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, September 29, 2011

The Stinescreen... Explained... But Still Stupid.

Stiney explains the Stinescreen to ESPN's Heather Dinnich

Apparently, the Stinescreen has been at fault for not getting the ball to our hoss RB's even more than I ever imagined. Glennon must have been deathly afraid of opposing safeties, which sounds about right.

Our Distinguished Opponents - Klempsun

"IT'S JUST ANOTHER STADIUM"

This is not a game preview.

If this were a game preview, I'd talk about how Clemson hasn't beaten Virginia Tech since 1989, and about how in the five games we've played since then the average Virginia Tech margin of victory has been 22.6 points. I'd talk about how Clemson's offense is prolific (503 yards, 37.75 points per game), but its defense is anemic (90th Total D, 85th Rushing D, 73rd Passing D, 66th Scoring D). I'd talk about how Tajh Boyd has never started a game away from home in his career, and how he's never thrown a pass with Torrian Gray's secondary on the field or against a Bud Foster defense that lives to disguise coverages and blitzes and confuse young quarterbacks. I'd talk about how important it is for David Wilson and Josh Oglesby to stay patient and wait for their blocks, because this is a defense that our O line can open holes against. I'd talk about how important it is for the secondary - especially the safeties - to stay disciplined and not freelance, because the drops we've been fortunate to see from other offenses we've faced will be long touchdowns by Clemson.  I'd talk about how the preseason was over, and about how now VT begins the quest to repeat not only as ACC champions, but as undefeated, undisputed ACC champions.

This is not a game preview.

This is a call to arms.
"They don’t change the field. The ball is the same, you put on your uniform the same." - Dabo Swinney, Clemson head coach

"If we score fast enough and often enough, it might be a little quiet in there." - Tajh Boyd, Clemson quarterback
"We don't expect the fans, the crowd noise, to affect the way we do things. For us to go in there and win at Virginia Tech, that’s going to be something. The plane ride back is going to be fun for all of us" - Landon Walker, Clemson right tackle
The gauntlet has been thrown down. Riding high on a 4-0 start, including wins over two programs whose names carry more gravitas than the Hokies, the Clemson Tigers are coming into Lane Stadium confident. Overconfident, I would say. Yes, they have beaten the defending national champions, the Auburn Tigers, a team that no one in their right mind expects to compete for another title - national or SEC - without Cam Newton. Yes, they've beaten Florida State. Or, more succinctly, they've beaten FSU's second string, since their starting quarterback, three of their four starting receivers, and their starting cornerback were out with injuries. But they beat them, and they beat them on a national stage. So they are sure of themselves.

But all of this has been done at home, in front of a friendly crowd. This team does not know the meaning of the word noise. Not a single player on this Clemson squad has played a game at Lane Stadium. So you can understand why they don't know what they're about to walk into Saturday night in the mountains. It is up to us to show them. If you are going to this game, remember that you, along with 66,232 of your friends, are the voice of Hokie Nation. You are why Lane Stadium ranks as high in intimidation factor as stadiums that hold 40,000 more people. And just like the young men suiting up for Frank Beamer, we need four quarters of effort from you. Scream until your voice breaks. Jump until your knees give out. And take the biggest damn key ring you can find. Remind Clemson that it was against them in 1999 that Corey Moore christened Lane Stadium "the Terror Dome." Show the Tigers - and the world - why the words "night game at Lane" should strike fear into the hearts of opposing teams.

On a critical play from the FSU 1 yard line, Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd had to call time out because his center could not hear him calling for the snap over the crowd noise. The game was at Clemson.

The gauntlet has been thrown down. Hokies, pick it up.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

HJB's Clemson Preview

Assumedly more in-depth and stat-friendly Clemson preview to come from IH.

What’s up FBS’ers?

Sorry I’ve been quiet on the boards this year. My biggest reason (excuse?) is my wife is 8.5 months along and a few weeks from delivering Lil HokieJayBee #2. And I’ve been working around the house and such preparing for the arrival of #2.

I made it in for the AppSt and ArkSt games, but really didn’t have much to say thus far and didn’t really warrant a blog post from any of it. All 4 games have gone how I expected. ECU could have used another mop up score for the west coast voters to see a higher margin, but we clearly took our foot off the gas and were fine with the ToP win.

