Review of Arkansas State Game/Front Seven

After a long drive back to the DC suburbs and a full day of discussing health information technology at the AHRQ Conference, my brain has had some difficulty digesting the game from Saturday. During the game, I found my focus wandering, as I had difficulty watching the offensive line as closely as I do when I watch the game on film. Hence, I am going to do a "post game thoughts" post, and I will follow it up when I have a chance to watch the video of the game.

This ain't your daddy's ACC

I did not see that one coming.  Nope, not even an inkling.  And I challenge anyone who reads this to look me square in the eye and tell me that they thought the ACC was going to be the conference that started the super-conference dominos falling.

I, like most Hokies following the realignment discussions and rumors, was worried that Virginia Tech would get left behind in some bastardized version of the ACC and Big East.  That once the Pac 12 went to 16, the SEC would feel compelled to do so, as well.  If the SEC was going to go to 16, there's no way they get there without poaching a few ACC schools, and there's no way I want to be apart of an ACC sans Clemson and Florida State.

Grillin' With Wolf: Kelly Green Chili Bison Burgers

Marshall is located in Huntington, West Virginia and was founded in 1837. It is named after John Marshall, fourth Chief Justice of the United States, and they have never beaten rival West Virginia in football. They can brag about having some pretty famous alumni. Billy Crystal and Brad Dourif attended, as well as a great deal of athletes. In 2009 we rushed for 444 yards against the Thundering Herd; David Wilson accounted for 165 of those yards on just 12 carries. So what are we eating while looking forward to the possibility of DW4's first 200 yard rushing game? Well if you are headed to Huntington you could stop by Triple D classic HillBilly Hotdogs and order the Thundering Herd Dog. A hot dog covered with Habanero sauce, nacho cheese, chili sauce, jalapeños, onions and slaw. If you don't want to spend the game visiting the restroom, then I came up with another recipe for you. In honor of Marco the Bison we are making Kelly green chili bison burgers.


Arkansas State Roll Call

Solid showing on Saturday. I think there's a ton of positives to take away from it.

The Red Devils wanted to stop the run and they did a decent job doing so. Despite their dedication, we saw a few flashes of DW4's brilliance. Logan threw the ball well for the most part.

Hated to see Dyrell go down, but I'm glad we'll all get to enjoy him play in Lane again. Here's to a speedy and healthy recovery...

But let's talk about everyone who played on Saturday:

1. Antone Exum - I see the back of his jersey too much for comfort. But considering he's early in his second season, I think he's doing a fine job. He showed off some good tackling skills, that's for sure.

2. Josh Oglesby - Not a lot of running room for the senior on Saturday, but a couple of nice carries.

3. Logan Thomas - I believe he's going to be the guy we all think he can be. He made some really nice throws. The skill set is there and everything is going to fall into place the more he goes at it. But time is running out before it gets real serious.

4. David Wilson - Saturday proved that he is actually a human. But if that's human for David Wilson, we're in pretty good shape. I'm sure he'd call it a down day because he didn't hit 100 yards, but he was vital to the offense's success.


USA, USA, USA via @zegolf

The Arkansas State offensive gameplan seemed very similar to the one we intended to execute against ECU. However, the coaches weren't forced to scrap the pass in favor of the run. We came out throwing Saturday, 33 times in all, 9 of 12 times to start a series. Logan had a good game. He completed 63% of his passes, only 8-yards shy of 300 with a couple of scores and picks. He made some great throws and bad decisions, but at the end of the day it was a big step forward.

I'm learning it's a lot easier to be critical of what we're trying to do on offense while it's happening. I see the big picture clearer after I watch the game a second time. I liked how O'Cain mixed in some screens, kept an almost 50-50 balance of run pass (33-40) and controlled the clock for more than 36 minutes. I thought the running game lacked an inside presence though. We still need to be able to run against a crowded box, because we won't be able to run to the sideline everytime against faster defenses like Clemson and Miami. I still believe Thomas is going to be the guy doing the majority of the dirty work between the tackles, and the option game is the best vehicle for that. There was less of that against Arkansas State than ECU, perhaps because the game was in hand for the majority of the sixty minutes.

