Maryland, B1G, and #VT4SEC

Maryland's defection to the Big Ten came as surprise. Both parties did a good job at keeping a lid on the negotiation. The first leak hit Twitter on Friday evening, the announcement was Monday afternoon. Also, Maryland? I think ACC fans respect the quality of their basketball program and their fans enthusiasm for it. On the other hand, Maryland football, the money maker in college athletics, perpetuates the notion that all ACC stadiums are at half capacity on Saturday's, and the Terps haven't been relevant in the ACC since before the 2004 expansion. It's a move driven by money on both ends. Maryland expands their television footprint east and could be worth, "as much as $200 million annually for the Big Ten in cable subscription fees," and, "Maryland stands to make nearly $100 million more in conference revenue by 2020 with its switch from the ACC to the Big Ten".

Create the Narrative: Boston College Film Review

Like last week, there were a lot of positives that came out of Chestnut Hill. The defensive line again delivered a ton of pressure on the quarterback. The secondary essentially took away the Eagle's downfield passing game. The offensive line delivered their best effort run blocking since the Duke game. Seniors Marcus Davis, Martin Scales, and Randall Dunn made huge plays.

At the same time, I came away with a sour taste in my mouth. Boston College has been poor running the football this season, yet dictated the pace of the game by running between the tackles against the Hokie 4-4 scheme. The linebackers were terrible taking on lead blocks by H-backs and got pinned inside on counter and zone plays, and the defensive tackles (especially J.R. Collins and Luther Maddy) played with poor pad level and looked like they were playing on roller skates on throughout the game. And perhaps most disturbing, Logan Thomas had his worst game since East Carolina last season.

My Hate Week began with a sense of apathy and frustration despite the victory, but the dam broke after I read the following from noted sportswriter, author, and (former) Tech faculty member Roland Lazenby.

You Shouldn't Need a Reason to Hate UVa

"Hate is a bottomless cup; I will pour and pour" — Euripides

I asked VTBox, BilldozerVT, Furrer4Heisman, and Brian to contribute to this post. They obliged, and we are all better for it.

It's Hate Week

An Introduction — Joe, VTBox (Graphic)

I don't hate UVa for the traditional reasons. I didn't grow up in a neighborhood that had VT and UVA flags jutting out from garages. None of my high school friends attended college in Charlottesville. If Hoos want to wear ties to games, slug back bottles of wine, and nibble on cheese at tailgates, then YOLO.

However, Virginia fans remain the worst. The masses only support their program when it's convenient. When it is popcorn and movie night, when a spring practice travels to their neck of the woods. They leave Scott Stadium bare-assed for a noon-thirty kick against Wake Forest. They sell their tickets, their dignity, and any chance at home field advantage Thanksgiving weekend to Maroon for a couple bucks. They quit on their team early, and they do it without a second thought. It's all too easy for them to check out.

Virginia fans care more about Tech losing than UVa winning. They are quick to point out Tech's losses in BCS games, lack of a national championship, and every other Hokie disappointment. They are even quicker to deflect the fact they haven't sniffed a victory against Tech in 8 seasons.

The Fallout

A lot of stuff happened on Saturday, and I felt like writing about it.

Late season losses by top teams usually blur the national championship picture, but not this year. Stanford and Baylor upsetting Oregon and Kansas State, respectively, cleared the path for a Notre Dame-SEC national championship. Notre Dame has one game remaining, a road trip to Los Angeles against USC. The Trojans are 1-3 in their last four games and may be without quarterback Matt Barkley, if the report of a separated shoulder is true. Alabama and Georgia were 4th and 5th in last week's BCS rankings and they both host games during rivalry week. Auburn hasn't beaten a BCS team this season. Three wins in a row, and suddenly Georgia Tech has a pulse, but their competition has been anything but stiff. That upset isn't improbable, but is unlikely. In any case, I think the favorites will prevail. Which team can you tolerate hoisting the crystal, Notre Dame or the SEC representative?

Les Miles' speech definitely comes from the heart, but there's some showmanship in there too. I would strap it up and play for The Hat in an instant.

Also, there's this GIF.

IT'S UVA WEEK.

French's Boston College film review will be posted at the beginning of the week. My quick thoughts powered by beer, the defense ceded more to Eagles on the ground than expected, but they pressured and sacked Rettig all afternoon. For the most part, the offense was stagnant, but scored enough points to leave Chestnut Hill with a win. Even though he gave up the touchdown, Exum held Alex Amidon to 2 receptions for 18 yards.

Boston College, and more importantly UVA, discusion goes here.

Let's talk about Boston College

Against Florida State the Hokies played their hearts out. However, getting up for a big game in Lane hasn't been Tech's problem. Amping up for noon(-ish) kickoffs, in half empty stadiums, against average to poor teams, on the road, has been. Those conditions are exactly what Tech will encounter in Chestnut Hill.

Boston College is a terrible team. They have just two wins, a blowout against Maine, and 3 point squeaker versus Maryland (in that game the Terps started their former fourth-string quarterback). They rank 95th in total offense, 104th in scoring offense, 107th in total defense, and 77th in scoring defense. Opponents average 81.8 plays against BC. And, they lost to Army. None of that matters though, because as we saw at Miami and at Pitt, Tech has a habit of losing to bad teams on the road.

