Virginia Tech's Top 10 Plays of the Last Ten Years: No. 2

TKP is counting down the Hokies' top ten devastating and dominating plays of the last 10 years.

[Getty Images \ Mike Ehrmann]

As a TKP reader, and therefore Virginia Tech Hokies fanatic, EVERY play of every game has you captivated and your emotional state hangs on every pass, every tackle, every penalty, every little detail of every game. But of course not all plays are as big as others and as your memory of the mundane fades you're left with last memories of the truly game-changing plays of every season. Here we use analytics to count down the biggest, most game-changing plays in the past 10 years of Virginia Tech football...

In each installment of this series I'll bring you two plays: one play devastating to the Hokies' chance to win, and one dominating play in Virginia Tech's favor. They will count down in order of how much each play affected the odds of Tech's victory.

For details on the method, see Virginia Tech's Top 10 Plays of the Last Ten Years: No. 10.

The Countdown

Most Devastating:

10. Boise State 9/6/2010 - Kellen Moore pass complete to Austin Pettis for 13 yards for a TOUCHDOWN
9. Miami 11/4/2006 - Tyrone Moss rush for 50 yards for a TOUCHDOWN
8. Boston College 11/2/2013 - Logan Thomas pass intercepted by Kevin Pierre-Louis at the VTech 33, returned for 33 yards for a TOUCHDOWN
7. Lamar Miller rush over right guard for 30 yards for a TOUCHDOWN
6. Boston College 10/25/2007 - Matt Ryan pass complete to Andre Callender for 24 yards for a TOUCHDOWN
5. Georgia Tech 9/20/2014 - Paul Davis 41 Yd Interception Return for a TOUCHDOWN
4. Florida State 11/8/2012 - EJ Manuel pass complete to Rashad Greene for 39 yards for a TOUCHDOWN
3. Cincinnati 9/29/2012 - Munchie Legaux pass complete to Damon Julian for 39 yards for a TOUCHDOWN

Most Dominating:

10. Boston College 12/1/2007 - Sean Glennon pass complete to Eddie Royal for 24 yards for a TOUCHDOWN
9. North Carolina 10/29/2009 - T.J. Yates pass intercepted by Rashad Carmichael at the North Carolina 10, returned for 5 yards to the North Carolina 5
8. Georgia Tech 9/3/2012 - Logan Thomas pass complete to Demitri Knowles for 42 yards for a TOUCHDOWN
7. Rutgers 12/29/2012 - Logan Thomas pass complete to Corey Fuller for 21 yards for a TOUCHDOWN
6. Marshall 9/21/2013 - Logan Thomas pass complete to Willie Byrn for 2 yards for a TOUCHDOWN
5. East Carolina 8/30/2008 - Patrick Pinkney rush, fumbled, recovered by VTech Stephan Virgil at the ECaro 28, Stephan Virgil for 28 yards, to the ECaro 0 for a TOUCHDOWN
4. Miami 10/8/2011 - Logan Thomas rush quarterback draw for 19 yards for a TOUCHDOWN
3. Cincinnati 9/29/2012 - Logan Thomas pass complete to Corey Fuller for 56 yards for a TOUCHDOWN

The 2nd-most Devastating Play: Cincinnati 9/29/2012 - Munchie Legaux pass complete to Ralph Abernathy for 76 yards for a TOUCHDOWN

If Tech's third-most devastating play of the past 10 years did not yet leave you convinced the Hokies should avoid FedExField for all of eternity, consider that it wasn't even the most devastating play in that game*. Or put another way, out of 23,000+ plays run over the past decade, 2 of the 3 most devastating plays came in the same game.

*When I put this series together, I decided to keep it entirely objective and not let my emotions alter the results. But I think we can all agree that if even a tiny amount of subjectivity were allowed, this play and No. 3 would be reversed.

Before either of last week's plays happened, Virginia Tech had just taken a 17-13 lead midway through the 4th quarter, and seemed poised to put the game away. On the first play from scrimmage, Cincinnati lost a yard and then faced 2nd-and-11 from their own 24-yard-line. Teams facing 2nd-and-11 deep in their own territory almost halfway through the fourth quarter and down by 3 only end up winning about 25% of the time. If only someone had told Bearcats wideout Ralph David Abernathy.

