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.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cincy Knee Jerk

I'm ready.

I'm ready to watch Rome burn.

I'm ready to see it all come crashing down.

I don't care about ten wins and I don't care about bowls. Because we are not a good football team. We are not a well coached football team. We are not what we could really be. And I'm tired of everyone, especially the coaches, pretending we are.

I know I'm ready, because when we started mounting our comeback late in the game, even through my excitement there was a feeling growing in the pit of my stomach that had nothing to do with the bourbon.

It was dread. Dread that despite our many obvious shortcomings we would once again manage to hide them behind a facade of double digit wins. Dread that we'd live a lie for one more season.

I'm tired of our head coach presenting us a bill of goods and promising us the moon when we couldn't make it into the roof. I'm so goddamn tired of mediocrity and incompetence being rewarded. Whatever it takes to change that, I'm ready for it.

I'm ready to scream that the emperor is naked.

Cincy Open Thread

Post in game thoughts and reactions here.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Next Rest Stop 200 Miles: Cincy Preview

We treat non-conference games like tuneups and ACC games like Le Mans.

It drives me crazy to watch us show up unprepared and uninspired at least once a year against a non-marquee non-conference opponent, but it is what it is. It's the way Frank runs his program, and he's always been that way. Conference games big, non-conference games less big. So that means that Saturday against Cincinnati at FedEx Field is our last chance for a tuneup in the 2012 season.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Stumbling Gradually Forward: Bowling Green and Early Season Review

We can run the football.

I don't mean on everybody, and I don't mean we can do it reliably. I just mean it is technically possible, because we've seen it with our own eyes. Our running game exists. It's a thing. Because before Saturday I had my doubts.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Bowling Green knee jerk

I feel better about the 0 than the 37. It was against a shitty offense, but whenever our D forces the other team to bench their starter when he isn't injured it makes me smile.

Don't brush off the fact that we rolled BG by matching our weakness against their strength. We were determined to get the running game hammered out this week and we did it, even though BG is light years ahead in run D than pass D. JCC and the Man With Two First Names are our featured tandem backfield, folks, and the name of the game is perimeter speed.

But LT still ain't right, and we won't be a good football team until he is. Think it's time to unfriend George Whitfield.

Bowling Green Open Thread

Post in-game thoughts and reactions here.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bounce Back or Curl Into the Fetal Position: Bowling Green Preview

Fuck it, Dude. Let's go Bowling.
So... this is awkward.

We scurried out of Pittsburgh with our tail secured firmly between our legs and fled to the safety and security of Lane Stadium where we can regroup, refocus and reinvent ourselves. Or lose to a MAC team.

Breathe in a whiff of that idea and marvel at how it stings the mental nostrils.

We. Could. Lose. To. A. MAC. Team.

I don't think we will. I also didn't think we'd lose to Pitt.

Bowling Green is a talented but inexperienced team. On offense they play physical, smashmouth football and they actually have the size to do it. Their offensive line is young but sizeable, with nine linemen on the roster that tip the scales at 300 lbs or more. That's over 2,700 lbs of linemen right there. And when we add in the linemen on the roster that are below 300 lbs (the lightest of the group being 274), Bowling Green is touting eighteen offensive linemen on the team. That means the Falcon are just as deep and probably just a little bigger than we are up front. The biggest difference, though, is that BG's line utilizes a powerful, physical man blocking scheme, and they play with a chip on their shoulder.

Watch this touchdown run against Florida:

Starts innocently enough, right? A goal-to-go run up the gut that gets stuffed for no gain and driven backwards. I think we've all seen that before. But then Bowling Green's tight end says fuck no, we ain't going out like that, and he wraps up his own teammate and drags him into the endzone. And the Florida defenders are left standing there wondering what just happened, because they just got flat out schooled in football toughness by a MAC team . 

