Welcome to the Track Meet

The Hokies have all the pieces in place offensively to overcome their defensive struggles and win games. But will the coaches be able to get out of their own way so it can happen?

[Mark Umansky]

I think about Tyrod Taylor a lot.

I can't really explain it. It doesn't make a lot of sense to dwell on the career of a quarterback who hasn't suited up for the Hokies in more than a decade. But there's something so captivating about a five-star quarterback whose talent was all-but wasted for three seasons, reached his potential anyway, and buoyed the program in spite of itself.

When the Chargers announced Taylor — who missed time after a team doctor punctured his lung — would lose his starting job to rookie Justin Herbert, ESPN's Bomani Jones laid out his entire career arc:

It's a great thread, full of semi-depressing bits of bad luck and twists of fate. But there's one thing about Tyrod that stands more than any other.

He's the face of everything Tech fans miss from the Frank Beamer glory years (in-state recruiting wins, blue chip prospects, explosive playmaking, the 757), while simultaneously the poster child for all of Beamer's mid-00's deficiencies (refusal to cater an offense to its players strengths, poor offensive lines, conservative to the point of self-sabotage). He's the last Tech quarterback to succeed in the NFL (as a QB, shout out Logan Thomas), arguably the second most famous alum in program history and the author of some of my favorite Hokie memories.

But have you ever noticed how those moments mask a larger problem with the program? Everyone remembers this:

But not everyone remembers that the Hokies scored on their first and final possessions, with just a field goal in between. Or that Tech only gained 278 yards, 81 of which came on the pass to Danny Coale. Everyone love his tightrope against Stanford:

While choosing to forget the final score against the Cardinal (it was 40-12, the Hokies gained 288 yards). This wasn't Tyrod's fault, it just shows how fundamentally broken the offense was and exactly how much Tech relied on a run game and a defense to keep things close. If they ran into an even better defense — see Bomani's observation about the 2007 LSU game — or made one backbreaking mistake (see ECU's blocked punt in 2008) then Tyrod and company were cooked.

Even when the offense and defense briefly switched places in 2010, the offense still needed the occasional bailout (David Wilson's kick return TD vs Georgia Tech.) The identity even persisted through a coaching change, as Justin Fuente leaned heavily on a talent-laden group to be the difference in 2016 and '17 (who can forget the way they carried an all-but-broken down Josh Jackson to nine wins?) No matter what kind of great players they've had, Virginia Tech has never, ever, EVER been an offensive team.

But this is 2020, and it's literally not your Bud Foster lunch pail defense anymore. Foster's gone, Justin Hamilton is in a transition between schemes and coaches a unit decimated by COVID-19. Things might not always be as bad as they were against North Carolina — somewhere, Michael Carter and Javonte Williams are still running — but one thing's clear: it's not going to be great.

French can do a better job breaking down the Xs and Os, but it doesn't take a schematic savant to see it breaking down last Saturday. Defensive tackles were blown backwards, linebackers moved with an utter lack of confidence and poor, poor Tyler Matheny was asked to make plays in space. Everyone outside of Jermaine Waller and Dorian Strong — who made a nice play to force one of the Heels' three punts — was a complete disaster. There are reasons to hope it gets better (getting players back healthy and in shape being the biggest), but right now hope is nothing to count on.

No, for the first time in modern program history, Virginia Tech will succeed by scoring. A lot.

This isn't asking an offense to carry the load in a way they're not prepared for. The unit has dominated their competition thus far, blowing opponents off the line, mowing down defensive backs with 314 lb freaks and generating chunk plays at will. The Hokies are tied for third in the country in 30+ yard plays (13 in three games), tied for sixth in 40+ yard plays (seven) and tied for second in plays over 50 yards (five).

This is an explosive, dangerous attack. Khalil Herbert leads the country in rushing yards per game by over 12 yards. He averages over 10 per carry, and once again reminded folks that his first two games were anything but a fluke:

That's on third and eight. Third and eight! Herbert is a threat every time he touches the football, which is why you have to wonder why he doesn't touch it more at the beginning of games.

In his three career starts since his transfer to Tech, Herbert has totaled just seven first quarter carries. Three in the opener against NC State, three against Duke and just one (1) in the opening frame vs North Carolina. And though the offensive staff identified a schematic weakness against the Carolina front (specifically utilizing Braxton Burmeister in the QB run game, as French noted this week) it doesn't take a genius to point out the problem. When you're playing an opponent who's threatening to boat race you, you might want to give your best player — who, again, averages 10 yards per carry — more than a single touch.

