Bowl Game Thoughts Teaser (Film Review Monday)

After being at the bowl game in person (shout out to Zoom and HokieObsession for saying hello), and then watching yesterday for Monday's film review, I wanted to share some quick thoughts to "tease" the film review.

1) I thought Brad Cornelsen's game plan was wonderful. With the exception of the opening drive (which looked like Wildcat domination except for penalties), Kentucky did almost nothing to stop the Virginia Tech offense. Every drive that didn't end in a touchdown was derailed by a missed block on the edge or a drop. The scheme was perfect.

2) Play calling in the context of that scheme was off. Cornelsen had some play designs that showed a ton of promise early, especially in the red zone. When it was winning time, he went with plays which had not been executed well earlier in the game. Other than drops, that was the biggest negative on offense.

3) Kentucky had the best run blocking offensive line VT played all year, and it wasn't even close. Jarrod Hewitt made some plays in the second half, but in large part this game was a glaring indictment of the talent on the defensive line.

4) However, even with that dominance, the defense got a handful of stops. Big chunk runs, especially on third down were the killer. And, the film shows that a lot of those big runs stemmed as much from mental errors and poor eye discipline from the backer position and both safeties and any kind of physical dominance by Kentucky. Kentucky's offense impacts that (see 4 unblocked defenders running to Bowden when the tailback has the ball on the dive), but it wasn't the kind of performance I expected from this group, especially after the two shutouts showcased the potential.

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Comments

Overall, I think the offense fared much better with the insertion of Hendon Hooker as QB#1 following the Duke debacle. If it took being humiliated at home on national television and being vocally assailed by media personalities to make the needed change at quarterback, then so be it. However, the wide receiver groups have been wildly inconsistent and I am not sure even if Aaron Moorehead would have been able to improve the group. So, MOAR JUGS MACHINE!

I don't know what it will take to get the running game to improve, but repeat quarterback keeper, draw, and power plays aren't going to cut it. VT got to get better running back and hope the incoming class with some running back may finally help the offense turn the page.

Defensively, I am curious how and what scheme J. Ham will implement this spring. Foster said it won't be too different, so we'll see.

“Who is this Fuentes person that you speak about?” -McHokie540

More credit is due Cornelsen for letting Hooker throw into coverage instead of just using misdirection routes with receivers running wide open. While Hooker struggled with accuracy at times, he made some throws on play structures that I don't believe Cornelsen would have let Jackson or Willis throw (see the Keene TD or the 4th down throw to Robinson.) Hooker made the right reads on packaged plays wether to hand off or throw every time, and always seemed to target the correct receiver. Accuracy and timing was the issue that he needs to improve on.

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Do you see a reason for the lack of rollout passes or bootleg type plays? I just keep looking for those with Hooker's athleticism and they don't seem to be there. Having plays that get him out of the pocket and give him the option to tuck it and run for a positive gain seems like a simple concept, especially with the TE personnel we have to run drags and block release flat routes. The only reason i can think of is those are more common for an offense that gets their QB under center and can be a little more complex from a strictly shotgun offense.

Gobble Till You Wobble

he only reason i can think of is those are more common for an offense that gets their QB under center and can be a little more complex from a strictly shotgun offense.

I'm far from an X's/O's guy, but I believe this is basically the answer. However, some quick googling found me this article, and it's quite interesting. From the article:

Deceiving the backside for bootleg plays is especially difficult out of the shotgun because the quarterback is facing the end when making his move and because the end is trained to stay home in case of the zone read.

^That should answer your question. HOWEVER, it's super cool to read about how Riley switched up the bootleg so Baker could do it out of the shotgun:

Typically, on bootleg passes, the flat is always the first read, but in this concept, the first read is the deep post corner by the No. 2 receiver. The second read is out route by the No. 1 receiver. Finally, the quarterback could check the ball down to the flat if nothing is open.

