2013-14 Basketball Questions and Answers

I hate to interrupt the near-apocalyptic vortex that is rooting for this Virginia Tech football team, but basketball season is back! Who's ready for depressing double digit losses and something unplanned to go dramatically wrong? I mean, we've already gone through the 2012 football season, so we're all used to all of those things by now.

I realize that the team has already played one game, so this isn't technically a "preview", but I'm going to ask myself a bunch of questions that I expect to be issues that will develop over the season, and answer them to the best of my ability.

Logistical Questions

How bad is this team going to be? Wow, let's cut right to the chase, shall we? In short, this team is not going to be good. The combination of youth, that of both the team and the coaching staff, usually doesn't bode well, no matter how talented either side is. That being said, I'm convinced that the team's final record is not going to represent the way the team plays...but we'll get to that. The record will be bad. I'm talking...really bad. Like possibly single-digit wins bad.

Aggressive Defense and Conservative Offense, Miami Film Review

Against Miami, the offense did what I expected them to do all season long. An offense that controls the clock and focuses on picking up first downs. An offense that protects the football and puts Foster's defense in favorable positions. An offense that scores in the red zone. An offense that runs the ball. Loeffler trusted his offensive line, and in the second half he leaned on Edmunds and Coleman to get first downs and keep the ball away from the big play Miami offense. This is what I envisioned when Loeffler was hired.

If you haven't read French's review of the run game yet... what the heck is wrong with you? It's a celebration of the first game this season where the rushing offense truly "broke out". I won't try and improve on the run game analysis (it's not possible), but I will say that the ground game's maturation came at the perfect time.

Design, Personnel, Trust, and Execution: Running Game Film Review

It was more enjoyable to watch the film this week after two gut-wrenching Sunday's in a row. After a shaky start, the Hokies benefited from several Miami special teams turnovers and the running game finally complimented the ever-improving passing attack. Also, some of the burden of picking up short yardage was lifted off Logan Thomas' shoulders, and you saw the result. A huge part of Saturday's success can't be documented with X's and O's. Some might say that Virginia Tech benefited by some lucky bounces, but A.J. Hughes stuck his head in on a bigger, stronger, and faster player to knock the first ball loose. Derek DiNardo chased down the Artie Burns to strip the ball from behind. Kalvin Cline punched the Stanford fumble away from a Miami defender so D.J. Coles could dive on the loose ball. Demitri Knowles hustled after the play to be in position to recover the Byrn fumble in the end zone. Trey Edmunds made several Hurricanes miss on a critical third down conversion when he was dead to rights on a pass in the flat. These were all effort plays. The Hokies offense outworked the Hurricanes defense.

Thekeyplay.com Tailgate to Benefit Women's Resource Center of NRV

There will be a Thekeyplay.com tailgate this Saturday (11/16/13) at 8:00 AM before the Maryland game. The spot is Lot 9, 0291. There will be some food (deer, burgers, dogs) and drinks provided, but those are bound to run out. If you're planning on staying for a while, please bring something to contribute; whether that's food to share, drinks, or tailgating supplies (chairs, trash bags, whatever).

Most importantly, it's a charity event. If you are planning on coming by at all, even to say hello for a minute, you are required to bring $5 or more in cash, canned goods, or supplies from this list.

The donations will benefit The Women's Resource Center Of The New River Valley.

We beat the snot out of Miami

Was that as good for you as it was for me?

This is going to be short, sweet, and all about Logan Thomas. Forget the fact we scored points fumbling into the end zone, and that chaos was our 12th man. (RAIN PLUS MIAMI EQUALS A REAL GOOD TIME.) This game was Logan Thomas at his best, and I'm really happy for him. At the beginning of the week the media asked if he was confident in remaining the starter. Fans got after him following poor performances against Duke and at Boston College. We highlighted the mistakes on the film. Then...

HE PLAYED THIS GAME. 25 of 31 for 366 yards, 2 touchdowns through the air, and 42 yards rushing. He did that, and I'm not sure I've ever been happier for a kid. Stats aside, I'm not sure if Logan has ever looked as comfortable and confident in the pocket.

He delivered another big win on the road, and I'm happy that's tonight's narrative.

