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.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hokie Halloween from FBS

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Duke Open Thread

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Comments not related to Virginia Tech football are subject to deletion.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Our Distinguished Opponents: Dook

It's the law to use this picture on all VT/Duke previews in all sports.
After doing this blog for a couple years now I've pretty well developed my routine. At the start of the week I like to take a day or two to familiarize myself with this week's opponent by checking their record, any common opponents we've already faced, and the stat sheet. 

Duke's record? Losing. But they've already won as many games (3) through week 8 this year as they did all of last year. The bad news is with their remaining schedule (VT, @Miami, @UVA, GT, @UNC) they might not win another game. Our common opponents? Duke edged BC by a point and got edged by Wake Forest by a point. While not technically a common opponent because it's different seasons, Duke got shellacked by Stanford by about the same margin as we did. Stats... well, here's where my jaw hit the floor.

The Duke Blue Devils have the 22nd ranked passing game in the nation. Junior quarterback Sean Renfree is averaging 256 passing yards per game. He's completing 67.8% of his passes. He's passed for 47 more yards than LT in one fewer game. The caveat - and there's always a caveat with Duke, isn't there? - is that it's almost exclusively a short passing game. Renfree is only averaging 6.6 yards per attempt. Of his 185 completions, only 11 have gone for 25 yards or more. And he only has six touchdown passes on the year. But he's only been held under 200 passing yards once this season, against Stanford. He's no Seth Doege, but his numbers are enough to make me question my original assumption that we wouldn't really need Jayron Hosley this week.

The reason Renfree passes so damn much (39 attempts/game, 11th in the nation) is because Duke has zero run game. Their leading rusher is Juwan Thompson, a sophomore whose closest flirtation with a hundred yard game came in week 1 when he put up 86 yards against Richmond. Against Bowl Subdivision opponents he's yet to crack the 70 yard mark in a game. Thompson has shared carries with junior Desmond Scott who, on paper, is the more explosive back, averaging a near-Wilsonian 6.1 yards per carry. Altogether the Blue Devils are averaging exactly 100 yards per game. There's only ten teams in the nation that fare worse in the running game.

We picked the best possible time to be facing the worst possible rushing team. Three of our starting front seven are gone for the season (Godspeed in your recovery, Bruce). James Gayle couldn't go against BC on his bum ankle. J.R. Collins came out of the BC game with a finger injury, though he did return. That leaves Tariq Edwards and Derrick Hopkins as the only two members of our front seven that you can legitimately describe as "healthy." Not to downplay what the backups have managed to do in step-up duty this season - this musical chairs front seven is still locking down the run to the tune of 7th in the nation. But on the injury front I'm starting to feel like this defense is Spaceball One and we've just hit ludicrous speed.

Bud Foster's gone to plaid!
Things are only marginally better in the secondary. Hosley is sure to still be nursing that twinged hamstring, as that's a hell of an injury to bounce back from. Antone Exum also came out of the BC game for a while with a thigh bruise, though he would return and finish the game. Playing armchair coach, I'd say rest Hosley and play Exum. Detrick Bonner has risen to the occasion and played the boundary at a high level in Jayron's absence. The free safety position behind Exum, however, is still an unproven commodity. Despite my sagacity, however, early indications are that Hosley will give it a go against the Blue Devils. Fingers crossed, people.

Looking at the other side of the ball, Duke's defense is yielding 398.9 yards per game to its opponents and the majority of that is given up through the air. The Blue Devils rank 102nd in the nation against the pass, versus a comparatively more respectable 48th against the rush. Put those numbers into the Stiney/O'Cain blender and hit puree, and what's likely to pour out is another pitch and catch gameplan like we saw in the first half against Boston College. If the receivers come ready to play this week LT should have a good opportunity to put up 300 yards through the air. But here's hoping that Mike O'Cain has learned from experience and is committed to getting David Wilson ten touches before halftime.

This game is the final obstacle remaining before the most desperately needed bye week in Hokie history. Barring catastrophic injury or monumental bribery we aren't going to lose to Duke. But it would be nice, for once, to see LT and the offense come out firing on all cylinders, bury the Blue Devils by halftime, and get our starters off the field before Lisfrancs start spontaneously combusting all over the place.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Narrow Line Between Suck and Awesome

So I reconsidered. I spent like two frickin' hours breaking down each series of downs on which the first six drives of the Boston College game stalled, so I figure, what the hell, someone else might actually enjoy reading this crap.

I also think this exercise shed some light, for me at least, on the difference between bad play calling and bad game planning. While breaking down these 18 plays only one jumped out at me as a bad call. But of the 18 plays, 12 were passes while only 6 were runs. VT is not built to have a 2:1 pass/run ratio. While the individual calls were all pretty decent, the overall trends in the calls were too aggressive in the passing game while not respecting what David Wilson can do on the ground.

Follow the jump for the detailed breakdown.

