Virginia Tech Stabilizes the Ship Against the Hurricanes

Youth emerged for the Hokies on defense while the running game found its legs against Miami on Thursday night.

[Mark Umansky]

One the eve of Virginia Tech's matchup with the Miami Hurricanes, two major storylines emerged. First, there were concerns regarding the depth of the Hokies defense after a subpar performance against Syracuse coupled with reports that All-ACC defensive end Ken Ekanem and defensive tackle Nigel Williams might miss the game. Second, Tech's running game struggled in two straight performances. The ineffective ground attack put the Hokies in less favorable down and distance situations. As result, quarterback Jerod Evans was less efficient on more frequent third-and-long situations.

The Hokies responded with a resounding 37-16 win against the talented Hurricanes. The offense broke out of their funk by using misdirection effectively to confuse Miami's freshmen linebackers. The defense saw breakout performances from young d-linemen Travon Hill and Ricky Walker as well as stout play from Tremaine Edmunds and Woody Baron. Much of the defense's success came via a more aggressive blitzing game plan with lots of stunting up front.

Virginia Tech's Eye Candy Fools the Hurricanes Defense

Justin Fuente and Brad Cornelsen had an ideal matchup Thursday night — their misdirection oriented offense against a group of three freshmen linebackers who had a tendency to over pursue. It was likely that if Tech's offensive line could neutralize the Hurricanes' active defensive front, the Hokies would be able to fool the Miami linebackers.

All season, I've waited for the Hokies to run a counter-trey off their speed option action like Memphis utilized with great success against Ole Miss. For a frame of reference, here is a variation of the counter-trey by Memphis:

Note how Memphis' tailback opens up with a counter step to sell the speed option to the field side. Here is the Hokies' version.

The Hokies' offensive line zone blocks to the left and Miami's defensive line slants the same direction. Sam LB Zach McCloud (No. 53) has inside leverage responsibility on a possible inside breaking route by Cam Phillips, so he opens up in a coverage posture. The hard defensive line slant allows Miami to widen out on speed option with McCloud still in position to cover. Will LB Michael Pinckney (No. 56) blitzes to contain on the back-side. It's immediately evident that if Pinckney doesn't contain, the Hurricanes are out of position against the counter.

The success of this play begins with the fundamentals of Chris Cunningham. Cunningham is aligned as a tight end to the boundary side. Normally on an inside zone or speed option ran to the field from this alignment, Cunningham would step with his left foot and place his head and right shoulder inside of the defensive end for his scoop block. On the counter, he takes the same left step to cause defensive end Trent Harris (No. 33) to crash inside, but then he seals Harris by leading with his right shoulder. Unless Harris penetrates deep into the backfield, he is completely out of the play because of Cunningham's positioning.

Wyatt Teller and Sam Rogers pull back to the right side where the Hurricanes are now outnumbered at the point of attack. Teller pancakes Pinckney, Rogers turns up inside on the safety and Travon McMillian has a nice hole to run into.

McMillian executed good and bad on this play. His counter step doesn't sell the speed option well and he looks awkward reversing back to Evans to create a mesh point. Miami safety Jamal Carter (No. 6) doesn't bite on the speed option fake and beats Rogers' block in the hole. Carter would likely be two steps later on a good fake.

At the same time, McMillian gets downhill with speed and finishes the run with an attitude — something missing until the Hokies' final touchdown drive against Syracuse. McMillian started hitting holes aggressively and finishing his runs with power. McMillian's effort turns a five-yard run into an eight-yard run and sets up a much more manageable second-and-two (which ultimately was converted on en route to six). Hopefully McMillian is getting healthy and becoming more comfortable with the scheme. He is Tech's one clear game-breaker in the backfield.

Virginia Tech's offensive design created confusion, and Miami's defense was clearly fooled on the Hokies' final touchdown. Before the TD, here is a benign inside zone read from the second quarter.

