Winning in the Trenches: The Keys to Virginia Tech's 14th Straight Commonwealth Cup

3000-word, 14-play film review of the Hokies' 10-0 win over the Hoos.

[Virginia Tech Athletics \ Dave Knachel]

As the Virginia Tech offense sputtered and roared, often both on the same drive, it became apparent Tech's defense would need to deliver a classic performance to secure the Commonwealth Cup. And Bud Foster's unit delivered a masterstroke. Not only did they keep the Cavaliers off the scoreboard, but they turned Virginia's offense (which previously shredded Miami for three quarters) into a timid, listless bunch that looked defeated down the stretch. Combined with the Hokies' ability to run the football at key moments, Tech asserted a level of physical dominance that did not translate to the final 10-0 scoreboard, yet was palatable to watch. The Hokies' young offense and mash unit defense afforded Virginia its best shot to end the streak in the near future. Despite all those factors, another UVA senior class walked out of Scott Stadium a stinging 0-4 against Virginia Tech.

Prepared to Dominate the Box

Minus DE Vinny Mihota, whip Mook Reynolds, FS Terrell Edmunds, and DE Trevon Hill (early on), the Hokies looked vulnerable to a Virginia offense with excellent slot receivers. The Cavaliers were confident.The television crew repeated ad nauseam, this was the year the Commonwealth Cup would stay in Charlottesville.

Any confidence shattered early when it became clear Tech's defensive line, spearheaded by Ricky Walker and Tim Settle, could not be single blocked by the Hoos' inept offensive line. The 4-8's dominance up-front prevented Virginia from getting blockers to the second-level, which stifled the run game. The Hokies' pass rush forced offensive coordinator Robert Anae to keep receivers in as blockers, which took away opportunities to target the Hokies' inexperienced safeties.

Foster is often credited for his aggressive approach and how his scheme dictates to the offense where the ball goes. However, it is rare that Foster gets credit for the film analysis and preparation of his players during game week. While it is impossible to prove definitively without being in the film room, it certainly appeared Virginia had strong tendencies based on formation and motion which Tech exploited. The recognition by the defense was outstanding. When Virginia passed, on most plays, the Hokies' defenders completely ignored run keys and immediately sank into coverage. When Virginia showed a run-tendency formation, safeties Reggie Floyd, Khalil Ladler, and Deon Newsome were remarkably fast in reading their keys and filling the alleys, especially for inexperienced players. The entire defense played incredibly fast and confident all night.

Although, no player exuded confidence like Tremaine Edmunds. I have been critical of his play, particularly his open field tackling and coverage, over the season. I did not think his film warranted Butkus Award consideration. However against Virginia, Edmunds quickly diagnosed plays and took away time and space exactly like a Butkus-worthy linebacker should. His teammates did their job spectacularly at times to facilitate the room Edmunds needed to make those plays.

Right off the bat, the Wahoos turned to a gadget play to try to catch the Hokies off balance. Quarterback Kurt Benkert fakes a jet sweep to Joe Reed (No. 2), and then shovel passes to Olamide Zaccheaus (No. 4) back to the field-side. Zaccheaus has left tackle Jack English (No. 67) pulling and leading him around the right side. Anae is counting on the Hokies to be caught out of position.

Instead, the Hokies play beautiful assignment football. Settle and Walker are keying the first step of the offensive line. When Virginia zone steps to their right, Settle and Walker move laterally to mirror their movement. On the back-side, DE Emmanuel Belmar (in his first start) has a force call. Accordingly, he takes a contain posture to force Reed to cut inside if he has the ball. There, Reggie Floyd (who is filling the alley to the inside) is awaiting unblocked. Brandon Facyson will pick up any receiver that releases (in this case he picks up Reed) once he ensures that a run is not coming his way.

To the play-side, Houshun Gaines initially gets pinned inside by tight end Richard Burney (No. 16). Gaines does a terrific job of giving ground and fighting outside to try and keep contain. This is critical, as Newsome and Ladler both are sealed inside by receiver Andre Levrone (No. 14).

Gaines' hustle draws the attention of Burney, and right tackle Chris Glaser (No. 69). Settle gets outstanding penetration that ties up right guard Jake Fieler (No. 77) and center Dillon Reinkensmeyer (No. 79). Fieler should peel off the combination block to cut off the alley created in between Gaines and Settle. Instead, Settle pushes him back (and in the pile up, picks off left guard John Montelus, No. 74 too).

