FBS Mission Statement:
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Teams that control their own destiny in the ACC Coastal: Duke, Georgia Tech.
Teams that don't: VT, Miami, UVA, North Carolina.
People crying because of this: me.
If the ACC Atlantic's representative in the title game is a team that lost to Richmond, we may as well replace the ACC with the CAA in the BCS... they are, after all 2-1 with a loss by 3 in OT against the ACC.
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand I'm done. Almost out of tissues after all this crying...
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
FBS T-shirt sales right here.
Here's what it looks like:
If anyone is not a customer of Go Daddy FBS, it is real simple. Simply click "create account" at the top of the web page. Once the information is filled out, an account will be created. After that, utilize the link the vendor provided to purchase the t-shirt.
Please note: No one from FBS is making any money on this. Sales are being done independent of the blog.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
You can add Virginia Tech to the list of teams slighted in the latter category, this time to potentially disastrous effect.
The Atlantic Coast Conference confirmed yesterday [October 26] that Georgia Tech should have been called for illegal blocks on four plays during its 28-23 win over Virginia Tech on Oct. 17.Although it "is unclear which Virginia Tech player was being blocked on the four plays or when they happened," that doesn't mean the ACC doesn't know who was being blocked. They just didn't make that information public. We all know who was the targeted man on those plays, and probably the other seven that VT turned into the conference office but couldn't get the ACC to agree with. (Because four botched calls is bad enough, but eleven would be enough to actually have to do something about it, y'know?)
Officials flagged the Yellow Jackets for no such penalties during the game.
It's well established that Paul Johnson put a man specifically on Kam Chancellor, the central figure in Bud Foster's defensive scheme against the Yellow Jackets. Many, including myself, have give Bud some degree of criticism for not being able to adjust accordingly and allowing the Jackets to run roughshod over the Hokies in the second half of their game. As of this moment, I'm officially retracting all criticism I laid at the feet of Bud Foster. It's one thing to fail to make counter-adjustments to account for your opponent's halftime adjustments on offense. But it's impossible to adjust for illegal blocks that the refs for whatever reason refuse to call.
Paul Johnson responded to the news that he had cheated with characteristic diplomacy:
"It's two weeks ago. Why are they worried about it now? They got out-schemed. So, it's illegal to out-scheme them, I guess. We blocked them the same way we blocked them a year ago, and they weren't complaining when they won [20-17]. Nobody from the conference called and told us that we did anything illegal."Okay, dipshit, you just admitted you've been using illegal chop blocks since you took over GT, and you're bristling at finally being caught. You're a real class act, douchebag.
The only hope is that the ACC will now sit up, take note, and flag illegal blocks by the Yellow Jackets appropriately. Though even if they do, I sincerely doubt that it would level the playing field enough for either Wake Forest or Duke to pull out a win. It looks like thanks in large part to uncalled illegal blocks, VT's probably looking at the Chick-fil-a Bowl this year, assuming they'd have us back after laying an egg against Alabama in the season opener.
I certainly hope this story resurfaces next year before the Georgia Tech game. I can't wait to see the reception Paul Johnson gets at Lane.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
It probably doesn't help that this was probably the least exciting and entertaining Saturday of a pretty lackluster season. (I'm talking on the whole, here. VT's season has been pretty entertaining so far.)
Everything went according the script, except the one thing Hokies wanted to go according to script. The only major upset of the weekend also majorly screwed over the Hokies, as Clemson pulled one out against Miami. The three way tie is dead. Now GT must lose to either Duke or Wake Forest or VT will be left out of the ACCCG for the first time since 2006. That's downright infuriating to me, sinced this offense is SO much better than the prior two models. Say what you will about Stinespring, and I'll be right there agreeing with most of it, but the offense is vastly improved. It's downright fun to watch, and yet barring a miracle it's Chick-fil-a Bowl at best. Which, coincidentally, is played in Atlanta. Dammit.
With the lack of VT football I sort of allowed my mind to wander, and I did come up with a few interesting thoughts...
1.) It's been my position, and the position of this blog as a whole, that VT cannot win a national championship with B-Stines as our OC. I still stand by that, so much so that I recently publicly declared I was done even considering it during the season, chosing to focus instead on how many seasons it will take VT - who have been undisputed kings of the ACC since joining - to actually go undefeated in conference play.
However, it should be noted that with the offenses of Alabama and Florida suddenly struggling, and the fact that Texas has looked decidedly beatable at multiple points thoughought the year, whoever finally limps accross the finish line to hoist the crystal football will have been carried to the podium on the backs of their defense.
2.) I came accross this article, which I thought was a good and interesting read. One part was of particular note:
“He knew that I was grinding myself to a pulp,” Stinespring recalled. “He just has a way about it. (He said) ‘You’re a good football coach. You’ve been a good football coach. You’ll always be a good football coach. Keep focused on what we can do to get better. Don’t let outside interference take away from that.’ I learned a great deal from that conversation.”
For one thing, it certainly seems that Beamer's made up his mind about Stinespring, which is no surprise. But more interesting still, the more I meditated on that quote, the more I agreed with it.
For the record, I think Bryan Stinespring is a good football coach. But I think he's a mediocre offensive coordinator at best. A coach helps his players develop and play better football. The offensive lines under Stinespring were very good, and since his move to tight ends that position has seen improvement at VT. But an offensive coordinator's job is to develop an overall scheme that will emphasize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of all his players, and in this Stinespring has come up short. I do think Stinespring has shown improvement this year, but I still strongly maintain he's subpar at the OC spot.
3.) If Ryan Williams was a sophomore, junior, or senior, he'd be on everyone's short list for the Heisman. Although it wasn't the biggest game of his short career in terms of stats, the fact that he notched another 100 yard game while playing ill show's the guy's got heart as well as talent.