Monday, October 24, 2011

BC Recap

Should we have scored more on them? Yeah.

Why didn't we? How much time ya got?

You can talk all you want about coming out flat, playing down to our opponent, lacking spark, or whatever. But this was a strange game plan we came out with in the first half. We were throwing it around like a Big XII team (that's still a thing, right?) instead of taking what the BC defense would give us. And here's a tip: the BC defense will give you a lot this season.

I was going to use this recap to break down how each of the first six drives stalled. When I was done writing it I sat back, reread it, and got so bored I went narcoleptic on my keyboard. I'm not going to bore you with the details of how each particular play shook out, because if you're interested in that you can watch the replay of the game. What's important to remember is that the pass-happy attack of the first half wasn't working to sustain drives. We were moving the ball okay after the first couple of series - we went into halftime with 201 total yards on 40 plays - but we weren't finishing. In the second half we recommitted to the run without going ECU 2, Electric Boogaloo. As soon as BC had to respect the run then the passing game opened up like an airplane bottle in the north endzone. Here, lookit:

1st Half 2nd Half
Pass Attempts
Wilson carries

Perhaps, as very bad as BC had been coming into this game, Mike O'Cain wanted to use it sort of like he used the non-conference games, to let LT sling it around a little. LT's passing game has come a long, long way since Appy State and he's getting better every week. But it's still not enough to carry the entire game for the Hokies, especially when your receivers make some pretty egregious mistakes like they did in this one.  (DRAG THE TOE, JARRETT!!!) It's also possible that the offensive staff is hoping to rest Wilson a bit before the stretch run against Georgia Tech, UNC, and Virginia to close out the season. We'll definitely need DW to have fresh legs if we're going to earn that rematch against Clemson in Charlotte, but only giving him six touches in a half is inexcusable. 

So, it was a questionable game plan. Was it a bad game plan? Well, it didn't work but that doesn't mean it was a bad plan from the start. Coming into the game against us, BC's pass defense was ranked significantly lower than their run defense. Both were bad, but passing defense was worse for the Eagles. It makes sense to want to pass more against any defense that has Luke Kuechly on the field because you can just throw over him, whereas you have to run past or through him. But in post game interviews both Stiney and O'Cain said BC showed them some looks on defense that they had not used so far this season, which our offense was not prepared for.

This is nothing new, folks. Just like how Bud Foster starts scheming for Georgia Tech in February, every ACC team on our schedule circles the date of our game on their calendars as soon as the schedule is published. It's easy to lose sight of that while we're busy wringing our hands over our history of offensive issues, but we get our opponents' best shot every single time.

Anyway, we gave the aerial assault thing a shot. It didn't work out like we planned. We stuck with it for a half, had some success on the third series of the game, had some more when BC switched to a prevent against our two one minute drill, went into the locker room and adjusted. And it was a solid, well thought out adjustment that let our offense run away with this game. Don't undersell how important that was for our offensive coaches, who are notoriously hardheaded about sticking with the original game plan come hell or high water, to switch things up for the second half. We didn't see that very often while Stiney was up in the booth, so I'd encourage you to enjoy it now.

David Wilson is Over 1,000 Rushing Yards, Leads the Nation


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bruce Taylor done for the season.

This is not officially official, but it will be tomorrow. It's now official per hokiesports.com. Bruce Taylor is set to have season-ending surgery to repair the foot sprain he suffered in the third quarter against BC. The prevailing rumor is that The injury is a Lisfranc sprain, the same injury that ended JGW's season against Miami.

This is getting ridiculous.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Boston College Open Thread

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Our Distinguished Opponents: Bottom College

Almost forgot it was Homecoming.

Boston College is bad this year. Really, really bad. Like, the worst team we'll face all season bad. Worse than Appy State. Worse than Duke. If we played Blacksburg High in a scrimmage, I'd have to think long and hard about which might be the better team.

They're not always this bad. Usually they're a competent, well coached football team who notch out more wins than their limited talent pool and halfhearted fan base would merit. But this year they're just embarrassing themselves. As for the particular reason why they're shitting the bed so magnificently this season I couldn't begin to formulate a guess. Of course when Montel Harris went down early on I knew the Eagles were going to struggle on offense, and when they announced a short time ago that he was done for the season then I knew the wheels had fallen off completely. But I am shocked to see this BC team struggle so badly on defense.

Boston College has built their name and (limited) reputation on the strength of their defensive front seven and especially their linebackers. They play hard and they play tough and they play well above their pay grade as recruits when the defensive coaching staff in Chestnut Hill coaches them up. Except for this year. This year the secret to beating BC's defense is simple: run away from Luke Kuechly. The All-Western Hemisphere linebacker leads the team (and the nation) with 99 tackles on the year, which gives him a full 43 more tackles than the Eagles' second leading tackler Kevin Pierre-Louis. Putting this into perspective, our two leading tacklers - Bruce Taylor and Antone Exum - combined have eleven fewer tackles on the year than Luke Kuechly. So LT's primary read on every play should be, "Where's Kuechly?" We should then throw or run in the other direction.