(cuts to everyone slowly turning their heads to look at Brad Cornselsen)

This is a make-or-break season for the Hokie offensive brain trust, but not in the traditional way where fans sharpen pitchforks any time Tech fails to muster a few touchdowns. Team success is now dependent on Cornelsen's group to score with regularity and vigor, and the margin for error is razor thin.

To his credit, Cornelsen is the mastermind behind this improved attack. Yes, the offensive line improved and Adam Lechtenberg found an elite running back, but they're put in positions to succeed by the person who calls the plays. And it's that person's job to make sure they're in those positions on every single possession.

This isn't a normal year, where 31 points mixed with a series of stalled drives will be enough to come out with a W. The Hokies found themselves in an impossible hole in Chapel after these five series:

UNC: 11 plays, 75 yards, TD

VT: 3 plays, 7 yards, PUNT

UNC: 5 plays, 83 yards, TD

VT: 3 plays, 6 yards, PUNT

UNC: 7 plays, 66 yards, TD

Two three-and-outs lead to the Tar Heels drumming up a 21-point lead and never looking back. These are the kinds of mistakes that can't happen. This is how thin the line is between a fourth quarter competition and a total blowout. The defense — assuming Divine Deablo comes back healthy and the UNC game was their rock bottom schematically — will have its ups and downs. But they can only afford these growing pains because their counterpart on the other side of the ball will lift them up.

It may seem unfair to highlight two three-and-outs as an example of the failure of an offensive coordinator — they did, after all, put up 45 points and nearly 500 yards. And in a vacuum, it is unfair. Corn can't control a dropped pass by Tre Turner or Burmeister not making a man miss in the open field. But you know what's in his control? The players who get the ball.

This is Tech's first snap: a poorly blocked play that Herbert turns into a five yard gain. This happens because Herbert is a really good running back. The Heels commit to stopping the outside run, they succeed in getting into the backfield, and Herbert wins the battle vs a linebacker. This shows what talent can do to alleviate scheme, it wins when things break down.

As you may have seen above, this was also Herbert's only carry of the quarter. The person who hands him the ball here, Burmeister, had five for an average of 3.8 yards per attempt. Again, it doesn't take much calculus to see how inefficient Tech's strategy of attacking a weakness was.

The first Hokie touchdown came in large part due to a game breaking play by Turner, taking a simple screen pass and weaving his way through the secondary for 36 yards.

The second half comeback started when James Mitchell climbed over a defensive back, tipped the ball to himself and broke away for 57 yards. And after Brian Johnson's sublime onside kick, the Hokies were back in the game after Herbert's 51 yard touchdown run.

Those are talented players making plays with the ball in their hands. It's not a luxury the Hokies have had in quite some time, but Cornelsen has a quiver full of weapons at his disposal. All he needs to do is figure out how to get the ball in their hands and get out of the way.

Which brings us to the final piece of this "don't f*ck this up" puzzle. The Hokies have the ultra rare benefit of having three starting-caliber quarterbacks on their roster. One can Tebow his way through a QB power (Quincy Patterson), one has proven his ability to operate the zone read game with lethal effectiveness (Burmeister) and one can actually throw the ball.

Hendon Hooker is this team's starting quarterback. It became apparent on October 5th, 2019 and hasn't become any less obvious since. And though he missed the first two games of the season, Burmeister's lack of success throwing the ball down field made it clear that Hooker is QB1, and can take this attack to a whole new level.

Clear, at least, to almost everyone. After playing coy for weeks, and refusing to play Hooker much in the first half in Chapel Hill, Fuente finally reaffirmed Hooker's place on top of the depth chart. Would four quarters of Hooker have made a difference in the game against the Heels? Maybe not. But it quickly became clear how much even the remote threat of a deep ball opened up the entire offense, and Tech scored 31 of their 45 points after the official QB change.

These are the types of things that can't happen if Fuente wants to succeed in 2020. His offense has everything they need to prop up their defensive counterparts, but the coaches can't get in the way. If the, how could they not see what was right in front of their face? What part of Burmeister's 46% completion percentage made them think they had found a new man for the job?

And if Herbert is one of the best playmakers in college football, why would you actively choose to not give him the ball when trying to establish the tone against a top ten opponent?