4.) At 5-2, VT sits exactly where it did at this point last season. And though it's an exercise in futility, I can't help but wonder what if you could take last year's defense and this year's offense.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Well, Monday’s suck. Everyone knows that. Now, imagine if you will, this particular Monday, that you’re returning to work for the first time in 4 business days so you’re busy as Haiti. Imagine that your family is getting over a duel with H1N1 (hence the days off). We won the war, Swine won a couple battles last week.
[Side Note: I do remember a certain Footballgirl and her family fighting this same battle a week or two ago. I promise to you, Hokie-blog-world readers, that H1N1 is just making its rounds through our society – there are no improprieties going on the background between Hokie-bloggers and I’ve never met the Footballgirl. At least I don’t think so, wink.]
Oh wait, my date with Swine was the best part of my last week into the weekend.
-Wednesday night (still rooting for 3rd party games as VT still had a chance to go far this year), Boise State played like crap, but still won. Dammit.
-Thursday night (still rooting for 3rd party games as VT still had a chance to go far this year), Cincinnati handled USF. Dammit.
-Saturday noon (still rooting for 3rd party games as VT still had a chance to go far this year), Texas and OU played a barn-burning-NAP. Texas looked like crap, OU just was worse crap, Texas pulled it out. Dammit.
-Saturday late afternoon, heading into VT/GT (still rooting for 3rd party games as VT still had a chance to go far this year), USC is beating Notre Dame. Dammit. Kinda? But for the current rankings, dammit.
-Saturday later afternoon, even overlapping some with the VT game (still rooting for 3rd party games as VT still had a chance to go far this year), Florida is in a problematic game with Arkansas. Florida pulls it out and Arkansas’ kicker missed 17 field goals. Dammit.
-Now, at this point, it’s been sucky. But the “glass is half full” can look at the other games and feel ok because if we lay it on GT, it’s still ok. Boise State would lose some respect for their win over Tulsa. Texas might lose some for their win over OU. Etc. All we need to do is light up GT like we’re supposed to, and all is well.
-Now fast forward to today. And, and, and, now imagine you’re me, you’re a diehard Hokie *and* you’re also a Redskin fan. Even throw in that I played against Tom Brady and his 6 TD's in two fantasy football leagues this past week.
Yeah. This Monday *really* sucks.
“well that’s a really nice story HokieJayBee, your life sucks, but what the hell does that have to do with FBS.blogspot.com?”
I’ll tell you. My day/week/season/year was made this morning in the office kitchen.
[Side Note: Confession. My office’s kitchen vending machine has these. I like them. They are ridiculous in a little 4 pack of win. Don’t judge.]
My office has that group of guys that is always talking football. Unfortunately, none of them know crap. But they’re always talking football. Note, this is not THE normal office football group,where there are more football knowledgeable people talking football. Or even talking about their alma mater. These are the fair weather, coffee machine, water cooler, guys. This is the office “old guys who play golf together and somehow always end up talking about football”. I typically don’t even speak with them (about football). No, I’m not some elitist jerk and think I’m God’s gift to office-football-talk. I just avoid conversations with them about college football because they end up frustrating me more than I need,trying to explain to a group of chimpanzees why Virginia Tech would have more one-loss-respect (last week) with Alabama and Nebraska on the slate out of conference when Penn State played the Indiana School for Deaf and Blind Midget Women Tech State. (no overly intentional additional offense to any deaf, blind, height-challenged, female, college student, or Indiana resident – or any of the actual teams that Penn State did schedule this year)
*There’s a guy who is from Kentucky, went to U Maryland, but worked “near Gainesville” at some point in his life. Guess who he reps on Monday mornings, despite not being able to name one Gator that isn’t named Tebow.
*There’s a guy who is from Austin, Texas, went to a small school, but his son goes to school where Les Miles works. He has two top 10 choices to rep on Monday mornings, despite not being able to tell you a player from either team. Not a *single* current player.
*There’s a guy who went to the Air Force Academy, but apparently spent some years at a company in a certain state that rhymes with Idaho, and he just loves “that smurf turf stuff”. Guess who he reps on Monday mornings, even though I’d be willing to bet you a lunch he couldn’t tell you Boise State’s mascot.
*and finally, there’s a guy who is from Ohio, went to Youngstown State, but this year is somehow switching his Monday morning rep from Terrell Pryor to Tony Pike……
Yes, I work with these four guys. It is hell, on a normal Monday. Let alone *this* Monday that I described for you all above.
But, alas, they made my day today, as an admin on FBS.blogspot.com, and general Stinespring-as-my-playcaller-hater. Sometimes the little twinkles of insight come from those you normally hate to listen to, or generally think are ignorant to a situation. Like a riddle that only a 5-year-old could figure out because they look at a situation so vaguely and so innocently.
Overheard in my office’s kitchen this morning (paraphrased):
“if you would have told me that GT would only score 28, I would have said VT would win.”
“only 3 at the half with all that field position?”
“how many times did VT run up the middle?”
“how come every time Taylor ran, he got 10, but they stopped doing it?”
“did that fat tight end they have (he means Boone) get kicked off the team? He was good last year.”
“I used to laugh at [insert my real name here] for talking badly about his own coaches, after the GT first half, he might be right.”
And finally from the Florida guy:
“Coach Meyer or any other real football school would never put up with that offensive coach’s record for more than 3 years. You get 3 years to prove yourself and succeed. They’ll never be a true national threat with that offense or that coach.”
