Review of Arkansas State Game/Front Seven

After a long drive back to the DC suburbs and a full day of discussing health information technology at the AHRQ Conference, my brain has had some difficulty digesting the game from Saturday. During the game, I found my focus wandering, as I had difficulty watching the offensive line as closely as I do when I watch the game on film. Hence, I am going to do a "post game thoughts" post, and I will follow it up when I have a chance to watch the video of the game.

Watching from the stands, some of the themes I have been concerned about repeated themselves seeing the team in person, yet I continue to be absolutely impressed with the improvement in the defense. I will start reviewing them, and then finish with the offense and special teams. I am hoping that the Hokies coaching staff has been using these first four games as scrimmages and that they are not showing their true offense until Clemson comes to town.

Defensive Line

Again, the Hokie defensive line had a stand out effort, although they did not have as much pressure as a four-man unit as they did against East Carolina. Derrick Hopkins and JR Collins had standout performances making plays from the backside as the Arkansas State offense ran their zone-read play repeatedly at Antoine Hopkins and James Gayle. DHop is absolutely unblockable unless he is doubled, and Collins was freed up to pursue down the line. Collins also delivered the best pass rush from the four man unit.

The backups also had an opportunity to get some snaps. I honestly can say that I did not notice anything remarkable about their efforts, good or bad. I did find myself focusing on Zach McCray and Duan Perez-Means when they each received snaps at right defensive end in the second half. McCray has an All-American build and he made a couple of plays from the backside that proved he could be a star. At the same time, you can see his brain tie up his feet. On two plays, he hesitated, failing to commit to pursuing the dive or staying to play the QB. He got caught in between, and the whip LB had to bail him out. If he learns to trust his teammates and have confidence in his assignments, he will be a star. Perez-Means is a depth guy. He is a nice #4, but he isn't a starting DE on a top ACC squad.


Again, my eyes played tricks on me in person. I know Bruce Taylor had a good game, but I honestly didn't notice. Instead I completely fixated on Tariq Edwards. Man, what a playmaker. The guy flys to the football, and absolutely wrecks people when he gets there. He is perhaps the best blitzing linebacker I have seen in awhile. His only weakness is that I think he may get burned overpursuing at some point, but I have not spotted it yet. JGW, well, he has been much worse than last year, but he got eaten up by a blocker on the opening touchdown. We will see how he looks against a top line running attack. If he is in on a passing down, every starting and backup QB in the ACC should be yelling "BLITZ!" because he didn't drop once into coverage on a clear passing down the whole game.

I am curious as to why we have seen so little of Telvion Clark, Jack Tyler, and Barquel Rivers. I don't like them chewing up Taylor and Edwards against lesser teams. Keep them fresh just like the defensive line.


Although Jayron Hosley was lauded loudly for his outstanding coverage, I think he got away with a couple of pass interference calls besides the one he got nailed on. That will burn the Hokies in a road game at some point in the ACC. He has to be more careful. Fuller got burned once (I would be curious to see if he was jumping the route, or did he think he had help) but he was outstanding blitzing and in coverage. It seemed like they went after Hosley much more than most teams would. I thought Chris Hill was excellent. Exum and Whitley were good again, although I can't remember a "wow" play from either one. I will remark, GET EXUM OFF PUNT RETURN. He has taken 4 penalties on special teams in 3 games, and should have been nailed with another hold that didn't get called. I am sure a second teamer can at least not take a penalty.

Offensive Line

Great pass blocking from all involved, but the experienced group left something to be desired in the run blocking game, especially in short yardage. With the injury to Andrew Lainer, Nick Becton (who I have been a big advocate for the last two years) was so slow off the football that the interior linemen had made contact before his hand came off the ground. When he did get off on the snap count, he played high and got very poor push. That can not be sustained. Andrew Miller also struggled playing without being covered up by a nose tackle, and didn't get many opportunities to pull. He seemed a bit lost.

Still, I think that the offensive concepts of this young season and the poor vision by both tailbacks have made the offensive line look worse. Watching play after play, I saw the OL engage well on the front guys, but the plays took so long to develop secondary guys had time to come up and make plays. 5 can't block 7, much less 8, and the long, delay style runs allow those 8 to read their keys and fly to the line. Where is the off tackle plays? Where are the speed options? And, most importantly, where is the wide stretch play where the interior linemen pull and get a seal ala the old Green Bay sweep? The Hokies started to run quick hitters towards the end of the game, and Wilson/Oglesby seemed to be more effective in those sets.

