Tech Tidbits: Picking Up the Pieces, And Adjusting Expectations, After Notre Dame

A look at the Hokies' red zone woes, and Devon Hunter's uncertain future.

[Mark Umansky]

Any casual college football observer seeing the 45-23 final score of VT-Notre Dame flash across ESPN's bottom line could be forgiven for assuming that the vastly more talented Fighting Irish blew out the Hokies, and that was that.

And in many ways, they'd be absolutely correct. The result was pretty much a foregone conclusion for the entire fourth quarter, and didn't exactly look all that close in the third, either.

But what's frustrating about this loss, like so many of Tech's losses in big games over the last few years, is that this game offered more than its fair share of hopeful moments for Hokies fans. For a large portion of the first half, in fact, Tech seemed like it had enough answers to pull off the upset, even if the team could never quite do enough to take the lead.

Then, starting with Ryan Willis' fateful fumble and continuing soon after with Dexter Williams' back-breaking 97-yard touchdown run, the game suddenly seemed completely out of reach for the Hokies.

Sure, there are coaching quibbles to be made here and there (and c'mon Christian Darrisaw, don't run quite so far downfield next time), but the result seems emblematic to me of what's wrong with the team this season, and the program more broadly.

A deeper team (on both sides of the ball, but especially on defense) might be able to sustain a pair of catastrophic outcomes like the Willis fumble and the Williams run, then counterpunch. The Hokies are not that sort of team, at the moment.

That speaks to the near-term problems with depth in the secondary and on the defensive line, as brought on by the extreme attrition the team suffered this year. But a team that recruits at the level of a program like Notre Dame would also be considerably better equipped to handle such attrition, there is no doubt about it.

This is not a new problem! Tech fans have been puzzling over this frustrating middle ground the program has occupied for years now, and this season (where the team could absolutely still win its division and finish ranked within the top 25, despite these aforementioned issues) could easily be a continuation of this trend.

But seeing Saturday night's game really drove the point home that, while so much about the program has changed in recent years, a lot remains the same.

All that being said, there's two months of the season left, still. Let's see what they bring.

Sunday Morning QBs in the Red Zone

Beyond the systemic problems I just spent a few hundred words whining about, there were indeed plenty of more specific criticisms leveled at the coaching staff for that game.

Chief among them was the second-guessing of the play-calling inside the red zone. Offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen's decision to repeatedly line up in shotgun was particularly troubling for many, at least based on my informal observations of angry Tech fans at the bar Saturday.

Cornelsen, for his part, made some good points about his methods when chatting with reporters Tuesday.

I certainly understand where he's coming from on this, and the numbers show that Tech really has been pretty good inside the red zone this season — in 19 trips, the Hokies have come away with 13 touchdowns, a rate that puts them 52nd in the country. So, there's certainly room for improvement, but I'm not sure it rises to the level of a problem that will reverberate throughout the rest of the season.

I'm more receptive, however, to arguments about whether Justin Fuente should've been more aggressive in gunning for touchdowns versus field goals on all those red zone trips. The final of those three field goal drives, ending as it did on Notre Dame's five-yard line, seemed particularly ripe for a little aggression.

Look, I'm well aware that football coaches are never going to simply look at the numbers-based arguments for when it makes sense to go for it (or go for two) versus bailing out and taking the points. I get that they're human, and are just as afraid as getting second-guessed the other way if they leave points on the board.

But, in the moment, coming off a Reggie Floyd interception and a 41-yard Steven Peoples run, the timing felt right to me. I'm of the opinion that coaches should swing for the fences, especially at home, when trying to pull an upset, and that felt like a good moment to do so.

I'm not saying it would've ultimately made a difference — maybe the Irish still force that scoop and score right before the half, and the talent disparity still becomes painfully clear the longer the game goes on. But maybe a Tech touchdown in that spot puts a bit more pressure on Ian Book, who at that point still looked awfully shaky, to force his throws even more and things change.

My point is, if you're going to criticize the coaching in the red zone, there is room to be more nuanced than just screaming about, say, the efficacy of a simple QB sneak.