Quarterback Munchie Legaux lined up in the shotgun with Abernathy beside him in the backfield. Legaux took the snap, and Abernathy ran a wheel route around the left end. In a disastrous defensive breakdown, he escaped the backfield undetected. The defensive pressure didn't hit home, and when Abernathy caught the ball near the 35 there isn't a single other player in the frame. Exum had a chance at the open downfield tackle, but he came up lame. Although Kyle Fuller nearly caught Abernathy before he crossed the goalline, it was too late and Cincinnati quickly retook the lead.

Reminder: never go to FedExField.

The 2nd-most Dominating Play: Miami 11/20/2010 - Ryan Williams rush for 84 yards for a TOUCHDOWN

For those who weren't Hokies yet or have blocked it from memory, the 2010 Virginia Tech season, filled with national championship aspirations, began with a crushing loss to Boise State (at FedExField) on a late touchdown. That game's disappointment was followed by one of the greatest upsets of all time. I-AA James Madison made history by beating Virginia Tech in Lane Stadium.

However, the Hokies rallied, and from that point on only Georgia Tech had given the team a close game as they rolled to an 8-2 record heading into the contest against Miami. A win and the team was destined for the ACC Championship Game, a situation unthinkable two games into the season.

Tied at 17 early in the fourth quarter, Miami punted and pinned Virginia Tech at its own 16-yard line. To win, the offense would almost certainly need to put points on the board. The first play from scrimmage was a handoff to Ryan Williams. Williams tried to find space up the middle but there's no daylight. After a quick bounce off one of his lineman, he found just enough space to squeeze through and from there it was an 84-yard footrace. An incredibly fast hurricane secondary couldn't quite get close enough to bring him down before Williams crossed into the endzone. Hoping for any kind of scoring drive, RMFW handed the Hokies what they wanted on the very first play.

A Tyrod Taylor rushing score would seal a 31-17 road victory against the Hurricanes. Tech would finish undefeated in ACC play; the Hokies won the conference championship game against Florida State.

Comments

Man, 2010 could've been our year to go to the ncg. It's something I don't think about often, but I think if we would've put Boise away...we would've ran the table.

Anyway, good write up Joel. I guess I had forgotten how back and forth the Cincinnati game was in the second half. What a heart breaker.

Eh, I'd argue that losing to Boise and the subsequent by-week caused the senior leaders to come down hard on the younger guys and turn the whole team around. I think losing to Boise and *cough* JMU *cough* was bad enough to propel them to winning the ACC.

We were never winning a national championship with that offensive coaching staff. Our success during that era was too heavily predicated on our talent taking everything on their own shoulders and being fired up. Too many deficiencies in scheme and coaching on that side of the ball to put a championship caliber team on the field.

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

I know, right? Stinespring's coordinating was just downright offensive

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There's that damn NAME again. I propose it be banned from the sight. Any form of it.

"Hey Bud, you wont have to hold the opponent to 17 points anymore."

Ehhhhh, this isn't meant to shoot down the guys that played on that '10 defense, but that year's defense wasn't the best we've ever had, and with that, it obviously wasn't a national champion caliber defense, i.e. Lyndell Gibson, JGW, Davon Morgan, Drager at end (he was solid at TE though).

We have have made it to the MNC if we had beaten Boise and JMU but considering how badly we got housed by Stanford I am not convinced we would have gotten by the ducks or tigers...

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:
β€œI served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

I dunno... Bud with 3 months to prepare for anyone... I like our odds.

It was a catch

I dunno... Bud with 3 months to prepare for anyone... I like our odds.

FTFY.

Yeah, Stanford had Bud's number. Was Pep their OC yet? I know it was a close game at half that as Frank put it, "got away from us." But if felt like we were holding on for dear life even then.

"That kid you're talking to right there, I think he played his nuts off! And you can quote me on that shit!" -Bud Foster

Bud hasn't fared well against the Cali schools. Defense seems to hold during the first half and then the bottom drops out in the second half. Probably has something to do with the quality of QB play they get from their kids out there.

