An ACC Halloween

Ryan and I started talking about Halloween, candy, and the ACC at midnight. Bad things happened and they follow.

Once in a while, Tom O'Brien enjoys a caramel cube. The bland taste reminds him of American values. And there's just enough sugar to necessitate the need for an evening jog (running is showing off), but not enough to consider him "high" on anything. He hands out dental floss.

Wake Forest gets a ten-dollar bill, because, "Take it, get the hell off my porch, and I don't ever wanna see you around here again."

Much like FSU, pumpkin flavor is back in September–October. Everybody raves how it's in everything they're eating and drinking, but by November no one gives a shit and they just want it out of their life.

Randy Edsall seems like the kind of asshole who turns his porch light off and doesn't give out candy, so Maryland gets egged. They try to return fire, but don't have a quarterback to do so.

Virginia Tech is best represented by a Krackel Bar. Each season it looks promising on the outside, but once you bite in, there's no substance.

Beamer forces O'Cain and Stinespring try to trick-or-treat in a two-man horse costume, but they can't get out of the door. He encourages them, "You're just a couple of steps away".

Adventures on Whiskey Lane: Episode Nine

This week Brian goes solo due to Hurricane Sandy. He interviews Tech Assistant Director of Broadcasting Andrew Allegretta, where they talk heavily about the state of the ACC and what the additions of Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame will do for the conference.

Brian then does a quick breakdown of the upcoming Miami game.

All that and more, on this episode of Adventures on Whiskey Lane.

MP3 Download link: http://thekeyplay.podomatic.com/enclosure/2012-10-30T12_10_06-07_00.mp3

Q&A with State of the U

This week I exchanged questions with the Miami blog State of the U. They talk about the misnomer of "the U's culture", Al Golden's rebuilding process, and the general inconsistencies that come with playing such a young lineup.

TKP: Okay, before I get into specifics I want to ask about all of the stuff that happened last summer. Miami is pretty much the poster child of the dreaded report "Charles Robinson sighted on campus". Ironically, the reported infractions didn't really surprised that many people (including myself), because it seemed to fit in with "The U"'s culture. Has there a been a noticeable change in the way this team acts and performs on and off the field under Al Golden?

Here Comes the Screen (Analysis)

It's the most feared word in the Virginia Tech offensive playbook: SCREEN! As tensions mount from O'Cainspring's tactics and the team's struggles, I took it upon myself to do research screen plays and their success rates.

So with Hurricane Sandy hammering the East Coast, I decided to increase the bleakness and watch the game film provided on the site and account for every screen run this year and analyze the stats by player, quarter, down, distance, formation, and yards gained. Then everything was analyzed again for only ACC games.

The entire chart is available below to peruse, but I came up with 39 deliberate screen plays. These are defined as a play where either a running back or wide receiver have blockers set up and is the primary target of the pass. Dump-offs and outlet passes that are thrown behind the line of scrimmage do not count.

Hurricane A' Coming: Winds of Change for the Hokies Defense

On the eve of a critical Thursday night matchup with the Miami Hurricanes, questions about the Hokie offense abound. While any changes to the offensive coaching staff, and a corresponding change in philosophy, will not take place until the offseason, we have seen a radical change in Bud Foster's defensive approach that has resulted in a significantly improved pass rush and run defense over the past two weeks. That continued success will be critical to any hopes of victory against a depleted, yet talented Hurricanes offense.

A quick comparison of film from the Pitt and UNC games versus the Duke and Clemson games demonstrates two significant changes in Bud Foster's philosophy.

A New Spin on an Old Trick: 4-4 and Stopping the Run

The first was a return to the old 90's 4-4 alignment, but adjusted to fit three and four wide receiver sets. It was utilized to shore up a previously porous run defense.

Statistics on Predictability, Part 2

As a follow-up to last week's post on predictability of our offense, a couple of commenters mentioned that a better comparison might be to the best teams in the country rather than all teams (since we aspire to be one of the best and most years are). In this post we'll compare the behavior seen by VT with that of the top twenty offenses in the country as ranked at http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/ncaaoff.

Statistics on Offensive Predictability

Editor's Note: Bumped to the front because this is really, really well done. --Joe

Based on data available from cfbstats.com, I took a statistical look at how predictable VT’s offensive play calling has been thus far this season (note that I believe the last game is missing). The site provides basic information on every play in every game, but does not give information on specifics like formation, whether a pass was completed or not, etc. So this analysis (based on logistic regression if you’re a geek) simply looks at the most basic aspect of predictability – whether or not we rush or pass.