I expected to be 4-0 at this point, and am actually a little happier than I expected to be (regarding the way in which we got to 4-0). I’d like to think I’m football knowledgeable enough to recognize situational “bad” calls that are similar to NFL preseason coaching, where you call a certain play you want to see your young QB run, regardless of current game situation.

In regards to being satiated at this point at 4-0 but not ecstatic about the offense, we’ll see against Clemson. There is no more “get out of jail free card, we understand training wheels and situational bad calls to bring up a new QB” for MOC. This is our season right now in a nutshell. To be 5-0, with a conference win, against the current winner of the other division, this could be huge. And Clemson is currently growing into one of the media’s little darlings with their Auburn and FSU wins. This will be good press for us to end their pretty little run right now and put LT and DW more firmly on the national map rather than the current “meh, they’re top 15 I guess but no Tyrod or RMFW” vibe I get from the media outlets thus far this year. (Note I am not whining and saying we deserve more press than the “meh” line, yet. I’m saying this is the game to do it. Clemson did *us* a favor on their run through Auburn and FSU, if you want to look at it that way. I am not opposed to stealing thunder. We do it 8 out of every 10 years when Miami is backer than back while being back and having swagger back. Then they play us and they’re not back and we’re in or near the top 10.)

So, for Clemson and going forward in ACC play, here’s HJB’s list of wants/changes/suggestions/pleads/begs………………(None of these are complaints about being 4-0. None of these are doomsday VT hatred predictions. Just some wish-list-tweaks for our O. Of which I know the Devil’s Advocate answer could be that HCFB and MOC already have these tweaks in mind and we haven’t seen it yet to protect the playbook through the OOC schedule and we’re saving it for ACC play. In which case, I simply get to take credit for it.)

1. We need to run more sweeps with DW. He’s faster than everyone on the field. Not “off tackle”. I mean sweeps, even give DW two extra steps and run a few actual pitch plays. I mean, TE crack-back-contain, WR hold your block for 2 seconds without holding --- DW only has to beat one OLB to the edge for a 7-10 yarder, or beat one SS to the edge for a 15+TD run. We do not run outside enough, never have. And I’m not liking MOC continuing that avoidance. I hope to see ~10 sweeps against Clemson. FSU did it, and successfully last week. And I’d like to think, even if I’m wearing Chicago Maroon tinted shades, that DW is faster than FSU’s RB. Even if the sweeps start to fail, they will cause the LB’s to spread or lean ever-so-slightly, and make our middle running a little more fruitful.
a. And dear God run the sweep to the wide side of the field. When and if we actually do run outside, HCFB and BS always ran it to the short side of the field. Thus eliminating half of the advantage of the sweep itself and your RB’s speed, because there’s a defender over there on every team, who NEVER misses a tackle. His name is sideline.
b. You can’t have an “a.” without a “b.” This is that b.
2. Reverses. I am not a big fan of reverses in general, they are a misdirection trick play only to be used sparingly. But, I am a big fan of reverses when you fake them as often as we do. (note: I’m counting the wide trail on LT’s read-option plays in my calculation as unused “reverses”). But we *NEVER* hand it to the reverser. I vote either run the reverser more often, thus making all the fake reverses we run, have some validity and hold a tackler or two at psychological delay – or stop running the fake reverses so often. At this point, the other team ignores the reverser, and we’re down a blocker. If we’re *NEVER* going to hand it to him, he’s not doing any good faking anymore, and he could be blocking someone.
3. Bubble screens. Ok, so I can’t argue with the results of the bubble screens thus far this year. Literally they are gaining yards. Figuratively they are good for bringing up a new QB (completions, safe, stats, etc.). I promised my brother and other VT game viewing friends I’m not allowed to whine about the bubble screens anymore until LT throws a pick-6 out of one that was clearly read by the D.
a. NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND. For the love of everything that is holy. Pump fake a friggin bubble screen to Coale, and have Marcus Davis (who faked like a blocker on said pump bubble screen) release and run a go. Dear God, it would be a TD, I’d bet a steak-and-cheese on it.
b. And, even if you overthrow MD on the bubble-screen-blocker-go, all future bubble screens would have the benefit of the safety or deep nickel corner waiting back one extra second to ensure MD doesn’t release and go. Giving the bubbler a few more yards to run each time.
c. If b. here were to be true, I know I owe you a steak-and-cheese. But it would be worth it as one of our coaching staff’s favorite calls will now have a better chance to work.
4. Speaking again on 2.b. LT needs to overthrow more than underthrow. IllinoisHokie already mentioned in other posts that LT’s interceptions have come on underthrows, and they’ve come in mop up time. So, benefit of the doubt says we’re not mad at LT for them, it might have even been a called back shoulder underthrow. But, not being mad at some of his learning curve through our butter OOC schedule is different than agreeing to not be mad now but we don’t want to see it anymore. LT has a cannon. We have fast receivers. Go. Go fast. Try to overthrow them. They’ll run under it. Cannon will go off. Fans will jump and celebrate. HokieBird will lift the fake barbell 7 more times.
5. Did I really see Billy Hite on the sidelines at Marshall? Was he really wearing a headset? Whatever consultant role he has, I vote it does not involve sideline work, and definitely not headset availability. And oh please oh please oh please, not redzone play calling input. Billy, you had a great run, go play golf. (not a golfer? Fishing?)