Stanford also had Andrew Luck, hailed as the next Peyton Manning, and doing fairly well for himself in the NFL currently.

Arguably, that particular defense never played a QB of that level until that game.

And Cal had Aaron Rodgers when we played them. Also an extremely high caliber QB

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

The list of NFL starting QB's that VT has played the last 15 years is impressive.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

I like to think those QBs are better for having played VT. You know, to be the best you have to beat the best. Playing against the best brings the best out of you....cliches galore..I could go on for days

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

And we had the idiot vick.

"Hey Bud, you wont have to hold the opponent to 17 points anymore."

That game also was the first time a college offense really, really used a tight end deep. Fleener went ham on us deep, a wide open tight end, with Andrew Luck at the helm with a young defense was disaster. I'm still pissed about that o line audible

Yes.^
So am I.
I would bet, so is Bud.
I thought he was going to call a time out and walk across the field and punch Harbaugh in the face.

As disheartening as the first two games of the 2010 season were, and I must say I watched the entire JMU game from the north end zone as the unthinkable happened, I was proud to see us dominate the rest of the season. Seeing the 49-27 win over ECU, and shutting out Boston College 19-0 were some highlights for me to help get over the joyless first two games. We definitely came back with a vengeance.

We even let the Hoos get a touchdown... on our way to a 37-7 beating. I guess Bud was feeling somewhat merciful that day.

"Virginia Tech: Our trees have more school spirit than your students."

I just want to see one of backs break one long.... TD run this year. This is the kind of thing we've been missing! It just lifts the entire team. Hoping one (or two) of our backs can have a break out season (like JC's during the final 3 or 4 games last year).

Ahem... Paging Trey Edmunds (see game vs Bama). Hopefully he's back to his old self!

Man the 2010 season was tough on the emotions. I still contend that my favorite play from the 2010 Miami game was when Logan came in completely cold after Tyrod had his bell rung and completed a laser to Danny Coale for the 1st down to continue the drive.

Which in turn got Danny's bell rung

"That kid you're talking to right there, I think he played his nuts off! And you can quote me on that shit!" -Bud Foster

yeah but he caught it...

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

Because he was open...like he always is...

Danny Coale always makes the catch.

"That move was slicker than a peeled onion in a bowl of snot." -Mike Burnop

2010... RMFW, Darren Evans, and David Wilson... Just sayin'.

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

All three of them were in one frame of that highlight, how did the camera color not fault to only shared shades of orange and maroon?

Whatever. It was one bad year.

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

There is no fault in only sharing orange and maroon.

___

-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

Just seeing this picture of RMFW at the top of this page gave me a tingle in my Hokie parts. What a great RB, just the right blend of size, speed, and most importantly, vision.

Whatever. It was one bad year.

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

Just out of curiosity, what constitutes a "Hokie part" and where does it exist?

"These people, are losing their minds! This is beautiful"

Something tells me you don't want to know...

I have the same hunch. And yet, here I am, still asking. Because HOKIES

"These people, are losing their minds! This is beautiful"

If you have to ask, you can't afford it.

Whatever. It was one bad year.

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

Hate seeing these defensive breakdowns from a Foster coached unit.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

These breakdowns are probably more likely for us than for other teams just because Bud is so high risk/high reward. Usually opponents are getting 1-2 yards or stopped for a loss, but when they don't, it's more likely to be a 30+ yard play just by the nature of our scheme.

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

Yup, and that burned us bad in quite a few games last season. Georgia Tech when they were 4th and 15, Boston College QB scramble for the TD, ECU at the end of the game, the whole Miami game, almost UVA at the end when Matt Johns kept the ball moving forward.

Bud shuts down opponents 99% of the time, but that 1% has proven quite devastating and lost us a few games last season.

I agree in general, but outside of maybe the Miami game and perhaps the ECU game, none of those plays/losses were because of scheme. Heck, Smelter was supposed to be double covered on that 4th and 15 play and both guys misplayed it in coverage.

The injuries to Facyson, Williams, and Maddy and the play of their replacements, along with the recruiting misses over the years that accompanied them, were arguably a bigger factor in most of those losses.

