Virginia Tech 59, North Carolina 7

Film review of BeamerBall, the 4-8 defense's work in the trenches, the Hokies' offensive performance, and a silky rub route for six.

[Mark Umansky]

After Virginia Tech beat up North Carolina 34-3 last season, there was plenty of talk about the role weather played in the win. Mitch Trubisky, the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, was harassed all game by Bud Foster's defense. He only managed to pick up 58 yards through the air and threw two interceptions to zero touchdowns. Many pundits and UNC faithful claimed the "hurricane" the game was played in was responsible for UNC's offensive ineptitude, rather than Foster's defensive game plan. This dismissal of the legendary defensive coordinator's work rubbed the Hokies the wrong way, and the sunny forecast on Saturday was the perfect opportunity to get revenge. The Hokies beat the Tar Heels 59-7, despite only gaining 383 total yards of offense, because of another dominant day by the Lunch Pail Defense.

BeamerBall

This was a classic "BeamerBall" game for Justin Fuente. By halftime, Virginia Tech's defense scored twice and the special teams added a TD too. Tech enjoyed a 35-0 lead at intermission even though the offense only accounted for two touchdowns. The defensive line for the Hokies played particularly well, especially the defensive tackle duo of Tim Settle and Ricky Walker.

Ricky Walker's scoop-and-score was the first scoring play of the game, and it was a sign of things to come. Foster called a zone blitz, one which he has employed frequently throughout the season.

Mook Reynolds, who is aligned over the slot receiver to the field, blitzes while Vinny Mihota drops into zone coverage to the boundary. Foster got creative in coverage to the field to make up for the blitz. He rotated his two safeties (Reggie Floyd and Terrell Edmunds) into man coverage while his two corners dropped into a two-deep zone. Mook comes off the edge unblocked and gets a free shot at UNC quarterback Chazz Surratt but can't bring him down. Surratt gets away and attempts to make a throw down field, but the bone-dry football slips from his hands for a fumble. Ricky Walker pounces on the football and strolls in for a touchdown.

This could have been a big play for UNC though, and its design should look familiar to Hokie Nation, as it's one seen from Fuente multiple times this season. The Tar Heels are trying to run a QB Power RPO to their running back. It looks like a QB Power play because they pull their back-side (right) guard and their H-Back to lead the way, but watch the running back leak out of the backfield. He releases past the linebackers and is looking for the pass. With Floyd and Edmunds rotating over to cover the receivers, there are no defenders in the middle of the field to stop the back. If Mook hadn't gotten to Surratt so quickly to disrupt the timing, this could have been a big play. Later in the game, Mook sees this same play and makes another great play.

On this 1st-and-10 last in the third quarter, UNC actually connects on the QB Power RPO. Just as before, they pull the back-side guard and the H-Back to suck the defense in. Tailback Michael Carter (No. 8) releases up the field and past Terrell Edmunds, who is coming forward to tackle the Surratt. Surratt wisely throws to Carter and Carter appears to be in the clear. Reynolds has his eyes in the backfield and recognizes the play. He comes off of his receiver to make the tackle. Without the quick reaction from Reynolds, Carter may scamper in for a long touchdown. Foster mentioned this play in his post-game comments.

"Our kids did a nice job," said Foster. "They came out and they hadn't shown that quarterback power pass like our offense runs. They hit us to kind of help them set up that score in the end."

Walker's fumble recovery for a touchdown was just the beginning of the BeamerBall revival. On UNC's next drive they stalled out and are forced to punt. Greg Stroman doesn't get touched on this 91-yard punt return.

The only player that had a chance was punter Tom Sheldon and he never got close. Tech dominated the special teams play all game long. Oscar Bradburn kept UNC pinned deep in its own territory for much of the day and Deon Newsome came up with a blocked punt early in the third quarter.

The third and final non-offensive touchdown for the Hokies was a 69-yard interception return by Reggie Floyd.

UNC tries to counter the Hokies aggressive press coverage look by calling a play-action pass. Larry Fedora wants to target the man coverage to the boundary, and UNC does a good job of sliding protection to give quarterback Brandon Harris time to make the throw. Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, Andrew Motuapuaka recognizes the throwing lane and slides into the hole to challenge the throw. Motuapuaka manages to get a hand on the ball and Floyd snags the tip and follows his blockers into the end zone.

