A Game of Inches: Reviewing a Heartbreaking Sugar Bowl Loss

I woke up this morning with teeth gritted, brain throbbing, and my heart aching. The Hokies played their collective asses off last night, and for the outcome to be what it was just makes you sick to your stomach for those kids. The defensive line, perhaps for the first time since the injury to Antoine Hopkins, completely dominated the line of scrimmage. The Hokie secondary (after a couple of hickups early) was a ballhawking unit. The linebackers did all that was asked to make Denard Robinson look like a freshman without a clue. Logan Thomas and his receivers had an outstanding game. If you told me all those things happen, I would assume you would have a huge bowl win for the Hokies, even in the eyes of someone like me who completely minimizes the importance of bowl performances in non-title games.

And instead, both the players and the fan base are left to mutter over what might have been.

I normally start out positively, and Lord knows there is more than enough venom to direct at Frank Beamer and the offensive coaching staff for the playcalling, but before I begin, I want to absolutely crush Frank Beamer for something that had no outcome on the football game. During the post game interview, Beamer indicated to the reporters that Danny Coale had a "run/kick option" on the dreadful 4th down call that perhaps cost the Hokies a victory in the fourth quarter. Even if that was the case, here is a well-respected head coach of 25 years, PASSING THE BUCK TO THE KID FOR HIS OWN BAD DECISION. Nothing, not the playcalling, not the officiating, not even the piss poor play of the left side of the Hokie offensive line pissed me the fuck off more than Frank Beamer skirting responsibility for the decision to fake punt. Even if Coale had the option, the head coach MUST take responsibility for making that boneheaded call (made to look even more boneheaded based on the down and distance, which was an easy QB sneak away, coupled with the use of a timeout, which is the equivilant of flying a propeller plane through the Superdome with a sign that says "I AM GOING FOR IT ON 4TH DOWN." Instead, Beamer passed the puck on a devestated kid, a kid who gave every inch of himself to this program, was as selfless as any football player the Hokies have put on the field, and who just had his ultimate moment of glory ripped away from him by a corrupt or incompetant officiating crew in his last game. I have never thought less of Frank Beamer than I did when he uttered those words last night, and I will be holding a grudge for a long time because of it. Danny Coale deserved better from the coaching staff than that, and instead, Beamer deflected, as Beamer always deflects when his team can't hide big game ineptitude behind the spector of "the other team had more talent."

Be assured, the Hokies were the much better football team in almost all aspects of the game last night. Gayle, Maddy, Collins, and Hopkins controlled the line of scrimmage all night. Michigan's offensive line got their asses kicked so much that it almost made the Hokies OL look average. The linebackers filled effectively and other than one poor angle by Tariq Edwards  (that didn't end up costing VT), both were textbook in tackling. All four corners were outstanding, and, while both Eddie Whitley and Antone Exum were exposed in pass coverage as a weakness (improving the playmaking at the safety position is a must next year), they both tackled well in support of the run game. Bud Foster called an outstanding game, with my only point of contention being failing to adjust to Michigan targeting his safeties in man coverage. (I would have like to see Foster blitz Exum, and drop Fuller into coverage.) If Hosley decides to come back, and if the Hokies can get a playmaker (Cyrus Jones, Joel Caleb anyone?) to replace Whitley at safety, I think this is a defense that can be even better than the terrific 06 defense.

Offensively, I thought the skill position guys all played their dicks off. There were several close misses that I think will haunt Logan Thomas, but, other than risking the coaching staff wrath and audibling out of some of the 4th quarter and OT runs, he played as well as you could have asked him to. Boykin was MIA, and I am not sure why, but Danny Coale was lights out, and both a hobbled DJ Coles and Marcus Davis made some plays. David Wilson ran hard, but again his stupid, selfish Darnell Jefferson wanna-be act killed the Hokies on their opening drive, and I almost sensed that some of the horrendous playcalling down the stretch was the result of an effort by the coaching staff to let Wilson be the hero in an effort to get him to stay. The right side of the Hokie OL had a decent night, if not great, but the left side, especially Greg Nosal and Andrew Miller, were destroyed snap after snap by Michigan's Mike Martin (number 68.) Even when they weren't, what little pressure Michgan got on Thomas stemmed from a series of busts against stunts by Nick Becton, Andrew Lainer, Nosal, and Miller. I don't know if David Wang is an upgrade, but if he has footspeed and leg drive, he can't be any worse. I really hope Laurence Gibson, despite his OJ Simpson style run through the airport, gets a look at left guard.