Definitely check out the videos embedded in the piece, they really help to explain the concept. I'm not sure how/if this could fit into Fuente's offense, but I, as someone who is completely uneducated on football, I agree there could be potential value to getting Hooker out of the pocket more.

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Kentucky's edge guys are OLBs and aligned wider. They did a good job staying at home for the most part. The only thing they didn't stay at home on Hooker was a jet sweep where Cornelsen packaged a QB counter away from the sweep. The ball went to the sweep, but the backside edge OLB vanished. Most of the rest of the time they stayed at home, which was one of the reasons Mcclease and King ran well (one less defender to block because they were eyeballing Hooker.)

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

Yea sometimes it's a matchup problem for sure. Having to reach that 9 technique to set the edge can definitely ruin a bootleg. It was really more of an observation I've had the whole year. I just really didn't feel like we tried to get Hooker outside of the pocket or have much of a rollout passing game.

Gobble Till You Wobble

Rumors that HH got hurt earlier in the week and was a game time decision may have factored

...if only we had a big, bruising, running QB who proved himself earlier in the season. /s

We put the K in Kwality

RE: #3 - Coleman from the other VT site (TSL) wrote the bowl game was a perfect example of why a change was needed at DL coach.

Seems like you agree...???

Tweedy can run like a dadgum antelope or whatever. I like to use scalded dog. Do antelopes lumber? Cheetah, OK. He runs like a cheetah. He's fast. - Bud Foster

I think Coach Wiles is an outstanding coach, and he found a solid player (who I think is playing hurt) in Crawford and two solid diamonds in the rough with Pollard and Kendricks, both of whom seemed to hit a freshman walk late in the year.

That said, the lack of playmakers up front has to fall on someone. He didn't land top guys besides Garbutt, who to me hasn't lived up to expectations yet, in the last couple of cycles. And he hasn't taken the guys he has landed since the Walker class and elevated them like he elevated the Orion Martins and Barry Bookers of the world

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

2) Play calling in the context of that scheme was off. Cornelsen had some play designs that showed a ton of promise early, especially in the red zone. When it was winning time, he went with plays which had not been executed well earlier in the game. Other than drops, that was the biggest negative on offense.

Thank you!!!!! I agree!! All the other points are valid too but you can't use them to disregard this one. Corn had a great gameplan but made some bad in the clutch calls especially when ran a QB keep off the 2 gap power run with the pulling G and T in the second to last drive. That play would have gotten 10 yards if you hand the ball off.

Hokie Club member since 2017

And, the film shows that a lot of those big runs stemmed as much from mental errors and poor eye discipline from the backer position and both safeties and any kind of physical dominance by Kentucky.

This has been a big issue the last two years. LB (Backer mostly) and safety play has been the biggest problem in our run defense the last two seasons. Consistently being out of position, taking false steps, taking bad angles, etc. There's lots of different issues, but you can find these mistakes on just about every running play that makes it to the third level the last two seasons.

I know we have guys playing out of position at Backer (Dax) and a guy who is still a bit small/new to the position in Tisdale, but that's an area where it seems we've struggled to get the consistent Backer play we saw as recently as 2017. The Safety play since 2017 has taken a nosedive as well. Floyd and Deablo had disappointing years after we were convinced their play would improve drastically moving to JHam this season.

It is what it is, and we will see what changes JHam makes, but I'm assuming the majority of the defense will function similarly, with some tweaks and new personnel (height/weight/style of play) type decisions being made at certain positions. We're already seeing a trend in DL recruiting with taller, more traditional sized ends in Justin Beadles, Alec Bryant, and Robert Wooten signed up for next season. I imagine DT will follow suit.

To me safety play has been a big miss this season last year I remember being more optimistic about it after seeing Deablo play but the lack of real development from those guys and guys like Hunter and Floyd hurt us big time especially in the way Bud likes to use his safeties. Hopefully some of these positions and the DT can start to be addressed before it gets really ugly.

