It's taken me a lot longer than it should have to talk about last weekend's "game". I put "game" in quotations because it was more or less a very one-sided boxing match. Today is Tuesday. I've sat on my thoughts for over 48 hours, mainly to avoid writing a "chicken little sky-is-falling" type piece and/or a depressing "this is my senior year and the team pretty much just gave me the finger" rage post.
I've finally come to accept the loss, and now understand the team for what it is: an adequately talented young group with a ton of holes. Even holes that Tech fans and writers didn't see coming. There are probably only two positions that don't worry me in some way: kicker and punter. Everything else seems to have some sort of question mark, and you know what? I think I'm about to break it down, position by position.
I'm not French. I can't break down plays and tell you what happened. I'm just going into this with blind, haphazard opinions.
Logan Thomas is worrying just about everyone now. He doesn't look comfortable in the new offense, and the worst part is that the switch was supposed to benefit him. To better utilize him! To summarize something Joe said, at least when we ran the crappy old offense that everyone hated, we knew how to run it. I really hope to see him turn it around...because he's really our hope to be competitive in games.
My summary of tailbacks Saturday is #LOL. They were bad. I mean...really, really bad. Too many sideline-to-sideline runs, not enough turning it up north. Beamer said they're making young guy mistakes, but didn't Ryan Williams run for over 1,600 yards as a redshirt freshman? The talent back there just isn't the same as the Hokies are used to. I think the only way this will get better is taking Trey Edmunds off the bench; let's see what the kid can do. From what I saw at the scrimmage, he runs downhill and likes to hit people. I know everyone wants him at linebacker, but if he's the best we have, why not play him? Coleman is an excellent weapon but not really a starting back right now. I'm not sure if Holmes will ever get it done, and #SCALES4HEISMAN is not a realistic option. I'm sure it won't happen, but putting Edmunds in would at least exhaust all options, if not finally finding a number one back.
Note: Beamer said Edmunds would not have his redshirt burned. He said it would help the team too much and make way too much sense, because obviously redshirting a talented running back worked so well last time when they got a year and a half out of Ryan Williams before he went pro. I made most of that up, except the first part.
In a perfect season, Marcus Davis could have ridden the coattails of LT3 and developed into a second round NFL pick. Not sure if that's the case anymore. Davis is one of the most frustrating players to watch, particularly because he oozes talent and athleticism from his pores, and at times quits on routes and blocking.
If there are any US Soccer fans out there, I've compared Marcus Davis to Clint Dempsey. One of (if not the) best player on the team, but also a player in which it's possible to hate and love at the same time. Corey Fuller has evolved into the go-to guy, which is nice because Logan trusts him. Dyrell simply isn't the same. I know he had that 44 yard catch in the first quarter, but he's different since the two injuries.
I love Randall Dunn running a post over the middle for 15 yards. The coaches love Ryan Malleck's "all-around tight-endness" (aka blocking). That's all I really have to say about that.
We need guys who will punch back after getting hit in the face. Our line was out muscled and dominated against Pitt. I know that the coaches want a "finesse", "athletic" unit...but could that be part of the reason for the struggles in the run game? Where are the Jake Grove and Sergio Render manimals that you know you can run behind?
Which side of the line do you feel more comfortable running towards? The answer is the right by default, because there's no push from Becton and Wang/Via (no offense guys). I thought Benedict would struggle in both run and pass blocking, but I like him a lot more, especially run blocking. He has the potential to develop into that smash mouth lineman.
I think it's safe to say that this was the most disappointing unit by far. Saying that there were holes for Pitt's running back run through is such a huge understatement that it's an insult to understatements. I think the biggest observation to make here, is that Tech has almost solely prepared for variations of spread/finesse attacks. Four defensive ends on the line sounds great in theory...against a team with 4-wide, running a motion. When you're playing a team with a fullback and hefty dudes from Pennsylvania on the line, it doesn't work. I really think that this line needs to show its nastiness. Opposing teems not only need to be worried about this unit, they need to be frightened. I just don't think that's the case right now. I do believe this is the unit that can turn it around most quickly.
Look, I'm just going to say it. Bruce Taylor has looked terrible this season. Not bad, or out of form...terrible. He seems out of shape, a step slow, and simply not the same sideline-to-sideline guy that we know and love. Did you seem him on that Ray Graham wheel route? His 'Man Coverage' rating in NCAA '13 should be a -23 just based on that play alone. I'm going to venture a guess and say that this is not lost on Foster either. When Tariq Edwards comes back (if 100%), one is to wonder whether or not Jack Tyler may take Bruce's spot away from him. I'm not the first person to say that the bubble wrap needs to be removed from Ronny Vandyke. I don't know if Bud just has too much loyalty to his seniors (like Taylor and G-W) or actually doesn't think RVD is ready...but after that game isn't it worth a shot?
I loved Antone Exum at safety. I loved the swag, loved the big hits and loved the range. Would I much rather seem him and Kyshon back there with Fuller and Bonner as the corners? Yes. Absolutely. Will it happen? Never ever ever ever ever. Nope. Never. I think they're too invested in this switch. I also think that (as stupid and fan-like as it sounds) Kyle Fuller is the tone setter of the defense. The leader not by mouth, but by his actions. When he missed the second half, they just played worse, not just the secondary but the entire team. But also, the depth at secondary is still a HUGE concern. Donaldven Manning didn't have a great game. Bonner shouldn't have been playing. No offense to Michael Cole...but that was probably the most I ever want to see Michael Cole play again. Can RVD play rover? I've asked this question since spring, and I think the answer should be yes. Again, doubt we'll see him there.
No one's getting off here. I honestly think that the offensive play calling wasn't bad. Not great, but not bad. And look, irrationally irate fan, Stiney and O'Cain didn't throw 3 picks and fumble. Players were open, Logan just missed them. I kept wanting Bud to adjust..but I really don't know what he could have done. His guys just got beat. Beamer? I didn't agree with the fourth down call. He knows the running game sucks, why go with Scales? That completely took the wind out of our sails, and killed all momentum coming off that awesome punt return. Also, this may be a little much, but he looked almost as numb as his players. I really wish I could have been a fly on the wall for that halftime speech, just to hear what he actually said. I love Frank, but he's not the rah-rah guy that situation calls for.
I know this team will be better. I should have known that this wouldn't have been as good a season as I had hoped, but this is probably the worst possible scenario. Will they bounce back?
Yes, as always. But for once, that notion doesn't make this pill any easier to swallow.