Unexplainable: Breaking Down the Hokies Loss to Maryland

I have watched the film of the Hokies baffling loss to Maryland three times, and it is one of the strangest losses I have ever had to do a film review on. In the preview I pointed out that Maryland would have to do two absolutely critical things if it wanted to be competitive in the football game.

  1. The Terrapins needed to get the Hokies to abandon the running game, and then play man coverage behind a wide variety of blitzes and stunts from a multitude of alignments.
  2. With Bud Foster committed to man coverage, the Virginia Tech pass rush had to put C.J. Brown on the ground without him breaking contain.

I have never had less fun being right. Maryland put together two scoring drives—one at the end of the first half and another to start the second—largely on the back of Brown's scrambles that caught the Hokies in man coverage downfield. Offensively, as soon as the Hokies started to get some momentum back in the fourth quarter, Maryland was able to generate tremendous pass rush off a wide variety of stunts and blitzes that confused the offensive line.

For most of the football game, the Hokies appeared to be a much better football team. The Virginia Tech defense shut down Maryland until the final drive of the first half, and then gave the offense a chance to get back into the game after the opening drive of the second half. The offense went through stretches where they had the Maryland defense completely confused. But the inability to put Maryland away early, coupled with a couple of lulls on special teams and defense, left the Hokies trailing by two touchdowns after dominating most of the football game early on.

Situational Failure

Yesterday I discussed the impact of Will Likely's punt return for a touchdown, but even after a baffling three-and-out by the Hokies offense, the defense came back on the field and forced a punt. With the ball and 1:18 left in the half, the Hokies should have had a 10-0 lead, instead it was a tie ball game. They were still clearly the better team. At this critical juncture the Hokies offense and defense each managed the end of half situation poorly.

The offense took the field with the ball at the 20-yard line. In this situation, scoring is secondary to protecting the lead. On first down, Loeffler called a strange passing route.

00:10:34–00:10:40

To the right, the slot receiver runs a short curl, and the split end runs a quick out. To the left side, the slot receiver runs a go route that occupies both defenders, and Byrn runs a quick out. Thomas is looking to the right (the wide side) the entire way, and doesn't have an open option. Instead of looking to the check down in the middle, Thomas throws the ball deep and high out of bounds. It appears to be a throw-away.

To me, the design is screwy. If you are looking to get a quick six yards on an out route, it makes much more sense for the first read to be Byrn running the quick out to the boundary. It is a short throw with a much better chance of success. A throw to the wide side on a quick out is dangerous, and if Maryland is in any defense besides an off Cover 3, there is almost no chance of it being completed. Even more confusing, if you are looking for a quick, low risk completion, why not utilize the crossing routes that had success the entire season? And, because it is a quick route and incompletion, less than six seconds go off the clock.

On second down, the offensive line gives Thomas plenty of time, but he locks on to a receiver on the left side and doesn't look to his check down (Trey Edmunds is open in the underneath middle zone). He ends up taking a sack, but at least it forces Maryland to use a time out. On third down, Loeffler plays it safe and calls a draw play. I doubt that it would have resulted in first down yardage, but the play was well blocked on the interior and Edmunds had some room. Unfortunately, Laurence Gibson fails to execute a throw technique block on the defensive end, derailing any chance for the play to succeed.

A throw technique is used by offensive linemen, especially offensive tackles, to cause edge rushers to go too far up field. The proper technique is to show pass, but turn slightly more to the sideline, inviting the edge rusher to attack your outside shoulder to get up field. When the rusher gets to your outside shoulder, you take your inside arm (if you are at right tackle you throw your left arm, if you are at left tackle you use your right arm) and shove the defender as hard as you can away from the line of scrimmage. If done correctly, this uses the defenders momentum against them, and they run past the pocket.

Gibson instead floats outside, taking away the outside rush lane and inviting Marcus Whitfield to take an inside angle. This puts Whitfield in perfect position to intercept Edmunds on the draw.

00:10:49–00:10:54

There is no reason that Whitfield should ever have inside position on Gibson against a draw play. It is an inexcusable breakdown (one of several that Gibson had). The Hokies end up losing five yards while only burning 20 seconds off the clock. I have been an advocate for Gibson receiving playing time over Benedict, but if he doesn't play an aggressive attacking game at tackle, it negates his primary advantage as a blocker. Gibson was timid on play-action (lessening the impact of the run fake) and indecisive on blitz pickups. If Benedict gets healthy this week, don't be surprised if he returns to the lineup. Coach Grimes could not have been happy with Gibson's play.

A.J. Hughes delivered a decent 41-yard directional punt that landed out of bounds. It limited the risk of another big return, but again very little time went off the clock. Maryland got the ball back with 52 second left on the clock and one timeout. Immediately, the Terrapins execute the same quick out that the Hokies called on their first down, except Brown's first read is to the quick out to the boundary. King makes the catch, makes Fuller miss (a defender needs to keep the play in front of him in two minute defense) and Gayle takes a roughing penalty. The opening play is essentially a step-by-step instruction manual for what not to do in a two minute defense. Then, C.J. Brown breaks two long scrambles as the Hokies pass rush contain fundamentals broke down (I will cover that later in the review). And, if that wasn't enough, Maryland caught the entire Virginia Tech front napping on a 3rd-and-goal quarterback sneak.

A quick review of the film shows that the Hokies were not ready for the snap on the quarterback sneak. J.R. Collins, who was not able to track down Brown after a nice rip technique rush move on the previous play, was slow to get across the line of scrimmage and get lined up. Gayle and Maddy barely had time to get into their stances, and Derrick Hopkins stood up before the snap as if he was expecting a timeout to be called.

00:11:35–00:11:44

I am not sure if someone was trying to call timeout, but both Maddy and Hopkins were blown up, while most of the Hokie defensive backs were just staring watching the play. It wasn't a proud moment for this good group.

In less than two minutes, the Hokies went from being tied 7-7 but having an advantage in play, to down 14-7 with Maryland getting the football back. Before some fans had a chance to get back to their seats with a turkey leg, the Hokies faced a 21-7 lead, and the negative energy in Lane Stadium was palpable. One short series of plays ultimately does make a difference when the margin for error is so small.

Pass Rush 101 Against an Athletic Quarterback

For most of the game, the Hokies defense played pretty well. Maryland used the threat of option to prevent blitzing, and with the exception of a couple of plays, the pass coverage was outstanding. The run defense was solid against both the option and base running plays. Yet, one loose end remained.

As discussed in the game preview, if the Hokies played man coverage, it was critical that the pass rushers contain Brown. If he escaped the pocket, it was a sure bet that Brown would big plays with his legs because the Hokie defensive backs would be turned around running in coverage downfield. It was critical that the Hokie front (and any blitzers) not lose proper leverage and contain on Brown.

Contain is a challenging concept to teach. Most of us understand that a defender that has contain responsibility must force the quarterback or runner back to the inside and not let them get to the sideline. Against a scrambling quarterback, the defensive line must also execute a contain pass rush. So, what is a contain pass rush?

A contain pass rush uses a similar concept as pocket protection. The goal is not necessarily to sack the quarterback, but instead hem him in and force him to throw, but throw quicker than he wants to. In a contain rush, tremendous pressure is put on the defensive ends. They must leverage pass rush, squeezing the pocket by pushing the tackles close to the quarterback, without either being pushed up field or losing outside leverage. If the end loses outside leverage, the quarterback can scramble outside. If the end gets too far up field, the quarterback has the tackle between him and the end, with only a blocked defensive tackle between him and open field.