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

Safety play was dominate when we had the shutout streak and our D looked unbeatable. LOLUVA and this game it went down again...and the results proved out.

We put the K in Kwality

I'm usually not great at noticing linebacker play live, but saw Dax several times seemingly make the right read and initial first steps, but then just be completely unable to shed or beat a blocker.

Well that was happening all game.

Besides maybe Tisdale, our LB's aren't fast enough for a misstep or a bad angle. Ashby is a hell of a player, but he's not chasing a lot of people down. Wouldn't hate seeing him have a little bit of a body transformation this offseason. And we all know some of Dax's limitiations athletically. Saw him take a couple big licks in this game too. Let guys get into his chest more than i've seen before. I just feel like on defense we srtuggled moving east and west. Some of that could have been Diablo and Floyd failing to fill the gaps as the free hitters though. Felt like they were hestitant a lot this season, expecially in the bowl game and at times just weren't flying to the ball. That let a lot of maybe 5 year runs turn into 15-20 yarders.

Gobble Till You Wobble

Not getting off blocks well has been an issue with pretty much all the LBs going back to the Tyler-Taylor pair, except for Tremaine.

The lack of range when unblocked is a bigger issue, and there really isn't a solution in house unless Tisdale adds 20 pounds. I wonder if Hamilton looks at what Venebles has done and moves Conner to rover and moves Tisdale out to whip to use him like Clemson used Dorian O'Daniel in 2017. Tisdale is a similar size, body type, and skill set.

But, if they do that, they better find a guy who can play man coverage at free safety,

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

Yeah it will be interesting to see the personnel changes for the upcoming season. Ashby does need to get a little quicker to get off blocks but still has good instincts.

Conner could he a good rover and excited to see what JR Walker bring at FS and Barno brings at Backer. Both seem more athletic and could cover in man better.

I thought Brad Cornelsen's game plan was wonderful.

The scheme was perfect.

Woah there, you're going to ruffle some feathers with that kind of talk 'round these parts. Definitely don't take that kinda talk to the twitterverse.

(I agree with you)

Now finish up them taters; I'm gonna go fondle my sweaters.

Actually most of the discourse I've seen around the offense following this game was execution errors and some curious playcalling which French did point out.

One game also doesn't undo all the times the gameplan was lacking or confusing. Nobody thinks Cornelsen is a bad OC on every single play of every single game. It's the trends that have emerged over the years that are troubling, and we saw many of those rear their heads as recently as... UVA. This game did feature a few headscratcher play calls, but I do think that happens for just about every OC.

Nobody thinks Cornelsen is a bad OC on every single play of every single game. It's the trends that have emerged over the years that are troubling, and we saw many of those rear their heads as recently as... UVA. This game did feature a few headscratcher play calls, but I do think that happens for just about every OC.

You do hit on an interesting question here... How much slack should an play caller get? Every fan expects the staff to get every ounce of possible productivity out of every player, but that's not realistic; players and coaches always leave points on the field. LSU probably could've/should've hung at least 2 extra TD's on UGA.

That said, as far as Corny goes, I agree that there is a trend that has emerged, and that trend leads me to believe that we need to upgrade our play caller if we are to win 9-10 games every season.

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It is fair to say his game plan against UVA was awful. In this game, every call was designed to expose their speed limitations up front. Kentucky sent a handful of edge blitzes which were the right call at the right time for BC's play call. Other than that, almost every single snap had promise until Turner, Hazelton, Keene (who did not have a good game), Mitchell, or King blew a block. McClease was probably the best skill position blocker all game long on top of putting up big rushing numbers.

My issue with the play calling wasn't the play itself. More, why call it when you have called it three times and your edge guys haven't secured the block once? Go with what is working in those spots.

I didn't put it in the review, but man what a miss on the Hazelton drop. He broke the corner's ankles on his cut, and then shortarmed the catch because he thought the safety closer. Every time I see it, I crack my enamel.

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

And on the replays they showed he likely had plenty space for some yards after the catch as well. It was a huge momentum killer.