Their quarterback and tailback are pretty good, too. Junior quarterback Matt Schilz completed 59.6% of his passes last season for 3,024 yards, 28 TDs and 13 INTs. He's completed exactly 60% of his passes this season but that number is skewed by the 49% completion rating he had in the season opener against Florida. Outside of that game, he's completing over two thirds of his passes. That's counterbalanced by the fact that he's thrown one pick in every game so far, but has only managed one touchdown. Tailback Anthon Samuel won MAC freshman of the year honors last year, averagine 5.86 yards per touch. So far this season his average has come down to 5.06, again skewed by the Florida game in which he averaged 3.0 ypc. He's already found the endzone four times on this young season after scoring five all of last year.

So we have big, aggressive blockers, a competent upperclassman quarterback, and a talented young tailback. God this sounds familiar...

Switching sides, Bowling Green runs a base 4-3 defense, but you'd be better off to call them a multiple defense because they will throw tons of different fronts against you based on the situation. Seriously, look at this:

That's just your basic 2-3-6 to counter Florida's five-wide spread. Looking at that picture tells you what you need to know about how Bowling Green plays defense: they will do whatever the hell they feel like they have to do to hang with a marquee opponent. They come to play.

But it also surprises me to see BG with only two down linemen, because the defensive line is not a weakness on this team. The defensive front four is anchored by senior tackle and team captain Chris Jones, who earned first team All-MAC honors last season, finishing 47 tackles, 14.0 tfl, and 8.5 sacks. You don't see many DTs with 8.5 sacks. Derrick Hopkins led the Hokies' DTs last season with 3.0. In fact, no one on our entire defense finished last season with as many sacks as Jones tallied. 

Bowling Green's struggles so far this young season have been a twofold problem of waiting for their offense to start clicking and being weak in the secondary. They are surrendering 273 yards per game through the air but are ranked 39th in the nation against the run, and that's with a game against Florida on the books. Inside running is especially difficult against the Falcons with the presence of Jones and last year's leading tackler middle lineback Dwayne Woods. And their offense, while anemic through three games, has the talent and the experience to be good. They just have to put it all together. And when they step onto Worsham Field on Saturday, it will be to decide whether they start the season a disappointing 1-3 or press the reset button at 2-2. 

Where have I heard this before?

THIS IS THE PITT GAME ALL OVER AGAIN.

If we don't come out focused and fail to take Bowling Green seriously then the Hokies will be the team that starts the season 2-2. The Falcons have the talent to beat a sleepwalking Virginia Tech and their offense is just waiting for everything to start clicking. Head coach Dave Clawson will have his players frothing at the mouth by the time the game starts. And we have a longstanding tradition of not taking non-BCS conference opponents seriously.

And even if we do take them seriously, we have to figure out what to fix on both sides of the ball and fix it fast. Like I said in the Pitt review, my hands are off the defense, because I trust Bud Foster to fix that. But on offense the same game plan that should have worked against Pitt is the one that should work against Bowling Green. Pick on their shaky secondary, spread the field to make them defend sideline to sideline, base the running game on speed to the edge or L-Train up the middle to combat power with power. Will we do what needs to be done and return to the three formation hybrid spread of the Techmo Bowl, a scheme that provided a concise vision for what our offense wants to be and aims to do, or will we trot out the seven-set clusterfuck Stinespring Special, where no one knows what formation is coming next but it really doesn't matter. 

It's yet another gut-check for Frank Beamer and his staff. Do they have enough fire in the belly to get this team whipped into respectable shape? Because the plodding, uninspired performances of the last two weeks will not be enough to get it done against Bowling Green or in the ACC Coastal. Every team we face for the rest of the season is going to hit us with their best shot. We have to decide whether we're going to hit back.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pitt Review: We've seen this before...right?

Oh, my. My, my, my.

We are one bad football team.

WARNING: Rambling wall o' text after the jump.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Pitt knee jerk

To install an effective spread offense, you need an OC who understands the nuances of the spread offense.

Our OC doesn't understand the nuances of offense.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Pitt Open Thread

Post in-game thoughts and reactions here.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Doomsday Scenario: Dietrick Bonner injured

Andy Bitter has tweeted that safety Dietrick Bonner has not practiced this week and is questionable for Pitt.

If Bonner can't go, Kyshoen Jarrett will move to safety and redshirt freshman Michael Cole will start at rover.