Other than that. Go Hokies!

Quick Hits

Randomness that doesn't deserve its own blog post...

WILSON WATCH UPDATE

Through 4 Games Williams '09 Wilson '11
Rushing Yards
502
516
Rushing TDs
8
5
Receiving Yards
120
22
Receiving TDs
0
0

Wilson is on pace to break RMFW's record, but his own stated goal is a considerably higher 1,700 yards rushing. That would require about 131 yards per game over 13 games. DW is currently averaging 129. Whether he makes it or not might depend on making the ACCCG to give him an extra game to work with.

But check out the disparity in the passing game. DW has been a non-factor so far as a receiver. I'm hoping that's because MOC is saving it for conference play.

WORST WHEN IT MATTERS LEAST

LT's line through 4 games:

60 of 105 for 761 yards, 4 TDs, 4 INTs; 25 rush for 118 yards and 1 TD

The stat everyone is circling is those interceptions. Admittedly, even Mike O'Cain uses interceptions along with completion percentage to grade a QB (TD's not so much). But check this out. Three of LTs' four interceptions have come in the 4th quarter when VT is ahead by 15 or more. In other words, when the outcome is pretty much in hand. I've thought for a while now that LT's picks have been more a result of tinkering with the passing game rather than an inherent problem in his game. This seems to support that notion.

Also, LT's stats put him on pace to throw for 2,473 yards assuming a 13 game season. Tyrod threw for more than that last season. Other than that, it would be the best passing performance by a Hokie QB under Frank Beamer, and it would set a record for the most passing yards by a first year starter.

THE GREAT WALL OF FOSTER

Virginia Tech's defense has surrendered 172 total rushing yards to our opponents so far this year, good for second in the nation behind Stanford. Josh Oglesby, our backup running back, has more yardage (174) against our opponents than all four of our opponents combined managed to get against us.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Marshall Review - The Preseason Comes to a Close

In summary...

1.) Inside running is an issue. This is not entirely because this offensive line is poor at run blocking. In fact, there were openings for DW to run through between the tackles, yet for some reason he was running INTO his blockers several times throughout the game. It was a bit of an off day for Wilson, looking somewhat like he did his freshman year when it was obvious that running fast was more important to him than running smart. 

And defenses continue to stack the box against the run. There are consistently eight defenders engaging the O line as soon as they see LT extend for a handoff. Marshall consistently had all three linebackers playing to read on the run. It doesn't matter how good your five O linemen are, they simply will not block well against the defense's entire front seven. And if you bring in a couple of tight ends for extra blocking help then you've clogged up the line of scrimmage so badly the back can't find a crease to hit.

I'm starting to think the only way to solve the inside running problems is to make opposing defenses respect the passing threat. And with the way LT has looked passing the last two games, if defenses refuse to respect it then VT is going to win a lot of games this season.

2.) Special teams are a bigger issue. Danny Coale as punter does not seem to be the answer, though Danny wins the Nick Sorensen Award for doing whatever it takes to help the team. I'm not asking for 50 yards a punt from Demler, but we need at least 40 with good hang time on a consistent basis. Branthover is the last potential ace in the hole. I don't like that his first career punt might come in our ACC opener. 

And Journell... woof. What to make of this? Cody was rated the #3 kicker in the nation coming out of high school, where he booted a 54 yarder his senior year. He even booted a 50 yarder on Worsham Field when the coaches were taking a look at him during his recruiting. This kid looked like pure gold. But apparently in Virginia high school football they kick field goals off a kicking tee? The story is Cody's having a tough time adjusting to kicking off the ground instead. I really hope he gets the kinks worked out, because I think he could be a weapon if he adjusts.