Read that last one again. “…any other *real* football school…”
That's our image. Thank you Bryan.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I can't speak for the other admins here, but as far as I'm concerned Bryan Stinespring's struggles as offensive coordinator can be boiled down to a singular shortcoming: he cannot make necessary adjustments to his predetermined gameplan. That's it. That's the whole shebang right there. Fix that and he'd be at least a passable OC. But you can't fix it. Because if it could be fixed we wouldn't still be dealing with it eight years later.
Virginia Tech has won five games so far this season. Of those five wins, four of them were in games where the offense got off to a fast start and no offensive adjustments were necessary. In other words, Stinespring's gameplan worked exactly as it was drawn up to work against Marshall, Miami, Duke, and Boston College. And give credit where credit is due: Stinespring developed a working gameplan against those teams. Virginia Tech's other win this season - against Nebraska - Stinespring had nothing to do with. His gameplan put ten points on the board at Lane Stadium against a defense that Texas Tech just exposed for 31 in Lincoln. Tyrod Taylor, who has become a beast of a quarterback this season, took the entire offense on his back and engineered the most improbable comeback in Virginia Tech football history.
Against Nebraska, however, the defense was able to keep it a one possession game, something that they couldn't quite manage against Georgia Tech. The defense does not get a pass in Atlanta. Foster's D had the game right in front of them on a 3rd and 7 and failed to make what would have been the biggest stop of the game.
It's bound to happen every now and then. This year it's happening a bit more frequently. The defense really didn't pull their weight in the win at Duke, but fortunately the Blue Devil defense was incapable of doing anything against the passing game. In Atlanta, GT's defense had our number. And that gets back to the inability to adjust. Stinespring's gameplan should have worked as drawn up. Had GT come out on defense the way it did against Mississippi State and Florida State then the plays Stiney called would have probably put up about 450 yards and 35 points. But they didn't, because Georgia Tech adjusted its defensive scheme to better suit the Hokies. More damning to Stinespring, they broadcast that they were doing it. Johnson gave multiple interviews in the week leading up to the game saying he was simplifying and streamlining the defense to prepare for VT. If you whip out your coachspeak-to-English dictionary, you find that the translation is pretty simple: stack the box to contain Williams between the tackles, and bring multiple blitzes to pressure Tyrod.
It was obvious that Stinespring was committed to running between the tackles since Miami had so much success with that last week. And to be fair to Stinespring, it was a good idea. Try what's been proven to work, even if your opponent says they're making adjustments on defense. But don't try it once it's established that it simply isn't there for you.
Getting into specific numbers, Stinespring called a handoff between the tackles 17 times against Georgia Tech. Now this is open to some debate, but I personally consider a successful run to be a gain of four yards or more, since that would be enough to get a first down on every drive if it's maintained. If we go with the 4-yard gain as the definition of a successful run, then of the 17 handoffs between the tackles exactly 3 of them were successful: a Josh Oglesby 5-yard gain in the 2nd quarter, Ryan Williams' 66-yard touchdown in the 3rd, and a Ryan Williams 20 yard gain late in the 4th. In other words, one of the cornerstones of Stinespring's gameplan against GT had a success rate of 17.6%. This is assuredly much lower than Stinespring anticipated, and yet he was still calling it in the 4th quarter.
It might be a tough sell to criticize the handoff between the tackles since it resulted in the longest play from scrimmage on the night in R-Dub's 66-yard touchdown scamper, but let there be no mistake that the success of that particular play is attributable to Ryan Williams' sheer talent, the ability of the offensive line to stick their blocks, the fact that our offensive alignment on that play did not telegraph the run, and the fact that it was the first play from scrimmage after a Georgia Tech turnover and the Yellow Jacket defense was a bit on their heels.
I've also heard a bit of criticism in some of the post-game comments here and elsewhere that 14 attempted passes against Georgia Tech's questionable secondary is simply unacceptable, and I agree. However, it must also be acknowledged that how VT passes is probably more important than that VT passes. I might be off base here, but it seems to be that as Tyrod has developed as a passer this season (and he's admittedly a pretty damn good one by this point) he seems to do better passing on the run than out of a traditional straight drop. The only exception is on quick out or slant patterns, where he can be leathal out of a three step drop, but Stinespring moved away from those plays after Tyrod's pass was batted at the line and intercepted on the first play of VT's third offensive series. (Odd, though, that Stinespring would move away from that after it fails once but stuck with the run between the tackles when it was failing over 80% of the time; but I digress...) Where Tyrod struggles as a passer is when he's asked to pass deep out of a straight drop. The offensive line has notorious problems defending against the pass rush, and that rush comes hardest when the pass is telegraphed. Yet Stinespring called for a straight-drop 8 times of the course of the game. The results: 2 of 6 for 16 yards, 2 interceptions, 1 sack for -7 yards, and 1 scramble for 11 yards. These numbers do not include the straight-drop passes while Tyrod was running the two-minute offense, as those plays were not called by Stinespring. For what it's worth, in the two-minute drill when Tyrod was calling his own plays, on his straight-drops he was 3-3 for 29 yards, 1 TD, 1 scramble for 3 yards.
It's difficult to be certain, but so far as I can tell it looks like Stinespring called 23 plays where the pass was at least an option for Tyrod, but the way Georgia Tech was rushing the pass combined with the fact that Tyrod was having some success running the ball allowed for the ball to get in the air only 14 times.
And so Stinespring found both avenues of his original gameplan - shred them between the tackles, light up their weak secondary - cut off, and he failed to make the proper adjustments to take advantage of amazing field position in the first half. In the second half, once Paul Johnson had correctly identified Kam Chancellor and Cody Grimm as the key men in Foster's scheme and adjusted accordingly, the triple option started to do what the triple option does: grind out long, multi-play, clock-leaching drives that wore out the defense. By the time VT's offense found something that worked in the 4th quarter it was too late: Foster's players were gassed, Foster himself had no answer for Johnson's adjustments, and the defense could not force a punt to give Taylor an opportunity to reclaim the lead.
