Defensive Aggression: Bowling Green Film Review II

While watching the film, the first thing that jumped out at me was the play of the Hokie front four. Rather than slanting and stunting heavily, as discussed in the French on the Bench Defense 101 series, the d-line played a more traditional style of getting upfield and attempting to make plays. Perhaps it was a function of the Bowling Green scheme, or Bud Foster realized that teams were using his slant tendencies against the defense (as discussed last week in my Pitt film review). I thought James Gayle and Tyrel Wilson played magnificent games, but both Luther Maddy and Derrick Hopkins didn't create much disruption in the middle, and J.R. Collins sometimes became over aggressive and lost contain on cut back runs.

A great example comes on the second Bowling Green offensive play.


Cincinnati Football Primer, Photo Edition

Weeks that follow Hokie victories always seem to be more upbeat. There were signs of encouragement in Tech's shutout victory over Bowling Green, but the season marches on. This week's opponent is familair to Hokie fans: the Cincinnati Bearcats. In 2006, Tech beat UC 29-13 behind a 170-yard effort by Brandon Ore at Lane Stadium. More notably, the two schools met in the 2008 Orange Bowl.

The Bearcats were able to build on the success of that 2008 season the following year, reeling off twelve straight victories, winning the Big East, and climbing to a #5 ranking. A second consecutive BCS berth was claimed, although the results were similar: Cincinnati lost 51-24 to Florida.

BeamerBall lists Vandyke as Starting Whip; More BG Film Review

I beat the sun up this morning and re-watched film of the defense against Bowling Green. After cds7c mentioned yesterday that Ronny Vandyke was listed on HokieSports (9/24 update) as co-starter at Whip, I wanted to watch him more closely. Now, BeamerBall (via Bitter) has Vandyke listed as the starter, G-W as the backup.

Frank Beamer's personal website has Ronny Vandyke as the first-team whip linebacker and Jeron Gouveia-Winslow on the second team. It said it was updated Tuesday. "The only way he's going to get better is we've got to get him on the field more in game situations," Foster said about Vandyke on Monday. According to Beamer's website, Vandyke had 24 plays against Bowling Green, with two tackles, one assist, two quarterback hurries and one pass breakup. Gouveia-Winslow had nine plays and one quarterback hurry.

Given RVD's upside, I think we've all waited a long time to hear that from the coaches.

The Pistol and Live Ammo: Bowling Green Film Review

That sound you heard coming from Blacksburg Saturday was a collective sigh of relief as the Hokies notched a 37-0 shutout and finally exhibited some explosiveness in the running game. There were many positives to point out, including dynamic rushing by the much-maligned running back corps and a bounce-back performance by the secondary, especially veteran Antone Exum. At the same time, my film review will raise many of the concerns we have seen throughout this young season, which leaves doubt in my mind about how the Hokies address these problems when they reach the meat of the ACC schedule.

I will start with the offensive identity and Logan Thomas, and I won't sugar coat it. The entire week, we heard the offense was focused on getting the running game on track. The easiest way to get it going would be to turn the dogs loose on the offensive line by playing up to their size, strength and athleticism. Instead, we saw more of the same early in the game, slow developing runs focused on counter action and trickery rather than physical dominance.

Reading up on Cincinnati

On to the next one, and this week it's a challenge. Cincinnati was near flawless against Pitt, sloppy against Delaware State, but they had both contests locked up early. Over the weekend I did some reading on the Bearcats, here's what I learned.

Wham is a play we should see Cincy run a bunch Saturday. A couple of weeks ago I mistakenly identified as the zone read. The concept is straightforward, and it blends well with their inside and outside zone plays. Down the Drive did a fantastic breakdown. Read their entire post, because only a summary follows here.

Logan Thomas is Metal

After pushing the pile for a one-yard touchdown run near the end of the second quarter, Logan Thomas went to the sideline favoring his right hand.

(Little bit of, "ewwwwww," after the jump. But there are gifs of Logan hamming too.)

That appears to be Logan's fingernail peeled back off of his thumb. He, we, all got lucky it wasn't anything worse. A lot can go wrong, even for someone 6-6, 260, trying to ram through 2,500-plus pounds of flesh. LT3 plays a physical game, and the offense is infinitely better for it. We saw Saturday how Logan grinding between the tackles (then just the threat of it) softened the outside. It's just risky business having the quarterback do the dirty work, but at this point it is necessary because it's outside the skill sets of the tailbacks.

Forgetting what I just wrote, and for good measure, here are gifs of LT3 punishing defenders.



Hokies Dominate, Shut Out, Bowling Green 37-0

Here are my gut reactions (expect French's detailed film review on Tuesday), please leave your thoughts below.