The play is basic. The offensive line zone blocks to the right side. Sam Rogers aligns as an H-Back to the right and pulls across the formation to kick out or "wham" d-end Joe Jackson (No. 99). Pinckney fills the hole from his LB spot and McMillian gets a minimal gain.

Now fast forward to the fourth quarter. On Evans' nail-in-the-coffin touchdown run, the Hokies show the exact same blocking scheme. Defensive end Pat Bethel (No. 93) aggressively attacks Rogers to squeeze his trap block. Rogers dodges him and Bethel crashes inside to chase tailback Marshawn Williams. This effectively removes him from pursuit of the real ball carrier, Jerod Evans.

On the edge, Cunningham successfully seals Pinckney (No. 56). Safety Jamal Carter (No. 6) pursues Juice to the field. This leaves Rogers as a blocker and Evans as a runner alone against one Miami defender, cornerback Malek Young (No. 12). Young, a freshman, over pursues to keep outside leverage on Rogers. With all the other defenders running to Williams, Evans cuts inside for an easy jaunt to the end zone.

Virginia Tech's Youthful Aggression on Defense

The defensive film review was the most challenging thing I wrote all year, primarily because any concise review will not do all the possible things to comment on justice. Woody Baron played an exceptional football game and completely outclassed the interior of the Miami offensive line. Vinny Mihota delivered a gutsy effort after his shoulder popped out. Tremaine Edmunds best demonstrated the basic fundamentals of the backer position that I can recall since I started authoring these reviews. Andrew Motuapuaka was fantastic in coverage after being picked on against Syracuse. Mook Reynolds was also targeted frequently and struggled in coverage several times for the second straight week. Safety tackling was excellent some of the time, but there were some big Miami runs that were the byproduct of shoddy tackling.

I chose to focus on the more aggressive defensive scheme that Bud Foster utilized and coupled it with the performance of two young players who I believe will be household names when they leave Blacksburg: Ricky Walker and Trevon Hill.

Walker is a big defensive tackle (6-2, 282) that has a unique athleticism (so much so that in a matchup against Marshawn Williams in high school, Walker was moved to middle linebacker to ghost against Juice). He can win physical battles at the point of attack, and when needed he can "get skinny" to avoid blocks and get penetration.

On this play, Miami runs an inside zone read to the right packaged with a wide receiver screen to the wide-side of the field. The Hokies defensive line slants hard to the boundary, with Motuapuaka aggressively filling the bubble between Walker and Baron to force halfback Joe Yearby (No. 2) to cut back.

As Walker (the three-technique defensive tackle to the bottom of the screen) makes contact with Miami LT Trevor Darling (No. 73), he dips his right shoulder. That narrows the blocking surface available to Darling. Walker then has the balance and quickness to get through the hole and change direction to his right when Yearby cuts back. Outside, Hill is slow-playing the potential quarterback keeper. Kaaya's lack of running ability coupled with Hill's speed allows Hill to stay close to the running back's cutback lane. Once Hill confirms that Kaaya doesn't have the football, he squeezes the hole to support Walker. Between Walker, Hill, and Motuapuaka, this is textbook execution of Bud Foster's base defensive scheme against a running play.

Walker showed off that ability to get skinny when Foster debuted an "amoeba" defensive look for Kaaya. An amoeba front describes an alignment where the box defenders all stand up and align across the line of scrimmage. This confuses the offense's blocking scheme because it's more difficult to set protections and identify blitzes. On this particular play, the Hokies use Motuapuaka as a spy on Kaaya while Tremaine Edmunds blitzes behind a Woody Baron pick. Edmunds gets to the quarterback unscathed and Kaaya climbs the pocket to avoid his rush.

Unfortunately for Kaaya, Walker splits a double team with a swim move and plants him to the ground. In the secondary, the Hokies are again in man-free (straight man coverage with Terrell Edmunds aligned as a deep centerfield safety). This is a much more aggressive posture than Foster used against Syracuse on passing downs.