Three games into the season and a young defense looks like a group of wily veterans. After the slow start last year, I was worried it would take this unit some time to mature. They've been pretty spectacular out of the gate. Defensively the game reminded me of the Orange Bowl against Cincinatti. We made a mistake, got behind, then held our ground for the rest of the afternoon. We didn't put on a clinic like against ECU, but considering Arkansas State has better skill players a shutout for 48 minutes is damn impressive.

Here are some specifics that caught my attention while rewatching the game.

Week 3 BlogPoll Ballot

My full poll is after the jump. As always I'm going to rely on y'all to keep me in check so leave your opinions, thoughts and suggestions in the comments and I'll adjust the poll as necessary.

  • LSU \ Oklahoma \ Alabama - All can make a claim for the number one spot.
  • West Virginia - The 'Eers get bumped down after almost collapsing against Maryland. As most of you pointed out last week, I had them too high. If they beat LSU, they'll be in my top 5. /shivers
  • Clemson, Georgia Tech, North Carolina - Three ACC newcomers, all are 3-0. Tajh Boyd looked like the best quarterback in the ACC yesterday. He can spin it, and led scoring drive after drive against Auburn putting a slow starting first-half behind him. Georgia Tech's offense is throwing up NCAA '11 type numbers. North Carolina... Well, they did beat Rutgers. Yay? Should I put Auburn back in the poll or do wins against Virginia, Rutgers and a I-AA qualify Carolina over them?
  • Florida State - They played Oklahoma close, even tying the game late behind the arm of backup quarterback Clint Trickett. I came away impressed with the FSU defense, I can't say as much about their offense. Regardless of who played QB for the 'Noles the offense would have struggled. FSU-Clemson this Saturday will be very telling.
  • Texas - They got out west and beat UCLA and I drop them a spot. I had overvalued them last week.

Arkansas State Preview

Who: #13 Virginia Tech Hokies (2-0, 0-0 ACC) vs Arkansas State Red Wolves (1-1, 0-0 Sun Belt)

Time: 4:08 PM

TV Coverage: Regional Sports Network (Mike Hogewood, John Bunting, Sammy Linebaugh)

Venue: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA (66,233 — Grass)

Series History: Virginia Tech leads 3-0

  • Last Meeting (2002): Virginia Tech 63, Arkansas State 7
  • Tech has outscored A-State 147-14 in three games between the squads.
  • This is the first meeting between the two schools with Arkansas State being the Red Wolves. They were the Indians until 2008.

Injury Report

  • OL David Wang – Out (foot)
  • TE Eric Martin – Probable (shoulder)

The Opponent

Arkansas State enters Saturday's contest coming off a 47-3 thumping of Memphis last weekend after falling 33-15 in the season opener at Illinois. The Red Wolves are under the direction of first year head coach Hugh Freeze, who was A-State's offensive coordinator last year. Freeze has just two years of head coaching experience, both at NAIA Lambuth University.

This team is senior-laden, with 15 senior starters speckling the roster. However, that stat is a bit deceiving as a majority of ASU's roster is juniors and seniors that have transferred from junior colleges.

On Offense

Their Last Dance: Arkansas State

For college football teams last impressions are the ones that matter most. These are notes, observations and food for thought on our opponents' last game.

Arkansas State found the perfect beat against Memphis last Saturday. The Red Wolves put an old-fashioned on the Tigers, a 47-3 rout that saw Mephis outgained by 442 yards, a margin that could have been even greater had Arkansas State played their starters the entire game. But, BREAKING, Mephis is a terrible team.

--For the third week in a row Tech will play against a variation of the spread. Arkansas State's offense was explosive. They are currently T-21st nationally with 33 plays gaining 10+ yards, and T-7th with 7 plays gaining 30+ yards.

--It's a fast-paced offense with a lot of no huddle and calling plays from the line of scrimmage.

--There were pistol sets too!