By the (Advanced) Numbers: Miami (Night Edition)

Raise your hand if you thought BC would score 34 on us...anyone? Anyone?

The difference between last week and this week is that last week we wanted the numbers to be right, while this week we're hoping they're wrong.

The Basics

Here's how we compare both in terms of computer rankings and predictions:

Game Preview: Miami

Virginia Tech Hokies (6-3, 3-2) at Miami Hurricanes (7-1, 3-1)

Time: 7:06 PM
Date: Saturday, November 9, 2013
Place: Miami Gardens, Florida
Stadium: Sun Life Stadium (76,100)
Radio: Virginia Tech IMG
Spread: Miami -6.5
Weather: 73 - 82 F, 40% Chance of Rain

The Skinny

By: Joe

As Charley Wiles said earlier this week, "We're 8-1 or we're 6-3, we still got to beat Miami." If the Hokies can limit turnovers and continue to play tenacious defense, they can pave their own path to Charlotte.

"Foe"Rensics: Miami

Hello. Welcome to this week's "Foe"Rensics feature, where we investigate the inner workings of our opponent in order to allow you to be the best informed fan in the stadium!

#goacc Power Rankings: Week 10

Florida State is amazing, Clemson is really good, Miami is good and every other team ranges from slightly above average to morbid. Let's just get to the rankings before one of the teams near the bottom of the list tries to knock me out for the rest of the season.

The Dave Shinskie Division

(Dregs of the conference)

14. Virginia (2-7, LW: L 59-10 vs Clemson): Congratulations are in order for Chris Fowler for winning the "Best Joke That Made Me Angry That I Didn't Think Of It First" award for his work in calling Virginia the Cadaver-liers. It was a joke fit for this column, and he beat me to it. I guess that's why he hosts College GameDay and why I'm not wearing any pants right now.

If Virginia was a television show, they would be: Teen Mom. Everyone knows what this show is about. In fact, more people hate watch it than you realize, if only to remind them why their life is so good. It's definitely a pick me up for anyone with a relatively normal life.

It's Miami Week

Rosters change over the years. Coaches come and go. Seasons have their low points. None of that changes the fact that we play Miami Saturday, and we will play them tough. Forget everything that's happened to this point and get your mind right.

In Defense of Logan Thomas

It's been a rough two weeks to be a Hokie fan. After spending an entire week making fun of UVA for losing to Duke, our Hokies turn around and do the exact same thing. One week later, Frank Beamer's squad makes the trip to Boston College and falls flat again. Two weeks ago this season felt like it could end up being a special one. Today, it feels like the team is going to have to rally just to prevent a disaster from occurring. As tough as it has been on the fans, no one has had a worse two weeks than Logan Thomas.

Thomas hasn't played well the past two weeks and the backlash from very vocal part of the fan base has been tremendous. Twitter was a on fire Saturday as a great number of Hokie fans voiced their displeasure at the amateur athlete's performance. The discontent didn't stop there as it bled over onto a number of different VT football forums, including this one. I don't think there is anything wrong with questioning whether a specific player gives the Hokies the best chance to win, as long as it is done in a respectful way. Almost all the comments that I've read here on the matter have gone out of their way to keep their criticism of Thomas focused on his play on the field, and not to attacks on his character. For that, I applaud the community.

The criticism has been fair, no doubt about it. Like everyone else, I recognize that Thomas has played poorly for two consecutive games and his mistakes in both the Duke and Boston College game came at critical moments. If Virginia Tech is going to have a successful rest of the season, they will need more consistent quarterback play from whoever is under center. No one has been more vocal than me in their support of Thomas, but I took Sunday to reevaluate my belief that he is the best the Hokies have at that position. Eventually I decided that yes, Thomas is still the man for the job.

Miami's Duke Johnson Out For Season

Sophomore tailback Duke Johnson broke his ankle on Miami's final offensive play of the third quarter against FSU attempting to convert a 4th-and-1. That's devastating news for both Johnson and the 'Canes. Now, Miami will try to bounce back against Virginia Tech without their best offensive player.

According to cfbstats.com, Johnson averaged 115 yards per game, that's second in the ACC only to Boston College's Andre Williams. Johnson is third overall in the conference in rushing average. He banged out 6.34 yards a touch. Duke was a threat as a receiver coming out the backfield, and he was Miami's primary kick returner. His loss cannot be understated.

