Getting Beaten Up: Boston College Film Review

I am not sure, even considering the loss to Duke, that I have watched a Hokies game this season and worried about the future. However, I was concerned in the aftermath of the loss to Boston College. For me, this season is always has been about establishing what the offensive identity will be for 2014 and beyond. If they went 13-0 or 6-6, it didn't matter. This needed to be a rebuilding season where Scot Loeffler proclaimed to the world ,"When you play the Hokies, we are going to do X, Y, and Z. Try to stop us." At the same time, Steve Addazio entered a similar situation at Boston College, and perhaps Addazio had even less talent to build on. Boston College is certainly without the dominant defense that Loeffler has in Blacksburg. Yet, Addazio decided, win or lose, the Eagles will pound the football. Boston College will run the football with a lead. They will run with the football when behind. They will run the football regardless of which defense is trying to stop them. And, they will be good at it, so when they run a screen, a quarterback draw, or a one man route on the outside, the defense will be so focused on the run that they can't defend it. Time and time again, the Eagles ran power plays, lead plays, and counters, sometimes using 9-men on the line of scrimmage, but always blocking players down, and pulling linemen and tight ends to create numerical mismatches on the back side. They didn't run anything in the running game that should have surprised anyone, but they executed successfully.

It's easy to be critical of Logan Thomas. His throw right into Kevin Pierre-Louis' numbers for Boston College's game-changing touchdown defies any logical explanation, regardless of who busted assignments or what kind of defense the Eagles ran. His inaccuracy at inopportune moments (see repeated five yard out patterns to Charley Meyer down the stretch), his bouts with inexplicable inaccuracy, and some poor decision-making continue to rear their ugly heads.

But those errors are highlighted even more because right now, Logan is being utilized as the only offensive weapon of significance. Trey Edmunds and J.C. Coleman are being used exclusively as change ups to Logan. Defenses are ignoring normal keys and selling out against the Hokies primary read plays, often forcing Logan not only to make the correct read on an unblocked defender, but then account for one or two additional unblocked defenders that the offensive line can't account for. The expectation for Logan Thomas to carry the football 20-plus times a game, as well as endure any contact after he throws the football, and also be expected to be consistently accurate and explosive in the passing game is too much. Despite the size, the power, and the arm, he isn't Cam Newton (Grimes) or Tim Tebow (Loeffler), both of those guys were much less effective when not properly complemented by big play threats at the scat back position. Logan's teammates have come to his defense because they know that everything is on his shoulders. He is taking a physical pounding, he has all the responsibility of a multiple offense that changes weekly with the exception of the inverted veer, and he is taking mounds of verbal abuse on campus and from the armchair quarterbacks in the stands.

Loeffler's passing scheme is a huge upgrade from Mike O'Cain, but I just don't understand his use of the running game. Joe highlighted the lack of effectiveness of the read plays in his column. Perhaps he feels that this is the best path to winning, but using Logan as a battering ram isn't working. It is too reliant on trickery and influence blocking, and it is a far cry from Coach Beamer's mandate to be a power running team from the spring. And, it isn't building towards the future. It doesn't matter if the 2014 quarterback is Mark Leal, Brenden Motley, Bucky Hodges, or Andrew Ford, I can guarantee none of them are going to run the football 20 times a game. This isn't what the offense will look like next season, therefore the entire core group besides Coles, Miller, and Thomas, will be starting from scratch in the spring.

The State of the Running Game

I have to piggyback on Joe's commentary on the read option. I understood the way that Loeffler utilized the read option in all varieties against Alabama because it took the Crimson Tide out of some of their exotic run blitz packages. And, I understand that Logan Thomas is a unique weapon as a runner who can get tough yards between the tackles in the option game. But, teams are scheming to stop the inverted veer, and as result, the running game has been rendered ineffective.

Let's examine a play from early in the game that demonstrates why the Hokies had so much success on play action from the inverted veer, but couldn't sustain the running game.

00:00:29–00:00:35

Here, the Hokies run inverted veer, with J.C. Coleman getting the football on the sweep. The Boston College defensive end crashes inside, causing Thomas to read give. Coleman gets the ball, only to discover that Boston College has called a run blitz.Kevin Pierre-Louis (#24) blitzes and is in position to scrape outside on Coleman and inside if Thomas keeps. The safety, who is aligned on Knowles in the slot, also blitzes right into Coleman's run. Coleman's speed gets him to break the contain blitz for a minimal gain. The concept of the read option (reading one unblocked defender) turns into dealing with three unblocked defenders when the defense only has to defend a small portion of the field.
However, the Hokies did have tremendous success with play-action off the inverted veer action because BC was so committed to stopping it. Here's a screen shot from the play overlayed with routes.

BC vacated the space behind the linebackers time and again to stop the inverted veer, leaving deep in's, slants, and skinny posts wide open underneath the safeties, and as the game progressed, the Hokies Josh Stanford and D.J. Coles burned the Eagles on those routes time and again. To his credit, Loeffler adjusted and found ways to take advantage of what the Eagles were giving him (although Logan's first fumble came when the Eagles sat on the deep slant and he couldn't find another receiver). Loeffler featured some other counters, including a quarterback counter and a screen away from the counter action (demonstrated here by Willie Byrn and an outstanding block by D.J. Coles).

