Pirates Plundered, Analyzing Virginia Tech's 54-17 Win Over East Carolina

The Hokies routed ECU on Saturday, an in-depth look at how they did it.

[Mark Umansky]

Well, that was cathartic. After back-to-back seasons of frustrating losses to East Carolina, the Hokies served up a dominant 54-17 victory against the Pirates. Virginia Tech scored in all three phases of the game, and the enthusiasm (and relief from the Hokies' veteran players) was palatable.

Jerod Evans seemed more comfortable in the passing game. He threw a half-dozen beautiful deep balls that led his stable of receivers perfectly. Cam Phillips' blocking was significantly better, and he was rewarded with a 55-yard touchdown catch. The defensive line, including second stringers Trevon Hill, Ricky Walker, and Tim Settle continued to dominate up front. The linebacker play, especially that of Andrew Motuapuaka, continues to improve. Special teams coverage and kicking units won the field position battle and generated points. Hokies in attendance witnessed great memories.

Tech's performance also wasn't quite as sharp as it was against Boston College. East Carolina's stunting defensive scheme freed up free hitters to disrupt the Hokies' running game. There were a handful of breakdowns in coverage principles that produced two long touchdowns. There were tackling deficiencies in the second half. There is room for improvement, which could be a scary proposition for ACC Coastal opponents.

Zone Coverage and the Bandit

After spending the last several seasons playing man and man free against the East Carolina Air Raid passing attack, Bud Foster utilized a significant amount of zone coverage on Saturday.

More eyes on the football allowed the defense to converge on quarterback Philip Nelson when he was able to break contain. This prevented some of the long backbreaking runs on third down Hokie fans have become accustomed to since 2012.

In third-and-long situations, Foster often utilized a dime look. Anthony Shegog came in for a defensive tackle to play "the bandit" linebacker. His alignment varies based on the defensive call.

On this play, the Hokies are running a cover 3 zone deep with five defenders underneath. Shegog aligns to the boundary in a press posture. He will bump the wide receiver and then defend the short flat.

ECU runs a variety of out routes to the trips side right at the first down marker. The Hokies have a perfect bracketed zone across the first down marker, and Nelson has nowhere to go. Vinny Mihota and Ken Ekanem both get edge pressure, and Nelson is forced to leave the pocket before he can scan back to the boundary side.

Nelson pulls the ball down to run, note the positioning of Shegog, Motuapuaka, and Tremaine Edmunds. Last season, they would either be in man coverage and running with their receivers or they would be blitzing. Now, they have their heels on the first down marker and eyes in the backfield. Edmunds and Shegog make the tackle. Motuapuaka is there with outside leverage in case Nelson can somehow bounce off the tackle to his left. And Nigel Williams is hustling back into the play where he could have possibly factored into the tackle. The end result is a marginal gain for the Pirates, a punt, and Tech's defense getting off the field on third-and-long. Third-and-long stops happened far too rarely for the Hokies last season.

This next play offers an even better look at the coverage element to the zone. The Hokies have dime personnel in the game with Shegog on the boundary and a double eagle front to defend a critical Pirates' third-and-goal. East Carolina runs a crossing route with boundary receiver Zay Jones (No. 7) and inside slot receiver to the field Quay Johnson (No. 23) in an effort to cross up Tech's linebackers. In previous seasons against the Pirates, Tech struggled against rub and crossing routes.

Both Shegog and Motuapuaka do a beautiful job of staying in their zones to pick up the crossing routes. Nelson has nowhere to go and has to pull the ball down, soon after he is sacked by Ekanem and Shegog. Tim Settle swatted the following field goal attempt and the route was on.


Defending the Run with the Dime

East Carolina head coach Scottie Montgomery was the offensive coordinator at Duke last season. On his watch, Duke killed Virginia Tech by spreading the Hokies out to outnumber them in the box, and then running the football. One adjustment this season is Tech's bandit linebacker isn't always out in coverage. This gives the Hokies six defenders in the box instead of five to defend the run.

I don't recall seeing this defensive alignment last season. Motuapuaka is aligned on the edge to the field. Mihota is in a four-technique on the inside eye of the right offensive tackle. Woody Baron is on the nose. Ekanem is the three-technique DT on the outside eye of the left guard. Tremaine Edmunds is aligned as the edge player to the boundary. Shegog is the mike linebacker. The Hokies are almost playing a bear front with dime personnel.

The Pirates run an outside zone to their right. Motuapuaka and Mihota both slant to their left in order to contain and force the ball back to the inside. Baron fits in the gap to his left. Shegog does a masterful job of identifying a bubble in between Ekanem and Baron and meets the running back right in the cutback lane. Ekanem is fitting the next gap, and Edmunds has back-side contain. Everyone executes their assignment beautifully and Mihota goes beyond just fitting properly and sheds his block to support the tackle.

Return of Summers

In last season's rainy affair in Greenville, James Summers plodded for 169 yards against the Hokies. Most of those yards came on designed QB runs and power blocked plays.

With Nelson mostly ineffective, the Pirates utilized Summers as both a quarterback and a tailback to try to get their offense going. Not surprisingly, Montgomery utilized the same quarterback power that was effective the previous year.

The Pirates block down on the right side. The left guard pulls to kick out Mihota. Summers shows pass and then follows his blockers into the hole.

Foster responds with an alignment adjustment that he also used against Tennessee. The Hokies slide to an odd front. Unlike the dime 30 front, the Hokies still have both defensive tackles in the game. Unlike the bear front, the boundary defensive tackle (Nigel Williams) is playing a four-technique on the inside shoulder of the right tackle instead of a three-technique on the outside shoulder of the right guard. There isn't an edge player to the field. Ken Ekanem is aligned with his hand down on the outside shoulder of the tackle. This front essentially overloads the Hokies defensive line away from the strength of the formation in anticipation that the quarterback power will come that way.

At the snap, all the basic tenets of Foster's defensive scheme still apply. Mihota storms up field to force the play inside. By taking on the guard's trap block early, he shrinks the space that forms between him and the inside gap fits. Williams still follows his keys and slants inside. By being lined up on the tackle instead of the guard, he minimizes the size of the bubble between him and Mihota. He also takes away the angle for the tackle to slide off his down block to the back-side linebacker.

Tremaine Edmunds fills the bubble. He is aggressive and sticks the blocking back in the hole. Although, I am not entirely convinced he is attacking with the correct shoulder. His support is coming from Motuapuaka on the inside. Edmunds attacks with inside shoulder and spills the back outside, This leaves more distance for Motuapuaka to cover in order to get into tackling position. If it's a mistake, it was made aggressively. Still, unless Motuapuaka was out of position, Edmunds may not get a positive evaluation on the play.

