Now that the regular season is done for the Virginia Tech football team, and with only a lower tier bowl remaining, it's time for Hokie Nation to turn its collective attention towards the basketball team. With their first 5-0 start since 1984 there is a certain amount of buzz surrounding this year's edition of the Hokies on the hardwood.
For the most part, that was an extremely tough game to watch. The defense made stops, held Virginia to 7 points, and forced turnovers. The offense did as little as possible to win. O'Cainspring had 95 plays to work with, but only managed 303 total yards. Also, thanks for the assist Mike London. Your clock management on Tech's final possession was something fiercely beautiful. There were some excellent individual efforts which will no doubt be highlighted here before the goal.
The only things that are important right now is we beat UVA, again, and we're going bowling, again.
Talk about the game here, and we'll get back to you after the weekend.
I hope everyone had a safe and gluttonous Thanksgiving. Hopefully there was not too much tryptophan cannibalistically consumed yesterday! HokieNation's annual Turkey Day tradition of beating the britches off the Wahoos has finally arrived. #NINESTRAIGHT. Let's do this.
Much has changed since 38-0. The Cavaliers (not surprisingly) lost their bowl game to Auburn on New Year's Eve. Naturally, Mike London called the 43-24 drubbing "progress" and immediately hit the recruiting trail.
"Hey Coach, you have a minute? It's really important!"
"...uh ok. Just wanted to inform you that the practice facility is on fire. LIKE YOUR JOB."
This week I did a Q&A with Hamilton Riley of Lambeth Field. My answers to his questions are here.
TKP: Okay, before we get into game related stuff I want to talk about Mike London. What is the general Wahoo consensus on him? Do you think he gets any slack from fans and facility even though for underperforming (especially this season) simply because he's not Al Groh?
Lambeth Field: Overall, there is a very, very minimal voice of opposition for London right now. I would absolutely agree this season has not turned out the way a lot have wanted, but in year 3 of his tenure, we have all learned how bare the cupboard really was when Groh left. Notwithstanding, there does need to be some decisions made about some assistant coaches, but London will get another full season before anyone seriously brings up the issue.
TKP: That being said, if this game goes as badly as the last two have do you think he'll feel a little bit of heat on his coaching seat?
Lambeth Field: I don't think so. It might make for a good story for local media, but like I said above, he will need another bad season before anyone at UVa will start churning up the question.
It's Hate Week. Kevin and Brian talk in depth about the UVA game, but not before going over the BC win, the Marcus Davis video, bowl scenarios and the possible changes over the offseason.
All that an more on this week's edition of The Adventures on Whiskey Lane.
MP3 Download link: http://thekeyplay.podomatic.com/enclosure/2012-11-21T14_07_47-08_00.mp3
Author's Preface - There are a number of things I am thinkful for each year, but one that I hold most dear is my degree from VPI&SU. In the spirit of the day, enjoy some history. Happy Thanksgiving y'all.
Maryland's defection to the Big Ten came as surprise. Both parties did a good job at keeping a lid on the negotiation. The first leak hit Twitter on Friday evening, the announcement was Monday afternoon. Also, Maryland? I think ACC fans respect the quality of their basketball program and their fans enthusiasm for it. On the other hand, Maryland football, the money maker in college athletics, perpetuates the notion that all ACC stadiums are at half capacity on Saturday's, and the Terps haven't been relevant in the ACC since before the 2004 expansion. It's a move driven by money on both ends. Maryland expands their television footprint east and could be worth, "as much as $200 million annually for the Big Ten in cable subscription fees," and, "Maryland stands to make nearly $100 million more in conference revenue by 2020 with its switch from the ACC to the Big Ten".
Like last week, there were a lot of positives that came out of Chestnut Hill. The defensive line again delivered a ton of pressure on the quarterback. The secondary essentially took away the Eagle's downfield passing game. The offensive line delivered their best effort run blocking since the Duke game. Seniors Marcus Davis, Martin Scales, and Randall Dunn made huge plays.
At the same time, I came away with a sour taste in my mouth. Boston College has been poor running the football this season, yet dictated the pace of the game by running between the tackles against the Hokie 4-4 scheme. The linebackers were terrible taking on lead blocks by H-backs and got pinned inside on counter and zone plays, and the defensive tackles (especially J.R. Collins and Luther Maddy) played with poor pad level and looked like they were playing on roller skates on throughout the game. And perhaps most disturbing, Logan Thomas had his worst game since East Carolina last season.
My Hate Week began with a sense of apathy and frustration despite the victory, but the dam broke after I read the following from noted sportswriter, author, and (former) Tech faculty member Roland Lazenby.
"Hate is a bottomless cup; I will pour and pour" — Euripides
I asked VTBox, BilldozerVT, Furrer4Heisman, and Brian to contribute to this post. They obliged, and we are all better for it.
It's Hate Week
An Introduction — Joe, VTBox (Graphic)
I don't hate UVa for the traditional reasons. I didn't grow up in a neighborhood that had VT and UVA flags jutting out from garages. None of my high school friends attended college in Charlottesville. If Hoos want to wear ties to games, slug back bottles of wine, and nibble on cheese at tailgates, then YOLO.
