Headed to Blacksburg

I'll be in Blacksburg tomorrow. In case you missed it, there's a Thekeyplay.com tailgate at 8:00 AM in Lot 9 benefitting the Women's Resource Center of NRV before the game. Bring a five buck (or more) donation and come party your face off with us. Look for a black Ford F-150, or holler on Twitter (@thekeyplay) if you're having problems finding us. Hint: we'll be the loud ones.

Final words on Maryland, courtesy of The Box follow after the jump.

Game Preview: Maryland

Virginia Tech Hokies (7-3, 4-2) at Maryland Terrapins (5-4, 1-4)

Time: 12:30 PM
Date: Saturday, November 16, 2013
Place: Blacksburg, Virginia
Stadium: Lane Stadium (65,632)
TV: ACC Network
Radio: Virginia Tech IMG
Spread: Virginia Tech -16
Weather: 48 - 61 F, Partly Cloudy, 20% Chance of Rain

The Skinny

By: Joe

Virginia Tech doesn't control its own destiny to Charlotte, but the Hokies cleared a major hurdle by dominating Miami on the road. Regardless of what happens with Duke and the rest of the ACC, the Hokies will need to win their remaining two games. Maryland is a beat up squad, and if Tech can run the ball as effectively as last week, they should be able to handle business on senior day.

By the (Advanced) Numbers: Maryland

Matchup Overview

We almost, almost, worked ourselves into having an offensive advantage over a team. Sadly, it didn't happen. Maryland enjoys a slight advantage when they're on defense, and UVa's defense is the only thing stopping Mike London from handing out speeding tickets in the 757 again.

My Reaction to Cody Jounrell's Dismissal

I was just about to head to the gym when...

Really? Before senior night, after all the second chances, and Frank Beamer having Cody's back during his slump. All of those golf analogies was Frank's coach speak at its best.

"Foe"Rensics: Maryland

Hello. Welcome to this week's "Foe"Rensics feature, where we make up stuff about our opponents to make them more interesting. The good news is, this week, Maryland lives in this crazy alternative universe where normal doesn't exist, so I don't even really have to be creative this week. Let's get to work!

#goacc Power Rankings: Week 11

Before I get to the power rankings, I want to share a quick story.

During my last two years of college I was working as hard as I could to make myself better at broadcasting. I had worked with IMG in Blacksburg, calling play-by-play of all sorts games of the "Olympic sports" variety (volleyball, soccer, wrestling, etc...), but during the spring there was a lot more down time.

In order to keep my reps up, I would go to Hokie baseball games and practice calling them into a recorder, "The three-one to Pinder," and so on. I used to do this on the grassy hill behind the away dugout, so no one could hear me as I made a fool of myself talking into a recorder like a crazy person. Well, to teach me a lesson in vocal confidence, my boss (Andrew Allegretta) told me before one baseball game that I had to sit in the stands with the rest of the spectators.

Needless to say...I was petrified.

Jim Weaver to Retire

As best as I can tell Mark Giannotto reported the story first, but David Teel followed up with more firm details.

2013-14 Basketball Questions and Answers

I hate to interrupt the near-apocalyptic vortex that is rooting for this Virginia Tech football team, but basketball season is back! Who's ready for depressing double digit losses and something unplanned to go dramatically wrong? I mean, we've already gone through the 2012 football season, so we're all used to all of those things by now.

I realize that the team has already played one game, so this isn't technically a "preview", but I'm going to ask myself a bunch of questions that I expect to be issues that will develop over the season, and answer them to the best of my ability.

Logistical Questions

How bad is this team going to be? Wow, let's cut right to the chase, shall we? In short, this team is not going to be good. The combination of youth, that of both the team and the coaching staff, usually doesn't bode well, no matter how talented either side is. That being said, I'm convinced that the team's final record is not going to represent the way the team plays...but we'll get to that. The record will be bad. I'm talking...really bad. Like possibly single-digit wins bad.

Aggressive Defense and Conservative Offense, Miami Film Review

Against Miami, the offense did what I expected them to do all season long. An offense that controls the clock and focuses on picking up first downs. An offense that protects the football and puts Foster's defense in favorable positions. An offense that scores in the red zone. An offense that runs the ball. Loeffler trusted his offensive line, and in the second half he leaned on Edmunds and Coleman to get first downs and keep the ball away from the big play Miami offense. This is what I envisioned when Loeffler was hired.

If you haven't read French's review of the run game yet... what the heck is wrong with you? It's a celebration of the first game this season where the rushing offense truly "broke out". I won't try and improve on the run game analysis (it's not possible), but I will say that the ground game's maturation came at the perfect time.

Design, Personnel, Trust, and Execution: Running Game Film Review

It was more enjoyable to watch the film this week after two gut-wrenching Sunday's in a row. After a shaky start, the Hokies benefited from several Miami special teams turnovers and the running game finally complimented the ever-improving passing attack. Also, some of the burden of picking up short yardage was lifted off Logan Thomas' shoulders, and you saw the result. A huge part of Saturday's success can't be documented with X's and O's. Some might say that Virginia Tech benefited by some lucky bounces, but A.J. Hughes stuck his head in on a bigger, stronger, and faster player to knock the first ball loose. Derek DiNardo chased down the Artie Burns to strip the ball from behind. Kalvin Cline punched the Stanford fumble away from a Miami defender so D.J. Coles could dive on the loose ball. Demitri Knowles hustled after the play to be in position to recover the Byrn fumble in the end zone. Trey Edmunds made several Hurricanes miss on a critical third down conversion when he was dead to rights on a pass in the flat. These were all effort plays. The Hokies offense outworked the Hurricanes defense.