Tech's scheme laid the blueprint for the eight sacks delivered by the defense. However, Foster has talented players who also executed and won one-on-one matchups. I stated multiple times during their recruitment that a healthy Travon Hill would be a better player than Josh Sweat in college based on their high school films. While Sweat has been excellent early in his career at Florida State, as Hill gains confidence coming back from a knee injury, I see Dadi Nicolas like explosion coupled with more size and a heavier shoulder at the point of attack. On the final meaningful Miami offensive play of the night, Hill ended any hopes of a comeback with spectacular technique and bend.

Hill gets an excellent jump off the football. He uses his left arm to swat left tackle Trevor Darling's hands down, and then punches his hands down with his right arm. As Hill bends into the pocket, he rips up and under with his left hands and slips by Darling. He finishes by ripping Kaaya to the ground.


Thanks French, awesome as usual!

Anyway we can get a zoom in gif of that Teller pancake in the second video clip?!

Awesome analysis French!

I might have zoomed in too far. You can't even make out the players anymore. You can clearly see the maroon above the orange and green, though.

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

I'm assuming that the blue on the bottom is would make sense.

Either that or one of the UNC players that's still stuck in the mud.

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

You are the man BRO!!!!

Hokie Love!

Hey French, using that first clip of the counter-trey as a starting point can I ask your thoughts on Rogers' run-blocking performance this season? I thought I remembered last season you saying that it left something to be desired and I'm curious if you've seen any improvement from him in that department in his senior campaign?

Haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate, and hetzers gonna hetz

It hasn't been great. I think how he has been used in so many roles has hurt is blocking. It isn't an effort or power issue. Often he seems to take bad angles or overruns the blocks.

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

I think this is definitely right. He is a swiss-army knife, a jack of all trades, master of none. I doubt many great blocking FBs can juke the ligaments out of defenders for a 60 yards gain!

That move he used twice on the long run, cutting horizontal then vertical, was so sweet.
Recall Evans doing the same against ECU.

But a lot of fullbacks are more consistent blocking the lead.

He's actually never been a particularly good blocker., IMO.

as far as fullbacks go, yes, not a terrific blocker

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

Noticed it a few times where he is just running past guys who could/should block and then end some up looking back at the tackle being made.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Watching the offense on live TV is like how did they do that? In the ECU game, the TV announcers couldn't even break the play down. Thank you French for the insight.

Hokies, Local Soccer, AFC Ajax, Ravens

Walker showed off that ability to get skinny when Foster debuted an "amoeba" defensive look for Kaaya. An amoeba front describes an alignment where the box defenders all stand up and align across the line of scrimmage.

1. That's a perfect description, swallowed Kaaya up like an amoeba during phagocytosis.

2. is this a somewhat new look in CFB? Cause I don't think I've ever seen that before. Also, how would this alignment work on a more mobile QB? Does it provide better containment in some way or is it too aggressive?

swallowed Kaaya up like an amoeba during phagocytosis.

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)..

It's OK - I'm half asian

He said....

swallowed Kaaya up like an amoeba during phagocytosis.

I am impressed!

Year 3 is coming up!

Joe Lee Dunn was a defensive coordinator in the SEC in the 80s and 90s and he used amoeba blitz schemes. Teams do it from time to time as a curveball.

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

Tom Landry's defenses would also line up like that in the late 70's.

Leonard. Duh.

It's used a decent bit by several teams on passing downs in the NFL currently as well.

Thanks for the insight!

The amoeba was really interesting. Never seen that before.
Wonder what it's like being an OL and seeing all the guys do that.

The NY Giants used to run a version of the amoeba a lot in the early 2000's when they had that run of dominate defensive ends but I haven't seen it too frequently in CFB

I haven't heard the word "phagocytosis" since my HS biology class. You have done well, sir.

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

We don't love dem Hoos.

Great review as always. I knew you were gonna highlight Trevon's bend on that 3rd down rush, NFL quality pass rush sequence for him.