Check and mate.
In my "Questions I Want Answered" post, I actually listed "How the hell do you stop the triple option?" second. In the lingering aftermath of the game, however, I found it to be foremost on my mind. The ref rolling the football a quarter-turn on that 4th down measurement - the number one question on my list - was highly suspect, but in the end it was also academic and dropped in importance to me within hours of the game being over. It seems that the triple option, at least as Paul Johnson runs it, might be Bud Foster's kryptonite. It forces a defense to play assignment football and be reactionary, both of which are antithetical to Foster's method. Put a more chilling way, Bud Foster might be incapable of adequately adjusting to the triple option. That doesn't mean VT's era of dominance is over in the ACC. It just means if VT is to beat the Yellow Jackets they will have to do it the way Miami did: make them play from behind. And that, in turn, means that unlike basically every other game VT plays, when VT and GT get together the onus of winning the game will fall primarily on the shoulders of Bryan Stinespring and the offense.
I pause here a moment to let you stifle your sobs.
For Virginia Tech to beat the Yellow Jackets the Hokie offense must have sustained, time-consuming scoring drives and the defense must at least hold the triple-option in check long enough for VT to make it a multiple-possession game. This past Saturday in Atlanta, Bud Foster and the defense held up their end of that bargain, but Bryan Stinespring was - once again - out to lunch. Here is the rundown on Virginia Tech's offensive series against Georgia Tech:
- 6 plays, punt
- 3 plays, punt
- 1 play, interception
- 6 plays, punt
- 8 plays, field goal
- 2 plays, interception, end of half
- 4 plays, turnover on downs
- 1 play, touchdown
- 3 plays, punt
- 6 plays, touchdown
- 5 plays, touchdown
In the one game so far this season where ball control on offense was most critical, Bryan Stinespring failed most miserably to establish it. The longest sustained drive of the night was 8 plays, only 2 of 8 3rd downs were successfully converted, and 10 of VT's 11 offensive series were limited to 6 offensive plays or fewer. The brightest spot on offense during the first 3 quarters, Ryan Williams' 66 yard touchdown sprint, was incredible to behold and spoke volumes about his talent and willpower to play through illness, but provided no rest for Foster's beleaguered defense, which was already on its heels at that point and had to return immediately to the field and endure another griding GT offensive series. Put another way, all of the offensive production against Georgia Tech was from the talent, when what was really essential to winning the game was production from the gameplan.
In the aftermath of this game, Virginia Tech finds itself last among equals in a Bermuda triangle of a three-way tie for second in the ACC Coastal. (Technically, Georgia Tech is 2nd, VT 3rd, and Miami 4th, by virtue of an unequal number of conference games played, but each team has one conference loss.) If all three teams were to win out in conference play - a distinct possibility - Virginia Tech would be the team most likely left on the outside looking in thanks to item 7 of the ACC's tiebreaker for 3-way ties:
In the initial BCS rankings released yesterday, Virginia Tech, with two total losses, was predictably ranked lower than both Miami and Georgia Tech, with one loss each. Iin order to not get left out in the cold, Virginia Tech must find a way to leapfrog Georgia Tech and finish within 5 spots of Miami. This proves difficult when you consider VT's remaining opponents are a combined 16-17 and are not even remotely close to being ranked. GT and Miami both have nonconference games left against BCS-conference opponents, while VT's lone remaining non-conference game is against a Conference USA team. The only upshot for VT is that two games down the stretch will have national television audiences, with the Hokies' next two games being Thursday night games on ESPN. Those two games are critical, as they might be the best shot for Virginia Tech to make a case that they deserve to represent the ACC Coastal in a third straight ACCCG.
The tied team with the highest ranking in the Bowl Championship Series Standings following the conclusion of regular season games shall be the divisional representative in the ACC Championship Game, unless the second of the tied teams is ranked within five-or-fewer places of the highest ranked tied team. In this case, the head-to-head results of the top two ranked tied teams shall determine the representative in the ACC Championship Game.
Except, do we really deserve it? We're going on eight years of the failed Bryan Stinespring Experiment, which has proven time and again that when the game comes down not to talent but to scheme Virginia Tech is behind the eight ball on offense.
There's an empty trophy case on campus with a sign that reads, "This space reserved for the national championship trophy." As long as Bryan Stinespring is offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech, it might as well read, "This space reserved for perpetual-motion machines, cold fusion, and Middle East peace."
Saturday, October 17, 2009
I'd love to have the following questions answered about this game and its ramifications:
- What was up with the ref rolling the ball on the measurement?
- How the hell do you stop the triple option?
- What was up with going for it on 4th down in the 2nd quarter when we were within Waldron's range?
- Would it maybe be a good idea to run our two-minute offense more frequently?
- Did I really just watch a Bud Foster defense completely whiff on a 3rd and 7 with the game on the line?
- Is Virginia seriously in control of its own destiny???
More questions will be raised as I ponder this loss, I'm sure.
EDIT: Okay, that didn't take long. Assuming Virginia does lose a few conference games as expected and Miami, GT, and VT all win out in conference play, does the tiebreaker actually fall to whoever has the highest final BCS standings?
Surprise! Surprise! We lose the TOP badly, the offense does nothing for 2.5-3 quarters, we struggle to get a 1st down and
But I will say this: it would have been fourth and two inches against a team that VT's defense couldn't find a way to contain. There should be debate over what the hell the refs did, but in the end it's probably academic.
So here lies any national championship aspirations. May they rest in peace.
