The Week That Was: Pep Hamilton and the UMD Debacle

One of the worst times in a student's life is at the end of any given semester. It's not the exams, but rather the waiting after them to finally figure out your final grades.

In terms of the Virginia Tech offseason, this is what it has been like. The period between the Hokies' 13-10 offensive funeral defensive victory over Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl, and the (allegedly) inevitable announcement of a change within the offensive coaching staff has been one of the longest in recent memory.

It was reported Mike O'Cain had been in the running for the Appalachian State gig. During the bowl it broke that Kevin Sherman had allegedly already accepted a job at Purdue. After it, Curt "#FINESSEBLOCKERS" Newsome reportedly has a job waiting for him back at his old stomping grounds at James Madison.

Then, there was nothing. I mean NOTHING. Zero Dark Thirty 2's plot is going to be about the week in which everyone within the program disappeared and didn't even give us a scrap of a rumor.

To say people were starting to get antsy would be the early understatement of this short year, as fans started wearing out the refresh buttons on their computers, staring at a frustratingly blank screen.

And hen there was this:

2012 Game Splits

Brian Fremeau, publisher of the FEI Ratings in college football and writer for Football Outsiders, has posted "game splits" for every game this season athttp://www.bcftoys.com/results/. What are game splits you ask? In short it's a statistical way to break up the total score difference in a game into contributions from the offense, defense, and special teams (in short...let's not get into the statistical details).

Unleash Hell: Defensive Film Review of the Russell Athletic Bowl

From the moment it was clear that the Hokies could not win the ACC Coastal Division title, every game in the 2012 season became a stepping stone to a program-defining moment in the Georgia Dome on August 31st. Making a bowl allowed for 3 weeks of additional practice that could be put towards getting repetitions for young players who would be counted on to contribute next season, and the bowl matchup versus Rutgers stood as an opportunity for Frank Beamer to learn about the makeup of his 2013 roster and coaching staff.

The lessons learned from the Russell Athletic Bowl serve as a microcosm for everything that has frustrated Hokie fans since Ricky Bustle left the program. Bud Foster's defense advanced, utilizing the 4-4 scheme with aggressive blitzing against the run and pass, but he added elements of Dick Lebeau's zone blitz by frequently dropping ends and tackles into coverage, and playing a seemingly more effective fire-zone in behind the blitz. At the same time, the offense seemed to be more of a vaudevillian comic sketch that would have been more appropriate if the theme from Benny Hill was dubbed over the voice of Joe Tessitore.

Brian's Year in Review

Okay here's the deal. Hokie football is over, sending us as a fan base into those terribly uninteresting eight months of the year known as the offseason.

During this time most fans have to take time to do the little things: become reacquainted with family, reintroduce yourself to your children, make up for all of the work that you missed when you were reading betting lines and listening to podcasts. Well, I'm going to make sure—at least for one day a week—that none of that stuff happens.

That's right, a weekly column. Let the procrastination continue.

Every Monday I will have a column that looks back at the prior week, breaking down news and notes from Blacksburg, the college sports world and anything else that needs our attention. It's going to be written differently every single week, basically depending how I feel the day of, throwing consistency to the wind. We all know the strategy... It's how Shane Beamer rotated his running backs this season. I kid... We have fun here.

But before I start tackling whatever ridiculousness is thrown at us in 2013, let's look back at what got us to this point.

January

Happy New Year. Beat Alabama.

I've tried twice to write about this season and failed. I typed about a thousand words of nonsense and was left with a bunch lengthy paragraphs focused on tiny details probably not worth obsessing over. There were introspective questions scattered throughout that I hoped to answer, but were left as out of place transitions.

What has Virginia Tech football become?

Right now, it's a mediocre program. Florida State and Clemson are the cream of the ACC. Tech's fighting, and losing to, UNC and Miami for third place in a conference they, not so long ago, dominated. The 2012 season will be remembered more for (mostly awful) uniform combinations, rather than what happened on the field.

There's an identity crisis in Blacksburg. Tech doesn't bully opposing defenses anymore. Pride and Joy no longer produces momentum shifting blocked kicks. A kamikaze defense that created havoc and forced quarterbacks into making mistakes has been watered down with a safer bend but don't break style of play. Frank Beamer's program isn't broke beyond repair, it's just too focused on everything that didn't make it special.

