UNC Film Review: A Tragic Realization

This is a hit piece. I can't run from the fact that on Saturday, the Hokies were so poor in their fundamental execution of their basic responsibilities that I find myself doubting that they can turn this ship around this season. After the end of the debacle in Chapel Hill, I tried desperately to find some kind of building block to give me hope for the immediate future. I expected to turn on the film of the game, and see tremendous effort sabotaged by singular errors in execution that we should come to expect with a young team that is struggling to gel. Instead, I saw breakdown after breakdown of the most basic fundamentals in football.

  • Leg drive: Keep your feet moving. Chop your feet. Drive, drive, drive!
  • Pursuit: Get to the football and gang tackle.
  • Leverage: Be quick off the snap count. Low man wins. Play downhill.
  • Shedding blocks: Be violent to get off blocks, or be so quick so you don't get blocked in the first place.

Ultimately, UNC did every one of these things better. Their offensive line was under the pads of the Hokie defensive line from the third possession on, and kept their leg drive while the Tech defensive linemen stunted to their gaps, got blocked, and stayed blocked. The UNC defenders got up field and shed blockers like they were an unruly horsefly, while the Hokie offensive line, especially the interior linemen, and the tight ends stood straight up with dead feet and were knocked backwards all game long.

I can accept that some of the kids in the secondary just are not talented enough to succeed in the position they have been placed. I can accept that the young running backs will struggle due to lack of experience. I don't expect perfect execution from 18-22 year old kids, because Lord knows I blew my share of assignments. But, to be so bad at the basics of football, at skills that these players are taught from the day they put on the pads in midget league, leaves a horrible taste in my mouth. I am no insider, and I don't pretend to know what these kids are being taught, but effort, leg drive, body position, and aggression are universal truths in football ideology. When I watched the film, I didn't see enough of any of this, and my breakdown leaves me asking more questions than discovering answers, especially when some of the guilty parties are players who have a proven track record of high performance.

Then, you add the gasoline on the fire. The Hokies lost Saturday while players who have demonstrated these capabilities spent the entire football game glued to the bench. I am reminded of Sean Connery's famous line in the Untouchables, "Don't bring a knife to a gun fight." By my count, the Hokies had six positions on offense and defense manned by players who I do not feel are talented enough to ever be regarded in the top-half of the ACC at their position, and three positions where I don't think the current players could start at any other ACC program.

Meanwhile, several players who have demonstrated the ability to be playmakers, to look like men amongst boys if you will, continue to receive limited or no playing time, and then if they make a mistake they return to the bench while the starters continue to be physically dominated. In my experience, that culture is devastating to team morale, and you could see the defense trying to go beyond their responsibilities to make up for those deficiencies, and it wrecked the system.

Blocking: A Key, Every Time

The Hokies have made a choice to utilize the spread and to use it in a fashion that is dependent on counter-action to influence defenders into being out of position rather than go straight at them and beat the defense physically. While there are other things to criticize (I think poor play-fakes are causing defenders to ignore the influence motion, causing the double whammy of removing a potential blocker from the space where you intend to go while leaving an additional unblocked player), the blocking just isn't good enough for any running back, much less this group, to have success against a top defense. With the exception of the first drive, you can pick almost any running play and most of the Hokie offensive line is on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage. Even when the offensive line neutralizes the interior, defensive backs and linebackers are having a field day running freely in pursuit because of the repeated failure of tight ends and wide receivers to block. Normally, I wouldn't beat a dead horse, but Saturday was not a normal Hokie loss. Today, I throw stones.

First, the Hokies had success using a buck sweep against Cincinnati and tried to get the same thing going against UNC. The buck sweep creates a seal inside through a blindside down block on the outside linebacker and defensive end and a seal outside by a pulling guard dominating a defensive back.

Unfortunately for the Hokies, the sweep requires an effective down block from the tight end on the defensive end to prevent the entire play from being blown up. Enter Eric Martin and Corey Fuller.

2:36–2:42

At the snap, despite be flexed off the line of scrimmage giving him a better angle at a down block, Martin takes a poor first step and goes straight ahead rather than moving at the angle and cutting off inside penetration. His head is also on the outside of the defender, rather than in front of him. With proper head position, a good angle, and ACC-caliber leg drive, Martin would have driven the defensive end at least a step inside and prevented penetration which caused Michael Via (pulling from right guard) to take a deeper angle, slowing the progression of the play. The issue is made worse by Corey Fuller. Fuller comes inside to crack on the outside linebacker gingerly, and failing to make contact, chases the linebacker into the backfield instead of moving on to a safety or back side pursuit. The play-fake also fails to freeze the nickel corner or safeties, so despite a good lead block by Michael Via and solid blocking by all four other linemen, the nickel and the safeties are waiting on Holmes after he makes a great adjustment just to avoid a 5 yard loss.