00:10:16–00:10:24

But, the reality of the running game from the shotgun with the read option is this:

  1. When running the inverted veer, defenses only have to defend half the field, which is tipped either by jet sweep motion or the alignment of the tailback. That means, on the inverted veer, BC had to defend the guard tackle gap (indicated as the bubble created by the down block of the play side tackle and guard. The back side guard pulls and leads through this area); one defender has to play contain to take away the jet sweep, and the pass defenders must take away the slot receiver to the play side, who will almost always run a deep slant/skinny post or in route. Thomas is not quick enough for the counter play to force the defense to pay much attention to anything on the back side.
  2. On the veer, the unblocked "read" defender is taking away the dive, and Thomas isn't quick enough to bounce it outside before the pursuit catches up. Again, this is a play made effective by both running options being credible threats, and Loeffler has not given any Hokie running back carries to make the defense over-commit to the dive, and the quarterback isn't going to hurt a defense badly to the outside. The wham action that had success versus Alabama and Marshall was non-existent in this game, and in the rare instance when it has been used in ACC play, it was used as play-action (see Kalvin Cline's first catch against Pitt.)
  3. On the true read option, the Hokies had a little bit of success (Thomas' long run yesterday), but it has not been prominently featured and if the back side defensive end doesn't regard the tailback as a credible threat (and why would they given the limited number of carries they have received.

Against teams that can play good man coverage behind those blitzes, or teams that have a front that can win individual battles against the offensive line, those play-action reads are not going to be there. Boston College, with limited offensive skill position players, has found a way to be physical and win games. By all accounts, that is what Loeffler came here to do. His offensive line didn't have their best day (but as discussed in the preview, Boston College was going to generate some pressure with their eight-man front alignments on passing downs), but they controlled the Eagles front on running downs. There has to be a quick hitting power element to the Hokies game that doesn't allow safeties to come in late and make tackles even though every offensive lineman has landed a successful block. The Eagles did it. The Hokies have not.

Magnifying Troubles in the Red Zone: A Touchdown That Shouldn't Have Happened

It might be difficult to wrap your head around, but the Hokies first touchdown of the day actually put a glowing light on the multiple problems in the running game right now. Because the different varieties of veer option have become so prevalent, especially in short yardage situation, defenses are run blitzing certain alignments and ignoring influence blocks. Also, spread formations are allowing the defense to outnumber the Hokies at the point of attack. In any goal line/short yardage situation, an offensive play caller understands that there will be at least one unaccounted for defender, and most often two. You negate those unblocked defenders most often by either using quick hitting plays where you attempt to outnumber the defense at the point of attack, negating back side pursuit. Or, you have to count on your player carrying the ball to physically win a one on one battle with an unblocked defensive player.

Let's examine the Hokies first touchdown.

00:06:11–00:06:16

Loeffler called a veer option dive from the pistol formation. First, let's examine alignment. The Hokies come out in a pistol formation, with Trey Edmunds eight yards from the goal line. The strength of the formation is to the right, with Kalvin Cline aligned as an H-Back, D.J. Coles on the line in the slot, and another receiver in a flanker alignment to the sideline. Boston College has eight defenders in the box, and at the most the Hokies have six blockers.

Second, let's examine play design. The Hokies run a standard veer option dive, with the quarterback reading the defensive end on his right to determine if he gives the ball or keeps.

On the play, Cline executes a veer release, which is an outside step designed to influence the defensive end to widen with the tight end, preventing the tight end from sealing him inside. If the influence block works, the end widens, and the tailback has a larger seam to dive into up front. If the end crashes, in theory the quarterback should keep and the tight end can leave the end unblocked and outnumber the defenders on the edge.

Third, let's examine how Boston College defends the look. The Eagles run an X stunt with the linebacker and the defensive end against Jonathan McLaughlin on the left hand side of the defensive line. On the play, McLaughlin is supposed to secure the gap to the inside of his right shoulder and then turn back to try to cut off back side pursuit.

Kasim Edebali (#91) steps to the outside at the snap, and the inexperienced McLaughlin, who had trouble with the senior Edebali all day, went with him. The outside linebacker Steele Divitto comes from the outside and plunges through the gap where McLaughlin should be. He comes through unblocked on the play. To the strong side, the Eagles inside linebacker is stacked behind a one technique defensive tackle, just slightly on his outside shoulder. Andrew Miller and Brent Benedict block down on both the tackle and the inside linebacker perfectly. Along with Wang and Farris, they collapse the middle effectively and certainly well enough that a quick hitting play would result in an easy touchdown.
Here, the alignment and play design fails the Hokies. Edmunds has to run 9 yards to score a touchdown. The defensive end and the outside linebacker to the right of the Hokie formation completely ignore Cline's influence block to the outside. They can afford to do so because the Hokies have not run a quick veer release tight end dump pass in short yardage all season (more on that in a moment) and Logan is not quick enough off the read to fake the hand off and get around the end to the outside even though he is crashing hard on the dive.

At this point, Boston College now has three unblocked defenders inside the box. One is coming from McLaughlin's missed assignment away from the play, and two are coming directly through the hole that Edmunds should be running into as result of ignoring the influence block. Meanwhile, Cline essentially is in air, blocking nobody (although he has completed his assignment), and the Hokie receivers and those covering them are non-factors. Trey scores because he overpowered three tackles at the goal line, and Miller, Benedict, and Wang got solid push on the play side. If it is 3rd-and-goal from the two versus 2nd-and-goal from the half yard marker, Cody Journell is lining up for a field goal.
To Loeffler's credit, he punished the Eagles late in the game by calling a Y Dump off play-action for a touchdown. This should force defenses to at least consider accounting for Cline on a veer release in short yardage.