This is not the time for Cornelsen to play chess against himself. While it's a radical oversimplification to say an OC's role is to make sure he gets the ball into his best players' hands, but between Herbert, Turner, Mitchell, Tayvion Robinson, Raheem Blackshear and Nick Gallo, the Hokies have a plethora of players to create dynamic chunk plays. Teams across all levels of football are putting up points at a record pace, and Tech needs to do the same.

For the first time ever, the Hokies are an offensive team. They have the players they need at every position to put up points. The ability to do so in bunches. The coaches need to make sure they don't get in the way.

Comments

A great read this morning...thanks, Brian!

Preach!!! Nicely done.

The Hokies have the ultra rare benefit of having three starting-caliber quarterbacks on their roster. One can Tebow his way through a QB power (Quincy Patterson), one has proven his ability to operate the zone read game with lethal effectiveness (Burmeister) and one can actually throw the ball.

Admittedly I'm old-fashioned but I feel like if a QB can't throw he's not really starting caliber. That seems pretty important in the job description of a QB. They have 3 QBs that are useful but only one that is good enough to be a regular starter absent injuries.

If you were truly old fashioned you would want the quarterback to option the halfback or the fullback and never throw a forward pass.

And if one is really, really old fashioned, they should think the forward pass should be illegal!

Recovering scientist working in business consulting

Calm down there Tubberville

(add if applicable) /s

QBs should throw no more than 15 times a game and they should all be deep shots. The rest of the offense should be fullback and halfback dives. Make it 1976 through science or magic.

Urban Meyer won multiple championships with single wing-minded quarterbacks limited in the passing attack. They did also have a ton of playmakers around them.

A beautiful example of this is Dwayne Haskins he was brilliant in that system but outside it struggles big time though maybe we can cut him some slack as he is playing for WFT.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

Amen to all of this! Well done. Three observations:

1. Tyrod is, and will always be one of my favorite Hokies. Great talent, pure class.

2. UNC punted 3 times? Must have missed at least one of those punts after storming off in disgust after one of their 75 yard TD drives.

3. Run the damn ball

Great write up. I got some dust in my eye during the Tyrod portion. I love that guy.

Proud author of one plaid comment.

I think the hard part is we've always been able to mentally rely on "next man up" for the defense and grind out results. But never once in my fanhood have I thought, "yeah we'll be ok with our OC". Its a striking change

VB born, class of '14

We really need the defense to mimic that 9K St defense from like 8 years ago (the year they only lost to Iowa St after that airplane crash shook stillwater), where the defense largely sucked by every metric except for take aways. Get a few and change the game.

This is well put, and the Tyrod part hurts. Would be nice if they had the 4 game redshirt rule back then. Anyway, let's 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

Anyway, let's go

HOKIES!

Ut Prosim Ad Dei Gloriam

I feel like this should be what happens when we don't have GIFtory (albiet a couple more GIF's instead of videos of the nice things) - at least a couple nice things to look at and then pine away for GIFtory the next week.

The proud "V" in Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University spelled out in chest paint.
North Endzone @ 03 Miami.

Excellent article per usual but:

second most famous alum in program

Nah son, he's third. Bruce Smith and Mike Vick all day over Tyrod.

Beamer? Bruce Arians?

Proud author of one plaid comment.

For anybody outside of VT fans I would have a hard time believing they know Bruce Arians was at VT at any point

That's probably true, but I'm just thinking about name recognition with the average football fan.

I wonder if the average fan associates Tyrod with VT or if he is just the guy you bring in to play a few games before your shiny new draft pick takes over.

Proud author of one plaid comment.

Kam too. And if you go beyond football, Homer Hickam.

Recovering scientist working in business consulting

Yeah or the Fullers and the Edmunds. I hear those names every Sunday while we're watching the red zone, occasionally followed by some mention of VT.

But if the challenge is "say a name that will make people think of VT football" I'd start with Beamer, Foster, Vick.

Proud author of one plaid comment.

More people know Kam Chancellor over Tyrod as well

Recruit Prosim

We really need Blackshear to flip a switch. As much as we want Herbert to run the ball every down, he just can't. Or at least it isn't responsible for him to if we want him to make it to the end of the season.

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

Why not? He hardly gets touched. Seems like half his touches are just wind sprints into the end zone

Recruit Prosim

It's kind of amazing. He doesn't seems that fast or shifty. He just calmly runs just out of reach of whoever is closest to him.

