Sustaining drives is an important charge for any offense. Among other things, longer drives allow more time for the defense to rest, help to win the all important field position battle, and provide more scoring opportunities. Tech has not done a good job at moving the chains. When I found out the Hokies average just 18.33 first downs a game (94th nationally), I decided to do a little bit of analysis.
It's taken me a lot longer than it should have to talk about last weekend's "game". I put "game" in quotations because it was more or less a very one-sided boxing match. Today is Tuesday. I've sat on my thoughts for over 48 hours, mainly to avoid writing a "chicken little sky-is-falling" type piece and/or a depressing "this is my senior year and the team pretty much just gave me the finger" rage post.
I've finally come to accept the loss, and now understand the team for what it is: an adequately talented young group with a ton of holes. Even holes that Tech fans and writers didn't see coming. There are probably only two positions that don't worry me in some way: kicker and punter. Everything else seems to have some sort of question mark, and you know what? I think I'm about to break it down, position by position.
I'm not French. I can't break down plays and tell you what happened. I'm just going into this with blind, haphazard opinions.
Logan Thomas is worrying just about everyone now. He doesn't look comfortable in the new offense, and the worst part is that the switch was supposed to benefit him. To better utilize him! To summarize something Joe said, at least when we ran the crappy old offense that everyone hated, we knew how to run it. I really hope to see him turn it around...because he's really our hope to be competitive in games.
If you're not getting better, then you are getting worse.
The Hokies were not able to use the Austin Peay game to build depth and rest some beat up players, and I think that three football games in 13 days really caught up to the Tech, especially the rough nature of the Georgia Tech game.
At the same time, this was a beat down of the worst kind. Clemson, Stanford, LSU, and Alabama had terrific football teams. I can't recall feeling this frustrated over a loss since Boston College on Thursday night a few years ago. Every concern raised here over the past two weeks was exposed in a drastic fashion. We knew the offense was not explosive. In order to be successful their execution had to be outstanding to sustain long drives. Yet on every critical play, one mistake—either blocking, reading a block, flub on a route, or horrid decision making/mechanics by the quarterback—derailed the play. Defensively, we knew that the secondary was one bruised shoulder away from being a disaster, and we saw that scenario play out in macabre fashion.
Editor's Note: I'm still bummed over the loss, but there's still a long season in front of us. Mikey's piece put that into perspective for me. Bumped to the front. --Joe
This was the final block that sprung Kyshoen Jarrett.
After the debacle Saturday, I figured we could all use this. It seems like every time RVD is on the field he's making a play, which makes me wonder why RVD isn't on the field more.
*That's the post. French will have the film review by Monday morning and my guess is it won't be sunshine and lollipops. Remember, we can still win the ACC. -- THIS MESSAGE BROUGHT TO YOU BY BEAMER CO.
This week I'm asking more questions than providing answers. Tech's first two games were a bit of a scheduling anomaly. The Hokies spent all summer preparing to defend Paul Johnson's option and Al Groh's 3-4, then had just 5 days to turn around and square away a I-AA team. Now that the Hokies have had a full week to rest, regroup, watch film, and practice, will we see that week one to two improvement that the Frankinator often speaks about, but didn't happen last Saturday?
Will the o-line get a push inside? For the most part, the Hokies front five held their own in pass protection against the Bees and Peay(s), but as a group didn't dominate the line of scrimmage. Andrew Miller is listed as probable with an ankle injury, but practiced this week. The reserves got snaps inside last Saturday: Caleb Farris at center, Brent Benedict and Matt Arkema at guard. Pitt's defensive line played on their heels against Cincinnati, and is group that should be owned by the Hokie big uglies.
After a nail biter against Georgia Tech, and slow malaise of a game against Austin Peay, it's time for the Hokies to hit the road. Virginia Tech has the longest road game winning streak in the nation (13 consecutive true road wins), and hopefully the Hokie faithful will travel to watch them extend it.
Virginia Tech has a reputation of having of a great traveling fan base. Traveling well elevates the standing of the program, especially with bowl game officials, and the first three road games of the season are very convenient destinations.
