Film Study: Michigan Preview

Thanks to kind Internet souls like mgodisney I was able to efficiently watch five Michigan games yesterday (Ohio State, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State and Notre Dame). The Wolverines improved each week during the season. That's coach speak, but it's true. In their final two games against Nebraska and Ohio State, Michigan was a complete team with a lot of confidence capable of moving the ball and playing good enough defense.

I know we're playing Michigan, but let's talk about Iowa real quick, more specifically Iowa-Michigan. Watch this, or as much as you can tolerate, or for as long as it takes you to realize there's a high probability '08 Stinepring is calling the plays for the Hawkeyes.

Hokie Tracks are antsy for the Sugar Bowl

It's the defense stupid. That's the main reason for Michigan's turnaround in 2011. You can see the trend quickly in chart form courtesy of /r/cfb. If you'd prefer long-ish form Andy Bitter has you covered.

Oft-criticized defensive coordinator Greg Robinson had never run the 3-3-5 scheme former coach Rich Rodriguez preferred and was forced to work with many of the assistants Rodriguez brought with him in 2009-10. The Wolverines' defense, which had always been stout under ex-coach Lloyd Carr, dropped from 24th nationally in Carr's final season to 82nd, 67th and 110th in Rodriguez's three years.

Enter Mattison, who used to coach at Michigan, Notre Dame and, most recently, the NFL's Baltimore Ravens from 2008-10.

A proponent of the 4-3 defense, Mattison's scheme better suited Michigan's personnel, with defensive lineman Mike Martin (54 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 3 sacks) and Ryan Van Bergen (41 tackles, 12 TFls, 5 sacks) starring up front.

Sugar Bowl Game Notes

I combed through the game notes from HokieSports.com so you wouldn't have to. (But if you do, leave any interesting observations in the comments.)

Tech won 11 games in 1999, 2000, 2005, 2007 and 2010. A win in the Sugar Bowl would be the program's first 12 win season ever. The seniors would be 43-12 over the last four years, a new record for wins by a senior class.

Bruce Arians, the offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers, holds the school record for rushing touchdowns in a season by a quarterback with 11. Logan Thomas sits at 10. In case you're wondering, Michael Vick sped into the endzone 17 times in his career. Nine scores in '99 eight in 2000.

I wonder if Chase Williams is just staying at his parents house?

David Wilson (1,627) needs 29 yards to break Ryan Williams' Tech single-season rushing yard record (1,655). With a stellar game, Logan Thomas has a chance to set Tech's single-season total offense record. Tyrod Taylor put up 3,402 yards in 2010, Logan has 3,215 yards this season.

Tech is 1-0 against B1G Ten.

Blake DeChristopher (125) and Greg Nosal (111) have over 100 knockdown blocks in 2011. That's an average of more than 9 and 8 per game respectively. Miller, Brooks and Lanier have 57, 56 and 36 knockdowns a piece.

I wrote this because I was drunk at Christmas.

I don't didn't intend to publish this. I'm I was writing for my own benefit. Sometimes you're alone with your thoughts because you stepped away from the table on Christmas Eve. It's healthy to get them out, I guess. Right now I'm writing along with the Eagles. Hotel California is one of those albums you should dedicate 40 minutes to listen to before you die. It's contiguous, not many albums today are. Don't get me wrong, there are timeless tracks that stand the test of time alone: Life in the Fast Lane, Try and Love Again and the title track, but together they're something else, in this case a classic.

I won't let go of the 2003 Miami game. If you've been hanging out here for a while you know I've written about it before. It's the most "Virginia Tech game" I've ever been to. It was a classic. Lane was bonkers, we ran the ball, we played defense, we forced turnovers, we stormed the field, we beat Miami. We should have won the national championship that year. We had the rep, we had the schedule, we had the team. If we played every game as hard, as tough, if we wanted every game that year as much as we wanted to beat Miami, fans and team alike, we would have been undefeated.

Merry Christmas

Hopefully, everyone is enjoying a little rest, relaxation, time with their family and their favorite bottle of brown. Unless something absolutely unexpected happens, like one of our players committing [INSERT SILLY CRIME HERE] or the Frankinator retiring from his post to peruse his lifelong dream of being a marshall at Pinehurst, we won't have anything new for you until Monday. Until then, if you got something on your mind, drop it in the forums or comments.

Of course the original is from Awkward Family Photos.

"DAD!"

"Brian, leave Shane's Let's Rock Elmo alone, go play with your Hot Wheel Wall Tracks."

"But... Dad, it's broken. The car never get's up the loop."

"Don't do anything fancy now... Bud, how's dinner coming?"

Merry Christmas Everyone!

2011 Opponent Recap: Miami

MIA RECORD: 2-2 (0-1 ACC) (W 45-14 against Bethune-Cookman)

VT RECORD: 4-1 (0-1 ACC) (L 23-3 against #13 Clemson)

SCORE: (21) VT 38 – MIA 35

These are the most words that I will write about a kicker. Ever.

Cody Journell was hiding in some shrubbery outside of Dorenzo Hudson and Sean Allen's home after dark on Wednesday night. One of Journell's associates was standing outside of the door holding a pizza box1 that was concealing what looked like an Airsoft handgun (which, if you don't know, are realistic looking. Another cohort was chilling2 in the bushes. This was the opening scene to a perfectly asinine college caper destined to go wrong.

Mr. Mackey wasn't bullshitting, drugs are bad. People do a lot of dumb shit over drugs...

Q&A with MGoBlog

Below, Brian from MGoBlog gives MAN ANSWERS to my questions. Our answers to his questions are here (French took 1-8, I took 9-12).