Later in the same series, Eric Martin fails to execute a block and it derails an opportunity to keep a drive alive. The Hokies run the jet sweep read option, which the Hokies scored a touchdown on to open the game. Again, the Hokies leave a defensive end unblocked, and Logan reads the end taking quarterback and hands off to JC Coleman.

2:54–3:00

When watching live, I thought Logan made the wrong read, but on tape, he executed perfectly. Michael Holmes sealed the outside linebacker, and there is a clear lane for the first down if Eric Martin can block the play side linebacker. Watch the tight end, lined up to the right, and prepare to be ill. Martin has excellent body position, but his feet go dead at contact and he starts to fall, meanwhile, Kevin Reddick (who may be the best linebacker the Hokies play all year) doesn't even look like he has been touched on the play. Remember that when we look at the defense.

Martin falls on his face and Reddick steps in the hole and makes the block. Coleman can't juke him because Marcus Davis (who blocked well for the most part) failed to cut off the corner flying in for run support. The results are a Hokie punt, and reinforcement of the notion that Eric Martin should not see the field. If your "blocking tight end" can't block, utilize Randall Dunn and force the safeties to account for him in the play action game. Martin is a veteran. This is the best he can do, and if this is the best, he can't be on the field if Tech expects to be successful running the ball.

As we move inside, the same problems rise again, again, and again, and Curt Newsome exacerbates them by not utilizing the best personnel options. Pad level is horrible. Gap control through head and hand placement is horrible. Repeatedly, we see linemen "hopping" into position and taking the incorrect first step to set up a block. And finally, I repeatedly see the feet stop churning at contact.

I will start with what seems to be my perennial whipping boy David Wang. He was horrendous in both pass protection and run blocking, especially when pulling (a perceived strength of Wang's when the season started). Here, the Hokies use their basic off tackle power play that we have reviewed several times this season.

10:00–10:05

The Hokies block down on the left side, and Wang pulls to kick out the defensive end. Pause the film at 10:02.

At contact, Wang's feet completely stop moving and the defensive end is under Wang's pads and driving him back (which is one hell of an accomplishment for that end, given that Wang might be the shortest starting guard in a BCS conference). While the end doesn't make the tackle, the rejection of Wang narrows the hole. (Please note, Eric Martin completely whiffs on the linebacker, who steps right into the hole and makes the tackle).

Looking at Wang again, and again, pad level and leg drive are horrendous. The Hokies run a simple counter dive. Wang has to turn a 1-technique defensive tackle inside, creating a seal to the inside.

3:51–3:57

Nick Becton effectively draws his defender up the field and seals him out. Wang however does his little bunny hop instead of taking a powerful lead step. The tackle gets underneath his pads, and Wang again is straight up and down and being driven backwards. Freeze the play at 3:53.

Wang is one full yard behind the line of scrimmage, and going backwards. That, my friends, is a whipping. Freeze at 3:54, and Wang is now two yards into the backfield, and his head is vertical instead of being on the play side of the defender (which could at least keep the defender at bay for a split second.

The tackle sheds Wang, and makes the play for a one yard loss.

Now, rewind the play, and watch Dyrell Roberts (receiver to the top of the screen.) He fails to even touch the corner, looks back to watch the play, and then goes down field to the safety.
This issue goes beyond Wang, but he is the most recognizable weak link in the running game. Still, everyone on the inside shows the same problems. Here, the Hokies try to get their pistol going with a counter dive read play.

9:00–9:05

If you freeze at 9:02, every Hokie offensive lineman is well behind the line of scrimmage.

Michael Via has also taken a hop step, and the UNC tackle has driven him deep into the backfield. Repeat, and watch Marcus Davis at the bottom of the screen. Again, Davis completely fails to even engage the corner. The penetration slows the play, and the defensive back steps in to make the tackle. Not team play!

The guards also struggled in pass protection. Here, Caleb Farris (who should be the starting center but isn't athletic enough at guard) gets some work as Via moves into Wang's slot. The Hokies have Dyrell Roberts wide open on a rub route, but he drops the ball and looks unprepared for the pass. Could it be that Thomas had to rush the throw?

4:03–4:10

UNC runs a basic X stunt up front. The left defensive tackle crosses Caleb's face, and Caleb dutifully follows him inside. The right defensive tackle crisscrosses so nicely that it makes you jump jump, and explodes through the space Farris vacated. Logan has to hurry the throw with a defender right in his face, and Roberts (who likely was suffering from a concussion) is caught off guard and drops the ball. This is frustrating for two reasons. First, this is a high school stunt. A college starting offensive lineman should be able to pick this up easily with proper teaching and good communication. Second, regardless of who has played guard for the Hokies this season, every single guard has been responsible for one quarterback hurry facing this simple stunt. One player not being good enough could be a talent issue, but the same error repeated by players with different skill sets tells me that teaching is an issue.

