BeamerBall?

"Don't be messing with my kicker." Beamer's tone was both playful and serious, although his face read with a dismissive, "just fucking try me." That was the conclusion to an anecdote about an over-coached punter that regressed on his watch at Murray State told during the Duke week presser. Special teams are the Frankinator's baby. They're an integral component of his brand of football, BeamerBall. A lot of other coaches try not to lose with special teams, Beamer tries to win with them.

Special teams were a liability this season, and that's on no one else but Frank Beamer.

The Hokies were ranked 108th nationally in net punting (33.6 yards/punt) in 2011. Scott Demler and Michael Branthover struggled to find consistency, routinely shanked balls and flipped field position out of favor. Danny Coale was more reliable and averaged 6.7 more yards a punt than the team. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed #Coale4Punter because it enhanced his legacy, it hurt the team because it detracted from him playing receiver.

The Hokies only made 72% of their field goals last season. Compare that to 95-, 87-, 79-, 81- and 95-percent success rates in 2010 back to 2006 respectively.

Reality check, a Frank Beamer coached team didn't have a dependable punter or kicker.

In about a minute Michigan's going to win the Sugar Bowl. Brendan Gibbons is going to boot a 37-yard field goal and break our hearts. Before the snap my head was buried between my hands. I was hoping for a block. I said to myself, "a little BeamerBall guys." "Come off the edge hard Kyle." "Get there Gayle, get there, you can get there." I can't even remember if I saw the kick, the roar from across the stadium told me everything I needed to know. I knew better anyways, Tech doesn't block kicks like they used to.

Kyle Fuller recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown against Appalachian State, a game Tech won 66-13. That's not exactly a difference maker.

"During the Frank Beamer era at Tech, putting points on the scoreboard has always been a team effort — the offense, the defense and the special teams. It's called BeamerBall, and what sets it apart are the contributions of the defense and special teams." -- Excerpt from the 2011 Media Guide.

In 2011 BeamerBall hit all-time low in points scored since Tech joined the ACC. Digest these for a moment.

Does not include bowl games.

The data speaks for itself. Over the last ten years the trend has been less points via defense and special teams. I just hope 2011 was an outlier and not the new norm.

To rationalize a bit, the loss of Dyrell Roberts all but eliminated the effectiveness and big play production on kick returns. Teams just kicked away from David Wilson. Averaging 20 yards a return (94th) because no one else stepped up is inexcusable though. Jayron averaged a career best 12.67 yards a punt return (18 attempts), but again, nothing went to the house. By my eyes, the defense has been less aggressive the last few seasons. They've created less chaos and have been back on their heels more. The disruptive style of play we had been accustomed to seeing forced more offensive mistakes, and therefore turnovers.

I'm anxious (cautiously excited) to see how new faces in all phases of the kicking game perform this spring. All of the key contributors from last season might need to be replaced. Justin Myer won't be back to kick #ALLOFTHETOUCHBACKS. Cody Journell's status with the team is uncertain. Collin Carroll, a fixture at snapper, graduated. Coale, Jayron, Wilson are all gone. Michael Branthover and Scott Demler may just never cut the mustard. Your guess is as good as mine as to who fills the depth chart.

I don't think Frank Beamer is past his prime, or the game has passed him by. He still clocks in to work in the morning. He isn't moonlighting as some pseudo-coach like Bobby Bowden or Joe Paterno did late in their tenures. He needs to fix BeamerBall, not only because he's responsible to, but because he's the most capable coach in college football to do so.

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Comments

Love these graphs. But not what it means.
sad panda is sad

BummerBall

Looking back this year there were a few head scratchers that emerged through our wins. Duke being the biggest of all. 14-10 was by far too close for comfort. However, when you look at our kicking game it is not too surprising. We applauded our defense for holding up among the slew of injuries. Even more impressive is the fact that they often had to do so in the face of short field situations. With football being a game of inches it is discerning to start a defensive series near midfield versus deep toward the endzone. I've heard a while back that when teams start a drive inside the 20's the chance for a run toward the endzone diminishes to below 10%. A bit of a no brainer but something remiss this year. The playbook is vastly limited within Touchback territory. I think this was one of our biggest issues this year.

Over the past few years it seems as though we've taken these positions for granted. More often than not a senior was able to replace the previous stud and fill in adequately. If im not mistaken, Bowden was a walk on. This year we were left with a vastly inconsistent corps of kickers. Journell did OK yet any chance to see him come back is almost nonexistent.

