Well, I might as well go ahead and get this over with. My berating of this team a week ago was almost proven right, only to be completely and utterly turned around and shoved into my face. And now, I have to eat it. Yes, those harsh words of a week ago, I have to eat them. How many of them? Only time will tell. I come from a family of slow eaters, so it shouldn't be a problem. But, I refuse to eat them all until they have all been categorically proven without a doubt.
The truth is we got some answers on Saturday. Some that we liked and some that we didn't care so much for. For one thing, our offense has a pulse, sans Ryan Williams too. But our defense is going to be an even more pedestrian version of the mediocre D we put on the field early last year. I truly believe that. So I wasn't completely wrong when I said that the shutout against Boston College was deceiving.
Please know that I don't mind eating my words at all when it comes to being a pessimist about Hokie football or athletics in general. In fact, I wish that they made me do it more often.
As I watched my complete expectations for this game come to life in the first half (though not to say that it was not equally as horrifying as it was correct), I pondered a 2-3 start to the season and the possibility of the ACC crown coming off the board. I didn't like it, but it was perhaps a reality. As far as the Coastal Division has fallen since the beginning of the year (UNC suspensions, Jacory Harris getting possibly more careless with the ball, our woes and GT falling exactly like I said they would), I still would not bet on all three of those teams losing three conference games or losing two and all losing tie-breaks to us. Considering that if we had lost this game and one to any of those three teams at the end of the schedule that that would be the case, it seemed like we had nothing to play for. Even when we started playing better, I wanted to be happy, but I knew that they were just teasing me and they were not legitimately getting back into the game. Even throughout the third quarter, it seemed like every time we scored, we were destined to be down by 10 points (or 11) because we couldn't stop them. But we responded courtesy of Jayron Hosley, Tyrod Taylor, Darren Evans, David Wilson and Antone Exum.
Beamer must have took them in at halftime and given his we're not out of it yet, we're a good football team, we're just a couple plays away schtick at halftime. But it did work this time. I just wish he would give that in the pre-game chat instead. I wish Beamer would adjust things by taking guys that aren't having success out of the lineup (Jeron Gouvia-Winslow please...ahem!). I am still waiting to see Alonzo Tweedy take over at the whip, much like Cody Grimm did to Cam Martin at the end of the 2008 season. They took a gamble and look what happened there. Anyone sorry for that now?
As for a player of the game, I'd have to go with a tie between Hosley and Taylor. Hosley is the obvious pick, as he was named both the ACC Defensive Back of the Week and the National Defensive Player of the Week. But Taylor's poise and timely excellence was just as crucial to our success. In fact, I say that Taylor made the play of the game when converting the 3rd and 6 early in the 4th. Without that conversion, and especially with a sack, who knows how this game ends.
And while I'm not at all happy with the way we played, I will take the result. Beating an undefeated, ranked NC State team on the road, with Russell Wilson at QB and a high-charged offense going up against our young D is good enough for the moment in my book.
Below I break down my thoughts during the game. Please keep in mind that these notes are sequential, as I wrote them down while watching the game.
- Jeron Gouviea-Winslow keeps (guess the word)-ing up! Get him off the field! (Amazing that I'm thinking this earlier and earlier every game. This time, I thought it on his first play mishap, in which he blew a coverage and allowed Russell Wilson to drop the ball right over his head for 31 yards. Talk about picking on a guy from the start!)
- NC State is marching the ball down the field at will on Tech (really, this could have been at any point in the game).
- I know that I was originally a proponent of that WR screen action that Stiney used effectively against Boise State, but now he has run it into the ground. It's now showing up on repeat on teams' game film of us. Expect that route to get stuffed and even lead to an interception if Stiney doesn't at least temper its use.
- Blown coverage, after blown coverage, after blown coverage! This is getting ridiculous!
- Tyrod's passes were all about two feet high early on. I kind of felt like it was going to be one of these throwing days for him where he just didn't have the accurate touch. But to his credit, he adapted and fixed the problem.
- This is really just a question for Frank Beamer and staff: You think you're a tough, hard-nosed, run it down your throat kind of team, yet you won't go for it on 4th and 1 down 17-0 as poorly as your defense has been playing?