00:12:16–00:12:21

On the play, Loeffler uses the inverted veer run action. EVERYONE IN THE STADIUM thinks Logan is keeping on the play, including the outside linebacker who crashes inside Cline's veer step on the run fake. Cline takes a step to the outside and up field, and is all alone. The Y Dump is a classic part of any team's offense that uses the option, and teams will need to account for it in the future.

Defensive Back Force Technique

The Eagles controlled the line of scrimmage against Bud Foster's defense, and their commitment to power football forced defensive backs like Kendall Fuller, Antone Exum, and Detrick Bonner into the unfamiliar position of run forcing.

As I highlighted back in my pre-season analysis of the whip and rover positions, the run force technique is a fundamental where an assigned defensive back comes up in run support. In my experience, every defender from defensive ends and outside linebackers to corners and safeties are taught to take on a pulling offensive lineman with their inside shoulder and initiate contact as quickly as possible to squeeze the size of the hole. In this technique, two things are imperative.

  • The defender can't show the blocker his numbers (chest). If he turns and faces the blocker, he opens up the hole, and the defender loses the ability to plant a leg and achieve a base.
  • Second, the defender must take on the block with his inside shoulder, but keep his outside shoulder free. This gives him the angle in case the runner tries to bounce it outside.

There were numerous plays where I perceived to see breakdowns in this technique. I could have picked any number of plays focused on Bonner, Exum, Fuller, Trimble, Jarrett, Edwards, or Tyler.

When looking at those breakdowns, the most dangerous mistakes are those that turn out well, because players then are tempted to try it again. Let's take a look at an example from early in the game.

00:04:48–00:04:53

Here, the Eagles run their standard counter trey, with the left guard and the left H-Back pulling. On the play side, the Eagles block everybody down, leaving Bonner to take on the pulling guard. At the moment of impact, Bonner lowers his inside shoulder, stepping up field in the process.

Bonner gets lucky, and manages to get a hand on the running back, tripping him up, BUT by going up field the hole is wider if Williams can avoid the trip. Perhaps, Coach Torrian Gray teaches his defensive backs to avoid the contact and make the play, but that would not be consistent with a gap fit concept defense. I also understand that a 6-0 190-pound safety taking on a 300-pound guard isn't an even matchup, but if Bonner doesn't get a hand out to trip Williams, this is a big play ready to happen.

As the game progresses those breakdowns became more prevalent, as shown by Bonner taking on the fullback.

00:13:34–00:13:39

As I saw different Hokies running around blocks instead of playing proper technique, I could sense that a big play was coming. Finally, the dam broke.

00:17:29–00:17:38

Following the 4th down incompletion to Charley Meyer, the Hokies desperately need a stop while the Eagles looked to run down the clock. BC ran their bread and butter power play with a fullback lead and a guard pulling. Exum came up to play force technique, and both Bonner and Tyler scrape to fill the gap where the guard is looking to pull through. Everyone is in the correct position, but the fundamentals break down. Here's a freeze frame at the critical moment.

Instead of playing proper force technique, Exum turns his pads. This widens the hole slightly. Tyler takes the inside gap (attacking the inside shoulder of the pulling guard. Bonner, inexplicably, also takes an inside angle, leaving the gap between Exum and the pulling guard wide open. The guard in effect blocks both Tyler and Bonner. He is in position for a block on Tyler, but essentially he sticks his arm out to dissuade Bonner. Bonner should be able to cross his face easily and at least make contact with Williams. Instead, after 60 minutes of pounding football, Williams goes untouched to the end zone.

Still, it is difficult to be overly critical of any one player. The Eagles were very physical up front, and there were plenty of plays where very good Hokie players were manhandled by Boston College's offensive line. I was shocked that Bud Foster didn't utilize Dadi Nicolas at whip very often, nor did he consider an alignment where perhaps a corner or the free safety could have been replaced with an extra linebacker. Instead, he used the 46 alignment with Jarrett playing a linebacker spot and Tariq Edwards and Josh Trimble aligned outside, and BC used wide splits and sometimes a nine-man offensive line to spread out the Hokie front with alignment, and then out physical their smaller defenders on the edge. The Hokies went through stretches where they made enough plays to force punts, but the Eagles dictated the tempo the entire game. The defensive line wasn't disruptive. The Hokies didn't sack Chase Rettig, and only made two tackles for a loss the entire game. The Hokies leading tacklers behind Jack Tyler were Jarrett, Bonner, and Kendall Fuller. That gives you a clear indicator on how well the Eagles offensive line handcuffed the Hokies front. Kyle Fuller and Brandon Facyson were also conspicuous by their absence. It is clear that the defense misses their run support and ball-hawking right now.

I was really enjoying this season, but the last two weeks have been gut-wrenching. I can deal with wins and losses, because I am more interested in the creation of a foundation where the offense compliments the defense and develops their own identity while the defense dominates. These two losses feel more like last season, where the offense lost direction and the defense had great moments, but couldn't make the big stop. Miami looms next on the schedule, and the Hurricanes will likely use a very similar game plan to Boston College featuring Dallas Crawford in the place of Duke Johnson. The Hurricanes also have the best defensive front-seven that the Hokies have faced since playing Alabama. The U also has a massive offensive line that has decimated the Hokies front the last two seasons. The gauntlet is on the ground. We will see who steps up.

Comments

Brilliant, as always, French. What I wouldn't give to be able to run the football like BC did.

It's always a great day to be a Hokie

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

Yes. I watched that game thinking how great it would be if we have a power running game.