The 4-8 Defense Puts on a Show

The play of Settle and Walker has been incredible all season long. The pair once again controlled the line of scrimmage and combined for 9 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 5.0 tackles for loss. Those two lived in the Tar Heels' backfield and kept the offense in poor down and distance situations, even when UNC seemingly had the correct play called.

On this second-and-10, Fedora called a QB draw RPO.

The Hokies are in a Cover-1 scheme. There's man coverage on the outside and Floyd is deep as the high safety. Surratt has the option to throw the football if he gets zone coverage, particularly to the field-side. However, he sees the man coverage and wisely decides to run the ball. UNC actually has the numbers advantage in the box and should pick up decent yardage to get into a third-and-short situation. Their center and tailback each leak out to pick up Tech's linebackers while the defensive ends get up field to try and rush Surratt. UNC's two guards are left to try and handle Walker and Settle. Walker works across the face of the left guard and penetrates into the backfield. Surratt steps past Walker's rush and begins to head up field, but is met by Settle who used a swim move to get across the right guard and into the rushing lane for the TFL. Walker and Settle were unblockable in one-on-one situations all day long and how much pressure they can put on opposing offensive lines will help determine how the rest of the season transpires for the Hokies.

Virginia Tech's Offense Does Enough

While the Hokies' defense and special teams outscored the Tar Heels all on their own, Fuente's offense chipped in with some touchdowns of their own. Josh Jackson threw for just 132 yards, but he did toss three touchdowns and once again went the entire game without throwing an interception. Jackson is at his best when he can manage the game and simply take what the defense is offering, and he appeared as poised as ever once he was handed a lead by his defense. On top of that, his young receiver corps looked more confident than ever. Sean Savoy, Eric Kumah, and even Samuel Denmark all made impressive plays. Cam Phillips also had a memorable day as he secured his position as Tech's career reception leader (212)

Tech opened up the game in a 5-wide formation. UNC gets stretched horizontally as they try to defend across the board. As a result, the Heels end up leaving the middle of the field open. Savoy, who is matched up with freshman safety Myles Wolfolk (No. 11) in the slot, runs a crisp slant route into that open space. Jackson makes the correct read and gets the ball to his receiver on time and on the money. Savoy catches the ball with his hands and immediately gets up field, breaking the arm tackle of Wolfolk in the process. The shoestring tackle by safety Myles Dorn (No. 1) is the only thing that prevented Savoy from scoring a long touchdown.

Since the beginning of the season, Jackson has dramatically improved in these five-wide West Coast passing schemes. He recognizes the open man much quicker and has impressed with his accuracy on those short throws.

Speaking of improvement, Savoy has solidified himself as the number two receiving threat on this team. He is hungry to make a play every time he touches the ball, and his explosiveness with the ball in his hands is undeniable. As he matures he will learn to use that explosiveness to get open, and he will develop more consistent hands with repetition, but for now it is enjoyable to see Fuente and Brad Cornelsen find different ways to get the ball to him.

For my money, Kumah is the next receiver poised to breakout. With his size (6-2, 220) and body positioning, he could become a solid possession receiver and down field threat.

I haven't seen him exhibit blazing speed, but routes like the one above give me confidence that he will become a regular contributor for the next few seasons. On this 2nd-and-4, UNC lines up showing a Cover-2 look, but ends up blitzing Wolfolk from the slot. Jackson spots boundary safety J.K. Britt (No. 29) rotating towards the middle of the field, and he recognizes he has single coverage to the boundary. Kumah does an excellent job of creating separation against press coverage by initially heading outside and then swimming back across corner M.J. Stewart (No. 6) to get inside leverage. Kumah breaks off his route and gives Jackson a target to hit, which Jackson does despite pressure coming right up the middle of the pocket.

Kumah beat man coverage last week by running a couple of slant routes against Boston College, and he utilized the same route in the red zone to give Tech their fifth touchdown of the day.

UNC blitzes in the red zone with only a handful of seconds left in the half. Kumah is once again aligned to the boundary and he faces single coverage. He runs a slant route and positions his body in between the corner and the quarterback. Kumah subtly breaks down as the ball comes to him. He slows his momentum and keeps his inside position on Stewart all while allowing his shoulders to open up and receive the ball. UNC makes two tactical mistakes on this play. Their first was blitzing a freshman quarterback in the red zone is an unnecessary risk. I believe they would have been better off sitting back in coverage and seeing if Jackson can make the right read. The second mistake was in using off coverage to the boundary, as it made Kumah's inside release way too easy. If you're going to blitz in that situation, at least play tight coverage to the boundary so that the quarterback won't have an easy quick hitting route to find across the middle.