It is a delicate balance that requires the defensive tackles to stay in their lanes and collapse the pocket, keeping the distance between them and the ends to a minimum. All four defensive linemen must keep their pads facing north-south. If the defensive tackles get sealed and the end gets too far up field, the quarterback has a huge lane to run in. If the tackles or ends get their pads turned, small holes turn into big holes. The margin for error (as Hokie opponents often learned against Tyrod Taylor) is minimal. Too aggressive, and the quarterback beats you with his legs. Too timid, and it allows the receivers extra time to get open down field.

Maryland found success against the Hokies aggressive pass rush by running their outside receivers deep, their inside receivers on out routes, pulling the linebackers out of the middle, and then allowing Brown to read if a scramble lane was available. On Maryland's two scoring drives, the Hokie defensive ends repeatedly got too far up field, leaving too much distance between them and the defensive tackles to keep Brown sealed in the pocket. Here is an example from the Terrapins first touchdown drive.

00:11:20–00:11:28

On this play, Maryland runs one receiver deep, a second receiver runs a wheel route, and their two slot receivers cross in the middle of the field and run to the sidelines. Both J.R. Collins and James Gayle run past the quarterback in the pocket and turn their pads to the sideline, effectively taking themselves out of any chance of recovery back to the inside.

With both linebackers running to the sidelines in man underneath coverage, the two defensive tackles are now on an island with Brown and two blockers. Maddy and Hopkins do an X stunt, and Maryland's guards switch perfectly and turn their pads to the sideline. The right guard pushes Hopkins past Brown, and Maddy can't quite cross back to the inside to support. Brown is off to the races.

For the first half, Brown was essentially the entire offense. In the second half, Bud Foster adjusted by using a spy or a contain blitz to keep Brown in the pocket. Maryland hit three big passes against the more aggressive look to score on the first drive of the second half, but until overtime the new strategy held Brown relatively in check. Part of that strategy included Foster playing his second team defensive line more than he has in the last several weeks. Still, on Maryland's overtime drive, the strain on the defensive finally showed up. Bonner and Trimble missed tackles on back-to-back long runs. And, after Brown botched a handoff, both Edwards and Collins lost contain and Brown sauntered into the end zone. The reality is, as much as we have lauded this front, they generate pass rush through quickness and deception. When placed in a situation where they need to physically beat the blocker (especially with a bull rush that collapses the pocket), they just have not been productive, especially since the Pitt game.

I think that those three seniors on the Hokies defensive line will tell you that this was not one of their best efforts. They now have Virginia, a bowl game, and possibly the ACC Championship Game left to cement their legacy as one of the top defensive line classes at Virginia Tech. Virginia's offense is remarkably similar to Maryland's scheme. The Cavaliers will sprinkle in read and triple option to prevent the Hokies from blitzing, and both teams have decent running backs and quarterbacks who can be productive on the ground if they are given space. They are not going to line up and be successful playing smash-mouth football. This group has had remarkable success against the Cavaliers. I hope they go out with a bang.

An Honest Assessment of the Offensive Performance

The most challenging part of this film review was trying to develop a cohesive opinion on the performance of the offense. There were moments of excellence, and they outnumbered the breakdowns. At the same time, the old boogeyman of execution failures on third down derailed any opportunity for sustained success.

When things were going well, Scot Loeffler utilized misdirection and a balanced blend of run and pass to confuse the defense.

00:01:26–00:02:06

On the Hokies first scoring drive, Loeffler opened with a bootleg with D.J. Coles aligned as the back side tight end. Coles faked a block, and then slipped out to the flat. After the Maryland nose blew up David Wang on the ensuing first down run, Trey Edmunds got a big gain on a well-executed screen pass compounded by a personal foul. After the penalty, Loeffler dialed up play-action again. The Hokies faked the zone play to the trips side. It was the same play discussed in detail in the Duke and Boston College film review, and it ended with a Logan Thomas strike to Kalvin Cline behind the linebackers.

With the goal line in site, Loeffler turned to Trey Edmunds, but again he used deception. Earlier in the season, Loeffler used Logan Thomas in a counter action to compliment the inverted veer. While the play didn't have a track record of success, Loeffler used it to create space for a big Edmunds run.

00:02:07–00:02:14

The play is a counter to the Inverted Veer, so Logan Thomas dives to the left, away from the run action of the running back. Andrew Miller and Laurence Gibson pull from the right side across the formation. Miller kicks out the outside linebacker, and Gibson turns up in the hole outside of the left tackle and hits the first white jersey he sees.

The pulling guards act as influence blocks. When the Maryland linebackers and the defensive end lined up on Gibson see Gibson pulling, they follow the guards to the football. Edmunds takes the handoff and three Maryland defenders that should have the best opportunity to make a tackle on him are running away from Edmunds without being blocked. This is almost perfectly executed, EXCEPT that Sam Rogers, who should likely crack back on the linebacker, completely misses him and runs to pick up the safety.

Edmunds is left one on one with the linebacker. Last season, the linebacker makes the play for a one-yard gain. Edmunds gives him a little dead leg and then bounces outside, leaving Cole Farrand (who had 23 tackles against Clemson) looking for his jock strap. Edmunds picks up 10 yards by getting his pads down and cutting up hard. On the following play, Loeffler runs the stretch play from the pistol, and uses the H-Back to seal the edge instead of cross blocking to pick up the back side pursuit. Jonathan McLaughlin takes the defensive end inside, and Caleb Farris initially gets beaten up field by the tackle, but keeps his leg drive going and ultimately rides him into the back field and away from the play. Rather than cutting up quickly like he did early in the season, Edmunds is patient, sets up the Farris block, cuts inside his block and then bounces outside McLaughlin for an easy touchdown.

00:02:14–00:02:20

From that point forward, the Hokies offense was maddeningly inconsistent. Over the course of the game, Loeffler's offense only managed to convert 4 of 16 third downs. There were multitudes of contributing factors. I am sure Mason will discuss the struggles of the wide receiver corps to get separation against the Terrapin corners. Most of the early sacks came on plays where the Virginia Tech offensive line blocked well, but Thomas did not find anyone open down field. On clear passing downs, the offensive line struggled with the variable fronts and exotic stunts that Maryland used (more on that in a moment), and the Terrapins got outside pressure off the edge from backups Andre Monroe and Quinton Jefferson.

Perhaps more subtle, but just as important, were the personnel decisions and short yardage play calling by the offensive staff. I understand that there has to be some form of running back rotation and that Trey Edmunds can't play every play. However, the backs have to be used in a situational manner instead of the mentality that each guy gets the duration of the series. J.C. Coleman, for whatever his strong points are, is not a short yardage back.

In the first half, Coleman played the third, fifth, and seventh series of the first half. The seventh series was a critical series for the offense. Maryland had regained momentum with the Likely touchdown, and a defensive stop would help build Maryland's confidence. On first down, Coleman has an outstanding cut back for nine yards. You couldn't ask for a more manageable down than second and one. Then, the wheels come off.

Loeffler calls what appears to be a sweep with an inverted veer action, but D.J. Coles (aligned as the H-Back) does not veer release. Instead, he tries to reach the defensive end, suggesting that this is a handoff to Coleman all the way.