Back on the inside, Woody Baron beats the down block cleanly and tracks the guard to Summers. Motuapuaka is in position to make the tackle for minimal gain. Terrell Edmunds beats his block to support. Baron's disruption is terrific, and Mihota and Williams exhibit sound technique. Motuapuaka is in perfect position. Edmunds possibly makes a minor technique error and still jams up the hole with an aggressive physical challenge to the blocker. This is good football.

Hokies Offense: From Slants to Sluggos

The Hokies continue to expand its offensive playbook. Thus far this season, Justin Fuente, Brad Cornelsen, and Jerod Evans have established the quick slant as their most reliable route. Against ECU they added a twist, Cornelsen sent the running back into the flat to pull the linebacker out of Evans' throwing lane.

Isaiah Ford aligns to the boundary by himself. Evans has Travon McMillian offset to his left. At the snap, McMillian heads to the boundary flat. The East Carolina linebacker comes forward to account for McMillian.

McMillian's route vacates space for Ford to run the slant against man coverage. Ford plants his outside foot and cuts to the inside. With the linebacker chasing McMillian, Evans has a nice clear throwing lane to drive the ball into Ford, who makes a nice catch.

With the slant established, Cornelsen decided to take a shot down the field. The Hokies face a third-and-three, a down and distance where the slant and speed option have been reliable play calls. Cornelsen instead calls a slant and go route, also known as a "Sluggo".

On this play, McMillian remains in to max protect. Cornelsen's design can afford to omit McMillian from the pattern because Ford isn't going to run the slant into the linebacker. Ford comes off the ball and takes two strides, then opens his inside/right shoulder like he is going to cut to the inside for a slant right at the first down marker. Instead, Ford pushes off his right foot and turns outside and up the field. Evans leads Ford beautifully. This allows Ford to catch the ball in stride before the safety can get over. Ford's body control and ability to sell a route fake really makes him a unique weapon.

Tech's Speed Option Variations

During the post-game interviews, Fuente expressed some frustration with the inability to convert some third-and-short situations. As I noted after Tech beat Boston College, the speed option has been a critically important tool in short yardage throughout the season.

East Carolina came in prepared to slow play the speed option and take away the pitch man. This messed up the timing of the play and forced Evans to keep the football. The stunting and slanting Pirates defense also messed up the blocking schemes up front.

On this play, Cornelsen attempted not to show speed option through formation. Instead of using the trips formation or motioning the H-Back across to trips, he leaves the H-Back on the back-side and motions Marshawn Williams from the left to the right. It doesn't fool ECU.

The Pirates slow play the option. The slot nickel stays wide, and takes the pitch until Evans commits to keeping the ball.

Things are not helped by what seems to be a blocking mix up on the line of scrimmage. Jonathan McLaughlin immediately heads off to the second level. It seems like Augie Conte is supposed to zone and seal the defensive end. After a big initial wide step, Conte tucks his right shoulder and turns up field, this leaves defensive end Demage Bailey (No. 97) unblocked. Outside, Cam Phillips lets the nickel go to be optioned and delivers a really nice crack back on the scraping strong safety. Options usually leave one unblocked defender. Either McLaughlin was supposed to chip the defensive end, Conte blew the reach block, or Phillips was supposed to option stalk the nickel. Without the benefit of being in the film room, it is hard to tell who busts.

When the Hokies got the seal block on the edge, the Pirates slow play to pitch was rendered ineffective. On this play, H-Back Steven Peoples motions to the play-side, and OLB Dayon Pratt (No. 1) widens out along with him.

Yosuah Nijman and Wyatt Teller zone to seal the edge of the Pirates' defensive line inside. When Evans sees the Pratt move wide, he tucks the ball and turns up field for a nice first down.

Opposing defenses will continue to focus on the speed option as a bread and butter short yardage play. Last week, the offensive staff changed things up with the sprint out pass to the flat off run action. This week, Cornelsen showed two new plays to account for off speed option action, a throwback screen to the tight end and a reverse pass.

The throwback screen was beautifully designed. The Hokies have Cunningham aligned as a tight end to the right side, so Tech has three receivers/trips to the field. Phillips angles inside just like he would on a crack back block. Cunningham steps inside, and then slips back to the left. Evans and Sam Rogers both take a hard lateral step to the right just like a speed option, and then Rogers blocks the edge defender.

THREE East Carolina defenders charge up on the option fake, while the back-side linebacker blitzes on the back-side. Cunningham is all alone, and Evans leads him nicely. This is beautiful design, and because this throwback is on film, defensive coordinators will reinforce that their back-side linebacker has to stay stationary to account for screens, throwbacks and reverses. That takes one additional player out of pursuit to the trips side.

Speaking of reverses, there were gasps when Ford missed Cunningham on a sure touchdown off of a reverse. Did you notice that the play came off of speed option action as well?

This time around, Cunningham is aligned as a tight end to the left. Sam Rogers motions to the right to give Tech three receivers to the field. The offensive line, Evans, and Williams all sprint hard to the right side to sell the speed option fake. Ford takes an inside step like he is cracking back to the inside, and then runs the reverse. Cunningham releases his block and heads down field. Corner Corey Seargent (No. 5) is completely fixated on Ford. Cunningham is wide open for an easy touchdown and Ford overthrows him.

Fortunately, Ford made a beautiful catch on the very next play. The reverse also puts a new nuance on film that ensures that defenses can't sell out against the speed option. That makes the option more effective, and if defenses still decide to sell out, they will be burned badly by Cornelsen and Fuente's wrinkles.

Comments

I feel like its been a long time since we have gotten to read positive film reviews by French. It's quite nice seeing you break down things people like talking about, as opposed to all the crap that made us fall apart. Which was constantly the same thing...over and over.

with spikes like this, I want Settle on my wallyball team

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors).

This further emphasizes why recruiting is so important. The blue chip recruits being on the field certainly make a difference.

"Take care of the little things and big things will happen." I feel like someone important said that once.

Seriously. Sometimes just being a bigger, better athlete shows up to pay dividends. Hopefully those recruits that came to see the game walked away with a great impressions.

First time I have watched this block in slow motion. I did not realize how devastating that initial push was and how athletic the block was. The reach in combination with the pancake is pretty amazing.

Yeah, #62 got wrecked.

