Tuesday Morning Second Guess: I Think You Will Hate Me.

Welcome to this edition of my ramblings and other nonsense. I am not going to have the bandwidth to do a deep drill down on the play by play of the game, however I wanted to share some high level observations of the game. First off, it was great to see the Hokie offense deliver a fantastic performance in the most adverse of conditions, however, given the euphoria of the dramatic nature of the win , I have a feeling some of these may rub some folks the wrong way. I want to be positive, but while I was thrilled with the win, there are some things that deeply concern me coming out of the game.

First off though, lets have a little sweet with the sour.


1) Logan Thomas: LT3 proved that he has all the physical tools to be the best pocket passing QB at Virginia Tech since Jim Drukenmiller. He has the arm, he has the athleticism to have the footwork that is required to be an accurate passer, and he has the intelligence to call audibles at the line. He was much more accurate this week, and SIGNIFICANTLY quicker getting the ball out of his hands. He hit receivers in stride, and he had good pocket presence. Hopefully he can continue to develop that talent.

2) Offensive Identity: Last week, my column focused on the lack of offensive identity. This week, we saw Mike O'Cain gravitate towards the shotgun/zone read scheme that is the most similar to the system that LT3 ran in high school. It allows the Hokies to get their full compliment of receivers on the field, and it creates seams for David Wilson through spacing. Everyone apppeared to be comfortable, and when the Hokies chose to get back under center, it served as a change up rather than a guiding principle for the entire series.

3) Logan Thomas in the running game: LT3 still has some work to do on the zone read, but he is getting better, and on the biggest play of the season, he made the right choice.

4) Mixing up the zone/read series: The Hokies had exhibited limited counters to their standard zone/read option series to date, but Saturday they effectively utilized a zone/read with counter action, a sweep (which was effective against Clemson), and most excitingly, A SPEED OPTION TO THE TAILBACK SIDE! That speed option is critical to the success of the series, as both Miami and Clemson started to shift to the strong side (away from the tailback) because other than swing pass to the TB side, the entire Hokie offense moved east to west away from the tailback alignment. The speed option play back to the tailback side, as well as the delay weakside counter, makes the defense stay honest, which opens more space for the regular read play. Also, O'Cain effectively used play action off the zone read, which is incredibley tough for a defense to defend unless they can stop the run only using their front four.

5) Offensive Line: The OL had an excellent game. Chris Drager, Blake DeChristopher, and Greg Nosal were other-worldly, especially in the zone/read scheme.

6) Mike Branthover: We need to see more, but even the 32 yard punt showed better leg than 90 % of Delmers kicks this year. Props to Frank Beamer for showing confidence in a freshman in a tough spot.

7) Derrick Hopkins. Watching the game and what I could of the video in round 2, Derrick Hopkins played an outstanding game against an excellent Miami line, but he got worn down. More on this later.

8) Bruce Taylor. Also outstanding. I wish they utilized Taylor more in the blitz. Unfortunately, Taylor was limited in the second half because the entire left side of the Hokie defensive line was in his lap the whole game.

9) Kyle Fuller: Outstanding open field tackling.

10) Wide Receiver Core: No drops. Jarrett Boykin actually tried to block people. DJ Coles continues to blossom, and Danny Coale was Danny Coale. To me, those three guys along with Drager and Wilson should be the Hokies base offense from here on out. Some folks commented that Davis had a good game, but to me, he is a step behind the other three guys right now.


