Virginia Tech 38, Old Dominion 0

Dissection of the Hokies' win over the Monarchs.

[Mark Umansky]

With a primetime ACC Championship Game rematch against Clemson, and possible GameDay appearance looming on the horizon, Old Dominion had the making of a trap game. While ODU was able to keep the score close in the first half, Virginia Tech's talent was too great to prevent the inevitable 38-0 beating. The Hokies were in control of the game from the start, largely due to Bud Foster's relentless defensive pressure. Foster's unit dominated, holding ODU to just 149 yards on its way to securing a second consecutive shutout at Lane Stadium. Brad Cornelsen's offense didn't have the same gaudy success it did last week against East Carolina, but Josh Jackson did lead a balanced Hokies attack to 582 yards.

Bringing The Heat

The Monarchs started seventeen-year-old Steven Williams Jr. at quarterback, and in an effort to rattle him, Foster blitzed the young quarterback early and often.

"Yeah, we did bring a lot of pressure, a lot of edge pressure, and a lot of pressure up the pipe as well, and it altered his throws and made him throw while moving," said Foster after the game. "As we watched a little film, if he could step up in the pocket, he had accuracy and the time to do things. If you started making him move, his accuracy was not quite as good."

Williams never looked or played scared, and I think he'll be a productive player for Old Dominion moving forward. Williams made some good throws and was quick enough to break contain a few times, but ultimately ODU was completely overmatched on offense. Foster asked his secondary to play tight, aggressive man coverage all game long and they did. ODU's receivers were unable to break free from the suffocating coverage and Williams never had a chance to make Foster pay for his ruthless game plan.

Part of the success Tech's defense enjoyed in pass coverage was due to a personnel change I noticed on passing downs. Reggie Floyd, who has played exceptionally against the run so far this season, lined up at Rover on regular downs while Terrell Edmunds played his normal free safety position. When ODU got behind schedule and faced passing downs (second-and-long, third-and-long, etc...), Foster would bring on Divine Deablo. Deablo played against ECU and helped stop their early passing success, played free safety while Terrell slid into Rover. This micromanagement of personnel keeps the best run defenders in when Foster anticipates run and the best pass defenders in when Foster anticipates pass. After Deablo's injury on his interception, Mook Reynolds took over the free safety position with Deon Newsome in at Nickel-Whip. If Deablo can't play next week against Clemson, it will be interesting to see if Foster continues to try and maximize his defense's potential by using a similar rotation, or if he'll ask Floyd to take on more pass coverage responsibilities.

It was obvious early that Foster wasn't going to take the same conservative approach that he employed against West Virginia to start the season. Seemingly every time Old Dominion tried to spread the field, Foster brought pressure.

On this third-and-three, Foster matches ODU's five-wide set with tight man coverage across the board. Tech's linebackers are walked up to the line of scrimmage, signaling Foster's intention to blitz. Foster wants to overwhelm the offensive line by bringing one more defender than they can block to guarantee the Hokies get to the young quarterback quickly. Motuapuaka comes from the right side, goes unblocked, and enjoys a free run at Williams. Williams manages to get rid of the football quickly, but Motuapuaka's pressure forces him to change his throwing motion. The end result of Foster's called pressure is an inaccurate throw and subsequent punt. Foster would utilize this blitz throughout the game and ODU never found a solution to the DB vs. WR mismatch Tech enjoyed.

Virginia Tech was somehow more dominant against the run than the pass, limiting ODU to just 2.7 yards per carry. The Hokies' defensive line played on ODU's side of the line of scrimmage all game long, even after Trevon Hill left the game with an injury. Defensive tackles Tim Settle and Ricky Walker clogged up everything on the interior while the defensive ends did a good job of funnelling any perimeter runs towards the free hitter.