However, Virginia fans remain the worst. The masses only support their program when it's convenient. When it is popcorn and movie night, when a spring practice travels to their neck of the woods. They leave Scott Stadium bare-assed for a noon-thirty kick against Wake Forest. They sell their tickets, their dignity, and any chance at home field advantage Thanksgiving weekend to Maroon for a couple bucks. They quit on their team early, and they do it without a second thought. It's all too easy for them to check out.
Virginia fans care more about Tech losing than UVa winning. They are quick to point out Tech's losses in BCS games, lack of a national championship, and every other Hokie disappointment. They are even quicker to deflect the fact they haven't sniffed a victory against Tech in 8 seasons.
A lot of stuff happened on Saturday, and I felt like writing about it.
Late season losses by top teams usually blur the national championship picture, but not this year. Stanford and Baylor upsetting Oregon and Kansas State, respectively, cleared the path for a Notre Dame-SEC national championship. Notre Dame has one game remaining, a road trip to Los Angeles against USC. The Trojans are 1-3 in their last four games and may be without quarterback Matt Barkley, if the report of a separated shoulder is true. Alabama and Georgia were 4th and 5th in last week's BCS rankings and they both host games during rivalry week. Auburn hasn't beaten a BCS team this season. Three wins in a row, and suddenly Georgia Tech has a pulse, but their competition has been anything but stiff. That upset isn't improbable, but is unlikely. In any case, I think the favorites will prevail. Which team can you tolerate hoisting the crystal, Notre Dame or the SEC representative?
Les Miles' speech definitely comes from the heart, but there's some showmanship in there too. I would strap it up and play for The Hat in an instant.
Also, there's this GIF.
French's Boston College film review will be posted at the beginning of the week. My quick thoughts powered by beer, the defense ceded more to Eagles on the ground than expected, but they pressured and sacked Rettig all afternoon. For the most part, the offense was stagnant, but scored enough points to leave Chestnut Hill with a win. Even though he gave up the touchdown, Exum held Alex Amidon to 2 receptions for 18 yards.
Boston College, and more importantly UVA, discusion goes here.
Football Outsiders just had a post on covariance, which I'll describe in a moment. You can read the full article at http://www.footballoutsiders.com/varsity-numbers/2012/vn-your-best-against-best but I want to highlight what it says about VT thus far this season here rather than rehash their entire article.
Against Florida State the Hokies played their hearts out. However, getting up for a big game in Lane hasn't been Tech's problem. Amping up for noon(-ish) kickoffs, in half empty stadiums, against average to poor teams, on the road, has been. Those conditions are exactly what Tech will encounter in Chestnut Hill.
Boston College is a terrible team. They have just two wins, a blowout against Maine, and 3 point squeaker versus Maryland (in that game the Terps started their former fourth-string quarterback). They rank 95th in total offense, 104th in scoring offense, 107th in total defense, and 77th in scoring defense. Opponents average 81.8 plays against BC. And, they lost to Army. None of that matters though, because as we saw at Miami and at Pitt, Tech has a habit of losing to bad teams on the road.
The Eagles do have some playmakers though. Chase Rettig is having a solid junior season (57% completions, 2,813 yards, 16 TDs, 9 INTs), and he's third among ACC QBs in yards per game.
Wide receiver Alex Amidon is having a spectacular season. He leads the ACC and ranks fourth nationally in receiving yards per game (115.7), and is 10th among all receivers with an average of 7.3 receptions per game.
Linebacker Nick Clancy leads BC in tackles (107), and is one of their better defenders. He suffered a concussion against Notre Dame, sat out the first two practices this week, but was cleared Wednesday.
This week I exchanged questions with Bill Maloney, the founder of Eagle in Atlanta. We talked about Coach Spaz, Chase Rettig, the rebuilding job at BC and the chance the Eagles could "steal" this one. My answers to his questions are up on his site too.
Here's to hoping the Eagles are as poor as Bill says.
TKP: So if there's one thing that makes me feel better about this Tech season it is that they are not the worst team in the ACC. Insert your Eagles. They're 2-8 and have only beaten Maine and a Maryland team playing a linebacker at quarterback. Is this going to be it for Frank Spazizani?
ATL: Spaz is done. While that is still speculation on my part, I think the moves BC has made (replacing our AD) and not commenting on Spaz's future indicate that this is all nearing an end. Even a strong finish won't be enough. The program is suffering on the field and in the stands. We need a new face and a new leader.
TKP: That being said, what does the future look like for this Eagles team? Are there any signs for a positive future?
Welcome everyone to Week 12, or as the SEC likes to call it, SoCon week. It's up to the rest of college football to shoulder the weight. ::GULP:: Buckle up, I feel another unbeaten succumbing to the pressure.