Proud author of one plaid comment.

It really goes to show how important vision is. To my eye, he's not doing anything fancy out there (in terms of juking or breaking tackles), just finding the optimal path through the defense to get as many yards as possible.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Jet Sweep

Yeah. I've always understood that as it relates to guys finding the right hole in the line or the cutback lane, but then you're in the open field where you need juke or spin or outrun or run over guys. He doesn't seem to need any of that.

I didn't really understand what guys meant when they talked about patience at RB until Le'Veon Bell. Now I realize I didn't fully understand vision either until KMFH.

Proud author of one plaid comment.

It's vision, following blocking, patience for the hole to develop, taking the right angles etc

Recruit Prosim

Great article as always!

Watch #44 for UNC on the Tre Turner TD if you enjoy things like three opposing players tackling one another trying to get the ball carrier.

hell of a cut block by UNC's #1 to cut off pursuit

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)..

Thank you so much. And it is hard for me to find more resonating words than this:

"also of note: this is all with bryan stinespring as offensive coordinator. i understand this won't mean much to most of you, but if you know a va tech fan, see what happens when you say his name."

Any young folks out there who are questioning Brad C's ability - which is perfectly reasonable to do, I'm not saying he is even close to perfect - man you should be thankful you never watched Stinespring.

Recovering scientist working in business consulting

And if Herbert is one of the best playmakers in college football, why would you actively choose to not give him the ball when trying to establish the tone against a top ten opponent?

This.

These pretzels are making me thirsty.

and herein lies my biggest gripe with the offense from last Saturday. Yes, we put up 500+ yards and 45 points. Yes, that should be enough against most opponents. But why the actual f%&* did Herbert only get one carry in the first Quarter? That blows my mind. I'm really happy that this offense can be potent and I do like a lot of what this staff has done. But it just infuriates me that Cornelson outsmarts himself so often.

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller

Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!

Remember when that Brent Williams guy would keep our two best players on the bench until the under 16 timeout? Is Corny doing the equivalent with Herbert in the first quarter? Try to stay standing with one hand tied behind your back in the hopes that the defense will be just a little more tired by the time you hit em with the haymaker?

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 narrative seems a bit hasty. It was a couple three and outs to start the game and two of those six plays should have been receptions for first downs.

Brent.....what a jack wagon.

JP

I believe this is part of it, with the other part being that they were daring us to pass. But yeah, if you know your defense is going to be the weak link it wouldn't surprise me that they had planned to use Herbert heavy in the second half.

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

Brent strategy generally worked pretty well keeping those players on the bench, the numbers showed by be able to observe the flow of the game for the first 3-4 minutes, they were a lot more productive then when they had been starters.

So not a good example.

Great write up. Feed the hot hand from the first minute to the last

Recruit Prosim

That is a good way to burn out a running back though. I would feel much better if Blackshear or Holston started stepping up a bit more in relief.

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

In fairness, Holston has had 6 carries for 9 yards per attempt, I am not so sure that's on him.

@hokie_rd

Based solely on limited carries this season, I thought Holston looked like he should be number 2.

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

Great read. Bomani's comments about Tyrod hit home so effing hard.

Twitter me

That full thread on Tyrod was so painful to read. I'm not sure I've ever seen a QB get screwed over and mistreated quite like he did in 2017 by the Bills... as he led them to their first playoff appearance in 18 years despite them literally punting on an entire game (the Peterman start agains the Chargers and the worst half of a football any QB has ever played).

I will stop before I get too angry over the past. This is a great article Brian. I think what every VT fan is hoping for is that once the defense gets healthy and back on the field with some depth that we can at least be serviceable and with a potentially dominant offense, that will be enough. We will see.

So question - Corny will call the plays, but how much of personnel decision in the play is up to Corny? He could've called a running play, but if the RB coach puts in Blackshear, then is it really Cornys fault?

I agree you can argue that the play calling to have more QB runs than RB runs will come down to OC calls, but I doubt (as it has been done in the past) that the OC can tell the RB coach which RB to put-in. My understanding is that it's the discretion of Adam to do that.

(Not that i'm hating on Adam, but isn't that just reality?)

My understanding was that Burmeister is running a lot of option plays because that's what he's best at. If the defense crashes on Herbert, the correct read is for Burmeister to keep it. Does this explain why Burmeister got more carries than Herbert in the first quarter?