Running Backs

I continue to be critical of Wilson. Damn, he runs hard, but again his vision just leaves us wanting more. There were clear cutback holes where he could plant and go rather than running to the sideline or trying to run through guys. It doesn't have to be this hard. Also, one of the reasons it seemed like Stinespring and O'Cain "ran off" RW34 and Evans was that they planned to use Wilson in the passing game. Other than one bubble screen, I didn't see Logan Thomas look at Wilson in the passing game.

Wide Receivers/TE

Danny Coale is still open. He should have had around 250 yards. Also, give him the game ball for the block on the DJ Coles TD (which took place right in front of us... great football play.) Coles and Davis have to do a better job of getting open, and Thomas has to find open guys.

Drager has been a good blocker, but they need to figure out how to involve him in the passing game. Martin regressed blocking on goal line plays. Did anyone in the stadium think that George George was going to catch that play action seam route? Those are the balls where you are sure that he will drop it, and he made a play. That gives ACC D-Coordinators something else to think about in short yardage,

Logan Thomas

There were lots of positive things in the paper, but I don't think the stadium felt confident in Logan even when he made plays down the field. He has the arm. He looked more confident than ECU, but the throws are still late and behind guys, especially on the short curl routes that the Hokies ran again and again. Against a talented secondary, those throws scare me. On deep balls, he needs to set his feet and step into the throw. This offseason should be devoted to footwork drills for Logan.

That being said, he has the skillset to be very good, especially when you add his ability to be their power running back. Lets hope he can continue to improve. Oh, Danny Coale is still open.

Kicking game

I watched Demier and the freshman kicking before the game. It isn't close. Get the freshman on the field. He was averaging 10-12 yards more a kick, and more hang time. Demier is maxed out at 40-42 yards with so-so hang time. Unless the freshman is slow taking the snap and getting the ball off, there is no excuse for him not to be on the field. Journall makes me uneasy, Meyer just got another touchback, and Antone Exum just got called for a block in the back.

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


1st quarter second guesses

watching 1st qt now. observations

first Wilson carry of the game, there is a huge hole to cut left, and he cuts right, right into a safety. Boykin's guy made the tackle when he wiffed on the block. Terrible throw way behind Davis on 3rd down, but he was the right guy to throw to on the play.

the long completion, Fuller should not have bit. He had no help over the top, and James Gayle dropping to cover the flat on a zone blitz

they way Collins pursued the RB, I have to think Collins had dive, and JWG/Exum had the QB, but JWG got blocked and Exum didn't react quick enough

great playfake, blocking, and throw by LT3 to Coale

1st and goal, good surge by the OL but Joey Phillips doesn't find the playside backer
2nd down Becton and Drager double the end, who stunted outside. The playsidr whip run blitzes into Becton's hole and makes the tackle on Wilson. Has to be a bust on Becton. Brooks even got the backside LB. Should have been an easy TD
3rd and goal Nosal pulled, the Ark St defender got underneath him and plugged up the hole where the play should have gone. Scales guy dove inside. Wilson could not have bounced it, because Phillips was turning his guy out and he had leverage. Logan has to make a better throw on 4th down, even under pressure.

JWG did a great job of jumping the bubble route on the play that resulted in the safety

2nd down counter with Oglesby, there was an extra guy in the box. Everyone got their block, the RB has to beat the lesser defender.

On the Randall Dunn drop (great play by Thomas), my guy Andrew Miller was totally fooled on the stunt by the defensive tackle.

On the touchdown throw to DJC, LT3 checks out of what looks like a running play to throw the bubble screen. Great recognition by Thomas and a great block by Danny Coale. Logan has looked better on film so far than in person.

Derrick Hopkins is good. Really good. Taykir also had a nice open field tackle on Aplin on a open field rollout. Gayle seems to be getting blocked more even setting up wide than what we saw the first two games.