The Eagles do have some playmakers though. Chase Rettig is having a solid junior season (57% completions, 2,813 yards, 16 TDs, 9 INTs), and he's third among ACC QBs in yards per game.

Wide receiver Alex Amidon is having a spectacular season. He leads the ACC and ranks fourth nationally in receiving yards per game (115.7), and is 10th among all receivers with an average of 7.3 receptions per game.

Linebacker Nick Clancy leads BC in tackles (107), and is one of their better defenders. He suffered a concussion against Notre Dame, sat out the first two practices this week, but was cleared Wednesday.

Q&A with Eagle in Atlanta

This week I exchanged questions with Bill Maloney, the founder of Eagle in Atlanta. We talked about Coach Spaz, Chase Rettig, the rebuilding job at BC and the chance the Eagles could "steal" this one. My answers to his questions are up on his site too.

Here's to hoping the Eagles are as poor as Bill says.

TKP: So if there's one thing that makes me feel better about this Tech season it is that they are not the worst team in the ACC. Insert your Eagles. They're 2-8 and have only beaten Maine and a Maryland team playing a linebacker at quarterback. Is this going to be it for Frank Spazizani?

ATL: Spaz is done. While that is still speculation on my part, I think the moves BC has made (replacing our AD) and not commenting on Spaz's future indicate that this is all nearing an end. Even a strong finish won't be enough. The program is suffering on the field and in the stands. We need a new face and a new leader.

TKP: That being said, what does the future look like for this Eagles team? Are there any signs for a positive future?

Six Pick: Week Twelve

Welcome everyone to Week 12, or as the SEC likes to call it, SoCon week. It's up to the rest of college football to shoulder the weight. ::GULP:: Buckle up, I feel another unbeaten succumbing to the pressure.

I know I mention GameDay a lot, but this week it's different. It's GameDawn. I love when the ESPN crew heads to Eugene. The broadcast starts out pitch black, then dawn pushes through the morning crowd, all the while throughout the morning the atmosphere is absolutely nuts. Autzen Stadium is on my very short list of stadiums to visit. I sure hope when I do it's on GameDawn. So tune in and enjoy the unique vibe of Pacific Northwest fans. They are all powered by the combo of weed, alcohol, and Red Bull.

Saturday, 11/17/2012

USC -3.5 at UCLA 3:00 pm FOX
for the Victory Bell at the Rose Bowl

Damn, I should have invented this at Tech

A Little Sweet with the Sour: Florida State Film Review

Before I start this week, I want to take a moment to thank BilldozerVT. All season, he has labored following many a painful football game to upload the game film that we use for analysis. Without his effort, this column would have degenerated into wandering nonsensical thoughts with the occasional reference to some seminal moment in my childhood, like Tim Krumrie's leg snapping in the second 49ers-Bengals Super Bowl or Don Mattingly's seven game home run streak. Please join me in thanking him.

Any hope the Hokies had of getting back into the ACC Coastal Division race evaporated into the cold Blacksburg sky on Thursday night. Perhaps, for the first time all season we saw what should have been for the 2012 Hokies. We saw a dominant defensive front that decimated the Florida State rushing offense, one of the top in the country. We saw an offense that flashed the skills of an elite quarterback, vertical passing, and a read oriented running game that opened holes on occasion with more guile than muscle. We saw a team that should be contending for an ACC title, but instead finds itself meandering its way through the worst season since I bought my first Nirvana cassette tape.

Hope for a Change: Tony Franklin '13

Many things symbolize Virginia Tech football, including a lunchpail mentality on defense, but the offense is devoid of its own identity. It's overly complex, conservatively predictable, and lacking in execution. Tech's had the same leadership on offense for the past 10 years and it feels as if a different approach is needed in order to consistently win the big games that have eluded the program. The staff have been learning on the job, some for a decade, and they haven't been held accountable for a subpar product. The struggles this year can't be attributed exclusively to just the offensive staff, but this year would be a good time to re-evaluate the philosophy and direction of the offense.

State of the Offense

Tech's offense incorporates a lot of different concepts and ideas from around the country, but execution has been sacrificed for complexity. The result: jack of all schemes, but not the master of one. The college game sets limits to how much time teams can practice. So what might work in the NFL, multiple formations and packages, doesn't in college. The offense usually picks mid-season after it's simplified, but it's bloated and stagnant towards the beginning of the season, and for the bowl game. Additionally, conservative tendencies lead to predictable play calling.

Gut Reactions: Florida State

I wanted to write and post something Friday morning after I re-watched the game, but a noon checkout, ride up I-81, and a couple of runs to the train station delayed things. A warning, these are really high level thoughts, and nothing particularly intuitive. I had a 45 minute call with French while I was on the interstate, and to put it mildly, I'm really looking forward to reading his film review.