There is a lot to dissect on offense tonight, especially considering that the Hokies moved the ball most efficiently in the two-minute offense when Tyrod was calling all the shots. But despite the slow start, the thing that will make me lose the most sleep tonight is the fact that Georia Tech faced a 3rd and 7 with three minutes to play and Josh Nesbitt broke the defense's back. This might be a knee-jerk reaction, but my initial impression is that if the BC game was a complete team victory, this was a complete team loss.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
THE BIG PICTURE
|2008 rank||2009 rank|
I'll actually start with the defense here, and start by saying I'm not particularly panicked. The 2009 Lunch Pail Crew is giving up about 30 more yards per game than the 2008 model. Yes, those numbers are a little rough to look at, but they're also improving. And the primary reason I'm not losing sleep over the defensive numbers is... well, actually the primary reason is because we have Bud Foster as our defensive coordinator. But another big reason I'm not fretting is because despite those extra thirty yards a game, the defense is giving up 0.96 more points per game this year than last. If the Hokies manage to hold Georgia Tech to under 11 points on Saturday - and I'm not saying that is going to happen - then our points allowed per game will be better for '09 than it was in '08. So, again, not so much losing sleep.
Moving on, when I say the offense is way up we're talking about more than 84 yards and 12 points per game up. These are big, big numbers we're talking about here, the kind of turnaround that yours truly would have said before the season started were impossible with Stiney still in place. What's more, the offense has been truly fun to watch in four of VT's six games this season, and I'm talking USC-Florida-Oklahoma-esque fun to watch.
So what the hell is different? Well, for starters theres...
JESUS IN CLEATS
It's a little early to be making longterm predictions about Ryan Williams, since he's only played six games as a Hokie. That being said, I will say that thus far he has lived up to his nickname of Little Sweetness. There is indeed a Walter Payton-like quality to the young man. So far Williams has rolled up 877 total yards (rushing plus receiving) and 10 touchdowns. Put into perspective, Williams has accounted for 38% of Virginia Tech's yardage gained and 45% of their touchdowns. He is on pace to destroy Darren Evans' freshman rushing record and with a strong second half could potentially challenge Kevin Jones' all-time rushing record. He's on pace to find the endzone 18 times on the ground, which I'm pretty sure would also be a freshman record.
But the thing I like perhaps the most about Williams is his attitude. I don't think we've ever had a player on offense with such an infectious desire to do something amazing. It's not just that he wants to be spectacular; Williams wants everyone around him to be spectacular as well. He wants the whole offense to fire on all cylinders, all the time. He reminds me of a Corey Moore of the offense, so to speak, a player that makes everyone around him want to do better, play harder, and accomplish more. There's a cockiness to the young man, no doubt (this is, after all, the player who talked about a national championship his redshirt year and has already said this season that he intends to let the Heisman chase him instead of the other way around) but that cockiness does not translate whatsoever into arrogance. After a huge play, when other players might draw attention to themselves, Williams simply bounces up off the ground, looks either to his teammates or the stands, and claps. After scoring the touchdown against BC that officially signaled the rout was on, Williams looked to the Corps of Cadets sitting in the south endzone and saluted.
At this point I almost wrote that this sort of performance at tailback has not been seen in Blacksburg for a long time, but to be honest it might have never happened before. Again, the man has only played in six games as a Hokie, but if these numbers aren't a fluke and Williams continues to perform at this level, it is possible that Williams will be to the Virginia Tech tailback position what Michael Vick was to quarterback. And that sort of performance has opened the door for...
MR. TYROD'S WILD RIDE
Tyrod Taylor has thrown more touchdown passes this season (8) than he managed the past two seasons combined (7). His QB rating of 159.6 is good for 10th nationally. He has an 8:1 TD to pick ratio, which is mind-boggling. His yards per attempt has almost doubled from last season, and he has completed at least one pass of 40+ yards in each game thus far. He has completed passes to ten difference receivers and touchdown passes to four, all of them wide receivers. Perhaps most importantly, he has yet to suffer an injury of any significance in 2009.
In other words, Tyrod Taylor has apparently made the transition from athlete pretending to be a quarterback to true quarterback.
There's no doubt about exactly when that transition happened. Tyrod put the entire offense on his back in the final two minutes against a pretty damn good Nebraska team and carried them to one of the most improbable victories in Virginia Tech history. It would be asinine of me to claim he did it with his arm instead of his feet, especially considering that on the go-ahead touchdown pass to Dyrell Roberts, Tyrod managed to scramble for nine seconds before delivering the ball. Granted, that was only possible because the Husker line was playing contain rather than blitz. But the whole reason they were playing contain is because there was no way Tyrod would burn them with his arm twice. The first big pass to Danny Coale was a fluke. Except...it wasn't.
Since the Comeback (notice the proper noun), Taylor has picked apart secondaries, found the mismatch in coverage, and delivered the ball in stride more often than not. He's throwing the ball to spots where either his man will come down with it or no-one will. He's using his feet just like he always has, but now he's using them to buy time rather than bust off a run. This means, of course, that he's taking less punishment than he has the past two years (though with the offensive line tied for 104th in sacks allowed, he certainly is still taking a significant amount of punishment). The fewer hits Tyrod absorbs, the less likely he'll suffer a season-ending injury. And despite JuJu Clayton's first career completion being an 80 yard touchdown to Marcus Davis, an injury-free Tyrod is a very, very good thing.
THE BIG PICTURE, REDUX
The goal of the Virginia Tech football team, so far as I am concerned, is a national championship. Not 10+ win seasons, not ACC championships, and not Orange Bowl victories. Frank Beamer has established VT as a national college football powerhouse and a team that is expected to perform at the highest level year-in and year-out. To set the bar anywhere below the top of the heap is settling for less than that of which the program is capable. The only accomplishment that VT has yet to add to its resume is lofting the crystal football.