While this tragic performance is taking place, the Hokies best drive blocker (Brent Benedict) did not play a snap. You can sell me on the idea that he struggles in space, but there is absolutely no game film yet that makes me think he isn't a better option at guard than Via, Wang, or Farris. And, we have a small sample size of Laurence Gibson playing with good pad level and outstanding leg drive, but he continues to be wasted. If the players are not good enough, then you have to play someone who is. If the players are not being taught correctly, then the coach has to be replaced.

A Defense Without a Lunch Pail

Well, after watching the Pitt game, I didn't think the Hokies could possibly play worse against the run, but I was proven wrong. Bernard proved to be an outstanding back, and the UNC offensive line manhandled the defensive line from the second quarter until the end of the game. Initially, Bernard found running room by reading the Hokie gap stunts, and then running over or making the Hokie safeties miss tackles. As the game wore on, the defense started abandoning their assigned gap fits to make plays, and instead opened up huge holes. By the middle of the third quarter, the Hokie defenders seemed content with stunting to their gaps, and then merely bracing for contact rather than shedding blocks and pursuing. It was a slaughter.

The warning signs started early. Let's take a look at this first quarter play, which actually results in a tackle for a loss for Kyle Fuller.

4:24–4:30

UNC runs the same buck sweep that the Hokies ran earlier, however the tight end easily seals the defensive end inside, and the crack back seals Jarrett inside, who loses his gap fit. Also, Jarrett getting blocked seals the pursuit by Bruce Taylor and Jack Tyler inside along with the pulling guard. Fuller is forced to make a difficult tackle. While this play looks terrific at game speed, it foretells of disaster later in the game.

Later in the first quarter, the defensive line is already showing strain. UNC runs a simple middle draw.

6:10–6:16

UNC starts by doubling Corey Marshall and turning Antoine Hopkins to the right with relative ease. At the 6:12 mark, Hopkins has been driven 3 yards to the right of his original alignment and Marshall gets planted flat on his backside. J.R. Collins has been turned out with ease, and is still stuck at the line of scrimmage. Taylor gets cut, and can't shed the blocker. But, James Gayle is completely unblocked, yet so scared of Bernard's speed that he hesitates and Bernard runs right by him to the inside. The Tarheel line maintains their leg drive, and each lineman has better pad level than the Hokie defender they are blocking. UNC wins all the fundamental battles on this play, and the Hokies appear inept at getting off of blocks.

The wheels really started to fall off when Bud Foster, a week too late perhaps, breaks out a smaller four defensive end look, with Collins and Marshall playing inside and Nicolas and Wilson on the outside. This was fodder for the UNC monsters up front. Here, UNC runs an interior delayed trap from a one back set.

17:37–17:44

The right side of the Hokie defensive line gets destroyed, with Marshall driven almost to the hash mark and Nicolas gets driven off the ball, by a tight end(Eric Martin, watch this). Bruce Taylor gets trapped, and the flood gates are open. (Fortunately, J.R. Collins gets held, but UNC ends up scoring on the drive anyway). What is unique about this play? Nothing. You could watch every play for multiple series in the 3rd and 4th quarter and it would look like replay of this.

Bonners' Boners, and Cole's Catastrophes

Michael Cole missing on an open field tackle in the flat.

11:17–11:25

And again, Cole can't take the defender down.

16:40–16:44

Bonner doesn't get back in coverage.

16:46–16:51

Leaders not being Leaders

I think most disappointing in all my film review is seeing the drop off in the level of play of the defenders who were counted on to provide leadership for this unit. James Gayle looked effective, but got very limited playing time. J.R. Collins was abused at tackle and provided no pass rush at end. Derrick Hopkins was dominated and received much less playing time than we are accustomed to seeing. I am not sure if Foster was trying to send a message, but their replacements didn't do the job better.

I think my frustration peaked while watching Kyle Fuller. Kyle's strength is as a roving zone corner who looked back to the center of the field and read the play. Over the last two games, that strength has been used against Fuller. Cincinnati completed 8 passes for over 10 yards against Kyle, with six coming on skinny post or quick in routes. All the completions were on third-down-and-long. On each play, Kyle was in man coverage, but he plays on the outside shoulder of the receiver, looking back to the middle of the field at an angle. It allows him to watch the play, but it allows the receiver to run a skinny post with his body shielding Fuller from the ball.

UNC used the same formula, although they attacked Fuller less frequently.

Here, VT blitzes and Fuller gives up the skinny post without safety help.

5:25–5:34

In this coverage, I would think that an inside/out press coverage, where Fuller does not allow the receiver to cross his face to the inside and plays the percentages that a throw to the outside has less of a chance of success would make more sense without safety help.

Next, Kyle has safety help, but still allows the receiver to get inside position. This time, the tight end runs a circle route and beats Fuller back to the inside.

11:56–12:02

Jarrett provides a presence to the inside and nails the tight end, but a great throw beats the coverage.