My Favorite Play: Cam Phillips' 8-Yard TD Reception

Phillips had five catches for 49 yards which is impressive if you factor in Tech's lack of first half possessions (thanks to defensive touchdowns) and huge second half lead. Opposing defenses are starting to pay closer attention to Phillips now that Tech's in the middle of the ACC season and Fuente is going to need to get creative to find ways to get Cam open. Fuente broke out one of my favorite route combinations in his playbook, the wheel-slant combo.

This play is a great way to scheme a playmaker open against man coverage with deep safety help. UNC is in a basic Man-2 look, with man coverage and two deep safeties. Tech leaves a tight end and a running back in to give Jackson plenty of time to wait for the routes to develop, although UNC ultimately doesn't blitz its linebackers. Kumah is aligned to the boundary and runs another slant, but UNC's linebackers take away that throwing lane. Savoy is in the slot and Phillips is the wide receiver to the field.

With UNC's Man-2 scheme the corners aren't going to switch any crossing routes, instead they rely on their safeties for help. At the snap Savoy runs a wheel route towards the defender covering Cam — CB K.J. Sails (No. 9) — with the intention of creating a rub. Cam takes his time at the snap, taking a couple steps up field to freeze Sails and then cutting underneath Savoy's rub. Safety Myles Wolfolk (No. 11), Savoy's defender, follows the wheel route and Sails gets picked off by Savoy before he gets a chance to get under the rub. Safety Myles Dorn (No. 1) might have prevented a Savoy touchdown in the first quarter, but he gets caught looking in the backfield and reacts too late to the route combination. Dorn isn't in position to break on the play and to try and separate receiver from ball, and Cam skips into the end zone once he makes the catch.

Putting a Bow on the Blowout

It is easy to watch this young Virginia Tech football team and focus on the areas that need improvement. The deficiencies aren't hard to spot and it's been discussed how the running game is consistently inconsistent, the passing game lacks a deep threat, and the defense can be too aggressive for its own good. Fixating on these issues can cause anyone to lose sight of what's truly special about this team.
The Hokies are on the rise and are playing a lot of young talent right now, young talent that is maturing on a weekly basis. The Hokies' special teams units have been fantastic all season long. The defensive line has no senior starters, but yet is one of the most dominant run stopping units in all of college football. The receiving corps features an all-time great player in Cam Phillips and another, Sean Savoy, is ready to make his own mark. Under center is Josh Jackson, arguably the best freshman quarterback in the country. Fuente is building something special in Blacksburg, and we saw more proof Saturday afternoon.

Comments

I love how Jackson threw the ball to where Kumah was going to be and not where he was on the TD. I think that ability is not totally teachable and requirs the QB to visualize where the receiver will be at the time the ball arrives. If I remember correctly this was something Evans struggled with.

Evans was different because he would make his first read and if it wasnt there, he would pull the ball down and it was off the races. Evans wasn't as polished as JJ when it comes to making the second or third read.

To say Evans couldn't visualize where a receiver would be isn't true. He couldn't throw an accurate deep ball but he could throw a pretty sweet back shoulder fade with ease. I'd chalk it up to timing with receivers and touch.

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HOKIES

No doubt Jackson is more proficient in the short passing game than Evans, although Evans could make up for that disparity by being a factor on the ground.

Awesome, enjoyable game. Love that we can get some definitive wins. On the flip side, a couple of things keep sticking out...some of which you mentioned, some you didn't.

1) Savoy is the number 2, but....he has been very inconsistent with catching the ball. For us to contend for the Coastal, that needs to end.

2) Mook can not afford to try and bodycheck opponents and expect them to go to the ground. He has done it time and again, and it will burn us at some point. I hope Foster addresses this.

3) Tubberville ranted incessantly on our lack of a power run game - that will likely not change much, but we did find some yards.

4) You mentioned the lack of a deep threat.

"I play real sports, not trying to be the best at exercising..." - KP

Your point about Mook is the one I wanted to mention too - in both of his plays that Mason showed (as well as a number of other points throughout the game), he did the exact same sort of shoulder dive / body check with no hint of trying to follow through with his arms and wrap the guy up. In the case of the fumble, he was saved because he had help following him into the backfield (plus the fact that Surratt fumbled the "bone dry ball on his own), and in the case of the adjustment and hit after the pass, he had a good angle and only needed to hit the receiver to bring him down.