'Day by Day' at Center

Another frequent critique of the offense in the game revolved around the persistent penalties on the offensive line, and with good reason.

The penalties were real drive killers in the first half, and undoubtedly a frustrating development from one of the most talented units on the team.

OL coach Vance Vice stopped short of outright blaming the penalties on the Irish defense — the most he'd tell reporters was that there were "noises" coming from that side of the ball, out of fear of seeming like a poor sport.

I'm not especially interested in that little bit of controversy — the quality of Notre Dame's defensive line is such that they don't need to do anything illegal to get even good offensive linemen to make a mistake.

But I'm considerably more interested in this little tidbit here.

So, yeah, not a ton of clarity on where the team stands at center.

Zachariah Hoyt was certainly less than impressive — two of the false start penalties were on him, and he was behind a few questionable snaps — but Kyle Chung hasn't been fantastic either. He had a false start of his own, lest we forget.

It's a bit frustrating that there are more questions on the line, just a week after Fuente seemed so confident that he had a start five pretty much set.

Certainly, not playing Jerry Tillery and company will help as the coaches look to figure this out. But it will also go a long way toward ensuring that Willis and the run game is successful if there's a bit more consistency at center.

Definitely something I'll continue watching these next few weeks.

Devon Hunter's Uncertain Future

A lot of fans, myself included, figured this would be a breakout year for former star recruit Devon Hunter.

But after seeing only limited snaps, we get the news Monday that Hunter will be redshirting, a real disappointment for a secondary desperately in need of some playmakers.

The team tried to make it clear Tuesday that the decision was a collaborative one with Hunter, particularly after he fired off some tweets that made fans a bit nervous that he could be leaving the program in the wake of the decision.

In the near term, that makes the team's depth at whip really, really scary, as if it wasn't bad enough already in the secondary — Nix added that he hopes Divine Deablo will play this week, but it seems very possible that Tyree Rodgers will get the starting nod at the free safety spot once more.

But when it comes to who might help spell Khalil Ladler at whip, Nix was out here Tuesday naming players that sound more like characters in a Victorian novel than viable starters on defense.

Perhaps more importantly, this move raises real questions about Hunter's future with the program.

After a promising freshman campaign spent largely on special teams, Hunter often looked lost in coverage this year, and could never consistently get on the field, despite the clear need at both whip and safety for a playmaker to emerge.

So where does this leave him? Can he use the offseason to really get his head around learning Bud Foster's scheme? One would think two years in the program would be enough to start making some progress here, so it seems awfully unlikely that more time will make much difference.

Would he be better suited at rover? Maybe, but Reggie Floyd would seem to have that spot locked down. Corner is a huge need right now, but we don't really know if he'd be a good fit there, and the same concerns about learning coverages persist.

What about a move to the other side of the ball? Fuente shot down that prospect pretty quickly Monday, arguing he saw "no position changes" in Hunter's future.

"He wants to play and his heart is on the defensive side of the ball," Fuente told reporters. "We want to continue to give him an opportunity to try and have success and come along. Certainly if he goes through this year redshirting we'll look at everything in the spring and try to evaluate where he needs to be in the secondary, I'm not sure about that. But there has been no other discussion about drastic changes."

Given the rave reviews he earned as a recruit, I'm certainly rooting for Hunter to sort things out this offseason, but I have to admit I'm pessimistic.

And that's troubling not only because of how acute the need is in the secondary, but also because of what Hunter means to the program's reputation.

Convincing him to spurn other, more high profile offers elsewhere was a gigantic recruiting win for Fuente, and Hunter's subsequent performance on the field won't entirely diminish the meaning of that decision.

But if other, similarly talented players from the 757 see a guy like Hunter flounder in Blacksburg, that's not exactly what I'd deem a long-term positive for the program, either.

I'll leave you this week with some insight into Hezekiah Grimsely's Cook Out order, which seems very strong indeed.

Comments

Fortunately, we can still win the Coastal. We have a very promising Receiving Corps, and a young, but athletic defense. When things click, we can defeat everyone remaining on our schedule.

Go Hokies!

