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October 9, 2013

What The Hokies Are Doing

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 7:38 am

How does a defensive coordinator try to provide extra motivation to his front seven for an opponent? He lies outrageously.

Linebacker Jack Tyler was going on about how defensive coordinator Bud Foster said Pittsburgh’s offensive line was better than Alabama’s when Washington Post beat writer Mark Giannotto, having seen the Panthers surrender seven sacks to UVa a couple weeks ago, called shenanigans.

“Well, that’s a little motivation on his part to make us go a little harder,” Tyler said, changing his tune slightly. “But I mean, they have 330-pound guards. That’s unheard of even at the pro level. And they can move. So it might be the biggest defensive front and we’re really going to have to bring our big-boy pads and go to work.”

[Emphasis added.]

I guess the only tape he let them see was of the Duke and New Mexico games.

The Hokie defense has — as is typical — the strength of the team. Obligatory reference to Bud Foster and  lunchpail defense will be skipped. What is impressive is how the secondary has stayed on track even without cornerback Antone Exum — who has been recovering from offseason ACL surgery. Exum was cleared to return to action last week against UNC, but didn’t. He is still unknown for this Saturday.

“Basically, I just needed more time to fine-tune some things,” he said. “I wasn’t at the level I wanted to be at and go out and perform. I could have been solid, but I want to be able to perform at a very high level. I don’t want to go out there again until I can perform at that best-corner-in-the-country level.”

Freshman Brandon Facyson started in Exum’s place.

Exum, who was in a regular practice jersey Tuesday and didn’t appear to be wearing a knee brace, said he felt “really good.” He and the coaches will see how he looks on film later this week and they, along with his family and trainers, will decide what the best course of action is.

Exum didn’t elaborate on what exactly he needs to see from himself to feel comfortable returning to the field.

“That’s for me,” he said. “There are just some things that I need to sharpen up. I can do it, but it’s just doing it consistently. Doing it 85, 90 percent of the time when I’m out there.”

I’m doubtful that he plays. It makes more sense to wait one more game. VT has a bye after the Pitt game. It gives him two extra weeks to prepare.

The Hokies have no other major injuries. Just guys who have the usual dings and aches after playing six straight games.

Guys in blue Tuesday were center David Wang (shoulder) and fullback Sam Rogers (ankle). Receiver Willie Byrn was in a regular jersey, although he still has a little bit of a hitch in his step from the MCL sprain he suffered at Georgia Tech.

Shane was confident Rogers would be able to play this week. He said he looked out his window Monday morning at 7 a.m. and saw Rogers running sprints on an empty practice field.

– Wang’s injury, which offensive line coach Jeff Grimes doesn’t think will keep him out vs. Pitt, led the Hokies to shuffle around their lineup a little Tuesday.

Caleb Farris took first-team reps at center, while Mark Shuman got in at left guard. Shuman, a junior, made his season debut against North Caroline after missing the first five weeks following knee surgery. Redshirt freshman Alston Smith also got some snaps.

In addition to Wang, right guard Andrew Miller is still nicked up from the ankle injury he suffered weeks ago.

The one thing about VT’s offense is that they still don’t have much of a running game. And by that, it has been non-existent the last two weeks. Against Georgia Tech and UNC, VT totaled a whopping 103 yards on the ground. That’s less than what they had against Alabama (153). It’s hard to argue with success, but that is really strange.

“I think it’s a little of this and a little of that,” [Shane] Beamer said after watching Saturday’s film. ”Blocking wasn’t so good at times. Running wasn’t so good at times. You’ve got I think to give the other team credit. They’ve got good players. So it’s not like you can just go put your finger on one thing and say, ‘That’s it.’ I think it’s just a combination of things that we as a group have got to get better.”

The running back coach is Frank Beamer’s son, Shane. As a casual observer, I can’t help but go superficial and wonder if it’s a little Jay Paterno Syndrome.

If you want to see a breakdown of how the Virginia Tech offense is operating these days, take the time to go through this post from the best VT blog out there, The Key Play.

Virginia Tech’s leading wide receiver is a walk-on who finally earned a scholarship this year. So that’s a nice story.

Go figure, the Hokies are Pitt’s first “familiar foe” this year. Beyond the old Big East ties, they are the first team Pitt plays that they faced last year. Only Syracuse and Notre Dame are repeat foes from last year.





Check out the Virginia Tech blog “The Key Play”. A funny write up of how the blogger looks at PITT & Pittsburgh. Not mean spirited unless you are a U. of Virginia fan. Link to site in in the “ACC BLOGROLL”, Chas has on right hand side.

Clowney will be a top ten pick. As Justin has commented teams are adjusting to play around him. The difference between Clowney & Hugh Green is that South Carolina doesn’t have a Ricky Jackson on the other side.

Spurrier did say today in a presser that Clowney does (& did) have a rib injury. Spurrier also said that if Clowney doesn’t play a down again, South Carolina fans should be grateful to have seen him play as a Gamecock.