Welcome back! After two games in five days to start the season, it's back to normalcy with only one game on a Saturday. Brian and Kevin look back briefly at Austin Peay, discuss Notre Dame's (partial) move to the ACC and preview Saturday's game with Pitt. It seems like pains from 2003 and before have not been forgotten. Should make for a fun weekend.
In addition, Andy Bitter, the Roanoke Times and Virginian-Pilot beat writer, gets suckered/joins the show for his thoughts on the season among other random things Brian can think of.
That and more on Episode three of Adventures on Whiskey Lane.
Leave us comments, suggestions and anything we can do to make it better, because we may just give you a shoutout in the coming weeks.
MP3 Download link: http://thekeyplay.podomatic.com/enclosure/2012-09-12T17_44_46-07_00.mp3
TKP: Going into the game, the Panthers have struggled very noticeably. Not only the Thursday night loss to Cincinnati, but the opening weekend loss to Youngstown State. In your opinion, where is the fan base on this team? Have they already given up? What will the atmosphere be like when the Hokies walk into Heinz Field?
Pitt Blather: It's hard not to write off the season despite only two games in. It's one thing to lose to a 1-AA team. It's something else to have never led and lost by 14 points. Even Cal and Colorado managed to lose in squeakers to 1-AA teams this year. Pitt was just a mess. The Cinci game did little to show that this was an aberration.
I honestly don't know what kind of atmosphere will be there since I don't know how many people will show up at this point. On the one hand, it is VT and all the fond memories of the final few years of VT playing Pitt in the Big East. On the other hand, it's a nooner and a demoralized and bummed fanbase. Is it possible for a crowd atmosphere to be bitterly sarcastic? Or will that just be me?
Last week's schedule wasn't the greatest, and this week's took a hit because of upsets and lackluster play from ranked teams. I'm going to chalk most of it up to lack of motivation or travel, and let it slide. Not so fast Arkansas, I said most. The Razorbacks are one Bama beatdown away from returning to the team that fired Houston Nutt to hire Bobby Petrino, i.e complete rebuild mode. If they take the beating I expect, the Duggars have a better chance of making future Six Picks than Pig Sooie, at least I know they produce.
<sarcasm>I am starting to think ESPN has an SEC bias.</sarcasm> I am sure it shocks no one that ESPN is going to support the conference they dumped gobs of cash on, but it'll be three weeks, and 5 of the 6 teams covered at the Gameday locales are from the SEC. This includes Florida twice, mediocre Florida, and that's some bullshit. I know this isn't an elite group of games, but surely mixing it up and going to East Lansing, a game ESPN/ABC is broadcasting, would at least make it look like they aren't total shills. If Gameday has to be in Knoxville this week, they should at least do it right and broadcast off the stern of a boat in the Volunteer Navy. That's the only way I will give them a pass. Future watch, next week looks like a lock for the Clemson at FSU tilt since the other two marquee games are broadcast by NBC and Fox. Unless of course the Noles aren't back.
Get ready y'all, here comes a non-conference game with a familiar flair! Our opponent this week is the Pitt Panthers, a team that can claim the unique distinction of being both a former Big East and future ACC rival (HOORAY REALIGNMENT!). Regardless of conference affiliation, Pitt recently has been known as a coaching abyss. Going into the season, there seemed to be a good amount of optimism for the Panthers in what was considered a wide-open Big East race. Add that to the fact that an experienced quarterback (Tino Sunseri) was returning, and you have the makings of true darkhouse candidate.
The ACC put out an official release, so it's done.
The Atlantic Coast Conference Council of Presidents has unanimously voted to accept the University of Notre Dame as a new member. The Irish will compete as full members in all conference sponsored sports with the exception of football which will play five games annually against league programs.
Buried at the bottom of a lot of fluff is this.
Last week I asked Dozer if he could chop up the Pitt–Cincinnati tape since they're two of Tech's upcoming opponents. Of course, he obliged. The film is below (because of technical difficulties, it's missing the tail end of the 4th quarter). After watching it, my thoughts follow, please leave your's in the comments.
Pitt struggled to pound the ball between the tackles. They didn't generate a huge surge upfront, and Cincinnati's d-line did an excellent job beating blocks and penetrating. However, Pitt had success running wide. Their o-line is athletic, both starting tackles have experience playing guard, so they can move. Left tackle Cory King (#78) started five games at guard last season, right tackle Matt Rotheram (#74) started one and was 3-star recruit. Needless to say, they pull their linemen a lot and the running backs run well behind them. The Tech linebackers, especially the Whip, and other free hitters will have to wrap up in space if the Hokies are to stop Pitt's rush attack.