By the numbers Boston College just pretty much sucks at life this year. In every major statistical category the Eagles rank in the top half of the Bowl Subdivision in only two: punting and scoring defense. Of course they're good at punting with as much experience as they have at it this year. But the scoring defense (which is just barely in the top half of the country at 58th) ranks a full 37 places higher than their total defense. That means BC clamps down against scoring plays. So like against Wake Forest, VT is probably going to need some big plays to open the flood gates.

As for what our defense should be able to do to their offense... Let's put it this way: rest anyone who shows even a hint of an injury this week.

UPDATE: James Gayle will start versus BC. Personally I'd like to see him get in about a half of work just to shake the rust, then ice down his ankle and give it another week before trying to go a full game against Duke. Jayron Hosley will not dress for the game this week. And let's be honest, after watching what a nagging hamstring issue did to RMFW last season, I think we can all agree it would be just fine if Jayron doesn't play a down until the Georgia Tech game.

On paper, this game should have a homicide detective assigned to it. This is the part where I feel obligated to say that BC always plays us tough, blah blah blah, but the last time BC visited Lane the Hokies dismantled them 48-14, outgaining them by 441 yards to 163. This BC team is significantly worse than that one. If we somehow screw the pooch badly enough to lose to these guys it would seriously be on the level of a Temple '98 or a JMU '10 meltdown.

But don't feel sorry for the Eagles, because as far as BC's clusterf**k of a season goes, I look at it as their chickens coming home to roost. No offense to Frank Spaziani, who I think is an absolute hell of a defensive coordinator, but Boston College inflicted this wound upon themselves when they showed Jeff Jagodzinksi the door. Personal feelings about the man aside, Jags did what no one should be able to do in Chestnut Hill: have the Eagles contend for ACC championships. Gene DeFillipo said Boston College was going to be a destination job under his watch, but rather than ponying up the resources to make coaches want to stay there his answer was to fire anyone who entertained any notion of going elsewhere, even the NFL. The Boston College athletics department is like that batshit crazy girl you used to date who never wanted to give it up but also wouldn't talk to you for two days if the cashier at Kroger smiled at you. In the end it's no wonder that girl winds up living alone in a one bedroom apartment with thirty cats.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mid-Season Stats Update

After seven games this season, we're bowl-eligible and have either six or seven games left (seven if we're in the ACC Championship). That means we're at the halfway point of the season. Time for a stat update!

Scoring Defense: 14th nationally
This is a great place to be, but let's be honest--at Virginia Tech we want to rank in the top 10 of this category every year. We are the highest ranked ACC team, though. Total defense has us at #15 with Florida State ahead of us, but scoring defense is the category that matters. In addition we're #8 against the rush, but only #52 against the pass. Hopefully Jayron gets healthy.

Scoring Offense: 44th
We obviously need some work on offense, though that Clemson game definitely hurt our average here. In fact, if we had scored 14 more points in that one game (17 total), we'd be ranked a full 10 spots higher in this category. That still leaves us lower than the #21 and #24 of the past two years, however, but if Logan Thomas continues to improve and DMFW continues to run out of his shoes I expect us to move up in this category. We're currently 6th in the ACC in scoring offense, behind #10 Georgia Tech, #21 Clemson, #28 Florida State, #39 NC State and #40 (tie) Wake Forest.

Rushing Offense: 34th

Passing Offense: 63rd

A few other stats I noticed:
Turnover Margin: #51 (+2)
3rd Down Conversions: #46 (44%)
Opponent 3rd Down Conversions: #13 (30%)
Punting: #117

Stats obtained from cfbstats.com. Most of the referenced stats are clickable links.

Almost enough to make you endure driving a Hyundai.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wake Forest Recap

At 12:30 mark of the second quarter, I wasn't doing so well.

I'd just endured a first quarter almost as bad as the Clemson forfeit. VT had managed to rack up 8 yards through fifteen minutes of play. It was doing nothing to raise my spirits that on their fifth drive the Hokies nearly tripled their total yardage for the game by moving the ball 18 yards before punting it. I was not, shall we say, in my happy place.

But in the end it was nice to watch LT, DW and the rest of the offense overcome a sluggish start to put on what honestly became a clinic in the second quarter, coming all the way back from being down 0-10 to take a 21-10 lead into halftime, then step on Wake Forest's throat in the second half en route to a 38-17 statement win over a good Demon Deacons squad.

And the defense... sweet cheebus give it up for these guys. We spot the Deacs ten points on the road and manage to lose our all-everything corner in the process, then proceed to lock them down for the rest of the game save one touchdown drive set up by yet another mental meltdown on special teams. (There will be a rather long post coming about the state of our special teams whenever I can devote the time to it. Probably during the bye week. I have a lot to say about this particular topic.)