Thekeyplay.com Tailgate to Benefit Women's Resource Center of NRV

There will be a Thekeyplay.com tailgate this Saturday (11/16/13) at 8:00 AM before the Maryland game. The spot is Lot 9, 0291. There will be some food (deer, burgers, dogs) and drinks provided, but those are bound to run out. If you're planning on staying for a while, please bring something to contribute; whether that's food to share, drinks, or tailgating supplies (chairs, trash bags, whatever).

Most importantly, it's a charity event. If you are planning on coming by at all, even to say hello for a minute, you are required to bring $5 or more in cash, canned goods, or supplies from this list.

The donations will benefit The Women's Resource Center Of The New River Valley.

We beat the snot out of Miami

Was that as good for you as it was for me?

This is going to be short, sweet, and all about Logan Thomas. Forget the fact we scored points fumbling into the end zone, and that chaos was our 12th man. (RAIN PLUS MIAMI EQUALS A REAL GOOD TIME.) This game was Logan Thomas at his best, and I'm really happy for him. At the beginning of the week the media asked if he was confident in remaining the starter. Fans got after him following poor performances against Duke and at Boston College. We highlighted the mistakes on the film. Then...

HE PLAYED THIS GAME. 25 of 31 for 366 yards, 2 touchdowns through the air, and 42 yards rushing. He did that, and I'm not sure I've ever been happier for a kid. Stats aside, I'm not sure if Logan has ever looked as comfortable and confident in the pocket.

He delivered another big win on the road, and I'm happy that's tonight's narrative.

By the (Advanced) Numbers: Miami (Night Edition)

Raise your hand if you thought BC would score 34 on us...anyone? Anyone?

The difference between last week and this week is that last week we wanted the numbers to be right, while this week we're hoping they're wrong.

The Basics

Here's how we compare both in terms of computer rankings and predictions:

Game Preview: Miami

Virginia Tech Hokies (6-3, 3-2) at Miami Hurricanes (7-1, 3-1)

Time: 7:06 PM
Date: Saturday, November 9, 2013
Place: Miami Gardens, Florida
Stadium: Sun Life Stadium (76,100)
Radio: Virginia Tech IMG
Spread: Miami -6.5
Weather: 73 - 82 F, 40% Chance of Rain

The Skinny

By: Joe

As Charley Wiles said earlier this week, "We're 8-1 or we're 6-3, we still got to beat Miami." If the Hokies can limit turnovers and continue to play tenacious defense, they can pave their own path to Charlotte.

"Foe"Rensics: Miami

Hello. Welcome to this week's "Foe"Rensics feature, where we investigate the inner workings of our opponent in order to allow you to be the best informed fan in the stadium!

#goacc Power Rankings: Week 10

Florida State is amazing, Clemson is really good, Miami is good and every other team ranges from slightly above average to morbid. Let's just get to the rankings before one of the teams near the bottom of the list tries to knock me out for the rest of the season.

The Dave Shinskie Division

(Dregs of the conference)

14. Virginia (2-7, LW: L 59-10 vs Clemson): Congratulations are in order for Chris Fowler for winning the "Best Joke That Made Me Angry That I Didn't Think Of It First" award for his work in calling Virginia the Cadaver-liers. It was a joke fit for this column, and he beat me to it. I guess that's why he hosts College GameDay and why I'm not wearing any pants right now.

If Virginia was a television show, they would be: Teen Mom. Everyone knows what this show is about. In fact, more people hate watch it than you realize, if only to remind them why their life is so good. It's definitely a pick me up for anyone with a relatively normal life.

It's Miami Week

Rosters change over the years. Coaches come and go. Seasons have their low points. None of that changes the fact that we play Miami Saturday, and we will play them tough. Forget everything that's happened to this point and get your mind right.

In Defense of Logan Thomas

It's been a rough two weeks to be a Hokie fan. After spending an entire week making fun of UVA for losing to Duke, our Hokies turn around and do the exact same thing. One week later, Frank Beamer's squad makes the trip to Boston College and falls flat again. Two weeks ago this season felt like it could end up being a special one. Today, it feels like the team is going to have to rally just to prevent a disaster from occurring. As tough as it has been on the fans, no one has had a worse two weeks than Logan Thomas.

Thomas hasn't played well the past two weeks and the backlash from very vocal part of the fan base has been tremendous. Twitter was a on fire Saturday as a great number of Hokie fans voiced their displeasure at the amateur athlete's performance. The discontent didn't stop there as it bled over onto a number of different VT football forums, including this one. I don't think there is anything wrong with questioning whether a specific player gives the Hokies the best chance to win, as long as it is done in a respectful way. Almost all the comments that I've read here on the matter have gone out of their way to keep their criticism of Thomas focused on his play on the field, and not to attacks on his character. For that, I applaud the community.

The criticism has been fair, no doubt about it. Like everyone else, I recognize that Thomas has played poorly for two consecutive games and his mistakes in both the Duke and Boston College game came at critical moments. If Virginia Tech is going to have a successful rest of the season, they will need more consistent quarterback play from whoever is under center. No one has been more vocal than me in their support of Thomas, but I took Sunday to reevaluate my belief that he is the best the Hokies have at that position. Eventually I decided that yes, Thomas is still the man for the job.