1) DEFENSIVE LINE DEPTH: You know what? Corey Marshall played his ass off Saturday. Litterally. Simple physics took over and when good 300 collides with good 260, good 300 eventually wins. The lack of effective defensive line play again exposes the poor defensive recruiting in the front seven prior to 2010, especially at defensive tackle. The Hokie defense can only work if both defensive tackles can either effectively stunt to draw blocking or hold their gap. By the end of the game, Marshall, Prince, and Hamlette were being driven 3-4 yards off the ball every play, which didn't allow the linebackers to escape. Maddy was even worse (yes, I know he was dinged up.) I kept thinking to myself that if they put Nick Acree into that spot with the instructions "DON'T GO BACKWARDS" being his only assignment, Miami doesn't run for half the yardage in the second half. Tyrell Wilson also ran his tail off the entire game, but in the second half he was a complete liability against the run. It is no coincidence that the Hokies got a stop when Duan Perez-Means was in for Wilson, and then Wilson came back in after the Collins penality. If the Hokies have ANY hope of beating any of the power running teams left on the schedule, the Hokies must get Perez-Means or McCray to play starter snaps at stud end, and they must find a way to control the AHopkins gap at defensive tackle. People will laugh, but with so much offensive line depth, Nick Acree is playing defense the rest of this season. You can't teach his size and strength.

2) Miami was REALLY bad defensively: Watching the game, I had no clue what Miami was doing on defense. Their defensive backs seemed like they were watching the plays develop before reacting. The blitzes came from odd angles and were slow developing. The defensive line had horrendous leverage and gap control. It almost seemed like Al Golden watched the Clemson film and then decided to do the opposite of everything Clemson did to take Logan Thomas out of his comfort zone. On some of the zone reads, the Miami D would have 3 and 4 unblocked players close to the ball, yet none seemed to have that extra zip to make a tackle. I want to believe that the Hokies were just that dominant offensively, but it looked like Miami helped them out.

3) Logan Thomas ball security- Two series, Logan was WAY too lackadasical withhis ball handling, resulting in an almost-fumble and a risky throw away to avoid the sack. That series, coupled with the Thomas fumbled snap, kept Miami in the game. Again, he is a work in progress.

4) Enter Sandman: Yes, the scene was incredible. Yes, people were jumping up and down. Yes, ESPN was thrilled with the dramtatic scene. Nevertheless, I thought that pumping Enter Sandman into the stadium during the last Miami timeout was 100% bush league. Given the Hokie TD drive and the dramtatic nature of the game, the stadium should have been rocking anyway. Pumping in the music to try to create more noise was something that UVA, West Virginia, and the NBA would do. It just seemed low rent.

5) Antone Exum: For a guy who will be our starting free safety for the next two and a half years, he has to be better at locating the ball. In every game this season, we have seen him in coverage with his back to the QB. The Hokies safeties have always been guys who could get picks. Antone needs to develop this part of his game, or they need to develop a new free safety and move him back to rover.

6) Whip Backer: I know Tweedy made some plays on the blitz and from the backside, but he just doesn't win battles at the point of attack. If the Hokies are going to be this limited opposite of DHop at DT, they have to get run supporters from the linebackers and safety that can win battles at the point of attack. I suggested that Telvion Clark and Chase Williams get a look at that spot, or perhaps that Bud Foster adjust his 50 defense look (three DTs, whip, mike, backer, nickle, and DBs) with Tweedy-Taylor-Edwards-Clark at the linebacker spots. Also, we KNOW Jack Tyler and Barquell Rivers can play. Can Edwards move outside and get one of them to help the run?

Now, on to play a tough Wake Forrest team. No let down in Winston Salem.

DISCLAIMER: Blog posts may not have been written or edited by The Key Play staff.


Branthover: if his second punt had been caught rather than take the bad bounce it would have been more like a 40-yarder. Either way he's still better than Demler.
Enter Sandman: I thought it was perfectly timed to keep the energy up during the timeout. Plus, you've seen the pictures of Al Golden shitting himself during it, right? TOs always lower the energy/noise level a bit, unless you do something like that.

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Thanks Frank!

I just can't on board with Enter Sandman. Crowd noise, the band... those things are part of playing the game. Using a loud PA to pump in noise, that just doesn't feel right. Given the situation, the place should have (and would have) been rocking even without the extra noise.