VT '10, Born & Raised in the 804.
Rockin the Bakken.

It didn't really click for me until yesterday that it actually was really huge for Miami to make that comeback against FSU. I had forgotten that it counted as an ACC win. Would have been great for us to get a leg up in the koastal race.

It didn't really click for me until yesterday that it actually was really huge for Miami to make that comeback against have FSU's TD taken off the board by the ACC officials on the double pass that was perfectly legal.

FTFY

It was a bad day for double passes by underdogs.

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

It's still very surprising (and annoying) how fans question and dump on coaches / schemes when it doesn't work out one game, but laud and applaud it when it does another.

Relax. Don't miss the forest for the trees. This is and always was going to be a rebuilding year. Philosophically I still agree and believe in what Coach Fu and Corny are doing.

I don't find it surprising at all, but I agree that it's annoying. My seat neighbors go from yelling about Stinespring and Loeffler to silent depending on whether or not a jet sweep or WR screen went for a >5 yard gain or not.

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

Maybe they realize it was a pass play under Stiney and Lefty, but really just an outside run under Fu and Corny?

Nah, they just grumble about how the offense hasn't changed since Stinespring and Loeffler unless the play works.

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

I remember watching one game many years ago when Stinespring was OC and play caller where we were just on fire. All aspects of the game were working for us. I can't remember what game it was, but at the end of the game, the announcer lauded Stinespring for his calling the perfect game, and saying how VT must be glad to have him. I just thought to myself, "How nice to be an announcer and see an n=1 of great play calls."

It was also frustrating to see games like that and wonder why that couldn't be the norm.

So....it's annoying that fans criticize bad outcomes and are appreciative of good ones?

I don't understand what is annoying about something that is pretty much ubiquitous among sports fans, and probably isn't going to go away.

21st century QBs Undefeated vs UVA:
MV7, MV5, LT3, Jerod Evans, Michael Brewer, Tyrod Taylor, Sean Glennon, and Grant Noel. That's right, UVA. You couldn't beat Grant Noel.

I'm not sure that the outcomes, per se, was what was annoying. I think the annoying thing is that the same play can lead to a bad play or a good one. When it doesn't work, "it was a bad play call". When it does work, "that was an awesome play call." It was the same play, you just hated that it didn't work.

But most people don't really view the nuances of a play call on whether it's a good play or a bad play based on the situation. They view the outcome, in which case every play that doesn't work is a bad play call. The call may have been good, but the execution was poor. Does that mean it was a bad call?

One of the more intriguing things for me with football, maybe more than any other sport, is individual match-ups can make a difference. You can make a good play call, but have a player perform badly, or have the opposing player play better on an individual play and have that call have a bad outcome.

Reasons for enthusiasm:
1) wide receivers winning more 50/50 shots and getting more separation than last year

2) offensive line looks better as a collective group. Miami's exotic blitzes will test that.

3) HB position has a bunch of guys who can win one on one blocking situations. While Keene got beat on a GL play that I highlighted, when you compare how he and Cunningham block versus how Notre dame's TEs blocked, you realized how blessed we are at that spot.

3) Some defensive players are still performing above expectations. I would call out Hewitt, Ladler, and Ashby as the three primary over-achievers.

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

You said "3)" twice!

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

Pretty much invalidates the whole post, huh?

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

No, but that reminded me of a movie quote (Chicken Run), so I paraphrased it:

Rocky: It takes hard work, perseverance, and hard work.
Fowler: You said hard work twice.
Rocky: That's because it takes twice as much hard work as perseverance. (Draws line with finger on imaginary blackboard, scoring a point.)
Fowler: Codswallop!

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

Sorry man, didn't get the reference and just went for the cheap joke. Have one.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

I don't expect anybody to get my movie references, as these days they're mostly from kids movies.

/sigh

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

I assume they are both equally important

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

It's annoying how near-sighted fans can be; one needs to see the bigger picture (and generally be more even-keeled) and not sweat the near term.

And just because something isn't going away doesn't mean it can't be incredibly annoying.

And just because something isn't going away doesn't mean it can't be incredibly annoying.