Some of you rules lawyers out there help me out with this, though. How in the hell did we get an illegal substitution penalty on defense before the snap? My understanding has always been that illegal substitution penalties get called on the offense when they break the huddle and on defense when the ball is snapped. Did the officials dick this one up on the call?

Detrick Bonner, who I have previously called out on this blog over blown coverages, grew up in this game and showed promise for a post-Jayron world. He made a few touchdown saving shoestring tackles and he absolutely robbed Chris Givens of a touchdown in man coverage late in the third quarter. Earlier in the year Bonner looked like a freshman trying to play cornerback for Torrian Gray. Now the young man is starting to look like a Torrian Gray product at corner.

And to anyone who played a down on our defensive front seven, you, sir, have moxy. I cannot believe the pressure we got on Tanner Price all game long. What should have been a glaring weakness on our D with all the injuries piling up wound up being a highlight of the night.

But seriously, what was up with that first quarter? Four three and outs. Our longest play from scrimmage was a five yard screen pass to Jarrett Boykin. Our first drive of the game lost three yards. I don't know if it was a Miami hangover, or if Wake Forest's defense came out frothing at the mouth. But it seemed like as soon as Boykin snagged that deep pass down the left sideline then the switch was flipped and the offense never looked back. After going 3 of 11 for 19 yards in our first five series, LT went 14 of 21 for 261 yards and two TDs the rest of the way. Through five possessions David Wilson was averaging 0.75 yards per carry, then over the rest of the game averaged 10.2 per carry.

Let me put this another way. Through the first quarter, VT had 8 total yards of offense. Over the last three quarters the Hokies rolled up 465 yards. That's 155 yards per quarter over the last three quarters. If you had that effort from the get go that would be a 620 yard game.

But I'm not going to sweat the first five series of the game too much when six of the last eight series put points on the board. LT overcame a shaky start to lead his team to a win in his first conference road game. David Wilson got his yards and lost a shoe. And the receivers stepped up, especially Jarrett Boykin who finally put together consecutive games with over 100 receiving yards. It took them a while to get going, but in the end the offense answered the bell and looked good doing it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hokies crack the BCS Dirty Dozen

The first week of the BCS rankings are out, and color me shocked but VT is ranked 12th. That makes the Hokies the highest ranked team in the Coastal division and second only to Clemson in the conference.

You won't hear me talk much about rankings as a general rule, especially since with the loss to Clemson and soft out of conference schedule our ceiling this year is most likely an ACC championship and Orange Bowl berth. But 12th is entirely better than I would have predicted.

The computers are showing us some love, with half of them ranking the Hokies in the top 10. VT's worst computer ranking comes from Sagarin, who has the Hokies 14th, the same ranking as in the coaches' poll.

Lots of football left to be played.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Wake Forest Open Thread

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

JGW done for the season.

Sorry to bump the Wake Forest preview so quickly but I just got word the Hyphen is done for the season.

The culprit is a Lisfranc sprain. I had to hit up Wikipedia, but it sounds like this is a nasty injury that can lead to compartment syndrome and can be career threatening.

In other news, James Gayle is not traveling with the team to Wake.

I need a drink.

Our Distinguished Opponents: Old Man Herbert

Wake Forest? Yawn. This one should be a cakewalk. Hopefully Mark Leal will get a chance to take some...


Has it been five years already? Dammit, that means Wake Forest is due to field a halfway competent team again. Just our freaking luck.

Wake Forest is the Vanderbilt of the ACC: small, overpriced, not quite the right fit in the conference, and with a fan base that doesn't get excited even when the team doesn't suck. Probably because they know that by next season order will be restored and their football program will once again regain its rightful place as conference bottom feeder. They made these guys cross-divisional rivals with Duke for a reason. 

But every so often Jim Grobe manages to scrape together a team that is irritatingly non-terrible. They did it in 2006, when they managed to make the ACC an even bigger football joke by becoming its champion. And it looks like they're giving it what for again this year.

On the other hand, these guys have never beaten us. I mean, they beat VT pre-Beamer, back when we had a meaningful rivalry with VMI and got excited when we beat the Hoos. It's like beating the Patriots before they had Brady. Doesn't count. Under Beamer VT is 3-0. We survived them 17-10 our first year in the ACC, we spanked them 27-6 the year they actually managed to win the conference, and last year we dismantled them 52-21. Yes, the Deacs look better this year than last, but they don't look as good as they did in '06 with Riley Skinner. 