Now, for offensive identity. It became abundantly clear very early in the game that the Hokies would have a great deal of difficulty running the football, and that Logan Thomas could have a big day passing. The passing game and some of the option game was effective in getting mismatches against the Michigan secondary, UNTIL the Hokies got down into the red zone. On the first series, David Wilson sabotaged a touchdown run, again showing that while his athleticism and willpower are off the charts, his vision and football savy are not up to NFL standards. From there on, Hokie playcalling became MUCH more conservative inside the red zone. I thought the staff under-utilized the screen game, and completely went away from it inside Michigan's 30. The waggle plays and double moves were underutilized until the Coale TOUCHDOWN CATCH in overtime. Perhaps most frustrating was the nagging feeling that the coaching staff was trying to outsmart Michgan by running plays for guys who were not the "go to" guys in crunch time, like Joey Phillips and Eric Martin. Added to that, why were they force feeding Wilson the ball and seemingly playing for the field goal when a touchdown seemed such a certainty? 

I have supported the offensive staff all year. They have showed creativity and aggression that has lacked in the Hokie program on offense. This game was a regression in all facets, until of course, Beamer decides to fake punt at perhaps the most ludicrous time (after a timeout, on 4th and 1 at midfield, when the opponent will clearly be in punt safe.) Hello? QB sneak? Regular punt? Anything besides what they called. would have been a better call.

The officiating was terrible, but it should not have mattered. The Hokies outplayed Michigan more than they outplayed UVA. Again, the small details (inches on a sneak, not finding the ball on a jump ball in the endzone, fumbling a kickoff, losing yards near the goal line, a false start, not maintaining deep 1/3 integrity) burned the Hokies. Most frustrating was that those mistakes, for the most part, were made by guys heading out the door, and by a coaching staff (looking at offense and the Big Man tonight) which doesn't seem to be able to develop an identity and have faith in their players to make plays.

The future is bright, but somebody or something needs to break the glass ceiling. If Hosley returns, this is a national championship caliber defense returning (especially if they consider moving Edwards to whip and Taylor to backer, keeping Tyler at mike.) They need a safety, and they will need more next year from guys like a Zach McCray. Corey Marshall also needs to learn how to lineup, because he can be unblockable.

Offensively, everything hinges on the offensive line. Everyone lauds the value of experience, but the guys who were busting assigments last night were seniors. The potential exists for the line to be upgraded in talent and athleticism at every open position IF the coaching staff can coach up some of the guys. If Stinespring goes with the "safe guys", we can expect more of the same ass whippings when the Hokies line up against NFL caliber DT's.

Tailback will be a question mark, but if Holmes or one of the freshmen can be a dependable grinder and pick up blitzes, things should be ok, if not dynamic. The receivers can be explosive, especially if DJ Coles can also play the role of dependable possession guy. Tight end will be a BIG question mark, so as much as I would like to see the Hokies become Wisconsin South, it isn't happening next year.

Thanks to everyone who read my drivel this season. I really appreciated the great feedback. Next year I will work on standardizing the format a bit. Until then, lets hope the Hokies can land a couple of stars over the next couple of days. I will see you guys at the Spring Game.

Cheers

French

Comments

Beautiful write up...

It's a great day to be a Hokie!

good write

but Hosley has already announced -- either way, I think our defense is looking good next season .. better than this season IMO

I hear you on Beamer's comment but

I want to offer a quick defense. I think it was poor to say that as it looks like he is passing the buck. But I actually just took it as him explaining the play... i.e it wasn't a designed sneak it was a run/rugby kick option. I do think he should have said "that's my bad, shouldn't have called that" just to totally absolve Danny. But I think if you asked Frank what he meant and gave him the opportunity he would gladly reword things. Just my take.

I've been looking everywhere, but I can't find it. I'm pretty sure Danny in an interview after the game said Beamer gave him the option and that he chose to go with the fake and regrets the decision...

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

Here you go.

In addition, poor execution hurt. Leading 6-0 in the first quarter, the Hokies went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Michigan 4 and failed to get it. And then a fake punt by Coale late in the game came up short, giving the Wolverines field position that ultimately led to a Gibbons field goal to give Michigan a 20-17 lead with four minutes left in the game.

“I was given the option,” Coale said. “If there was an opening, I could run. If there was pressure, I could punt it. I should have punted it. I thought I could get one yard. I saw an opening, but it closed quickly. I should have punted it, and that was my fault.”

