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.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sorry for the delay, everyone.

Hey y'all.

Sorry it's been dead around here. Mrs. Illinois Hokie and Little Miss Illinois Hokie went back to school on August 16 (Mrs. IH is a teacher) and since that date everyone in this house has been sick twice, once with a stomach bug and once with an upper respiratory deal. It's been freakin' biological warfare up in this motherscratcher.

Anyway, at this rate I am not going to cram the remaining six selections of the top ten into the time between now and kickoff. So the countdown will continue into the season a little bit. I'll have at least one more up by the Techmo Bowl.

Also got a game preview coming.

Anyway, greetings from the land of Sudafed and Puffs Plus.

Go Hokies.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Great Moments in (21st Century) Virginia Tech Football, #7

VT 20, #12 Cincinnati 7
January 1, 2009

We suck monkey ass in BCS bowl games.

No sense in sugar coating it. As Coach Beamer would say, it is what it is. At a combined 1-5 since the dawn of the BCS era in college football, we just simply suck at life when it comes to the biggest national stage in our sport. Whether it's getting flat out outplayed like against Stanford in 2010, fading late like against FSU in '99, failing to get any sort of offense going like against Auburn in 2004, or shooting ourselves in the foot a la Kansas 2007 and Michigan 2011, we always find a way to screw the pooch when acting as standard bearer for the ACC.

Except in 2008, when we finally managed to erase the goose egg in the BCS bowl wins column. So even if we had beaten St. Mary's School for Mentally Challenged Quadriplegics in that game it still would have made the top ten list simply by virtue of being the one shining example of the time we didn't shit the bed in a BCS bowl.

First, a little backstory. VT actually has a bit of a history with the University of Cincinnati. We're 5-4 against them all time, and they are the last opponent to ever shut us out in a game way back in 1995. That was also the season Jim Druckenmiller helped guide the Hokies to ten consecutive wins to close out the season, including possibly the greatest comeback in VT history (although not the largest) against UVA to close the regular season. VT made a national name for themselves that year by beating Texas in the Sugar Bowl (which is not included in our BCS bowl record above because the BCS did not exist in 1995), and since then VT and Cincinnati had been heading in different directions. But then Brian Kelly took over the Cincinnati program and blew it the fuck up.

Kelly posted a 34-6 overall record during his tenure at Cincy, which of course meant he was too good a coach for the Big East and jumped ship to Notre Dame. But while he was at Cincy he was crazy good at destroying the rest of the conference. In 2008 his squad's only losses were to Oklahoma and UCONN and the Bearcats entered the Orange Bowl ranked seven spots higher than VT.

The game itself is not what I would call a classic, but Darren Evans put an exclamation point on his freshman season by averaging 5.5 yards per carry. The buck fifty-three that Evans racked up against the Bearcats was 38 more yards than their defense had averaged giving up per game.

Our defense, meanwhile, had a field day with Cincy QB Tony Pike, picking him off four times and keeping him under 50% on completions. And the Bearcats, who sucked at the run anyway, only managed to add 71 yards on the ground against us.

This was the season that our offense finally bottomed out under Stiney, ranking 90th in scoring O and 103 in total O, so it's hard to get enthused about a game against a Big East team where we only managed to put twenty points on the board. But this was also the one time that we walked out of the Orange Bowl a winner.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Stiney whispers the forbidden word.

There is a very interesting article in the Daily Press in which Bryan Stinespring basically says that VT's offense will be built around spreading the field this season.

It's happening.

Now keep in mind this is not going to be a massive culture shock of an overhaul. By the end of last season, with the way Mike O'Cain was calling plays, we were a spread offense in everything but name. The problem, of course, was that O'Cain was limited to using what spread elements were found in our existing pro set playbook. Basically embracing a spread look as our base just gives O'Cain more to choose from in-game. Based on the results from Mike's first season in the booth, giving him more options is a very good thing.

The move to a spread look on offense makes sense on multiple levels. For one thing, L-Train ran a spread offense as a QB in high school. It's his comfort zone, although he has shown promise as a more prototypical under center QB as well.

For another, it works well with the roster we have this season. We're young but VERY deep and talented at wide receiver, and the same is true at tailback. Tight end, meanwhile, is an area of serious concern, with only Ryan Malleck managing to do anything to make himself stand out as an offensive weapon during summer practice. The spread would get our best options on the field.