The bubble between Settle and Gaines gives Edmunds a lane. Edmunds quickly diagnoses the shovel pass and explodes through the hole. Zaccheaus is an explosive athlete, yet at full speed, Edmunds completely takes away his angle. This kind of pursuit will make NFL scouts salivate.

Foster had the book on UVA right from the get go. Even on first down (usually the most unpredictable down), the Hokies had their safeties aggressively charging into the box when Virginia ran, but often on passing plays those same safeties completely discounted the possibility of the run. Here are two first down plays where Virginia's formation triggered significantly different reactions by the Hokies' defense.

First, Virginia runs an isolation play from the diamond formation.

Reinkensmeyer drives Settle outside, while Montelus tries to do the same to Walker. Again, Edmunds quickly recognizes the play and fills the gap before H-Back Alec Shifflett (No. 49) can isolate on him. Walker quickly sheds Montelus' block to support along with Andrew Motuapuaka. Note how quickly Ladler and Floyd fly into the box without hesitation. They quickly diagnosed run all the way.

Second, Virginia is aligned in a trips formation to the field-side. At the snap, the Hokies' linebackers and safeties all drop into coverage. Ladler and Newsome play short zones, and Stroman and Floyd (rotating over the top from the boundary) are deep. Note how both linebackers immediately drop into coverage with zero attention to a potential run.

Up front, Settle and Walker execute a twist stunt. Settle crashes through the A-gap and picks off three Virginia blockers. Walker cuts off Settle's pick and runs right into Benkert's escape lane. Gaines collapses back to the inside to finish off Benkert.

This outstanding recognition happened time and time again. When the Hokies weren't winning with recognition and scheme, Walker, Settle, and Edmunds repeatedly made the kind of plays that will make the NFL take notice. Here, Walker single-handedly shuts down a quarterback draw by shedding a turn out attempt by Montelus.

Walker and Settle were dominant, yet nobody had more "WOW" moments than Edmunds. Historically, few Hokies' linebackers have made an impact in the NFL. Most NFL defense require linebackers to fit, beat blocks, and make tackles in space. In contrast, Foster's scheme tasks its linebackers to either fit gaps or serve as a free hitter. The latter expects sticking to the scheme while the former requires athletes who can freelance more. Edmunds has the tools at the next level to fit the gap and run down the ball carrier.

Late in the third quarter Virginia gained momentum with plenty of time to capitalize. An errant Eric Gallo snap led to a Tech punt. Shortly after, Virginia gained 28 yards via a Zaccheaus slant-and-run. The Hokies forced a 3rd-and-7 and rolled a dime look.

With a numerical advantage in the box, Anae called an inside zone read. Edmunds shed a block and stuck Jordan Ellis (No. 1) right in the hole to negate any thought of the Cavaliers attempting a fourth down conversion.

For the first time in some time, Foster has a defensive unit that is talented at all three levels. They're seasoned and confident and the results have shown on the field. If somehow the Hokies get the Edmunds brothers, Settle, Walker, and Adonis Alexander to return next season, this defensive group would seemingly be the preeminent unit in the ACC for 2018.

Rocket Motion Hits and Misses

While the defense was dominant, the offense flashed occasional promise disrupted by inexperience and poor execution. Offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen focused heavily on establishing the running game to counter Bronco Mendenhall's well-disguised blitz and coverage schemes. Virginia's defensive scheme features defensive linemen tying up blockers to free the outstanding pairing of FS Quin Blanding (No.3) and ILB Micah Kiser (No. 53) to roam unblocked. Cornelsen responded with an abundance of rocket motion and misdirection in an effort to keep Blanding and Kiser on their heels.

For those not familiar with the term "rocket motion", it is similar to a jet motion where a receiver motions across the formation to create a mesh point immediately following the snap. With a jet motion, the receiver runs in a straight line and creates a mesh point in front of the quarterback. With a rocket motion, the receiver runs in a straight line, and then bends deeper to create a mesh point behind the quarterback right before the ball is snapped. The Hokies coupled the rocket motion with a variety of inside zone and power looks. Quarterback Josh Jackson and the rocket receiver would fake an option off the dive. The goal of the motion was to influence the Virginia safeties and linebackers out of position.