3.) There is a huge dropoff between our starting DBs and the second string. On Marshall's lone touchdown drive Dietrick Bonner was out of position the entire series and wound up surrendering the score. It's one thing to get beat. It's another to apparently not understand your coverage assignment. Multiple times. On the same drive. Pray for no injuries here.

4.) LT was above 60% on his passes for the second week in a row. His passing yardage was not breathtaking (229 yards), but no small part of that was Mike O'Cain calling short passes because that's what LT needs the most work on. And for the first time this season LT looked to be putting some touch on his shorter throws. Also helping him out were the receivers, who had no egregious drops in this game and who finally look to be getting in sync with their QB.

Another positive I noticed from LT in this game was that the receiver staredown that he has displayed thus far was notably absent. He was looking off receivers and scanning the field before most throws, which also means he's probably getting the hang of his check downs. This kid's pocket presence is unlike anything we've seen in Blacksburg since the Druck, maybe all the way back to Don Strock.

The one blemish on LT's day? The long INT in the 4th. And here I gotta tweak MOC a little. Or, well, maybe not. Because I don't think it was necessarily a bad call, but it was most definitely a bad design. The play started out beautifully, with LT showing a pump fake for the first time all season. LT held on to the ball a bit longer after the pump fake that I would like, which diminished its effectiveness, and then underthrew the ball. In general I don't harp on underthrows. MOC actually teaches his QBs to underthrow rather than overthrow because it gives our receivers an opportunity to adjust to the ball and make a catch. That shows trust in our receivers and really isn't a bad idea if you have a receiving corps you can lean on. But this particular play, with the pump fake, should have gone for the home run. Let the receiver run under it and catch it in stride or let it fall incomplete and come back to the huddle for the next play. And I'm the biggest Danny Coale fan in the world, but DC was the wrong target for that throw. When I first watched the play I thought Coale was running a go route. After reviewing the film I realized it was actually a stop and go, which relies on a receiver's speed to put distance between himself and his coverage. Danny Coale is many things, but he is not a burner. Throw that pass to Marcus Davis. Hell, I don't even know what DJ Coles 40 time is, but I would have felt more comfortable trying that with him. Dyrell Roberts would actually be my first choice, but considering he's got about the same luck as the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, what can you do?

In summary, what I wanted to see against Marshall was putting it all together. We came |---this---| close to doing that. There were some notable problems on inside running. But it was not the total disaster some are making it out to be. Both DW and JO had some long runs between the tackles. The problem was doing it consistently. LT's passing game has come miles since the Appy State game, as have the receivers. The defense is Lunch Pail. But heading into ACC play the special teams are still short bus special.

But I'm still more satisfied with our opening four games than I have been in years. For one thing, we're 4-0. For another, even though the first four games have been an experiment with Logan Thomas, under Mike O'Cain calling the plays this offense has looked like an offense. Sure, our non conference opponents weren't world beaters this season. But when you actually break it down the situation surrounding the first four games this season are very similar to what they were in 2006. That was Sean Glennon's first season as starter, and like LT Glennon was more of a pocket passer than the QB he replaced. And VT's first four opponents that season were not very good: Northeastern, UNC, Duke, and Cincinnati. That was John Bunting's last season at UNC and the Tar Heels went 3-9 on the year. Cincinnati, meanwhile, was decent at 8-5 and a bowl win.

20062011
Total Yards339430
Passing Yards221219
Passing Attempts95114
Points30.534.25
ToP25:1736:02

The points per game has been adjusted to account for only those points put on the board by the offense (including the place kicker). So we have almost 100 more yards per game, more points per game by the offense, and pretty much the same passing yardage per game even with all the receiver drops the first three weeks of the season. And look at that time of possession difference. Look at it. Behold it in all its glory. Greater than ten more minutes a game. Call me old school, but ToP is getting way undersold here. What it represents is sustained drives, something that happened with infuriating rarity under Stiney as play caller. With MOC in the booth VT is keeping the offense on the field, which means the defense is on the sideline sipping Gatorade and devising new and inventive ways to make the opposing quarterback suffer. So the offense is setting up the defense to dominate by being fresh late in the game. In other words, like I said before, this offense actually looks like an offense.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Marshall Open Thread

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Our Distinguished Opponents - Marshall

WE ARE... honestly not very good.