00:08:55–00:09:02

It is a shame, because a huge hole opens up for Thomas thanks to an outstanding down block by Miller and Gibson. Farris is also leading through the hole to pick up the first linebacker scraping over to Thomas. On the edge, Coleman finds himself in the same situation as Edmunds, one-on-one with a defender playing him inside out. Edmunds was able to shake the Maryland defender and bounce, but Coleman keeps the same speed and isn't powerful enough to run over the defender.

I can understand the second down carry, but now it's third down. Maryland has momentum, and the confidence is growing in their defense. Loeffler has to get this first down, and as I have said for the last two season, in short yardage your running back has to defeat one unblocked defender. We have two years of film that clearly shows Coleman isn't that guy. If Edmunds needs a breather, use Caleb, or use the 6-6 quarterback. Even surprise them with a fullback dive to an athletic guy like Rogers or Wright. But, Loeffler instead calls Coleman's number again.

00:09:02–00:09:08

The Hokies run the stretch play left from the pistol. David Wang gets good lateral movement, and Coleman makes the correct cut right off Wang's butt. A small seam appears, with Laurence Gibson trying to get to the second level to break the run open. Gibson loses his feet, and Coleman doesn't move the linebacker an inch. Again, even though Gibson doesn't get to the linebacker, a good short yardage back will get that first down. Coleman doesn't, and as result Maryland controlled the game until the Knowles kick return.

In the second half, Edmunds only had six carries. As the Hokies became more and more dependent on the pass, Maryland started to use more and more unique blitzes. Most of the bootlegs ran earlier (which were predicated on Edmunds running the ball) disappeared. There was some play-action, but Maryland's defensive coordinator was blitzing every play and it generated pressure. Most of the successful stunts put Jonathan McLaughlin and Kalvin Cline at a speed disadvantage on the edge, forcing Thomas to get rid of the ball quicker in a game where most of the route designs were slower developing plays. Maddeningly, Loeffler chose to throw on a critical 3rd-and-1 to Sam Rogers in the flat rather than sneaking Thomas.

The Terrapins didn't have to account for the run, and they took that advantage in overtime. On the final Hokie offensive play, Maryland got a sack on an interior blitz to force a fumble. My Twitter feed exploded with criticism about David Wang, who ended up on top of Thomas and the defender. I wasn't so sure. Upon second look, there is clearly a communication issue between Wang and Caleb Farris, but it looked like Maryland's blitz design caused Wang to mess up his own blitz protection.

00:20:23–00:20:30

Pre-snap, Thomas motions D.J. Coles across the formation, creating a bunch trips formation left. Maryland responds with a unique defensive formation, featuring two down linemen and six linebackers and defensive backs right around the line of scrimmage. The same alignment gave the Hokies fits against Boston College. Ironically, the Hokies run the same fake corner-slant-flat combination route that D.J. Coles scored on against Boston College. Coles is well covered, but Byrn appears to be wide open in the flat.

Thomas never gets a chance to look at Byrn. You can see as Coles is motioning that Wang is pointing a defender out to Caleb Farris. It's an educated guess, but it appears that the protection has been called to the left, meaning that each offensive lineman should take the gap to their left side, and Edmunds will pick up the unblocked outside linebacker coming from the right.

The Terrapins trick Wang. A linebacker walks up on his left shoulder, and Wang focuses on him. At the snap, the linebacker jab steps and crosses his face to his right. The down lineman in front of Farris also crosses his face with a rip technique to the inside. The protection has been called left, so Farris lets him go, expecting Wang to pick him up.

Wang should be there, but he bites on the stand up linebackers fake. Instead of letting him go freely to Andrew Miller, Wang moves slightly to his right, losing any angle where he can pick up the tackle stunting across Farris's face. Wang catches himself and tries to recover, but Logan is buried before Wang can reset himself. It is tough to be too critical of Wang, as he only had one other noticeable bust the entire game and has performed way over expectations all season.

Virginia Looms

HokieNation, the coaching staff, and the team have two weeks to stew before Virginia. The players and staff are undoubtedly frustrated by their performance, and the bye week affords them a chance to get healthy, tighten up some of the fundamentals, and again look at the playbook and remove some chaffe. Bowl practice will give them an opportunity to get reps to the young players who will be looked to contribute at quarterback, linebacker, and both lines next season. The coaches will be looking to lock down the last couple of recruits in a solid recruiting class while addressing serious need areas (linebacker, safety, big play threat skill position players).

I know everyone is frustrated by the results. I just spent the better part of two days watching every play of Saturday's game multiple times, then wrote I well over 5,000 words about it. But, some of the comments I have read on the site have bordered on the inane. I can't believe I have read that the struggles down the stretch this season are the result of a "lack of anger" from the coaching staff? So, you are telling me that if Frank turns red in the face and screams a bunch, that will make this a national title contender? Yeah... It is unacceptable that the Hokies have not played in a national championship game since 1999? Newsflash folks: Here are the programs that have played in a BCS title game: Oklahoma (4), Alabama (3), LSU (3), Florida State (3), Ohio State (3), Florida (2), Miami (2), Texas (2), USC (2), Auburn (1), Tennessee (1), Nebraska (1), Notre Dame (1), Oregon (1), and Virginia Tech (1). Every team on that list is either: A) a traditional power in a rich recruiting ground, B) has extravagant resources available to the athletic department, and/or C) have featured some questionable recruiting practices. Of that list, it is VERY easy to make the argument that Virginia Tech is the most unlikely team with the fewest resources and the least access to elite talent to ever make a national championship game. I want that space in the trophy case filled as much as anyone, but we need a reality check. Being a 10-win team that plays an exciting hard hitting brand of football and that is in contention for a conference title IS A GOOD THING. It isn't perfect, but I feel much better about returning to that level than I did a year ago. And, if you don't and you want the program to be a true national title contender, get your checkbook out and start making huge donations to the Hokie Club and athletic department. Alabama wins because everybody in the state pours money into the program and they get great athletes and coach them up. Match their effort as a fanbase. Or, if you want to come here and decompress after the game, take some time to learn the game, understand what goes into preparation each week, and get some perspective. I write this column to try to add some perspective because I was sick and tired of this guy ruining football for me.

Do me a favor. Don't be that person. Thank you for the forum. Beat UVa.

Comments

While this might not have been fun for you to break down, I think this is the best film review yet. Give me a clipboard after reading this!

Also, thank you for the last paragraph. I always enjoy it when the rational ones pump in some sanity and perspective.

We can't let these same breakdowns get us against UVA. This Bye Week will hopefully not see us take to the field sluggishly, but instead aggressively. We can't give the Hoos any hope of winning.

The U invented Swag, but UVA invented Smug.

VT '10, Born & Raised in the 804. Hokies, Keydets, Army Black Knights, NY Giants, NY Rangers, and ATL Braves.

French, I will toast you with all the bourbon I drink this week. Thanks and well done.

Awesome read. I particularly liked that last bit!

Thank you for all that you do French!

"I like to hit a home run early" ~ Whit "knows how to create a Buzz" Babcock

Being a 10-win team that plays an exciting hard hitting brand of football and that is in contention for a conference title IS A GOOD THING. It isn't perfect, but I feel much better about returning to that level than I did a year ago.