We cannot afford this. This will likely be the first game of the season in which the Hokies are play zone defense in the secondary after playing man against GT and Austin Peay. Rotating in a frosh while switching to a considerably more complex defense is a recipe for disaster.

Pitt is a much more balanced offense than we have played against thus far and you can bet Tino Sunsari will be picking on Cole all game. It is now more critical than ever that the defensive line get pressure on Sunsari without relying in the blitz so that the LBs can assist with pass coverage. Another option would be to rotate coverage so that we drop the whip into coverage while bringing Cole on a zone blitz whenever feasible.

If Bonner's injury is serious we are in trouble.

UPDATE: Bonner is listed as probable on the injury report. Fingers crossed, people.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Guess Who's (Sort of) Coming to Dinner

Notre Dame is joining the ACC in all sports except football and hockey. (The ACC does not play hockey.)

Notre Dame's release can be read here and the ACC's release can be read here.

In bullet point form, here's what we know:

  • Notre Dame will join for all sports except football and hockey.
  • Notre Dame football will remain independent in football
  • Notre Dame has agreed to play five ACC teams in football per year.
  • Notre Dame must play each ACC football member at least once every three years.
  • Notre Dame gains access to the ACC's non-BCS bowl selection process.
  • The ACC champion is still contractually guaranteed to play in the Orange Bowl, both under the current BCS setup and the future four team tournament setup beginning in 2014.
And this is what we don't know yet:
  • What the revenue sharing agreement will be for football between ND and the ACC (if any)
  • Who decides the venue for Notre Dame vs ACC football games (home vs away)
  • Whether this is the first step on the road to full membership for Notre Dame in football.
Unrelated to the Notre Dame announcement, the ACC also raised its exit fee to three times the annual operation budget, which means based on last season's numbers the current exit fee is over $50 million. This fee does apply to Notre Dame (once it joins the conference) even though they remain football independent. That's a ginormous number which should pretty much put the bed any notions of teams bolting for other conferences in the near future. It would take years to recoup that loss, even given the increased revenue of joining the SEC.

I'm withholding opinion on this until more details come out. A press conference is scheduled for 12:30 PM Eastern.

UPDATE: We know a lot more than we used to.

  • ND will get a full member's share of basketball and olympic sports revenue. 80% of the ACC's revenue is generated by football, and ND will not touch that. So in effect ND will get 1/15 of 20% of the conference's revenue as a member. ND basketball will also generate revenue for the conference, so I would guess Jack Swarbrick's assertion that the move to the ACC will be "revenue neutral" is accurate both for ND and the conference. 
  • ND will be a member of the selection pool of bowl eligible ACC teams for all bowls after the Orange Bowl takes the conference champion. To be selected ahead of an eligible ACC team, Notre Dame's record must be within one total win of the team they're bumping (a 9-3 ND could be selected ahead of a 10-2 ACC team) AND be ranked ahead of the team they are bumping in the polls. ND will participate in the non-BCS bowl revenue sharing agreement, with the revenue from ND's bowl going into the conference pool and ND getting a full member's cut. ND will not get a share of the revenue from the Orange Bowl, and if ND makes a BCS bowl or the four team tournament the ACC will not get a cut of that revenue.
  • For the five football games against ACC teams ND will rotate between playing 3 home/2 away one season and 2 home/3 away the next. The ND athletics director will send the conference five eligible dates at some predetermined time prior to the schedule being released. The ACC will then assign the five ACC opponents and assign which are home games and which are away games. ND gets to decide which five Saturdays they will play an ACC team, but they have no say on which particular opponent they get on which particular date or on whether the game is home or away. 
  • The ACC will assign member schools to play ND on a home and home basis. Three years will pass between each game in the home and home under most circumstances. Since ND is cycling through 14 teams five teams at a time there will occasionally be the opportunity to play the same team in back to back seasons or two years apart instead of three. The ACC will never assign a neutral site venue to a ND/ACC game, but the home team in each game would have the right to sell the game to a neutral site like Cincy did with their home game against us this season.
Taking all this in, I can confidently say that this is a fundamentally different deal than ND had with the Big East. For the first time in history a conference has scheduling authority over Notre Dame football. That in itself is huge. It also ties Notre Dame to ACC football, something the Big East agreement never did. And John Swofford did indeed go to bat for conference members where bowl selection is concerned. With the protections in place one could at least argue a Notre Dame team with one fewer win but a higher ranking had an equivalent season to the ACC team they're bumping. 