Someone explain why the hell we're playing an away game against a C-USA school? Again?

Really all you need to know about Marshall is that their quarterback isn't named Byron Leftwich. They suck at the run (94th nationally at 115.67 yards per game), they suck at the pass (91st, 193), and they really suck on defense giving up more than 32 points and 411 yards per game. The one area where they aren't completely abhorrent is defending the run, where they give up a very middle of the pack 129 yards per game. 

Despite all the suck coming from Huntington I am quite jacked about this game. Because this is the final tune up. The dress rehearsal, if you will, before we start our conference campaign in earnest. As I have noted elsewhere, the offensive coaching staff this year has treated the non-conference games the same way pro teams treat preseason games, using them to try new things, tinker, find what works and what doesn't, and just generally bring the offense and Logan Thomas along. The progress has been fun to watch as so far this season VT has looked like a balanced attack (Appy State), a smashmouth ball control offense (ECU), and an aerial assault (Arky State). Now VT needs to put it all together. What I personally hope to see in this game offensively is a repeat of the Appy State game with a much better completion percentage for LT. I don't so much mean the score; it's ridiculous to go into any game hoping to see your team drop 60+ on its opponent. I'm talking in terms of our offensive line getting significant push on run plays, especially up the middle, and holding their blocks for 4-5 seconds against the pass rush. I hope to see DW and JO hit the hole hard and with a burst. I hope to see LT throw on target and the receivers come down with balls that are in their area. I guess in general I just want to see the offense click before we hit conference play next week.

But don't take for granted that C-USA officials will be calling this game. After looking back at the ECU game what bothers me most isn't the penalties the refs called against VT, because the majority of those calls were procedural and you really can't argue whether or not a lineman jumped. Of greater concern was the number of penalties the refs called against ECU: zero. The refs let the Pirates get away with bloody murder in that game, and my guess is the same thing will happen this Saturday in Huntington. That means the Hokies are going to have to play disciplined football and, most importantly, not get goaded into stupid penalties for reacting to Marshall players who know the refs are going to be looking the other way.

This week will be another dose of road adversity for LT, who didn't stand up so well against it the first time. The refs will probably be in the home team's back pocket, so the Hokies will have to beat both a bad team and bad officiating. All in all this week promises to be a good test of how far LT and the offense have come over the first four weeks of the season.

UPDATE: Jarret Boykin is out for this game, due to a hamstring injury he sustained during practice this week. DJ Coles is listed as Boykin's backup and should get his first collegiate start in Boykin's place. That would make our top two receivers Coale and Coles. So... West Virginia... Coal mining... Yeah.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Realignmageddon

Our "new" conference is starting to look a hell of a lot like our old conference.

ACC commish John Swofford announced over the weekend that Pittsburgh and Syracuse had been unanimously accepted as the 13th and 14th members, sending the current conference realignment frenzy into overdrive and assuring that when the smoke cleared the ACC would still have a seat at the big money table. Swofford did this shrewd ACC style: by raiding the Big East. The technicalities are yet to be hammered out, as the Big East has a 27 month notice requirement for exiting the league. At this point there might not even BE a Big East 27 months from now.

This is not a sexy move. Syracuse and Pitt aren't setting the world on fire. But I still like it, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, both Pitt and 'Cuse can enhance both football and basketball in the ACC. You hear no mention of hoops during all this expansion talk, but the ACC is still primarily a basketball league (though that might slowly be changing) and Syracuse especially should help the conference maintain its roundball dominance. For another, while neither team has been in contention for anything major in college football lately, both programs do have strong football traditions and might find some success in the ACC under the right circumstances. Especially with regard to Pitt, joining the ACC might bring with it some increased recruiting leverage that might help even the in-state recruiting with certain other big name Pennsylvania schools. Pitt is also on the upswing, having posted at least 8 wins in the last three seasons under Dave Wannstedt and claiming a share of the Big East championship last year. New head coach Todd Graham is attempting to install a quick strike, high octane offensive scheme and has a proven record of winning at Tulsa, who were perennial  contenders in C-USA under Graham and even finished the 2010 season in the top 25.

Syracuse... Well, they're good at basketball.