On this 2nd-and-10, Hezekiah Grimsley rocket motions from right to left. The Hokies run a power. Chris Cunningham caves in outside linebacker Chris Peace (No. 13) and Wyatt Teller pulls around to seal Kiser to the inside.

When you watch again, note how Blanding chases Grimsley from the opposite side of the field. That leaves run support in a pickle absent Kiser, who Teller handled. Steven Peoples bounces into space before SS Juan Thornhill (No. 21) makes a beautiful open field tackle. This also emphasizes how Peoples, as well as the other tailbacks, while running hard, are not game breakers who can generate huge plays when the scheme creates openings. Peoples won some one-on-one battles to turn two-yard runs into five-yard gains. However, he isn't the gamebreaker to pop one the distance.

While the rocket motion created the space Cornelsen sought some of the time, at other times Virginia completely disregarded it, especially on third-and-short situations.

On this 3rd-and-1, the Hokies attempt an inside zone off rocket motion. Kyle Chung shifted over to the left side in an unbalanced look. Blanding completely ignores the motion to leave FS Brenton Nelson (No. 28) alone to deal with Jackson and Cam Phillips on a potential option.

Had the Hokies run a true option, Jackson would read OLB Malcolm Cook (No. 17) crashing inside and keep the ball around the edge. Instead, it is seemingly a give all the way. Chung, who struggled badly for most of the game, hesitates and fails to get his head inside to scoop DE Mandy Alonso (No. 91). Alonso nails Peoples in the backfield, and Virginia has numbers in the box to provide support.

Although in other cases, even when the Hokies failed to influence the safeties to move, the offensive line and Peoples got enough drive to keep drives alive.

The Hokies dominated time of possession 37:16-22:44 yet could not capitalize. A lack of explosive plays meant the Hokies had to string long drives together and eventually some kind of execution breakdown would prevent them from putting points on the scoreboard.

Cornelsen attempted to use the same rocket motion to create openings in the vertical passing game. Virginia did a terrific job of rotating their back-side safety to the deep post early to take away those deep throws. When Jackson finally got an open look, it was on a wheel route in the fourth quarter to Dalton Keene.

Boundary safety Chris Moore (No. 39) immediately recognizes a pass. Moore sinks on the post route to James Clark. In the second quarter, the Hokies ran a similar deep post that Jackson threw to Eric Kumah in double coverage. (Kumah was kneecapped by Thornhill on an obvious pass interference that didn't get flagged.) Virginia was ready for the post.

Instead, Keene (who throughout the game often chipped on defensive ends instead of going out for passes) engaged Peace for a count and then released on the wheel route. The design works. The deep third along the boundary is vacated and Keene is behind Peace. Unfortunately, Chung gets beat by Andrew Brown (No. 9) which seemingly unnerved Jackson. As has become more common lately, Jackson threw behind Keene and way out of bounds instead of letting Keene run under the football. Jackson also didn't lead Cam Phillips on a wide open post route in the third quarter. Those two major opportunities should have lead to more Hokies' points. Jackson's interception (which easily could have been returned for a touchdown) and his inaccuracy at key moments problematic. The offensive line has improved. (Although, I didn't feel that this effort was nearly as solid as the Pitt game.) Grimsley stepped up as a new weapon, and Phil Patterson was frequently getting separation yet wasn't targeted. Jackson has to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers with more regularity and give them a chance to make a play.

Misdirection Generates Some Big Plays

While the offensive line wasn't dominant, they engaged their blocks well enough that Cornelsen's misdirection plays had an opportunity to pop. The primary benefactor was Deshawn McClease, who had green grass numerous times.

Cornelsen's naked bootleg call for Jackson on 4th-and-1 in the 3rd quarter was brave enough. However, I thought his design of what amounted to a naked bootleg for McClease to be really gutsy.

Teller and Braxton Pfaff pull left, to lead out in front on a quarterback sweep for Jackson. Chung blocks inside to help sell the quarterback sweep, but he's looking to seal a linebacker inside (an attempt that's ultimately unsuccessful). Brown is left unblocked, but held in place as Jackson and McClease mesh. The sweep action works so well that linebacker Jordan Mack (No. 37) pursues Jackson well after the give. Brown and Kiser initially freeze just enough that McClease is able to beat them in a footrace to the edge. Clark delivers a strong block against Blanding and McClease gets a first down.