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

I wish to God we could recruit and develop O-linemen as well as Boston College does. Year in and year out, no matter whatever deficiencies they may have elsewhere, they always seem to have a big, physical, well-coached offensive line.

Wow this is some great written work and analysis

-Jolly

Sounds about right. I've been happy with Loeffler's passing game plays and game planning, but not at all with his run gameplan.... And it is not about the fact that run game is bad, it's because he's not using plays that put the RBs in position to be successful.

All I hear is that Logan is the entire Offense, etc... but the Rbs arent being given a chance to contribute. Their is no effort on Loeffler's part to establish a RB run game. Like French said, the inside and outside zone plays have worked in some games this season, but Loeffler always goes back to his dreadful and predictable veer game, so Logan can get his 2.0 ypc...

Line up in some dowhnhill run sets, try to establish a true run game off that and pass out of those sets. Seems logical, because the RBs can take the pounding, Logan can run more infrequently, Logan can run when passing plays breakdown, maybe a little less predictable, and probably more rushing yards, imo...

I'd like to see more of that as well. But bear in mind that our coaches see these guys in practice and/or the weight room every day. They aren't blind and they aren't stupid. The fact that they continue to emphasize Logan Thomas and the read option so much leads me to think that it's simply the least bad option that we have right now.

Our problem the last two weeks hasn't been a failure to move the ball. We've actually put up some pretty good yardage numbers. We're losing games because of turnovers, not a stagnant offense.

I'm afraid you may be right. But I think the problem with this is that even though the coaches may be right, I think the beating LT has been taking may have something to do with the turnovers. Not questioning his toughness or leadership, but they are asking a lot of him. Also, we're talking about Duke and BC secondaries here. It'll be even more crucial to be able to move the ball on the ground against Miami than the past two weeks, and I think it's been getting more difficult for LT to play hero as he finds himself getting up off the ground more and more. But I have faith.

So is there any reasonable explanation for not noticing the defenders selling out against the veer game during the "self scouting" week? I know you touched on this in a previous column (seduction of the inverted veer), but it's baffling. What's more likely: that there's something happening we don't know about, or Scot just refuses to call straight zone runs? Trey in the doghouse? Trey injured? Loeffler secretly a Leal truther and is actively trying to break Logan?
Is Loeffler just more comfortable designing and gameplanning a passing attack?

RIP Stick it In

I watched this game with a room full of UGA/UF fans before their kickoff at 3:30. Most of those guys never watch Tech games, but it took about 5 offensive plays for everyone in the room to remark that our offense looks slow as piss rolling up a hill, especially when we run the football. I've had this thought since last season but always attributed it to the fact that we have a giant manamal playing QB, which makes everything simply look slower than it actually is.

So, do you think we simply look slow on offense because we have a giant playing QB or is it that we're actually slow? Opposing defenses seem to have so much time to read whatever play we're running, and therefore have time to attack at will, thereby crushing any chance to get a solid run game cranking.

Great job as always, French!

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

It is terrific to note how everything is slow and wonky looking on offense. The receivers are becoming more comfortable with their roles (although I still have an ulcer that acts up any time Knowles is thrown the ball in traffic.) The passing game is effective, and those routes off of the veer action are opening up when teams overload on the inverted veer.

I get that this style of offense is all the rage now in college football, but a little part of me dies every time I see a 3rd and 2 and the offense is in the shotgun.

At some point, the Hokies have to be able to run a straight lead, with a hat on hat across the front and a fullback leading on a linebacker, and get 2 yards. That, complimenting the stretch plays, is pretty much all you have to have as a running offense complimented by option and the threat of a QB run to keep teams honest. But, you see bootleg once every couple of games. We have not seen a reverse or a jet sweep motion from a wide receiver that goes against the grain to keep back side pursuit honest. We see 1-2 zone stretches a game, and in the last two games, they have been from the exact same formation every play (hello red flag.)

Viva El Guapo

During the Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones years we used to delight in goal-to-go situations where we'd line up in the I-formation and power-run into the end zone. We even started shouting "time for Lee to run in without being touched!" when we came out in that formation. Because that's what happened. Everyone knew we were going to run that play. It didn't matter and it worked great. I don't think we could do that if our lives depended on it at the moment.

Yep I remember that, sometimes the fullback would go in motion to the side they would run the blast to- the defense knew it was coming, the opposing coaches knew, and the whole stadium knew...

...and no one could stop it.

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

hey remember at the beginning of the season there was talk of Loeffler not showing his whole hand until acc play? any chance he breaks out the zone-rushing attack in full force against miami just to throw them off and try to surprise them enough for a W?

long shot, I know, and I'm not football guru so I fully expect this comment to be ripped to shreds

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

At this point, there are too many ingredients in the cabinet and Loeffler just keeps using the garlic salt that nobody likes.

Viva El Guapo

Garlic pepper, on the other hand, is delicious
gp

RIP Stick it In

I must try this.

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

It seems to me that the Hokies lose more games to teams that look like what the Hokies should look like.

This column provided two points.

1) Logan isn't the offense. He makes it go, but as it stands right now, the offense are below average. Which leads me to this...

2) Trey Edmunds should have been featured, period. While it was great to see Stanford having a coming out party, Trey Edmunds need to have 20 carries to pound the ball and force defense to respect his running ability.

Then in turns, Loeffler can crack his knuckles and call the type of plays that highlights the offesnd's strength, which is play action passes and a bruising running game.

The game against Miami is going to be decided by how well Loeffler calls the game.