The truth is hard to swallow, but that's where we're at.

What do you want Virginia Tech football to be?

VT-BYU Recap

Tyler Haws 42 points led BYU's hot shooting, and they defeated the Hokies 97-71.

Thoughts on Recent Struggles: Other teams are hot from behind the arc due to how we start the games defensively. We give up so many open jump shots which let the opponent get into a groove and get confident. This game was no different; BYU shot lights out and put the game out of reach before the first half was over. Tech players MUST find a way to close out and get a hand in the shooters face. Those little things can affect a shooters rhythm and cause them to miss.

Game Day: Russell Athletic Bowl

Consider this post the open thread for today's game. You're invited to leave your thoughts in the comments below. Most of us have been working on a holiday schedule, so after the jump are a bunch tidbits and reads found elsewhere on the Interwebs that you might have missed while on vacation. Before proceeding, Box 'shopped another masterpiece.

Now then, let's continue.

Tech visited the Give Kids the World Village. Also, it should be noted that Martin Scales knows the Macarena.

So you're saying we should win the turnover battle...

SI.com's Andy Staples picked Tech to lose.

Rutgers Football Primer, Photo Edition

A belated "Happy Holidays" to everyone here, as well as an early "Happy New Year." While 2012 may not have unfolded as we fans had imagined, Virginia Tech finds itself in familiar territory: a bowl game. The Hokies will square off in Orlando against an old Big East foe, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

Rutgers, while one of the oldest programs in the nation, has a fairly small number of program milestones: 1869 (first college football game), 1976 (an undefeated 11-0 season), 2006 (11-2, win over #2 Lousiville). That's it. Really.

Jousting with the Scarlet Knights - Russell Athletic Bowl Preview

Virginia Tech enters bowl season in the unusual position of being 6 and 6 and playing former Big East whipping boy Rutgers. As I said before the Sugar Bowl last year, besides national perception, any bowl game besides the BCS National Championship has been rendered rather meaningless. The benefit comes from the extra practice sessions for Frank Beamer's squad, which (according to Andy Bitter) he has correctly utilized to get meaningful work for young players that will need to produce next season. When Alabama rolls into the Georgia Dome, the Hokies chances of victory will depend heavily on contributions from players like Trey Edmunds (who has wowed the coaches in bowl prep practices based on Beamer's comments), Demetri Knowles, Laurence Gibson, Mark Shuman, Ronny Van Dyke, and the young defensive backs. Hopefully, the rotation for the bowl game makes sure that the non-redshirts get meaningful snaps to prepare for a big 2013.

VT-Bradley Recap

The Hokies had luck on their side tonight in Vegas after a miracle comeback to defeat Bradley 66-65 in their first overtime game of the season.

Jonathan McLaughlin commits to Virginia Tech

According to JC Shurburtt, National Recruiting Director for 247Sports, offensive lineman Jonathan McLaughlin switched his commitment from ECU to Virginia Tech. Rivals.com rated him as a 3-star offensive tackle. He spent this year prepping at Fork Union. According to Andy Bitter, he'll try to enroll in January. However, if he isn't approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse, he'll return to Fork Union and enroll in June. He's the fourth linemen to join Tech's 2013 class (Braxton Pfaff, Parker Osterloh, Kyle Chung).

Here are his highlights from his senior year in high school (Mauldin, SC).

A few things jumped out at me when I watched his film. He pulled a bunch (from the back side), and handled himself in space. He quickly located the defender and either suffocated them or drove them out of the play. He had active feet in pass protection. He stepped into the bucket, and kept his feet chopping. He put a lot of defenders on their butt. I am sure French will add something more substantial than that.

The Frankinator is out on the trail taking care of business.

2015 Hokies Secondary: Could be an All Time Great?

2014 is shaping up to be an elite recruiting year, and while most of the focus has been placed on the one-in-a-lifetime group of elite defensive linemen coming from the Commonwealth, the Hokies are quietly setting the table for a secondary that could help them return to the elite of the elite in college football.

Thoughts on Aaron McFarling's "Time for a change at Tech" Column

Aaron McFarling wrote a fire Bryan Stinespring column without typing that f-word once. McFarling argues Stinespring should be replaced as offensive coordinator, but retained on the staff because of how well he recruits, essentially the dream scenario for most Tech fans. I don't recall any member of the local media that covers Tech writing that Stinespring needs to be replaced. So it's kind of a big deal, at least among those who let Tech football consume way too much of their life, which is all of us here.