Again, on a critical third down in the third quarter, the Hokies blitz and UNC goes right back at Fuller. Again, Fuller plays outside in without safety help.

18:00–18:05

The post route is wide open, and UNC gets a critical first down conversion when the game was still in doubt.

Finally, my frustration boiled over when I saw this play. The defensive line gets blown up, but the gap concept still results in the Hokies best tackler (Fuller) one on one right in the hole.

19:54–20:04

Fuller flies by like a bull by a matador, and the rest of the Hokies fail to pursue effectively. This looks nothing like a Bud Foster defense. From this point forward, the Hokie pursuit was terrible, and the defenders just seemed to accept blocks.

I wish I could say that a white knight would ride in and save this team, but week in, and week out, we see the same problems over and over again. Those problems are not being addressed and corrected, and those breakdowns are starting to erode the confidence and effectiveness of the veteran players. Everything is pointing to a train wreck, and I am not sure if playing Duke will serve as a rallying cry by which this group can right the ship. All the platitudes about playing for next year don't mean much, because with the exceptions of Ronny Vandyke, Brent Benedict, Demetri Knowles, and maybe Donaldven Manning, there are not many viable options for finding improved production. Corey Marshall and Dadi Nicolas failed to provide a spark yesterday, and James Gayle seems to be in the dog house or isn't playing enough. There may be some wins left on this schedule, but I don't know if they have another great October/November run in them.


Editor's Note: A lot of effort goes into French's fim review. French takes notes while watching the game live, but needs to rewatch the film to provide the best analysis. In order to make that efficient as possible, and to provide clips to embed in the post, Billdozer works his magic and makes a video of just the plays. Whether Tech wins or loses, he turns that around in a day so French can review it and have his post written by Monday night so I can produce, format and edit by Tuesday morning. (I do the least amount of work.) These guys work fast and sacrifice part of their weekend to produce.

There are always a ton of "thank you's" in the comments, and for that we are extremely appreciative! I personally feel this is the best game analysis available on any Tech site, free or otherwise. Personally, aside from watching the game itself, reading it is the highlight of my week.

I'm going to ask you guys and gals for a favor. One of our primary goals is to keep the site free, and nothing is changing on that front. However, we could really use your help in spreading the word to grow our audience. So, if you enjoy these posts, or any posts, could you please tell your friends, other Hokies, and share them on your social network of choice. Thank you in advance, and thanks to French and Bill for another great effort! --Joe

Contact the editor about this post anytime by phone: (703) 646-1931 or mail: 3057 Nutley St Suite 633, Fairfax, Virginia 22031.

Comments

A+

Teach me your ways.

Looking at a playbook explanation of the Virginia Tech defense I found on the Gewgol, there within, amongst the obviously uncomfortable 90's-era pictures of the coaches, is a 'base philosophy and objectives of the defense' section.

(http://www.playbookexchange.net/playbooks/Defense/02060201-VirginiaTechA...)

1. Stop the run.
- Limit play selection.
- Limit blocking scheme.
2. Outnumber defenders to blockers.
3. Outnumber receivers with four-man
rush.
4. Attack the offense.
- Make it defend itself.
- Not going to see everything.
5. Attitude defense.
- Pressure mentality.
- Speed and desire.
6. Commitment to man coverage.
7. Study and predict protections.
- Fewer receivers in patterns.
8. Study how offense reacts to pressure.
- Take away quick answer.
- Make quarterback beat you with his
checks; take game out of press box.
9. Great disguise.
- Multiple movements.
- Up-calls.
- Identical man-zone adjustments.
10. Solid fundamentals.
- Block protection.
- Tackling.
- Get-off.
- Pursuit — bending the body.
- Four seconds of concentration.
- Communication.

I present this because, while reading your forum topic, I've gathered that the defense has lost all idea of this philosophy.
That last point, "Solid fundamentals" (which you rightfully noted in your post as the basic catalyst for failure that VT is committing), seems to be the most forgotten point. I think that has to do with the communication that isn't happening on the field.

God, this is depressing to watch. And I have nothing else to add to that. Just severely depressed now.

I believe in the Brew Crew.

Chip

The Hokies I love play with a sense of urgency and something to prove. There was a team effort. I didn't see that on Saturday. This is where coaches need to show their talent. This is a capable group but needs everyone to step it up.

Your analysis is greatness

nuff said, and maddening at the same time. This is not the product that I have been used to seeing since '95. Sickening to see Roger Dorn impressions by the "gap tacklers" one by one.......UGH!

D_BAM

Great Job

I sometimes wonder if the team gets as good film study as you provide.

After reading this I think there is a 25% chance VT beats Duke... at home

Great write-up, althought quite depressing.

I agree, we are in for a train wreck unless something drastic changes and I don't have any inclination we'll see that. This is just a bad team. From the coaching down to the execution on the field. Nothing in our play inspires me that something will change.