Go Away Georgia Tech

Let's Go

HOKIES

I really want to know the context of how / why CPJ did this face.

I believe this was after they knocked off FSU on a walk-off blocked field goal a few years ago.

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

Cop on the left slips a thumb where the sun don't shine

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

If looking at this in a vaccuum, I agree.... but after 17+ seasons (post '99) of this its getting old. We've been constantly told to look at the bigger picture, and that next year will be different. The only "different" we get as fans are who hands us the random unexplained loss, how we lose a big game again, and lately, whether or not we'll keep the bowl streak alive.

I've heard this a lot and I don't get it. Do people forget where the program was three years ago? Fighting tooth and nail in the 12th game of the season for bowl eligibility had become the norm in the waning years of Beamer's tenure. Forget winning statement games, we were struggling to finish seasons at .500.

Enter Fuente. We win 19 games in 2 seasons. We get back to the ACCCG in year one, and barely miss out in year 2 with a true redshirt frosh QB. How in the world are people spreading the narrative that nothing has changed? We have immediately returned to basically the same level of success we had throughout the 2000s, when the slump the program had fallen into from 2012-2015 could have easily continued or worsened. But it seems like instead of breathing a sigh of relief that the ship seems to have been righted, it seems as though the most vocal segment of the fanbase is stuck on the idea that the current state of the program isn't good enough.

Let me be clear, we are outrageously lucky to have returned to this level of success this quickly. For everyone claiming VT shouldn't settle for being an ACC championship contender, please realize that contending for ACC championships is a huge improvement over where this program was the year before Fuente took over.

I'm not saying we should all be satisfied with the current level of success in perpetuity. But people are also acting like we've had this level of success in perpetuity. Being where we are right now is a return to form, not the status quo. And honestly, I'm starting to feel like I'm in the car, on my way to vacation, with the kids asking from the backseat if we're there yet every five minutes.

We're gonna get there, people.

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

Redshirt Freshman QB*

Outside its night time, but inside its LeDay

Thanks for that. Fixed.

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

np. This is a great post. I want to print it out and staple it to my forehead to reply to any criticism on gamedays.

Outside its night time, but inside its LeDay

I don't disagree with anything you said, it just helps make my point I think. Taking a narrower view of the program, hell yes we are in a better position than we were in Beamer's last few seasons. Taking a look at a much wider sample size (~20 years) we've been pretty consistent in challenging for conference championships and every once in a while getting a BCS bowl...but that's it. We had one magical season with a flirtation of a national championship, but even then we came super close to screwing it all up if it hadn't been for an epically wild finish in Morgantown. Every season since then we've been on the other side of that outcome, and sometimes multiple times a season.

My point is - we aren't progressing and I don't think we've demonstrated progress as a program when you take a larger view. We have some great new facilities, but that isn't enough to attract recruits, and apparently our hot dog service on game day is horrific. Maybe in 2-4 years we'll see some results if Fuente can last that long. If we don't then we need to accept that we will never get there, and I f@$#ing HATE having to have that type mentality (not yelling at anyone here, just finally getting my post-game venting out).

Look, it's damn near inexcusable that we never got back to the national championship game. For everything that Beamer did for VT football, the one thing he failed to do was take the final step and establish VT as one of the elites of the BCS era. Beamer took Kevin Rodgers leaving personally, which was a bad decision. He circled the wagons and valued loyalty over ambition. That's why Beamer doesn't have the coaching tree a hall of fame coach typically has. The result was an empty trophy case.

That's the past, and there's no changing it. You are correct, we are not in a better place as a program than we were 20 years ago. But we're in a much better position than we were five years ago. That's getting lost, I think.

Fuente immediately got us out of the rut we were in. And now it feels like a lot of the angst from circa 2000-2010 is getting carried over to Fuente. That's not fair to do, because while it is certainly true that the program feels like it hasn't progressed beyond where it was circa 2008, we had to climb our way out of a ditch to get back to this point. The angst only becomes justified, in my opinion, if Fuente fails to take us any higher than this. I don't see anything that makes me think that this is Fuente's ceiling, and any talk about Fuente possibly not "lasting" another 2-4 years seems completely baseless to me.