Perhaps I am just nostalgic for the Hokies getting 15 tackles for a loss each game playing the wide-tackle six and hearing the Empire Strikes Back theme song every time.

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Old School

What in the hell happened to the Imperial March? I fondly remember it playing up until about 2003, then poof, never to be heard by me again.

As far as Sandman goes, I'm a traditionalist too, but after being in Lane for Georgia Tech last year and hearing the final minutes of Miami on TV I am softening my position. With that said, I agree, we should be loud with or without Sandman rallying us. Our fans are smart enough to blow it out for Miami's final drive.

Furthermore, as a traditionalist it aggravates me to no end when I hear Sandman played during basketball games. It's not a Virginia Tech thing, it's a Virginia Tech football thing. The tradition was (is) special because it happened 5-7 times a year in the fall, that's it. The more we play it, the more overused it becomes and therefore in my opinion the less special it is. Hokies are smart enough to come up with unique traditions for every sports team.

Imperial March

"What in the hell happened to the Imperial March? I fondly remember it playing up until about 2003, then poof, never to be heard by me again."

Not sure what you're talking about. The band still plays the Imperial March ALL the time. 2003? Dude, I was in the band from 2007-2010 and yeah, we played it plenty. You won't necessarily hear it at every game, but it's still in the stand tunes repertoire.

I will defer to you.

I'm sure it has to do with some combination of getting old, and imbibing bourbon before the games, but I honestly cannot remember hearing it since I was a student. Since you would know better than most, in what situations is it played?

See, I feel that pumping Enter Sandman in was less about adding noise in terms of the sound level of the song, and more about adding noise in terms of everyone losing their shit over it. I agree that it would have been loud during the play without it, but during the time out? Nopers. Would have died down during, and Miami and Al Golden would not have been shitting their pants in terror.

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Thanks Frank!

completely agree

It was a nitrous shot...the fans made it special, nothing like artificial NBA stuff.


If we were deploying it all over the place to create noise out of general quiet, it'd be bush. I think we've done this a few times, and I didn't like it then.

This time, though, it was absolutely perfect. The place had been going nuts pretty much wall-to-wall for the previous 10-15 (actual, not game clock) minutes. Dropping Sandman in there was crowd mania maintenance in a tight spot, not creation.


Hit the nail on the head. Enter Sandman did nothing... the reaction to Enter Sandman did everything.

Watch the video again

The stadium was loud before, during, and after Sandman. If you watch the video again, you'll see you can hardly hear Sandman playing because the crowd was louder than the music. Even those of us in the stadium couldn't hear it, we kept thinking they had turned it off.

Honestly, they could've played Barney and people would've gone nuts. The place was on fire. It was either Sandman or the loudest "LET'S GO"/ "HOKIES" ever.


Totally agree. That last minute rivals many of the loudest moments in Lane Stadium that I've experienced. Enter Sandman just threw more fuel on a fire that was already burning out of control.

For #3 on the positives

About the zone read play at the end of the game, I'm pretty sure LT mentioned in the postgame press conference that it was entirely a designed QB run, he wasn't going to be handing it off no matter what he saw in the defense. Hence why there was such a huge hole he could run through right up the middle.

Logan 3:16

It looked like it, but if so, that was a VERY high risk play, especially with the pulling guard keying the Miami backers to where the play was going.

It is a good thing they didn't read their keys.

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no way williams has

the speed to play whip.
clark or edwards maybe.

is going to be an issue all year.


"My advice to you... is to start drinking heavily."-John Blutarsky

I'd like to see Clark-Taylor-Edwards

or perhaps a 50 look, but with a 3 man DL and Clark-Taylor-Edwards-Tweedy

I don't know where Tyler and Rivers fit, but I know both would start at mike backer on 3/4ths of the teams in the ACC. Taylor being really good doesn't mean you can't find some role for them.

I don't know enough about Williams except that the coaching staff has always been super high on him. I haven't even noticed him on special teams, but they clearly think he will be a starter sometime soon somewhere.