It's a gutsy column to write. I don't know how many media sessions McFarling attends, but it's more than the zero you or I do. It's part of his job to look these coaches in the eye. He stuck his neck out, and did it in an extremely professional and respectful manner. That is commendable.

However, I don't agree with everything he said, even though I think the program needs to move in a new direction. Play calling has been a problem. Hell, I wrote way too many words about one play, but that's not really a valid criticism of Stinespring anymore. Also, consistency is good, but being loyal to a fault is bad. Both happened over Tech's remarkable 10 wins a year streak.

Either way, there really is no escaping this.

VT-Georgia Southern Recap

The Hokies were unable to stop Georgia Southern as they lost 78-73 and dropped to 8-2 on the season. This was the Hokies first home loss.

Quick thoughts: We looked flat to start the game, and the Eagles were the exact opposite. At one point in the second half I sensed our players almost giving up, but we made a couple shots to get out of that funk.

The entire first half we had wide open looks but couldn't get any of them to fall. It's not that we couldn't find a way to beat them, we found holes in their defense throughout the day, it was that we couldn't make the shots to beat them. We shot 9-31 in the first half (less than 30%!), and as a team shot 0-9 from deep.

Adventures on Whiskey Lane: Episode 13

They're back. After too long of a break, Brian and Kevin talk about the UVA game, Mike London's coaching ability, and potential moves for Tech's coaching staff. They then dive headfirst into basketball talk as they chronicle the epic rise of Erick Green, the Hokies' hot start and whether or not to temper expectations.

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

MP3 Download link: http://thekeyplay.podomatic.com/enclosure/2012-12-11T11_40_03-08_00.mp3

VT-WVU Recap

The Hokies suffered their first loss of the season tonight, 68-67, in a tough road test against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Summary: The Hokies looked extremely unprepared for the Mountaineer’s defensive pressure. WVU extended their pressure way beyond the three point line and Tech had no answer. The Hokies were unable to penetrate inside the defense and were missing the open shots they did have. On top of everything, Jarell Eddie picked up his second foul only five minutes into the game.

Hoops Scoring Output Redux

Thanks to a suggestion by RiVAHokie, I'm taking this opportunity to do a quick follow-up on a post I made in the February about the drop in scoring output from the 2010-11 season (70.3ppg) to the 2011-12 season (65.1ppg).  The TL;DR of that post is that team scoring was down, and that the contributions of the leading scorers were down.

I updated that spreadsheet with the end-of-season stats for 2011-12 and added a line for the 2012-13 stats.

What a difference a season makes.

Joe Dirt Phillips

Joey Phillips has been consistently good at fullback this season. He's delivered some bone-crushing blocks, and has shouldered the load since Riley Beiro was lost for the season. Through the magic of Twitter, we learned another thing about Phillips tonight. He has the best haircut of any player on the team. Tailback J.C. Coleman tweeted the following picture.

And if that wasn't enough, Phillips tweeted this picture of and himself starting masher (guard) Brent Benedict.

Yes, that is an American Flag tee shirt, and it is awesome. If Benedict and Phillips don't make it in the NFL, the better make a run at the WWE tag team championship.

Early National Recognition for Erick Green

Like much of HokieNation, I'm bummed we're not ranked. I think the team deserves to be. The 7-0 record, Tech's best start since best 1982-83, speaks for itself. The win over now #23 Oklahoma State, Tech's first win over a ranked non-conference opponent since 1995, will be a bullet point on the Hokies' resume come March. Naysayers will point out weak competition to start the season, and they would be correct. However, teams can only play their schedule, and Tech beat Iowa and Oklahoma State, their two biggest challenges to date, by double-digits.

The Hokies play an up-tempo, fun brand of team basketball, and their leader is receiving a lot of attention from the national media after his 7th game of putting up 20-plus points.

Rob Dauster of CollegeBasketballTalks named Erick Green his Player of the Week.

Virginia Tech to Play Rutgers in Russell Athletic Bowl

Update (8:30 PM): It's official.

Update (7:45 PM): It's all but official.

Also, an interesting tidbit: Rutgers is on a five-game bowl win streak.

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