After a slow starting first quarter the offense, especially the running game, kicked it into gear and looked focused and crisp. The coaches reevaluating the running back rotation resulted in Tony Gregory getting the ball more, and he didn't disappoint. The speedster led all tailbacks in carries and averaged 6.2 a rush. He looked great getting outside, hitting the funnel, and turning it up field. Coleman, Holmes and Scales all looked much more decisive carrying the ball. They hit the hole quickly and it resulted in big gains. Great blocking by the offensive line and fullbacks helped their cause. Logan Thomas complimented the tailbacks, made much better decisions on the zone read, and was able to expose the heart of the defense.


Logan was a conservative 11 of 26, for 144 yards, 2 TDs and a pick. However, there were a bunch of drops, and he only had one bad decision, a forced throw to Davis that resulted in an interception. He looked extremely sharp in the second quarter, but lost part of his fingernail on a QB-sneak-and-score, which might have affected him the rest of the way.

On a few plays Logan dropped back, stood comfortably in the pocket, but rolled out after he was unable find a target. The receivers need to be more consistent separating.

More than Superficial: Bowling Green

Like many of you, last weekend I traveled through the heart of Nowhere, Maryland to watch Tech play a left for dead Pitt. After two less than dominate wins to start the season I thought the Hokies were poised to have their best game of the season, and I wanted to be there firsthand to see it. Instead, it was a beat down. Pitt was up to the challenge while Tech rolled over back into bed. All I want and expect out of the team this week is for them to bounce back, and show they are getting better.

But, if things get worse, George is to blame.

No, not really, but will Logan Thomas look sharp from the start? He was a difference maker from the Miami game on last season, but in the three games to start 2012 he's played progressively worse.

Adventures on Whiskey Lane: Episode Four

Well...someone had to talk about last week.

Brian and guest co-host Joe welcome French on to the podcast as they discuss the debacle that was Pittsburgh, what could be wrong with Logan Thomas and how awesome Ronny Vandyke can be. They also look ahead to Bowling Green, talk about what they are watching from the Hokies and discuss whether or not another ten win season is possible.

All of that, and more (including a Carter Warley joke) on episode four.

Leave us questions and comments below, because we will read them on the pod in the coming weeks!

MP3 Download link:

Six Pick: Week Four

It's week four and the season is coming into focus, for good and bad. It is looking more and more like there are a couple of dominant teams at the top, followed by a whole bunch of others that will beat each another up throughout the season. That's okay because it means chaos from week to week. Matchups, desire, luck and fat little girlfriends are going to decide the record for the other 115 schools even more than usual. By no means do I think Bama, LSU, Oregon and FSU can't slip up to inferior teams and take a bad loss. We've all seen too many "great" teams take one on the chin when they weren't prepared, but as of now, they pass the eyeball test and look above the rest.

It's our turn. "Our" being the Atlantic Coast Conference, the much maligned punch line over the last decade. The two best teams in the ACC are FSU and Clemson, and they get to shine on ABC primetime Saturday night. Let's hope they don't disappoint, the nation wants a good show, not some ugly game full of Ron Cherry and turnovers. Even if you hate both teams and the whole conference solidarity thing, {cough} ESS-EEE-SEE {cough} pisses you off, you have to agree the ACC's reputation and image needs this to go right. I love me some #goacc jokes at "our" expense, but for this night, I want an intense, physical, beautiful football from our foes that shows "our" conference belongs. Is that so bad?

Q&A with FalconBlog

This week I did a Q&A with BJ of FalconBlog. My answers are on his blog. Thanks to BJ for his time, enjoy

TKP: Okay, the Falcon's scoring offense is one of the worst in the country (16.7 ppg). What were the offensive expectations going into the season? Is there any particular reason for these struggles?

O&B: Well, one thing is that when you watch the game on Saturday, you won't be seeing the 116th best offense in the country. You might see the 70th but you aren't going to see the 116th. The team has struggled for a few reasons: pre-snap penalties, dropped passes and missed FGs. You can at least do better on the first two. Anyway, our offensive expectations were to be better than this, and while the running game has been pretty satisfying, we're disappointed with the passing game, especially the conservative playcalling.

TKP: MACtion is it's own little cult fan favorite. Do the Falcons run a spread attack? If so, what kind? If not, what offense do they run?

Bowling Green Football Primer, Photo Edition

This week, the Hokies look to rebound from their loss by taking on Bowling Green State University. The Falcons currently sit at 1-2, but have valuable road expereince in big time environments, as they started the season at the Swamp (a 27-14 defeat).