“If they dropped and we had a seam, then we were going to go for the first. If not, we were going to kick and pin them down deep,” Beamer said. “We had that option going. Their guy [Jake Ryan] did a nice job. He looked like he was going outside, and then jumped back underneath and got us.”

http://www.hokiesports.com/football/recaps/20120104aaa.html

Why do we always fall short in these big games?!

I love my team, and my alma mater but seriously this got old 8 years ago.

It's all about The VPISU
VT '10, Born & Raised in the 804. Also go Keydets, Army Black Knights, NY Giants, NY Rangers, and ATL Braves.

Size (inches) Does Matter

In this case, it is what is contained in the head of the Frankenator between the inches that separates his ears. According to Pete Thamel's article today, Beamer said about the faux fake punt “I’m about half sick,” Beamer said, adding, “It was just kind of fluke plays.” About half sick, nice. How about I am beyond stick and what a douche I was for calling that play. Calling out Danny Coale for this is beyond reprehensible. I guess coach-speak includes not totally caring and letting graduating seniors take the blame.

Catch

Catch

The catch/no catch was the same call that was made against Michigan in the final seconds of the Iowa game:

I hated it when it was called against us, and I know how bitter this is for VT fans, but they are calling it consistently, FWIW. The rule is that the ball needs to be firmly controlled. But here you see Coale's hands aren't even on the ball when it hits the ground. It is nested in his forearms.


The announcers were focusing on the elbow but the question is still one of whether the ball was firmly controlled by the player before it hit the ground.

A good test of this "firm control" (this is a sanity check not the final arbiter) is whether the ball moved when it hit the ground. It stands to reason that if the receiver had firm control of the ball when it came in contact with the ground it won't move that much.

VT played a hell of a game except for a few key turnovers and some bad special teams. Football is a zero-sum game and it is heartbreaking to lose one like this. Michigan fans are realists, we know that this game was a lot of pixie dust, unicorns, and horseshoes. It left us befuddled trying to wrap our heads around the game and all we can come up with is, "so, yeah, that happened."

To echo the words of another UM alumnus posting here, I'd love to play a home and away with VT again. My experience with VT fans, coaches and players was overwhelmingly positive.

Catch

Still looks like his right hand has it secured. I cant argue that the ball did not make contact with the ground. But, contact with the ground does not automatically negate a catch. Also, if you watch the tip of the ball you can tell it is clearly secured. If Danny did not secure the ball it would have shifted upwards once contact was made with the ground.

I remember watching that call from the Iowa game and I did not agree with the refs decision their either. Sucks to have a bunch of nerds that have never played the game take away such a big play based on the personal understanding of a rule book.

No doubt this is a great gif and is a good defense on behalf of the refs, but the argument is not just about the catch. The argument is did the referees have enough evidence to overturn the call on the field?? I think not. The announcers, who played football thought not, your coach thought not, our coach (how has a lot of experience) thought not. If all booth officials can't say with 100% confidence that they made the wrong call on the field then there is no way the call can be reversed.

Can't change anything now. Hopefully we meet again soon.

this is spot on

I can honestly say that if the ruling on the field had been incomplete and they did not overturn it I would not say a thing. The ruling on the field though was that is was a touchdown, so I do not see enough evidence to overturn that it wasn't a catch.

I won't blame the call though because this game should have been put away before overtime. It is hard to see the look on Coale's face, and how the rest of the team must feel. Bad penalties and some bad calls from the coaches cost this team a win they deserved.

Next year we will have one hell of a football team.

"I don't know what a Hokie is, but God is one of them.' So I'm going with God. I'm going with Virginia Tech." Lee Corso Aug 23, 2000

http://www.thekeyplay.com

Right on

dwalt88 you are right on point for all. Personally the call on the field, whether it be an incomplete pass or touchdown, should've stood. Also the two refs in the end-zone thought it was not even debatable: clear touchdown catch even after seeing the replay (per ESPN source Heather Dinich/Twitter feed of David Pollack) as well as former NFL receivers and their former head of officiating. That being said it sucks that the call came out the way it did: three people saw it one way and two saw it in the opposing view and majority rules in this case unfortunately. Overall I thought the crew called a poor game, missing way too many o-line holds/false starts/offsides on both defensive lines but it only aided in the outcome- VT shooting themselves in the foot, in my opinion, was still the greatest factor in our defeat.