--Redshirt freshman running back (Rivals 3-star) Frankie Jackson was very good. He's got take-it-to-the-house speed, but he'll also lower the shoulder and take on a defender. He trucked at least two Tigers. ASU made it a priority to get him the ball in space: zone reads, pitches and lot's of swing passes.

--Arkansas State's kick coverage wasn't very good. There were a lot of arm tackles, and players getting out of their lanes.

Six Pick: Week Three

Last week did not disappoint, more quality matchups equaled more quality finishes. Imagine that. The weekend culminated at 11:30pm with a last second Michigan touchdown to beat Notre Dame in an all-time thriller. This week looks a lot like last week featuring 10+ quality games and a huge primetime matchup to boot. There is a very heavy southern presence, 9 of 12 teams are from the SEC or ACC. I just hope the ACC teams can prove they belong and get some conference respect back. Our conference can't perpetually be ass can it?

When you hear Brent Musburger say, "You are looking live at Doak Campbell Stadium ..." with the noise of 82k strong behind him, you know it's a big game. Brent can sometimes mail it in, but for big games, he almost always brings it. We'll get his focused attention throughout as it features no. 1 Oklahoma and no. 5 Florida State at 8pm Saturday night. The Sooners make the return trip to Tallahassee and are sure to be greeted by a loud, electric and lubed up crowd pumped full of Seminole-Backness. The Noles took a whooping in Norman last season, so they'll be looking for payback. This game has the makings of great theater, so even if you hate both teams, watch the game. The winner clears their biggest BCS Championship game hurdle.

Thursday, September 15th

East Carolina Roll Call

Obviously the coaches didn't throw a ton of players out there this week. And I didn't notice several guys, so I assume it was mostly special teams duty.

I liked how physical the team played. Our running backs embodied it, as did the offensive line for much of the game. But the mistakes were painful.

Let's look at the roster.

1. Antone Exum - Does anyone else think he plays fast and tough? He's going to get better at being in position earlier to make plays the longer he's on the field.

2. Josh Oglesby - Not enough people are talking about his performance. It's not easy to run near the goal line and he made several key plays. He's an important part of this backfield. He's best when he picks a lane and heads downfield. Not dancing. Again, beast performance on Saturday.

3. Logan Thomas - So much to say, but let me limit it to this: The key thing to watch is improvement. He is coming off his first road start. We saw Tyrod develop into a great QB. We need to watch for the same with Logan. And we're asking him to do a lot, more than I think we asked Tyrod in his second year. Here's a Tyrod stat line from Week 3 as a sophomore, in a 20-17 win over Georgia Tech in Lane: 9-14 for 38 yards. He averaged 3.4 yards per completion. But he rushed for 74 and a touchdown. LT3 can make plays when he's running with the rock. I want to see a healthy dose of him trucking people come Week 5.

Grillin' With Wolf: Arkansas State Baby Back Ribs

Arkansas State is the second largest college in Arkansas and is located on Crowley's Ridge in Jonesboro. ASU was founded as an agricultural school in 1909 and changed names multiple times finally settling on their current name in 1933. The Red Wolves, who are part of Sun Belt, finished 4-8 last year. ASU has put a lot of players in the NFL such as Ray Brown, Tyrell Johnson, Ken Jones, Ron Meeks, and Elbert Shelley. What comes to mind when you think of Arkansas? Barbeque should. Arkansas BBQ may not be as well known as NC, TN, TX, or KS, but is that because of the food or the people? Rex Nelson wrote an interesting article with his view that Arkansas BBQ is not often spoken of because the people of the state are modest.. Arkansas barbeque is almost always pork and is a mix between sauce and rub. So here is my interpretation of Arkansas baby back ribs.


Film Study: BBQ-Scented Potpourri

After re-watching the ECU game, I feel a lot better now about the team going forward than I did Saturday afternoon. Watching the game live wasn't easy on my eyes. The penalties, turnovers, special teams gaffs and little mistakes added up and overshadowed what was otherwise a clinic in power football supported by a tremendous defensive performance. We controlled the clock for 37:22, rushed for 241 yards, held ECU to 112 total yards and only won by seven points. We spotted ECU 92 yards on penalties, turned the ball over twice, only threw for 91 yards, got lucky ECU dropped some balls, missed a gimme field goal, shanked some punts and won by seven points. There's a very thin line separating wins and losses, and I'm happy as hell we're on the right side of it.