Jesus, there were so many things schematically that I missed while watching this in person. Thank you SO much for these reviews. Question, which I'm sure you have been asked but I don't recall seeing. At what speed do you watch these plays? I had to watch at .5 speed just to catch all the things you were pointing out. At that I still had to rewatch 3 or 4 times. Do you just concentrate on the impact plays in order to make your reviews (I imagine watching the whole game at .5 speed is just a silly exercise)? Posts like these are exactly why I will become a member once the whole job thing gets settled.

It's OK - I'm half asian

When I first saw that amoeba look on the defensive front, I was like "oh shit it's another 2014 Ohio State game defense from Bud"

I just sit on my couch and b*tch. - HokieChemE2016

Man, Chris Cunningham is going to be awesome. He can already block effectively, which is something that Bucky still struggles with. Granted, Bucky was a high school quarterback turned tight end turned wide receiver. Even still I have big hopes for Cunningham.

"That's Houdini!"

- Jon Laaser 9/24/2016

his blocking has improved. I'd like to see him utilized more in the passing game, however, the way he is being used now ensures that when he gets touches, he will usually be wide open.

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


Great job. One nit-pick though. The QB keeper that Evans ran to score at the end wasn't based off of the inside zone you showed in the clip. It was actually based off the inside zone ran earlier in the drive. The difference (from the camera angle at least) is that the one you showed in the second quarter has the backfield in shotgun, whereas the TD run and the run that set it up is from the pistol.

Thanks French, great write up.

Starting to realize the term spread offense is as generic as west coast offense - lots of variations and interpretations. What other p5 team is running an offense similar to the style Fuente is trying to create? Seems like more of a power run game than unc / cuse - is Oklahoma a decent comparison.

Just curious to what a matured system may look like after installed.

This is ME reading a French break-down:

1. Reads first couple sentences to get an idea of what play he's referring to.
2. Watches clip a couple times, attempting to break down everything that's going on.
3. Continues reading, finds two to three things right away that I missed watching the clip.
4. Watches the clip again (several times), now able to see 100% of the things that made that play successful (or so I think).
5. Continues reading... finds MORE things that I missed.
6. Watches the clip again.
7. Repeat steps 1-6 for about 10 more minutes before moving to the next clip.

thank you!

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

I think (or hope) that this is everybody.

It takes a while to absorb it all, but the play makes a lot more sense afterwards. Thanks, French!

I don't even bother watching the clip before reading the paragraph after it. I read everything first, watch the clip a few times, then re-read the stuff. Sometimes I'll read a part and watch the clip to look specifically at that part I just read about, then read another part and watch for that in the clip. Rinse and repeat.

If a tree falls in Scott Stadium does it make a sound?

What I do is press play on the clip, but then hit pause, so it will pause the play before the snap. This way, I can read the paragraph, and refer to the alignment while I'm reading. Then after reading, I play the clip, re-read, etc.

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

For those who don't know and enjoy rewatching the games on HokieTapes and rewinding each play multiple times:

Youtube Video Shortcuts:
Play/Pause: Space Bar
To rewind video 5 sec: "Left Arrow"
To fast forward 5 sec: "Right Arrow"

To slow video down to half speed: "Shift+<" - All 3 buttons at once
To speed video up to double speed: "Shift+>" - All 3 buttons at once
*This makes fast forward and rewind 2.5 sec

Alternatively speed of video can be changed by clicking on the settings icon -> speed.


what are you, some type of wizard?

Gandalf! You've returned!

Oh wizard, can I do any of that on my iPad? I'm such a Troglodyte....

"Don't go to, go through"

Yeah, I always to a quick read, then I have to come back when I can give myself an hour to run through the same process. I keep telling myself that I'll get to the point that I understand all on the 1st or 2nd read, but 3+ yrs later, the process hasn't changed.

And this happens about eighty times a game.

"I mean, you know, fuck them, but good for them." -Too Druck to Funk

Me too because I'm always looking for instant gradification. Thank you French. I would never of delved so deeply into the game without your analysis.