The play above is a great example of how Foster uses his defensive line to get the best out of Tremaine Edmunds and his rare athletic abilities. Tech's corners are in press coverage on the perimeter and Terrell Edmunds, playing Rover on this passing down, is covering the slot receiver to the boundary. When the slot receiver motions, Terrell rotates back to the middle of the field while Deablo comes down towards the line of scrimmage to help against a potential jet sweep to the field-side. ODU runs an outside zone away from the motion and the defensive line does a great job of spilling the play to Tremaine Edmunds. Walker and Settle both hold firm on the interior while Vinny Mihota attacks the inside shoulder of the play-side tackle. ODU running back Jeremy Cox (No. 35) is reading Mihota's block, so when Mihota goes to the inside of the tackle, Cox must bounce outside. At this point, ODU is hoping that Edmunds has followed the fake sweep, been blocked by the center, or that Settle has been pushed up field far enough to block Edmunds' path to the ball carrier. Unfortunately for the Monarchs, Foster coaches the linebackers himself and Edmunds stays disciplined and ignores the motion. Edmunds is also too quick for the center to reach him and Settle is too powerful to get pushed backwards into his path. The defensive line built a wall and forced the back around the edge where Edmunds was waiting for him.

Offensive Production, Not Perfection

Despite the Hokies' 38 points and 582 yards, Brad Cornelsen's unit didn't look particularly explosive. The offensive line kept Josh Jackson relatively free from pressure and held the upper hand in the run game, but I would have liked to see more consistent yardage when Jackson handed the ball off on RPOs. Cam Phillips looked as electric as ever with the ball in his hands, although he didn't have the downfield success this week like he had against ECU. The Monarchs were able to keep Tech's receivers in front of them for most of the game, generally only giving up long plays through the air when Phillips got the ball in space and made defenders miss.

This incompletion is a simple play-action pass designed to get Eric Kumah open off of a double move.

Corner Joe Joe Headen (No. 24) was anticipating a short throw off of the sweep motion, and Kumah's hesitation combined with Jackon's pump fake left him flat footed. Kumah accelerated past him and was wide open as Jackson releases the ball. Jackson under throws the ball slightly and Kumah mistimes his jump, squandering the opportunity to hit a big play down the field. Jackson is a young quarterback who needs the playmakers around him to bail him out at times. Kumah is a promising player who has the ability to get open down the field, but if the Hokies are going to get to the top of the mountain, they need young receivers like Kumah to start going up and making these types of plays.

This is another example of a missed downfield opportunity.

Phillips gets separation via a double move off a fake sweep play-action pass. From the press box, I heard the crowd roar in anticipation before Jackson even released the football. That's how open he was. Unfortunately, Jackson sees Phillips late and the ball arrives a step late. The ball should also have been thrown to a better spot, further to the outside and the corner of the end zone. An earlier throw or a better throw would have resulted in six points.

Jackson may have struggled pushing the ball down the field, but he was once again smart with the football. He did finally throw his first interception, but he also had three touchdowns and was just two yards shy of 300. Jackson didn't put up Heisman numbers — 20 of 30 (66.6%), 298 yards passing, 3 TDs, 1 INT – but he did what was required to win the football game. However, more precise play from Tech's young quarterback is necessary to beat Clemson.

My Favorite Play

There might have been more tactically interesting designs, but this play highlights what Tech will have to do well for the remainder of the season in order to compete for an ACC title. On this third-and-11, ODU sits back in a soft shell, daring Tech to try and complete a pass down the field. After the Hokies lined up and Cornelsen got a chance to look at ODU's alignment, he sent this screen play in to Jackson. The Hokies fake a run. Afterwich, Jackson stares at the left side of the field and draws attention away from the developing screen back right. By the time Jackson works his way back to Phillips, Dalton Keene and Kyle Chung are in position and ready to pave the way. Jackson puts the ball in front of Cam which allows him to catch the ball with his momentum heading up the field. Keene easily seals nickel Denzel Williams (No. 25), the first DB to the outside, while Chung hustles to catch just enough of FS Christian Byrum (No. 3). By the time Phillips has to make a move, he's already past the first down marker.

It's this type of stellar execution against conservative defensive calls that the Hokies are going to need down the stretch. This Hokies' offense doesn't yet have a receiver who has shown he'll get vertical and challenge an ACC caliber corner or safety for a ball in the air. Gone are the days where Tech can lob a ball up to Ford or Hodges and expect a completion or interference call to pick up a cheap first down. It's going to be harder than that this year. In order for Virginia Tech to get explosive plays, they'll need Cornelsen to make the right play call at the right time and then they'll need everyone to execute their assignments perfectly. I'm not saying the Hokies are devoid of offensive weapons, just that those weapons require precision to bring to bear. If Fuente and Cornelsen can get their offense to execute on every play as they executed the above screen, there isn't a team in the country the Hokies can't beat.