And Curt Newsome's lines and his entire zone blocking scheme has always been best suited to a spread offense. There is no surprise that last year's line was hands down the best unit Newsome has fielded at Tech and last year also happened to be year when we saw the most spread elements incorporated into our playcalling.

As much sense as embracing the spread makes, I'm still surprised to see it happen. Stiney has a strong tradition stubbornly trying to jab a square peg into a round hole. This is the same OC, remember, who thought it was a good idea to rotate Tyrod Taylor and Sean Glennon, with their wildly different styles, into the exact same offense without altering the playcalling whatsoever. I think this move has Mike O'Cain's fingerprints all over it, and might signal that O'Cain really is settling into more of a co-OC role, even if it isn't being advertised as such.

The article is worth read, and it also has a lot of other information on the status of the program, including the possibility of a redshirt for receiver DJ Coles if he remains hobbled at the start of the season. You can find it here.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Great Moments in (21st Century) Virginia Tech Football #8

VT 13, #19 Texas A&M 3
September 21, 2002

To a certain extent one could argue that R.C. Slocum was Texas A&M's Frank Beamer.

Slocum was (and still remains) the winningest head coach in Texas A&M history, and he built the Aggies into a powerhouse program in the Southwest and later the Big XII conference. He accomplished the mind-boggling feat of never posting a losing season in College Station. And under Slocum's tenure there was one thing that simply did not happen: non-conference opponents never won at Kyle Field. It literally never happened.

Until Virginia Tech rolled into town.

What ensued was a clinic in defensive, smashmouth football. The Aggies under Slocum were famous for their Wrecking Crew defense, which entering the game against the Hokies had been giving up 33.5 rushing yards per game on average. On the other sideline, of course, was Bud Foster, but keep in mind that this was before Bud Foster was BUD MOTHERFUCKING FOSTER. Bud was still ascending the ladder of college football assistant coaches, and his Broyles Award was still four years off. But this game would wind up looking mighty good on Bud's resume.

Texas A&M was held to 38 rushing yards, 156 total yards, and three points. They would never enter the red zone. It was a defensive masterpiece anchored by rover Willie Pile and defensive end Nathaniel Adibi. The Aggies would get on the board first with a 48 yard field goal, but after that the offense's day was basically done.

Meanwhile the Wrecking Crew got a bit more than it could handle in the Untouchables, tailbacks Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones. While they combined to produce only 106 rushing yards on the day, that was still three times what A&M had been averaging. And it was a goal line plunge from one yard out by "TD Lee" Suggs with 12:29 left in the fourth that sealed the game for the Hokies. Meanwhile, quarterback Bryan Randall managed to add only 119 yards through the air but was a model of efficiency, completing 10 of 11 passes and no interceptions.

When the dust settled, a non-conference opponent had beaten the Aggies for the first and only time under R.C. Slocum, who would be fired at the end of the season and replaced with Dennis Franchione. The Aggies were the third consecutive ranked opponent that the Hokies had beaten, having won against LSU and Marshall in the two previous games. (Yes, Marshall was actually ranked when we played them in 2002. Just remember that at one point they had a quarterback named Byron Leftwich.)

Running that particular gauntlet, and ending it by being the first non-conference opponent to win at Kyle Field since 1988, cemented the legitimacy of Virginia Tech as a contender on the highest stage in the post Michael Vick era

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Great Moments in (21st Century) Virginia Tech Football #9

VT 30, #18 Boston College 12
December 6, 2008

The 2008 ACCCG was a bit of an embarrassment from multiple angles. VT and BC combined to sell only 5,000 tickets to the game, which was in its first year in Tampa. Both the Hokies and the Eagles entered the game with three conference losses. Interestingly enough, two of the three losses for each team came against its cross-divisional rivals, with BC losing to UNC and Georgia Tech while the Hokies stumbled against BC and FSU. Virginia Tech came into the game unranked, while BC was clinging to the polls at #18.

Earlier in the season Virginia Tech had traveled to Chestnut Hill and came away with a tough loss that knocked the Hokies from the rankings. The loss was embarrassing as the Eagles held Darren Evans to just 27 yards rushing and held Tyrod Taylor to 12 of 27 for just 90 yards through the air. The lone bright spot of the game was that Tyrod managed to run for 110 yards. But with zero support in the run game and zero passing game to compliment Tyrod's rushing, the Hokies' offense was held out of the end zone for the entire game. The two VT touchdowns at Boston College were on interception returns by Brett Warren and Macho Harris. The 2007 regular season loss to BC had been heartbreaking. The 2008 loss was humiliating.