I guess I should throw out some obligatory stats just to make this preview look all official. Wake's leading rusher, Josh Harris, is only averaging about 82 yards per game. He's gone over 100 yards once this season, last week against a Florida State team that is officially now mailing it in. The Deacs are a completely one-dimensional team. They're so pass-happy even their wide receivers get in on the action. Seriously. Wide receiver Michael Campanaro has thrown three passes on the year for the Deacs. He's 3 of 3 for 106 yards and 2 TDs, sporting a passer rating of 616.8. The man usually passing the ball for Wake isn't quite so spectacular, but is still pretty damn good. Tanner Price has thrown for 1,352 yards and 10 TDs but only 2 INTs through five games. Still, if Wake stays true to form they should come out passing against us, which will put the game into the hands of our secondary - the one area of our defense that hasn't been destroyed by injury. The front seven might have some trouble getting pressure on Price if Gayle isn't 100%, but all in all I have supreme confidence in Torrian Gray's defensive backfield. Then again, Josh Harris absolutely humiliated Bud Foster's defense last season by piling up 241 rushing yards against them in the lopsided loss. He was literally about 70% of their offense against us. So expect Jim Grobe to test the waters in the running game, hoping to duplicate last season's success. But I also guarantee you that Bud Foster has been watching tape of last year's game all week. Probably in a dark room while sacrificing a virgin.

UPDATE: Harris is questionable with a bum hamstring. Grobe might be bluffing, but it's looking like if Harris plays at all against the Hokies it will be in extremely limited capacity. Look for the bulk of the handoffs to be taken by Brandon Pendergrass, a senior who is averaging 3.7 yards per carry in backup duty this season. If Harris can't go that will make Wake's offense that much more one dimensional.

Defensively the Demon Deacons are annoyingly solid. They do tend to give up quite a few yards through the air (over 222 per game), and their scoring defense (23.4 ppg) ranks quite a bit below their total defense statistically, which indicates they are prone to give up the big scoring play. That means LT, DW and the entire offense will have to take advantage of the opportunities that Wake presents them if they're going to become bowl eligible this Saturday.

The Miami game was as good of a turnaround as I could have asked for after Clemson. Now - to risk sounding like a broken record - I need to see where the offense goes from here. We've probably already seen LT's best and worst game this season, and now the question is where will he settle in as his baseline? The good news is as far as away games in the ACC go, he's not exactly walking into the lion's den for his first road conference game. This will be a good opportunity for LT to prove that Clemson, not Miami, was the outlier in his season.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Just A Quick Note

Just a quick note, infer what you choose.

Key words and topics for discussion: "up" year, "down" year, injury ravaged, talent level, opponent's defensive rankings, opponent's offensive rankings

Current 2011 Virginia Tech National rankings:

Scoring Offense: 56th out of 120
Total Offense: 54th out of 120

Scoring Defense: 14th out of 120
Total Defense: 13th out of 120

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Ballad of Logan Thomas

"Everybody was wanting to crown him the next whoever. That's not right. That's not fair. Now, do we expect big things? Absolutely." - Mike O'Cain

"This is where legends are made. This is where you make your legacy. Go ahead and do it." - Tyrod Taylor

"Holy motherf**king sh*t!" -Illinois Hokie

No other Virginia Tech quarterback under Frank Beamer has ever thrown for over 300 yards against the Miami Hurricanes. No other VT QB under Beamer has ever thrown three touchdown passes against the Canes. No Hokies QB has ever flirted with a 92% completion rate, trucked a UM linebacker, or broken the spirit of the Hurricanes quite like Logan Thomas just did.

I'm a wee bit closer to writing off the Clemson game as an aberration.

So is LT going to be this good every week? Hell, no. I don't think he conceivably could be. But as I watched him lay the foundation of a legendary career against the rival Hurricanes I marveled at the fact that, in time, he could be better. As good as he was - and my God, you don't need me to tell you how good he was - there were still some rookie mistakes in his game. He fumbled twice, once because he took his eyes off a shotgun snap and once because he failed to secure the football on a sack. (Side Note: Best two yard gain I can recall ever seeing, Mr. Lanier.) He threw a pass when he was two yards beyond the line of scrimmage. And on the drive that heralded the Dawn of the Age of Logan, he had to slow himself down a bit and remember that he still had 90 seconds and two timeouts to work with.

But make no mistake: what Nebraska '09 was to Tyrod Taylor, Miami '11 is to Logan Thomas. The difference is that TT's miracle moment came in the last two minutes of an otherwise forgettable game, LT's was a masterpiece strung together over four full quarters.

This was the game I needed to see after Clemson. This is what all of Hokie Nation needed to light a fire under its collective asses. And this is what I dreamed our offense could look like after the changes to the offensive staff and play calling structure were announced after the Orange Bowl.

Are we a lock to win out? Hell no. Especially if the injuries to Gayle and the Hyphen are serious. Our defensive front seven is pretty much shredded by injury right now, so we might be seeing a lot more shootouts like this one. And I don't expect LT to win them all like this. Don't get me wrong. I think he is capable of winning them all. But I also think we might see a rookie mistake at an inopportune time that might cost us a game down the stretch. That's the thing that amazes me most about what I saw out of LT against Miami. He's still learning how to play his position at the highest level of college football. He looked that good against one of the best passing defenses in college football, and he's still learning.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Miami Game Review

Dear Hokie Defensive Line, get healthy.