Year 3 is coming up!

Are we going to see more Shegog in place if Mook this week?

I thought we'd see more Shegog last week than we did. I don't know if we will see him more this week, but I do think we will want Mook on the field a lot to deal with Quadree Henderson(?) as they use him to attack the edges of the field.

I think it depends more on what Foster wants to do to defend Henderson. He isn't the only receiver they motion and use on jet sweeps, but he is the most dangerous. I wouldn't be shocked if Mook is the starter, and Shegog plays against 22 or 23 personnel.

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

Starting is relative based on the first formation Pitt uses.

Shegog will be in for 2-2 or 2-3 personnel (and other "heavy" variations), and Mook for anything else I feel.

Thanks, French. This is definitely one of the better Foster D's I can remember. Everyone plays their role and when they're on they'll get after ya.

Now let's get this fng panther off our back and drown it in ketchup.


This is definitely one of the better Foster D's I can remember. Everyone plays their role and when they're on they'll get after ya.

Wait until it hits everyone that there are only five seniors on the two-deep, and the stars against Miami aren't among them. Most of the names in this week's highlights are FR/SO.

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

To be fair, Baron was the best player on the field against Miami. He deserves a ton of recognition and I probably didn't do him justice this week because there just isn't much X and O analysis for "he whipped him with quickness."

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

That was one of the best performances by a DT I have ever seen.

Some DTs get those numbers in their entire season. What a game from Big Woody!

That spin move sack had me jumping up and down in the stands before he even got to Kayaa. Went from ballerina to grizzly bear in two steps.

Went from ballerina to grizzly bear in two steps.

Great line! Perfectly captures the essence of a spin move. WB looked like a point guard just left somebody at mid court.

"Don't go to, go through"

Baron got huge credit from Bud. Anyone who reads your analysis is very aware of that. Defense isn't a 1 man effort, so while I acknowledge Baron's outstanding game, I greatly appreciate you focusing on players and plays that go unnoticed by analysis simpletons like me.

Said differently: Even I could see how great Baron was in the game. I'm not nearly as aware of the play of others on the team, though I know that other players had to have good games.

The commentators were gushing over him too. Pretty sure there was a drive where he had back-to-back TFL/sacks and it was beautiful to see.

how do his stats compare with Carlton Powell's year where he had negative yards allowed for the entire season (iirc) ?

Carlton was a beautiful man

He reminds me a lot of Patterson, the DT for So. Cal in the mid 90's. We probably faced him in 2004.

"in the mid '90s...faced him in 2004"

You mean Chris Weinke?



-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.

Thanks you the man !
A couple of thoughts :
1. I think people forgot about walker this summer and assumed Settle would be the dominant one coming off the bench. People forget how good he was coming out of high school . It's good to see him kicking ass this season . Future of him and settle together will be awesome !
2. I think for a young guy Cunningham has quietly done a good job.

For me Cunningham has been the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the offense. His ability to be out there, and the trust the coaches have in him, has allowed Bucky to move to WR, which has been huge for this offense.

"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

Rickys been undervalued. Because of hype the DL in his class received. That and the novelty/hype with Big Tim. He is having a year on par with all those guys from there class with less snaps.

French, your descriptions of how we defeat opponents somehow reminds me of how
Pepe Le Pew puts his moves on his objects of amore.

Enjoy learning more about football with these analyses.

Seems like we have some nice depth on DL this season.

It's nothing to do with the running game or the defense, but 7 games into the season and Evans is still overthrowing deep balls.

What's the deal?

He isn't the most accurate passer. Even against Miami, he had some wide open guys on plays and missed throws. That is why 3rd down efficiency and getting in 3rd and manageable situations is so critical. Evans is much more comfortable throwing within the mechanics of the running game-play action part of the offense. As a pure pocket passer, he is below average. Against Tennessee and Syracuse, Evans had to win the game from the pocket, and he couldn't deliver. It just isn't his comfort zone. Fortunately, he has been so good with operating the offense, running the ball, and throwing off play action that he has put up huge numbers and lead VT to some terrific wins. As long as he is in the best position to be successful, VT will be ok.