Hear. Hear.

Personally, I am in awe of the Beamer era. Say what you will, but no one can argue the fact that Coach Beamer has single handedly influenced the direction of college football with his strategy. Also, kudos to Dave Braine for sticking with him through 2-9, and 3-8 and allow him to build the program.

Hokie football, as a fan, is all that I can ask for. Excellent tailgating, sweet pregame entrance, hard hitting defense, and just enough offense that this team is in contention pretty much every year.

Great film breakdown as always.

I really like your dose of truth at the end and I think there's more realistic fans than unrealistic fans but that the unrealistic guys will always be more vocal. Also some of it I imagine is just knee jerk venting that after a day of thinking that people know the sky isn't falling. I know your film study has enlightened me and I'm sure that your articles are increasing the football IQ of the TKP readership.

I definitely recommend people to join Hokie Club and give to athletics if they want to help the program. I'm a Hokie Club member and besides the rewards of tickets I do like the feeling of contributing in a small way to the program that entertains a lot of my time throughout the year. It's a great time to join especially if you want guaranteed tickets for next year when we have rivals such as Miami, GT, UVA, and BC at home.

I'm a Hokie Club Rep - Thanks for being an advocate! 10,000 Turkey Legs if I was able!

"And it is caught, it is caught for a touchdown"

Same here and it's not an insignificant amount of dollars either.
If Coach Beamer didn't run such a clean program, I would not feel as inclined to assist in what I see as a character builder and character supporter in the VT athletic program.

I may not have a NC trophy in my case but, I've got a thousand student athletes out in the world.
Thank you for my fall Saturdays and for those of my children learning what it means to be sportsmanlike and part of the Hokie Nation.

Danny caught that ball.

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

I have inside info. - Whit

That was awesome ! Well said! Go Hokies.

He's Still Open!!!

Great film review!

And I think we all needed to come to terms with the fact that this (for the most part) is a young, inexperienced, and inconsistent team. I think that six game winning streak made us all forget about that.

#thingsiblamethemvsfor

Another awesome article French. Having never played football, I have learned so much from reading your articles every week. Way to put everything in perspective in the last paragraph. VT was just another middling decent team until Beamer came along. He, with help from the AD's have positioned this program to be the absolute best it can be given the resources available.

Hopefully, the new AD and President will help the program take another step forward to reaching the title game. New ideas, more funding for recruiting camps, and summer events with ex Hokies from the NFL might draw more exciting.

Touchdown Tech - Bill Roth

Reconnecting with the fanbase needs to be a heavy priority (I know this isn't a unique thought.)

I agree with your assessment in the last section of the article. Virginia Tech is 1 of 15 schools to play for a title and 1 of 3 schools from the Acc to have do e so but it's actually only 1 Acc school that's played for a title when you remove Miami & Virginia Tech. Both were in the Big East we hen they play for a title. I think that says allot about how difficult it is for an Acc team to reach the title game but this will likely change next season with the 4 team play off.

Touchdown Tech - Bill Roth

Incredible French, these reviews are a big part of why TKP is one of the best football sites on the internet. You mentioned that UVA has a similar offensive scheme, do you see Foster using a spy like he did in the second half? Also, with Kyle and Exum hopefully back, would Kyle be a prime candidate for that with his speed and open field tackling ability?

NAILED IT

"Everyone has the will to win, but not everyone has the will to prepare to win"

I couldn't agree more with that last paragraph. I have this same argument with my friends. People who haven't gone to a game or donated in years complaining about the state of the program. People are still trying to have their cake and eat it too. You guys got the horse on a treadmill on the jumbotron, can you also do the impossible and inject logic into people? That said, at least people still care.

Great perspective! Some things may frustrate me about Hokie football, but when I started at VT in 1993 I didn't go for the football. I'm proud to be a Hokie regardless of our record, and our success has been icing on the cake. Of course I hope we win the big one someday, but until then I'll enjoy the winning seasons and bowl games and stay happy that we're not UVA!

VT BSEE '98, VT MSME '01

Thanks again for the great read. If you look at that JCC third down play, not only does the linebacker not budge an inch, but JCC bounces back off of him like a ping pong ball to lose 2 yards before a pretty impressive 2nd effort almost picks it up anyway. You have to imagine that an RB who is more than a buck 90 or whatever JC is picks that up on first contact.

The end part is interesting, and I agree for the most part. What we have done is pretty impressive. The problem is that the program set the MNC expectations with the trophy case, and after 15 years, what was supposed to be an inspiration is more of an albatross.

We're not a national title program, we more than likely never will be. We are who we are. I think people would have been fine with being who we are if it meant in the years where we were better than usual, we got more of those big, signature wins, especially bowl wins. Things like that go a long way towards placating a fan base. But it seemed like we are just constantly coming up short in the bigguns, even though we were *so close* so many times. Peach Bowl vs. UGA, Orange bowl vs. Kansas, Sugar vs. Michigan...all of those were exceptionally winnable games. Win one and especially two more of those and so many fewer people are complaining.

As it stands, our two signature bowl wins in the last decade are over a 7-5 Tennessee squad with a fraud coach who was on his way out the door, and a Big East team. Our best bowl win ever was in 1995. I currently have two children, a wife, a mortgage, a decent job, and life insurance. In 1995 I didn't have a learner's permit.

I think you'll find that people are willing to tolerate lower lows if it means higher highs. People like the notion that you're building to something, and that the payoff at the end will be large. Regularly winning 10 games in one of the weakest conferences in the BCS is fine at first if you use that to build to something better. Just doing it over and over again is fine, and it's better than last year, but it gets old after a while, call it spoiled or what, but it's just human nature.

Losing now stinks, but I argue that the feeling right now as a fan is better than it was several years ago because you can see marked improvement in the offense in one year. It looks like were building to something, and that's exciting. For the last decade or so if someone asked how the hokies were gonna do this year you could ususally say "I don't know, they're probably going to win 10 games or so, compete for the conference championship and lose in a bowl." at least 50% of the time you would be right. Predictability is never fun, and I argue that "fun" is the point of watching CFB at all.

FWIW, two saturdays ago against Miami was the most fun I've had watching a college football game since probably that 2009 CFA bowl against Tenn.

Boom. Last paragraph French wins this site. Read it. Read it again. Think about this paragraph before you post.

Is this a throw technique?

Slap

Kouandjio calls it "the Slap" apparently. Pretty vicious.

That is better than I could do it. No matter what, you can't let him get inside you.

Viva El Guapo

That's good sumo there.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

Outstanding film review, and even better commentary at the end. Basically, this is what I saw as I read it:

Thanks as always, French for a great and educational read (on several levels).

Great review french...I know I am looking forward a bit here but as far as the QB contain defense goes I can see that being a problem next year against tOSU. Braxton Miller and a string of other tOSU QBs have made a living on the scramble drill for big plays and easy passes. Can Fosters D contain a big play running QB and still be effective?

Kind of playing devil's advocate; everyone keeps alluding to this "improvement" in the offense, but really has there been? Our offense still struggles to execute even remotely consistently and Loeffler's playcalling leaves plenty to be desired. That playcall on 2nd and 1 that French outlined earlier had me screaming at the TV. There is absolutely no reason to run outside on that. Absolutely none. And what does Loeffler do? Run that same play in the same situation later in the game. I don't know how, as fans, we can't at least be somewhat alarmed by this. I see the imrpvoement elsewhere on offense, but Loeffler just seems to lack the instincts to make the right calls in pivotal moments.