1. Denard, Denard, Denard... I think most Hokies know about the freak-of-an-athlete you guys having running around the field at quarterback. How would you go about designing a game plan to contain him, and who's the second guy on offense VT's going to have to worry about stopping?

I would come after him and play a lot of robber zone stuff to take away intermediate routes when you do. Denard has been mistake-prone when pressured but when left to set his feet and throw he's been pretty accurate lately. You do put yourself at risk of Denard busting past your blitzers and giving up a big play, but that's somewhat offset by the chance he chucks an ugly interception.

The second guy to worry about is Fitzgerald Toussaint, Michigan's primary running back. He's a smallish, darting runner with the ability to juke in a phone booth and very good (but not great) top end speed. He cracked 1000 yards on the season with a late surge.

2011 Opponent Recap: Clemson

CLEM RECORD: 4-0 (1-0 ACC) (W 35-30 against #11 Florida State)

VT RECORD: 4-0 (W 30-10 against Marshall)

SCORE: (13) CLEM 23 – (11) VT 3

GAME SUMMARY: For the Hokies, this was a dual exhibit of missed opportunities and lack of execution. The offense was held to just 258 yards, and a conservative game plan resulted in constant pressure on quarterback Logan Thomas. Thomas was sacked four times. The following can be considered a microcosm of the Hokies’ offensive struggles throughout the game: down 3-0 in the second quarter, the Hokies advanced to Clemson’s 32-yard line, where the drive stalled. Instead of attempting a field goal or fourth down conversion, Tech punted. Touchback; a net gain of 12 yards. The following Clemson possession, Jayron Hosley was able to intercept Tajh Boyd and returned the ball to the Clemson 31. The Tech drive extinguished at the 7 yard line, and the Hokies were forced to settle for three. With around ten minutes remaining, down 17-3, Thomas was able to drive Tech to the Clemson 12-yard line, but the offense turned the ball over on downs. The Tigers responded with an 8-play, 88-yard touchdown drive to seal the victory.

Eastern Michigan Preview

Who: Virginia Tech Hokies (9-3) vs Eastern Michigan Eagles (5-6)

When: Thursday, December 22 @ 7:00 p.m.

TV: ESPN3 (Quint Kessenich and Glenn Consor)

Where: Cassell Coliseum (9,847), Blacksburg, VA

The Opponent: The Hokies welcome Eastern Michigan to the Cassell on Thursday evening to wrap up their 2011 home slate. The Eagles are coming off a hard-fought 52-48 win at Radford on Tuesday that snapped a five-game losing streak. Under first year head coach Rob Murphy, EMU has battled the likes of Syracuse (lost by 36), Michigan State (lost by 32), and Purdue (lost by 25) this season.

The Eagles rank near 200 in the RPI and their best win came against IUPUI, which sits at #238 in the early season rankings. Here’s a look at their starting lineup:

#ALLMAROONEVERYTHING

Hopefully in New Orleans these will be more than just pixels on a computer screen. Created with Clark Ruhland's uniform builder.

I've been struggling to write this post for the last couple of days. I've been going back-and-forth in my head, trying to put my finger on why we want to see the Hokies decked out head-to-toe in all-maroon. It's undeniable they're sharp as hell. Stare at them for just a couple of seconds and they snarl and bite at you. They clock a 4-4 forty, they got heart. They're as "Virginia Tech" as the Hokie Stone that watches students get stung by the wind as they walk across the drillfield in the winter. They're simple, not overstated, perfect for a team that carries a lunchpail to work.

There's no mention of pants. Of course not, that Tweet ran out of characters, and it's not worth noting we'll wear the same old white pants. That was me being logical. However, my initial conclusion was presuming and irrational: @VT_Football neglected the pants because they want the all-maroon uniforms to be a surprise. That's what I want to believe.

2011 Opponent Recap: Marshall

MU RECORD: 1-2 (1-0 Conference USA) (L 44-7 against Ohio)

VT RECORD: 3-0 (W 26-7 against Arkansas State)

SCORE: (13) VT – 30 MU – 10

GAME SUMMARY: The pregame atmosphere was somber, as both teams took time to remember the 1970 plane crash that killed 75 members of the Marshall football program, including two graduates of Virginia Tech, Rick Tolley and Frank Loria. Loria, a fellow defensive back and teammate of Frank Beamer, was the first All-American at Virginia Tech. Like in their game against West Virginia, Marshall came out of the gates quick, moving the ball effectively against Tech until Jayron Hosley forced a fumble after giving up a 32-yard completion to Aaron Dobson. The defense quickly settled in, holding Marshall to just 251 yards total offense and sacking true freshman quarterback Rakeem Cato 5 times (J.R. Collins had half the team’s sacks).

2011 Opponent Recap: Arkansas State

ARKST RECORD: 1-1 (W 47-3 against Memphis)

VT RECORD: 2-0 (W 17-10 against ECU)

SCORE: (13) VT – 26 ARKST – 7

GAME SUMMARY: It was an ominous start for the Hokies. On the opening kickoff, return man Dyrell Roberts broke his arm and would be lost for the season. Arkansas State forced a Tech punt, then drove 59 yards to take a 7-0 lead (51 of those yards coming on a Taylor Stockemer reception). The ship would be righted, though, and Tech scored the final 26 points of the game, beginning with a safety caused by Kyle Fuller’s pass-rushing skills. Logan Thomas passed for 292 yards, and Danny Coale had his first 100-yard outing of the season (he finished with 128 yards on seven catches). Jayron Hosley added two more interceptions to his resume, bringing his career total to 11.

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