I said before the Cinci game that I was worried. I thought we'd struggle vs Cinci and then likely lose at UNC, so that put us on a two game skid heading to Duke. And my thought was that that woulc spell disaster. Now I am almost sure of it. You would think this would be a weekend to turn things around but our confidence is extremely low and Duke's is so high that I think Duke is going to win this thing. That takes a bad season for VT and sends it into a death spiral.

That said.... it will still be gameday in Blacksburg. Let the tailgating/bar crawling/turkey leg eating begin!

Trying to be positive

First off, this write up is, as always, superior. Many thanks as always, French.
Now, I don't know if it's my immaturity or my longing to laugh after consecutive beat downs, but French's superb write up contains one of the greatest sentences ever written:

"the rejection of Wang narrows the hole."
If you ask me, no truer words have ever been written.

As always, excellent analysis, sir.

RE: Joe et al: If y'all need financial backing, I'm happy to chip in. I don't have much, but for analysis like this, I'm happy to lay down some duckets for this superior quality. I literally quit TSL because it wasn't half this good on their best day. Thanks again, guys!

"You know when the Hokies say 'We are Virginia Tech' they're going to mean it."- Lee Corso

I agree

I would also be willing to chip in some funds. I'm sure if Joe set something up, enough of this community would help out to at least cover the cost of site hosting and other things that cost money to keep this site up and running.

Logan 3:16

Yep, I quit TSL as well. This

Yep, I quit TSL as well.

This stuff is gold. Well, depressing gold.

Twitter ===> @PattyLighttt

+1

Then, with financial backing, maybe you guys could start to produce some T-Shirts with the same design as the banner of the site, and some of the highlights of the site (MascotMock, Photo Primer, In-Depth Film Analysis)... You can make money from selling the shirts and at the same time, you have walking advertisements to bring new people to the community.

I believe in the Brew Crew.

Right now, getting the word out is the top priority. Also, we plan on remaining free forever. I personally don't believe in a subscription model. There will be shirts, I promise, and they will help cover server costs and travel expenses. Thank you guys for your support!

Don't mention it. Best online fan community anywhere, I believe.

I believe in the Brew Crew.

Thanks!

As painful as it is to watch, I thoroughly enjoy the breakdown. Top notch as always.

Painful but true

Great film review. My untrained eyes suspected as much on Saturday, but this really confirms it. Going forward, no game is a gimmee, nor is a bowl appearance. Frank and gang, adversity demands strong leaders, so it’s time to earn your dime.

Also, I wholeheartedly second your comment as it relates to financial backing. Maybe just drop a post on the main page with a PayPal “pay to” that serves as the first annual “100% optional contribution to keep this great site free” sort of thing, with a recommended donation of $20 or something. I guarantee you will get a very favorable response. I subscribe to one of the other sites but definitely spend as much time here as anywhere, as there is content and community that just can’t be found elsewhere. If you wouldn’t drop a $20 to support that, then what’s the point?

Something's brewing in Blacksburg...

Great Job French

Similar to Joe, I look forward to your film review every week.

Go Hokies!

I might have to quit reading these articles.... it is too hard seeing just how bad we are.... *sigh*

French - that is a compliment

Livin the Dream

Follow me @HokieBarek

nitpick... last catch vs Fuller

(3qtr, 3rd & 8, catch at the 50)

I didn't see outside alignment on that play. Fuller was playing his man straight up and even shaded to the inside as the receiver released downfield. Except the receiver wasn't releasing downfield.. he was faking a fly route and actually running a 10-yard square in. As soon as Fuller turned to run with him, the WR slowed and cut inside, under Fuller. Fuller stumbled making that change in direction,and lost leverage, but he did recover in time to make the tackle.

He's simply not excellent at straight man-to-man coverage down the field. He's also playing injured shoulder that's going to affect his agility & tackling (see that last Fuller clip where the RB drops a spin move on him)

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

fact of the matter is

that none of our secondary is great in man-to-man and really need an extra GOOD man in zone to offset the liabilities. i know they're trying to get away from nickel (based on what i've read) but that's a double-edged sword. if we do, we'd better blitz and get to the qb fast. what we need:

- play nickel with fuller, exum, rvd, jarrett, cole/bonner as the secondary << put bonner/cole in a position where they could hurt us the least

- tariq edwards back

- bt back at mike

- our defensive line to get SOME FUCKING PRESSURE!!!!! get someone in there who can pressure ... harley, dadi ... get the dead weight off the field.

- shore up tackling .. i watched the game and with layman's eyes, couldn't believe the piss-poor tackling that i see some of guys doing .. fundamental football that i learned at 10 yrs old .. what happened to "breakdown!!! tackle at the belly button" i understand the attack mentality but with some athletes (like gio) in the open field, you break down and get the fucking tackle, even if that means giving him another yard or two..run full speed ahead, slowing down as you get to the ballcarrier and wait on him.