I know I mention GameDay a lot, but this week it's different. It's GameDawn. I love when the ESPN crew heads to Eugene. The broadcast starts out pitch black, then dawn pushes through the morning crowd, all the while throughout the morning the atmosphere is absolutely nuts. Autzen Stadium is on my very short list of stadiums to visit. I sure hope when I do it's on GameDawn. So tune in and enjoy the unique vibe of Pacific Northwest fans. They are all powered by the combo of weed, alcohol, and Red Bull.
USC -3.5 at UCLA 3:00 pm FOX
for the Victory Bell at the Rose Bowl
Damn, I should have invented this at Tech
Before I start this week, I want to take a moment to thank BilldozerVT. All season, he has labored following many a painful football game to upload the game film that we use for analysis. Without his effort, this column would have degenerated into wandering nonsensical thoughts with the occasional reference to some seminal moment in my childhood, like Tim Krumrie's leg snapping in the second 49ers-Bengals Super Bowl or Don Mattingly's seven game home run streak. Please join me in thanking him.
Any hope the Hokies had of getting back into the ACC Coastal Division race evaporated into the cold Blacksburg sky on Thursday night. Perhaps, for the first time all season we saw what should have been for the 2012 Hokies. We saw a dominant defensive front that decimated the Florida State rushing offense, one of the top in the country. We saw an offense that flashed the skills of an elite quarterback, vertical passing, and a read oriented running game that opened holes on occasion with more guile than muscle. We saw a team that should be contending for an ACC title, but instead finds itself meandering its way through the worst season since I bought my first Nirvana cassette tape.
Many things symbolize Virginia Tech football, including a lunchpail mentality on defense, but the offense is devoid of its own identity. It's overly complex, conservatively predictable, and lacking in execution. Tech's had the same leadership on offense for the past 10 years and it feels as if a different approach is needed in order to consistently win the big games that have eluded the program. The staff have been learning on the job, some for a decade, and they haven't been held accountable for a subpar product. The struggles this year can't be attributed exclusively to just the offensive staff, but this year would be a good time to re-evaluate the philosophy and direction of the offense.
State of the Offense
Tech's offense incorporates a lot of different concepts and ideas from around the country, but execution has been sacrificed for complexity. The result: jack of all schemes, but not the master of one. The college game sets limits to how much time teams can practice. So what might work in the NFL, multiple formations and packages, doesn't in college. The offense usually picks mid-season after it's simplified, but it's bloated and stagnant towards the beginning of the season, and for the bowl game. Additionally, conservative tendencies lead to predictable play calling.
I wanted to write and post something Friday morning after I re-watched the game, but a noon checkout, ride up I-81, and a couple of runs to the train station delayed things. A warning, these are really high level thoughts, and nothing particularly intuitive. I had a 45 minute call with French while I was on the interstate, and to put it mildly, I'm really looking forward to reading his film review.
I thought that was a very entertaining football game that was defined by good football plays more than mistakes. Statistically, FSU is a top-3 team nationally, their roster is stocked with 4- and 5-star talent, and Tech hung with them the entire game. After watching Thursday, then again Friday morning, I couldn't help to think that if we played with that much intensity all season, we would have no more than two losses right now.
I thought Logan Thomas played a gutsy game. Pass protection was an issue, and he took a bunch of hits. However, he never seemed timid in the pocket, and he looked for contact running downfield. He made NFL throws, like the ones leading up to and including the touchdown toss to Corey Fuller. However, some of his decision making left me with my hands up and mouth open. His ceiling is high. This is really subjective, but he looked like more of a leader on the sideline, talking to the offensive players, keeping their heads in the game. We need him to own the team next season.
Welcome to Week 11 and the home stretch. The season has flown by, even if Tech has 3 seasons worth of losses. This will be brief and hastily put together Six Pick due to me being extremely busy in my personal life. However, I am not so busy that I can't make a trip to Blacksburg and back later this week. Go Hokies. I know this season has been a disappointment, but don't give up on this team or this sport, it always can't be our year. Celebrate others success, unless it's the dirty neers or hoos or Canes or Noles or Vols or ... never mind, watch to see if everything burns.
I have little to add this week, so I thought an offering to the Football Gods would suffice. At first I was thinking of offering a VT cheerleader or coed, then I thought about #ALLMAROONEVERYTHING, but the Gods don't want physical beauty, they want heart and something real, that signifies Virginia Tech football. The Lunchpail. To current students, this must a thing only seen on tshirts or foamed hats, but not so long ago, this meant something. Here is hoping it means something again, very soon.
Northwestern at Michigan -10.5 12:00 pm ESPN
Editor's Note: Edited and bumped to the front. Let's sack up and blow our lungs out in the Terror Dome tomorrow night.
After the loss to Miami, I didn’t know what to write about. There was no ACC championship hope, no ten win season. Everything was gone. I was planning on writing about how a big matchup against Florida State could help us get to 10 wins; how we were going to be playing in Charlotte; how this was a big Thursday night matchup against FSU. All of that is gone. Pretty much all hopes for this season are gone. People have given up, and rightfully so. So why am I writing? I’m writing because I remembered we still have a Thursday night game in Lane Stadium.