Checking in on Hokies Hoops

"Do you want basketball tickets for Christmas?" That was the (pretty ironic) text I got from my mom about ten minutes after Tech lost to USC Upstate two weeks ago. It was at that exact moment in time where I wondered whether my nine-win prediction for this team was too kind. If this was how the entire season was going to go, I would rather have spent an entire year in solitary with Bruce Pearl than watch this team.

That was, however, only the first game of the season and I will admit to being a bit irrational. The team has since ripped off three straight wins over West Virginia, Western Carolina and VMI, sparking a very small hope in the fan base that this team is better than anticipated. Well in short, they probably are, but not for many of the reasons we expected.

Now, before I talk about what's been going on with the team I need to clarify something: this team won't be good. Now, let me clarify something on the point that I just clarified: this team's record won't be good. They'll almost definitely finish in the bottom two or three teams in the conference, so read all of the following through that lens.

Virginia Tech Offers Tina Fey

Editor's Note: TheFifthFuller is writing about recruiting. Everything going to hell during a bye week is a continuing theme this season.

In a surprising development, has exclusively learned that Virginia Tech has offered fanship to five-star Comedian/Actress Tina Fey out of Upper Darby, PA. The offer is notable since Fey has ties to rival school Virginia, graduating from there in the early 90s. Tech, however, has a recent history of gaining commitments from recruits with ties to the school, including brothers of current players. That strategy is a small part of the overall "Bitch, please" mentality the Hokies football program has to its in-state rival.

Fey would be a big get for the Hokies. She has demonstrated versatility and a broad reach to a large audience, something that can only help the Hokies national profile. She would also reach a vastly different demographic than recent high profile fan commit Britney Spears. Sadly, as has been the trend with many high profile recruits recently, some overzealous Hokie fans are already strongly lobbying Fey to pick their school.

#goacc Power Rankings: Week 12

The Toilet Bowl Division

Yeah...these teams aren't making a bowl game

14. Virginia (2-8, LW: BYE): The good news? The Wahoos had a bye last week, which is just one letter away from BYU, conjuring up memories of Virginia's ever more confounding win in week one. This week they play Miami, who Mike London has somehow owned during his tenure (3-0). While this just seems like a random statistic, let's look just a little deeper shall we? As we all know, the NCAA just wrapped up an investigation of Miami. What if having a cop on the across sideline messed with the Canes' head just a little bit, adding a bit of paranoia to the game? What if London told them he was part of the investigation, and Miami just didn't know any better? Wouldn't it explain at least two of their last three matchups?

If Virginia had a Thanksgiving Day disaster, it would be: Uncle Tenuta has one too many glasses of wine, and causes a scene at the dinner table. This forces London to put him down, hard, while Tom O'Brien and Steve Fairchild sit in stunned silence.

UVA Hate Week Gets in the Holiday Spirit

Editor's Note: And thanks to Wartooth, hate week is off and running.

It's that time again! UVA (14-day) Hate Week! Get in the spirit!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!
There'll be Zima for sharing
And wine and cheese pairing
Then sweet Wahoo tears!
It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Unexplainable: Breaking Down the Hokies Loss to Maryland

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

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

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

BeamerBall: Attrition and Will Likely's Touchdown Return

It is clich to say that football is a game of inches or moments, but it often proves to be the case. Saturday's game against Maryland provided a wealth of frustrating moments, but ultimately two special teams plays haunted the Hokies as they muddled their way to overtime. Walk-on kicker Eric Kristensen dinged a 3-point attempt off the left post that would have given the Hokies a 10-point lead, and the Hokies punt return team gave up a touchdown return to freshman Will Likely that completely took the air out of Lane Stadium. If either play goes differently, perhaps the Hokies pull out a win in a game where they definitely were not sharp. I can't be critical of Kristensen. He was thrust into an impossible situation, and he hit both attempts solidly. Against an average opponent, the Hokies should not have been in a position where kicker needed to win the game. However, special teams as a whole continued to stink. Little was accomplished in the return game. And the coverage teams again struggled as they did against the Hurricanes and Alabama.

We lost to Maryland

If anything this team is inconsistent. Apologies in advance for typos as I am writing on my phone at a reverse tailgate.

This season Tech has figured out to beat good teams, and lose to average ones. It's been both a bumpy and enjoyable ride.

Headed to Blacksburg

I'll be in Blacksburg tomorrow. In case you missed it, there's a tailgate at 8:00 AM in Lot 9 benefitting the Women's Resource Center of NRV before the game. Bring a five buck (or more) donation and come party your face off with us. Look for a black Ford F-150, or holler on Twitter (@thekeyplay) if you're having problems finding us. Hint: we'll be the loud ones.

Final words on Maryland, courtesy of The Box follow after the jump.

Game Preview: Maryland

Virginia Tech Hokies (7-3, 4-2) at Maryland Terrapins (5-4, 1-4)

Time: 12:30 PM
Date: Saturday, November 16, 2013
Place: Blacksburg, Virginia
Stadium: Lane Stadium (65,632)
TV: ACC Network
Radio: Virginia Tech IMG
Spread: Virginia Tech -16
Weather: 48 - 61 F, Partly Cloudy, 20% Chance of Rain

The Skinny

By: Joe

Virginia Tech doesn't control its own destiny to Charlotte, but the Hokies cleared a major hurdle by dominating Miami on the road. Regardless of what happens with Duke and the rest of the ACC, the Hokies will need to win their remaining two games. Maryland is a beat up squad, and if Tech can run the ball as effectively as last week, they should be able to handle business on senior day.

By the (Advanced) Numbers: Maryland

Matchup Overview

We almost, almost, worked ourselves into having an offensive advantage over a team. Sadly, it didn't happen. Maryland enjoys a slight advantage when they're on defense, and UVa's defense is the only thing stopping Mike London from handing out speeding tickets in the 757 again.

My Reaction to Cody Jounrell's Dismissal

I was just about to head to the gym when...

Really? Before senior night, after all the second chances, and Frank Beamer having Cody's back during his slump. All of those golf analogies was Frank's coach speak at its best.

"Foe"Rensics: Maryland

Hello. Welcome to this week's "Foe"Rensics feature, where we make up stuff about our opponents to make them more interesting. The good news is, this week, Maryland lives in this crazy alternative universe where normal doesn't exist, so I don't even really have to be creative this week. Let's get to work!

#goacc Power Rankings: Week 11

Before I get to the power rankings, I want to share a quick story.

During my last two years of college I was working as hard as I could to make myself better at broadcasting. I had worked with IMG in Blacksburg, calling play-by-play of all sorts games of the "Olympic sports" variety (volleyball, soccer, wrestling, etc...), but during the spring there was a lot more down time.

In order to keep my reps up, I would go to Hokie baseball games and practice calling them into a recorder, "The three-one to Pinder," and so on. I used to do this on the grassy hill behind the away dugout, so no one could hear me as I made a fool of myself talking into a recorder like a crazy person. Well, to teach me a lesson in vocal confidence, my boss (Andrew Allegretta) told me before one baseball game that I had to sit in the stands with the rest of the spectators.

Needless to say...I was petrified.

Jim Weaver to Retire

As best as I can tell Mark Giannotto reported the story first, but David Teel followed up with more firm details.

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.