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.

The Seduction of the Inverted Veer: Running Game Reviewed

One of the narratives stemming from the Duke game from media outlets and fans alike is criticism of Scot Loeffler. On Tuesday, Daily Press scribe David Teel tweeted that the Hokies were, "averaging an #ACC-worst 21.5 points per game. On pace for program's most anemic season since 1989's 18.5.". Others have commented on both on Twitter and within our community that the offense has regressed under Loeffler. I think both viewpoints lose track of the bigger picture.

When Experience Fails

It's Sunday morning here in Abingdon, and after a night of grinding teeth and muttering curse words in my sleep, I awoke to find the film of the Duke game sitting in my inbox. The loss was not just critical in the current chase for the Coastal Division title, but is perhaps even more damaging to program perception. Even though Duke is a vastly improved football team, nationally they are regarded as a traditionally weak program. The Hokies giftwrapped the game on a silver platter even though Duke gave them every opportunity to, not only win the football game, but win in a comfortable, albeit not pretty fashion, similar to wins over Georgia Tech, Pitt, and UNC. It was a perfect cauldron of injuries, bye week rust, distractions, suspensions, bad decisions, bounces, fundamental breakdowns, and an opponent that fought like hell.

Watching the film, I was overwhelmed by numerous breakdowns by players who have produced critical plays all season, and at the same time I was left scratching my head at some of the game planning and decisions. Throughout the bye week, we heard that the running game would be cleaned up, and that players on both sides of the ball had an opportunity to heal for the stretch run. Instead, the offensive playcalling often seemed to play right into the strength of the Duke defense, and some defense senior leaders delivered quiet performances. Even when the Hokies dialed up the perfect call, things seemed to go Duke's way. Accordingly, this week's film review will require two parts. The next installment will feature the offensive game plan and coaching, and I want the extra time to really take a good look at the read option game and understand the diminishing returns. As for today, I want to focus on the breakdowns by some of those experienced players. I pride myself on trying not being overly critical of players, and instead trying to focus on technique and the application to the success and failure of the plays. I want every player in the Virginia Tech uniform to succeed, and nobody is happier than me when one of the players who I have been critical of comes back to make a huge play. I will gladly eat that humble pie.

We Lost to Duke

Well, the kudos by Tech's coaches for Duke's program during the week weren't bullshit after all. Duke was/is a well coached football team without quit in them. If you read anything French and Mason wrote here over the last two weeks you knew that already. A sincere congratulations to them for winning.

I only have a few thoughts because I haven't rewatched the game, and I think it's unfair to criticize without at least putting in the due diligence of rewatching the game.

I praised J.R. Collins' play over the bye week, then he missed the game for a violation of team rules. What happened hasn't been disclosed, but it changes the narrative of his comeback story. Credit to the coaches for suspending him. As well as Dadi's played, he's not as complete a player, or as seasoned as J.R. In my opinion, J.R. was the MVP of the defense heading into Duke. It's tough to head into any game without your best player, especially a senior, but the coaches aren't putting up with any crap.

Game Preview: Duke

Virginia Tech Hokies (6-1, 3-0) against Duke Blue Devils (5-2, 1-2)

Time: 3:32 PM
Date: Saturday, October 25, 2013
Place: Blacksburg, Virginia
Stadium: Lane Stadium (65,632)
TV: ESPNU
Radio: Virginia Tech IMG
Spread: Virginia Tech -13.5
Weather: 33-48 F, Partly Cloudy

The Skinny

By: Joe

Thank you Duke for beating the Hoos, again.

Players to Watch

By: French

Jamison Crowder (#3): Crowder is a 5-9 junior wide receiver and punt returner that serves as both Duke's most dependable first down generator and big play guy. Crowder leads the ACC in catches (56), receiving yards (731), punt return yardage (297) and punt return touchdowns (2) coming into Saturday's game. Most of his catches happen via screens, slants, or quick curls, but he can go deep and has an uncanny ability to get himself open with double moves. Here, the pocket breaks down after Crowder runs a skinny post.

By the (Advanced) Numbers: Duke

Having a sufficient sample size, I'm now able to dive a little deeper into the personalities of each team as I preview them from a statistical perspective...but first a tribute to our defense. Statistically of course.

Football Outsiders uses two rating systems—S&P+ (which I use for overall team ratings in previews) and FEI (an efficiency-based method). This week, these are the FEI top 5 defenses:

  1. Virginia Tech (-0.926)
  2. Stanford (-0.779)
  3. Alabama (-0.739)
  4. Michigan State (-0.672)
  5. Missouri (-0.661)

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