I love the addition of play action on the veer read option action. Coale made a great catch, but he wasn't open. Nobody was open. How did they not bite?

Becton slow on the snap again on 1st and goal. Mass confusion in the backfield. Eric Martin also looked like he had one of Beer Control's special brews on that play. On 2nd and goal, Becton didn't get off his combo block on the DT to get the second level guy, and his guy tackled Wilson. Miller also combo blocked the other DT, but didnt come off to get the backside backer, who got a hand on Wilson's ankle. Still, would Darren Evans run him over? Would Ryan Williams left him grabbing air on a jump cut? On the TD, great throw to Coale, but boy it looked like it was a potential ball that could be picked.

McCray with a fantastic play pursuing from the backside on 1st down, while AHop fills his gap. Chris Hill has not blown a coverage in 3 games. McCray again gets in the backfield.

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

Poker Face

I also hope that we are playing it smart/sneaky when it comes to our offensive play calling. It seemed that way after the ECU win. Frank had a weird, childish grin, after the game when he was questioned about the offensive performance. Fortunately, Clemson and Miami will have had to lay it all on the line by they time they come to Lane. There should be no surprises. And we saw what Bud was able to do with ECU when he tapped into every aspect of their offense.

I am really excited to see how good this team can be in November. There are definitely obvious flaws, but if we win the Clemson game and really get the momentum rolling we could have another special season. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself though, because Dayummm Clemson looked scary fast at times last weekend.

Watch Becton's blocks at 1:03

I can see the promise the coaches see, now if he only did that all the time.

After watching some of those clips again

The one that really stands out to me is LT's TD pass to Danny Coale (second clip). He really put some touch on that pass and I hope he starts doing more of that sooner rather than later. He seems to be trying to lazerbeam a good number of passes when he really doesn't need too.

Logan 3:16


Totally agree on the touch there. I also liked the pass to George George. Great touch on it, especially when he is throwing to a TE. I think his accuracy has gotten slightly better as he's getting more games under his belt, slightly.

this stands out to me

"I am curious as to why we have seen so little of Telvion Clark, Jack Tyler, and Barquel Rivers. I don't like them chewing up Taylor and Edwards against lesser teams. Keep them fresh just like the defensive line." ... yeah, why is that? They got some work against App State, but nothing since.

thanks for the break down interesting read

A new hope

Great analysis

Linebackers give me a warm and fuzzy right now. Taylor and Tariq could be the most talented LB combo since X and Hall. In my mind, jury's still out on JGW. I saw him blitz the edge on 4 straight plays and get picked up by a blocker every single time. If we're going to succeed blitzing the ball he needs to shed a few of those and disrupt the QB rhythm.

I like how Dunn's getting open but his routes and hands need some work. If we can spring Drager once or twice I'll be a happy camper. Obviously the coaches like him as a 3rd Tackle (rightfully so) but the kid can ball and we need to involve him in the passing game.

2nd quarter second guesses

well blocked first two plays. Good blitz pickup by Wilson, then a solid hook block by DeChristopher on a zone read resulting in Wilson's longest run of the day.

Sprint draw leaves a huge hole, but slow developing allows the safety to come up and Wilson doesn't make him miss or truck him. At the same time, the play was designed for that man to follow the bubble screen fake. He didn't even look at Boykin heading to the flat. (Same action as the Coles TD)

Straight I power play with the fullback going to the weak side doesn't work because the LB's ignore the FB and stay with the tailback. I am thinking that the Hokie coaches should stay away from influence blocking these teams because they stay fixed on Wilson, not the blocking.

1st and 15, none of the OL gets to the second level. All 5 guys look like they are blocking 3 guys. Too slow developing.

D had the swing pass to Wilson dead to rights. No chance there. 3rd down Drager had a DE by himself. DC got the tackle on an outside stunt. The DE stunted in, used the DT to pick Drager, and Brooks (I think) was looking inside and never saw the DE come through his gap. I still have not noticed/spotted Via.

Maddy and Marshall in. Both guys plug their gaps, but not getting off blocks. Collins limping again after another tackle. Did anyone notice that Gayle didn't make a tackle all game long? He is invisible on film this game. T.Wilson in here with McCray. Great tip by Fuller, but no pressure from the kids. Then great coverage by Hill. Have you noticed that the mike and backer are both seemingly being spies and rarely dropping into coverage? Also, no teams yet have tested the short middle of the field in their area, which is odd give how much we were picked on in the short middle and seams last year. (No TE's and Kyle Fuller on the slot guy helps.)