I know that this was a problem in Urban Meyer's offense. JT Barret has more carries than their star running backs in many games because the defense was content to let Barret make that read all day.

This is precisely what happened. The read called for the QB to keep so that's what BB did. Unfortunately, that's what's going to happen when BB is lined up behind center.

To have early success, the opposing D is going to at least have to respect our ability to pass, and we need to have some designed off tackle plays where we let Khalil do his thing. It can't be all option because the Ds are going to key the RB and force the QB to keep on most plays.

So it's not really a case of "Corny doesn't want to give Herbert the ball!!!" and more just the defense tried to take Herbert away and the plays responded to what the defense was doing.

Great write-up! One thing I thought of while reading is that with C-19 (shortened season, no eligibility loss, etc) this was going to be sort of a throw-away year anyway - so maybe the coaches are just trying out different things to see how they work in games situations(...?). But then I remembered that UNC was a Top Ten opponent and not a scrub team, that there was still a lot on the line for the season, AND that some of these explosive players/O-linemen may leave after this season, and found myself where I was prior to reading all of this: 100% aligned with what Marcolini says in this article. We have a beast, so let's FEED him early and often. And when he is resting we still have a lot of capable and consistent playmakers (Mitchell, Blackshear, et al).

And is it just me, or has Jalen Holsten (in the few snaps he's seen) looked a little bigger and more capable this year?

But then I remembered that UNC was a Top Ten opponent and not a scrub team, that there was still a lot on the line for the season, AND that some of these explosive players/O-linemen may leave after this season

This times a thousand. I commented on the Hooker thread about NFL possibilities. I don't know how much of this offense comes back next year. If Hooker gets a good draft grade, he may go. Turner? Mitchell? Herbert? the OLine? This season might be it for Corny and Fu to get a shot at the ACC title, and possibly go into next year on rebuild mode.

The awareness should have been there in the first half. The "oh shit, UNC will be scoring at will, we gotta do something", adjustment never happened in the first quarter/half. Yes, Hooker played a 3 and out series, but the coaches waited til halftime to make adjustments. We were already in a 21 pt hole, and we were not getting out.

And props to Strong, he played well on Saturday, even though he was in a tough spot. I can't help but think on the one dropped pass by Newsome, if he had just a step, it was a pick 6 the other way.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

I assume:

Herbert - gone regardless, RBs have short shelf life and might as well try and get paid now.

Mitchell - if he keeps it up, wouldn't be surprised if he jumped to NFL based on Keene going third round

Oline - Darrisaw probably, and maybe Smith or Hoffman?

Unless Tre has a massive statistical jump the rest of the season, hard to see him making the jump this year

Man, that's a depressing way to look back on a 4 year career that consisted of 4 10 win seasons and 3 ACC championships.

While not getting Herbert the ball early is frustrating, I think if we as a fan base are going to get frustrated with our offense while it's ranked 7th in the nation at scoring with 42.7 a game and 14th in the nation with yards per game, then we need to reevaluate. There are going to be drives where we don't score, I know that's a crazy thought, but it's going to happen. This past game, 3 of them happened to be the opening dives. The problem wasn't that we didn't score on the first 3 drives, the problem is we gave up TDs on their first 3. We can sit here and pick apart each drive we don't score, but that's just not being realistic.

Gobble Till You Wobble

The problem wasn't that we didn't score on the first 3 drives, the problem is we gave up TDs on their first 3.

I have a mild disagreement with this. It should be obvious that our D was more likely to be a liability this year with the staff turnover plus losing Farley plus all the rest of our DB's catching the 'rona. The offense needs to carry the team. It can't get shut out for entire quarters of football. The frustrating part for me is that it happened in the 1st quarter which means we probably didn't plan well enough and definitely didn't execute well enough.

Proud author of one plaid comment.

Right I get that aesthetically, having our worst 3 drives being at the beginning of the game, is not pleasing. However, the bigger picture is how many drives we don't score on overall during the course of the game. The bigger issue isn't when you put up the points, it's that you put up enough points that should win you the game.

Gobble Till You Wobble

It's not just aesthetics though. Your first few drives are usually pre-scripted based on what you think the other team will do and how you can hurt them. When we lay an egg in the first quarter it makes me worry that our assessment of our opponent and our strategy of attack are flawed before kick off.