Before the season started, I pontificated that a 7-0 start to the season would mathematically guarantee the Hokies to be in fourth place when the initial BCS rankings debut after week eight. If Virginia Tech can handle what is certain to be a feisty Yellow Jackets squad playing a night game at home (for homecoming, no less), then it appears that Frank Beamer might actually navigate a 6-1 record to a higher ranking.
There is a lot of talk, both here and elsewhere about the potential for this Hokies team to go all the way. I personally am as excited about that prospect as anyone else not suiting up for the Hokies on Saturdays. I also caution, be careful. The college football hype machine has a way of blowing adequate smoke up one's ass to take the edge off and remove the chip from one's shoulder that is necessary, at the highest level of college football, to string together a full 60 minutes' worth of quality play.
It has been said that the most difficult part of Virginia Tech's schedule is now behind them, and from the standpoint of opponents' depth of roster that might be true. If it is, the Hokies are now entering the most potentially hazardous straight of their 2009 voyage, the opponents the Hokies are “supposed to beat.” There's a lot of talent on the teams left to be played, and it would be the height of folly to forget that the worst performances so far this year by both the offense and the defense both came away from Lane Stadium. A homecoming game at night at Bobby Dodd Stadium against the 24th ranked offense in the nation potentially makes for a hell of a trap to be walking into. Thankfully it appears that the Hokie coaching staff realizes this.
Not to end on a downer here. I have complete and total faith that Virginia Tech can beat anybody in the country. Anybody. From any conference. If – and here's the catch - each of the Hokies' squads are completely focused on the game. It is entirely possible that we've reached the point in the season where the Hokies' biggest remaining opponent is themselves and their biggest game will always be the next one.
Let's take care of business and fill the case.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Second, if you are in the Atlanta area, there are still tickets left to the Georgia Tech game this weekend. They're at face value + a small processing fee, so if you can get to Atlanta for the 6:00 kickoff, wear maroon and get out there!
Go Hokies! Go Sooners! Go Golden Hurricane!
I can't bring myself to say "Go Irish" ever, but I wouldn't be completely saddened if they won...
And I hope not to write here for a while again...
Monday, October 12, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I will remain skeptical of Stinespring continuing this showing of offensive dominance, but, nevertheless, a clear trend does seem to be emerging. This is more than a pattern. Hopefully, the trend continues through the end of this season, but again I do have my doubts about it based on Stiney's very long 8+yr resume. But, I will give credit where credit is due. I expected a close and hard fought game on Sat against a better than they looked BC team. Instead, we got a blowout typically shown by a Big 12 or SEC team looking to gain a few extra votes in the polls and run up the score to have a shot at making a better bowl at season's end. I am prepared to eat crow. I do not hate the person, just his past results on the field. I would love to be proven wrong, but we'll see. I think it is smarter to remain cautious at this point in time in VT's season. GT does not have a good defense though so I am not sure we can call next week a true test. I knew that coming into the season that GT's defense would be bad so, hopefully, this trend of Bryan Stinespring looking more like Urban Meyer will continue at least through next week!
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
- Eddie George has selected Boston College to defeat Virginia Tech as his Upset Alert of the week. His logic, or lack thereof, is that the Boston College offense, ranked 95th in the nation, is "well balanced" and "starting to get into a good rhythm", and the forecast is "in the mid-50s, high upper-60s, no rain." Because, you know, VT has apparently been a complete fluke in the three games it's won this season in the sunshine. Everyone help me show Eddie some Hokie love.
- Nebraska can do VT a favor tonight by handing undefeated Missouri its first loss. Obviously every win by the Huskers improves VT's strength of schedule, but that's not the only angle here. The Tigers are currently ranked well below the Hokies and haven't beaten anyone of note, but are still one of 12 currently undefeated FBS teams. While the most important thing is for VT to take care of business and focus on winning their own games, any shot of a huge season in Blacksburg will be substantially aided by as many undefeated teams falling as possible.
- This was mentioned in my comment on Big Tony's post, but it deserves mention in its own post as well. Kyle Tucker, who is my personal favorite VT beat writer, has done an incredible job of pointing out the feast or famine nature of this year's Hokie defense. The gist of the article if you're too busy or lazy to read it, is that "10.4 percent of the opposition’s snaps have accounted for 60 percent of their offense against Tech." On the other 89.6% of the snaps, the Hokies are giving up an average of 134.8 yards per game. The big play is the problem, and apparently the only problem with this defense. If Foster can coach his squad out of that tendency, the Hokies have themselves the type of defense we've come to expect.
- A nugget from the black hole of trivial minutia that is the Etc section of Yahoo! Sports' ACC conference call: Tyrod Taylor's 327 passing yards against Duke was the most by a Hokies QB in a win since 1972. Many might remeber Bryan Randall's record-setting 504 yard, 5 TD game against Syracuse in 2002 or his solid 398 yard performance against Cal in the 2003 Insight Bowl. Both, however, were losses, where the majority of the passing yardage came while VT was in desperation/shootout mode. Tyrod's performance against Duke (and granted, it was Duke) was an instance of VT passing to control a game rather than to play catchup. Not that Tyrod will put up Big XII-esque numbers the rest of the way, but I thought this bit of trivia might help to put into perspective just exactly what we were watching against the Blue Devils.
- The forecast calls for rain Saturday.
FRIDAY MORNING EDIT:
The Gospel According to Pelini: "Do unto Missouri as Virginia Tech has done unto you."