McClease was able to find similar seams off zones with jet sweep fakes. On this inside zone, the two UVA safeties almost collide as Nelson (No. 28) chases the motion man (Grimsley) to the left while Moore (No. 39) pursues McClease to the right.

McClease's speed to the edge makes an impact. Moore and Blanding over-pursue to the field-side (right). After beautiful cut blocks by Pfaff and Teller, McClease patiently cuts back into the bubble on the back-side of the zone for a big first down, 11-yard run.

Cornelsen also set up the Hokies' most critical deep completion — the 25-yard completion to Grimsley that preceded Tech's only touchdown of the night. The Hokies regularly cracked their receivers inside on wide running plays in an attempt to make those safeties and linebackers hesitate on wide runs. With that established, the Hokies faked a sweep to Travon McMillian. Nelson, the field safety for Virginia on the play, bit hard on the fake even though Keene stayed on the back-side — presumably to help Parker Osterloh with a pass rush — instead of flexing out to yield trips to the field-side or align play-side to lead block.

Grimsley made a spectacular catch. However, even on this pass, Jackson is incredibly late delivering the football. Grimsley breaks to the corner as Jackson plants his back foot. Jackson hesitates to deliver the ball. This allows Nelson to get back into the play and Grimsley almost runs out of room on the sideline. Again, Jackson (who is rumored to be playing with several injuries) has to work through this progression quicker and deliver the ball to a better spot. Fortunately, the Hokies were able to cash in later on the touchdown to Cunningham. Still, these opportunities to catch a defense with their pants down don't happen often. With such a young offense, this team can't miss and expect to win without almost perfection from the defense. Fortunately for Hokie Nation, Virginia Tech received perfection from the Lunch Pail Defense and Bud Foster on Saturday. Fourteen in a row feels so good.



TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

Thanks Ffrench! Good job as always.

Even when you get skunked; fishing never lets you down. 🎣

Prepared to Dominate the Box


Sometimes I enjoy letting the box dominate me.

If you play it, they will win.

"How the ass pocket will be used, I do not know. Alls I know is, the ass pocket will be used." -The BoD


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

In the clip where Peoples runs right off rocket motion, it looks to me like he could have easily had 5 to 10 more yards if he ran behind Cam's block instead of directly toward the unblocked defender. This is the vision that seems lacking this year by the whole rb group.

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." - K

Vision seems to be the limiting factor for our ball carriers. The film review, particularly the first play discussed, really shows that a lot of times our guys just can't see where the better hole is. A lot of our better run gains, it looks like the runner could either gain an additional 5-10 yards, or even score.

So obviously this isn't a scheme issue. The play is there. So how much of it is just lacking the raw talent to see these lanes, and how much of it is position coaching of teaching the carrier where to find these holes?

David Wilson would have carved them up and ate them for dinner if he had those kinds of running lanes.

So obviously this isn't a scheme issue. The play is there. So how much of it is just lacking the raw talent to see these lanes, and how much of it is position coaching of teaching the carrier where to find these holes?

Which leads me to a question I've had for a while: can you be taught vision, or is it inborn?

If you can indeed be taught vision, then I think we've caught one of the pitfalls of having Burden coaching out of position.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

It's not Burden, we've dealt with this for years. I think Billy Hite was once quoted as basically saying certain RB attributes can't be taught. Either the guy is a natural or he isn't.

Yeah, there's definitely natural vision, which I suppose some guys have but some guys don't.

On the other hand, seems like these tips here (especially 4 and 5) would help us tremendously. When I watch our RBs run plays, it almost seems like they're running to where they think the hole is supposed to be, instead of where it ends up being.

In Peoples' case, he would have had an easy first down had he stayed inside Phillips' (very good) block instead of trying to stretch it wide. I remember Emmitt Smith on NFL Live years ago talking about how he learned how to look for "tails" (the backsides of the OL) in order to figure out where to go. That seems teachable to me.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

We miss Billy Hite- he knew RB talent, and was able to get some great ones. He was also good at knowing what guy to run- power vs scat.