Oh crap, a two run homer. Beat ’em BUCS.

Comment by PITT-cocks Fan 10.09.13 @ 7:44 pm

More good stuff from tkp: link to thekeyplay.com

Comment by panther94 10.09.13 @ 9:34 pm

Btw, read the comments, too. We are definitely approaching rivalry status.

Comment by panther94 10.09.13 @ 9:36 pm

Met some guy down here in the Carolinas from Pittsburgh who went to Upper St. Clair HS.

Watched the Pirates game with him and his GF and he just coincidentally went to Va Tech.

Oh and some other guy worked there had went to my HS is PGH.

Ever see The Truman Show ! lol

Go figure !

Comment by EMel 10.09.13 @ 11:18 pm

They just go round and round.

Comment by panther94 10.09.13 @ 11:23 pm

Just got done reading thekeyplay va tech blog.

I’ve got one thing to say.

Thank God we don’t have an attempt of a what think is a witty blog.

After about 25% thru, it was a total not funny or witty at all blog.

They must feel they have to keep with the a-holes from Charlottesville.

Comment by EMel 10.09.13 @ 11:36 pm

Yep panther94

round & round…

makes you feel loved !

Comment by EMel 10.09.13 @ 11:38 pm

There was always a huge Masonic Hall across the street on Fifth from the Cathedral, so maybe the Va Tech blog is/was on to something. haha

Comment by EMel 10.09.13 @ 11:45 pm

Yes, Emel, loved in a creepy sort of way.

I remember that hall. Always wondered about it. Maybe now I know. Ha!

Comment by panther94 10.09.13 @ 11:52 pm

a couple odd notes:

– next time you become justifiably frustrated with a college coach extending an offer an 8th grader, remember that REAL Madrid soccer club just signed a 9 year old 4th grader from Japan

– Va Tech will play Tennessee at Bristol (TN) Motor Speedway in 2016 — attendance may be as much as 160k. Could this start a trend?

Comment by wbb 10.10.13 @ 6:50 am

Re: the key play. I thought 3/4 of it was a pretty good read. It did drag at the end. I don’t think anyone can disagree with a wannstache on the cathedral of learning.

Re: Tyler boyd pass d: kid always wants to improve and I think engram is one of the best coaches on our staff. I bet this improves

Re: rivalry. If we win this Saturday – or at least make a game of it, we are a step closer. I like

Comment by Atlanta Panther 10.10.13 @ 7:05 am

Regarding the TEs:

Rudolph touched on one aspect of the lack of TE participation in that he’s keeping them in on some plays for pass protection. That is true and is the politically correct answer for an OC to make, given that he can’t be critical of his QB in public.

A lot of the points made above are valid but the main issue is that to Tom Savage the TEs are a complete after thought unless the play call specifically move the TE up to the primary receiver. Which the OC is hesitant to do because of Savage’s penchant for tossing INTs. For instance when we were in close to the opponent’s endzone Rudolph dialed up passes to TE Orndoff as the primary or secondary receiver.

This isn’t a new issue with Savage. When he started for RU back in 2009 his TEs had only 19 receptions out of 165 total completions – at an 11% clip. PITT has historically used their TEs more than that going back to Walt Harris.

If you recall the staff stuck a head-cam on Savage for a full practice back in spring camp and the results were that he had a hard time checking down off his primary target according to the playcall… unless he chose to go deep as a secondary option. But this is how he plays football as a QB – his strength is the deep ball and he wants to use it as much as he can. That inability to get past the primary receiver has hurt our offense and especially has cut out the TEs. If you re-watch some of the game films you can see where the TEs have been pretty wide open on numerous plays and Savage is instead locked on downfield.

Because of the good success Savage has had with his deeper passes you can’t really fault him for thinking that way – he gets the ball downfield and it is catchable. The staff has to like that aspect of his game as it was completely missing in 2012.

I really don’t believe that our HC/OC is ‘saving’ using the TEs as a surprise tactic to spring on a future opponent. However, we may see the TEs being called on more specifically against VT to keep passes away from that excellent ball hawking secondary VT has – who also leads the BCS in INTs. Getting the ball quickly to the TEs and RBs out of the backfield may be a bit more emphasized this Saturday.

As to the quality of our TEs? IMO it is possible that we may have one of the most talented squad of TEs in the country between Holtz, Gardner and Orndoff. We’ll see them really producing next season when we have a QB who is able to recognize the open receivers better than Savage does now.

Chryst, as an OC at Wisconsin, loved his TEs as receivers – see this article on The Blather regarding his history in using them:

link to pittblather.com

In those five years between 2007 – 2011 Chryst’s TE were 3rd; 1st, 2nd, 1st & 4th and 1st most productive receivers in terms of balls caught. So, I’m sure he would like to do the same at PITT if he could. Voytik is the type of cerebral QB who will be able to maximize his receiving corps including our good TEs more so than Savage is now.

Comment by Reed 10.10.13 @ 7:24 am

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