not been as much intensity in practices and players are encouraged to enjoy the trip to the bowl game's host city (within reason). That all changed last season, as Coach Beamer took it upon himself to get the BCS chip off the ACC's shoulder and took the bowl preparation a little more seriously.

This year the pressure to represent the conference well in BCS play won't be present, which means the team might go back to the "vacation" mentality concerning the bowl game. However, this game represents the mythical, mystical 10th win of the season, which is the only attainable goal left for VT after failing to play for either a BCS or ACC championship. So the "business trip" mindset might carry over from last year.

Not knowing how the coaches will approach the bowl game, I feel it's okay to sit back and review the 2009 season. I don't think we're really going to learn anything new about the team after 12 games, and if there was some secret wrinkle or ace in the hole we probably would have played it against Georgia Tech.

So over the next month up until the bowl game I'll be trying to crank out at least one post a week analysing the regular season. This, of course, will be

PART ONE: WHAT WE LEARNED



1.) RYAN WILLIAMS PISSES EXCELLENCE

We all groaned with collective despair in late summer as Darren Evans went down with a torn ACL. The Hokies' leading rusher from '08 and freshman rushing record holder would be out for the whole season.

Then the season started and we all had to ask, "Do you think Evans could convert to fullback?"

Ryan Williams destroyed Darren Evans' freshman rushing record and needs 111 yards (17 less than his per-game average) in VT's bowl game to break Kevin Jones' all time rushing record at Tech. It's fair to say that RMFW is the "best" running back we've ever had at VT, and that is saying a lot. By "best" I don't simply mean he has the most raw talent. Kevin Jones had a boatload of talent (though I think R-Dub has more, as difficult as it is to quantify talent), but the thing that Williams has that puts him on top of the mountain is that he elevates the play of everyone around him. He's cocky, sure, but he's not arrogant. He just exudes enthusiasm and confidence, and players around him seem to feed off it.

He is, perhaps, the Corey Moore of the offense. And we've never really had one of those.

For all his accolades, Williams does have room for improvement in his sophomore season. His yardage numbers leave nothing to be desired, but fumbles became an issue late in the season and he is well aware of it. If Williams works on ball control in the offseason and manages to find a tighter grip on the ball without sacrificing any of his characteristic elusiveness...

The offense has always needed a symbol to rally around like the defense's lunch pail. I think a Heisman trophy would do nicely, don't you?


2. TYROD TAYLOR CAN BE AN EFFICIENT, IF NOT PARTICULARLY ACCURATE, PASSER


The formula to determine pass efficiency in NCAA football is slightly less involved than Schroedinger's equations, but if we give the stat any weight at all then it probably means something that Tyrod Taylor finished the regular season ranked 15th nationally in passing efficiency. His 9.3 yards per attempt has him tied for 2nd in the nation. His 13 TD passes are exactly one less than he managed to throw his first two seasons combined, and his 4 picks are one more than he threw in his freshman year - when he attempted 92 fewer passes. Down the stretch he managed 101 consecutive pass attempts without throwing a pick.

So Tyrod's developing nicely into a passing threat, and he has learned to use his mobility to buy time to throw rather than try to break off a run as soon as the pocket collapses. That's probably why he managed to play 12 games without sustaining a serious injury, something we all assumed was hopeless before the season.

But for the high passer rating and the good TD:INT ratio, Taylor's completion percentage actually dropped 1.5 points from last season. Tyrod still hasn't completed over 60% of his passes in any of his three seasons, but the fact that his TD vs INT numbers improved so dramatically from last season shows that he's learned how to put the ball where either his receiver will come down with it, or no one will.


3.) WE DO HAVE A RECEIVING CORPS AFTER ALL

Last season Jarrett Boykin led the team with 441 receiving yards. In the process of racking those yards up, Meathooks managed to find the endzone twice.

Boykin again led the team in yardage, but this go-round he hauled in 715 yards' worth of receptions. That's not jaw-dropping by any stretch of the imagination, but it's also the first time VT has had a receiver with over 700 receiving yards since 2003.

And Boykin was not a one-man show. Danny Coale, last season's receptions leader, grabbed 29 passes for 572 yards. Three wide receivers caught at least 20 passes, and wideouts came down with 11 of Tyrod's 13 TD passes, a marked improvement over 2008.

The biggest contribution the wide receivers made to the team this year was their ability to stretch the field, which became easier to do as the season wore on and opponents stacked more and more defenders into the box to contain RMFW. Boykin and Coale finished the regular season averaging 19.9 and 19.7 yards per catch respectively, which is good for 9th and 11th in the nation. It's the first time a Hokie receiver averaging at least 2 receptions per game has had over 19 yards per catch since Andre Davis averaged an insane 27.5 in 1999, and so far as I can tell (I can only find stats back to the '95 season) it's probably the first time two Hokies have accomplished the same feat simultaneously.

Dyrell Roberts, who hasn't had a seamless transition to wide receiver but seems to be coming along at the position, doesn't qualify for the leader board on yards per catch because he's averaging fewer than 1.875 receptions per game (he's three catches short). But if he made the cut, Roberts' 17.7 yards per catch would be good for a tie for 27th nationally.


4.) QUESTIONING BUD FOSTER WILL RESULT IN BEING EATEN BY BUD FOSTER

Total Defense National Rank: 13th
Scoring Defense National Rank: 11th

And the 15.75 points per game Foster's defense gave up this season are actually 0.96 fewer points than last year's 9th ranked scoring defense surrendered.

F--k you and your talk of a "down" year.

In 2009 we learned yet again that Bud Foster is a bad, bad man. Bud Foster could coach the High Techs into a top-25 defense. Bud Foster taught Chuck Norris how to make a fist.

But seriously, there were some rough spots with the 2009 Lunch Pail Crew. For one thing, they yielded over 138 rushing yards per game, which ranks 54th nationally. While I don't have the spreadsheet in front of me, I'd be willing to wager a tidy sum that the bulk of those rushing yards came late in games where VT was losing the time of possession battle rather badly (Alabama, Nebraska, Georgia Tech), and if this is true it's more a sign of lack of depth than poor coaching or missed assignments. But it's still a blemish on the record.

But the biggest problem with the defense all year, to me at least, seemed to be the struggles of the defense on 3rd down. A Bud Foster defense usually salivates over 3rd downs, but it seemed this year time after time team after team picked apart our defense on 3rd down, sustaining their drive and keeping our defense on the field for another set. This would prove especially problematic in our three loses, further fatiguing an already belaguered defense worn out by losing the ToP battle. I scoured the internet to find how many 3rd downs the Hokie D faced this year vs. how many they allowed to be converted, but football stat websites, like all sports stat sites in general, are heavily dominated by offensive stats. If anyone knows of such a site, please pass it along. I'd guarantee the Hokies allowed more third downs to be converted this year than they have in quite a while.


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