I was thinking the same thing this morning. I don't remember when he was reassigned from his coaching/recruiting position but it feels like our RB had a major drop off at that point.

Yep. He was moved in 2011 to make room for Shane. It's been downhill since then.

"Our job as coaches is to influence young people's lives for the better in terms of fundamental skills, work ethic, and doing the right thing. Every now and again, a player actually has that effect on the coaching staff." Justin Fuente on Sam Rogers

Even when you get skunked; fishing never lets you down. 🎣

Which leads me to a question I've had for a while: can you be taught vision, or is it inborn?

I mean, it can't be inborn, as it's a product of something during your developmental years. The question is what about a certain athlete's childhood produces vision. Is it in infancy, or later when you begin being physically active? Is it affected by your role models and teachers (of all sorts) at all?

My 2020 Season/Covid19 Challenge: only comment with Marvel memes.

My 2019 Season Challenge: only comment with Star Wars memes. (completed as of Nov. 29)

If we think of vision as anticipation and forethought, it can be taught, but the ceiling is based in processing.

Think of driving a car. You'll see many people who barely look beyond the car in front of them. You see them react to brake lights, or make stupid decisions because they aren't seeing the bigger picture of the road. They were, more than likely, never really taught to look further ahead and SEE the bigger picture. If you don't see the bigger picture, you can't anticipate what's going to happen and avoid accidents.

Some people have been taught, but can't process that much information, so while they may see the cars around them, and maybe a couple cars ahead, they can't see down the road and anticipate that all the cars around them will slow down for that cop, red light, accident, whatever.

I can't remember what RB I was watching the other day that I enjoyed watching, but I remember seeing him, not only wait for his blockers, but guide his blockers into the best spot. It's the anticipation of seeing where people will be and avoiding them that, to me, constitutes vision.

Then, there's the smash mouth backs like Bettis who just trucked through vision required...

EDIT: fix a spelling issue

To teach vision Zohn should just have the RBs carry a football through Turner all day. Get from Brueggers to Qdoba without being touched and the starting job is yours.

Here lies It's a Stroman Jersey I Swear, surpassed in life by no one because he intercepted it.

But what about boxing glove on a stick.

Every student gets one on his/her first day of orientation and uses it any time a football player walks by.

Here lies It's a Stroman Jersey I Swear, surpassed in life by no one because he intercepted it.

re-watching 38-0 bro, leaves a pit in my stomach watching david wilson carve up UVA's defensive holes. The run at 7 min mark is breathtaking.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

David Wilson got the extra yards with speed and freak athleticism. I never thought he had the greatest vision or patience behind blockers (which didn't often matter because he was such a freak). Now Ryan Williams, he had great vision and anticipation.

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." - K

Ryan Williams is my favorite VT running back ever. Even over Suggs/Jones. I was a little too young to appreciate those guys though I think.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

I was there for all... i would go RW > LS > KJ

He just did it all so well. He had excellent vision and balance. He could run between the tackles and outside. The was quick and elusive but was still a bruiser. I'll never forget him dragging that NC State defender to the goal line. I'm hot and bothered.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

Brandon Ore is the forgotten VT back when it came to vision and feel. He was second only to Williams IMO in that regard.

I feel like we are currently in a situation now similar to when Tech ran out Humes and Imoh. The offense just didn't seem to click until Ore came along and turned 3 yard gains into 10+ bursts.

Suggs before the knee injury was really something special. I wish we got to see more of him in his prime.

Agreed. If Wilson had better vision he would have been Barry Sanders.

I am not sure what to do with my hands now

I think Vision is definitely a limiting factor for our RBs in general, but on that Peoples' run, I don't consider that a vision mistake. I agree that if he follows Cam towards the middle he probably gets the first down, but there's not room for much more with the back-side defenders coming over. Bouncing to the outside, if he can make the defender miss there is an opportunity for a big play. The issue in this play is that Peoples isn't the type of back who is going to make a guy miss very often, and really none of our backs are (though McClease and Holston have shown some flashes).

I think David Wilson bounces it outside just like Peoples did and makes the safety miss on his way to a touchdown.

I needed this yesterday when work was crawling. Not so today.

I would love to be a fly on the wall while you break down the entire game in prep for these pieces, French. Thanks again.

If you play it, they will win.