Dear ACC Officials and Replay Officials, get glasses.

Dear Logan Thomas, welcome to the big leagues.

Dear Bryan Stinespring and Mike O'Cain, good game.

That is all.

Miami Open Thread

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Our Distinguished Opponents - Da U

Oh, Miami. Am I ever glad to see you.

Because there is no other team I'd rather watch the Hokies beat the shit out of after the violation of the senses that was the Clemson game.

Your claim to fame this season is beating an Ohio State team that is a shell of its former sweater vest wearing, tattoo bartering self. And for being dumb enough to let an ass clown like Nevin Shapiro get on the inside of your program. And for having a coach that looks like a bigger douche than Al Groh on the sideline. Seriously, at least at UVA games the tie-wearing dick smacks are relegated to the stands.

Miami's defensive statistics is more lopsided than I am toward the end of the tailgate. They are crazy good against the pass (179 yds/gm, 18th nationally) and dogshit poor against the run (202 yds/gm, 105th nationally). So we should probably throw a heavy dose of Wilson and Oglesby at them and limit LT to some safe, high percentage throws. But on paper it looked like our offense lined up well against Clemson, so throw the clipboard out the damn window. 

On the flip side of the ball, Jacory Harris is still Jacory Harris. Thank you, Jesus. But the Canes have a hell of a running back in Lamar Miller, who is averaging over 6.7 yards per carry. The smallest starting O lineman for Miami is their 305 lb. center, and with Antoine Hopkins done for the year our front four just hit defcon infinity against the run. Expect the Canes to have undersized true freshman Corey Marshall dead in their sights until he proves he can hold his own on the D line. That could make for a long day.

After last week I have absolutely no idea what to expect. I'm just hoping for a good old fashioned VT turnaround.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Where do we go from here?

What the hell just happened?

I know it's three days later, but that's still how it feels. I imagine this is how I would feel if I had been excited to go watch a heavyweight boxing match, only to show up and find out that Abe Vigoda was one of the boxers. It's not just painful to watch. It doesn't make rational sense. VT hasn't been held out of the end zone since 2006 at BC. We haven't been held out of the end zone at home since we got blanked by Cincinnati in 1995. Which is to say that our offense was worse than we've seen it in a very long time.

Provide me a moment here to explain myself. You see, I had very high hopes that things were different. And these weren't the same sort of unfounded kindergarten dreams I had secretly harbored at the start of every season, that maybe this year things would be different. I actually saw a difference. With my own eyes. The biggest difference, of course, was that on game day Bryan Stinespring was down on the sideline being primarily a position coach. But there seemed to be substantial evidence that this really was a different offense, not just on paper but in real live ballgames. We were moving the ball effectively, really as well as I could ever expect a VT offense to do, to the tune of 425 yards a game. That's a real, big boy number, the sort that we have never seen out of a VT offense with a first year starting QB under Stiney. We hadn't cashed in as many points as we should have - I'll admit that freely - but a lot of that, I thought, was tinkering with the offense late in games when the W was pretty much in hand. And trying to develop chemistry on the offense was more important, I felt, than running up the score. So by an large, I thought I had a pretty good handle on this O.

Well, nevermind.

HokieJayBee already handled the game review for Clemson - Mad Libs style - and he did a far better job than I could have, seeing as though he was actually in the house. He touched on several points that I agree with, and I really don't have anything constructive to add to them so I'll leave them be. I do want to make a couple of points in specific regard to the Clemson game and the season in general, though, so I'll do that now before I go on my editorial rant.

1) If you're calling for LT to be benched...just stop. Sit down. Better yet, go away. Mark Leal is not the answer. That's not a knock to Leal, it's just the truth. LT has to goods. He's raw as hell right now and needs work in the passing game, but keep in mind that he spent the entire summer before he came to VT learning how to be a tight end.

This is another point I'd like to bring up, or more of a subscript to the general point - LT is NOT a tight end playing quarterback. He was a quarterback in high school. He was projected by the recruiting services to be a tight end in college. He committed himself to learning that position to give himself the best shot at making a major 1A school. But he is not a tight end playing quarterback. I know it might make some people feel better to scream it, but it's not true.

Anyway, LT's for real. He needs to attend the Manning Passing Academy this offseason like Tyrod did, but he has a legitimate skill set. He needs work on vision and timing. He can't carry the team right now. He's learning. Let him learn. If he looks like this again next season we'll revisit this point.

2) The defense is legit. It held Clemson to 183 fewer yards than it had been averaging, and 14 fewer points even after giving up the late score to make it a rout. And it held Chad Morris's up tempo offense to just 67 snaps. I said all last season that Bud Foster had earned a rebuilding year. Consider the defense rebuilt.