In terms of blocked FG's and Punts, I am completely stumped as to why this has gone to the way side. Possibly teams account for this in more max protect schemes. Nonetheless, I hardly see the aggressiveness we used to show here. If you don't have an "it" guys return the ball I see no point in providing MORE coverage. Instead, send the freaking house. Take any chance to even disrupt the kicker or shorten his timing. I hope to hell we see a vast improvement going forward. It almost felt shameful to wear any attire with "BeamerBall" donned up on it this last year.

Have to agree with punt coverage...

However, these kids have got to be coached better on how to block a kick. How many times over the past two years, when coming after a kick, have the Hokies been flagged for a roughing the kicker penalty? While a blocked punt is a HUGE momentum changer, a roughing the kicker penalty after the D has made a nice stand, can really take the wind out of the sails. We saw that in the Sugar Bowl. (Which was one of the few calls that the officials actually got right.)

IF they can get their scheme down, I say they need to bring the house on most every punt.

What I don't understand is where has the scheme gone? I feel like "back" in its heyday, Beamerball would return punts for TDs BECAUSE we brought so many guys. Not to mention all the blocked kicks we had.

I think it's become a changed philosophy. Earlier this year I wrote a quick post about Eric Green, a defensive starter who regularly messed with opponents kicking games. When was the last time you saw a starter really get after a punt (not recover/return)? I believe the PAT/field goal team is still generally composed of starters, but over the past few years, I can't remember the last time I saw a play-maker on the field coming around the edge. No offense to the Jacob Sykes' of the world, but I want to see the big boys bearing down on these kickers. Forcing a team to leave 9 guys on the line still puts the punt returner in a make-one-guy-miss situation, which is where he should be. Also, more shanks.

...you know...
@j3ffress

Yes please!

It sounds like he's our for the picking too:

-Christopher explained what was running through his head as he prepped for the big kick. “(I thought) I have to make this, because I told Curt Newsome after the game against Bethel that I would make a 60 yard field goal before I graduate.”
-“I most definitely want to go to Virginia Tech. I have always wanted to go there even before I started football,” said Dillon.

Are lefty kickers common?

Cheri
Virginia Tech alumna
twitter.com/AnimatedHokie
Hokies, Redskins, Capitals, D.C. United, Orioles

Not Really

The only one I can think of is Janikowski in Oakland.

#TeamPeanutButter - because your cakes, pies, cookies, and ice creams are better with it!

Special Team mistakes are just as bad

We always hear about Beamerball being such an asset, but in big games it seems to be more a liability. Thinking back to many big games since the 1999 National Championship, a special teams gaffe cost us points that led to a loss.

twitter.com/bmdvt90

Defensive TDs

For what it's worth, defensive scores are "non-predictive".

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/info/FO-basics

I hate to use the word "luck", but pick-sixes are to some degree a function of luck. I think their research has shown that the only NFL defensive back that has shown any sort of ability to take INTs to the house beyond what you'd normally expect is DeAngelo Hall. VT was 18th this year in INTs and everyone else above them in the rankings had at least 1 defensive TD. IMO, if they repeat that number of INTs next year it would be shocking if they didn't get at least one defensive score. They were 95th in fumbles recovered which is ugly, but even worse is they only forced 15. In 2010 (which I think we all would agree VT was worse on defense) they forced 24 fumbles.

Also, they technically had two punts blocked this year, but the refs didn't see that Hopper got the ball in the ACC title game. Grumble. Otherwise you're spot on. The special teams have to get better.

Joe, great read. Any chance you could edit/update the original post to include points/yards/turnovers given up on special teams? Limiting explosive plays on special teams is also a staple of Beamerball. Giving up a big returns hurts us just as much (if not more) than scoring on special teams helps us.

Twitter me

Special teams killed Miami.
We got lucky on a few of these besides solidifying #HughesforHeisman. The Miami returns were going to be huge but don't count for much if the ball goes to the other team.

Anybody know where this guy ended up going?
Dillon Christopher

Danny caught that ball.

Friends don't let 5 star friends commit to UVA.

I have inside info. - Whit

Tech does not currently have the same caliber of skill players that used to make those plays. It is showing on the offense too.

#Hokies

And we can't overwork those same guys because there are not enough of them and they break.

Danny caught that ball.

Friends don't let 5 star friends commit to UVA.

I have inside info. - Whit