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

Do you think that's something we'll see improve over the rest of the year? Into next Year? Does that limit his Draft stock even if he continues to play at a high level in other ways?

I hope so, but I don't think Evans is an NFL quarterback at all. Inaccuracy coupled with playing in essentially a one read passing structure.

Please note, that doesn't mean I think he isn't a very good player. He is. The NFL just begrudgingly sticks to a passing game system that fewer and fewer quarterbacks grow up playing in. It is a big reason why quarterback play isn't great and you don't see a ton of quarterbacks drafted from powerhouse programs.

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

he NFL just begrudgingly sticks to a passing game system that fewer and fewer quarterbacks grow up playing in. It is a big reason why quarterback play isn't great and you don't see a ton of quarterbacks drafted from powerhouse programs.

Not to get further off topic, but do you think this passing game system is used so frequently in the NFL because it's the only system that works when you have elite athletes everywhere on defense? Or is it just because coaches are too afraid to invest time, draft picks and potentially lose their jobs? Or some other reason?

Twitter me

I think part of it is that NFL defenses are made up of full time professionals that put in much more detailed film study. This allows those defenders to prepare and anticipate better.

At the same time, coaches are copycats and generally risk adverse, especially in the NFL. This is "how they do things" so change is slow. At one time, Bill Walsh used the short passing game in lieu of the running game with the Bengals early in the 70s and took them from an expansion team to a playoff team in one of the toughest divisions in football (70s Steelers and Bum Phillips Oilers) at that time. It worked and was different, yet they were derided within the NFL community for being soft.

The third factor is quarterback investment. These offensive systems require the quarterback to be a legitimate running threat. It makes the primary bread and butter play of these offenses (the inside zone read) work because the quarterback run threat ties up a back side pursuit defender. You can see how much easier it is to defend the run when the quarterback isn't a big threat (see Brad Kaaya.) The NFL folks have invested a ton of time, money, and other resources into quarterback development, and they don't want their investment getting banged up, hence there is a hesitancy to rely on a quarterback run-heavy offensive design.

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

In my opinion its both. I think having elite athletes everywhere on defense does lessen the advantages of spreading out the defense. There's more space, but defenders can more consistently make one on one plays. I think the bigger reason is just coaches being unwilling to change. They want to do it the way its always been done because that's what they know, but also because it leaves them less open to criticism. If they try something new and it doesn't work, its totally on them. Sticking to the tradition mitigates some of that, I think.

I do think that eventually, slowly, over lots of time, the NFL will start to look more like college just because it will be easier to mold systems to better fit the players being drafted than vice versa. I for one can't wait for the day when the Steelers beat the Patriots 89-88 or some similar nonsense score.

I'm curious of Cam, Tyrod, and Mariotta all have pro-passing schemes in their playbook. I don't think Cam does, but that's the point - maybe they don't. If a team likes Evans as their QB, chances are they aren't going to design a drop-back system or passing tree for him.

I don't know if he can't be an NFL QB after next year. The only real quirk that I see with Evans throwing the ball, is his weight distribution when he has to move forward in the pocket, even when the OL has built a pretty decent cup. His follow through is just weird.

I would think that if Fu&Corn are the QB fixers that everyone says they are, this could be fixed over an offseason/Spring. I wouldn't touch him now, though. Best to get him going outside the pocket as much as possible, because while he has drop back issues, he's one the best throwing-on -the-run qbs I've seen this year.

Leonard. Duh.

So you're saying he should go out for TE when he declares?

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)..

Tim Tebow is one of the best college football qb's of the last 30 years and is not an NFL quarterback.

Same with Tommie Frazier, Tony Rice, and other option offense QBs.

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

Charlie ward won the heisman at QB and opted for then nba. Wasn't even drafted in an era where the draft was at least twice as many rounds as today.