I didn't realize how much Ekanem contributed to that block. I read where Settle said it but it wasn't until you see the slow mo that you actually see it. Ken blew up that blocker.

First time I can remember a defense selling out to stop a bread and butter play and the offensive staff responding with a shrug and saying, "Okay, we'll just make you think we're running it all the time without actually running it." This staff just gets it.

"And then the real chess match began." - Justin Fuente

Loeffler had a bread and butter play?

The "everybody look to the sideline with :15 on the play clock" was his bread-and-butter, I believe.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

Ah, the Meerkat Offense.

It always sounded to me like Lefty had multiple plays that he could run from each set ... but for some reason I still don't understand, his players could not execute what he called. Either the vocabulary was too confusing or the plays were too complex or there were too many to keep straight or something. I'm not sure the difference was in the play calling as much as it was the coaching on how to execute the play calls.

"Our job as coaches is to influence young people's lives for the better in terms of fundamental skills, work ethic, and doing the right thing. Every now and again, a player actually has that effect on the coaching staff." Justin Fuente on Sam Rogers

I watched the Tim Settle punt block about a dozen times. I grinned each time. The strength he has to just bowl through the line, while retaining control of himself and coordination to get a hand up and block the kick was a thing of beauty.

The analysis of the offense...wow. I love the nuance and design these coaches have put in place. Can't wait to see how things continue to come together for this team. I am very excited.

It's just hard to comprehend how Tim Settle can pick up a huge guy the size of 62 and throw him back like he's a rag doll ! Wow, I haven't seen power like that in a long time. :--)

Well to be fair, Ekanem helped by driving into the outside shoulder of 62 at the same time. It wasn't ALL Settle...

"Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!"

Now CJF needs to work him into the short yardage offense in the red zone... run or receiving a pass, he would bring down the house!

Nope- too much upside on defense to risk him getting hurt on offense.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Yea after seeing first hand what happened to nkemdiche, Fuente would probably not be thrilled.

But...but...Piesman :(

I just want to see him as a FB on short yardage when we HAVE to get that yard or 2. Run it behind Teller with Settle lead blocking for Marshawn.

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

I am pretty sure the seismograph at the airport couldn't handle the spike from the pancakes in that scenario.

short yardage offense in the red zone... run or receiving a pass, he would bring down the house!

If it ain't broke don't fix it!

Click for President

We'll need to see how 'not broke' it is when we face tougher defenses.

It's so, so nice to have a O-coordinator recognize defensive schemes and adjust in ways that the offense has obviously practiced and can execute well. I'm sure the speed-action reverse pass worked well in practice which is why it got the go for gametime.

Could we possibly see I. Ford get a TD reception, rush, and pass in the same game? I hope so.

"Jerod Evans had more moves on that run than Bayer has aspirin!"

-Mike Burnop, 9/24/2016

Dont know how the hell their QB held onto the ball in that first picture. SAFETY!!!

This is gold. The play-calling this year has been, for the most part, superb. Great analysis.

"That's Houdini!"

- Jon Laaser 9/24/2016

The sluggo- the sell job coupled with the conditioning of all those slants. My my my.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

French, I have heard it said Fuente has only used a fraction of his playbook so far? If that is true it makes me wonder what the offense will look like when he gets more of the kind of recruits he needs to run his complete offense attack. Not knocking the kids on the team at all, as the offense is day and night above what I have seen the last few years. What are your thoughts? Always really look foward to your pre and post game post. Don't always understand your terminology and insight being a novice about the technical side of football, but I understand enough to really enjoy it.

Life's short, If you dont do it, somebody else will.

I think not having his own recruits and using a fraction of the playbook are fairly independent facts at the moment. It's almost impossible to have your entire offensive system installed in your first year. That said, excellent recruiting will make the offense better almost certainly, but it probably won't have as much to do with an expanded playbook as time will.

How much differently would his recruits really be able to execute his playbook? I find it hard to believe that the guys now can't figure it out.

Yeah, I'm skeptical of the "his recruits" thing. Fuente inherited a lot of talent, and when asked about his philosophy, he said that he wants to tailor the offense to the talent he has. If he wants to move in a different direction, he will recruit accordingly. But it's not like he's trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole. He knows what he has and he's building an offense around it. Any shift in philosophy will be progressively introduced over a period of years.

It certainly helps to have his choice of talent at the QB position. I will always love Motley and have high hopes for Jackson, but Evans is Fuente's guy and the ones coming in next are as well.

If you're reading the above post and thinking, "is this guy serious?!?," you can safely assume I'm not.

To clarify if there is any confusion, I was saying better recruiting in general will help the offense not suggesting the "recruiting his guys" would make a huge difference. Additionally, we are all on the same page I think. I was trying to say that the playbook will expand with time, not because we have different personnel.

Agreed. We heard "Wait til PJ gets his own players" when Nesbitt was running the GT O and had Dwyer and Demaryius Thomas. All the GT fans were chirping "wait til he gets his own players". To date, I think Nesbitt was the best QB that they've had to run that O and their OL was also better than any other. Their D had 4 NFL picks on the DL too, IIRC.

Could the talent improve from here? Possibly, but it'll be more about Fuente and Cornelson having more time to coach up the players than what's implied in the phrase "wait til he gets his own players".

No offense but the question was addressed to French. Would like to see him reply. Thank you

Life's short, If you dont do it, somebody else will.

I hope he gives you the response you are looking for, but anyone is allowed to weigh in on a question posed in a thread on a public forum.

Spoiler alert: if French answers this, it won't be different from anything that's already been said.

It's an open forum, not an email or direct messaging system. Other people can and will comment on it. No need to be snarky.

Haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate

Up voted you to offset the overreaction. Man people are touchy on the bye week

TKP Harder.

I think it is more our current players aren't showing the whole book at once. We are working with plays and schemes that are working now, just introducing one new play per game is still upsetting the defenses.

It's good to keep in mind that you can only run so many plays in a game. As basic as they might currently be, if the plays are getting it done (50+ ppg), then that's really all we should care about. Using the opposite mentality would lead you down the Lefty path...

Marching Virginians - Bassline

I don't think it is a matter of the talent not fitting scheme. The entire team is new to this offense. It is an offense that doesn't have many formations or plays, but the timing and mechanics of each play are critical. When the timing and mesh points are off (see the fumbled snap on the Carroll jet sweep in Bristol), fumbles will occur.