I thought that was a very entertaining football game that was defined by good football plays more than mistakes. Statistically, FSU is a top-3 team nationally, their roster is stocked with 4- and 5-star talent, and Tech hung with them the entire game. After watching Thursday, then again Friday morning, I couldn't help to think that if we played with that much intensity all season, we would have no more than two losses right now.

I thought Logan Thomas played a gutsy game. Pass protection was an issue, and he took a bunch of hits. However, he never seemed timid in the pocket, and he looked for contact running downfield. He made NFL throws, like the ones leading up to and including the touchdown toss to Corey Fuller. However, some of his decision making left me with my hands up and mouth open. His ceiling is high. This is really subjective, but he looked like more of a leader on the sideline, talking to the offensive players, keeping their heads in the game. We need him to own the team next season.

Six Pick: Week Eleven

Welcome to Week 11 and the home stretch. The season has flown by, even if Tech has 3 seasons worth of losses. This will be brief and hastily put together Six Pick due to me being extremely busy in my personal life. However, I am not so busy that I can't make a trip to Blacksburg and back later this week. Go Hokies. I know this season has been a disappointment, but don't give up on this team or this sport, it always can't be our year. Celebrate others success, unless it's the dirty neers or hoos or Canes or Noles or Vols or ... never mind, watch to see if everything burns.

I have little to add this week, so I thought an offering to the Football Gods would suffice. At first I was thinking of offering a VT cheerleader or coed, then I thought about #ALLMAROONEVERYTHING, but the Gods don't want physical beauty, they want heart and something real, that signifies Virginia Tech football. The Lunchpail. To current students, this must a thing only seen on tshirts or foamed hats, but not so long ago, this meant something. Here is hoping it means something again, very soon.

Saturday, 11/10/2012

Northwestern at Michigan -10.5 12:00 pm ESPN

A Night Game in Lane

Editor's Note: Edited and bumped to the front. Let's sack up and blow our lungs out in the Terror Dome tomorrow night.

After the loss to Miami, I didn’t know what to write about. There was no ACC championship hope, no ten win season. Everything was gone. I was planning on writing about how a big matchup against Florida State could help us get to 10 wins; how we were going to be playing in Charlotte; how this was a big Thursday night matchup against FSU. All of that is gone. Pretty much all hopes for this season are gone. People have given up, and rightfully so. So why am I writing? I’m writing because I remembered we still have a Thursday night game in Lane Stadium.

Adventures on Whiskey Lane: Episode Ten

This week on Adventures on Whiskey Lane, Kevin returns after a brief hurricane hiatus and chats with Brian briefly about Miami and Florida State. With the season winding down and only pride to play for, both guys discuss future prospects for Tech, both this season and next. Plus, what podcast at this point of the season would be complete without coaching change chatter? Brian provides some exclusive insight on what could happen.

All of that and more on Episode 10 (!) of AOWL.

MP3 Download link: http://thekeyplay.podomatic.com/enclosure/2012-11-06T18_22_04-08_00.mp3

Moving Forward to an Uncertain Future

A public service announcement for Frank Beamer and Jim Weaver: The moment you placed the empty national championship trophy case in your facility, the stakes were raised. No longer was the status quo, as unlikely as it is for a program in the heart of rural Virginia with no history of being nationally relevant, acceptable. A conference championship like 1995, a season remembered by older Hokie fans like me as a magical season, now means a guffaw and "I don't want to fly to Miami." The bar is higher, and you moved it with that trophy case. Unfortunately, this program is trending in the wrong direction. Virginia Tech used to win with a dominant defense, great special teams, and a ball control offense that played like a bully and limited mistakes. Offenses are catching up to the defense. Special teams have been in shambles for several seasons. The offense lacks any identity, other than being the team that struggling defenses circle on their schedule to get back on track.

Florida State Football Primer, Photo Edition

FLORIDA STATE. THURSDAY NIGHT. LANE STADIUM. WHO'S EXCITED?

The Seminoles march into Blacksburg ranked #10 in the nation, boasting the number three scoring offense, defense, and best total defense in the nation. STOP ME IF YOU'VE HEARD THIS BEFORE.

The 'Noles only blemish this season was a loss at NC State, where their potent offense was shut out the entire second half.

Dating back to the Hokies first season in the ACC (2004), Tech has scored 12 touchdowns against the Seminoles, approximately all by Danny Coale.

Rationalizing our Mediocrity

Over different points of the season, we've suggested reasons on this site for Tech's struggles. A few in no particular order are: injuries to an already inexperienced secondary, offensive coaches struggling to grasp a foreign scheme seemingly over their heads, said scheme putting players in a position to fail, a randomly generated tailback rotation, and loafing among others. But what do any of us here really know.

The coaches are trying to figure out this mystery too, and some of them sound as baffled as we are.

Coaches have mentioned failed execution as being the biggest reason for the offense's -- and really the team's -- struggles this season. But they're having a tough time putting their finger on why that's the case. "You can't," O'Cain said. "If you did, you'd get it corrected right now and it'd be over. Sometimes the ball bounces right and sometimes it doesn't. And if you start saying, well it's this or this or this or this, then it sounds like you're making excuses."

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