Lost in the quickly developing addition of two new schools was the fact that ACC presidents also unanimously voted to increase the conference exit fee from $13 million to a hefty $20 million, a move clearly intended to prevent the SEC from making the conference its own personal Big East. Another strong move, and one I'm a little surprised was unanimously approved, considering all the rumors of FSU and Clemson to the SEC. Why vote to cost your program an addition $7 mil if you are seriously considering leaving the conference? I'm not saying the Noles or the Tigers won't go if called to the Promised Land, but at the very least their programs are maintaining the appearance of conference loyalty to the very end.

And this thing isn't over by a country mile. After the press conference, which most reporters watched with open jaws, John Swofford went on record saying he was currently happy with the 14 team alignment (an alignment, I might add, that no ones has a clue about what it looks like divisionally), but that the conference "is not philosophically opposed to the idea of sixteen teams." There are some HUGE names still out there up for grabs, and managing to snag a Texas or a Notre Dame would be seen as a major coup for the ACC. Swofford is nearing the end of his tenure, and building the ACC into a superconference would be a fitting swan song for the man who did conference expansion before conference expansion was in.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Arky State Recap

It was obvious from the first snap that this game was going to be the Logan Thomas Passing Clinic. And it was obvious that Arkansas State was going to let it happen, consistently selling out to stop the run and making LT beat them through the air. So he did, and he looked like a quarterback doing it. LT and the receivers started to build some chemistry, most notably with Danny Coale. By the end of the day LT completed an eyelash under two thirds of his passes for 292 yards, two touchdowns and two picks. (One of which should have been negated because an Arkansas State defender was BLATANTLY offsides. Godawful no call by the refs there.) The improvement from the first two weeks to this game was dramatic, and LT's numbers could have been even better if it hadn't been for a couple of drops, most notably by tight end Randall Dunn and fullback Martin Scales. But I guess I'll accentuate the positive and focus on the fact that the drops weren't coming from the wide receivers this week. Part of that is because LT's finding touch on his passes, like his GORGEOUS touchdown pass to Danny Coale, which he floated just over the reach of an Arkansas State defender right into Coale's chest.

Taking on the passing game from another perspective, I was pleased to see Mike O'Cain calling aggressive passing plays. The deep post to Danny Coale immediately following Jayron's interception was textbook offense immediately following a big turnover, but something that VT simply hasn't done enough during Stiney's tenure. The play action to Georgeon 3rd and 1 was something I've wanted to see for the better part of a decade. And I even liked the call to pass to the fullback out of the jumbo set on 4th and 1 from the 2. But again I ask, why are we passing to Martin Scales when Joey Phillips showed the steady hands all through practice? Are we still punishing him for his drop against Appalachian State in week 1? I'm fine with that so long as we use the same logic here and never pass to Scales again.

Regardless, through three games I'm now ready to put the official IH Seal of Approval on Mike O'Cain as play caller. For three weeks we've watched the Virginia Tech offense take what the defense has given them for four quarters, when what the defense has given them has been different in every game.

I approve.
As for the running game, I refuse to press the panic button like so many others seem to be doing. The offensive line did not get great push against Arky State's defense, but again I'll say it's tough to get push against eight men in the box. The Red Wolves were selling the farm to stop the run and DW still managed to grind out 88 yards and a touchdown to compliment the passing game. Plus, we all did watch the ECU game, right? Dude was probably a little tired. And he ran for 300 through the first two games. So, yeah, no worries on the run game from me.

Defensively... 

This team could win if we had Sean Glennon. I can give no higher praise than that.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Arkansas State Open Thread

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Our Distinguished Opponents - Arkansas State

Their mascot is apparently a 1930s Disney character.

Who?

We've played Arky State three times. Our average margin of victory is 44.3 points. They've never scored more than a touchdown against us in a game. The offense has a chip on its shoulder and the Lunch Pail is back.

Game over. We win.

Monday, September 12, 2011

ECU Review - Devil's Advocate Edition

First off, eff my neighboring state for fielding two craptacular football teams who need three OTs. Seriously. And while we're at it, eff Fox for not cutting away from that game on the east coast. While I was stuck watching the Hawkeyes and Cyclones battle it out to see who wanted it least I figured it's just because I'm stuck out here in the heart of outer Siberia  Big Ten country. Nicely done, Rupert. Your sports coverage is almost as intelligent as your news.

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?

DA: What?

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.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Our Distinguished Opponents - ECU


Interesting fact of the week: Dominique Davis has never thrown a pass with Jayron Hosley on the field. Hosley was suspended for last year's ECU game because Frank Beamer decided to suspend the entire team after the JMU loss and Jayron had to go first. So Saturday should be fun for Boston College transfer. Good luck with that.