And on with the rant...

I don't know what to make of this. And that's not a rhetorical device, I literally don't know what to make of the offensive meltdown against Clemson, at home, at night. I've spent a fair amount of time breaking the game down. In general, I thought it was a decently called game. There were some terrible calls, but fewer than I have come to expect with Stiney in the booth. Like I thought we would, we saw a lot of hurrying to the line on 3rd and 1 with a quick snap and a quarterback sneak. It worked every time, and kudos to Mike O'Cain for not showing that a lot in the non conference games. Clemson seemed unprepared for it. Josh Oglesby's loss of five yards on 3rd and 1 was horrible, but it was called as an off tackle run and not as a sweep like most people are saying. If you go back and watch the play, JO tries to make his cut upfield but then bounces the run outside because he has defenders closing in. This was still a bad play call because JO needs to be pounding between the tackles. It shouldn't have been called off tackle because that gave the play the potential to turn into what it did. But I'll give O'Cain one bad play call a game. I don't expect perfection. And try as I might, I can't find another play call in the game that makes me want to break something. In all, I thought the calls were pretty much situationally appropriate when I broke the game down. A lot of the pass plays in the fourth quarter were just four receivers running go routes, but let's be honest, those are the only damn plays in the playbook when we're in desperation mode. I can't fault O'Cain for using what he has to work with.

I just don't know how to interpret this offensive performance. This was bad. This was worse than Sean Glennon bad. Worse than Grant Noel bad. This was worse than just a Stiney offense. Because hell, even with Stiney calling the shots we had enough talent to punch the ball in at least once a game. We have a lot of talent on this team. And like I said after the Marshall game, throughout the first four games of this season, the offense looked like a by God offense. We've shown we can move the ball against defenses that are no worse than the one we faced this past Saturday. Then against Clemson, an admittedly bad defense in just about every way, the longest sustained drive we can manage is 48 yards. We hit a brick wall, and we hit it hard. And I just can't make what I saw this week fit with what I've seen the last four weeks.

If we're a bad offense, fine. I'm used to it. Honestly. If we're going to stink on ice offensively that's one thing, and I'll deal with it. But to watch the first four weeks as we consistently move the ball down the field, and when the only real thing that was stopping our drives were turnovers or penalties - namely, ourselves - gave me one sense of this offense. Then to watch us fail so miserably in a game that was custom made for us to win, it was literally like watching another team. I can't evaluate the offense during the Clemson game, because I don't even know what I'm looking at.

There's a part of me that says it all goes back to the first two drives, or specifically how they ended: a pick and a fumble. This coaching staff shies away from turnovers like a whipped dog. Frank Beamer has nightmares of loose balls rolling around Worsham Field and wakes up in cold sweats. When a play winds up with the ball in the other team's hands we have a tendency to lock down on O and stay away from whatever it was that caused the turnover. Except right off the bat we had turnovers off the pass and the run. So there was just a general sense of timidity from the offensive staff for the rest of the game that kept us from ever getting into rhythm. We were scared to do anything risky. I mean, we punted from the Clemson 32, for Christ sake. So much for Frank saying he wouldn't hesitate to trot Myer out there for a long field goal in a critical situation.

Maybe the ACC defenses just really are that much better than what we faced from ECU, Arkansas State, and Marshall. Or maybe forces aligned beyond our comprehension that just made Saturday night the perfect shitstorm. Maybe everybody had mono. But whatever it was, I'm not ready to give up on this offense and LT yet. I saw enough through four games to make me not throw in the towel because the fifth was a dud. To put this Clemson mess into perspective I need to see what happens next. Do we have a respectable showing next week against Miami, a team in disarray but a potentially potent defense, or do we stink up the joint again? Do we rebound in typical Hokie fashion or do we fold? Does LT learn from this or does one bad game shake him?

To try to decipher what we are, I need to see where we go from here.

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Clemson "Game" Review

    I Have A Confession To Make. Even when I want to write a decently serious post, and maybe even put forth some research/statistical efforts prior to writing --- I don’t write out an outline or writing plan of any sort that would please any level of English teacher. I might have a general paragraph plan in my head, on where I want to start and where I want to end up, maybe even a bulleted list in my head of a couple certain topics/rants I want to include. But I admit that I am so passionate about VT football and this blog’s main topic, that I generally just get to typing and let it fly. I find it therapeutic for myself to scream via my keyboard, on here. It makes the days between game days more bearable for Mrs. HokieJaybee and Lil HokieJayBee.

    The Confession Strikes Back. As I was driving into work this morning, having a ~half hour to stew to myself, of course this weekend’s Hokie game crept into my head and wouldn’t let go. Anger returned, I think my hands even got cold again from Saturday night’s rain and wind at Lane. And, gasp, I actually did sort of actually start planning out a post, like a “real” writer would do. I didn’t write anything down while driving in excess of 70 mph, of course (safety first, Mother HokieJayBee reads this blog). But, I did actually start planning out a real plan for a post.