In Tampa with an ACC championship and an Orange Bowl berth on the line it only took VT's offense eight minutes and thirty-three seconds of the first quarter to do what it had failed to do for the entire game in Chestnut Hill as Tyrod Taylor scored on a five yard keeper. The Hokies never looked back, and they would never lead by less than a touchdown in this one. For the second year in a row VT got revenge in the sweetest way possible against Jeff Jagodzinski's Eagles: when a championship was on the line.

Interestingly enough, the stat line from the Chestnut Hill loss and the ACCCG win sound equally abysmal. In Chestnut Hill the Hokies managed an anemic 240 yards of total offense, but in Tampa they actually managed six fewer yards. The difference, of course, was that by the end of 2008 Tyrod Taylor and the offense had begun to work with the defense and take advantage of the opportunities the defense provided. VT enjoyed short fields all day and capitalized on them to put points on the board.

This would be the last game VT would play against a Jeff Jagodzinski-coached Boston College team, as after the season he was terminated by the university for interviewing for an NFL coaching position without seeking prior permission from the athletics director.

The fact that two teams playing for a BCS conference championship both entered the game with a 5-3 conference record admittedly gave this game a bit of a ho-hum feeling, but it still makes the top ten because it cemented VT's ACC dynasty. The 2008 season was VT's fifth in the ACC, and at the end of it the Hokies had won three out of five conference crowns and had played for another.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Great Moments in (21st Century) Virginia Tech Football, #10

Virginia Tech 40, Florida State 21
November 10, 2007

There are rivalries in college football, and then there are those teams you just cannot fucking stand. And if you're brutally honest, the sum total of your hatred revolves around the fact that for whatever reason that team just has your number.

Florida State was that team for Frank Beamer.

Heading into this game, the Hokies were 0-7 against FSU under Frank Beamer, and a disproportionately large number of those losses were of a particularly ego-deflating variety. To this day I remember the clinic that Florida State put on to pull away in the fourth quarter of the Sugar Bowl with the BCS championship on the line, proving that it takes more than the greatest scrambling quarterback the world had ever seen to make a complete, championship-caliber team. Then in the 2001 Gator Bowl history repeated itself as Florida State put 17 unanswered points on the board in the fourth quarter to take the lead and put the game away. Virginia Tech then entered the 2005 ACC championship game against FSU as heavy favorites only to watch Florida State race out to a commanding 27-3 lead after three quarters, aided by a blocked punt returned for a touchdown by the Seminoles. The Hokies managed to put up 19 unanswered points in the fourth quarter in that one, but it was too little, too late.

It looked as though we were in for a repeat, as Florida State came back from being down 20-6 at one point to take a 21-20 lead into the fourth quarter. But true freshman quarterback Tyrod Taylor had something else in mind:


After the game Bobby Bowden had something to say about this play. I can't remember exactly what it was, but I'm sure it contained a  "dadgum" or two.

Tyrod showed us what he was capable of against Florida State. He was 10 of 15 through the air for 204 yards, two TDs and one interception, while adding 92 yards and another touchdown on the ground over 17 carries. And keep in mind, he was splitting snaps with Sean Glennon during this game. The conversion on 3rd and 31 was just the exclamation mark on a brilliant performance that left little doubt which Hokies QB had the most upside.

The box score of the fourth quarter of this game reads like the instruction manual for Beamerball: a Tyrod Taylor rush for a touchdown and a pass for a 2-point conversion, a field goal, an interception return for a touchdown, and a safety. The result? Twenty unanswered points and this scene in Lane Stadium:


Now let's be honest. If you were going to get a win against Florida State, the opportunity didn't get much better than 2007. The Seminoles entered Lane Stadium at 6-3 and unranked. They would finish the season with a loss to Kentucky in the Music City Bowl and a final record of 7-5. This was a shell of the program we faced in 1999, and it was the beginning of the end for Bobby Bowden's coaching career.