Via in now, for Brooks. First play, he pulled nicely but didn't make good contact with the defender, who made the tackle. Miller is really struggling as a puller versus blocking a nose. Good protection on second. LT3 smokes a high throw to Coale. Get it down. Good blitz pickup by Nosal, but he got pushed into LT3's lap. Next, LT3 hits Boykin on a hot route where an unblocked blitzer stepped in. Good read. LT3 had 250 of his yards by the 7 minute mark of the 2nd. Good push by Via and Miller on the JP 3rd and short dive. 1st down run by Oglesby opens up nicely, after what looks like another LT3 audible. If so good switch. 3rd and short, nobody gets off their combo to get to #40, who fills the hole nicely. GREAT DOWN BLOCK BY DRAGER ON 4th and 1. I'd like to see that off tackle power used more in their every down O. WR sweep is well blocked. Unbalanced off tackle power again, and all Hokies blow the Wolves off the ball. 7 straight runs. THAT IS WINNING FOOTBALL. Via looked good. Wilson hit the hole and finished strong rather than trying to bounce it.

The more tape I watch, the more frustrated I get with the Tech RBs. The Hokie offensive line looks much better when you watch them closely. Almost every play, the RB has one guy to beat that you can't account for, but the RB isn't beating them.

Man, Collins is getting off blocks and DHop is cleaning up, with a linebacker filling behind. This is classic front seven team defensive play. Whitely got suckered on a modified wheel route on 2nd down, and Hosley saved a TD. Great tackle by Hosley on the longer Jackson run. JGW and Gayle both had a chance to tackle him for a loss. AHop blew up the 3rd down. D looked a little tired the next two plays. The blitzes are a step short of getting the QB. DHop and Edwards again blow up another 3rd and short. So far, Fuller, DHop, and Edwards (and Hill in the nickle) make this defense much better.

In general, the D looks better rushing four, mike and backer playing short zones, and man by the corners and safeties.

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


Just saw over at's "Locker Room" section that we'll be wearing the orange lids this weekend. Hope we get better luck with them this time around. GO HOKIES!

"You know when the Hokies say 'We are Virginia Tech' they're going to mean it."- Lee Corso

So we're going to wear them twice this year?

The rumor was they're being paired with the rest of the orange duds for the North Carolina game.

good read

thanks for doing this.


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

Third Quarter review

I apologize for being so slow with this. First defensive series, JR Collins again makes a tackle backside on the running play. It looks like in VT's base D, the backside DE was free to run to the RB on the dive/dive fake, and the whip had full responsibility for the QB if he keeps. I guess that means the first quarter TD run was either on JGW or Exum didn't get there quick enough to help him. Great press coverage by Hosley on Jarboe to prevent Jarboe from doing the ole Mike Irvin push-off at the marker and catch it back-shoulder.

First offensive series, first play Brooks gets beat on a rip move, and LT3 has to throw to Dunn quickly on a check down. If they play had more time, Wilson was wide open on a wheel route down the left sideline. Drager was open on a deep post as well, but when he runs, he looks like he has broken glass under his feet. He isn't going to shake any safeties. Second play is a bit of a "pistol formation" with the TB offset sprint draw. Line blocks well, Brooks pulls and got the linebacker, but again, Wilson didn't make the 8th man in the box (the safety) miss. The slot WR again used the bubble screen action, and the safety ignored it, hence he was in position to make the play, but another 5 yard run that could have been much more. John Bunting just said Wilson "looks like Walter Peyton." Somewhere my Peyton Roo's are rolling over in a dump. 3rd and short, best throw of the day from LT3 to George George. Well blocked. The Hokies have exhibited excellent play action and pass pro out of the "I." 1st and 10, again the Hokies go back to the shotgun on first down. DeChristopher gets whipped inside on a stunt, and then runs into Nosal blocking. DC's man makes the tackle, and Nosal's guy (a blitzing slot corner) cleans up after Nosal gets picked by DC. Ugly. Next play is the QB veer from the shotgun. Nosal turned inside, Becton went with the DE. I think Becton should have gone to the playside backer and left the DE to be the option guy. Still LT3 beat the unblocked backer but barely tripped, turning a 10 yard run into a 4 yard run. On 3rd an 8, Hokies had Wilson going to the flat so no backs to pick up the ArkSt blitz (right backer and right slot corner.) LT3 hits Boykin as his hot read, but nowhere near the first. Good football by the Wolves.