    Confession Admittance, Third Blood. So in my planning, while driving to work, I came up with a general layout for the topics/paragraphs I wanted to write about today. And then I started planning on how I was going to tell the story of certain points, the angles I would use, and even what anecdotes and humorous interjections I would use and where. I didn’t start thinking of line by line verbiage, but I started thinking in terms of similar to a blanket contract form an attorney would use, with copy/pastes and an “insert name here” type layout.

    The Fourth Confessional. So I get to actually writing. And as my anger rises again to blood curdling levels, I got to thinking……(dangerous, I know). If the coaching staff doesn’t give a shit about our offense, or changing anything, or putting forth any effort worth speaking about, then I don’t either. So, here’s my post. In all its (planned) glory. You can fill in the rest as you read if you’d like.

    [insert humorous opening line about how it wasn’t a game, but more of a scrimmage for Clemson to work on their silent snap count in a noisy environment]. [insert line about only scoring 3 points, how me and Lil HokieJayBee and the friends I had over yesterday to watch the NFL ticket could have scored more on Clemson’s run D]. [confirm stat from previous commenter about first time not scoring a TD in Lane since year XXXX]. [research to see if any of those games with a TD scored at Lane were defensive/special team’s scores only, and this “streak” of scoring TD’s on O is more telling stat than I first thought].

    [open the meat of the post with some caveats]. [insert caveat about how those opinions represented on the comments section of the blog are not necessarily the opinions held by the blog administrators]. [wave daddy finger about raising the maturity level on some of the comments and eliminating some of the childish name calling and poop jokes]. [insert caveat that we here at FBS are not calling for Frank Beamer to be fired]. [insert standard lines about how Frank built the program, he’s immune to people calling for his head, etc.]. [admit we know Frank just signed a new contract extension and we know he’s not going anywhere, and we know he’s not going to change anything on the coaching staff, but we can dream right]? [admit we know this is a little free blogspot blog on google, and it’s just some alumni with passion for VT football to improve, and we see Bryan’s involvement with the offensive coordinatorship as the main culprit in VT’s path to the promise land of college football --- but that we know we’re nothing to the big alumni money or to actually getting something done]. [admit maybe we just partially write it sometimes just for the therapeutic nature of getting these rants out, and hopefully someone, anyone, else gets a kick out of it sometimes or maybe even occasionally agrees with us].

    [go on a doomsday kick]. [insert annual, “I’m not donating any more to VTAF if Bryan is still on staff!!!!” line]. [insert line about how some commenters will say that I’d really be hurting the other sport’s athletes, not football, if I stopped my donation to VTAF]. [insert that after what was on the field on Saturday night, I don’t care]. [insert line about how I’m just flat out tired of feeling this way, every year, EVERY season]. [insert somber line with words like “let down”, “disappointed”, and “ashamed”].

    [talk about how we are *that* team nationally]. [insert line about complacency]. [talk about how that’s what this boils down to, is 10 wins and a possible shot at another ACC title game enough]. [insert line on how we aren’t a respected team nationally]. [admit that the balance of the ACC isn’t helping with that reputation, but still]. [ask readers if we’re just spoiled now, because this coaching staff, this level of recruiting and type of players we get, we have seen the ceiling]. [ask readers if 10-3, 11-2 and getting beat in a good sized bowl every year is all we want]. [assert that with the current coaching staff, that is the peak of possible performance, that is the pinnacle].

    And honestly, that’s where I stopped my planning. I really did have a ton more to write, but I’m tired. I’m tired of getting my hopes up. It’s too depressing. You know what’s most depressing? It’s that I’m not tragically shockingly let down anymore. To fear and not be surprised by a loss to a good Clemson team? That’s one thing. To have it go EXACTLY as I knew it would – the same horrible game plan, the same play calling (situationally has *NOT* improved, see David Wilson up the middle on 3rd and short, Josh Oglesby around the corner on 3rd and short, lack of misdirection, lack of QB sneaks on short yardage with a 6’6” 250 pound QB…..), and yes, the same bad execution of simple items – well that’s the most depressing. Our players didn’t get beat behind the woodshed by a better Clemson team, they got beat on the white board and on the practice field on Monday-Thursday. [reminder caveat that I blame the players NONE, zero, zilch, na-da, at the college level. These are kids, simple robot muscle memory machines. Teach them better. Be better Frank, Bryan, Mike, be better.]

    [insert line here about “even I” could have called my way to 3 points against that D at home at night]. Yes Frank, I could have. When are you opening your door again for all takers on that OC interview?

    Saturday, October 1, 2011

    Clemson Open Thread

    Discuss amongst yourselves.

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