How I picture French after hitting 'Post' (and before he gets on his yacht):

I'd prefer to be more like this

00:00:14–00:00:16

Viva El Guapo

Seor el Guapo French...layin it down LIKE A BOSS.

True Hokies STICK IT IN!!!

STICK IT IN Army of Virginia Tech

Fosterball

I've tried to edit this about 4x now, so I apologize for the incompetence of the autocorrect, but I'm thinking you see where I was going here.

True Hokies STICK IT IN!!!

STICK IT IN Army of Virginia Tech

Fosterball

Awesome read and analysis as usual.

Still get angry that we lost to Maryland. The athletic department there has been a shambles which has led to their needing funds to balance their sports budget. A university that is well connected leaving the ACC and leaving all its history within the conference to greener pastures. While desperation for funds may have been their driving factor, their logic and the examination of ACC management practices makes it clear Swofford should have been pushed long, long, long ago. I didn't think Maryland would be able to recruit AT ALL because of the dire management situation and Edsall as a football coach, but during this game I was surprised by the talent level that Maryland had. When it comes to light that GT, FSU, Clemson are (still) having discussions, I hope VT is not handicapped by the Steger, Weaver transitions. The hatred for Tobacco Road management runs deep across the ACC. If they can find an economic way out of the exit fee, I think two maybe three teams leave the ACC by choice over the next year. Yet I see no change in the way the ACC is treating its member institutions, no acknowledgement that change is necessary, no sense of urgency to improve the economics of the ACC. Stupid I know... losing this game effectively said VT is the losers and oh by the way our conference affiliation strategy is much better than yours... if we win, would I then have said... so long losers and your conference affiliation strategy sucks too? I dunno. Alot comes down to whether the ACC loses football teams or basketball teams and whether that impacts perceptions of recruits who do take into account conference affiliation. I do think that change is in the air and I hope our program is ready to take advantage of what comes when it comes. The ACC has blipped up this year due to FSU, Clemson, but how long will this last?

Bottom line takeaway for me is our players are learning how to play big boy D-1 college football on the offensive side of the ball. I don't believe for a second the prior regime knew anything about what they were doing. Hopefully we can retain these coaches for a number of years and over time build up the institutional football knowledge and memory needed to have more consistent execution. You don't build football savvy into your player base over night.

Feel for the guys on D. I think they generally played well. A little more athleticism (KyleF), a better kicking situation, fewer injuries on ST, etc, etc, and we win that game. Instead their momentary lapses in discipline are magnified.

Really want your assessment of JC to be wrong. I don't think he looks like the same back from last year. I want to imagine that it is the double high ankle sprains lingering. It is hard to be a little guy even a guy as strong as he is. When you have to make contact, if you lose leverage you will go down. One of the critical runs he didn't get I thought he had a huge hole to his left. No way he didn't see it, but he ran right into one of his blockers. Hoping against hope he just didn't explode into the hole because of the ankle(s). JC is awesome. Love him to death. Definitely seems to be struggling this year. I'm sure you know that kids don't discuss injuries. They just play and its the coaches job to see past the BS the players try to put past you (IMHO). Sure there are some who are honest but most want to play too badly. Unless they feel they are hurting their team the want to suit up and go.

>>the least access to elite talent to ever make a national championship game.

Maybe true but I don't buy into the conventional wisdom that VT is handicapped in recruiting because of location. Blacksburg is a great place. Beautiful. Diverse - Redneck hillbillies, country folks, beach people, Nova people, Jersey people, even some city people all come together in a big college town. I always could find fun on Tuesday through Saturday. Always could find something interesting to study and had some of my best professors in unexpected places there. Greenberg brought alot of talent into the hoops program. He could sell ice to eskimos and from what I can tell is a guy who will tirelessly work on something anything every day he gets up for the rest of his life. Prior regime had folks not interested in selling (ironically these guys are likely the guys who could sell best) and guys who IMHO didn't have enough credibility to sell well. Bottom line I think we'll see the new coaches exceed what most think is possible at Virginia Tech. Fck that "we are virginia tech" slogan... "Virginia Tech is awesome" should be the slogan. Unfortunately not enough of us believe it.

embarrasing the length of the post...seriously!!!???!@#$#%@!

I wish I was wrong about JC, but he isn't just smaller. His isn't elusive or powerful. Did you see those runs by Edmunds? He set up blocks and made people miss. I can recall Coleman doing that one time in 2 years. Edmunds is just as fast, has been as good a receiver out of the back field, is far better in pass protection, has more power, and makes runs were there is nothing more often than Coleman. It has reached the point where you can't even suggest that JC should be the scat back, because Edmunds looks faster!

Viva El Guapo

I'm looking forward to seeing what Marshawn Williams can do this spring, he looks like a great natural running back from videos I've seen. Also I'm wondering how Joel Caleb will do in the spring as well, it's a shame VT hasn't done well enough to get the younger guys more PT.

I agree that that Coleman hasn't impressed much except for a couple of runs against Miami.

If Caleb can improve his blitz pickup I think we may see him on the field a lot more next year and might give the staff a reason to RS MMFW. Caleb has had very little time at RB since he didn't move there until the fall and I think what's keeping him on the bench is the blocking side. When he gets a full offseason and Spring practice to work on it, I can see him getting into the 2 deep. Also, as much as I like JC, I think Edmunds, Caleb, and Mangus will surpass him come next year.

"We are better than we think, but not quite what we want to be" - Nikki Giovanni

Caleb took a bad block in the back penalty on a punt return, but he is getting some work on special teams so at least he is getting some action on the field. It would be nice to see him flexed wide and running a deep ball now and then just like the deep throw to the corner back in the spring. He gives them a weapon as a pass receiver from the running back slot that I think has been underutilized (same as Mangus) as result of getting Coleman reps.

I hate to keep beating on Coleman. He appears to be a great kid and a really hard worker. But, granted against a different level of opponents, but I saw Mangus as more of a threat in the passing game (certainly more fluid than Coleman on routes), and Caleb gives you that big body that can go get a ball down field.

Viva El Guapo

It amazed me against Duke when Caleb (and at least once Edmund) would either line up or motion out of the backfield wide. Each time they put a linebacker out to cover him (Edmunds always motioned back into the backfield). I was SCREAMING "watch this...watch this..." (had 6 written all over it). Then he would either run a short out or Logan wouldn't even look at him. Why...oh, why...did we not exploit that mismatch for an easy 6 (or at least pull a safety over to help and have someone else deep)?

We put the K in Kwality

Do you think Caleb could turn into an Eddie Royal/Percy Harvin type of player? Seems like he is a speedy guy, with good hands- would be a good slot receiver, but also would be a good sweep back.

"And it is caught, it is caught for a touchdown"

He is a much bigger body than Royal or Harvin. I was the one person who wanted him to stay at receiver (although I may ultimately be wrong.) They need that big body to go down field ala Josh Morgan and Justin Harper years ago, plus his ability to run would be useful on screens. Again, Javon Harrison is a huge key. He can be that guy, and if he is, then Caleb will stay in the same role.

With Williams coming in, I still sense that someone is going to transfer. I just don't know who.