"How the ass pocket will be used, I do not know. Alls I know is, the ass pocket will be used." -The BoD

Great article as usual. Thank you for your effort and analysis.

You keep reading them, I will keep writing them. Next week, we will have a series focusing specifically on the last 4 games and how the 3rd/4th and short playcalling changed from Miami to UVA.

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

Thanks French! Great way to start the day. Really hoping QB1 gets his confidence/health (whatever it is) back before next year. Something hasn't seemed right since that Clemson loss.

"What are you going to do, stab me? - Quote from Man Stabbed

A) hurt B) freshman and inexperienced.

It was VERY clear that the offensive staff didn't want to challenge UVA's corners. Almost every completion minus the long Phillips catch came against a linebacker or safety (specifically Moore and Nelson), especially after the Thornhill INT (which was a coverage trick that Bud uses as well... showing man and then rolling a safety over the top so the corner can sit on a quick throw.)

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

Winning in the trenches.. more like winning with french's film review am i right

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

When I read French's articles combined with Bud's brilliance:


Tyrod did it Mikey, Tyrod did it!!

I still don't understand this reference. Halp?

The name in the yearbook is "Dam Son", which is a homophone of the popular colloquial phrase "Damn, son". This phrase is often delivered with an expression similar to that of the child in the yearbook picture. It follows, then, that the commenter was indicating that reading French's film reviews of a perfectly executed Bud Foster defense caused him to have such a reaction.

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


Tyrod did it Mikey, Tyrod did it!!

The name in the yearbook is "Dam Son", which is a homophone of the popular colloquial phrase "Damn, son". This phrase is often delivered with an expression similar to that of the child in the yearbook picture. It follows, then, that the commenter was indicating that reading French's film reviews of a perfectly executed Bud Foster defense caused him to have such a reaction.

My 2020 Season/Covid19 Challenge: only comment with Marvel memes.

My 2019 Season Challenge: only comment with Star Wars memes. (completed as of Nov. 29)

See all i see are a bunch of numbers and letters though. I don't see a meme.

Now that you mention that you're showing that "damn son" (which is excellent), I realize it's probably my browser that's blocking the image and replacing it with numbers and letters.

Great stuff as always. 4-8 next year will be even better... crazy to think about.

Not as great as 12-0.


-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.

As 4-8 go, so goes the possibility of 12-0.

Well, to an extent.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

do you mean 15-0

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

I hope our biggest recruiting wins end up being found in convincing Settle, Walker & Edmunds & Adonis to stay an extra year.

If they can make money, they should go. It's right for them.

But I'm selfish, and want them to stay so bad. Would turn another rebuilding year into a true transition year to make the next step up in the ACC.

I was hoping you would cover the fake sweep-shovel pass play after seeing it during Giftory. The only player that bit on the sweep at all was Reggie Floyd and it was just a stutter step, not even a half a step. They had to be practically signalling play calls to our defense and Bud with how we played.

On the shovel pass I am betting that 67 was supposed to be the blocker that would have blocked Edmunds but he takes a false step and because of that is slow pulling and that allows Tremaine to get through the gap.

My kingdom for a healthy Josh Jackson. I saw that wheel-route to Keane as a big missed opportunity, I didn't catch that the Grimsley play could have been a TD if he had thrown it a tick or two sooner. He was wide open after his cut.

Good lawd, that 3rd video clip where "Walker cuts off Settle's pick". Tim walled off 5 people, and Walker got to act like a lunchpail linebacker. Beautiful to see.

Without losing his gap fit- that has been the big difference. While the Maddy-Marshall-Dadi group created more sacks/TFLs, they were incredibly poor with their gap fits their senior year. If they didn't win with penetration, they were exposing the hell out of the linebackers (who struggled to get lined up properly DEON.)

This DL group (which I know the idiot fringe like to criticize for lack of QB pressure) has had a terrific year. And the lack of edge pressure is more a byproduct of Bud playing them with tighter pass rush lane discipline. That means fewer explosive sacks off the edge, but also means way fewer QB runs for first downs. Think about how few first downs on QB scrambles we have seen since the Clemson game. That isn't an accident.

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

So at the expense of more sacks, Bud has found a way to shut down running QBs that bolt when no one is open?