Taking all the details into consideration, I can now say that I support this deal. I would have preferred full membership in all sports for ND, but this is the closest the Irish have ever come to that and paves the way for football membership if and when ND decides to join a conference for football. 

Having said that, I now believe that the ACC should lean on the Orange Bowl committee to not pursue an automatic selection agreement with Notre Dame and instead adopt a general selection guideline in which any team that meets basic requirements for record and ranking are eligible for selection. The only remaining incentive for ND to join a football conference is access to the top-tier bowls, and if the Irish hammer out an auto-select agreement with the Orange Bowl that incentive disappears.

And finally, let me just say Notre Dame at Lane Stadium. BRING. IT. ON.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We Meet Again: Pitt Preview


The Pittsburgh Panthers Football Program
Pitt has had four coaches (six, if we include the interim coaches) in the past two years. Running down the list, Pitt fired Dave Wannstedt and named Michael Haywood as his replacement. Before spending one day on the payroll Haywood was arrested for domestic violence and Pitt severed ties, naming Todd Graham as head coach instead. Graham's transition to a spread option offense and 3-4 defense earned him a 6-6 record in 2011, and he resigned via Twitter after the season but before the bowl game. Pitt then brought in Wisconsin OC Paul Crist to right the ship.

The ship is taking a while to get righted.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Peay Peay Dance

If you are surprised we let a 1AA team hang around a little longer than was comfortable, raise your hand.

We've seen this episode before, people. Nothing new here.

I'm not going to review this game, because it isn't worth reviewing. It served its purpose perfectly. We got a bad team that we simply outmatched and a win we didn't really have to try for. We rotated all the 2s and 3s in. At one point when we were on defense every player on the field for us was a freshman. All eleven.

The defense completely controlled Austin Peay with the most vanilla game plan I've seen Foster put on the field in a long time, and we tinkered with formations a lot on offense. We worked on some counter and misdirection against a defender that isn't our scout team.

We got a lot of film to break down. That's what we paid Austin Peay $325,000 for and they delivered.

We played sloppy, tired and undisciplined football and won by five touchdowns. We got what we paid for.

On to Pitt. That is all.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Austin Peay Open Thread

Post in-game thoughts and reactions here.

PS, if you don't have access to ESPN3, check the football forum over at Tech Sideline.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

DJ Coles will seek a medical redshirt this season

There were reports on Twitter, seemingly confirmed by VTScoop (a 247 Sports blog covering the Hokies) that DJ Coles is done for the season and will seek a medical hardship waiver to return in 2013 as a redshirt senior.

This is the same process Dyrell Roberts used to return to the team this season after suffering a broken arm against Appy State in the opener. Like Dyrell, DJ still has a redshirt year available and the fact he only played in one game pretty much guarantees the waiver will be granted.

This hurts. Of the three starting receivers, DJ Coles was doubtlessly the most complete receiver. We'll still start three seniors at receiver as Corey Fuller will now be elevated to a starting role, but based on the first game I'd rather have Coles, Fuller, and whoever is having the better day between Davis and Roberts as our first three targets on the depth chart.

If Davis continues to run hot and cold and Roberts falls to do more to distinguish himself then we can expect to see a lot of freshmen Demitri Knowles, Kevin Asante, and Joshua Stanford this season. Based on the spring these three had that's probably not a bad thing.

Best wishes to DJ Coles for a speedy, 100% recovery and we'll see you next season.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Review/Preview

A short turnaround this week means my GT review and my Austin Peay preview get meshed into one post.

Okay, first things first.