Virginia Tech '08
Fordham University (NY) '11, '12

Twitter: @duffmanhokie
PSN Handle: duffmanhokie1568 (NCAAF '12, NHL '11, Battlefield)

Hokies, NY Rangers, NY Jets, NY Mets (sigh), USA Hockey, Richmond Renegades (R.I.P)

I'd like to commend you on how the Michigan kids handled themselves during the game. They carried themselves as well as any team I have seen this year. The trash talking, dirty hits, and taunting, were minimized. That was the only silver lining for me during a heartbreaking loss. Best of luck next year.

As for a Michigan home and home. Sign me up. Especially since the Volunteers are way too scared to sign the dotted line.

Viva El Guapo

The differences...

In the Iowa game:
1. The catch is ruled incomplete on the field. It was allowed to stand in review. There was not overwhelming evidence to overturn the call. The refs on the field had it right.
2. The receiver pins the ball against the ground as he falls. This is referred to as the ground aiding control or the catch. If he were able to roll to the side and control the ball, he would have been in bounds and clearly would have had a TD.

In the Tech game:
1. The catch is ruled a touchdown. Again, the refs on the field had it right, but were inexplicably overruled by the replay official. I have yet to see any overwhelming evidence to overturn the call. Neither did ACC director of officials Doug Rhoads, according to the Richmond Times (http://www2.vteffect.com/sports/2012/jan/05/tdsport01-virginia-tech-play...).
2. Coale pins the ball against his chest with his arms, not the ground. Yes, the ball hits the ground, but it does not influence Coale's control of the ball, and his arms are underneath the ball. His elbow clearly lands in bounds. and the ball stays in the same place in his arms as he rolls over, maintaining control through the end of the play. I've seen some posts that say the ball wasn't in his hands. We've all seen plays where the receiver catches the ball in his arms, not his hands. Not an excuse.

So, it actually was not the same type of call. I've said it before. I'll go to my grave believing that Danny Coale caught that ball. Hosed yet again, but the game was lost on three or four other plays in the game. Should have never gotten to OT.

That being said, I've been impressed with the class of the Michigan fans posting on The Key Play. We appreciate your passion and candor. (and yes my wife is an Iowa grad...she'd hit me if she knew I said that).

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.

Watch it again

On video. All of it. The reason the ball moved was because his chest came slamming down on top of it. The kid was in the fetal position on the sidelines because he knocked the wind out of himself catching that ball. If the tip of the ball is pointing in toward his chest and he's got it held up against himself..as his upper body tips forward the ball's gotta go somewhere. Hard to describe through text. As Coale goes tumbling out of bounds (after his elbow hit in bounds), that ball never moves. It is hugged up against his chest the entire time. He had control of it. It was a catch. And whoever said catching the ball with your forearms makes it not a catch? Rewatch the second quarter. There's a clear catch in there where a michigan player, while standing up, catches a ball by trapping it with his forearms against his chest. Either way, you truly believe there was enough visual evidence there to overturn the original call? A catch made within nine yards of three different officials? A catch the commentators called his prettiest of the game? A call michigan's coach agreed with? I wasn't a fan of how little explanation there was after the review. The commentators thought the officials' explanation of michigan's center catching the tipped ball was good, but when Coale's touchdown catch was overturned, I would've liked more of an explanation.
I don’t agree with the Iowa call now..though that sounds biased having not known about it previously and it now being after the fact.

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

Couldn't have said it better...

I have enjoyed reading your analysis this year. I come to the site to share my genuine love and passion for Hokie football with others who have similar views. I particularly enjoy the breakdown of the offensive and defensive strategies - I can say this season I have never spent more time watching plays develop as a whole rather than watching the ball go from point A to point B and it has added a whole new dimension and joy to my game-watching. Thanks for your time in writing the articles and I look forward to reading more next season!

Thanks! I am working with the Key Play on getting some kind of "electronic playbook" functionality so I can actually draw up the formations. It is a good thing I didn't try to do one for Michigan's defense pregame. They used so many multiple fronts that it would have been a fruitless excercise.

Viva El Guapo

great analysis

Wonderfully written once again french. I have enjoyed your articles all season and hope you dont wait until the spring game to write more articles, maybe you could cover national signing day or any other breaking news between now and then. Thank you for the great reads all season.

Win one for the Beamer...

Thanks! I have my "D1 Playoff Plan" article in the hopper, and I am eager to comment on the final results of recruiting.