I believe (and I have no reason to say this besides my experience and gut feeling) that Fuente is putting in a little bit more each week so everyone is comfortable, and the plays that are the best executed against the opposing scheme are being highlighted. I can tell you, using the trips field formation as an example, that we have not seen anywhere close to the whole playbook. Just off the top of my head, there is a counter-trey off of the speed option. There is a quarterback sweep with the tailback as a lead blocker. And, we saw two gadget plays versus UNC that I had not seen on film at Memphis. As this team gets more experience and is more comfortable, we will see more variety.

As for terminology, I take it for granted that people understand. If you ever have a question about terminology, please feel free to ask. Most of it is my version of the terminology (either how it was verbalized in HS or college, or what I have learned since then.) I can tell you for sure that VT probably uses different terminology to describe the same thing.

We have variances on this site. For example, a "pin and pull" (the accepted term for one OL blocking down and the next OL pulling to the outside) was called a "roll-it" block when I was in college.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Evans at QB would be the only key regarding, the notion of getting players that Fuente picked. Even then, he's in the same situation as the rest, learning a new O.

Well written article:

French on the first offensive clip, Ford's slant catch, do you think this is this is a read by Evans, so if the linebacker doesn't chase McMillian, Evans dumps it to him in the flat?

PS Another outstanding film review!!

"Don't go to, go through"

Yes- from what I can tell, a vast majority of Fuente's offense is one read and then throw it away or scramble. On this play, the quarterback is looking at two things for the one read.

1) If the corner is playing inside leverage, check to a fade route for Ford (pre-snap)
2) If the corner is playing man or outside leverage, read the linebacker. If the linebacker comes up on McMillian going to the flat, throw the slant. If the linebacker stays back, throw to McMillian and get what you can.

Ultimately, it is executed just like an option. You take what the defense gives you.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

I love this approach. It makes the things we heard Coach Fu say early on make more sense now. Can you consistently do what you are coached to do. This one read approach is much easier to teach, practice through repetition and evaluate. Technique is drilled and execution perfected when things are simple.

Then you can start to add the wrinkles. I like the potential of this offense with the talent we have right now. And it will only get better.

"Don't go to, go through"

So does this mean that generally Evans will make his pass to which ever side of the field he is initially looking at? As in, not often he will go through like 3 or 4 checks to find an open guy on the other side of the field.

As in, not often he will go through like 3 or 4 checks to find an open guy on the other side of the field.

This doesn't happen in most spread offenses, so yes. Clemson doesn't do this, Oregon doesn't do this, etc.

No, I think he uses false reads. For example, he will look off a safety to one side before coming back the other way. But, I think he is only making one read and those head movements are just to draw off safeties.

Watch passing play replays closely. It is shocking to see how everyone in the pass pattern is not looking for the ball, except the guy Evans ends up throwing to. I am sure that there are some plays where Evans may have a check down or a second option. But, on most plays (as it was in Memphis) it is one read and then a scramble drill.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

I know CJF's goal is to prepare players to put the team in position to win games, but is this mentality going to hurt QBs in the system when/if they have pro potential? Hopefully Paxton lynch succeeds and that can be used as a selling point if that point gets brought up negatively in recruiting.

Andy Dalton seems to be doing well in the pros. Coach Fu was Dalton's QB coach (and co-OC) at TCU.

I think it's probably similar to building most other skill sets. I have heard it called scaffolding before. you build the skills to make pre-snap reads and then simple quick post-snap reads on one side of the field. When you master those skills it becomes easier to add in complexity. So for Lynch and Dalton who both spent a few years in that system, I'm quite sure they achieved mastery of the basic reads and were able to more easily develop more complex skills.

The flip side is asking QBs to master the whole complex set of skills from day one. I think we have seen the results of that approach as well....

"Don't go to, go through"

There are a small number of schools that could credibly use that negatively. Ultimately, production and success on the field matter more than scheme, it's why people like RG3, Marcus Mariota, Paxton Lynch, etc got drafted so highly despite having very little translatable NFL experience. Other teams can say we won't prepare them for the NFL, but we can fire back that it's better to be successful outside a pro-system than be the next Christian Hackenberg.

He will sometimes look to one side and come back, but I am pretty confident that is just to look off the safety. Rarely is the WR looking for the ball when he does it.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Speaking of "reading" plays. I've noticed that Evans does an excellent job looking off receivers. TT in his Jr and Sr years is the last QB that I can recall doing so. All others seemed to stare down their primary target. It feels like that little nuance by Evans is making a difference in the passing game.

That he does do.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Guaranteed. If the LB stays to bracket Ford on the Slant then dump it off to McMillan. That dump off will lead to him turning upstream with hopefully an easy first down.

Whether it's a designed read or not, Evans is likely heady enough to make that decision anyway. I thought the same thing when I watched it. If the corner follows Isaiah inside and the linebacker stays in tight to take away the slant then there would be room to at the very least gain a few positive yards to McMillian.

edit: Totally beaten to the punch on this one haha, but yes the one read between two guys seemingly applies here, unsurprisingly.

Beautiful writeup! I like this happy with Corny french so much better than dejected with Loeffler french.

I love on reverse pass play, you can see the immediate second the entire ECU defense went "oh fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu"

Don't let this comment take away from the fact that Arkansas blew a 24 point 2nd half lead in the Belk Bowl.
Don't let the Belk Bowl take away from the fact that Matt Ryan blew a 25 point 2nd half lead in the Super Bowl.

I don't even care that it was incomplete. It's on film now, and the first time we showed a speed option reverse it was a reverse pass. That means the next time we run a reverse, the defense will have to respect the threat of a pass. That should open up a true reverse a little more, through freezing the linebacker.

"And then the real chess match began." - Justin Fuente

Yeah, as opposed to the past, I can see the rhyme and reason for what the coaches run on offense, and we're not running plays for the sake of running plays. The first 3 series of the game, we crapped out, not really able to pick up first downs, and getting 3 and out stuffed. But, looking at the game as a whole, they were completely setting ECU up for what came later. All those sideline to sideline plays early had them taking the bait HARD later on in the game when we showed them the look only to hit them with something else and we gashed them for it. By the time the 3rd quarter came around, our offensive coaches were essentially just toying with them.

Don't let this comment take away from the fact that Arkansas blew a 24 point 2nd half lead in the Belk Bowl.
Don't let the Belk Bowl take away from the fact that Matt Ryan blew a 25 point 2nd half lead in the Super Bowl.

Exactly. Now every team will have to keep a backside edge defender and a backside safety in their space to account for those plays. That leaves two less pursuit defenders to stop inside zone and the speed option. If a team overpursues, Fuente can come back to those throwback/reverse gadget plays. If they are being disciplined, then the bread and butter plays should work better.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

French,
In your opinion, how good has Evans been with his execution of fakes and selling play action? I have been watching that pretty closely, and it seems to me that he is really committed to selling his part of the play - much more so than some previous VT QBs.