What the heck about Alonzo Tweedy? Is it possible for him to be our nickelback or rover? Not suprisingly, he's been epic on special teams. He obviously can tackle. He runs like a "scalded dog". Can he line up and cover a slot WR or tight end in man to man coverage? Probably. God knows he'll be better in run support and space.

There has got to be an improvement that can be made to our secondary at this point....the coaches need to think outside the box or we can legitimately lose every game.

Zo

Torrian just talked about him on monday with bill roth. He is a lights out special teamer but apparently he hasn't been consistent enough as a defender. And as a 5th year senior it should show he isn't be consistent enough by his lack of playing time.

Outside of the obvious lack of emotion and execution, I saw two of the biggest bonehead plays I have ever seen. First, the QB should never forget the snapcount and second, never jump off sides on a special teams play. The kick return and offsides on the FG were huge momentum swings and really set the tone for the rest of the game on what was otherwise a stellar start. Also, we need to ditch the nickel package and play RVD or JGW. Michael Cole might set a NCAA record for missed tackles (if that stat existed), although to his credit he flys up and is in position most of the time. On a positive note, Logan looked really good (with the exception of the two overthrows in the redzone), we have found a stud in Demetri Knowles and exum bounced back and finally looked like a corner. I think this team can still be successful if the coaches finally start our 3 best interior linemen and never again play the nickle package. Time will tell if we have the leadership in the locker room to make this season respectable (which doesn't seem to be the case on the field).

One last rant. I think Marcus Davis exemplifies this team so far this year. He is a veteran player with great upside who has no focus, leadership, effort, or execution. Despite his countless drops this season, I find it odd that LT has far more chemistry with Corey Fuller and Demetri Knowles than Davis. I wouldn't mind seeing the younger receivers start taking some of Davis' snaps and if I don't see Knowles start over Roberts something in my house will be broken.

Christian Zoeller

Knowles vs. Roberts

I have a feeling your wish will come true no matter if the coaches decide it or not. I think that hit on Roberts last week will be keeping him down for at least one game.

Agreed on several of these points.

I'll add that I think the other 20 dudes on the field know that Marcus Davis and Michael Cole should not be playing. Marcus Davis, for as athletic as he is, never put in the work to learn how to catch, avoids contact blocking on the edge, and dogs it on routes where he is not the #1 option. What kind of senior leadership is this? The team obviously sees this, and it's hurting our team chemistry and cohesiveness when we have younger guys working their nuts off, with a sideline view of Marcus Davis dropping passes and taking plays off.

With that, hooray, I think we'll see much more of Demtri Knowles. I also think Kevin Asante is going to be a good one - looks very natural out there with good twitch and a nice sized frame.

On defense, Michael Cole should not be in the game. I think he'll put in the work and he'll improve (as he does seem to be a smart player), but he is just not ready physically. As French noted, I think he has the other 10 guys on the field second guessing themselves. Why not put RVD at Rover and slide Jarret to nickel? There is nothing else to lose at this point, as our secondary has been and will continue to be awful unless something changes.

(Truly hate to bash hokie players, but the fans deserve to see the best players on the field, regardless if they are freshman)

This line really jumped out at me.

" ... while the Hokie offensive line, especially the interior linemen, and the tight ends stood straight up with dead feet and were knocked backwards all game long."

This has been a characteristic of Curt Newsome's offensive lines ever since he's been in Blacksburg. They have always been, and they remain, fundamentally unsound.

There's nothing that would improve our offensive line as much right now as about 10 hours on the blocking sled.

Logan

French - Thanks again for an outstanding post.

Any observations with regards to the mechanics of Logan this week? I know we focused mostly on the bad, but he was pretty damn accurate throughout the entire game so I'm wondering if the kinks were worked out.

i think that is what bugs everyone more than anything about this season -- that the probably seems to be more of an overall, general attitude with our veterans ... that they're just here for the free ride, ready to switch trains at the nfl station, couldn't care less about the legacy that they are responsible for continuing .. i don't think that this is the case with everyone but veteran players like roberts and davis have been underwhelming overall (and it's a shame considering davis's upside). the two things that have everyone shaking their head the most:

offensive line -- supposedly one of the best Olines that VT has ever had, athletically. miller is flat, off of being nearly all-ACC last season. other veterans (via) being mediocre at best. wang is mediocre and injury-ridden .. our best lineman are senior tackles who took FIVE years to become contributors... FIVE YEARS!!!!!!!

defensive line -- how do they go from what they were last season to what they are this season??

makes me wonder really -- what in the sam hell happened between january and august of 2012 to these football players???? they look like different people out there.

Lack of a Spring Game? It's just a theory, and one that really doesn't have anything to back it, but it's something.

I believe in the Brew Crew.