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isn't a 100% physically or weight wise.


"My advice to you... is to start drinking heavily."-John Blutarsky


I think with edwards athleticism and speed he might be a better fit for whip he isnt superior in size to any of the other guys. I dont think clark or tyler are a liability on the field at backer and with williams size I'm not sure he couldn't step in and play some snaps at backer either. I thought he looked like an athlete this spring who can make plays and create some turnovers.

Win one for the Beamer...

If I remember correctly, Taylor played backer and Tyler played the mike in the bowl game. I am not sure who is higher on the depth chart between Rivers and Tyler right now.

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Rivers is number two.

Barquell is listed as Taylor's backup. Bud said at his chalk talk that as long as Rivers and Tyler were producing at the same level Barquell would get the nod because he's a senior.

Tuesday Morning Second Guess

I agree and let me say this before I go further, you are one of many who have been saying and seeing the same thing concerning the D-Line.( What are the coaches seeing?)You must get Duan Perez-Means and Zack Mcray in the mix. These guys have the size and quickness needed to stop the run, as you stated when DPM was in the game the run stopped, not to mention he contained the outside and forced Jacoby Harris to run into J.R. Collins for the sack, also DPM was right on the play when they tried to fake the kick off. I'll say it again move J.R. Collins to D-Tackle and replace him with DPM and or ZM and let these two horses rotate and strenghen the line. We are not taking anything away from T, Wilson but, he is under size and being quick is just not going to get. Go Hokies!!!!!

thanks for the reality check

Good post

A new season...new hope


has anyone heard any recruiting news lately?

Win one for the Beamer...

With our luck, they would land Eddie Goldman (top DT recruit in the country, lives in DC) then talk about how he isn't a "hip bender" and then move him to 4th string offensive tackle for 3 years.

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To be honest, I can't say I would be surprised. That is about the way it seems to go for us. It sure looks like he has SEC written all over him. I cannot get over this whole SEC thing recruits are stuck on. Why pick whoever wins the national championship and go there and sit the bench your whole career (phillip sims). I am so sick of these kids leaving the state or DC and going elsewhere, where is the love? Me and my wife call them SELLOUTS.

Win one for the Beamer...

Question on two-gappers

I just don't know how you scheme around the injuries--seems like the only way to get a front seven full of healthy, starter-quality players would be to run a 2-5 look, and I think even then you'd need a lot of pre-snap movement to cover for undersized linebackers. I was thinking Cornell had 3-4 experience with the Ravens, but I'd forgotten they ran a 4-3 when he was there.

I haven't looked at interior gap assignments at all lately; do we ever have the NT two-gap out of the odd front, or have the Mike two-gap out of base more like a pro 4-3 MLB? Seems like something Hop or Taylor might be able to do on occasion that could get DB-type players out of run fit and make coverage reads easier. It'd be a tweak that'd pay dividends more over the long haul as far as fatigue goes, but it wouldn't be frequent enough to blow up the scheme, and it'd keep us comfortable against spread sets.

Miami didn't defend us any differently than anyone else.

All six defenses we've faced so far have based their entire scheme on reading the run. They might not always have eight in the box on the snap, but as soon as LT extends for a handoff to DW even the water boy on the sideline makes a beeline toward the tailback. Miami was just the first example (hopefully of many) of LT making them pay for it in the passing game.

The idea so far this year among our opponents has been stuff the run and make the Hokies beat you with the pass. It will be interesting to see how opposing D's scheme against us now that VT has proven they can.

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

Clemson and East Carolina defended Logan Thomas much differently than everyone else on the schedule. They ran short zones, taking away the Hokies bubble screens and 6-8 yard comeback routes. Those are the throws that O'Cain goes to early in a game to get LT3 in synch. For whatever reason, Miami played way off the WR's (except for the 1st series of the second half), and their corners and safeties were very slow reacting to passes. Guys were open, and LT3 did a great job of hitting them in stride.

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