Spectacular, and that was why I expected him to win the starters job. Everything involved with the run game lends itself to the mechanics of the passing game, and he does an exceptional job.

For me, there are two areas where I want Evans to improve- accuracy and quick decision making in the drop back passing game, especially on 3rd and longs. I don't know if Joe E. could do some analysis, but I would imagine that Evans completions over 10 yards have been mostly on 1st and 2nd down (especially if you take away fades.) Second, I want to see how well he executes true inside zone reads. We haven't seen many where he reads the backside DE. If he shows that he can punk that DE, it opens up the inside zone even more.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Can you expand on improvement in accuracy? I am assuming you may be referring to something more than just completion percentage. From your post I almost read it as the completion percentage late in the downs as compared to the 1st/2nd down passing. I believe, and someone can correct me if I am wrong, but Evans is top 20 in completion percentage nationally. Obviously, being behind down/distance allows teams to pin their ears back but not something I necessarily thought of looking at the stats overall. Any guess where those percentages "should" fall out (i.e., early passing downs vs 3rd downs) or where you would hope to see it?

Oh man, I didn't think of that. If I was a betting man, I'd say we see that against UNC.

Could an article or seven over the bye week focus on the run game? ie: ECU obviously keyed in with their stunts / slants as pointed out, but maybe some more details / film study showing why it worked so well. Would we have needed to change schematically / formation-wise to compensate? etc etc etc.

I am going to spend the offweek working on UNC. My bandwidth is limited because of work travel.

I will say, what ECU does in terms of run blitzing is not something we can expect to see from anyone else on the schedule. The biggest thing that will improve the running game is improved tenacity and block engagement from the entire offensive line group. Against ECU though, there were a bunch of well blocked plays where ECU had a stunt that just left one more defender than blocker. I can recall a Sam Rogers counter where every OL guy absolutely killed a defender, yet ECU stunted a safety right into the gap. Rogers got tripped up despite a huge initial hole, and he pounded the turf in frustration.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

There were definitely a few times where we'd get stopped for a minimal gain and my buddy and I would look at each other and say, "man, that looked really well-blocked, but then it just... wasn't." Guess we know why now.

You count on that back to win sometimes. It doesn't always happen. Optioning off those inside zones could help, but so far most of the IZR action has been handoffs or pulling the ball and throwing it.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Seems to me that ecu tried the VT strategy, to sellout stopping the run and take their chances playing man to man or close to it against the pass. Ergo, our rushing attack doesn't look great but we have huge chunk gains and TDs through the air. Much improved over the last decade where the opposing d would put 8 in the box and we'd still run in straight at them.

I noticed that during the BC game on third and long Bud tended to blitz and send 5+ on a pass rush, while against ECU he tended to send just three and drop into zone. How much of this was because of the respective offensive schemes and how much was because we got pressure with just three pass rushers? Do you think we will see a lot of the dime package against UNC?

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

Bud has learned that ECU's passing game thrives on getting one on one match ups. They use rub routes to get guys open and that set up big plays.

By running the dime, it allowed Bud to flood the area around the sticks and still have deep help. He was able to generate rush with 3 or 4 guys, and by playing a zone, all those defenders are looking in the backfield where they can contain the quarterback if he breaks out. On 3rd and 8, a QB run or quick throw for 4 yards is A-OK when you put them on the ground.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

On 3rd and 8, a QB run or quick throw for 4 yards is A-OK when you put them on the ground.

Damn I wish it worked like that on my XBox but nooooooo my defenders either give up a 20+ yard pass or a scramble for a 1st down. Cons of playing as Memphis in Fuente's first year

Haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate

Agreed, I never put my defense in zone on the Xbox because the center of the field is wide open every time plus I trust man on man so much more than zone defenses

He said give to me Roscoe

I run almost exclusively man myself, but unfortunately, slot defenders in man tend to completely blow coverages on deep outs and corner routes.

My issue always seemed to be slants, corners, and outs when playing press man. I learned that mixing man coverage with some Cover 3 worked most of the time. I pretty much always bring at least 5 rushers, which is probably some of my problem. But, the cover 3 takes away corner routes and the underneath zones normally deal with any intermediate routes through the middle. I also learned to stop pressing so much, especially on 3rd down. Even with those 5 star senior corners get burned pressing.
Cover 2 never seemed to work for me. It didn't really matter what play was run, if the QB threw the ball, it was a completion.

"That move was slicker than a peeled onion in a bowl of snot." -Mike Burnop

I typically run man blitz or zone blitz all game unless I have them in 3rd and medium or longer, then use the defensive "hot routes" to turn one of the blitzers into a QB spy. If I'm playing Georgia Tech, I hot route my edge rushers to QB contain to control the pitch, then user the DT, swim through the block and take the dive or chase the QB if he pulls. Then I spy with the Mike and if I can't reach the QB with my defensive tackle, the LB or edge contain gets him.

Another thing with GT is they typically motion a guy to the side they're running so you can use that "guess play" feature to get the whole defense moving that direction. Works about 85% of the time.

Jarvis is my co-pilot.

That's a really good plan against GT. I bet a backside blitz would also help clog up any plays that go against the motion. I'll have to try this!
For GT I would normally have a LB blitz the A gap to clog up the dive and bring extra rushers to from the edges. I normally controlled the safety to deal with the rare times that QB or pitch man got loose.
As for 3rd and long, I have a favorite cover 3 zone blitz I like to run. I modify a 4-2-5 Okie Across formation play. It's a standard Cover 3 with the CBs and FS playing deep zones. The two SS's have underneath zones. I slant my DLine to the field and blitz my boundary LB. The field LB plays another underneath zone to take away any TEs, RBs, or slot players through the middle. It stops just about any 3rd and long scenario because I get a little pressure, it contains any draws or run plays, the zone helps with any screen calls, and deep passes are generally taken away.

"That move was slicker than a peeled onion in a bowl of snot." -Mike Burnop

Yeah I typically go man to man even on 3rd and long, except if I'm playing a mobile QB. Then I'll do a cover 2 sink or rush 5 with a cover 2 or 3

Jarvis is my co-pilot.

I mentioned it in the game thread, but it's great seeing Shegog get some burn.