Sure, it works slightly more often than it doesn't, and that's probably part of the reason he still does it...but we've been burned a number of times by better players who can see that hit coming and either dodge it in the open field or take the hit and then keep moving forward afterwards. I think Reynolds is a great player, and has absolutely come into his own in the past 2 seasons - if he started consistently wrapping people up or just following through on his tackles, I think he'd move up to being a real "next level" type of guy.

1) Savoy is the number 2, but....he has been very inconsistent with catching the ball. For us to contend for the Coastal, that needs to end.

No doubt. I think it's just a matter of reps before he figures it out though. I'd also always take a young receiver that can get open and can make people miss over a sure-handed youngster who isn't "twitchy". You can teach yourself to be a consistent catcher over time, but there's no cure for slow.

2) Mook can not afford to try and bodycheck opponents and expect them to go to the ground. He has done it time and again, and it will burn us at some point. I hope Foster addresses this.

I'm surprised that so many feel strongly about Mook's tendency to not wrap up!

Honestly it's not an issue that stands out to me. The most notable Mook missed tackle was the one against Kelly Bryant, but Bryant is going to make a lot of people miss whether they have proper form or not. In my opinion, there are a lot of players that have more issues with fundamentals than Mook does. I think Mook's miss tackles are more noticeable because he plays on the perimeter and is also asked to make tackles coming of the edge (a more difficult angle than coming straight downhill) against skilled perimeter players.
All in all, I do agree that Mook could be more fundamentally sound in his approach to tackling but I doubt Foster stays awake thinking about Mook's missed tackling. There are a number of other things he should be concerned with first.

Tubberville ranted incessantly on our lack of a power run game - that will likely not change much, but we did find some yards.

Without a power running quarterback, this offensive line and these running backs are going to struggle in short yardage situations the rest of the season. It's just who we are right now. Let's not forget that in Fuente's system, every part of the offense complements another. When defenses aren't concerned with vertical routes, they can get awfully aggressive on rushing downs. This compounds the rushing problems for Brad Cornelsen and makes it more difficult to find solutions.

A few things I truly enjoyed:

1. Pass protection was outstanding. No matter where the pressure came from, the pocket shifted and the RB picked up a man quite easily. I think they had one sack against us, but from what I can remember (and can see in the replays), we did a great job of keeping JJ clean.

2. In that vein, take a look at the last TD before the half where Kumah got the TD. Now look at RG 74 (Pfaff?). He literally took on a DL and an LB and kept both of them away from the QB so we could get that score. Outstandingly done!

I noticed that Cam rub TD immediately. Thoughts on that being called offensive PI? I was thinking it was coming.

As I understand the rule, they won't call OPI for contact within three yards of the LOS. Savoy just BARELY stayed within the rules.

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

We don't love dem Hoos.

I also believe there's a rule about receivers being allowed to run their routes. Because Savoy kinda put his hands up, it looked like he was running a route, and therefore not opi.

caught that acting job after the contact...it was subtle no doubt and probably not enough contact to get the flag

"I play real sports, not trying to be the best at exercising..." - KP

Yeah, he looked like a soccer player there, throwing the block and then falling backward as if the CB hit him. I would rather see him turn toward the QB and act like he's open, but the flop is the second-best approach.

"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

The rules around rubs/picks are unnecessarily complex, and inconsistently called, the same way cut/chop blocks used to be. A rule change to just rule all contact beyond 5 yards (limit for defensive holding) where the player isn't attempting to look for and catch the ball, is pass-interference, is coming, and probably sooner than later. Too many teams run rubs every play just because "you can't cal it every time," which we've heard before from CPJ.

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

Surratt gets away and attempts to make a throw down field, but the bone-dry football slips from his hands for a fumble. Ricky Walker pounces on the football and strolls in for a touchdown.

Mason, you sly dog, you...

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

We don't love dem Hoos.

Hey UNC! UDel kept it closer in Lane than you did! Suck on that, cheaters!

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)..

Outside of the fact that winning by a margin of 52 points is just the #25 in reverse order (i swear it's hokie illuminati!), I learned that Q updated his profle pic 😁

🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃

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HOKIES

Turns out we wanted to hit the spread...but got it confused with the over/under.

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)..

Throwing on the #7 at Tech is awfully ballsy.