But to hell with all that, because this was the game that we finally got the Florida State monkey off our back, and for that it earns a spot in the top ten.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Great Moments in (21st Century) Virginia Tech Football

While visiting Blacksburg for the 2008 game against Georgia Tech, my wife and I stopped by Tech Bookstore and I picked up a copy of a book entitled Great Moments in Virginia Tech Football out of the clearance bin. It was an interesting read, and true to the title this thing went ALL the way back in Virginia Tech football history, opening with a biography on Hunter Carpenter, who played for the Hokies (then the Gobblers) in 1900-1903, and again in 1905. It lists a 1912 victory over Colgate as "shocking the nation." There is some great stuff in there. But there's also a reason it was in the bargain bin. The book ends with Virginia Tech's loss to Florida State for the MNC after the 1999 season.

Which got me thinking, what are the greatest moments in Virginia Tech football history after that season?

So I came up with a list of them, and I'm going to present them in countdown fashion leading up to the Techmo Bowl on Labor Day. Keep in mind that there's very little empirical analysis going on here. I just picked the games that jump out at me as I reflect back on Virginia Tech football since the magical '99 run and ranked them into an order that I then glanced at and said, "Eh, looks about right."

I have my top ten, but this post briefly highlights three other games that didn't quite crack that list. I'll then devote one post to each of the top ten moments.

So...

HONORABLE MENTION #1:
VT 38, MIAMI 35
October 8, 2011

Perhaps it's because of its recency that I hesitate to include this game in the top ten, but I at least tell myself it's because the game itself was not of enough importance to merit it. Miami came into Lane Stadium at 2-2 with loses to Maryland (!) and Kansas State, while VT had just been shellacked by Clemson (the first time). Both teams had lost a bit of their luster, so of course they both went on to play one of the most exciting games of the 2011 season.

This game restored my faith in Lane Stadium after that embarrassment against Clemson. It also signaled the departure of Logan Thomas the converted tight end and heralded the coming of Thomas the Tank Engine. (Personally I still prefer L-Train.)

And we got to welcome the Golden boy to the ACC by putting the Fear in him:

"Mommy."

HONORABLE MENTION #2:
VT 41, NC State 30
October 2, 2010

Virginia Tech is simply not built to come from behind. But a consistent theme of the Tyrod Taylor era at Virginia Tech was redefining what our offense could and could not do.

Virginia Tech screwed the pooch right out of the gate against the Wolfpack, spotting them 17 points less than one minute into the second quarter. Virginia Tech had never overcome that big of a deficit to win a game before. It had come close against Boise State earlier that same season but ultimately fell short. But against Tom O'Brien's team Tyrod Taylor and the Hokies would make history. The Hokies struggled back to take the lead for good with 1:27 left in the 4th quarter. The comeback was anchored by three Tyrod Taylor TD passes and three picks by Jayron Hosley, whom Russel Wilson apparently thought was on his team.

This game is also remembered for a brilliant tackle-eligible touchdown pass from Tyrod to Andre Smith, which in its own right was historic for a Bryan Stinespring offense.

HONORABLE MENTION #3:
VT 17, UVA 0
November 25, 2006

There's actually very little to write about this particular game. VT had 302 yards total offense, which is actually seven yards MORE than VT averaged per game that season. VT's scores came on a long pass from Sean Glennon to Eddie Royal, a goal line plunge by injury-plagued tailback George Bell, and a Brandon Pace field goal.

So why include such a pedestrian game in a list of greatest football moments? Because it was the fourth time that season the Hokies had put a zero on the scoreboard beside the other team's name.

The 2006 Hokies led the nation in total defense (219.46 ypg), scoring defense (11.0 ppg) and pass defense (128.23 ppg). It was 11th against the rush (91.23 ypg). Anchored by linebackers Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi, with Brandon Flowers and Macho Harris in the backfield and Chris Ellis at defensive end, the 2006 defense was the nastiest damn thing Bud Foster had ever put on the field.

Make no mistake about it, if our offense had demonstrated even a rudimentary understanding of the game that season we would have won a national championship. Unfortunately we had just overhauled our entire offensive coaching staff, and that was also the first season after Marcus Vick had been dismissed from the team. Stop and think about that for a second. Had Marcus Vick not given himself a cranial colonoscopy (stop and think), he would have played his senior year opposite the greatest Bud Foster defense...ever.

Damn you, empty trophy case. You mock me so.

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