Thanks a million, Bo.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
All of this is pretty easy to forget since VT has pwned BC in the past two ACC championship games. After all, there's nothing like sweet, sweet revenge to get the foul taste of this out of your mouth:
You wouldn't think that it would be difficult to get the Hokies motivated against BC considering not one player on the team has ever beaten the Eagles in the regular season. Then again, you wouldn't think Tyrod Taylor would bail out his defense and win a game by throwing for over 300 yards.
If you don't think it's possible to have a trap game after a trap game, please consider the following:
- Frank Beamer is apparently not holding players' feet to the fire over the Duke game.
- Boston College is playing with a chip on their shoulder after being picked to finish last in the ACC.
- Every game is an opportunity for the Eagles to win one for the Gipper.
- Up next is Georgia Tech, which has been billed since preseason as the deciding game in the Coastal division.
Simply put, this Saturday's game is very losable. Not that I'm predicting a loss. My personal feelings are about the same as they were going into the Duke game: confidence tempered with a healthy dose of concern. There's no doubt in my mind that VT can beat Boston College, especially now that the offense is clicking. But everyone on the team - especially the defensive secondary and the offensive line - had better realize that Duke was no fluke.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
- Danny Coale. We owe our season to him. He saved us against Nebraska with the 80 yard reception, and he had three huge catches against Duke (36 yard TD catch, 20 yard catch on 3d and 8, and 37 yard catch on 3d and 11 in the 4th quarter on our last scoring drive). I fully believe that we would have won against Alabama if we'd thrown it at him after the beginning of the third quarter.
- Josh Oglesby. He's done well the last two weeks, and it's seeming like the stinkers against Nebraska and Alabama were more a function of bad playcalling and him being put in positions to fail. If Stiney continues with this new found ability to adjust and figure out what's going on and call to beat it, our stable of running backs will be able to run over everyone. Ryan Williams getting tired (like he did in the fourth quarter when running down the clock against Duke) is not a death knell for our offense. (And it's awesome that our offense isn't a death knell for our offense in and of itself.)
- Tyrod Taylor's arm. If you're like me - and you probably are - you are usually scared (or scarred) when Tyrod drops back to pass. It's not his fault - usually - but the playcalling has usually put him in a place to fail. He proved that he can put the ball where it needs to be, and his receivers proved they can come down with it. While I don't know if his performance this week would beat Florida, it would probably beat any other team in the top 10.
- Ryan Williams. He wore down a team that played nine men in the box every play. I repeat: he beat up on nine guys to the point where in the fourth quarter, he and Oglesby were running roughshod over them.
- Jarrett Boykin. We all know that simultaneous possession goes to the offense, but there's also a little known corollary to that where if the defense gets it a split second earlier, but the offense wraps its 4XL hands around it and tosses the defender to the ground, keeps the ball, gets both feet in, and has a bit of swagger, possession also goes to the offense. That play was bad-ass enough that I forgive him for the fumble.
- Bryan Stinespring. It has to be said: he bailed out Foster this week. He changed his gameplan when Duke was over-overloading the box with 9 or 10 people, and he allowed Tyrod to beat single coverage. Tyrod doesn't have the arm to thread the needle between two or three people in coverage, but he can beat single coverage. If Stiney is able to establish the run and give Tyrod single coverage to deal with, we're unstoppable. We don't need a flex spread option or anything. We need good running and smart passes against single coverage, and if Stinespring keeps doing this and doesn't get too cute by half, we don't need anything else. He gets an A from me.
- Coaching. Our team always has a letdown game, and usually it's the whole team not caring all at once. That's completely on the coaches. You can't let the "it's just Duke" or "it's just ECU" or "it's just Kansas" thought processes survive in the locker room. That's the same type of coaching that leads to your best linebacker hurting his knee on a jet ski two days before a BCS bowl. And it needs to stop. Bud Foster needs to remind his team that a touchdown scored by Duke is worth the same 6 points as the touchdown scored by Miami. And he needs to do this soon, because some of the teams (like UVA, Maryland, and the like) are teams that we can't just wear down like we did Duke. Foster laid his one egg this year, now he has to be on his game all year. Do you trust in Stiney to rescue us again?
- Fosterfense. It continues to be a bend but don't break philosophy, and in the end, this will bite us in the ass.
- David Wilson. After being unleashed against Marshall, he continues to languish with few to no touches each game. What I wouldn't give to see a quad option with Tyrod being able to hand it to Williams up the middle, have Wilson trailing as the pitchman, and Dyrell Roberts or Danny Coale coming the other way, much like the one that seemed so unfair a couple of years ago while I was on the couch - scroll to 4:18 PM.
- Frank Beamer. In the last five games, Beamer was outcoached by Nick Saban, Mark Snyder (for the first quarter and a half until his players were just outclassed), Bo Pelini, and David Cutcliffe. While VT is 4-1, Beamer is 1-4 in coaching matchups, only beating Randy Shannon. He needs to be back on his game. Right now, he's looking like Bobby Bowden, and that's not a good thing.
Last week's performance would not work against any team on our schedule other than Marshall or Duke, and we have to make sure that we don't do that ever again... The only good thing to come out of this is that we know that Stinespring is capable of winning a game, but I still don't trust him to do it on demand.
This post was cross-posted to Adjusting the Cup.
