Improvement Needed on 3rd-and-1

Third-and-one. Time to put that Farmhouse steak dinner to use and win the line of scrimmage.

Short distance third downs are one of the more exciting and important plays for an offense. The first goal of creating such opportunities has been achieved, but it's a lost cause if the chains aren't moved.

Because it's such a critical down, I went back and took at look at last year's performance on 3rd-and-1.

Orange Bowl Preview

The Orange Bowl is tomorrow. And we're playing in it. Isn't that amazing?

I wrote this before we played ECU.

But, it was supposed to be our year...

I know, believe me I know. My brain told me otherwise, but I believed my heart. I thought this would be the year. Not too long after we lost to Boise State I was concocting crazy scenarios in my head that would get us into the Championship Game. If Miami beats Ohio State they could be 10-0 and number one when we play... We'd have another chance to win a statement game... And maybe Boise will slip up... Then we lost to JMU. We're not winning the National Championship this year, and neither are 118 other teams. It's time to move on.

There are still plenty of reasons to be excited. And no, I'm not talking about the ACC Championship, or a BCS bowl, or anything else big picture. How about the simple satisfaction of watching the Hokies play football games. We didn't win a damn thing last year, yet we all were straight giddy when Ryan Williams was draggin' corpses into the end zone, proud of the guys for how they went toe-to-toe with Alabama, and delighted when we beat Tennessee. We just need to give these guys a chance to shine.

Orange Bowl, Orange Drink

The Orange Bowl is less than 10 days away, and while I've broken down and previewed the upcoming on-the-field action, the Cardinal's best and worst games along with statistics of note, I've neglected the social aspect of the game. That stops now.

Like many of you, I traveled home for Christmas. Every Christmas Eve my Mom welcomes our friends and family over her house to enjoy hors d'oeuvre, fried fish and pasta (this year we had lasagna OM NOM NOM). In the spirit of the Orange Bowl, I decided to create an orange drink bar for our guests to enjoy. This would serve a few purposes:

  1. Make family time more passable.
  2. Provide a conversation starter to educate my family and friends on the trials and tribulations of Virginia Tech football.
  3. Determine a suitable, officially unofficial, drink for my upcoming trip to Miami.

Orange Bowl Helmets?

Via anonymous email (ohhhhhh) comes a tip that these are the helmets we'll be wearing against Stanford in the Orange Bowl. They're bold, but the color is appropriate for the bowl. I think if we pair them with the white uniforms they'll look pretty sharp.

It would be the first time we wear orange helmets.

And here's the reverse angle from @edubrew's Yfrog.

Although it hasn't been made official by the athletic department, I think it's safe to say this is the hat we'll be sporting in Miami.


Film Study: Stanford Dominates Arizona

Arguably Stanford's most impressive win of the 2010 season was against #15 Arizona, a 42-17 pummeling of the Wildcats. The Cardinal never looked backed after jumping out to a 21-3 first half lead as Stanford maintained a comfortable 18-25 point separation throughout the second half. In 2010 Arizona held teams to an average of 343.25 yards (37th) and 21.58 points (33rd), Stanford gained 510 yards and held the ball for 37:03. Their defense surrendered yards (428), but made plays when they had to in order to keep points off the board.

Below is a breakdown of some game changing/interesting plays that caught my eye.

Stanford set the tone for the entire game with a well executed, forceful touchdown blow to Arizona's neck on their first possession by way of a play action touchdown pass to Chris Owusu.

After motioning, Stanford lines up in an offset I look. Arizona loads the box and defends with 8 men leaving their corners in one-on-one coverage with safety support over the top.

Film Study: Stanford's Lone Loss

Oregon is responsible for the only blemish on an otherwise pristine Stanford record (11-1). The Cardinal took an early, and what looked like, commanding 21-3 lead over the Ducks, but could not hold on as day turned to night in a raucous Autzen Stadium. I wouldn't say Stanford lost the game as much as Oregon won it. Sure, Stanford turned the ball over four times in the second half, including once on downs starting from 3rd and goal at the 1 (finally stopped on 4th and 1 from the 6). Additionally, Luck's two interceptions were desperate attempts to get back into a game that was slipping away. Therefore, I believe it was more a case of Oregon executing flawlessly on offense and pressuring Luck in the pocket–something that was severely missing from the first half.

After watching the replay last night, I know more than ever that this is an excellent, tough as nails, and well coached football team.

Stanford on Offense

Their physicality, tempo, varied formations and precise execution reminds me of a NFL team.

The "Diamond" formation is all the rage these days.

The Tree

The mascot mock is 4 time ACC Champions and will be making its third Orange Bowl appearance in four years. Now, let's get after that tree.

It's the return of Laser Eyes:

The cutout I used is here (1) with more to come later.

Stanford, Statistically Speaking

In the first of many previews of Stanford I take a look at some key statistics courtesy of

Stanford ranks first nationally in 3rd down conversions (57.76%), which makes their 24.8 first downs per game (9th) a little less surprising. Conversely, Virginia Tech is holding opponents to 34.95% 3rd down conversions (21st) and 17.3 total first downs (T-20th). Stanford also converts 73.33% of 4th downs (T-9th).

Stanford controls the clock. The Cardinal leads the nation in time of possession holding the ball an average 35:07.58 a game.

Stanford scores an average of 40.3 points per game (8th). They gain an average of 466.8 yards per game (14th). Stanford’s butter in the red zone putting up points in 88.41% of their trips (17th: 47 TDs, 14 FGs).

Stanford is third overall in turnover margin (1.17). Virginia Tech leads the nation in turnover margin (1.38).


The Hokies will play the Stanford Cardinal on January 3rd. They better be ready to defend Tyrod Tyler*. Now we all need to figure out how to mock a tree.

*great job Lou Holtz