And now we know that Foster still plays NCAA 14 also. 3-2-6 is my go-to defense against spread teams as well. :)

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

He has played well when called upon.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Also, stellar anticipation and photographic capture by Mark for the header photo! It doesn't take away all the burn from 2015 to see that pain on Summers face, but it sure helps!

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

"OK, I get it, you're still pissed about last year. Can we let it go already?"
- Summers, probably

"......"
- Summers, from what it looked like from the South stands

I like the look on Nigel's face while getting held in the background. He looks so calm but you know he's thinking he's about to ounce on a fumbled ball in the endzone.

The entire play happened about 15 feet in front of me like it was in slow motion, I just press the button in these cases!

The immediate next frame or what I call "Oh dear I'm having a bad day":
(And the whole gallery is here!)

"Oh dear" seems to be hilariously accurate.

So watching the throwback screen. It's a beautiful design, but I'm wondering: Did Cunningham flatten out the route too much? The guy the makes the tackle (1) ran a long way to do it, and it seems to me if the route had been more upfield, it may have gone the distance since Phillips was providing a block on his db (8) who never realized Cunningham had the ball.

From a timing perspective, I think the route had to be materialize pretty quickly because ECU was pressuring so hard on the option.

Phillips route was a bit problematic because it was taking guys to the football. But, for the initial deception, it had to run that way in order to sell the speed option crackback. I still dig it.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

French,

Are you going to have any comments on the long pass plays?

Doesn't matter if it's cake or pie as long as it's chocolate.

I assume these were the two ECU touchdowns. On the first one, it was Alexander against the ECU receiver one on one. Edmunds was the safety to that side, and I think the QB looked him over to the trips side, so Edmunds wasn't in position to help Alexander. Alexander was playing inside leverage, and it was an intentional under-throw. Alexander got kind of tangled up and the receiver made a great adjustment.

On the second touchdown, the Hokies were playing a normal cover 2 (corner in the short zone and the safety over the top), which, if you watched the game closely, isn't something they seem to run much. More often, Facyson would drop off deep and the safety would play the shorter zone.

On that play, Facyson was in the short zone. Nelson threw the fade in between the corner and the safety. Edmunds took a poor angle (if you give you the catch, you have to keep it in front of you) and the receiver was off to the races.

Edmunds had a tough day, and that isn't surprising given that he was playing his first game as a safety against a passing attack that strives to put safeties into bad match ups. As he gains experience, he will get better (and he has been pretty good most of the time.)

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

It seemed to me that Adonis stopped playing the receiver and turned to look for the ball. Lost both the ball and the receiver. Did anyone else see that? Or was I imagining it with all the 'man defenders play the receiver' talk?

that was a contributing factor, and happens often when guys have inside leverage technique and look for the ball too soon. This is reason 1 why "turn and find the ball" folks are not always correct.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

This is reason 1 why "turn and find the ball" folks are not always correct.

preach it

French,

Thanks for that. Leads to a follow up question. Was this a case of VT being in a defense that ECU called the correct play against and this is going to happen sometimes? Or is the problem technique that is correctible?

Doesn't matter if it's cake or pie as long as it's chocolate.

French - great write-up. Thank you. Two questions for you:

1) The play where Ford runs the slant and McMillan goes to the flat. How would a defense stop that? Is there no choice but to give up one of the two options, or should we expect to see teams run some type of zone to take away both? Like a traditional cover 2, where the corner takes McMillan in the flat and the LB stays inside to take the slant, with a safety over the top in case Ford goes deep?

2) On ECU's QB Power where Bud overloads the weak side - what happens if that play actually goes strong side, and the weakside guard follows the 2 H-backs to lead the way for Summers on the strong-side QB power? Are we completely out of position to stop it?

Re: 1) Cover 2 zone would mess it up. If the QB read cover 2 (corner to flat, linebacker sinking under the slant) he would need to change the play.

2) the DL is overshifted away from the double backs. The linebackers are overshifted to them. In theory, you would still be ok. I think the D makes the adjustment because ECU had not shown anything else from that formation. It would take a detailed re-watch of Tennessee, BC, and ECU to see if that shift is consistent. I will take a look as soon as my day-job travel eases up.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Thanks French. I suppose that's why they say games are won and lost on in-game adjustments. I'm surprised ECU never gave a man-coverage look but then switched to cover 2 and tried to force Jerod into a mistake.

I'm even more surprised ECU's OC never picked up on Bud's alignment and ran that QB power play to the strong side. Obviously they would have had to practice that, you probably can't run a play for the first time based solely on in-game adjustments if you haven't practiced it. But still, seems like they may have had something there if they ran that, and then that would have prevented Bud from overloading either side in the future to open up the weak-side play. The same way we used the throwback and WR pass play to open up the speed option.

Of course, that's just the opinion of a fan that doesn't know much, fair to assume Bud and ECU OC probably know something i don't.

Are you talking adjustments through out the game, or on the single play? If that's the first time Bud ran that look, it may be kind of late to adjust to it when you're already at the line. Was this method used more than once?

___

-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

I'm guessing that his point is that Bud is famous for in game adjustments, so if the ECU OC should be prepping in a way that is along the lines of:

if Bud adjusts to do X, what simple adjustment can I make to counter it. Do I have a play to do that? No? "Ok guys, here's a new play for the VT game"

Clearly you can't game plan every eventuality, but this is kind of a self awareness thing.

one example how Bud is so great -- he makes "this" look like "that," and b4 you know it, you throw into coverage

“I remember Lee Corso's car didn't get out of the parking lot.” ~CFB

These MASSIVE offensive improvements really ought to appeal to the new wave of talent we have been recruiting.

Keep calm, Gobble on

French, awesome!

The reverse pass to Cunningham reminded me of the TD pass from LT3 to DJ Coles a few years back. Not sure if that one came off of speed option action though.

Regarding the option reads that Evans has on most plays, we haven't seen the smash route concept that Lefty used a lot have we? Brewer got burned on those several times. Interceptions or making the wrong read. It seems that Fuente and Corn do a good job of having plays that build off of each other, and that involve simple reads for Evans to make. Or maybe not simple, but reads that he can make on a more consistent basis.

Also, how would you evaluate Pass Pro so far? Evans seems to have time, passing game is thriving, and not giving up too many sacks. Aside from UT game, my amateur eye is telling me we've improved in this area. What say you?

Thanks again. You are really making this bye week a lot easier for me to cope with.

--
"It's time to go play Virginia Tech Football longer and harder than anybody else in America!!" -- Justin Fuente
"I put a brick in Sacksburg today." -- Cam Phillips

Mook getting a little chippy at the end of the "Defending the Run with the Dime" clip!