Even though we adjusted in-game and found success we couldn't catch up because of our slow start.

Proud author of one plaid comment.

Thats not why you prescript the first 10 plays or so. You script the first few plays to observe how they've decided to gameplan your offense and various formations and then make adjustments and decisions based upon those observations. You also use those plays to set up deviations of those plays for later in the game, such as play actions. Do you hope you also have success with the scripted plays? Yes, but thats not their main purpose.

Gobble Till You Wobble

Well then I'll aim more of my concern at the strategerists on the defensive side of the ball.

Proud author of one plaid comment.

We knew the defense was going to be more of a liability but let's not pretend for one second that we thought they would be that horrendous. I mean, we have proof. Go back and look at the comments on those threads prior to the UNC game.

I did not expect the defense to be THAT horrendous. I did expect that we're going to need our offense to bail out our defense frequently this year and to a greater degree against better competition. They weren't able to in the first quarter against UNC.

Proud author of one plaid comment.

I'd give credit where credit is due, UNC is a top 10 team right now. When we got an offense at full strength after halftime, we played like one, too. Which, then comes our disappointment with last Saturday.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

While not getting Herbert the ball early is frustrating, I think if we as a fan base are going to get frustrated with our offense while it's ranked 7th in the nation at scoring with 42.7 a game and 14th in the nation with yards per game, then we need to reevaluate.

we're at the point with the offense where we had been with the defense, which is what i think the whole point of Brian's piece is -- it's not just "how good are we relative to everyone else", but the conversation is also "how good are we relative to how good we could be".

Bud is arguably the best DC ever in college football and fans still got mad when a mobile QB got his

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Well then the equivalent of this argument is that Bud should have practically pitched a shutout every game and I would have disagreed with that too. Expecting our offense to be averaging 50 points a game is unrealistic expectations.

Gobble Till You Wobble

Expecting our offense to be averaging 50 points a game is unrealistic expectations.

Sure, that's fair. However, when it's obvious that the offense needs to put points up to win, or the defense needed to hold the other offense to two or fewer touchdowns to win, it's easy to become very frustrated with obvious deficiencies, and doubly so when it seems easily fixable from a playcalling or game-plan perspective. Something as simple as "let's get another designed run or two for Herbert called".

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

True, there's always room for improvement. I'd always love to score more points. But, 3 games into the season, I think being frustrated with our offensive scheme with the success we've had is a bit of an overreaction.

Gobble Till You Wobble

Good point about mobile quarterbacks but UNC game would be equivalent to Bud/Stiney losing a game 3-7 and complaining about the busted play that led to 7 instead of acknowledging the elephant in the room that the offense never crossed midfield once except for the gifted field position left by a defensive turnover.

The Hokie fanbase doesn't know how to not criticize the offense after years of not having one.

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

sure -- given the circumstances on defense, it's difficult to "blame" them though.

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

If blame is needed, I am definitely blaming the defense in this one. But I acknowledge what an incredible tough spot the defense, and whole team really, is in with this wacky season. Those proven guys on defense have to figure out how to make plays again, soon.

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

are you saying JHam gets a pass?

i get that

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

It's refreshing to see us playing in the Big 12 this season, anti-Beamer football

Wow, all this and not one Pogo reference? "Yep, son, we have met the enemy and he is us" Someone should make up a drawing of Fuente looking in a mirror reflection of Cornelson with Fuente saying that. It would pretty well sum up this whole article.

The LewDew, Professional Golf Bum

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TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

I've noticed how as our defense and offense have gone in opposite directions my expectations for winning change.

I used to think that if the offense scored 24, VT would win 9/10 times. If/when the offense scored less than that in a loss it was the offenses "fault".

When Fuente got here and said he'd take the onus off the defense, that expectation shifted to 30+ points to win 9/10 times.

Now that the defense and offense have seemingly switched places, it is now more of if the offense breaks 40 we should win 9/10 times and if we break 40 and lose it is the defenses "fault".

Sucks that VT never got to enjoy a top 25 Fuente offense with a top 25 defense when keeping Foster around.

Yes,that's the Hokie Bird riding a camel. Why'd you ask?

score more points to win...I like this strategy! /s

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

Sucks that VT never got to enjoy a top 25 Fuente offense with a top 25 defense when keeping Foster around.