BGSU is coming off a rough 27-15 rivalry loss to Toledo. The Falcons and the Rockets play for the Battle of I-75 Trophy (sometimes referred to as the Peace Pipe) each year. Unfortunately, the Falcons had not claimed a victory in the series since 2009.

Statistics that will make you sad

Sustaining drives is an important charge for any offense. Among other things, longer drives allow more time for the defense to rest, help to win the all important field position battle, and provide more scoring opportunities. Tech has not done a good job at moving the chains. When I found out the Hokies average just 18.33 first downs a game (94th nationally), I decided to do a little bit of analysis.

Lamenting Pitt

It's taken me a lot longer than it should have to talk about last weekend's "game". I put "game" in quotations because it was more or less a very one-sided boxing match. Today is Tuesday. I've sat on my thoughts for over 48 hours, mainly to avoid writing a "chicken little sky-is-falling" type piece and/or a depressing "this is my senior year and the team pretty much just gave me the finger" rage post.

I've finally come to accept the loss, and now understand the team for what it is: an adequately talented young group with a ton of holes. Even holes that Tech fans and writers didn't see coming. There are probably only two positions that don't worry me in some way: kicker and punter. Everything else seems to have some sort of question mark, and you know what? I think I'm about to break it down, position by position.

I'm not French. I can't break down plays and tell you what happened. I'm just going into this with blind, haphazard opinions.


Logan Thomas is worrying just about everyone now. He doesn't look comfortable in the new offense, and the worst part is that the switch was supposed to benefit him. To better utilize him! To summarize something Joe said, at least when we ran the crappy old offense that everyone hated, we knew how to run it. I really hope to see him turn it around...because he's really our hope to be competitive in games.

Running Back

Pitt Film Review: Unravelling What Went Wrong

If you're not getting better, then you are getting worse.

The Hokies were not able to use the Austin Peay game to build depth and rest some beat up players, and I think that three football games in 13 days really caught up to the Tech, especially the rough nature of the Georgia Tech game.

At the same time, this was a beat down of the worst kind. Clemson, Stanford, LSU, and Alabama had terrific football teams. I can't recall feeling this frustrated over a loss since Boston College on Thursday night a few years ago. Every concern raised here over the past two weeks was exposed in a drastic fashion. We knew the offense was not explosive. In order to be successful their execution had to be outstanding to sustain long drives. Yet on every critical play, one mistake—either blocking, reading a block, flub on a route, or horrid decision making/mechanics by the quarterback—derailed the play. Defensively, we knew that the secondary was one bruised shoulder away from being a disaster, and we saw that scenario play out in macabre fashion.

Bounce Back

Editor's Note: I'm still bummed over the loss, but there's still a long season in front of us. Mikey's piece put that into perspective for me. Bumped to the front. --Joe

Ronny Vandyke Double Block Dot GIF

This was the final block that sprung Kyshoen Jarrett.

After the debacle Saturday, I figured we could all use this. It seems like every time RVD is on the field he's making a play, which makes me wonder why RVD isn't on the field more.



*That's the post. French will have the film review by Monday morning and my guess is it won't be sunshine and lollipops. Remember, we can still win the ACC. -- THIS MESSAGE BROUGHT TO YOU BY BEAMER CO.

More than Superficial: Pitt

This week I'm asking more questions than providing answers. Tech's first two games were a bit of a scheduling anomaly. The Hokies spent all summer preparing to defend Paul Johnson's option and Al Groh's 3-4, then had just 5 days to turn around and square away a I-AA team. Now that the Hokies have had a full week to rest, regroup, watch film, and practice, will we see that week one to two improvement that the Frankinator often speaks about, but didn't happen last Saturday?

Will the o-line get a push inside? For the most part, the Hokies front five held their own in pass protection against the Bees and Peay(s), but as a group didn't dominate the line of scrimmage. Andrew Miller is listed as probable with an ankle injury, but practiced this week. The reserves got snaps inside last Saturday: Caleb Farris at center, Brent Benedict and Matt Arkema at guard. Pitt's defensive line played on their heels against Cincinnati, and is group that should be owned by the Hokie big uglies.

Lets Go! - First Half Road Game Guide

After a nail biter against Georgia Tech, and slow malaise of a game against Austin Peay, it's time for the Hokies to hit the road. Virginia Tech has the longest road game winning streak in the nation (13 consecutive true road wins), and hopefully the Hokie faithful will travel to watch them extend it.

Virginia Tech has a reputation of having of a great traveling fan base. Traveling well elevates the standing of the program, especially with bowl game officials, and the first three road games of the season are very convenient destinations.