I am getting really tired of seeing Logan run the ball. He is a serviceable passer and can be a punishing runner when the time is right.

I support Logan Thomas and make no apologies for it.

Point 2 is spot on. I remember watching Ryan Williams start games slow, but steady. But games end he was gaining about 5-10 yards a pop because the opposing D was worn down. I looking to see this again and hope that one day Big L will give Trey that chance and JC the chance to get his chunks as a change of pace.

in Fuller we trust

100% exactly my thoughts during the BC game...RMFW getting stronger as the game wore on.

Great, Great read...doesn't make me feel any better about UM, though.

"So, they're like BC except way, way, more talented and physical." Crudler.

First time poster, long time reader:

I have to agree with above comments that Trey hasn't been given a real shot all year. In the past our play calling was predictable but at least it allowed our offense to establish a run game and protect the QB.

Trey's runs have decreased in number substantially since the beginning of the season but we've seen success in zone-rushing schemes. The jet sweep, veer etc. have no credibility until we establish ANY type of run game. I have hope for the future with Loeffler bringing in his own recruits, but (from his preseason comments) i expected SOME improvement in the run game from last year and so far don't see it at all.

We need to have another threat on the inverted veer. A simple QB dive/RB sweep is too simple for FBS defenses. Inside shovel pass, speed option, anything that is creative. I would also like Loefler to take a page from Kyle Shanahan's playbook yesterday and actually use the fullbacks for other reasons besides blocking. (Especially on the goaline instead of having the RB stand 8 yards behind the LOS).

Whatever the Redskins problems are, at least Kyle Shannahan forces the defense to defend all parts of the field. Not only was the fullback in play, but there were a variety of routes that took advantage of the defense committing to stop the read option, all of which were easy throws to the middle of the field. Even Garcon's ridiculous one handed catch was wide open and should have been an easy completion.

Viva El Guapo

I still believe that the offensive woes go back to (mainly) line play. The question in my mind is, why is Loeffler's trust in the blocking seemingly decreasing? He seems to be giving up on running the ball, save for LT3. With a greater dependence on Logan running, especially in the past two games, we seem to have abandoned the use of anyone else. The line hasn't been able to cope with an increased amount of blitzing, thereby putting more pressure on LT, and forcing more errant throws. As the book on this year's version of the offense grows, teams are figuring out how to scheme against it, and returns are diminishing. Let's hope we can figure a way to counter-scheme.

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

In pass blocking, pressure hasn't seemed that bad to me on LT. Certainly not in the Duke game, it seemed like they were rushing 4 and dropping 7, and he had all day to make a throw...he just consistently made the wrong one. I think this kind of goes with the notion of being "slow" on offense mentioned upthread - it seems to me, anyway that Logan takes a long time to get through his progressions and find someone open. You can only hold a pass block for so long.

The line had some struggles on blitz pick ups, but again blocked pretty well. When the numbers on a particular play are five blockers against eight defenders, there are problems. Loeffler doesn't seem to have faith that Cline, Redman, Rogers, Wright, and the receivers can effectively get a hat on a hat on the play. While they have struggled at times, they have been effective enough that Loeffler should not discount those plays.

Viva El Guapo

There is always a play to be made from an expected situation.
If the TE is too inexperienced and or small to make an effective block in the zone blocking, then treat it as a blitz and screen to the TE stepping just over the LOS, for instance.

I understand there's a weakness and we all knew what BC was up to with their defensive fronts, it was posted right on our front page. I told my wife to expect some effective screens as the new parts to the offense. I brought it up in another thread. We had some effective screens and one of them was highlighted above.

I'm not sure we didn't see more of that. Everybody knows now we run veer and inverted veer and we can trick the QB into keeping too many times.
Is this what Lefty is setting up over the past 2 games for The "U"?
Expect the Veer and Inverted Veer, ignore the man behind the curtain, we practiced a couple of the counters at Duke and BC but SURPRISE- 12 yd screen here, TD there, Ooops, now that you're not looking for the dive, there's Edmunds for 18 on 1st down off tackle?

Danny caught that ball.

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

Hi French, even when our O line is blocking to assignments, they did not seem to be generating much of a positive push. Just a feeling, or did you see that too when you broke the film down?

They were not generating as much push as against Duke, but it was a better front. The big factor here is that there really were not many running plays period. I believe 6 carries for Trey, a handful of carries for JC. And, of the 20 carries credited to Thomas, four were sacks, one was the fumbled snap on the goal line, and at least four (including the last fumble) were QB scrambles.

That leaves perhaps 20 true running plays the entire game. I still can't figure out how Edmunds only had 12 yards. He had two 5 yard runs (first play of the game and the second zone stretch in the 4th Q) and a short run when he tripped. I guess his other touches were no gain plays on the goal line?

Viva El Guapo

One additional comment about running plays from the shotgun on the goal line. In short yardage, the defense will look to attack centers as an area of weakness because they not only have to take correct steps and keep pad level down, but they have to get the snap off. When you add that on plays from the shotgun, the center has the added burden of staying on his block longer because the runs are slower to develop.

It puts tremendous pressure on David Wang in those situations, and IT IS UNNECESSARY. Maybe I was the only one (and it is ironic because I have called for the Hokies to incorporate a Y-Dump off IV action all season) but I almost felt like the TD throw to Cline was a surrender. It was as if Loeffler was admitting that if they need six inches, the front and the runners are not capable of getting it. Maybe I am mirco-analyzing, but it caused me to lose the faith a bit.