One of my friends pointed this out at the military bowl, when we went for it on 4th down we got into a formation we hadn't done all game and then we run a play we hadnt run all game. At some point you have to have your bread and butter plays that you know you can execute, I really have missed that since 3rd and Logan. You knew it was going to Logan, you knew he was picking it up. We haven't had that type of play ina while. Now the bread and butter can change game to game based on gameplay, but you have to have those plays you know you can run.

And my biggest pet peeve, if you are an analytics based coach then you dont run a play that doesnt work 3 times in a game, you move that out of your play book and move on. Like jet sweeps against Duke.

the end of the season wasn't particularly good and then the layoff for the month probably didn't help. I was also baffled why cornelsen went to plays we can't execute late into the game. Felt like we left some points on the table

Hokies, Local Soccer, AFC Ajax, Ravens

Both teams were sloppy. The fact that VT got any stops at all were in large part to UK's OC insisting on running the speed option (which VT defended well) and their own ball handling mistakes. I would guess Mark Stoops would tell you they didn't play well.

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

To your 2nd point, I feel like we hurt ourselfs a lot with momentum. I think it was before the half or at the end of the 3rd. We are moving the somewhat and then have a good play. Instead of capitalizing on that and run a little tempo to take a shot downfield, we just run out the quarter with no attempt to run a play.

I felt like we lost a lot of momentum in that moment, not calling a play. There may be a good reason that I don't have or hasn't been explained why that would be a good call in that scenario. I just felt like taking shot does keep the defense a little bit more honest to the passing attack down the field instead of stretching the field to the edges.

I honestly don't have any grief with the players for the loss, they seemed to play hard all game, didn't give up. I do have some grief with the management of the game from the coaches. Somethings need to be looked at and addressed in the off season if we want to be better than we are currently.

Yep, end of 1st half there was almost a minute left and Hokies had 2 timeouts. Kicker had just nailed a 54 yd FG. Why not try to get in position for another long FG attempt, but instead a run is called on 1st down. Totally uninspiring and another example of Corn/Fu playing not to lose instead of playing to win. You KNOW the players wanted to try to score. Gotta affect the players confidence when your coach decides to turtle.

"If you think you can or if you think you can't, you're probably right." Mark Twain

The infuriating part about that sequence is that we all knew we would waste 30 seconds on the first play and then not have enough time to score. We knew without a doubt we would be playing the Uber conservative route, not really trying to score.

It's a B-list bowl game, let the kids try a one minute drill.

Great seeing you in person, French. What are the chances that I would be sitting within 3 rows of anyone I knew from this site. Seeing that I now live in Texas, it is rare I get to watch the Hokies in person, and doubly rare that I would see anyone I know, by happenstance!

Cheers, and thanks for all the insight.

If it ain't orange, it better be maroon...and if it ain't maroon, it better be soon!

Hate you traveled all that way for that outcome. But, thanks for stopping by to say hello.

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

It was well worth it, in spite of the outcome.

Trip totals:
2250 miles
Avg speed: 26 mph
Time spent driving: 75 hrs
Cities: 5 diff overnight locations
States: 9
Length of trip: 11 days
Diapers used: 68
Lost items: 2
Lost children: 0

Glad to be home!

If it ain't orange, it better be maroon...and if it ain't maroon, it better be soon!

Lost children: 0

Whew...

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

French,
I was wondering if you noticed this as a trend throughout the past couple of seasons?

2) Play calling in the context of that scheme was off. Cornelsen had some play designs that showed a ton of promise early, especially in the red zone. When it was winning time, he went with plays which had not been executed well earlier in the game. Other than drops, that was the biggest negative on offense.

My novice eyes and maroon-orange glasses always feel like there are 2-3 series a game where we continue to press with ineffective plays in the moment. Is there a pattern of forcing things that aren't working? For the coaches out there - is there anything that can be done to improve that game feel/play calling?

Thanks

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.“