This week's film study won't have a theme, but will be a hodgepodge of things that caught my attention.

East Carolina Game Review (Focus on the Front 7)

Okay folks, lets not press the panic button yet. Yes, the Hokie offense struggled against a weak East Carolina defense, but the score of this game really should have been at least 26-10. I think this team shows a lot of promise, but there is vast room for improvement.

Before I focus on the critical, I would like to note some positives about the game.

Defensive line

Week 2 BlogPoll Ballot

My full poll is after the jump. As always I'm going to rely on y'all to keep me in check so leave your opinions, thoughts and suggestions in the comments and I'll adjust the poll as necessary.

  • LSU or Alabama - Last week you guys convinced me LSU should be in top slot, and for right now I'm leaving them there, but an argument can be made that Alabama deserves it. Both the Tide and Tigers have blown out lesser competition and strangled a top 25 opponent. I believe Oregon is better than PSU, but LSU won what was essentially a home game while Alabama did their dirty work on the road.
  • Texas - I have them higher than most. They're talented, but they don't have an identity. There may be a quarterback controversy developing, starter Garrett Gilbert was yanked for a rotation of underclassmen-- Case McCoy and David Ash. It wasn't a sexy win, but they beat what I believe to be a pretty good BYU and like him or not (I don't), Mack Brown is a damn good head coach.
  • Auburn - They took every punch Mississippi State threw and stood tall in end. They don't have Cam Newton, but they still have Michael Dyer, an under appreciated running back.
  • Michigan St. - Meh.


Any time LT3 runs someone over, it's getting GIFed.

Hey, do you guys remember this time last year when we were 0-2? That sucked. Thankfully it's 2011 and we're 2-0. An ugly, ain't no winning second prize in a beauty contest 2-0, but that's our record an I'm thankful for it. The Frankinator always says the biggest improvement comes between week one and two and right now I'm not buying it. Well...

The defense held ECU to 112 total yards (compared to 361 yards last season) and picked off a pass (that should have been a pair of passes). The defense straight hammed, and it's a relief to know we can once again bumble around on offense and win a game because the defense is there to get our back. Bud's ain't fooling around like last season.

Logan Thomas: 8/20 91 yards a pick and 11 carries for 66 yards.

/decreases Hype-O-Meter

ECU Live Blog

The live blog starts at 3:30. Eric will be moderating and approving your comments in between parenting, so hang in there if you don't see yourself showing up. #BeerControlFather I'll be there via Joe-mobile. Go Hokies!

East Carolina Preview

Who: #11 Virginia Tech Hokies (1-0, 0-0 ACC) @ East Carolina Pirates (0-1, 0-0 Conference USA)

Time: 3:40 PM

TV Coverage: Fox Sports Net (Ron Thulin, JC Pearson, Jeremy Bloom)

Venue: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC (50,000 – Grass)

Series History: Virginia Tech leads 11-5

  • Last Meeting (2010): Virginia Tech 49, East Carolina 27
  • This is Virginia Tech's first true "road" non-conference game since a 16-3 victory in Greenville in 2009
  • The Hokies are 4-2 all-time at East Carolina, including three straight victories dating back to 1994
  • Tech has won 9 of the last 10 meetings with ECU, with the only loss being the season opener in Charlotte in 2008
  • Since 1994, VT has won 14 consecutive true "road" games in the state of North Carolina

Injury Report

  • FS Theron Norman – Probable (shoulder)
  • LB Telvion Clark – Probable (ankle)
  • WR D.J. Coles – Probable (shoulder)
  • OL Michael Via – Probable (knee)

The Opponent: The East Carolina Pirates open their home slate with a visit from Virginia Tech Saturday in Greenville. The Pirates are coming off a 56-37 loss to South Carolina in Charlotte last Saturday, a game in which they held a 17-0 lead in the second quarter.