I wouldn't say "shut down", but maintaining gap integrity severely limits the options for scrambling. I still firmly believe that it is impossible to truly shut down a dual threat QB. All you can hope to do is limit the damage he can do with good pass coverage and a gap sound defensive line.

Get Angry, Bud!

Which is why all I can do is roll my eyes and laugh when people say Bud can't defend a running QB, as if there are college defenses that can consistently prevent the big play through the air, stop mobile QBs, stop the run and pressure the passer on every single down.

Great stuff as always, Ffrench. While watching the game I noticed all the rocket motion (though reading it here I learned a new term) but I don't remember ever giving it to the guy in motion or going back to him. I assume we have wheel routes or screens that we could have used but I was curious how effective that motion was without us ever making it more than a decoy. Did it influence the defense all game? And what would be the plays off of this formation for the motion guy?

This is a great point. On one of those short yardage situations I would have loved to have seen a true triple option with a quick pitch to the motion man. It didn't happen though and I can't remember them running any kind of options off that motion after game 2. Part of the function is to try and get a read on the defense so it did that. But, if the big value add is getting a defender out of position, if the defense ignores the motion you have to make them pay for it. Otherwise, all the motion does is take away a potential blocker from blocking.

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

If Shifflet was supposed to block either of the linebackers on that play he was extremely tentative and took a god-awful angle. A better football player would have easily gotten ahold of one while an elite player might have taken both out by knocking Edmunds back into Motu. So crediting UVa's offense because it was successful against a disinterested Miami team for 3 quarters might be a bit misleading.

UVa is going to be just awful at football things for a while if this kind of play is any indication.

As for the play of VT's front 6, one thing I notice when they're effective is that their hands are winning battles for them. It's good to see that here. Edmunds straight-armed the UVa lineman, prevented him from getting into his chest, cleared the arms, and made the play on Ellis and the lineman stood there helpless.

Historically, you have not seen that from VT linebackers (beating blocks to make tackles). Especially since Hall-Adibi left.

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

Yeah... too bad Edmunds will likely play just one more game for VT. Hopefully the guys down the depth chart have similar ability.

Part of me would love to hear your take on whether any of these early NFL candidates has quality tape against high quality opponents (teams and/or individual matchups). For me I'd be very reluctant to leave early if I didn't have some quality evidence that I can play and be successful against the NFL candidates on our schedule. The other part of me thinks these kids deserve their privacy and should just be left to enjoy their bowl experience. And no I am in no way related to Beamer (who loved giving the kids some bowl experience reward), though I would be proud if there were a sliver of similar DNA. Cheers.

This is part of why I hope Dax commits, because between him and Rivers, I think we could see that kind of 2-headed beast develop again in the LB crew.

"I have a PLAN. You just need to have a little goddamn faith, Whit. I just need. more. MONEY." - Justin van der Linde

some of those clips were just as I remembered - Pure dominance (on occasion) by our offensive line. The Peoples run where he is tackled is one of MANY times that happened this year. I mean he has grass all out in front of him. Call it vision or call it having moves in the open field - that Has got to be a first down or more. I can only hope there are recruits out there seeing some of these moments and thinking they could have taken it to the house. It also is nice to see the offensive line, which is beaten to death on the chat boards, show what it can do at its best - the last two games those guys have gotton it done.

"I play real sports, not trying to be the best at exercising..." - KP

I like that the offense can catch teams with their pants down, even when they aren't physically dominant, which would force the d to cheat one way or another. Seems to me that is a sign of good play design and good play calling. If we can continue improving offensive recruiting to get the physical dominance as well...

French how would you grade out Plantins play in the UVA game? did you like what you saw? future bright? or??

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He wasn't great run blocking (Osterloh was a tick better.) he wasn't getting beaten like Osterloh in pass protection. Ultimately I think Plantin ends up on the right side, with Jackson and Silas D competing at that left tackle spot.

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

Completely off topic but there's a brief but hilarious clip on Oscar Bradburn's Instagram of Teller shotgunning a PBR. First, I find it mildly amusing seeing so publicly displayed that side of the players (the normal college kid side) that we rarely see. Second, serious respect for the beer choice. I personally feel that PBR is an underrated choice in light beer.

French, is it just me or does Teller seem to be having a much quieter year this year than the last couple?

better on assignments, not as dominant... that is a fair assessment

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