What Won't Change During the Bye Week

We are 5 days removed from the disaster in Death Valley, and I still find myself completely at a loss for what to write. The reality is, I see lots of good things. I really do. I think about 70% of the pieces are there for this to be a great football team. No, I am not kidding. The defensive line has been turned loose two games in a row, and without having the robotic responsibility of slanting to a gap and holding the space rather than pursuing, they have looked like the dominat unit we expected in preseason; a unit that can demolish without parlor tricks. Against both Duke and Clemson, the offense moved the football when it followed a coordinated, sensible plan of attack coupled with reasonable execution. I saw terrific effort, passion, and nastiness from critical players. We have evidence this can work.

5:42–5:50

Six Pick: Week Nine

I can't hide my disappointment resulting from the Hokies season, and I'm sure you can't either. That doesn't mean I love the Hokies or the game any less. As long as they keep playing, I'll keep watching. As you know, because of a bye week and back-to-back Thursday night games, Tech won't play on Saturday until mid November. So, it's on the rest of the nation to entertain us. I'm energized and ready to sit on my ass the next two weekends and watch the wheat be separated from the chaff. Buckle up and let's enjoy some quality football.

Seventy-three-year-old Bill Snyder is a BAWSE. This is the second time he has made K-State into a top 10 power. I have much respect for his ability to turn JUCOs, and two- and three-star nobodies into good football players. Collin Klein was a little thought of QB recruit turned WR by RonP, now he's the Heisman frontrunner. That's a pretty remarkable turn of events as he likely rides the pine for 90% of the other FBS schools. It probably took Snyder 10 minutes to figure out Klein's potential. Bill Snyder in this whiz-bang high scoring football world still knows ball control offense and sacking up on defense can still win a lot of games. If "Everything Old is New Again" is accurate, there is hope for VT to rebound.

Friday, 10/26/2012

Hokies Wrestling 2012-2013 Preview

The Hokies wrestling team enters the 2012-2013 season as the #10 ranked team in the country. This year looks very promising for the Hokies if they can stay healthy. Nine out of the team's ten projected starters have started in the past and are ranked in the top 25.

The biggest news so far this year is that Devin Carter, last year's 133 pound wrestler, who was ranked #1 in the country for a few weeks, will take a redshirt. He will use this year grow into his new 141 pound weight class and work on improving as an all around wrestler.

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r-Sr. - #7 Jarrod Garnett

Hokies to Narrow Down Carries, Who's Out?

Virginia Tech ranks 72nd nationally with 157 yards per game. The Hokies have lacked a reliable and consistent rush attack all season. Beamer Co.'s newest solution, distribute the carries among less players.

"I think four backs is too many," Beamer said Monday during his weekly teleconference.

Virginia Tech (4-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) ranks fifth in the 12-team conference in rushing yards per game at 157. It's per carry average of 4.3 yards is also fifth in the league.

"I still think consistency in running the football, I think that's our No. 1 priority right now," Beamer said. "If we could get that squared away, I think that would affect other things. We have our moments at times but I think to consistently be able to do that is a key objective for us."

And to get better execution, Beamer said the coaching staff is discussing cutting down the number of tailbacks they're preparing each week. Redshirt freshman Michael Holmes, true freshman J.C. Coleman, junior Tony Gregory and senior Martin Scales had been splitting reps in practice and carries in games. Beamer didn't offer any specifics yet on how the rotation would change.

Gut Reactions: Clemson

That's a tough loss to swallow. Like the rest of you probably feel, I felt like we left a lot of points on the field. Tech really played as good as, or better than, Clemson in the first half, yet trailed going into the locker room. Foster's defense held Clemson to 66 plays, 295 yards, and 31 points (yes, the final score was 38-17, but I'm not counting the pick six against the defense, and another 7 of the 31 came after the game was out of reach). That was a tremendous defensive effort; better than I dreamed they could do. Bud routinely answers the bell, so I shouldn't be surprised. Ultimately the offense couldn't pace Clemson in the second half, special teams blunders, and some shoddy officiating stopped the Hokies from winning. However, officiating is part of the game, and teams that execute efficiently overcome bad calls.

The offense looked like a hot mess in the second half. I don't have the benefit of the film, so I apologize if I'm not 100% accurate here. From the live viewing, I noticed a lot more zone read than the veer from the pistol (which was so successful last week) and the tailbacks didn't make their mark inside. There were a lot of questionable play calls in the second half.

Adventures on Whiskey Lane: Episode Eight

This week Kevin talks to French and Joe about the Duke comeback and the upcoming battle with Clemson. Brian, who was previously suspended for threatening company policy via Twitter (known around the office as "The Benny's Threat") makes a cameo to talk about Duke and make his weekend prediction (as well as his annual Tajh Boyd is fat joke).

All that and more, on this week's episode of The Adventures On Whiskey Lane.