Eric Martin really is a huge liability for this offense.

I have believed that he was bad for a long time now, but I had no idea just how bad he really is until I watched these film clips. Hell, I'm 5'9" and 193 lbs, not to mention 52 years old, and I could have blocked on those plays better than he did.

I don't know what Stinespring's thinking is on leaving him in there, but I can't imagine that Malleck isn't a better option at this time, or that Malleck/Dunn or Malleck/Redman aren't better options when two TEs are required.

French, we are of one mind re: Curt Newsome. The guy's lines are simply weak on fundamentals and they always have been. They play too high, they're too timid, and they don't keep their feet moving after contact, which is simply inexcusable. These guys were all good enough to be recruited by VT out of high school and most if not all of them had offers from many other major programs.

Lack of talent isn't the issue. Properly developing that talent most definitely is.

Newsome needs to go.

I think we all need to say thank you

to Danny Coale for showing us what an excellent WR does play after play. We miss you Danny!

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

Thanks for another great post TKP staff

Just want to thank you all. I have learned more about football then I ever knew before this season thanks to you all.

A new season...new hope

Thanks everyone for the kind words. I am on vacation and the fiber optic cable was damaged so cable and net are down here in the OBX. I am trying to reply via blackberry.

Regarding Logan, I thought he had his sharpest game of the year. Two of his 3 worst throws came on the touchdown drive, where he threw late after hesitating to Roberts in the right flat, then he probably should have thrown the ball much sooner on the play where Roberts got beheaded. Both plays showed a lack of trust and hesitency. His other bad throw was the overthrow to Davis on 3rd and long at the goal line in the 2nd quarter. That was a killer, Davis was open, and he sailed it.

The rest of the game, he was sharp. He was sharp on the read option (he just didn't get the downfield blocks needed to bust out the jet sweep read.) He mixed up his snap count, which neutralized the UNC blitz except on the blind side safety blitz. And, he was gunning the ball with velocity and accuracy. Some of those throws are hard to handle, but I would sacrifice touch for accuracy every time. His receivers still dropped balls, and Davis quit on a go route and started begging for a pass interference in the 3rd quarter on a beautiful throw that could have been a TD (interestingly, he was "injured" the next series.)

At the same time, I'd love to know if anyone at the game could see Logan on the sidelines and see how his body language and leadership played out. Was he talking to the D? Was he encouraging folks? Or was he headingto the headphones, looking like Jeff George? The team seems to be rudderless, and it would be great to see him become the rudder.

Viva El Guapo

Logan seems to have much more confidence in Fuller and Knowles than Davis and Roberts. They run consistent, sharp routes and have reliable hands. Davis and Roberts are simply athletes playing receiver and Davis dogs half of his routes. Did you see how crisp some of those timing routes were between LT and Knowles? I think the lack of consistency with Davis and Roberts led to a lot of LTs poor play. This is why when he thrived at the end of games he was mostly successful with fuller.

Christian Zoeller

Joe - I must admit, I'm conflicted.......

I hear you, more views, the more likely you can keep this free and as remarkably as informative as it is.......but, TKP is like a really great secluded beach. Sure, I would love to tell everyone how great it is, but in large part, it's great because of the small crowd of knowledgeable forum users. As we have seen, the other sites are full of unnecessary drama and character plays....not to mention marginal pay material on top of it.

TKP needs to be frozen in time. You are ridiculously awesome right now, but it's hard to retain those qualities as your metrics change. In a way, the forum itself must be conscious of the cues of TKP success and provide adequate and appropriate monitoring.

We all wish you the best of luck as you progress into adolescence.

I'm taking it as a compliment and challenge.

This popped into my head too. I don't really think it is relevant.

For those of you who have been around here since 2010, yeah this place is starting to grow up quickly. We average north of 10k page views a day now, in 2010 it was about 500. On top of that, I can't remember more than *maybe* 2 comments in 2.5 seasons that were trollish or over the top. For example, in the "Is it really time for Frank Beamer to go?" thread, I really feel like it's a hot topic, that might degrade quickly on another site. However, everyone has been very rational, insightful, and respectful, no matter what their stance.

I really think we have a terrific and smart bunch of contributors (that means everyone who shares their thoughts in these threads) and I think it will remain that way. I tried to design the site in a way that would lend itself to better discourse. During the offseason, new features will debut that will really help things stay intelligent as the site grows.

Thanks for the support!

Are we talking moderating the comments/posts put up here (as far as changes go)? Because that could become necessary if the community begins to attract some of the "wrong" crowd.

I believe in the Brew Crew.

I agree 100%, cds7c.

Be careful what you wish for, Joe. The new VT 247 sports site was awesome at first too. Then as word got out, the same ignorant turds who have so polluted the TSL message boards migrated over there. Thankfully, the 247 boards have a very convenient "Ignore" function which makes it much easier to pretend they don't exist. But the site still isn't nearly as enjoyable as it was 6 months ago when it first started.

