There are many reasons to hate UVa, but let me give you one more. As my father finished his undergraduate work in college he was preparing to go to law school at UVa, where he had been accepted and was enrolled. At that time we were at war in Vietnam, and many young men were being drafted to serve and honorably did so whether they wanted to or not. My father was among them the summer before he was to start at UVa, and instead of starting his law degree he went overseas as a non-voluntary member of the US Army.
We almost, almost, worked ourselves into having an offensive advantage over a team. Sadly, it didn't happen. Maryland enjoys a slight advantage when they're on defense, and UVa's defense is the only thing stopping Mike London from handing out speeding tickets in the 757 again.
Raise your hand if you thought BC would score 34 on us...anyone? Anyone?
The difference between last week and this week is that last week we wanted the numbers to be right, while this week we're hoping they're wrong.
Here's how we compare both in terms of computer rankings and predictions:
I was going to begin by explaining how it's really not that uncommon for a 13.5-point underdog to win. How statistically we were the better team, and how almost any number but the score showed a clear Hokie victory. But no one's going to feel better after reading a bunch of stats that make it look like we won when we didn't.
A positive thing about having an offense that barely cracks the top 100 is that it takes a really bad performance against a bad defense to bring it down much further, and even a 10-point showing against Duke doesn't do much damage. We remain somewhere around 95th-100th in offense by most statistical rankings, which is pretty terrible. Rather than hammer on the negative, I'll just say that we're actually not bad at methodical drives (percentage of drives with 10 or more plays), mostly as a result of a Logandozer that can pick up a few yards running on almost any play.
Beyond that I think it's best that we move on to defense.
Having a sufficient sample size, I'm now able to dive a little deeper into the personalities of each team as I preview them from a statistical perspective...but first a tribute to our defense. Statistically of course.
Football Outsiders uses two rating systems—S&P+ (which I use for overall team ratings in previews) and FEI (an efficiency-based method). This week, these are the FEI top 5 defenses:
- Virginia Tech (-0.926)
- Stanford (-0.779)
- Alabama (-0.739)
- Michigan State (-0.672)
- Missouri (-0.661)
Here's something I don't do too often around here: basketball statistics. After the Clemson game I followed up on a hunch that I've had since the middle of the season, teams shot much better than their season average against us from downtown.
3FGVT% - 3FGS% is the money column. It's the difference between a team's three-point percentage against Virginia Tech and its season average. A positive number indicates a team shot better from behind the arc against Tech than they did over the course of the season (through 1/27).
It's the most feared word in the Virginia Tech offensive playbook: SCREEN! As tensions mount from O'Cainspring's tactics and the team's struggles, I took it upon myself to do research screen plays and their success rates.
So with Hurricane Sandy hammering the East Coast, I decided to increase the bleakness and watch the game film provided on the site and account for every screen run this year and analyze the stats by player, quarter, down, distance, formation, and yards gained. Then everything was analyzed again for only ACC games.
The entire chart is available below to peruse, but I came up with 39 deliberate screen plays. These are defined as a play where either a running back or wide receiver have blockers set up and is the primary target of the pass. Dump-offs and outlet passes that are thrown behind the line of scrimmage do not count.
Virginia Tech ranks 72nd nationally with 157 yards per game. The Hokies have lacked a reliable and consistent rush attack all season. Beamer Co.'s newest solution, distribute the carries among less players.
"I think four backs is too many," Beamer said Monday during his weekly teleconference.
Virginia Tech (4-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) ranks fifth in the 12-team conference in rushing yards per game at 157. It's per carry average of 4.3 yards is also fifth in the league.
"I still think consistency in running the football, I think that's our No. 1 priority right now," Beamer said. "If we could get that squared away, I think that would affect other things. We have our moments at times but I think to consistently be able to do that is a key objective for us."
And to get better execution, Beamer said the coaching staff is discussing cutting down the number of tailbacks they're preparing each week. Redshirt freshman Michael Holmes, true freshman J.C. Coleman, junior Tony Gregory and senior Martin Scales had been splitting reps in practice and carries in games. Beamer didn't offer any specifics yet on how the rotation would change.
Sustaining drives is an important charge for any offense. Among other things, longer drives allow more time for the defense to rest, help to win the all important field position battle, and provide more scoring opportunities. Tech has not done a good job at moving the chains. When I found out the Hokies average just 18.33 first downs a game (94th nationally), I decided to do a little bit of analysis.
Even though this is a short, somewhat obvious post, I felt it was necessary to write. The defense was outstanding against the run, Georgia Tech's bread and butter, Monday night. Their effort was fueled by the Hokies deep defensive line (7 players played more than 30 snaps) that penetrated, created havoc, and held their gaps at the line of scrimmage. It was preserved by a back seven that for the most part cleaned up the wash—any loose ballcarrier. The longest run from scrimmage was just 22 yards.
The Hokies held the Yellow Jackets to 192 yards on the ground. Let's put that into context. Over the Paul Johnson era (2008-11, not including 2012), Georgia Tech accounts for 17 of the top 20 rushing games, including four of the top five, among ACC schools. Over the same timespan nationally, they're tied for second best with Neveda with 9 of the top 100 single game rushing totals (Air Force and Navy each have 10). They have ranked in the top 4 nationally in rushing yards per game each of the last four seasons.