MP3 Download link: http://thekeyplay.podomatic.com/enclosure/2012-10-18T16_10_10-07_00.mp3

Duke, and the Road to Death Valley

I apologize this is late this week. Stay in school, because day jobs are not as fun as history lectures. -- French

The homecoming game against Duke came at a critical time during Frank Beamer's tenure. While the talent deficiencies in key areas make it most likely that the Hokies are not a great bet to run the table, a loss to Duke would have shaken the aura of invincibility that Virginia Tech has over the weaker programs in the ACC. That aura often has weaker teams beaten before they step off the bus, and it has given the Hokies several wins over the last 8 years that have kept them relevant as a regional power. Now we come to the three measuring stick games for 2012, starting perhaps with the toughest matchup, the Clemson Tigers.

Six Pick: Week Eight

It's week eight of the regular season, and that means we are at the halfway point. The optimism surrounding the Hokies season opener feels like a thousand beers ago. It's been a pretty crazy season, lots of carnage leaving few undefeated teams left. My gut says there will not be any undefeated teams to end the season, making the scramble for the top 2 BCS spots even madder than usual. Could two more undefeated teams go down this weekend?

It's time for the weekly ESPN Gameday watch update, and you guessed it, they are going back to the SEC. The World Wide Leader might soon run out of SEC ass kissing material at this rate. Most of these interviews are fluffer material, however I can't wait until ESPN try to soften angry Will Muschamp this week. He's an intense, hot headed dick and that's what I like about him. Coach Boom is all that is right in college football, and it would be a shame to white wash his natural personality. I don't want him to be human, he's a laser eyed cyborg ready to terminate refs. I beg of you Gameday, don't sanitize him.

(h/t to friend of the program @governorofdixie for the image)

Clemson Football Primer, Photo Edition

Hey y'all. How bout that game last week? 41 POINTS. That was pretty fancy. Then again, it was Duke (LUV YOU BLUE DEVILZ and #goacc). This week's challenge: Clemson. The Tigers are currently sitting at 5-1, with expectations of domination; there's a lot of excitement brewing for this one. 8-Ball even said that ESPN Gameday will be there!

There was a lot of offseason re-shuffling for a Clemson team that made it's first BCS game. Dabo was able to lure Oklahoma Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables away from the Sooners because HOLY CRAP DID YOU SEE THE ORANGE BOWL I THINK THE COUSINS JUST SCORED ANOTHER TOUCHDOWN.

Q&A with Shakin The Southland

This week, I exchanged messages with Eric Downing of the Clemson blog Shakin the Southland. We discussed the ceiling for this Tigers team, Tajh Boyd, DeAndre Hopkins vs. Sammy Watkins and the Hokies' chances as they go down to Death Valley this weekend.

TKP: Okay, let's just get this out of the way. We both know that Clemson beat the hell out of the Hokies last year, but that was before WVU hung 70 in the Orange Bowl (sorry, had to bring it up). What I want to know is this: how is this team different than last year's team? Is it essentially the same, or are there some noticeable differences?

Let's talk about Clemson

If I said I wasn't looking forward to Clemson, I'd be lying. I don't look at Clemson how I look at other teams.James Gayle

Gayle is right of course. Clemson spanked us at night in Lane, in Charlotte when it mattered most, and stripped us of our championship crown. The Tigers took more away from us than any team in a season in quite some time. I think we all circled this game when the schedule came out, and it means more now than we probably thought it would in August. A win keeps us in a strong position to win the Coastal and would boost our perception nationally. A loss leaves us 0-3 in a little over a year against a team we'll continue to recruit against for top regional talent, and the Coastal race becomes tighter.

It's only Tuesday afternoon and I'm antsy for Saturday. I'm sure a lot of you are too. So, let's talk about Clemson.

Gut Reactions: Duke

This team is not dead. In fact, after spotting Duke 20 points, they were reborn. This is what we expected to see on the field heading into the 2012 campaign. The defensive line was dominate. They played angry and answered the challenge put forth by the coaches during an intense week of practice. They created chaos and it led to turnovers, sacks, and busted plays. J.C. Coleman had over 180 yards on the ground and reinvigorated a stagnant running game. Marcus Davis showed off his athleticism and made big-plays.

People might say, "It's Duke," and to that I say, "Bullshit." That was a 5-1 team we just throttled. Duke threw haymakers to start the game and we answered the bell. That was the first time all season we played team football, and if we give that effort down the stretch, we'll have a chance in every game.

The coaches sounded like they were going to get away from the Nickel, but they used it a bunch (if I had to guess 75% of the game). Both Michael Cole and Detrick Bonner struggled, albeit less this week, in man-coverage. However, both had an interception and Bonner made a great play on the ball in the end zone in the fourth quarter. Although, I'd still prefer to see a base look. Towards the end of the game Tech was in base and Ronny Vandyke had nice coverage with Jarrett helping over the top and they forced an incompletion like clockwork.

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