Editor's Note: Beau brings up a few good points. What's the state of the running game? And where is it going? Is/will there be a feature back? A couple of quick stats, Tech is tied 74th nationally in rushing yards per game (141.50). No Hokie has netted more than 100 yards this season (Holmes is the leader with 94, Coleman second with 54, Marcus Davis third with 48). --Joe
Well, I am sure there are some frustrated Hokies out there who are stopping by looking for answers as to why Virginia Tech looked so pedestrian against a bad, but game, Austin Peay team on Saturday. I think before we dive deep into analysis of the performance, we must understand what this game meant to the Hokie coaching staff.
A long review of the film told me that the coaching staff treated this game like a scrimmage. The Hokies ran a very vanilla offensive set with limited offensive line movement, counter-motion, and almost no read option plays. The defense played long stretches of man to man coverage, with very basic slants and linebacker fills up front. If I were a betting man, the staff goals were:
Playing a football game on four days rest is absurd. The players are not rested, and there's not an adequate amount of time to install a game plan. It's absolutely asinine how the ACC handles the Labor Day games. The schedule comes out some time in January or February, and ... surprise, you're kicking off the season on Monday night! I'm sure the athletic directors know in advance, but how far? This last go around, I think the Techmo Bowl matchup leaked a month or two before the schedule was announced. So around then maybe? I don't know. However, I do know that it's silly that these games aren't scheduled two or three years down the road. Everyone knows the conference schedule for an entire cycle, nothing is a surprise there, so why do the Monday night game have to be? The conference needs to do its commissioners a favor and give them more time, on the order of years, to work around the inconvenience. I realize that the ACC is about as progressive as North Korea, so none of that will actually happen, and maybe there's a good reason that I'm unaware of for why it doesn't. The blame doesn't lye completely with the ACC, ultimately Tech is in charge of its non-conference schedule and it should have been on a bye today. Austin Peay is as favorable a I-AA matchup as there is out there, and it took more than a half for Tech to put them away. Given a full week to rest and prepare, and that's not the case. /end rant
The Box kicks off Pitt week a little early. I have a gut reactions post from Peay typed on my laptop, but I'm still without power, so this is up first.
Remember when Pitt had the worst teams ever and they'd still beat us? That sucked.
The last time Virginia Tech opened the season on a Monday night and played a I-AA team the following Saturday, the Hokies lost to JMU. My apologies for that reminder, but that won't happen again. Austin Peay is not a I-AA powerhouse, moreover they're not a competitive I-AA team. In their preseason poll, the Ohio Valley's coaches and sports information directors predicted the Govs would finish last in the conference. Last week Peay lost to Western Kentucky 10-49. In 2011 they lost at Cincinnati 10-72, and at Memphis (who went 2-10 themselves) 6-27. Wisconsin hung 70 on them in 2010. Peay's won just five of 22 games over the last two seasons.
Austin Peay threw for just 11 yards against WKU (164 total). Peay's QB Jake Ryan has started 25 games and over his career he's completed 292 of 602 passes for 3,202 yards 20 TDs and 37 (!!!) picks.
Peay's trying to replace three veteran starters on the offensive line. The group combined to return 38 career starts, but struggled to protect Jake Ryan against WKU.
Peay runs a 4-2-5 defense.
We're back in Blacksburg for a breakdown of Virginia Tech's 20-17 OT win over Gah _ech. The Hokies had some troubles on offense, but there were some bright spots on defense that keyed the W and a stranglehold on the Coastal.
Brian and I also look forward to Saturday's game with Austin Peay with a little background on why it sounds like every APSU fan chants something you hear from a group of girls trying to avoid an awkward conversation at TOTS.
That and more on Episode two of Adventures on Whiskey Lane.
Leave us comments, suggestions and anything we can do to make it better, because we may just give you a shoutout in the coming weeks.
MP3 Download link: http://thekeyplay.podomatic.com/enclosure/2012-09-05T21_55_59-07_00.mp3