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

You make excellent points. It is the trajectory of the program that matters.

We were up, then trended down. We are now trending back up. Maybe that upward curve is not steep enough for some, but you can't take random points from either side of the dip and say we aren't headed in the right direction.

Let's see where this upward curve takes us. If it levels off or starts to trend back down, then Whit will need to take a hard look. I personally believe that won't happen.

Agreed, this take is lost on a good chunk of the fanbase WAY too often.

This post should be a required prelude to every vent thread this season. People are out their damn minds with unrealistic perspectives.

Here is the hard truth. The ONLY way VT gets to the NC is by playing the long game and taking our shot when the players and season match up. We are not now, nor have we ever been a perennial powerhouse. Even when we had all those ten win seasons we were considered a stepping stone program that meant you arrived to big boy football, case in point Boise State.

It's fine to demand more but contextualize your expectations to reality.

Yep. I posted some fairly extensive thoughts in one of the early ones after the game last week. The biggest point I made was that 1999 was both the first and last season where we finished in the top 5.

We are not elite and have never been elite, outside of one of two seasons with a generational talent at QB, and expecting Fuente to suddenly have this team reach that level in only his third season is extremely unrealistic. Frank Beamer is a Hall of Fame coach, and somehow this fanbase expects Fuente to be a significant upgrade. We are exceptionally fortunate that he essentially returned us to 2001-2011 form in his first season after 4 years of mediocrity at the end of Beamer's tenure, even if we've stagnated a bit since then.

Exactly

Where did we finish after the 2007 season?

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

Lost the Orange Bowl (a loss I'll never get over) to an pretty good, but definitely not great, Kansas team. Win that and we may be top 5. Although I do not think we were actually top-5 good. That '07 LSU game was the most over-matched I've seen a team in person.

We were 5th before the bowl and 9th after.

Kansas is another example of us being used as a litmus test for up and coming programs. I remember so much commentary on how Kansas has made it to big time football with that win. Of course they Kansas'd their trajectory in subsequent years but that's what was being said at the time.

Mangino being a dirtbag didn't help their trajectory much.

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

I don't know if I share the same thought as others, but I am still very hopeful for this season. Playoffs talk wasn't reality. We are too young and inexperienced.

We can talk about the missed opportunities and "what if" moments (1st and goal stop, scoop & score, penalty on reverse TD pass, etc) but it's the past, we have to move on. Thankfully they are fixable mistakes.

We SHOULD beat UNC and put us at 3-0 in the ACC. I think all us would have taken that in a heart beat. Then we are given more than a week to prepare for GT.

ODU loss is a nightmare and ND is filled with "what if's" but I am still excited for the direction of the team and this year's team as we can still accomplish what our first goal should be..... getting back to the ACC Championship.

Bleeding burnt orange and chicago maroon

Seriously. We've already won two out of the four ACC road games, including both that were going to be the biggest challenge (Duke, FSU).

The play calls at the goal line were fine. We score on first and goal if Peoples takes a step to the left around Keene's tackle.

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

I love Steven Peoples, but his lack of vision is his biggest weakness. He consistently runs straight into blockers or chooses the wrong direction to go around them. It's pretty damn frustrating when the whole team executes the play call and the running back can't take advantage.

"For those who have passed, for those to come, reach for excellence."

Peoples has gotten better about running into the wall since he has become the main back. The last game or two he has made some nice cuts into holes. But, there are a still a couple plays a game where he runs into the blockers.

Completely agree with you. He has certainly taken a step forward this year.

"For those who have passed, for those to come, reach for excellence."

I also think we throw it some point this season using the same play call. The receivers were left wide open each time.

Growing pains always hurt. We can still have a successful season. Let's kick the crap out of UNC and get us feeling good again.