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.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
But, the offense was given quite a few layups by our defense and special teams (which I correctly predicted would need to chip in 2tds or more or setup the offense for a few easy ones in order for us to win the game on Sat). Props to Stiney and our players on offense for helping produce touchdowns in those times instead of whimpering into all field goals like in the past. I trust Bud Foster completely. Bud will always figure out what is working or not working with the different personnel he has each yr and make the defense work. He does a great job tweaking the defense and playing to the strengths of his players when he has to except for the 2003 season, but he gets a pass. Stiney does not. Stiney and O'Cain still try to fit a round peg into a square hole. Based on prior past performances, I expect Stiney to revert back to the mean of his offensive playcalling ineptitude. The lesson we should all learn from the Miami game is this: celebrate the win because we are all Hokies and we all love to see our team win, especially against a good Miami team, but, how can you trust Bryan Stinespring still when his OC resume says you shouldn't? I don't know about the rest of you, but Stiney will have to spend every game of the rest of his career at VT as the OC proving me wrong about his abilities as an OC. We might get a game like the Miami game last Sat every now and then against a good team, but I am that convinced Stiney still cannot perform his job as an OC even respectably...
Friday, October 2, 2009
My thoughts about Duke are this:
They aren't as bad as we want to think. Thaddeus Lewis is an excellent QB, who really doesn't get the credit he deserves. He's averaging 195 yds/game passing, which while not set the world on fire numbers, surely isn't anything to be sneezed at. He's also playing for his life right now, as the backup guy, Sean Renfree has come out on fire. (Well, on fire for Duke, anyway). They're averaging 29 points a game, even though a large portion of that came from the NC Central game. Expect to see a healthy portion of both QB's on Saturday.
The Dukies need a good passing game, since three of their running backs are beat up and freshman Desmond Scott is listed as questionable.
Despite the fact that Heather predicts a 28-17 score, I just don't see Duke able to hang around that long. Even with 5 turnovers last year, they were still only able to put up three points. And yeah, I know we only led 7-3 going into the 4th quarter. 3 points off 5 turnovers is pretty shabby.
I do worry a bit about the much talked about big game letdown. We've seen it happen this year with Florida State, beating BYU then getting torched by USF the next week. Washington was the recipient of this year's USC gift collapse, then couldn't close the deal the next week against Stanford. (And a quick aside about this; don't the Trojans do this every year? Lose to some JV program in the Pac 10 and get the media all up in arms? Aren't we tired of this story? They're going to win the big games every time, folks.)
I also have a little twinge of worry that Stinespring will use this game as an opportunity to get cute with the offense. Stick with what works, Stiney. Dance with the one that brung ya. (And by dance, I mean run Ryan Williams all over the field and let Duke try to catch him).
And finally, I'm pissed again that this game isn't on TV. Who's the ad wizard who came up with this one? Yes, I know I started with this, and I'm going to end with it too. I do not want to sit in front of my laptop for 3 hours on Saturday. I know there is a way to hook up your laptop to your television and watch that way, right? Anyone out there more knowledgeable than me? Help the Football Girl out.
Hokies 34, Blue Devils 10. Although, I'd love a shutout. Just cause we haven't seen one of those in quite a while. (Yikes, I had to go all the way back to 2006, when we had an astounding four. Yep, it's time.)
Thursday, October 1, 2009
In the next Monday morning meeting, he showed players video of unproductive plays from the game. He explained that some failed for lack of execution, while others were simply stuffed by great defense. Then Stinespring showed another series of ill-fated plays.
"What happened here?" he asked. They all looked confused.
"It's a bad call," he explained.'
WHOA! Did you guys read that?! What is going on here? It seems that since the Nebraska game Stinespring has done everything I could ask of him. Not only did he admit his mistakes in play calling but he went on to call a good game against Miami. Admitting those mistakes leads to adjustments which leads to a more productive offense. If Stinespring can continue to call good games and admit mistakes when they happen so he can adjust, the name of this blog will have to be changed. This sudden change makes me ask this question: is Bryan Stinespring reading this blog?
It kind of sounds like it, right? One day he just up and decides to change the things about his coaching that we criticize. Maybe Bud Foster made a threat against his life after Nebraska nearly beat us despite being held to zero touchdowns? Who knows--the point is that Stiney is making huge steps in the right direction. We Hokies have gotten used to a triple digit offensive ranking. Right now our offense is 16th in rushing and 34th in scoring. If you are reading this, Coach Stinespring, then keep up this recent good work and I, for one, will have no problem with you. I look forward to the day that this blog will no longer be called "Fire Bryan Stinespring."
I'm talking about ESPNU, who for some reason has suddenly decided to jump on the Hokie bandwagon. I was flipping through the channels last night before bed and came to rest on College Football Live, catching Craig James's top-5 list. To quote James:
"At number four I put Virginia Tech. I've been high on Virginia Tech, but, man, especially after last Saturday. What they did to Miami, a good football team, really impressed me."It should be noted that at #4, James has the Hokies ranked ahead of unbeatens Boise State and LSU, both of whom are ahead of VT in the AP and Harris polls.
After James finished up his top-5 (Cincy at #5), the camera cut back to host Dari Nowkhah:
"By the way, I love that he has Virginia Tech up there. That looks like a really good team."
What just happened? What is this "recognition" you speak of? It makes me feel awkward and uncomfortable.
But in all seriousness, this is what happens when Virginia Tech puts together all three facets of the game simultaneously. The national college football media, that rabid pack of frantically masturbating howler monkeys, is desperate for an elite team. They thought they had found one in Miami (and in all reality, they might have; don't sleep on the U the rest of the way). And after essentially being Jacory Harris's fluffer all week, the pimp slap Miami received on a rainy Saturday in Blacksburg made them sit up and take notice of what's going on in Blacksburg.
To end the tangent before we even get off on it, I could care less that Craig James has VT in his top-5. The rankings aren't important - not until at least week 8. What's important is the lesson here that the only thing that has been missing from Hokies football is a coordinated offense. As soon as there are signs of one emerging, the program starts to get some recognition as a truly elite team. And with recognition comes opportunity.
Bryan Stinespring, please pay attention.