Another interesting fact: ECU had the worst defense in college football last year. That's not a joke. It's not even an exaggeration. Out of 120 Division 1A teams last season, ECU's defense ranked 120th. To improve upon this pile of rhinoceros feces head coach Ruffin McNeil flipped the defensive scheme from a 4-3 to a 3-4. The same type of defense the TRUTH averaged over 10 yards per carry against last Saturday. Lord, we thank thee...

But here's the thing about the Pirates... they have a nasty history of playing us way tougher than any CUSA team ever rightfully should. When Jim Weaver signed the pact with Satan agreement to schedule a 755 year home and home series with ECU he probably thought he was chalking up an easy yearly win for the good guys. The results? In 2007, the first game of series, VT eked out a narrow and entirely unsatisfying 17-7 win which served as a harbinger of the nasal rape that was to follow against LSU. The following year in a "neutral site" game in Charlotte, VT suffered what at the time was its most embarrassing non-conference loss. The Hokies avenged that loss the following year by boring the Pirates to death, 16-3. And last year, with the Hokies staggering on the verge of total collapse, the Pirates went into halftime leading 24-21. 

So don't be shocked if the game stays uncomfortably close for an uncomfortably long time.

Oh, who am I kidding? We're gonna smoke their punk asses.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Appy State Recap

I forgot what it feels like to be 1-0.

Got back to Illinois on Monday, but with one thing and another I haven't had a chance to post about it until now.

First impressions:


  • Logan Thomas is further ahead than Bryan Randall or Tyrod Taylor were for their first start. Part of that is O'Cain finally getting to work with a quarterback from the very start, knowing that he is THE guy. Another part of it is the benefit of LT's redshirt year, which neither Randall nor Tyrod had. But no small part of it is that the game just comes naturally to LT. He's already leading this offense. Yes, he was 9 of 19, which is a subpar completion percentage, but four of his incompletions were flat-out drops. That's not to say that they weren't partially LT's fault; he still throws the intermediate pass with too much velocity, which makes them easier to drop. He also stares down his intended receiver, which is going to result in a pick or two before he's breaks the habit. But LT's deep ball is beautiful, and his fade pass to the corner of the end zone is going to put points on the board this season.
  • The offensive line might finally be as good as advertised this season. They opened up holes for the tailbacks all day and gave LT time to throw. They're big, they're nasty, and apparently they finally understand their gap assignments. 
  • Bryan Stinespring belongs on the sideline. He was lighting up his players all game. Bryan is a players' coach, and he needs to be around his guys during the game. That showed in abundance. 
  • The defensive front four are the best we've had in a while. By the second quarter they were forwarding their mail to Appy State's backfield. James Gayle might be Darryl Tapp good. 
  • David Wilson is the TRUTH.
But what about Mike O'Cain as play caller? Well, the jury's still out. Here's the thing: I'm not so sure Stiney couldn't have put up numbers approximating these against Appy State. The Mountaineers were just outmanned and with a talent gap that wide I'm not sure there really was a game plan that wouldn't have been successful against them. I need to see what happens when VT's offense is challenged before I sign off completely on O'Cain. But I'll say this: throughout the game I tried to guess what our next play was going to be. I was wrong more often than I was right.

When was the last time anyone could say that about our offense?

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Game Day Chatterbox

Thoughts during the game? Leave 'em here.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Say it ain't so?

We haven't played WVU since October 1, 2005, but they are still a big rival for us Virginia Tech fans and alumni. We even have (or had?) a trophy signifying the rivalry.

That being said, I am displeased with the recent turn of events.

It appears couch burning (and other kinds of street burning) in Morgantown is (finally) a punishable offense. What are we going to tease them about now?

In any case, hopefully this gets Jim Weaver's attention and he considers not renewing that ECU contract and looking at WVU for a long-term, non-conference opponent. (Although, in my opinion, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville would be an even better frequent, non-conference opponent.)

Sidenote:
Apparently the couch that burned the legislators' pens towards inking the new law occurred the night Osama bin Laden was killed. Which was perhaps the one opponent all WVU and Virginia Tech fans (and USA citizens) wanted to beat more than any other. I guess burning a couch after a football game was fine, but burning a couch after killing the most wanted (hated) man on the planet was not.

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