1-0 every week

I for one am encouraged by Hunter's decision to redshirt not only because of his insight, but because I believe it shows his faith in the program and the coaches. It is easy for all of us to second guess the development of players, play calling, etc...but if someone as talented (per recruiting stars) as Hunter sees that Virginia Tech is still his best option to grow into a NFL player when other programs have talented players transferring the minute they are on the bench, maybe it speaks to something about the program. Perhaps this shows that the culture is improving, with players genuinely buying into the coaches abilities to make them better. I don't know...I see a lot of good signs in this, but maybe I am drinking a refreshing glass of Kool-Aide.

I haven't seen this mentioned yet, but seeing the quotes from Nix brings up an entirely different issue IMHO that I gathered from the This is Home podcast. That is according to Flowers after the ODU game, it appears that our secondary coaches are not huddling up with our young kids during the game to discuss their technique, communications and to simply coach them up. Bud allows position coaches to coach without interference. Flowers mentioned even discussing technique with Farley during FSU game as he was on sidelines for both. During the podcast they called out their inability to correctly do a press coverage where he and D.Hall even mentioned coming down and performing a clinic. This is a BIG problem given our inexperienced kids. I recommend others go back and listen. May be time for some changes to occur. Would love to have Flowers on sideline. At a minimum, we need to be coaching them up at all times right now given the youth and getting them to play assignment football.

If we cannot see significant improvement from the young players in the secondary as the season goes along, then I do think this is valid. I think it is early to draw a conclusion, but I think it should be on our radar for sure. French has stated he is not seeing the flashes of talent on certain plays. I hope Bud has a close eye on this, and gets it figured out. Hoping to see some big improvement between now and the Miami game.

--
"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

Need to temper DB development expectations. Torrian Gray was a real hero. Mitchell is no TG.

Remember when a vocal contingent complained about Gray because never taught the DBs to look back for the ball, leading to too many pass interference penalties down the field? Well that and he allegedly didn't say "Hi" to a recruit's mom. A few years later and we're reminiscing about him being the hero of DBU.

I'm not saying you personally complained about Gray at the time but it illustrates how variable and fickle the opinions of a fan base can be.

Joffrey, Cersei, Ilyn Payne, the Hound, Jeff Jagodzinski, Paul Johnson, Pat Narduzzi.

Yeah, definitely wasn't me. I don't have the deepest understanding of technique, but not looking back is very much a part of a man coverage scheme and doesn't bother me much at all.

I don't agree with you for one reason: Bud Foster's defense always puts a ton of pressure on our DBs to play well. Because of this, his schemes will always attract and develop only the best DBs or they will. not. play.

Think of PSU, a school that produced a TON of linebackers. How did they do this? Their defensive scheme was geared toward putting much of the responsibility on their linebackers. So, they recruited well at the position, the players became stars. So they could recruit better. So their linebackers got better. Feedback loop.

Our secondary isn't good because of Torrian Gray, it's because of Bud Foster. I think this will continue to be the case.

But if other, similarly talented players from the 757 see a guy like Hunter flounder in Blacksburg, that's not exactly what I'd deem a long-term positive for the program, either.

I think this is a bit too dramatic. There are plenty of talented, high-profile recruits that flame out and every program. I don't think its a positive or a negative, it just is. The best players play. Ladler was a in a similar position before this season and then it all clicked.

"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

Thanks for the write-up and thoughts, Alex.

In regards to your point about going for it on 4th down near the goal line, I get the sense that Fuente does not trust Willis. Maybe if he doesn't mess up the 3rd down play at the goal line we go for it, but I'd guess we still kick it. Willis appears to have more playmaking ability than JJ, but I don't believe the coaches like/trust his mental game as much, attitude included. Hopefully he keeps improving and that changes, but I have my doubts. I still believe that Willis can run the offense, and even make more plays than JJ, but I do not see him as the long-term answer at QB.

You nailed it. If the fourth had been from the 1 yard again, I think we would have gone for it. But the flubbed 3rd down play lost 4 yards.

Did Willis really cause that issue on 3rd? Herbstreit was super-quick to point out that he thought Peoples was the one at fault, and pointed out what looked like an apology from Peoples to Willis when they got to the sideline.