Viva El Guapo

Very good comparison to Morgan/Harper - I feel that Caleb has some raw athletic talent (the unteachable type) that we need to use to our advantage. We have the athletic potential to be very dangerous on the outside, if these guys develop a knack for running good routes, becoming solid pass blockers, and having soft hands.

"And it is caught, it is caught for a touchdown"

Not arguing with your assessment and I haven't done much film study... none compared to you. Film study at the end of the day is how you form your best assessments IMHO. You certainly have a learning curve where you pick up twice what you did on your 1000th game as your 10th game, but nothing beats film study IMHO. Just saying I really like JC as a person and hope he finds another gear.

Agree I think Edmunds can do anything better than any RB we have. I don't think he is confident about bouncing it outside and he seems to lack a little bit of body awareness (weird to say that about an athlete of his caliber) in space. I almost wonder if he doesn't need deeper studs every time he goes out there but deeper studs always worry me w/r injury.

Anyway, comparative advantage I almost think if JC were jamming and I love the FB (Rogers), but he is undersized. Edmunds is so nasty at POA, I would like to have seen more of him at FB, with JC, Mangus, Caleb at RB. I know its absurd, but Edmunds could get paid good money and have a long career at FB. I know no college RB with potential would want to switch at this point....but a few plays at FB couldn't hurt could it? Maybe I'm a sk stupid fk, but I would really like to see Edmunds hitting guys in the hole without having to carry a football. Occasionally. 2 late in season I'm sure. Just a football fantasy of mine at this point. JC, Edmunds as RB FB or putting them in the slot as receivers. If they put their best cover guy on Edmunds I think it would make JC more effective. As it is I think the coaches really like Rogers as a receiving option and I'm not sure who you would think more effective... Rogers or JC. Would really like to see some quick 3-5 step drops under center with FB, RB, TE as the primary receiving options from the slot. We need mismatches and too often our WRs can't get it done on their own. I could see these guys creating issues with quick hits and that might lead to more need for run support from the S, DBs of the opposing teams. I really think our WR corps can be so shut down that it creates problems for the rest of the offense. Slow developing play calls after the opponent has figured out that our WRs are not a threat means that they can dial up blitzes all day like MD did. Turn the tables and see if they can cover our speed in the backfield while also having to account for TE CK. We did so well early on with our misdirection but without misdirection all our completions were contested. We don't have the juice to straight up beat decent coverage teams IMHO. We have to stress the mismatches we can get. RB in Edmunds IMHO is one of our best opportunities for a mismatch. They may have to cover him with a guy that then allows Rogers/JC/CK to get open.

I have gotten the sense especially early on that LT doesn't trust Edmunds. I don't know if my sense is correct or not, but I have often felt that when open in the flat Edmunds has to be the last option and beyond the sticks to get the ball. The recent screen passes excepted I still feel like we don't throw / read option his way enough. Anyway....pure speculation but I would guess this lack of trust flows from the OC through LT. I think the kid has a ton of untapped potential and I really hope we get to see more of him. He gave me great hope in the Maryland game and then we didn't use him very much. He is an athletic specimen more than a RB at this point, I get it.... but I think he is one of the best playmaker and potential mismatches that we have. It might not look pretty but I think he will be effective given the chances. His size and COD give opposing players pause even in tight spaces, which creates space for him to run through. That is a RB quality that as it develops will pay dividends. But he needs more carries!

Rambling again.... sorry.

thanks for doing this breakdown, it had to be hard to watch that game over and over. i hope the team can get it together and come out faster and sharper than the last bye week and crush uva.

tyrod did it mikey! tyrod did it!

As far as the whole intensity of the coaches thing goes I find it incredibly ironic after talking to my friend who is a manager on the team that Loeffler (and Foster of course) is the most intense coach on the team. He says that Ocain was super nice and that he didnt like Loeffler at first because he was so intense that he was almost mean, I guess that was to scare out some of the old that Ocain had instilled and put in a killer instinct.

The most puzzling part of my entire talk with him about intensity though was that Grimes wasnt even his top 5, and he says Beamer can be VERY intense. Trust me and trust him when I say Beamer still has it, and can still get fired up. Hes not Joe Pa out there, he still knows whats going on and is still a hell of a coach. You dont need to be screaming your head off on every play to be a good coach, and frankly of all of our hires (dont get me wrong i love moorehead and Loeffler SO MUCH) i think grimes is our best. Apparently he is the most calm of the three new hires, intensity doesnt necessarily = good coaching. I hardly count Belichick (Sp?) as intense rather more cold and calculating, I'm sure he has his moments but frankly I consider him the best coach in the NFL. You dont have to be angry and red in the face to be a good coach.

Rant over, just thought I'd post this from an insider friend that frankly it isnt that big of an issue at all, and I'm tired of seeing people calling for Beams head on here. The dudes an incredible coach and we should consider ourselves lucky to have him, I know I'm going to miss him. And frankly good coordinators do not = good coaches. Case and point Bo Pelini, the dudes one of the best D coordinators that I can come up with but frankly I think hes a pretty bad head coach. You cannot sit here and tell me Nebraska hasnt fallen off at all.

PS ON ANOTHER NOTE I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here because I doubt most of you are the ones responsible but booing our own players....ON SENIOR DAY....is a terrible message, if anything its hurting our team. Do you know or have any idea how shitty it feels to be booed by your own fans. Psychologically its one of the worst feelings ever, cant say I know what its like to have it happen on a D1 scale but man not having the support of fans or players is a really really really shitty feeling. You almost try to hard to not make mistakes and when you screw up you magnify it on yourself a million times which really hurts. so....stop is basically what I'm saying, it aint cool

Taylor, looking desperately throws it deep..HAS A MAN OPEN DANNY COALE WITH A CATCH ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE FIVE!!!!....hes still open

Oh trust me, Grimes can be intense. In one of the spring scrimmages I attended, he was so flustered with the first offensive line unit, he sent in the 2nd unit while having the 1st unit do a series of up and downs until he was satisfied. I have seen Grimes get in the face of several linemen during scrimmage. Ryan Pugh is just as vocal with the centers during individual drill before the scrimmage started.

Almost all the coaches are pretty intense except for maybe Stinespring. I cannot ever recall seeing Stiney get worked up.

I support Logan Thomas and make no apologies for it.

oh i guarantee hes an intense dude, he was just saying that hes got nothing Loeffler, Foster, and Moorehead. I'm not saying every coach isnt intense just that I really dont think being a young kliff kingsbury guy doesn't necessarily = good coach theres a lot more to it and frankly (heh no pun intended) I wouldnt trade Beamer for the world. The guys got it all. Intensity is not an issue with him and I'll defend him for the rest of his life what hes done with this program is incredible and if we had been a 10 win team this year he should have been in the candidacy as coach of the year, preseason I said I'd be happy if we could real off 8-9 wins this year 10 would have me ecstatic and the fact that prior to the maryland game 10 wins were still VERY achievable says a lot about this season. I'm personally happy with how its all played out, I just wish we couldve given the seniors a win to walk out of. Oh well

Taylor, looking desperately throws it deep..HAS A MAN OPEN DANNY COALE WITH A CATCH ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE FIVE!!!!....hes still open

Loeffler is ridiculous. That guy goes through energy drinks like water. Sleeps maybe 4 hours a night and is generally at work the other hours of the day.

"Facyson is a baller."
-CFB

proof?