Anticipate a great deal of frustration if Marshall doesn't get moved back to strongside defensive end. I just get the feeling he could be a star at end (first bull rusher who also has hand movement), but he is undersized at DT. I know they have Gayle, Collins, Wilson, and McCray all back, but Marshall would give them greater size and a different means for pass rush. It makes more sense with both Hopkins, Maddy, and Harley all available at DT (and possibly Williams and Kirrven coming in.)

Viva El Guapo

My "wish list" starting lineup next year.

SE- Dyrell Roberts
FL- DJ Coles
3RD- Marcus Davis
TE- Ryan Malleck
LT- LAURENCE GIBSON
LG- Daivd Wang
C-Andrew Miller (need depth here)
RG- Bruce Benedict
RT- Michael Via
QB- Duh
RB- ???????????
FB- Martin Scales

SE- James Gayle/JR Collins
DT- Antoine Hopkins/Luther Maddy
DT- Derrick Hopkins/Kris Harley
DE- Corey Marshall/Zach McCray

MLB-Jack Tyler/ Telvion Clark/
Backer- Bruce Taylor/Chase Williams
Whip- Tariq Edwards/Trey Edmunds

BC- Kyshowne Jarrett/ Dietrick Bonner
FC- Kyle Fuller
FS- Antone Exum
R- Cyrus Jones/Joel Caleb

To me, this is an upgrade at every position on defense except boundary corner. I am not sure if I would want Fuller there because I would not want to waste his tackling ability.

Viva El Guapo

Running this down.... I know this is kind of a dream lineup where certain players somehow get a lot better and the coaches completely change their habits, but I'll throw in my 2c anyway...
my comments in []

SE- Dyrell Roberts [I see him as 3rd WR due to the severe injury he'll still be rehabbing in the spring. Regardless Roberts, Coles and Davis will be interchangable at WR, all seeing about the same # of snaps.]
FL- DJ Coles
3RD- Marcus Davis
TE- Ryan Malleck [Somehow I don't think he jumps Eric Martin during the off season.]
LT- LAURENCE GIBSON [I'd be really really surprised to see him beat out not only Becton who has played a ton of snaps, while Gibson has played basically zero. Shuman is in line to be the #2 LT as Gibson was 3rd string RG this year. I think he winds up the #2 RG behind Benedict.]
LG- Daivd Wang
C-Andrew Miller (need depth here) [Farris will be a r-FR and 2 years behind Miller, hopefully he can get some snaps over the next two seasons to get him ready for 2014]
RG- Bruce Benedict
RT- Michael Via
QB- Duh
RB- ??????????? [Wilson if he returns, and Holmes if Wilson goes pro. I think Holmes is going to be a breath of fresh air for those of us frustrated with Wilson's blind & greedy running]
FB- Martin Scales [Phillips will be back, and I've got no reason why Scales would surpass him]

SE- James Gayle/JR Collins
DT- Antoine Hopkins/Luther Maddy
DT- Derrick Hopkins/Kris Harley
DE- Corey Marshall/Zach McCray [I'd love to see this but realistically Marshall will be backing up JR Collins at End]

MLB-Jack Tyler/ Telvion Clark/ [I have lots of doubts about this lineup, not just that our coaches wouldn't actually move Edwards to Whip (I'd love to see it too), but that Bruce Taylor could beat out Clark at Backer. There's a good chance that Taylor never plays another snap for us as a starter, lisfranc are terrible injuries to recover from, and he's far better as a Mike.
Backer- Bruce Taylor/Chase Williams
Whip- Tariq Edwards/Trey Edmunds [Edwards moving over would require Clark staying healthy and proving he can handle Backer week in and week out. I'd love to see this and think there's a realistic chance of it working out if the coaches take a leap of faith.]

BC- Kyshowne Jarrett/ Dietrick Bonner [Tradition continues and Fuller moves to BC]
FC- Kyle Fuller [Jarrett, Bonner, and Farrow will battle for this slot, but I see Bonner with the experience edge taking the starting slot.]
FS- Antone Exum [Theron Norman backing him up. ]
R- Cyrus Jones/Joel Caleb [There's no way a t-FR starts at Rover, much less guys who didn't play a similar position in HS. Its too key a position for us. Plus we have 2 solid prospects in the pipeline with Aromire, and Vandyke. Then at FS there's Cole and Norman either of whom could step up and make T.G. comfortable enough to move Exum to Rover.]