Fuente confirmed it on Tech Talk Live. I think Herbie was basing that off how People's appeared to be apologizing to Willis after the commercial break. After hearing how Willis needs to be calmed down so much, People's was probably just doing what he could to get Willis back focused on the game. Last sentence is just speculation of course.

Fuente said at the presser that it was a called pass play. And looking at the film, peoples was coming up to block, and Willis should have dropped straight back. For a running play, he should turn for the mesh point. Everyone but Willis was acting like it was a pass play like CJF said it should have been.

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)..

Could it have been a play-action pass?

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

Write this in the "good problem to have column", I think having coach Foster and his more-often-than-not strong defense makes coaches play a little more conservatively. If Fuente didn't have much faith in the Defense he would probably be going for it on a few more 4th down plays.

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

I didn't think it was a talent disparity that showed up. Or at least not a significant one. I didn't see Tech getting blown off the ball on either side of the ball. There was an execution disparity. I do think there was an experience disparity. Tech will close that gap shortly.

There was, in my opinion, a glaring talent disparity between our corners/safeties and their receivers.

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

That was more about technique and experience than talent. Talent would of be their receivers running much faster than any of our players or muscling the ball away from them or running over them in the open field. None of which happened. Farley was injured, played high school quarterback and is learning. Watts is in his first year starting and never saw the field last year. Rodgers was filling in for Deablo and has never played before, ever. It's experience and technique, which is learned and reinforced by experience

I was thinking this same thing when I woke up on Sunday.

Execution disparities are fixable. And with most of these guys having 2-4 more years of eligibility left, think about what our experience disparity will look like after two more recruiting classes to give us critical depth. Compete in the ACCCG this year and the first of those classes is likely to get even better.

I am excited for the future, but first we have to beat up on the rest of the Coastal this year.

I think we are all missing an important point here, Ball State (which is not a state, just like Boise) let a beast of a receiver go!

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"

KCCO

It wasn't so much as Ball State letting him go as him wanting to play big boy football.

Always choose joy.

We are the Big Dog

Heard an interesting theory about Willis and whether or not some of the bad play calls were just bad reads on his part. To the casual observer, it looks like Willis played his ass off and did everything he could to will the team to victory, but the coaches have been rather less complimentary. Reading between the lines, it could be that Willis dicked up too many plays where the playcall was spot on, the defense committed hard to one of the two options, and Willis just chose the wrong option (like all 3 downs on our goal line fail).

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)..

Yes, I also believe this to be the case. Both live and in replays, it appears that Willis made the wrong read several times in both the Duke and ND games.

This is coachable and I think he does some other things better than JJ, so I am cautiously optimistic about the rest of the season.

This is good. What Fuente is looking for from his quarterback is consistency. And if Willis is consistently making the wrong read........

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

Another thought to ponder. If Willis is consistently making the wrong read then what the heck was Josh Jackson doing. It is clear that the offense is much more effective with Willis as QB. Like JJ and he was a good kid but if he was making better reads than Willis why was he clearly less effective?

IMHO, JJ was making better reads... just taking waaaaaaay too damn long to make them.

This, he was also comfortable just checking it down where Willis seems (sometimes wrongly) confident in airing the thing out. My issue with JJ was he wasn't necessarily going to lose you games with bad decisions, but he also will not go out and forcefully win you games. Willis is the opposite in which his decisions might lose us a game and could also lead to an exciting win.

eading between the lines, it could be that Willis dicked up too many plays where the playcall was spot on, the defense committed hard to one of the two options, and Willis just chose the wrong option

You know, I think this is what I was getting at when I questioned Willis's penchant for going to Hazleton all the time. I figure that he just wanted to go to DH a lot because they have a rapport, but maybe someone else should have been targeted instead.

This game reminded me a lot of the 2011 Orange bowl vs Stanford. Tied in the first half(well almost in this game), then Stanford I believe broke a big run in the 3rd and it was all Cardinal since then.