"I like to hit a home run early" ~ Whit "knows how to create a Buzz" Babcock

it certainly doesnt surprise me, my friend said hes basically insane

Taylor, looking desperately throws it deep..HAS A MAN OPEN DANNY COALE WITH A CATCH ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE FIVE!!!!....hes still open

I work with a football GA

"Facyson is a baller."
-CFB

What is that?

Danny caught that ball.

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

I have inside info. - Whit

He also answers emails from students. Pretty quickly too.

In regards to booing the players - I tried telling a couple disrespectful "fans" to quit it. They proceeded to boo me. But, they didn't boo the rest of the game. So that was good.
It's disgraceful to do that to the team you support.

"That move was slicker than a peeled onion in a bowl of snot." -Mike Burnop

Didn't get to watch the game due to being in the Bahama's for a wedding. Sadly I checked my phone and saw we lost, and said to myself no way this is happening. It must be a mistake. Well its Tuesday I have the flu and we still have a L in the column vs. Maryland

There's not enough DayQuill or NyQuill in the world that can help me.

On Another note we have to remember this is a rebuilding year, think back to the end of last year we all knew it was coming. So we lost to a couple teams we shouldn't have but we beat Miami and some good teams as well. Just look at it this way... At least we we were not ranked in top 25 at the beginning of the year only to not even be bowl eligible like Florida. Just keep calm and good things will come, we were not going to win the NC this year or next year.

"I'm high on Juice and ready to stick it in!" Whit Babcock

"It ain't easy bein steezy"

#VanillaVick will lead us to the promise land

J.R. Collins, who was not able to track down Brown after a nice rip technique rush move on the previous play, was slow to get across the line of scrimmage and get lined up.

This is the play that forever will stick in my craw. I was yelling at the TV for Collins to get back to the line, and wham! That happened.

Now, I want to share my thought about intensity or lack thereof on Beamer. I have played for a basketball coach and soccer coach who were at times mean, ornery, and in-your-face at times. They do that because a) they know you have the potential, and wants to bring it out; b) they get downright frustrated when they perceive the team isn't responding the way they expect. I have shared this before, but I'll say it again. My soccer coach favorite word was "bullshit." If I gave him him an answer he didn't like, that's his word. I remember going up to a senior on the team and asked why he was always on my ass everyday in practice and the response was, "He's trying to teach you."

That's what I remember the most about him. His coaching has yielded 7 straight championship in my last year playing for him and awarded as a national deaf champions by a defunct magazine.

My point being - when a coach gets worked up, the players either responded by ripping their opponents into shred or lay down.

The only time I ever see Beamer worked up is when special team goofs. Bud Foster is known as Mt. St. Bud when he's pissed. One memory I have of Foster is when he broke his white board on the sideline when Boston College scored on two back to back possessions on his defense. Can't remember what year that was, but the players was like, "Ok, he's mad. We better clean it up." They did.

Maybe I am wrong, but I think on Saturday, the team probably thought they would win instead of just going out with hair on fire and ears pinned back. I don't know.

All I know is...every time I think about the loss, my chest ache.

I support Logan Thomas and make no apologies for it.

That's a pretty crap assignment of watching THAT game 3x over. Much props to you and your well executed explanations. So what about this team can Frankinator do to make the team a true contender? Out of all those teams you listed, Oregon falls closest similarly to VT. Wikipedia says they've never earned a national championship either and have a bunch of conference titles since Chip Kelly. You also hear about their amazing facilities, but how are they getting so much talent? Before that spread offense Oregon wasn't even on the map. Is it the talent or is it the coaches and that installed that crazy offensive scheme. Regardless if you like it or not, they've made it work.

BEAT UVA!

Kalvin Cline has been an awesome contributor and clutch performer this year but:

This one right here (13:49 if I embed this incorrectly) drove me nuts from the stands on Saturday. For context, the play set up a 2nd & 18 and the drive resulted in a 3-and-out.

00:13:49–00:13:55

Hokies, Redskins and Braves fan since birth.
#BeatW&M

Yep... I tried to be all fancy and embed the video starting at 13:49, but didn't succeed. Help for how to do this for future reference?

Hokies, Redskins and Braves fan since birth.
#BeatW&M

How long has this been a thing?
much convenience
wow

RIP Stick it In

I just thought the same thing, I've been editing the embed code manually and have to look up how to do it most of the time. I usually omit the last part that adds the time stamp below the video though.

The play you are looking for is this one.

00:13:49–00:13:55

The Hokies run play action off a jet sweep inverted veer fake (odd given that they did not run jet sweep IV once the whole game.) Cline has an outside linebacker standing up over him. At the snap, the linebacker freezes Cline and the defensive back uses his hesitation to blow past him.

While his pass blocking fundamentals wouldn't exactly make Jonathan Ogden jealous, I am not sure I can kill Cline here. Maryland had a perfect defense called. Gibson has to block the inside gap to cover the space emptied by Miller pulling (which shows the IV run action.) Cline is left on an island and has to account for the player closest to the QB, so he has to make sure that linebacker isn't coming before he shifts outside on the DB. If he goes straight to the DB, that linebacker has a much shorter path to Logan Thomas. Cline's footwork isn't ideal, but I have seen blockers with much better pedigrees fail to get to that blitzer. When you add that this is play action and a slow developing play down field. You hope that either Logan can recognize the blitz and audible to something else, or can get rid of the ball without taking a sack.

Viva El Guapo

Man I didn't even think about, or see at first for that matter, the LB throwing off Cline. Thanks for the response and pointing that out, French. As always I'm just sitting here envying your football wisdom.

Hokies, Redskins and Braves fan since birth.
#BeatW&M

Jonathan Ogden... so glad someone else remembers how great he was, both as a Raven, and a physical specimen in HS and at UCLA.

Best college lineman I ever saw. And it really isn't up for debate.

Viva El Guapo

orlando pace? i really dont know, i've just heard 'experts' throw pace's name around with ogden's as the best tackle ever.

"It's worth it right? It's worth it to lay it all on the line for your brothers!"
"That kid you're talking to right there, I think he played his nuts off! And you can quote me on that shit!" -Bud Foster (both quotes)

Pace was bigger. That was about his only advantage. Odgen was a far superior player who could move and pull in ways Pace only wishes he could.

Odgen was good enough to make Karim Abdul Jabbar an NFL draft pick.

Viva El Guapo

Thank you French for donating your time to educating the masses and thank you for the "lack of anger" comment. At most schools, firing coaches at will would torpedo the program. The staff knows the fan base badly wants them to win. Let's try to enjoy ourselves.

"Of that list, it is VERY easy to make the argument that Virginia Tech is the most unlikely team with the fewest resources and the least access to elite talent to ever make a national championship game."

Damn right. We also don't have massively wealthy boosters cheating like hell by funneling cars, cash, jobs, and other "perqs" under the table to recruits, parents, high school coaches, and other "handlers". To compete with those teams we have to fundamentally change who we are and what we represent - some people may want to do that, but not me.

No disrespect intended; I got to "they were clearly the better team" and could go no further. Zen and the art of explaining the unexplainable, must be the title of a book.

'80 Grad, beer was cheaper then, so was gas.