Dallas Crawford, a 5-10, 194-pound redshirt sophomore, is listed as Miami's No. 1 running back. Crawford has netted less than a third of Johnson's total yards (294 to 920), but can punch the ball into the end zone. He rushed for 9 scores, and caught another. According to UM, he's averaging a TD every 7.5 offensive touches.

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.

On Losing to Boston College, Logan Thomas, and Scot Loeffler

I was rather disappointed after the Boston College loss, probably more than I should've been. The Hokies have been inconsistent all season, but up until the last two Saturdays, have been on the right side of the coin in close games. The offense isn't good enough to overcome mistakes, special teams have been all over the place, and the defense's job isn't to score points. The offense couldn't overcome four turnovers despite churning out 446 yards, most of which came through the passing game. That was Tech's most output against an ACC team since Duke in 2012 (525 yards).

Yesterday, the most scrutinized and analyzed player was once again Logan Thomas. He made some great throws, like this strike to Coles.


However, there were also inaccurate tosses and head scratchers, like the over the middle desperation toss under pressure that resulted in the pick six.

Game Preview: Boston College

Virginia Tech Hokies (6-2, 3-1) at Boston College Eagles (3-4, 1-3)

Time: 12:06 PM
Date: Saturday, November 2, 2013
Place: Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Stadium: Alumni Stadium (44,500)
TV: ABC Regional (reverse mirror on ESPN2)
Radio: Virginia Tech IMG
Spread: Virginia Tech -4.5
Weather: 55 - 65 F, Partly Cloudy, 80% Humidity

The Skinny

By: Joe

Virginia Tech has played tremendous football in November since joining the ACC (29-4 overall, 27-4 in ACC play). Tech has won its last 5 meetings against the Eagles, and that streak will have to continue if the Hokies want to play a meaningful game in December. Despite last Saturday's embarrassing loss to Duke, Tech still controls their own destiny to Charlotte.

Players to Watch

By: French

Andre Williams (#44): Williams is a 6-foot, 227-pound senior who currently leads the ACC in rushing at 144 yards per game. Williams did not play against the Hokies last season due to injury. He is a powerful back who has terrific straight-line speed. Boston College uses him as a battering ram from both traditional power sets as well as the pistol and shotgun. Most of his big runs come from the pistol set, where often Boston College will run a traditional stretch play, but block down and pull a guard. Williams isn't elusive, but he is outstanding at maintaining his balance after contact. If Boston College can get an early lead against Virginia Tech, expect Williams to get carry after carry.

"Foe"Rensics: Boston College

Hello. Welcome to this week's "Foe"Rensics feature. This week we'll travel up North to visit one of the premier football powerhouses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. No, not the vaunted Minutemen of UMass (and not Maryland, as some idiot insisted last week1, we're popping the hood to take a look inside the Boston College Eagles!

By the (Advanced) Numbers: Boston College

I was going to begin by explaining how it's really not that uncommon for a 13.5-point underdog to win. How statistically we were the better team, and how almost any number but the score showed a clear Hokie victory. But no one's going to feel better after reading a bunch of stats that make it look like we won when we didn't.

The Offense

A positive thing about having an offense that barely cracks the top 100 is that it takes a really bad performance against a bad defense to bring it down much further, and even a 10-point showing against Duke doesn't do much damage. We remain somewhere around 95th-100th in offense by most statistical rankings, which is pretty terrible. Rather than hammer on the negative, I'll just say that we're actually not bad at methodical drives (percentage of drives with 10 or more plays), mostly as a result of a Logandozer that can pick up a few yards running on almost any play.

Beyond that I think it's best that we move on to defense.

#goacc Power Rankings: Week 9

This is finally the first week that we know some things in the ACC. We know that there's a true cream of the crop, a few incredibly bad teams, and everyone else muddled in the middle.

Wait...you're saying that we already knew that? That teams between 4 and 8 on this list are so jumbled and confusing, even Ron Cherry wouldn't know what to do? Oh yeah, I guess nothing's really changed at all.

Anyways, let's get to the rankings.