Viva El Guapo

What is your opinion of using that Y-Dump for a 4th down conversion? It seems that we try to get that 1 yard of push and often struggle. I would have to believe that teams are going to sell out to the IV with Logan likely keeping it on 4th and 1 or even 2, so something like this could be open for a big gain even. Agree?

Normally, yes. I am glad they got a touchdown on the play. But, when BC needed fourth and 1, they lined up and knocked one of the top defenses in the country off the football, when they damn well knew what was coming. That is the attitude I want.

I'd much prefer to see them run the IV play action on 1st and goal, because the staff is confident that if it isn't open, Logan can throw the ball away and then pound the ball in on 2nd down. Using it on 4th down should have been much less of a surprise to the defense.

Viva El Guapo

Losing Faith, huh....

Why wouldn't Loeffler see that the RBs are way better not in the veer game? Can't he anlayze and see the success he had in the Duke game? That Logan is taking an uneccesary pounding for 2ypc? and that his run game has become way too predictable?......And.... Can you please E-mail him and let him know, LOL...... Apparently, he doesn't or doesn't want to see it himself...

I really think they fear the TE's blocking in the Ace and I-Formation.

Could be... But even a layman like me can see the success we had in the Duke game with the inside zone plays. Even if Loeffler didn't think we could line up and do that to BC, it is still puzzling that he never went back to those zone plays later on in the Duke game, when it was so successful earlier in the game... Maybe he is overthinking it, but that still doesn't rationalize his dependence and overuse of Logan in his Veer/read game...

Is it possible that the play calling the past two weeks is a result of the self study?

Twitter me

I know this is random, but when you think about it. Who was UF's running back when Loeffler was there? If you had to google it then chances are they didn't stick out very much. It seems to me that Tebow did most of the running for the running backs when he was there. And it appears to be the same way here. I know that Percy Harvin lined up as a running back on some plays or draws or Veer plays, but he's not a running back he was a wideout and a explosive one at that. But it would appear to me that his coaching philosophy isn't about having a big running back at this point. But....he also helped Temple become a very good rushing team as well. So he might just be playing towards the strengths of our team. Maybe he knows Trey is still Freshman and that he doesn't trust him or JC even though he's had more experience than Trey has. I think personally I would like to see JC Coleman get more touches he seems to be more of a weapon that Trey at this point. And I've noticed that Trey always slips or looses his footing when he's attempting a cut back and for the most part when he falls there always a big hole open for him. Has anyone else noticed that?

Yes, the turf monster gets Trey an awful lot...

Tebow averaged 15.5 carries per game his senior year with Loeffler as coach. It was also the weakest group of backs and receivers he played with while at Florida.

With Grimes coaching the OL at Auburn, Cam Newton just under 19 carries a game his only year as a starter.

BUT, last season, Auburn used the read option and inverted veer, but their best play was the zone stretch. They ran it to the tune of two running backs averaging over 5 yards per carry. The year prior, Loeffler was the OC as Temple ran for 257 yards per game (7th in the country) and most of that yardage came on wham, zone, and power run action with very little quarterback running. It is frustrating to see them so ineffective, even with square pegs for round holes.

As for Trey Edmunds, the one flaw in his game as far as how it fits for the zone stretch series is that he has a very long stride, and he does slip on occasion when trying to plant and cutback. Darren Evans and David Wilson both had similar challenges, but those were masked because the Hokies ran stretch plays that were not designed to cut back, but instead were entirely dependent on creating a seal on the edge. I have not seen a true seal play from the one back set all season.

Viva El Guapo

French I appreciate your analysis I truly enjoy how you break down your film. But he's slipped up on more than just a few of those zone stretches this year, but I guess what I'm trying to say is what can he do to get better at that? Also Tebow was probably a better runner behind a better line as well, and yes that was a weak group that they had, but I noticed that they utilized a lot of Tight Ends in there play calling using Hernandez and I think there was another guy as well. So back to the Trey topic do you think that's something he can be coached up at or its something that your just born with(athleticism)?

I keep hearing "square peg round hole"...I guess I don't understand what we're referring to...

Weren't Edmunds and JCC recruited for a very similar rushing offense? Wasn't Stiney's offense a multiple / pro-style attack just like SL's?

I realize that the idea is SL is better at implementing it than Stiney, hence the change...but it's a similar scheme and therefore these players would fit it, correct? It's not like SL is taking over at Oregon or Baylor (or Auburn)

And on an unrelated note and sorry to get way off topic but...what actually happened to our recruiting? I'm guessing the reason we don't have an Evans, Williams, or Wilson on this team isn't cause the coaches didn't try. Obviously Drew Harris didn't work out but other than that...is there any particular reason that good RB and WR recruits that we used to get no longer choose VT?

I think with the type of athletes we've been recruiting, should fit in the SL offense. I mean - compare what he has to work with this year vs. Malzahn's recruiting that he had at Auburn last year. I think it's easier for the kids to adapt to SL's offense from Stiney rather than SL's offense from Malzahn. So yes, I do agree with your questions of SL and his ammunition on the roster, so to speak.

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

Lol stickit you said it best my freind Turkey leg for you! I understand the "square peg round hole saying, but I'm not sure why its being used the way its being used lately. I mean to be honest Trey has had a full-redshirt year to work with long stretch plays and I understand if he's losing his footing, but this is happening far too often at the worst times. I do see what French is saying as well. But I would think that on some of those zone stretch plays that JC would be better suit for them for his speed and foot work. But I'm not a football coach or a expert I'm actually a basketball man to be honest and I just so happened to love football as well. lol

Recruiting WR- you mean like the injured walk-on (Byrn), who was replaced by the INJURED WALK-ON (Meyer)!
Its changing- Cam Phillips, Kendrick Holland, and Jaylen Bradshaw are all it seems very high level WR's who I don't think we get without Morehead.