Flowers, Harris, Chancellor, Carmichael, Whitley, Hosley, Fuller, Exum

thoughts

fuller to fs
exum to rover

if edwards to whip (i doubt) then clark to backer, taylor is way better at mike and clark is faster.

lolololol marshall is not going back to de. unless he gets a lot quicker and more comfortable in space. ALOT.
harley could have played by october, i hear.

holmes will be a nice grinder for tech while the youngens find their legs.

likely 2 new starting cb's. bonner's speed may be an issue, but he will tackle.

still not seeing Fuller @ FS

Two new CB's just seems like asking for trouble. I just don't see Coach Gray messing up a steady progression of reserve->FC->BC with our corners. It's a tradition that has prepared our corners very well for the NFL. They get the full spectrum of our zone & man coverages and we get our best corner handling the toughest position in the secondary.

Plus Fuller's strength is that he plays great near the LOS and can cover anyone in press coverage, so if he moves I think it would be to Rover where he would be up closer to the LOS more often than at FS.

Flowers, Harris, Chancellor, Carmichael, Whitley, Hosley, Fuller, Exum

safety > cb

fs calls the play and is the qb of the d.

exum's skills, are half best suited for rover and other have for fs.

I will address a couple of main points.

1) I think Exum stays at free safety. He has been at his best when given a good vantage point of the field and can go sideline to sideline. His weakness at that spot is a lack of ballhawking ability, especially finding the ball in man to man and zone pass coverage and making interceptions. I also don't think Kyle Fuller moves, mainly because field corner has become so important in Bud Foster's run defense scheme and a lack of trust in the tackling ability of Jarrett and Bonner. See Brandon Flowers, that is Kyle Fuller's future.

2) Regarding my dream offensive line, I know Gibson is slotted as a guard. He was recruited as a left tackle, and in very limited snaps he exhibited outstanding footwork. Left tackle is a position of athleticism and strength. Becton is a safe choice, but Becton has very limited upside, which has been exposed when he plays an NFL caliber defensive end. Also, the Hokies are much stronger at guard with the coaching staff trusting Wang and Benedict. If the coaches had trusted Becton, Lainer never would have seen the field after his recovery. While Acree has worked at left tackle, his lack of leg strength and athleticism would suggest to me a move to the right side. I still thing Painter should be a drive blocking monster at guard, but little birds keep telling me that the kid has no motor. If Shuman is a masher, I'd like him at guard too.

3) If Malleck doesn't start, then he needs to be redshirted. They wasted a year with him this year.

Viva El Guapo

1) Agree on all points, I don't know for sure the exact reasons, but for Exum and Whitley being swapped this year says a lot to me about how well Exum was playing at ROV. (that is to say, not meeting the coaches' expectations)

2) I'd love for Gibson to show he can play OT. Becton and Via will both be seniors, as will Painter (if he even factors in) and we'll need two younger backups getting practice reps at least, getting ready for 2013. However, losing Prince hurts depth at OG, and I haven't really heard anything about Davis or Gough to know if they're viable #2 guards opposite Arkema. It may depend on whether one of them can step up at OG or if Acree step up at OT as to where Gibson winds up.

3) The backup TE situation was very convoluted this season. For a while G2 was getting reps, along with Randall Dunn, and then Eric Martin seemed to establish himself through the end of the season. Meanwhile Malleck had his shirt burned for seemingly no reason. I agree though, if Malleck isn't going to be the #1 or #2 TE, he should redshirt. We've got plenty of guys there for 2012, including 2 r-SR and a r-JR

Flowers, Harris, Chancellor, Carmichael, Whitley, Hosley, Fuller, Exum

Love it

I think ronny vandyke ends up being a really productive rover. I would feel much more comfortable with him there than a true freshman though they are both studs and jones just committed to bama. Everything else about this lineup is like a wetdream, lol.. Also I would watch out for the farrow kid he is going to be a stud seriously. Love your articles french. You write everything I am thinking to myself.

Win one for the Beamer...

French..

Your posts are anything but drivel.....some of the best analysis and commentary on Hokie football anywhere. Thank you!!!

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.

The offensive playcalling really has me flumoxed. Yes, the Hokies were dreadful in the redzone all year (most of which was attributable to the poor drive blocking and athleticism on the left side of the offensive line), but O'Cain was a very aggressive playcaller all year. Even in the games I was critical of O'Cain, it was for getting "too cute" with his playcalling. Sometimes it was overly aggressive. Other times it seemed to be focused on tricking opponents.