I think the Vikings spent one of their last picks on him, but he had already declared for the NBA. I don't think he was going much higher even if he was focusing on football.

This is my first comment here and want to start by saying I love the film reviews and GO HOKIES!!!

This is a pet peeve of mine. Everyone looks at the "spread" offense as some kind of "modern" invention, but it is; IMO, very similar to PJs triple option at GT that everyone calls "out of date". The major differences being the alignment (QB out of shotgun and 4 WRs). Reads are the same: if the end stays home - hand off, if he crashes - option outside. GT does this with a pitch, spread teams with the RPO.

What I'm saying is everything is based on misdirection, which doesn't work quite as well in the NFL where players not only are bigger faster stronger, but also much more experienced, and log in many more hours in practice and film review. The NFL is an execution league and it's hard to beat a good pocket passer when it comes to execution.

Welcome aboard!

I agree each of these offenses represents a predictible niche, and less of a well-rounded attack. It seems like collegiate offensive systems are much like the players; each hoping for a chance to succeed at the next level.

Thanks for answering this question, French. One of my oldest and dearest friends absolutely went off on me at the Miami game when I made essentially the same observation after yet another overthrown open receiver on a deep route. While he took my observation for criticism, probably my fault by the way I said it, and I backed off to keep the peace, it seems fairly obvious to me from watching every game, all but Syracuse twice. Like you, I think Evans is a really good fit for our offense, and I think he's dynamic and a real plus for us, but to me, it is impossible to miss his downfield struggles. I wish my friend would read this thread, but my wife says to let it go, so I will, but thanks for making me feel better about it all.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

I mean, he certainly can get better, but I think this is what he is. As long as the other cogs are working, he is certainly good enough to win games.

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

to piggyback on this, nearly EVERY college QB has flaws. I think VT fans expect perfection from our QB when it just isn't realistic. We got spoiled with the greatest athlete to ever play the position, and we can't grasp that not every QB is accurate, athletic, poised, etc.

Certainly true, and I don't expect perfection from Evans. I am really happy we have him and I love him to death.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

it's also part of why I'm so darned excited about Josh Jackson. To me he looked like the most polished passer in the spring game and I just know that he's spending his redshirt year developing, learning the offense, gaining weight, etc. I think the future at that QB position is super bright. I really believe that when Jackson becomes the starter in 2018 we'll see basically the same offense we have now PLUS a legitimately accurate down field passing threat to boot. This offense is going to be a major problem for DCs in a couple years and that has me pretty amped.

If a tree falls in Scott Stadium does it make a sound?

So if Pitt is able to shut down our run game and slows down the pass game early, this may not bode well for us on Thursday?

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

I mean thats what Cuse did. Stuffed the run on first and second down and repeatedly left us with third and long

Among several things, neither his mechanics nor his downfield velocity are anything to write home about. Consequently his margin of error is smaller. And in a system that's been preaching value the ball since the day he arrived, it's got be in the back of his mind that if your gonna miss, miss where nobody is going to get it.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Cornelson/Evans take a few more shots downfield on 3rd down and mid-yardage from the VT 30-40 yard line and be a little more aggressive. If it gets picked, it's like a punt. If it's incomplete, you still keeping field position in front of you.

Poor #93 for Miami on that last Evans' TD run. He didn't have a clue. That's going to smart in the film room.

Leonard. Duh.

Hey chose Miami. He must pay for his life choices.

2 things happen that put him at a ridiculous disadvantage:
1, it's the same exact look as the zone read French showed above. For a young player, it's stupidly easy to get sucked in on something like that, especially when you defended it well earlier in the game.
2, and this is part of what makes Sam Rogers such a special player, is the little shoulder fake he gives the end as he's heading outside. He fakes a missed block and gives the end reason to think Sam was trying to wham him. It isn't until it's far too late that our poor friend realizes that he did not in fact beat Sam Rogers, but Sam Rogers tricked him into taking himself out of the play.

yeah I noticed that "block" by Rogers, too. Every bit of his body language said that he was clearing a path down the sideline for Evans to run through. Now whether that really was the case and Evans just read the play and made his own call or if this was planned, I don't really care. TOUCHDOWN HOKIES!!