'Its easy to grin, when your ship comes in, and you've got the stock market beat,
but the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile, when his shorts are too tight in the seat'

Of course- how could I forget. I think this is a Eddie Royal, Josh Morgan, Josh Hyman impact receiver class

'Its easy to grin, when your ship comes in, and you've got the stock market beat,
but the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile, when his shorts are too tight in the seat'

What is Virginia Tech's offensive identity? I guess it's Veer / Inverted Veer. It seems weird that's the direction we would go on offense. I thought "mutliple" and "pro-style" meant more line up and smash them in the face and let Logan throw darts on play-action and less cutesie veer and butterflies.

I feel like Loefller lied to me.

Perhaps this is naive, but it will make me feel better.

I'm CONVINCED that there is something we are all missing. There is some reason to why Loeffler is doing what he's doing and that reason is sound and makes sense. It must be that way.

I just hope we have a great plan against Miami. I hope we execute and beat them down in their own home.

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

I think the majority of Loeffler's gameplan centers around the Logan and the OL. Since the OL is in pretty bad shape and Logan is a Senior quarterback, the strength of the team is the passing game, and the line would best serve the team by concentrating on protecting the QB. Maybe a lot of running plays aren't called because Grimes and Loeffler know that the OL cannot consistently win their battles to make those plays successful. This may also explain the type of running plays that Loeffler calls. Since we don't have the athletic ability to run guys over, we rely instead on trickery and trying to keep the defense off balance with the veer and inverted veer. I was hoping, however, that the coaches would be a lot better at teaching execution to the players at this point in the season.

Recently been wondering if there is some problem with Logan's ability to take snaps from under center.

38-0

Interesting thought. There may be an injury they are not telling us about that prevents the proper crouch, something in the lower back perhaps? Periodically gets I the way and he throws way high too?

Danny caught that ball.

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

French - what effect does Grimes (and I think, Shane) being the "run game coordinator" have on the playcalling for the game? Do they set up the run game for the week and designate the run plays? Then Loeffler only picks from those plays? Or is it set up completely different.

To be honest, the idea of a run game coordinator within the offensive coordinator is confusing and I think that may be part of the confusion...too many visions = no vision.

We put the K in Kwality

I wish I understood, but the structure is their prerogative. However, while I like the OC to be in the booth, I hate that there isn't a QB coach on sideline to assist Logan with adjustments in game. I see Moorehead and Grimes both talking to Logan on the sidelines, but you want them spending that time with their position players. At least, that is my preference.

Viva El Guapo

Can I just say, when BC brought out 7 or 8 lineman I thought, why can't we do that. There's something sexy about a team that tells you what they are going to do and then does it. That used to be us. I hope it will be again.

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

It is ironic though, because a few years ago the fanbase wouldn't shut up about us "modernizing the passing game." There is a difference between doing things that make sense (good route design and being held accountable for fundamentals) and throwing 40 times a game.

The beginning of the end for Tennessee as a dominant program was getting over reliant on throwing the football. The Vols used to have tailbacks 4 deep that you could give the ball 25 times a game and win football games with in the SEC. But after starting to be more pass happy under Peyton Manning, and then correcting back to power running under Tee Martin, Tennessee starting to focus more and more on a pass-happy pro-style offense under the guise that it helped attract skill position talent at receiver and quarterback. As they threw more and more, their dominant running game became less and less dangerous, and the team lost that core identity which made them great in the 90's.

The most frustrating part is, A GOOD RUNNING GAME MAKES THE PASSING GAME MUCH BETTER. Did you see how open the Hokie receivers were on play action Saturday? Can you imagine how open they would be if the running game was actually a credible threat? Great googley moogley.

I am also worried that the ultimate narrative will be to put the blame on the players. I am starting to see it with Beamer's comments today that they "MUST" run the football with Logan to be effective. That is a load of crap. If he gets injured, are they lining Mark Leal up and running him up the gut 20 times a game? Are you saying flat out that the Hokies should mail in the rest of the season because Trey Edmunds, JC Coleman, Chris Mangus, Joel Caleb, Willie Byrn, DJ Coles, Josh Stanford, Demetri Knowles, and Kalvin Cline are not good enough to move the football without Logan on the field? That is what it sounds like to me, and if that is the prevelant school of thought, well how in the blue hell do you propose to move the ball next season WITH THE EXACT SAME PLAYERS minus Logan?

I am not advocating for Logan to be benched. Far from it. I think every problem the Hokie offense has now would still exist with Leal if the staff doesn't have faith that they can run the ball with the current running backs. But, it is not fair to Logan to ask him to be Walter Peyton and Joe Montana at the same time.

Viva El Guapo

I agree French.... Your right. It seems like our Offense flip-flopped from being a run first pro-style offense to a more pass heavy team. When our running game catches up I see our offense becoming more well rounded. I've tried to say time and time again a Team divided can't stand, because when LT is successful they're happy when he has a bad game everyone on the Leal for QB campaign wants throw him under the bus. That doesn't work with a fanbase. I'm actually happy about the changes Beamer has made to the team. I felt like our wideout coach last year wasn't teaching them anything, now thats being changed. I think this offense is going to take off next year.