With this play, I suspect (then very young) Kyshoen Jarrett was supposed to pass off the H-back going in motion to Michael Cole and follow the RB instead. I don't think one player was just supposed to be unaccounted for by design.

that 1% has only proved devastating because we've allowed the opponent to stay in the game far longer than they should have. I'm not typically a "it's always the offense's fault because they didn't score enough points" kind of guy, but when you have a defense like ours that consistently shuts down opponents, you don't need a crazy high powered offense to put the game out of reach. We can win with smothering defense and a decent offense. Not sure we'd win a title with it, but certainly our league.

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Yeah, I'm not blaming the defense for it, they shouldn't have been in the position in the first place. I'm just saying that those breakdowns came at the most inoppurtune times for us multiple times during last season.

I was at a family reunion during that Miami game. I had been keeping track of the game via updates and highlights, but by the fourth quarter, I just had to go in and turn the TV on. I turned on just in time to see that play.

I agree that the plays on the top-10 heart breaking list are / were bad, but for me, I'd argue that the Boise TD pass at the end is a bigger dagger than this one. I guess it's all just subjective?

This is purely objective. Joel is answering the question: Which plays had a bigger change in win probability in the last 10 years? From a pure numbers perspective, this play had a bigger change than the Boise TD.

"That move was slicker than a peeled onion in a bowl of snot." -Mike Burnop

Oh definitely. If it were subjective I wouldn't include any devastating plays where we ended up winning, or dominating plays where we ended up losing. I won't put my subjective list out now as at least one of next week's plays would be on it (probably both), but Boise State I would say is a top 3 devastating as was the Matt Ryan play.

Anybody can make a subjective top 10 list...I thought we should have a little more analytics behind it.

Good call. In that specific example, I pretty much had decided that the '12 season was down the crapper and didn't let it effect me as badly as the opener on '10 did.

THAT is how you run an inside zone. Beautiful assertive cutback by RMFW. I miss that.

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

The way that RMFW tore straight through that hole to avoid the edge tackler, bounced off his lineman, and still picked up enough steam to break that open has me drooling....
Shows how much we miss his type of RB talent. I mean, we have had some athletic guys at RB since then, but himself and Wilson are the last guys we've had who possess the vision to break big plays open.

Williams was the best RB we've ever had at VT, IMHO. Wilson was good but relied on his speed (not a bad thing).

Williams was more of a prototypical RB, a little like Emmitt Smith in that regard. A complete back, instinctual if you will. Always hit the hole hard.

Man, I miss Ryan Williams.

So...what's everyone think the #1 plays will be?

...WF?

The number one devastating play for me will always be the replay officials' gift to Michigan in the Sugar Bowl. I don't know how analytics will treat that, being that the odds of winning probably don't suffer that much, but it sure broke my heart real good.

Number one awesome play is probably "DANNY COALE ALL THE WAY... " (Although, for me, most bad ass offensive play I've seen in the last 10 yrs was Tyrod on 3rd and 31 v FSU in 2007.)

Leonard. Duh.

Unfortunately overtime doesn't count for the series...overtime plays are always much more valuable because you start with basically a 50% chance and that moves to either 0% or 100% in not very many plays. Otherwise part of the series would have included changing that play to a touchdown and seeing where it ranked!

That makes sense.

Leonard. Duh.

Yeah I think were all guessing that tyrod to danny coale against Nebraska is number 1 dominating play.

And maybe the 2008 ecu punt block is number 1 devastating?

Virginia Tech School of Architecture Class of 2014
Fan of Hokies, Ravens, NY Giants, Orioles

Oh yeah, ECU punt block is a very nice guess.

If not that, I'm thinking TajhBoyd to Dwayne Allen TD in the 2011 Clemson game, to go up 17-3. Not sure about the math, but I was at that game, and that play sucked the life out of the crowd, and the bench for the rest of the way.

Leonard. Duh.

Yeah, I was at the 2011 ACC title game too and you're right that Allen TD catch killed the crowd. Maybe it was that or the fact that we had David Wilson and barely ran the ball, even before Clemson pulled away...ugh...Stinespring.