Love it.

I've been drinking.

yeah, no one wants to be compared to Marcus Davis...

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 made me laugh hard...I'd give two legs if I could but I'm too lazy to setup a troll account...

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HOKIES

Heh? I was talking about Sean Glennon.

*ducks*

I've been drinking.

"Take care of the little things and the big things will come."

The Halloween game might be one of my favorite games ever

Nearly every game at Georgia Tech has been memorable. The QB Sneak/Attouchu Punch game, the Hokie Stone lid/Kyle Fuller plays whip game, the Beamer face game.

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

Lot of great Hokie mojo this weekend with the Tyrod-Vick interview, Bills winning a close one, and VT bludgeoning their foe.

"I play real sports, not trying to be the best at exercising..." - KP

Don't forget the Tyrod to Logan TD.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

I'm rewatching the game and that interception return by Floyd, Tremaine's blocking was top notch

That interception was top notch 👍

E$PN had Floyd's pick six versus Iowa State Marcel Spear's pick six... ESPN VIDEO LINKY

Our reaction to that Iowa State pick six:

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HOKIES

Tremaine had a nice block on Stro's punt return, too. With his size, speed and downfield blocking, maybe we need to put in a receiver package for him?

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

I offer an emoji statistical representation of Saturday's final score:

🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃 - 🐏🐏🐏🐏🐏🐏🐏

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HOKIES

I love it! The"bone dry ball" made for really tough conditions yesterday.

Mook comes off the edge unblocked and gets a free shot at UNC quarterback Chazz Surratt but can't bring him down

Because all he really did was bump into him.

Where is Lawson?!

If Mook had tried and then gotten the tackle as seen in the GIF the Interwebs would have broken, I would have lost my shit laughing, and UNCheat's soul would be that much more dead.

"It's a miracle in Blacksburg, TYROD DID IT MIKEY, TYROD DID IT!"

Dear Tremaine,

Please come play FB when we are in the red zone and lead block like you did on that INT return.

Sincerely,
The guy your brother once called "a shaggy ass mother****** at 2am in Cookout

Here lies It's a Stroman Jersey I Swear, surpassed in life by no one because he intercepted it.

I noticed that too! He bodied 2 UNC players (I would say 3 but if you watch the replay one of the UNC players doesn't even try to get to ball or push him out which was pretty pathetic) for like 40-50 yards. Beautiful blocking.

I know JJ isn't the dominant runner that Evans was or that we've been accustomed to in the past with "any qb not named Glennon or Noel". We've either had a bull or burner. JJ can move but he looks so timid in doing it. I swear any time he goes into the line it looks like he is bracing for the hit before anyone is even close to him. He has had a couple of good scrambles but I think once he knows he's gonna run he needs to commit and go. Don't think he'll ever be Evans or LT or MV7 / TT but he can be a very serviceable runner if he gains some confidence in his running ability.

Jumping way ahead I think it will be interesting to see how the spring plays out with Hooker no longer under a redshirt and QP there (don't remember if he's enrolling early but gotta love his commitment; haven't seen that since mook was a recruit). I think QP will redshirt regardless. A plethora of talented QBs is not a bad problem to have.

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

"I want to punch people from UVA right in the neck." - Colin Cowherd

I don't think Jackson has done anything to hint at the Lion King being dethroned next spring. He has been fantastic as a freshman. If anything, I think he fixes the issue you mentioned and becomes more confident in his running ability.

Also I love that you didn't include Brewer in the list of non runners. That kid was 100% a bull despite being barely 6'0" and generously listed at 200 lbs.

EDIT: Meant to reply to BraggHokie

Here lies It's a Stroman Jersey I Swear, surpassed in life by no one because he intercepted it.

I think Brewer would have liked to run more than he did. But given the QB depth, he was told staying upright for the next play was a higher priority.

It didn't completely stop him though.

Dude was just a football player in every sense of the word.

"Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing."
-Ron Swanson

"11-0, bro"
-Hunter Carpenter (probably)

I don't know how you can't love that dude. Not the most skilled or talented QB but my god he had major guts. Excellent leader too.

"...When we step on that field, they bleed like we bleed and we're gonna show the world."
-Corey Marshall

His brother playing for Baylor seems to be from the same mold.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

I hope I never forget about that speech he gave to the O-Line after one of those series where he got stomped on every down: "I will keep getting up, but I need you guys to keep pushing 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