In Virginia Tech's situation, you create fundamental identities and you build to it. No matter what the talent level, you build a brand of football. Then, once in a lifetime, you get that once in a lifetime combination of talent, chemistry, and luck that allows for a shot at a National Championship. In the not so distant past, if a team won a conference title or won a Sugar Bowl, those players became LEGENDS. Now, you lose one game and there are empty seats at stadiums which have always been packed. I just don't understand the mentality that comes with it.

We knew this team was a work in progress. Next year, the system will get more solid, but with a new QB and essentially a new defensive front seven and a much tougher out of conference schedule, the results will likely be similar. 2015 is the year. If there isn't a complete return to dominance in 2015-2016, then you can judge the new hires as poor.

Right now, I have incomplete as the grade for Loeffler and Moorehead. Loeffler appears to be strong as a teacher and someone who can design effective plays. I am not sold yet on his feel for playcalling. With Moorehead, I see some improvement in the receivers, but a little sideline yelling isn't enough. Let's see how he does with the new receivers next year.

As for Grimes, he is an excellent hire. The offensive line is so much better fundamentally. They didn't have their best day Saturday, but that comes with experience. McLaughlin is a first year guy. Farris is a first year starter at guard after playing center. Wang is a first time center. Miller is a first time guard. Gibson and Benedict are in their first years as starters at tackle. At their current positions, all five starters are first year starters at their positions. That is unprecedented. When asked to block schemes like Alabama and Miami with great athletes playing base gap assignments, they have won those battles. They have struggled in stretches where fronts have been variable, feature odd blitzes, and utilize movement. That is to be expected with a young group. I think Grimes has done wonders, and the kids have worked their tails off to learn and get better.

Now, if Grimes is the one who has designed the running game, then I need to reserve some judgement. It has not been the system I expected (although the last two games have featured more of the types of plays I expect them to run in the future) but any system will work if sound fundamentally and executed properly. I don't want changes mid-stream to whatever is the new fad hot thing.

Viva El Guapo

Well, Grimes is the Run Game Coordinator in addition to the Offensive Line coach, so I think he has a lot of input in what runs to utilize and who to put in. Right now, there's isn't a big body that can push the pile like Edmunds can unless Shane moves Jermone Wright back to tailback (unlikely since has been a fullback all season), and the blocking has been up and down all season long.

Moorehead appears to be making the wide receivers moving in the right direction. The receivers are blocking downfield, catching the ball better, and yeah, there's still the drops that builds ulcer. I think he is a star in making as a wide receiver coach. I hope we hold onto him for as long as Beamer's around.

Loeffler is a huge upgrade over Stinespring. As I mentioned a while back in one of Mason's columns, I thought Stinespring had the right idea of incorporating the multiple offense system, but he simply didn't know how to properly teach and implement them. Enter Loeffler who has been exposed to several different philosophies, and you can see he is blending them all very well. I think what Loeffler really aspire for the offense to be is similar to the New England Patriots. The Patriots does love to use two tight ends set and a variety of play action passes.

The empty seats, I think, is a reflection of growing apathy in the fan base. Like seeing the players quitting the team through attrition and transfer, I think those fans who want to stay with the team are the ones that will stay with the team through thick and thin.

Right now, it's not limited to just Virginia Tech. There has been growing trends amongst college football and even the NFL that attendance as whole is down. Blame part of it on the state of the economy with unemployment stubbornly hovering at all time highs and the advert of HDTV have made it difficult to commit to spending money on traveling, tailgating, lodging, meals, etc.

I support Logan Thomas and make no apologies for it.

NFL is down partially due to cost. When tickets are 100 dollars each there isn't room for the average fan to bring his family anymore.

French - as always a great post! I always look forward to these to get better perspective and technical understanding of what happened in a game.

I am still a little puzzled at some of the play calling and wish they would get Edmonds more touches. I definitely think the new coaches are an upgrade, but it will be another year or two before we will truly know how much of an upgrade.

Finally, thanks for the last paragraph, it helps to get a little plea for sanity from someone of your stature on this site - mega turkey legs!!! Now lets go absolutely shred loluva - GO HOKIES!!!

Texashokie

French, great analysis as always. But at the end, you added this tagline: "And, if you don't and you want the program to be a true national title contender, get your checkbook out and start making huge donations to the Hokie Club and athletic department." I want to point out the fallacy of that statement.

Any organization, be it business, athletics, whatever, has to do things strategically. The resources don't come first - they come after the leader has communicated the vision, goals, and what it will take to get there. The leader's responsibility is to provide strategic intent, and the roadmap for achieving the vision and goals. That is what's lacking in our athletic department.

For example, lets look at that as it pertains to recruiting. People say we have too small a recruiting budget - me included. But time and time again, we have heard from Weaver that our recruiting budget is fine - Beamer gets all he asks for. So sending money to the VTAD with the admonition 'Get better!' won't yield results - it will increase frustation. If the recruiting budget increases it will be because there is a transformation in our recruiting strategy that's tied to doing things we aren't currently doing. People mention Bama as the poster child for great recruiting - they have a staff of ex-coaches who do nothing but evaluate talent and manage relationships. A $1.5 million recruiting budget is connected to a $1.5 million recruiting strategy, which we don't have.

That empty trophy case is supposed to represent a goal, but it doesn't. It represents a wish or a dream. If it represented a goal, the VTAD would communicate, "this is what it will take to put us in a position to achieve that goal, and this is what it will cost to achieve it." Until that happens, people will set their level of contribution based on what the VTAD provides to THEM - season ticket location, parking spot, whatever. Which is ass-backwards, but totally predicable given a lack of strategic intent.

Reality has a mighty pimp hand.

EXACTLY. Just donating money to this program isn't going to make this the best team in the nation. It needs leadership to take it there, along with the resources, and I just don't think this program has the coaches to take it back to the MNC.

This leads to the biggest problem I have with the stupid 'EMPTY TROPHY CASE.' If it is not the goal for the football team to get to the MNC game and win it, then it's just a pipe dream. Beamer has said repeatedly that his goal is to win the ACC. Unless Beamer makes it the football team's goal to win the MNC, and asks for the resources from the AD, then the ETC should be removed because it really is a joke at this point.

I'd like to point out it'll be pretty hard to win a MNC without winning the acc...

#thingsiblamethemvsfor

That's the way I saw that.
First win the ACC then win the NCG.
In the same way that the Ravens coach says his goal is to make it to the playoffs. Once the playoffs start, they are to win the various divisional and conference championships then to win the Super Bowl.

Danny caught that ball.

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

I have inside info. - Whit

But for the pros, getting to the playoffs is a HUGE strategic goal, as it sets them up for a possible Super Bowl win. The last two SB champs were wild cards. Winning the ACC only gets us an Orange Bowl berth, and as we've proven you can win the ACC with as many as four losses. Going 13-0 or 12-1 gets us an NC opportunity.

That's why I say that there is no NC strategy linked to resourcing needs. You have to have Top 10 talent to be a Top 5 team all things being equal, and we don't have a "Top 10 talent" strategy. We are, as the other poster said, resourced to win the ACC.

Or perhaps, with Clemson and FSU raising the bar, we WERE resourced to win the ACC.

Reality has a mighty pimp hand.

Yeah it's hard for me not to think that the the decision-makers saw all the success the football team was having in the ACC and failed to recognize that a primariy reason for that success was that the ACC was very weak during that time.

It's not the same conference anymore and I think some may have been caught by surprise.