I said much the same thing when I commented on The Slept On It thread:
That picture reminds me of the 2011 Orange Bowl. My brother and I had end zone seats and the Tech punt had pinned Stanford inside their 5 yard line. Their offensive line opened a massive truck-sized hole right in front of us. The back (Stepfan Taylor ?) rush for nearly 50 yards on that one play and completely switch the field. Stanford scored on an Andrew Luck pass on the next play.
Another similarity, Tech had pulled to within one point at the end of the first half, but Stanford seemed to pull away without much resistance in the second half. My "hatred" of Harbaugh, Luck and Stanford stems from that game; it was a sour way to end the season.

Ut Prosim Ad Dei Gloriam

Chief among them was the second-guessing of the play-calling inside the red zone. Offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen's decision to repeatedly line up in shotgun was particularly troubling for many, at least based on my informal observations of angry Tech fans at the bar Saturday.

I caught the last part of the latest Tech Talk Live on the ACC SiriusXM Replay. They asked CoachFu about the goal line plays from shotgun. I'm pretty sure they generalized the question to be less about this past Saturday but CoachFu gave an informative answer. He said that other than on a QB sneak the RB is going to get the ball in the same spot if the QB is under center or in shotgun. With the QB in shotgun it gives the QB the chance to read the defense and shotgun decreases the numbers in the box. Probably something French, Mason and the other scheme gurus know but it was informative to barstool average fans like me.

Run to Win. Pass To Score
Josh Jackson on Ricky Walker - ““He is the captain of this team, He’s the leader. He’s the bell cow, the Pail Holder.“

Agree with his assessment. The downside though is when the RB gets the ball in shotgun he has little to no momentum. When handed off with QB under center he has much more momentum going towards the line which is helpful when you only need a yard.

Counterpoint- Peoples tends to trip on short yardage situations when handed the ball from an under center QB. See FSU and ODU games.

Good point. So we could just use a different running back. Put in McClease or how about a QB sneak from under center? Or you could even just go Wildcat and have another blocker. Hell you could let Hendon run the Wildcat if you wanted to have a QB in the game.
It's 1 yard....zone read out of shotgun is just overthinking it. A QB sneak or Wildcat is about as simple as it gets on offense.

I definitely wanted to see a QB sneak there, but I tend to agree with Fuente on this point. If you're handing off, shotgun or under center doesn't matter that much.

I don't disagree with Fu or yourself on the take. There are definitely some advantages out of shotgun.

My point is only from a battering ram with inertia standpoint. If a 230 lb running back gets the ball in shotgun he is barely moving when he gets the ball in his belly. Handoff from under center he gets the ball running maybe 3/4 speed. In this case when the RB runs into the line he had much more momentum and is much more likely to fall ahead that 1 yard we need.

Just my theory and opinion only.

But the same momentum by the time he gets to the line of scrimmage.

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

You think they get same momentum out of shotgun? I guess it's possible I just don't see it.

Well I mean it's the same distance the RB is running either way. Just takes the handoff sooner in shotgun. He still will have run about 5 yards by the time he gets to the line.

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

I dig. Maybe I am underestimating the RB burst in acceleration

momentum of the back, yes. time of the play, no...the snap takes longer and the play takes longer. every lineman will have taken at least two more steps

But a team that recruits at the level of a program like Notre Dame would also be considerably better equipped to handle such attrition, there is no doubt about it.

Alex, thanks for a fun read. But this statement seems a little off. ND went 4-8 two years ago playing a lot of young and inexperienced guys. It seems more likely that nearly all programs would suffer from the kind of attrition that we saw this season on defense, unless of course you play in the city of Tuscaloosa.

"Don't go to, go through"

I QUESTION THE WHOLE IDEA OF RUNNING THE FULLBACK UP THE MIDDLE INTO THE HEART OF THE DEFENSE. GOOD FOR THE FIRST DOWN, BUT ON THE SECOND DOWN ( OR EVEN THE THIRD DOWN), THE QUARTERBACK SHOULD ROLL OUT AND EITHER TAKE IT INTO THE END ZONE OR FLIP A PASS TO A WIDE RECEIVER OR TIGHT END.

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

I made a mistake in putting my above comment in Bold Print, but maybe one of the coaches read it and used it tonight against UNCheat.