There it is again! Is this the old FBS site?

"Hey Bud, you wont have to hold the opponent to 17 points anymore."

I think you just nailed it...

Tyrod to Danny has to be #1... has to be.

And the ECU punt block hasn't been shown, yet, and this is the graph from the last time that game was on the list:

And now that THAT repressed memory has returned (I was standing in the end zone right where that happened. The ECU guy ran straight towards us... fuck that game.....

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

FUCK MATT RYAN?

Well... I know what the #1 most dominating play will be.... Trying to predict the most devastating play is proving to be a little tricky....

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

This gets my vote!

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

demoralizing? sure. Utterly head scratching? Absolutely. But the thing is, that game was tied at this point and the game ended tied. I haven't seen a graph of win probability, but I'm guessing this play didn't move the needle as much as most of the others Joel's covered in the series.

A turnover on your 45 is bad, but I'm guessing the most devastating play resulted in immediate points (as in, pick six or punt block for a TD) not just the chance to score points.

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I'm guessing the most devastating play resulted in immediate points (as in, pick six or punt block for a TD) not just the chance to score points.

Or, when a very clear TD in OT is overturned because a f'n ref from the West Coast tried really hard to see this his own way instead of how they actually were, and you end up losing the game by a FG.

I know that play isn't eligible, but man, that had to be a HUGE shift on the chart if you include what the points would have done to our probability vs what it ended up being when we had to kick.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

ok, I apologize in advance if this seems nitpicky, but I don't actually think that play would swing the graph as much as we like to think. For one, the game was tied at that point and it was the first half of an overtime. If it was the end of regulation, we'd have a pretty high probability of winning simply because a field goal would have meant an automatic win. As it was, our probability between the beginning of the 3rd down and the beginning of the 4th would only drop because we lost a down (which might still be significant). We did not turn the ball over and we did not worsen our field position. The graph only compares probability after (or before) each play. It does not compare the probability of "what if we'd gotten that TD" to the probability at the beginning of the next play.

Of course, if you meant the probability drop between the TD being called and the TD being overturned, then yeah that would be huge. Even then, it might be tempered by the fact that Michigan still gets the ball in good field position with untimed downs.

And, of course, we all know that the refs stole the game from us. It's very difficult to prevent a team from getting a FG in overtime, but I have no doubt we could have kept them out of the endzone if we'd kept that TD. Heck, if our strategy had been to set up a FG, you can bet that we would have spent that 3rd down getting the ball forward and centered as much as possible.

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Of all the things people get angry at Frank Beamer about, him throwing Danny Coale under the bus after that game was number 1. Even if it was his option to kick or run, take responsibility for the call instead of dumping on a kid that exceeded every expectation in the uniform playing his last game.

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

If you want your punter reading and reacting to that play correctly you could start by having, you know, a punter.

And not calling a timeout right before the play to talk about it and tip your hand.

"Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our heart with tolerance."
-Stan Lee

"Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing."
-Ron Swanson

"11-0, bro"
-Hunter Carpenter (probably)

Bottom line is no matter what Beamer and the staff said, that was totally on them. DC should have had EXPLICIT instructions to knock the shit out of that ball and pin them deep. The D was smelling blood at that point in the game, and I have no doubt that Michigan would just have been punting from inside their 25 yd line 3 plays later, giving the Hokies even better field position than they started out with.

Leonard. Duh.

Bingo!

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

Yeah, very uncharacteristic of Frank. As another poster said, if you want things properly executed by the punter, have a punter, not your starting wide receiver, punting. DC was a total team player and didn't deserve such.

Fuck Matt Ryan

I think this is the only post that needs no context. Put it in the comments of any topic and people agree.

Whatever. It was one bad year.

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

DRINK! (See VTMaroonOrange post above)
(I still upvoted this, because its so damn true.)

What's that funny number next to "VA TECH" on the Miami highlight? I miss seeing that.

"We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior" Stephen M.R. Covey

β€œWhen life knocks you down plan to land on your back, because if you can look up, you can get up, if you fall flat on your face it can kill your spirit” David Wilson

It's the number of fans at a UVA spring game.

that's awful generous of you...

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