How do you *know* all that stuff?? Evidence of a mis-spent youth?

Or are you making it up to see how much we'll swallow?

Awesome.

amazing retention of useless information

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

The Pirates defense on those speed option action plays:

(Sorry, the video embed from this site is weird.)

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

Good job again on this.

I really like the way this staff is able to predict the adjustments other teams will make and game plan accordingly. One of my biggest issues with our previous offensive staffs was how long they would allow other teams to do something unsound defensively against certain formations and tendencies we have, without punishing them. I still get angry every now and then when I think about (During the Stinespring era) how defenses for years were able to cheat an extra defender against us in the running game on the two receiver side of the field without us ever taking advantage of it. Even when we did make adjustments often times they (Opposing defenses) would get away with something for an entire game and we come back the next week with an answer, only to find our next opponents are defending it completely different. At times, we would make adjustments at half time but rarely did we have something that same drive or even the next drive. We did a very poor job on scouting ourselves and probably spent too much time scouting how our opponents defended other offenses. I believe that scouting your own tendencies, formations and play calling patterns on offense is just as important as understanding those traits defensively and I think this staff is exceptional in that regard. French pointing out the adjustments we made giving different looks off of speed option is a prime example. Our first four opponents had not overcommitted to that look but our staff knew that ECU probably would and had several plays designed to combat that.

I am also a big proponent of using trick plays or rather, unconventional plays early on in the football season. I know it looks like it is showing our hand on some things that could maybe be used later in the season in a close game but personally I feel like it is more effective to give defenses more things to see on film. As French pointed out, just having the threat of running a reverse (Or reverse pass) off of a speed option look will keep backside defenders more honest for the rest of the season. That backside defender or defenders having to hesitate can often times be the difference between a 7-yard gain and a 70-yard touchdown. This staff looks like it will always make defenses pay for overcommitting against certain looks/plays and the more you are able to do that, the more you are able to dictate the kind of looks you can potentially see defensively and it ends up making preparation and execution even easier on the offensive side of the ball.

much obliged

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

What a huge advantage to have former coaches as "support staff" to break down film & point out tendencies (yours and opponents)!!!

A little jealous of teams w/the ability (or determination?) to have this advantage.

“I remember Lee Corso's car didn't get out of the parking lot.” ~CFB

Thanks again French for great break-down of these key moments in the game.

Question - at a higher level, how good / bad are these BC and ECU teams that we just crushed. VT's game plan and execution seem to be great but are they against significantly inferior teams, both with new coaching staffs, in the beginning of the season. I guess I'm wondering if you feel VT really is this talented individually and capable of continuous improvement in Fu's system against a tougher schedule OR did we out-class 2 really bad teams at home in September. Ground me for unc, pitt, miami.

I was tickled with how much control Foster's defense had over ECU's offense. In terms of the offense, I was worried that ECU would stop the run well enough to mess up the passing game. It was looking that way until the sluggo to Ford got things going.

BC- Remember, that team, minus their best tailback and any semblance of quarterback play, kept the game very close last season. I think no Connor Wujiack at defensive tackle was an area where BC wasn't as good, but the Hokies completely dominated Harold Landry, the BC DE who had a field day last season. I think the BC is still really good. All in all, the Hokies were much sharper vs BC.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

As for the upcoming schedule, Miami is a mystery to me because I have not even seen highlights of them yet. UNC will keep the ball in front of them and the offense has to execute the "little ball" and sustain drives. Fedora's unwillingness to establish Hood and Logan helps Bud a ton.

Pitt really is a mystery. They have major talent up front, one great linebacker, and one great safety. They completely disrupted VT's passing game last year, and they are a handful to block up front. Yet, they are getting torched by the passing game despite having a great pass rush.

Offensively, Pitt is much tougher to defend this season. They have established running counter-trey off their power and inside zone actions for their big backs Conner and Ollison. And, they have a new weapon in a little scatback named Henderson that makes plays all over the field (think a better version of Olamide Zaccheaus from UVA that gave VT fits last year.) He is deadly on quick inside jet sweeps and always seems to make key big plays in the passing game. Pitt is more diverse, and that makes them very dangerous.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Awesome, thanks again.

If you get down towards Va Beach, let me know. Love to host you on the boat (onshore or off).

Be careful French...

Its always sunny reference always good for a leg.

THIS IS NSFW:

A new season...new hope

One of my favorite scenes from anything.

Truth on Pitt. Henderson is a sophmore WR/KR/PR currently leads the nation in total yds a game. Very fast and extremely dangerous in open field. On D I think Dend Price leads nation in TFL and has like 6 sacks. Whitehead is a beast at safety. Having said that the CB situation is terrible!

Yeah I think this is the question I keep turning over in my head. USCe certainly could and should have lost to this ECU squad but I don't have a ton of faith that USCe is anything other than another bad P5 team this year. I'm also looking for the indicator as to how good/bad these two teams are.

I'm trying to be patient...................ok not working.

"Don't go to, go through"

This stuff is just fantastic!
- I really appreciate you breaking things down but also helping us understand that these aren't just a bunch of random plays being called but a 60 min long strategy. I definitely did NOT noticed during that game that the plays you just reviewed were created after selling the option. Love that I can hopefully identify this now.
- I also like the fact that we have an offensive identity for the first time in a couple of years. And an O-coordinator who can flex to what the defense is playing off of.

Very basic question: When can a TE not release his block and go out for a pass? Is it just as long as there are 5 O-linemen plus the TE he can always go beyond that 5 yd mark and be eligible?

He can release for a pass if he isn't "covered up" by an outside receiver. If the TE is on the line of scrimmage, and the receiver to his side is also on the line of scrimmage, then the TE isn't eligible.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Son of a.... I refreshed the page 3 times to avoid this exact thing

That's dedication right there! It's cool, it let Ashore13 have his moment later on...

So long as he isn't on the line or covered (wideout or another player on the line outside of him), he's eligible.

So correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure he is eligible as long as there isn't a wide receiver covering him up on the line.

"That move was slicker than a peeled onion in a bowl of snot." -Mike Burnop

"That move was slicker than a peeled onion in a bowl of snot." -Mike Burnop

"That move was slicker than a peeled onion in a bowl of snot." -Mike Burnop

It's awesome that we have a place to discuss the general and Hokie specifics concerning this stuff. Thanks for the quick replies!
So the TE is "covered" if there is another player on the line outside of them? Just making sure that is the essential part to this rule. Thanks!