We were close in 2016. By the end of 2016 I was super excited for what could be. Then 2017 happened. And then 2018 happened. And then, by the end of 2019 I lost faith in Corn/Fu. Now with the way our offense has started out in 2020 I'm so confused by the production that I don't know what to think. Our defensive issues don't have me jumping for joy, however. This is going to be a weird season with COVID and no matter what happens Fuente will get a pass. On the one hand I'm glad the offense is finally looking like a real threat. On the other, I'm upset it took this long and I'm scarred by seasons' past so I won't believe that it's truly a good offense until the end of the season gets here and they're still producing at these levels. But with how atrociously bad our defense is, it might not matter that much if we have the best offense in the country. We might still lose some games to other teams with beating hearts on offense (UNC showed it can be done, I fully expect Clemson to drop 50+ on us, Miami could certainly follow UNC's blueprint...)

So if by the end of this season our offense ranks in the top 20 or, dare I say, top 10 but our defense falls out of the top 60 or so then essentially the roles will have been reversed. Then what? We'll all have the same complaints of Fuente that we had of Beamer, just on defense instead of offense. If our offense really is good though, at least they'll be fun to watch. So there's that.

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller

This is a good starting point for a fun crowd sourcing exercise: If we believe we have a Top 20 Offense, what would WE suggest we d on defense this year to maximize our chances of winning? Play head coach for a minute and tell us how you would manage the offense and defense from a philosophical standpoint?

Do you slow down, run and burn clock to protect your defense?
Would you play softer zones to keep everything in front of the DBs?
Play aggressive defense and hope the offense can bail you out like the ALMOST did at UNC?

Who do you trust to do what best? Go!

This is a great thought experiment and hindsight is certainly 20/20. Especially looking at the UNC game.

But if I knew that our offense was good and was going to score points and my defense was a liability how I would play each game would depend on each separate opponents SWOT analysis.

Against teams that have great defense and questionable, at best, offense, I wouldn't be so worried about eating up clock or getting lots of points. I would want the offense to play deliberately and try to win the field position battle at the least. Defensively, I would play a more conservative shell style defense, trying to keep stuff in front. If the offense I'm going up against hasn't demonstrated that they're a real threat then I'll sit back and wait for them to make mistakes to give the ball back to my offense.

Against teams that have a poor defense and a strong offense I would play a conservative style of offense, use as much clock as possible and make the most of the plays we have. Limit the other team's possessions and try, again, to win the field position battle at the least. Defensively I would probably play more aggressively on the early downs, trying to make a play that gets them behind the chains. On the later downs I'll play a simpler more conservative approach to keep the ball in front of the defense and hope for the best.

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller

Well written and informative article.

a quarterback who hasn't suited up for the Hokies in more than a decade.

.... Fuck.

Why did this just hit me like that.

Actually it looks like Herbert might have broken a huge gain on that first play if Gallo could have engaged the LB. UNC had safeties behind the play still but we saw Herbert had the ability to make those guys miss and go the distance later in the game.

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

This is only tangentially related, but per SP+ that 2009 Nebraska defense was #2 in the country and one of the top 10 best defenses in the past dozen years or so. #1 that year? Alabama, who we also played. We also played #15 UNC, #16 Miami, #17 Tennessee, #21 BC, and #30 UVA. We were #12 in SP+ on offense- the offensive jump happened a year earlier than people realize, the schedule was just brutal and people didn't recognize it because the ACC cannibalized itself that year and because VT hit a mid-season funk.

I agree generally with all of the points made in the article critiquing the offense against UNC. I was yelling these exact things at my TV that afternoon. However, on the other hand, it does feel silly to expect the offense to be nearly perfect and complain about top 25 offenses, especially when a fair bit of the issues were with execution and not the personnel/play calling decisions.

2009 was a low key very strong year in the ACC and we played one of our toughest OOC's (maybe THE toughest) ever with Bama and Nebraska. It makes the season RMFW had even more insane in context.

As a die hard Hokies fan...I also happen to be a Steelers fan. I haven't missed a game whether in person or on tv for either team since I was a youngster in the early 90's. Herbert is the closest thing to leveon bell I've seen....and its damn near identical the way they run. Patience, letting the hole open up, cutting at just the right time...Herbert is the real deal and I hope he gets many many more touches early in these games. If he can become a weapon in the passing game like bell we could be unstoppable offensively. Let's go!!!

HokieHighVPI03

Let's Go Hokies today. Steelers tomorrow!!!

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