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)..

After watching this game and then seeing this review, I still can't shake the thought of "where was all of this during the Syracuse game??" I know they run a completely different offense so it's kind of comparing apples and oranges, but it just seems like both sides of the ball were so much more dynamic against Miami. I guess what I'm asking is do you think there is any truth to keeping the game plan against Syracuse more vanilla and assuming our talent and base packages would be enough so that we could have some new looks for Miami? I know this coaching staff harps on the one game at a time mentality and not looking ahead, it's just hard to reconcile the two teams that showed up for the last two games.

I think more than anything, the big plays/trick plays to give them a lead coupled with the super slow start for our offense put us in a really bad spot offensively and defensively, and we were never able to come out of it.

Don't discount dead legs after playing on a water logged field and then coming back to turf. EVERYTHING on both sides of the ball looked slow versus the Orange. I think that was a factor.

Unless there is a clear huge talent differential, match ups are everything in football. VT beat Ohio State because our defensive line was the exact type of group that gave their OL that season problems and they missed a handful of deep balls. Syracuse gave VT fits because they found ways to get their #3/4 receiver on our linebackers and those receivers were really good. Match ups can mitigate talent differential elsewhere on the field.

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

I agree that everything looked slow against Syracuse, but I would think that having an indoor facility with a synthetic turf field could approximate the Carrier Dome's surface to a reasonable degree. They should have at least acclimated to the surface in that regard during the lead-up to the game.

I know it's not exactly the same thing since the Dome is a totally different indoor environment that's famous for being warm and stuffy, but I would imagine that's a minor factor all things considered. As you said, the match ups just didn't work in our favor and I think that's what it boiled down to.

How much bigger do we need Hill to get as he gets older and eventually claims the starting role? Maybe it is just because he is opposite the behemoth of a man Mihota, but he looks quite slim.

He's 240 which is bigger than Dadi ever was. Vinny is listed at 264. Also I just noticed that Ekanem is listed at 260. Our starting ends are massive compared to past starters. In doing quick research Ekanem was 249 as a true Soph. My guess is that Hill will slowly grow to the 260 range if the staff wants to keep bigger Ends.

"We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior" Stephen M.R. Covey

“When life knocks you down plan to land on your back, because if you can look up, you can get up, if you fall flat on your face it can kill your spirit” David Wilson

He is strong enough at the point of attack that his natural growth in the weight program will be fine. He will be 255 as a senior.

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

I thought phillips fake to the left on the second clip (misdirection run) was a lot more 'believable' than TMac's. Probably prevented No. 53 from being involved in the tackle a couple steps sooner. It's amazing how much of a difference that first step can make.

Thanks for showing us the details, French! Love these things.

"These people are losing their minds!"

Walker is a big defensive tackle (6-2, 282) that has a unique athleticism (so much so that in a matchup against Marshawn Williams in high school, Walker was moved to middle linebacker to ghost against Juice)

This is a fantastic piece of trivia.

Not the bagman VT deserves, but the bagman VT needs right now.

French, man, great article. Can't tell you how much I look forward to these things. Thank you.

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

Thank you!

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

If you enjoy seeing French break down game film and want to continue seeing him do so for us then won't you join the Key Players Club, so that we can keep this going?

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

I'll join if we win tomorrow night ;)

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

...long time member, frequent troller, occasional poster

Ok: done. Money is finally where my mouth/posts are. Does this give me any extra gems for our TKP CoC (ahem)?

Turkey leg me bitches!!!

"...sticks and stones may break my bones but I'm gonna kick you repeatedly in the balls Gardoki!"

French: Trevon Hill, not Travon Hill. 2nd paragraph, and just above clip5.