Let's Talk About the ACC Championship Game

The ACC Championship Game is tomorrow night. I expected Virginia Tech to represent the Coastal right up until DeVon Edwards picked off Marquise Williams to seal Duke's division championship. Until that moment, in my mind, it was always when, not if Duke would lose. However, the Blue Devils stunned the Hokies at the end of October and never looked back finishing the season on an 8-game win streak; a perfect record in October and November. Impressive for a program that only got press in Virginia for beating Virginia.

Florida State is one win away from being back. (Some may argue two wins, but if a program plays in the national championship game, it's undeniable that it's nationally relevant.) The last time FSU was this close to being back was over a year ago, before they lost at North Carolina State.

The Seduction of the Inverted Veer: Running Game Reviewed

One of the narratives stemming from the Duke game from media outlets and fans alike is criticism of Scot Loeffler. On Tuesday, Daily Press scribe David Teel tweeted that the Hokies were, "averaging an #ACC-worst 21.5 points per game. On pace for program's most anemic season since 1989's 18.5.". Others have commented on both on Twitter and within our community that the offense has regressed under Loeffler. I think both viewpoints lose track of the bigger picture.

When Experience Fails

It's Sunday morning here in Abingdon, and after a night of grinding teeth and muttering curse words in my sleep, I awoke to find the film of the Duke game sitting in my inbox. The loss was not just critical in the current chase for the Coastal Division title, but is perhaps even more damaging to program perception. Even though Duke is a vastly improved football team, nationally they are regarded as a traditionally weak program. The Hokies giftwrapped the game on a silver platter even though Duke gave them every opportunity to, not only win the football game, but win in a comfortable, albeit not pretty fashion, similar to wins over Georgia Tech, Pitt, and UNC. It was a perfect cauldron of injuries, bye week rust, distractions, suspensions, bad decisions, bounces, fundamental breakdowns, and an opponent that fought like hell.

Watching the film, I was overwhelmed by numerous breakdowns by players who have produced critical plays all season, and at the same time I was left scratching my head at some of the game planning and decisions. Throughout the bye week, we heard that the running game would be cleaned up, and that players on both sides of the ball had an opportunity to heal for the stretch run. Instead, the offensive playcalling often seemed to play right into the strength of the Duke defense, and some defense senior leaders delivered quiet performances. Even when the Hokies dialed up the perfect call, things seemed to go Duke's way. Accordingly, this week's film review will require two parts. The next installment will feature the offensive game plan and coaching, and I want the extra time to really take a good look at the read option game and understand the diminishing returns. As for today, I want to focus on the breakdowns by some of those experienced players. I pride myself on trying not being overly critical of players, and instead trying to focus on technique and the application to the success and failure of the plays. I want every player in the Virginia Tech uniform to succeed, and nobody is happier than me when one of the players who I have been critical of comes back to make a huge play. I will gladly eat that humble pie.

We Lost to Duke

Well, the kudos by Tech's coaches for Duke's program during the week weren't bullshit after all. Duke was/is a well coached football team without quit in them. If you read anything French and Mason wrote here over the last two weeks you knew that already. A sincere congratulations to them for winning.

I only have a few thoughts because I haven't rewatched the game, and I think it's unfair to criticize without at least putting in the due diligence of rewatching the game.

I praised J.R. Collins' play over the bye week, then he missed the game for a violation of team rules. What happened hasn't been disclosed, but it changes the narrative of his comeback story. Credit to the coaches for suspending him. As well as Dadi's played, he's not as complete a player, or as seasoned as J.R. In my opinion, J.R. was the MVP of the defense heading into Duke. It's tough to head into any game without your best player, especially a senior, but the coaches aren't putting up with any crap.

Game Preview: Duke

Virginia Tech Hokies (6-1, 3-0) against Duke Blue Devils (5-2, 1-2)

Time: 3:32 PM
Date: Saturday, October 25, 2013
Place: Blacksburg, Virginia
Stadium: Lane Stadium (65,632)
Radio: Virginia Tech IMG
Spread: Virginia Tech -13.5
Weather: 33-48 F, Partly Cloudy

The Skinny

By: Joe

Thank you Duke for beating the Hoos, again.

Players to Watch

By: French

Jamison Crowder (#3): Crowder is a 5-9 junior wide receiver and punt returner that serves as both Duke's most dependable first down generator and big play guy. Crowder leads the ACC in catches (56), receiving yards (731), punt return yardage (297) and punt return touchdowns (2) coming into Saturday's game. Most of his catches happen via screens, slants, or quick curls, but he can go deep and has an uncanny ability to get himself open with double moves. Here, the pocket breaks down after Crowder runs a skinny post.

"Foe"Rensics: Duke

Hello. Welcome back to our regular "Foe"Rensics feature. This week we'll delve inside the Duke football program. Though it is clearly not the strength of the athletic department1, Duke is not a challenge to be overlooked, especially as it is the last game before we enter the sweet embrace of November Hokie football.