Yes - if a player is in the back field - off the line - they can line up wider and it does not count. That is why you often see the players who line up wide look to the side judge (ref by the ball maker) and point at them. The ref will let them know if he thinks they are lined up on the line or offsides as a courtesy.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

You got it!

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

xxxcxx
x

OK!

Click for President

I don't like to call out people for community guidelines stuff, but...

  • Refrain from posts consisting entirely of: "FIRST!", any repetition of "LOL", "The Germans bombed Pearl Harbor", "!!!1!", etc... They're neither witty nor funny, and do not add to the discussion.
  • Respect the signal to noise ratio. In other words, don't post or comment or topic for the sake of it.

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

Ok at first glance I thought theses were hugs and kisses. And you know I love French's film reviews as much as the next TKPer but I though maybe that's a bit excessive.

"Don't go to, go through"

You know what goes great with French's write-ups?

The Key Players Club.

#thingsiblamethemvsfor

These reviews are great for someone trying to understand football better.
So nice to see our defense working well again.

French, as a novice trying to understand the nuances of the play, your analysis is FANTASTICLY helpful.
However, I do find it hard to follow the details when you refer to a player doing something and I have to watch the play numerous types to figger out which player is which. The jersey numbers of the so-called "skill players" (a term that falsely suggests the "big uglies" have no skills) line up are quick to be recognized. However, the new guys and the linemen are less well known and obvious to me. Could you give the jersey number the first time you identify a player in each of your reviews?
Thanks again for all you put into these stories.

I can try. I have a tendency to mess up names, and my eyesight is getting worse over the years, so bear with me!

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

So I watched Pitt vs UNC last night. I will be doing a detailed preview of UNC next week, however here is a teaser on both teams.

1) Pitt is a phenomenal run stopping team, yet their nickel guys and safeties can't cover a lick. Pitt also scored every possession they had until the middle of the 4th quarter. Pitt is much more diverse offensively than last year. While they don't have a wide receiver like Tyler Boyd, they have a kid named Quadry Henderson who is a PLAYER. He is a Super Mario version of the scatback Zaccheaus that gave the Hokies a hard time from UVA last season. He gets 20+ touches a game and every one is dangerous.

2) UNC struggled stopping the run, however their front was pretty good against Pitt. Conner didn't get a whole lot of room. Where Pitt got yardage was through misdirection and getting Henderson and some other scat guys going against the flow. That bodes well given the strength of Fuente's offense right now. This is a game where Hodges, Carroll, Rogers, and Cunningham have to have big games. UNC's outside corners are excellent. Their nickel and safeties are not as good.

3) UNC's slot receivers decimated whoever Pitt had covering inside. Switzer, Proehl, and the TE all had big days. Between the dynamic play of those guys, coupled with the stress that the read option puts on the edge, it will be a huge challenge for Terrell Edmunds, Mook Reynolds, Chuck Clark, and the linebackers.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Pitt also scored every possession they had until the middle of the 4th quarter.

So is this a function of Pitt doing well, or UNC's defense being not-as-good-as-last-year?

edit: This was meant as a reply to French's last comment.

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.

Pitt is really good offensively. They don't throw over the top much, but they get huge chunk plays in the running game and with short passes that break away. UNC is pretty good up front although their coach has called them out for being "soft." But, against Pitt it was the edge where UNC was getting killed. Their linebacker is a pursuit monster, but he gets out of position easily. Their corners are excellent. Their safeties didn't impress me.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

All the talk in NC right now is just how bad the UNC defense is this year. They have been struggling against the run all season long, to the point where even JMU was having success against them. Steve Logan has joked more than once they'll have to score 45 just to have a chance in any given game.

Don't let this comment take away from the fact that Arkansas blew a 24 point 2nd half lead in the Belk Bowl.
Don't let the Belk Bowl take away from the fact that Matt Ryan blew a 25 point 2nd half lead in the Super Bowl.

Great write-up, as always.

A minor nit-pick: I think you mean palpable rather than palatable.

Seriously though, I thought the enthusiasm was much more palatable than, say, that surrounding the Miami game in 2014.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors).

That being said, is "cathartic" the new "gravitas"? It works, but I rarely see it and I've read it three times since Saturday.

___

-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

It's tough to get up for a game that never happened.

If you're reading the above post and thinking, "is this guy serious?!?," you can safely assume I'm not.

French, that was simply outstanding stuff. Thanks! Love the use of video.

Curious to know your assessment of Cunningham. Couldn't help but notice on the throwback screen he opted to run OB to avoid contact. Not a super-common TE maneuver. On the Ford overthrow, it looked like he was sort of half-assing it (though I only got a glimpse of a few steps before the ball got there, so that may not be correct). It also looked like he might've had a shot at it had he laid out. Then he dropped the TD ball which was as perfectly thrown as a ball can be. Everyone drops balls (heck, Ford even dropped one last game leading to an INT), but it just adds to my mixed impression of his play

“I remember Lee Corso's car didn't get out of the parking lot.” ~CFB

Curious, I saw nothing but a clear overthrow on Ford's part on the play. Even Bucky isn't long enough to lay out for that pass. Quite right on the TD ball, he should have caught that one.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

like i said, i'm not positive..
.just seemed like he wasn't going 100% and like he might've caught had he laid out -- maybe not, tho

“I remember Lee Corso's car didn't get out of the parking lot.” ~CFB

Regarding the running out of bounds, I think that's fine. With our fumbling problems in the previous weeks, Fuente told the guys not to be selfish. Don't try to pad the stats with yards, don't try to make the highlight reel if you don't have to (and note that he was screaming at Jerod during his 55-yd run about how he was carrying the ball), don't try to do too much. Cunningham had the first down easily. Could he have smashed the defender to gain a few more yards by staying in bounds? Sure. But the safe play is to take the first down, take the clock stoppage, and keep the offense moving.

I think someone else can win the spot. The issue is
1) Durkin isn't healthy (no idea if he would beat out Cunningham, but coming back from his hernia surgery he can't be 100%. Also, he is learning a brand new position.)
2) Burke- who knows- have seen very little.
3) Peoples- good blocker who loses his feet a bit, can't catch a lick.

Cunningham's blocking has improved a good deal since Liberty, and he is the best natural receiving tight end they have (no, Bucky isn't a tight end.) So, until someone takes the job from him, lets hope he improves.

I thought the Ford play was a significant overthrow. Calvin Johnson would have had a hard time hauling that one in.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

thx, man
keep up the great stuff

“I remember Lee Corso's car didn't get out of the parking lot.” ~CFB