I am not hitting the panic button on this offense. My initial reaction was genuine concern. But I never review a game until I watch it a second time, and on my second viewing here is what I saw against GT:
  • LT was just simply off. A lot. He was throwing high, wide, low. He was sailing balls or throwing at receivers' feet. Don't get me wrong, he was close a lot of the time, but he didn't get a lot of help.
  • Marcus Davis quit on as many plays as he hit. He had a few drops, which is what it is, but he also just gave up on his routes. LT called him out on it on a go route when MD7 didn't even realize the ball was coming his way until it hit the turf. Davis is a physical freak, but he once again looks to be inconsistent.
  • We don't quite know how to use our tailbacks. LT is reluctant to let the ball go on the zone read. Holmes (who is legit) looks to be more of a straight ahead, between the tackles runner while JC Coleman has the speed to be an edge threat but can also sneak through a tight hole up the middle.
  • We haven't found our bread and butter play yet. As mentioned, LT is being selfish on the zone read, and honestly I don't think the zone read will be effective this season as it was drawn up between LT and David Wilson last season. But we have to find something in the run game to replace it.
  • Corey Fuller needs to start all eleven of our remaining games. Kyle's brother came to play against the Jackets and he looked the the smoothest, most polished receiver on the team. With DJ Coles banged up, Corey's our best option for a go to target, with Dyrell and MD7 viable check down options.
  • A.J. Hughes is a hell of a punter. The young man needs to keep his eye on the ball until it's dropping onto his toe, but you cannot ask for better placement on punts than he was displaying. The woes of last year's punting game are gone.
  • The O Line...brace yourself...looked good. Yes, there were breakdowns, but every major one I saw was because of a zone blitz, which every new line will struggle with to begin a season. In terms of pass protection this line was better than I was expecting. They gave up two sacks, both on well disguised zone blitzes, but for the most part they gave LT time to throw. And the run blocking was good, though there is work to be done. This is by far the best that a Newsome line has looked in an opening game.
  • The third quarter was simply goddamn unwatchable. Just a miserable fifteen minutes of football. I don't know if it was halftime adjustments by Sweatshirt or what but we looked like a pack of dogs trying to hump a watermelon. (If you post something witty in the comments, I WILL steal it.)
  • The fourth quarter was the best quarter of football I've seen our offense put together in a while. It makes me think this offense can go places this season.
  • Welcome back Cody Journell.
So what of all the talk about the new spread-em-out, hurry-up offense? Well this is what I noticed, both during the game and on a second watching. We basically ran three formations: power I, pistol, and shotgun. Out of the I we consistently lined up two wide, while the base pistol and shotgun package are three wide. We showed a little four wide, but it's rare. We pass out of every formation, and we figure a throw a LOT this season. When was the last time you can remember seeing 40 passing attempts (including the two sacks LT took) in a game where the Hokies never trailed by more than a field goal? 

In Power I we run between the tackles, and that was where we seemed to have the greatest success. Runs out of the pistol and shotgun tended to be sweeps to the outside, which GT consistently blew up. If I'm making a wager based on one game, it's that by halfway through the season we're consistently aiming Holmes and Coleman between the tackles regardless of formation, with a few counter plays to the outside just to keep defenses honest. 

We went no huddle a little against GT, but no more than I expected us to. We showed it was there, we tried to establish that it was a part of our game now, but we didn't live or die by it. And that's honestly how I expected we'd play it against the Bees. No game we play puts a greater emphasis on ToP than the Techmo Bowl, so hurrying the next snap isn't always the best idea. But in the right situation, in a game where LT is in the zone, the no huddle could be lethal. 

So does this sound a little too sunshine and roses? Maybe. But after breaking the game down there was very little that made me want to put my forehead through a brick wall. The chemistry isn't quite there yet, but it was closer than I've seen it in a lot of VT openers. When the offense needed the flip the switch they did. The playcalling was aggressive. We passed on both first and second and goal. In general, we weren't afraid to put the pedal down on O. It just didn't always work perfectly, and there's some work to be done. But for once I enter a season feeling like the playcalling isn't going to set us up to lose.

So now we take control of the Coastal in a tie with Miami for first place, owning the head to head tiebreak with GT. Up next is four winnable non-conference games, and first up is Austin Peay.