Amen. And forget how wide open our receivers were off play action, did you see BCs receivers on play action? Rettig didn't have to make any difficult throws (that I can remember at least) because of the amount of respect our D had to give to the run.

Also, thank you for making the point about the D. To this point they have been phenomenal, but the DL especially had a horrible game. I hope they take it as motivation and come out strong against Miami.

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

BC did one thing well we haven't been able to do consistently - score points off turnovers. Seventeen of their points came off our turnovers, more than enough to tilt the balance.

Also, your observations on our offense are starting to align with mine. I never believed opponents were particularly worried about our offense. BC was the first school to use it against us with such success.

And, most of the discussion has ignored defense. If you take the time to watch just the defensive snaps, and focus on 99, 98, 92, 42, and 90... there is no way you can walk away from this video not completely frustrated. Even on plays where the backs were held to short gains, the defensive line was more often than not a non-factor. The Hokie linebackers and defensive backs filled their gap and made the tackle 1 on 1, it looks great. If they missed, then Williams was getting a big gain. Other than a few stretches in the 2nd quarter, the defensive line could not shed the blocks of the big BC front.

And, regardless of what kind of athletes Miami has on the edge, I bet we see a game plan straight out of BC (or the U in 2005)'s playbook. Power football. Use the big OL. Get manageable 3rd and shorts where runs or passes are options. Use the tight end to move the sticks.

Viva El Guapo

That has been lost in all the heated rage about Logan Thomas. The defense were completely taken out of their game. As I touched on Saturday, Boston College's offensive line did a phenomenal job of controlling the LOS.

I support Logan Thomas and make no apologies for it.

I think a lot of the success has to do with BC's running back. The lower body strength of that guy was incredible and just built like a machine (230 lbs). His first TD run he broke 3 tackles. The Miami backs are much smaller so our LB support will be more effective and hopefully our D Line will be, too.

Just my 2 cents on Logan...yes, the Duke game was bad. As far as the BC game...

I thought Logan made 3 bad plays in this game...
1 - He overthrew Calvin Kline when was wide open in the 3rd quarter (I think right after the Demtri INT)
2 - He didn't hold the ball close enough to his body on the last fumble of the game
3 - He threw a terrible pick-6, a play that's 100% inexcusable

but...that's 3 bad plays. The other 2 turnovers weren't his fault. So take those 3 bad plays and contrast that with how many good plays he made on Saturday....there were a LOT of good plays on offense.

If nothing else, look solely at the last drive of the first half.. We had 3 holding penalties on that drive costing us 30 yards. Two of those penalties were on the same series, and the offense faced 2nd-and-30. Logan came out throwing and moved us down the field to set up CJ's long field goal before half.
- how many other QBs in recent memory could have led that drive?
- how many other QBs in recent memory, including Tyrod, Randall, MV2, etc...would the coaches even trust enough to stay aggressive on a 2nd-and-3o from our own 20 yard line with 90 seconds left in the half?

The pick 6 was a terrible play, and Logan directly cost the team 7 points. But, if you hold that against him, you gotta give him credit for the 27 we did score, including those 3 before half that we probably don't get with anyone else under center.

The team fought hard, everyone including Logan and SL and CFB tried their best, but we lost. We're not Alabama or FSU...sometimes our best isn't good enough and we lose, even to teams that aren't great. That's life right now. All I know is I'm supporting whoever is under center. Hoping we beat Miami cause I hate da U.

...just my 2 cents

are you gonna post this on every thread? lol

I literally just read this exact post about 1 min ago somewhere else

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

Yeah, CJ's Looooooong FG.
That's why Beamer has stuck with him. Man, that was nice, high from the start and right in there. He could have kicked a 60 yarder.

Danny caught that ball.

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

Yeah, this doesn't need to be posted on every thread. That's spam. Please stop doing that.

Tyrod...3rd & 31 vs FSU...beautiful. Not saying I disagree with you, that was just one long distance situation I can think of.

French, I have a question for you. I've never played football, and if I've read correctly on here, you were on offensive lineman, so I think you'll have first-hand experience:

Regarding the first fumble, when the pocket broke down and Logan tried to move out of it, he was stripped from behind. If an OL loses his block and the guy is clearly about to pummel the quarterback, is there any verbal warning they use to make the quarterback aware that he's about to get hit from outside his peripheral vision? Or is it on the QB to know when the pocket should be breaking down? Thanks

In my experience, we didn't have anything in particular to yell. Sometimes we had a call if there is a play where the QB has a chance to break contain.

The big snafu with that play was that I believe BC switched up their D and the linebacker sat in front of the skiny post, and Logan needed to reset. McLaughlin gave him enough time to make the initial throw and reset, but rarely on a play action off of option where the QB is very shallow in the pocket does the QB have enough time to reset and find something besides a check down. One of the hard things about our film is you can't always see the routes develop down field, and I couldn't see that one. He clearly didn't expect the hit though.

McLaughlin had a tough day, but he was playing a very good fifth year senior in #91. It was a tough match up. Loeffler couldn't help him as much because he needed Cline down field and Edmunds on the interior to handle A gap blitzes.

Viva El Guapo

Kyle Fuller's sure-tackling abilities were sorely missed against the run.

Screw the U, Beat Miami

It's always a great day to be a Hokie

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

The Hokies just need an attitude adjustment on offense, I like this one...

na

The defense just didn't seem to be focused in this game but I'm sure not having Kyle out there has had a great impact in stopping the run and more so in the passing game.

Touchdown Tech - Bill Roth