The Sugar Bowl really smelled like Stinespring/Beamer took the reigns from O'Cain a bit. Again, this is a hunch, but that looked like Ricky Bustle had somehow jammed the playcalling radio once the Hokies got into field goal position with about a minute left in the 4th quarter. Even more than OT, that drove me bonkers. The playcalling at that point is simple. Throw for a first down on each play to stop the clock. Emphasize with Logan that if he doesn't have a wide open receiver, throw it into the second row. Logan did it all year. Why not trust him in that spot? It was baffling.

My other beef was the offense not utilizing the quick WR screens more inside the goal line. I know space is tighter, but with the opposition loading up on the run, it makes it easier to get one quick block and bust a big score on the screen. Instead, there were three different plays where JOEY PHILLIPS was the primary in short yardage passing situations. Joey Phillips is a good kid, but you have 4 of the top WR's in the history of the program, a good tight end, and a tailback who in theory should be dangerous after the catch. I like tricking somebody, but you go with the guys who got you there.

Viva El Guapo

Red Zone play calling

Agreed, the play selection inside the 20 was frustrating. I'm not sure if O'Cain was trying to go against trends and do something that M wasn't expecting, or if someone just slipped something into his Diet Coke.

Is Ricky Bustle still kicking around bayou country? That might explain the bad red zone karma.

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.

RZ Offense...

It was bad, but not as bad as I recall. I just watched some of the RZ possessions on ESPN3. Before the half, VT was only in RZ twice. The major problem was that they did not once throw the ball into the endzone. However, they had good reasons for the run-heavy play calling. On both drives, VT was running the ball down UM's throats entering the RZ. And it continued from the 20 to 10 yd line. The problems were this...

On the first possession, it was 1st and goal from the 4, and DW4 had gotten them there. So, they called another run. He slipped, then bone-headedly decided to make something out of nothing and ran back 30 yds. I do agree however, that they should have mixed it up and thrown a pass or two, but if DW4 doesn't slip, he may get 2 yds on the run, and it's 2nd and goal from the 2. Or if he just went down where he slipped, it would be 2nd and goal from the 5.

On the second possession, they had Ogelsby in the game, and he was doing well. In this possession, the UM D-clamped up and the LBs played tight on the line. VT should have called more passes, especially ones to try and get the linebackers off the line of scrimmage.

Finally, in the 3rd RZ possession, they first throw the ball into endzone on a 3rd down and goal, and Davis was held to draw the pass interference. A few plays later, LT3 sneaks it into the endzone.

Bottom line though, if you want your RB to run it into the endzone, which VT was clearly trying to do, you need to call pass plays from 15-30 yd line area in which the receivers catch the ball behind the LBs. This will get the LBs to move backwards or at least delay when you call a run inside the 10.

Kyle for Safety

First, let me say it was a great game. I had great sideline seats and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The mistakes in this game are difficult to swallow, but the fact remains this D is going to be legit next year (although, we do read too much into bowl games...).

Solution to VT's Safety problem: put KFuller at Free Safety. VT has extremely talented, although young and inexperienced, players for corner (Bonner, Jarrett, and January enrollee Manning). If Fuller plays safety, VT won't lose the playmaking ability on blitzes and tackling, and all around defensive football knowledge of Fuller. Plus, much like Vincent, I think Kyle's future at the next level will be free safety. Bottom line, he can do it all, so he'll be dominant at any position.

I do know one thing. I may have to do an extra bluefin tuna trip this February to wash the salty taste from this game out of my mouth.

I saw someone post on twitter than the Hokies ran nothing but running plays inside the Michigan 20 yard line in the first half. Horrible, given that Logan did whatever he wanted through the air in the first half.

Viva El Guapo

New guy, with thoughts on the Sugar Bowl

I am Michigan fan who was at the game, and would just like to say that it was a good game. VT played great game and had a good defensive game plan to shut the Wolverines down. But nobody is mentioning that Michigans defensive line was without two main players, the O-line had a center with one good leg. I haven't heard any mention of it, but during the pre-game warm ups, I also saw number 77 (Taylor Lewan) fall funny, and get up with a very noticeable limp. All I am trying to say with this is that I feel Michigan wasn't at full strength and just wish I could have seen it. Not to say things offensivley would have been different, but it might have. Either way, it was a great game, and all of the Virginia Tech fans I meet where very classy, and i would also like to see a home and home series.

Missing players

We were missing arguably our two best defensive players too... a stud line backer and a beast defensive lineman

The best part about the current bowl system because it gives teams an opportunity to play that never would otherwise. A VT-Michigan Home & Home would never happen and it is a shame that more coaches at top tier schools won't step out on a more regular basis and play a home and home series. Everyone wants to do a 2-1 or just a one time home game.