So unless you plan on turning this site into an actual money-maker for yourself, I wouldn't go out of my way to publicize this site. But if you do, please be a lot quicker with yanking the passwords of idiots than either TSL or 247 have been.

Another great post sir!

I would like to know the thought(s) on who(m) should be out there in place of who(m) as you speak on starters vs bench/role players -ahem, mister Davis. It seems this season is a wash with coaches and players alike realizing this not a right, but a privilige, to be considered a big time program today.

But like the previous "pre-Shane..." post, we should see better, hopefully more-hungry talent, with Cornell and Shane in kids' living rooms, soon. Which SHOULD produce a better product on the field in years to come.

A (futures) question is, can the staff coach the promising wunderkind freshman and sophomores that come to contending schools and contribute in their first couple years on campus. It seems Frankinator's expression is the style of coaching and approach they have with their team(s) which appears out-of-touch.

In perspective, this site is an indication of where it's all come from and where it's been. Many thanks to our hosts and to my fellow readers, continuing on with the groundswell and romance of college football in titillating bliss with Hokie nation.

"...sticks and stones may break my bones but I'm gonna kick you repeatedly in the balls Gardoki!"

Very comprehensive analysis and I appreciate this thoroughly. I only watched the game in drabs on Saturday.

The coaches must see what we see right? Some of this stuff is just plain awful. I agree Martin wtf is he doing? Even the O Line as well, repeatedly getting pushed back.

Great write up French and a thanks to you and the rest of TKP staff who work so hard. With all of the breakdowns and bad play we are seeing on defense what do you feel is the problem and the solution? Is it the players, the coaches or a combination of the two? I know everybody feels that certain members of the offensive staff need to but now I'm starting to wonder if maybe some defensive coaches need to go too?

Really appreciate the breakdown

I can't figure out which play is my favorite. Eric Martin totally whiffing on a linebacker whose eyes are in the backfield and doesn't even seem to realize someone was attempting to block him while David Wang gets stone-walled by a DE, or Michael Cole getting effectively blocked by a QB after Fuller's ole at the LOS.

I don't know if we're emphasizing enough the blocking issues with the WRs. It looks like UNCs CBs are just staring in the backfield, ready to attack at the first signs of a run, and the WRs either don't bother or don't have a chance to block them. I know our play fakes are lousy, but do we telegraph our run/pass calls that badly at the snap or what? Attacking the edge with the running game like Shane Beamer has stated we want to do will NEVER work if that's the blocking we're getting on the outside.

Compare the efforts of our WRs with the second Michael Cole missed tackle clip and prepare to gouge your eyes out. Bonner starts at the LOS and is absolutely ABUSED by UNC's WR. Show that clip to the WRs because there's no way they should be anything but completely embarrassed, and maybe it would light a fire under their ass.

Regardless, it's incredibly discouraging to watch what appears to be a team severely lacking in coaching and fundamentals and showing minimal toughness, heart, and want to. If anyone's curious as to why this has been a disastrous season, there's your recipe.

If you watch UNCs right tackle he holds and or tackles on almost every snap, it is pretty funny to watch. He seems to be employing the technique of grab outside their shoulder pads and turn them. The funniest part is the one hold he was called for wasn't even close to being his worse.

Christian Zoeller

There was a ton of uncalled holding, but that is when you as a defensive lineman have to keep running and force him to pull you down.

I am a big slow guy, and I, in my old age, play in a flag football league in DC. For the most part, I play offensive line, but every now and then I am forced to play defensive line. Now, I would be lucky to run a sub 8 second 40 and I could play contain perfectly and still lose it if the QB has a modicum of athleticism. So, every play or two, I do a hard rip technique in an effort to get underneath the tackles arms. Then (because even if I do it perfectly, I am too slow to get to the QB) I keep the motion of the rip to hook both of the blockers arms, and I keep running upfield screaming that I am being held, even though I have the blocker's arms trapped. As absurd as it sounds, I have probably drawn 15 holding calls in 3 years doing this nonsense.

You may say "well, that is flag." Well, the games are different, but good football players can either beat holds, or draw calls. We are doing neither. If they use their hands, they can beat the holds OR create the angles to draw holding calls.

*Or, if nobody is calling holding, perhaps the Hokie OL should try it. I can't recall the line getting many, if any, holding calls this year.

"Win if you can, lose if you must, but always, always cheat."- Arn Anderson

Viva El Guapo

Something did go right

Tech scored 34 points so it wasn't all bad every play. There was inconsistency. The biggest disappointment was the D.

The inability to run the football allowed UNC to control the ebb and flow of the game. 34 points is a great number, but that isn't a formula for this being a winning team. UNC's secondary was very shakey, and I doubt that so many slants will be open against a team that has good athletes that can take away those routes under the zone.

Viva El Guapo