Now, on to business. I've thrown around several ideas on how to do this game review. And seeing as though I disagree with just about everyone I've talked to about this game the best way I can think to do it is just basically transcribe the conversations I've had.
Devil's Advocate: God, that game SUCKED!!!
Illinois Hokie: Actually, there were a LOT of positives in that game. I'm encouraged moving forward this season.
DA: What did you like about that crapfest?
IH: Well, for starters, the Lunch Pail Defense is BACK. The D held ECU to 2.1 yards per play, 112 total yards, and negative fifteen yards rushing. This D looks to be in 2005 form.
DA: Yeah, okay, the D looked great. But the offense was horrible! We only managed to put up 17 against them!
IH: Look, I wanted to see a 50 point shellacking just as much as anyone. But just because we didn't trounce them doesn't mean we weren't successful on offense. We rolled up 241 yards rushing against them and won the time of possession battle by nearly 15 minutes. Before you say the offense was horrible you need to look at what the offense was actually trying to do.
DA: Come on, man. The offense was just as bad as when Stinespring was calling plays.
IH: Was it? Remember LT's interception on the fade to Boykin in the end zone, late in the second quarter? Up to that play in the game we'd run 21 plays: 12 runs, 9 passes. After that pick VT ran 45 plays no counting the three kneel downs at the end: 34 runs and 11 passes. Know what that's called?
IH: An adjustment. The kind of adjustment this very blog lambasted Stinespring for never being able to make. And check this out. Before that crazy pick in the end zone, VT was averaging 4.3 yards per carry. After the adjustment, when we basically lined up and said, "Here we come, try and stop us," we actually improved to 5.5 ypc.
DA: Then why did I want to punch my TV? Why did we drop in the polls? Why is everyone so pissed off?
IH: Because the adjustment - and I should note, it was a successful adjustment - was to a ball control offense. Ball control isn't popular because it's not fast, it's not sexy, and it's not high scoring. It's about grinding out long, sustained drives, controlling time of possession, and making your opponent desperate. And it worked.
DA: So it's more of the same. Boring and conservative.
IH: Boring? Yeah, maybe. But conservative? ECU had blanked us up to the adjustment. We weren't doing this to protect a lead, we were going ball control to try to TAKE a lead. The coaches basically looked at DW, Oglesby, and the O Line and said, "This one's on you guys." And they responded with long, sustained scoring drives. Touchdown drives of 8 plays, 78 yards, and 13 plays, 89 yards. Six and seven minutes off the clock. Just completely seizing control of a game when, honestly, nothing had been going our way from the start. That's definitely not conservative. And a few years ago our offense wouldn't have been able to do that, because Stiney wouldn't have been able to adjust on the fly. Calling ball control isn't easy. The defense knows you're coming, so you have to use some misdirection effectively and call plays you know give your O line a chance to open holes.
DA: You make it sound like it's all sunshine and roses.
IH: Hell no. First off, way too many penalties. Some of that was home cooking by the C-USA refs, like that BULLSHIT pass interference against Jayron. But a lot of it was procedural. You either move out of your stance or you don't. And this senior line shouldn't be doing that. But Beamer admitted in the post game that he didn't have his guys ready to play. They won't repeat that mistake.
And LT's going through some growing pains. He's making some sophomore mistakes, which Mike O'Cain will correct, but also he and his receivers just aren't on the same page yet. Right now our receivers couldn't catch a bus. There is no reason for all the drops. Kevin Sherman needs to get that shit figured out fast.
DA: We won't be able to pull this ball control crap against our ACC schedule.
IH: No, we won't. This one was a situation call. We knew ECU could beat us. They've done it before. If we had stuck with our original game plan maybe LT and his receivers might have turned the corner, but maybe not. So the decision was do we make this a learning opportunity for our new QB, or do we do what we need to do to get the W and live to fight another day? We adjusted to the situation and won the football game. Now the coaches will study the hell out of this game film and try to adjust the issues. In the meantime, LT and the receivers need to be playing pitch and catch on the drillfield between classes trying to establish chemistry and trust. But if he keeps averaging 5.9 yards per carry he'll be able to rely on his legs while the passing game comes along.