Have to give props to LSU having the balls to do it this year. That WVU road win at night is looking pretty damn good right now.

B1G v PAC series

We put App State back on the schedule for 2014 (when Hoke's first full recruiting class will be juniors), a game which many feel is Lose-Lose. I live in Raleigh, and every time I go out with any UM stuff on I get the App-State jeers. So I want nothing more to nuke them back into the Stone Age (shameless Rodney Dangerfield reference for those of you old enough to remember).

Alabama (neutral site) is our season opener this year, followed by Air Force (home), cupcake UMass (home) then ND on the road before the conference schedule starts so Michigan is not afraid of putting some quality OOC teams on the schedule.

About a week and a half ago the B1G and the PAC announced that they would play a cross conference game every year starting as soon as 2014. It is mostly likely going to happen in a single weekend, so you'll have a PAC-BIG football challenge like the BIG-ACC challenge in basketball. Additionally, the match may be based on the previous year's record. This gives us many of the advantages of conference expansion and some marquee match-ups without diluting the conference (cough Pitt/Syracuse) because we already have enough kicking dogs (Indiana and Minnesota). This will most likely preclude any more difficult OOC games other than the cupcakes and ND.

As far as the WV road win, it looks great, but its further proof that the transitive property never works in football.

I just got back from New Orleans yesterday afternoon. I swear that city is going to kill me one of these days. I haven't had a chance to re-watch the game yet, but the one thing i do know is that there was definitely not enough indisputable evidence to overturn Coale's touchdown. Maybe it was the massive amount of 3 for 1 beers I consumed on Bourbon St. before the game, but I generally enjoyed the game. Maybe it was because I knew going in that, because it was a bowl game, we would end up doing something stupid...like say, maybe running a fake punt. Oh well, what's done is done. Had this been the national championship game, I would be way more heartbroken. As it is, I had a GREAT time in New Orleans, cheered my ass off for my team, and came away very, very proud of them.

Also, EVERY Michigan fan I talked to (and I talked to a lot) was so incredibly nice. I'm with the rest of you, sign me up for a home and home with them anytime.

twitter.com/weavez22

It stings

Your words about Beamer were true eye openers. They hurt, but that’s what they say about the truth, isn’t it? It hurts. I just didn’t know it hurt this badly…
I don’t know how to feel about people saying that officiating should not have mattered. When a player gets burned on a pass interference, you can’t tell me he won’t play more conservative for the rest of the game to avoid getting burned again.

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

Hate to keep on this topic

I had some thoughts I never wrote down. The players change year to year so the only consistent element in us not winning the big games is the coaches.

There is too often a failure in situational awareness and reacting with the right play call. For instance on the fake punt. Why didn't they attempt a fake QB sneak hard count and then call a timeout if the play clock ran down. Or, if the D relaxed, because it looked like a fake, run the sneak to catch them off guard. I don't know if the O has that hard count in their playbook or even practices it but it should be there and the coaches need to know the situation of when to run it.

Its little things like this that are separting us from the top tier, or when talent is not quite to the oppostion's level, keeping us from pulling the upset.

There are also boneheaded plays by the players on occasion (roughing the kicker, false start negating first and goal) but these coaches can work on preparing the players to minimize this.

Overall a very good effort. Its just these little things that end up being big enough.

#Hokies

Hard Count

I was losing my mind screaming for the "hard count" play call. It was the PERFECT time to call it. If we rushed right up to the ball and looked like we were going to go for the QB sneak (which Michigan probably watched on film 10 times a day for a month) on the 4th and 1 I have no doubt in my mind that the Mich D line would have loaded the middle then jumped off sides. There would have been no Punt/fake punt/ time out debacle.

That could have very well been the game changing possession and game changing call. That is the coaches fault for not being able to manage the game and use strategy that at least gives you the option. If you are going to waste a time out... waste it after testing the opposition first.

Then when you do call the time out... look at the distance for the first down and either play field position and punt normal style (fuck the rugby kicking) or call a slant route pass play from the I formation and use a size mismatch (aka MD7 or D.J. Coles) to get the first down.

Its not rocket science.

As I stated

Situational awareness is sometimes (many times?) a weakness with this coaching staff. I think there is a mentality of trying to always beat the other team straight up. Sometimes a little trickery is what we need to break the game open. Use the rules to your advantage when you might not match up phyiscally or talent-wise.

#Hokies