Austin Peay is fucking terrible. They gave up 49 points and almost 600 yards to Western Kentucky, who no one is picking to even win the Sun Belt this season. And Western Kentucky left nine points on the field, missing three field goals. WKU held Austin Peay to 154 yards, 68 of which came on one run. If this game is close at the half we should storm Merryman with torches and pitchforks.

So why are we playing these scrubs? Live reps for the entire depth chart, that's why. Get our receivers on the same page as LT, get the freshmen like Demitri Knowles, Kevin Asante, and Joshua Stanford some meaningful playing time to season them for a late season run, figure out what we're comfortable with in utilizing Holmes and Coleman, get Mark Leal some playing time, and just generally get better. This is a tuneup game, and as such we need to approach it with a team mentality of maximizing the gains from every snap rather than just going through the motions for four quarters. This team needs some refining, and we've now got four games to polish down the rough edges before resuming conference play.

There is a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, and Mike O'Cain has shown he won't hesitate to utilize it. (Go route from redshirt freshman for a go ahead score, anyone?) If LT settles in, the starting receivers step up (or sit down, giving up their starting spots to more eager, reliable receivers), and we find the formula for Holmes and Coleman, then this could be a special year. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Knee Jerk Techmo Bowl Reaction

There is no overstating the importance of that ending.

The offense played like shit. It was part playcalling and part execution. They did not hold up their end of the bargain, and as a result the defense got gassed and gave up a touchdown late.

To drive the field and tie it, then come back to win it in OT is huge and could be the galvanizing event of the season.

I'll break this one down hardcore later, and there is a LOT to talk about. It also looks like we're down two starting wide receivers. It looks like a medical redshirt for DJ Coles and that injury to Marcus Davis looked severe. But we'll deal with that later.

One hell of a win.

Techmo Bowl Open Thread

Post thoughts and reactions here.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Techmo Bowl Preview

These assholes again?

I am so sick of the Bees and their bullshit service academy offense. I'm tired of their cut/chop/hack/slash blocking. I'm tired of every goddam Gah Tech fan explaining the difference between a cut block and an illegal chop block because their team relies so extensively on kneecapping the opponent that they have to know which career ending blocks are technically legal. I'm really fucking tired of Paul Johnson. Is it just me, or does this guy look like Coach Beiste from Glee?

I can see it.
Yes, I watch Glee. Fuck you.

So we start with a conference game against the team that is probably our biggest divisional rival. It's hard to tell, because short of having a team that can actually beat you on a semi regular basis  to keep a rivalry interesting it's kind of hard to figure out who is your rival is. But they beat us once a few years ago and have played us close, so I'll count them.

Last season in Atlanta, Logan Thomas made Al Groh's defense his bitch even by Virginia Tech standards and made us actually imagine an offense consisting entirely of QB sneaks. It was the first time since PJ had taken the reins at Georgia Tech that the Techmo Bowl had been decided by more than a touchdown and showcased what L-Train's Chuck and Truck offense could really look like. We dropped 476 total yards on the Fightin' Chopblockers and literally frustrated their best defender to the point that he punched our quarterback in the head while he was wearing his helmet. Now as luck would have it we get to unveil Chuck and Truck 2.0 against Al Groh and the Sweatshirt Defense. More spread, more speed, and...get this...an offensive line that features zero converted tight ends.

And in case you haven't heard, it's supposed to rain. A lot. Worsham Field will be sloppier than HokieJayBee at an open bar reception.

So who does that favor? Conventional wisdom says inclement weather favors the running team, but punch conventional wisdom in the mouth because Georgia Tech isn't a regular running team. They're a special running team, because they run the triple option. And outside of the fullback dive, the single most important feature of the triple option is the slotback pitch. And there is nothing we'd rather see Georgia Tech do in a steady downpour than start tossing the football around like a game of hot potato.

I'm not sure how the weather will affect our offense, because I don't know what the hell our offense is yet. Supposedly we're going to be more of an up-tempo spread with a healthy does of misdirection. We'll see. But probably not this week, with Isaac pissing all over Lane Stadium. But who cares? We'll have other weeks to dissect this offense and see how legit the changes are. This is the Techmo Bowl.


GAME. FUCKING. ON.

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