Back to defense, first play Wolves run the fake dive and QB counter. DHop beats the LT blocking down on him and stuffs Aplin for a 3rd loss. If he doesn't make the play, Collins had stayed put that time and was there to make the tackle for no gain along with Eddie Whitley. 2nd down, the Wolves WR makes a nice back shoulder catch with Fuller all over him on an out and up, but Hopkins crushed Aplin again. That is just good football. 1st and 10 in Hokies territory, and Foster brings Edwards and JGW on contain run blitzes. Both meet (along with Collins AGAIN) at the running back for a 3 yard loss. JR Collins is having a game folks. 2nd down, Gayle should have had a sack. He was unblocked. 3rd and long, Foster calls a Fuller blitz, and the flat is wide open. Right playcall versus that defense, and Hosley (who was playing a deep 1/3) saves a much longer run. Next ArkSt bubble screens, and Fuller doesn't get off what looks like a pretty weak block. Good pursuit by both safeties to make the tackle. 2nd and short, and now Zach McCray pulls a Collins, bringing down the dive back from the backside. Ah, but next play, McCray again goes inside after the dive (this time a fake) and Aplin goes outside of him for a big run. I am not sure if McCray let his brain tie up his feet, or if he still had dive and the backer blew his assignment on the QB. 1st down, Edwards flies in and makes the tackle. Wow, big time fill. Why was Lyndell Gibson starting last year? 2nd down, McCray with a slow rip move gets into Aplins throwing lane, and he throws right to Hosley. Easy pick.

Offset pistol again, play action, and LT3 throws an ugly ball. I guess he was throwing a corner route to Davis, but if he was, he threw it almost 10 yards short, straight up in the air. Should have been picked. Also, Davis is a great athlete, but he needs to be a better route runner to be "The Man." 2nd and 10, LT3 audibles to a delay draw from the I, and it takes too long to develop. Andrew Miller didn't get to the linebacker, and the LB crushes Wilson in the hole. Nobody got the backside backer either (looks like Scales didn't clear through the blockers.) 3rd and long, great blitz pickup by the line and Wilson. LT3 with a bad read, throwing in the seam to Boykin who had 3 guys around him. Danny Coale was WIDE OPEN on a go route after crossing with Boykin from his slot position.

1st down, Ark State throws a deep post to Jarboe. Great tip by Hosley with no safety help. THAT was an All-American play. 2nd down, both AHop and Gayle get in Aplin's face to force an incompletion. Corners are playing a little less aggressively. 3rd down, Gayle with a great pass rush, but Collins comes in an knocks Gayle off Aplin and makes the sack himself. I think Gayle is a little pissed. Collins used a pure power move, while Gayle sped past a TE blocking. (A TE... really Hugh Freeze?)

Hokie offense looks brutal this series. 1st down, they run their typical one back off tackle power with playside tackle (DC) getting a kickout block pulling the center pulling to seal pursuit, and the WR crack blocking. Great blocks by the pulling linemen, but Boykin again wiffs. Wilson beats the unblocked guy for a 13 yard run with excellent effort. 1st down and the Hokies lose 4 yards on a similar zone run back to the left. Wilson should have cut inside of Nosal's block, but Lainer didn't stay engaged with his man. 2nd and long, LT3 does a good job with pocket stature which allows Boykin to get a small window on a deep cross, but LT3 smoked it high. He still lacks touch. 3rd down, Thomas scrambled right, even through he didn't have pressure, and ran right into a blitzer that went wide. That was a bit shakey. The line had a good pocket, despite the blitz. Danny Coale was also held blatantly on the play.

Backups are in on DL. I need to get back to work!

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

I love the white retro helmets. I detest the orange ones. VT is not the Vols.

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