38-0, bro.

I feel like we really need Murphy to step up. These young receivers are going to generate inconsistent play. That's the reality. We need what experience we do have (besides Cam) to step it the hell up this Saturday.

This should be the final score against all the lower level Virginia Schools. Make is so!

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
“I served in the United States Navy"


Jackson still seems to have trouble driving the ball on multiple occasions. He seems to like to throw off his back foot. At this point, i have to wonder is he just too comfortable in his technique to change it? We got bailed on in that Cam end zone throw by PI, but if Jackson delivers that throw 1 second earlier AND with some authority, it's and easy 6. He has to get better with that. And his pick was just terrible. Stared down the receiver, and threw directly into the double coverage. In the red zone. All that being said, thowing his only INT at this point in the season is pretty damn good for a redshirt freshman.

Any word on why Clark was held out?

Clark was out as a precaution for an unspecified injury. Since he dressed, it's probably nothing serious. But they knew they could likely afford to hold him out against a team like ODU, so they did.

I was going to make reference to Clark being out, I think him and Murphy are probably our best chances to take the top off of a defense.

I can't speak to his technique, but it seemed that he holds his throws just a bit. This may be his conservative nature, or it may be due to him being early in his career..
But on a couple of longer patterns, the window was there, but collapsed by the time the throw got there.
That concerns me vs Clemson due to their secondary speed and pass rush.
I wonder if that affects the play-calling next week.

Agree. Think it's just something that will go away with film study and reps.

If Deablo and Hill are both out for Saturday that will be a huge blow to the defensive depth.

Awesome work, thanks mason! Hopefully Deablo is fine, but if he can't go could Adonis coming in as FS on passing downs be a good way to work him back into the lineup?

We are the Hokies. We will prevail. We will prevail. We will prevail. We are Virginia Tech.

If you guys keep getting me this hype, someone's gonna have to pay for all these holes in my walls.

My question is, what's the over under on snaps for AJ Bush next week? Is he an Ace in the Hole for us?

I've had the same thought. We struggled in the red zone in the 1st quarter, perhaps we could put a red zone package together for Bush? Heavy set run plays with a pop pass or PA throw back pass?

We are the Hokies. We will prevail. We will prevail. We will prevail. We are Virginia Tech.

Zero as long as JJ is healthy. I don't think we see any sort of change ups with the QBs. We have reliable RB in short yardage it seems and we know JJ is careful with the ball.

The Kyle Chung block on the slip screen was a thing of beauty.

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


Year 3 is coming up!

Loved the way he moved down the line first, to make sure he wasn't called for ineligible receiver downfield. Gave new meaning to the term "chess match" -- he moved one space to the right, then two spaces forward.

"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 was hoping we'd see a little more James Clark. I can't recall seeing him getting any snaps.

The only TKPer to not like Bourbon

Another game where Dalton Keene catches my attention on a dozen or so plays.

To have a review of this detail up less than 24 hours after kickoff is insane.

Was the play action pass out of the offset I (People's first TD) run simply to put it on film for Clemson?

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

I was actually thinking the opposite, that they would have rather kept it from Clemson, but we were having trouble scoring in the red zone with our base plays and needed a score.

Happy with the final outcome, but I'd really have loved to see us start faster as I'm sure they and everyone else did too. I hope this doesn't become a season-long trend, but it seems to be the case every game so far.

Also, I keep hoping to see Jackson improve on going through his progressions. It seems like sometimes he makes a point to go all the way through, but then has held the ball for way too long. There were some throws that we connected on (and didn't) that were fractions of a second away from being sacks or worse. He's not going to have the luxury to hold on to the ball that long against Clemson (no duh).

"What kind of person would throw away a perfectly good dog?"

Any word on Hill? His injury looked worse than Deablo's.

Leonard. Duh.

I'm hoping the gimp that McMillian showed coming off the field in the second quarter was nothing too. He is running with more authority than I've seen before and seems to be making his case for being the main man in the backfield.

Lets GO!!!!

Wasn't Peoples in a boot at the end of the game? Worried that we might have gotten a lot more nicked up in that game than we wanted before Clemson.

Deablo is done for the year. I hope Devon can play the pass because Reggie has been struggling. We need to find some answers for that back end soon because Clemson can beat us over the top easily if we don't.

Alexander back to safety?

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own