- Oh and as for Darren Evans' frustration on that 3rd and 1 stuffed play (he screamed, pumped his fists in disgust and threw his helmet at the bench on his way to the sideline), I'm with you. Even our most powerful back is unable to fight of a hoard of opposing tacklers when they hit him in the backfield before he gets his momentum going! Our O-line has got to stop letting guys into the backfield, or our run game will continue to be inconsistent.
- That Tyrod read-option draw was a GREAT call by Stiney! I'm a huge opponent of QB draws. This is the first time I've ever said that about a QB draw call by Stiney.
- Exum has been TREMENDOUS in coverage!
- Hosley played GREAT (um...2nd quarter Chris, this is future Chris. I think you're in for a great surprise. Turns out saying he just played GREAT may have been the understatement of the year).
- Our defensive linemen and blitzing linebackers cannot shed their blocks to get to the QB. That is allowing Wilson to just dissect our secondary!
- Our D is taking HORRIBLE pursuit angles against runners in the open field.
- I REALLY like that off-tackle Darren Evans run play! (speaking of which, it looks like Evans has added some top-end speed since 2008)
- The commentators were criticizing the Hokies for the lack of middle of the field passing routes, and I do agree that Stiney is a deep ball or nothing kind of play-caller a lot of times. Maybe those routes weren't used as frequently as they should have been, BUT Tyrod either missed or wasn't interested in A LOT of open receivers across the middle, especially when he rolled out of the pocket.
- Tyrod is holding onto the ball ENTIRELY too long with receivers open. Perhaps he is looking for the big play, but open receivers past the marker are always a good option. I counted three times when Tyrod either didn't see an open receiver, avoided it to try to get more yardage, or just didn't go through his progressions on the run. Two of these plays resulted in sacks.
- That defensive pass interference call against Carmichael was ludicrous! 1. The ball was uncatchable as Beamer was arguing, and 2. As the commentators pointed out, the offensive player threw the defensive player to the ground.
- How many times did the commentators talk about Nate Irving's car crash? And how many times did they use the word horrific?
- That run by Tyrod on 3rd and 6 early in the 4th was CRUCIAL!
- Lyndell Gibson was horribly late on that Mustafa Green 3rd down conversion.
- Again, terrible pass interference call. This time against Exum.
- Darren Evans is REALLY not a good receiver!
- Play action bootlegs just confuse the heck out of us.
- I know this is getting ridiculous, but ANOTHER terrible pass interference call against Exum. The refs did not bring their A-game today calling those. They really hurt us and kept NC State drives alive. I would hate to have to lose like we did against Boise State again, and these penalties almost ensured that.
- We dropped 41 on a pretty good defense. You'll take that any week right?
- We were closing in on 500 yards.
- I really applaud Stiney for his play-calling inside the 20. He took his licks this week in the media, and he came out and responded. I just hope it doesn't take that for him to start doing it weekly.
- It actually seemed like we were trying to establish the passing game to set up the running game.
- Play-calling was not so much of an issue as execution. The O-line botched some things, as did Tyrod.
- I LOVE that Daron Evans' off-tackle play. I hope he continues to use that. It was SO effective the other day.
- One of those touchdowns was via a kickoff return, and another set them up with a short field after an interception return.
- Claimed that his ninth grade son changed his mind about the offensive play-calling in the redzone, then selected the plays, and admitted that reporters were right when they claimed a ninth-grader could run the offense better than him. No matter how much truth there is to that, I wouldn't be admitting that even as a joke if I were in Stiney's position.
- Although many of the errors early on were on the defensive side of the ball/coaches not getting out guys ready to play AGAIN, the offense did not help things, and dug us into a bigger hole. Even ONE response score early on could have helped.
- Has GOT to do a better job of clock management when we're up late in games.
- Managed to rack up 3 interceptions, 10 pass break-ups, 16 QB hurries and a sack.
- Did look much improved in the second half.
- Somehow managed to bend but not break while allowing 500 yards for the first time since 2007 against LSU.
- As Bud said, any time you hold Russell Wilson to 21-of-49 passing, you've done your job.
- We gave up 500 yards for the first time since 2007 against LSU.
- It did not look pretty.
- We could do very little to stop NC State all game long, although this improved as the game moved on.
- They basically imposed their will on us.
- Way too many big gainers.
- Missed tackles and bad pursuit angles continue to plague us.
- Blown coverages left and right.
- Especially early on, blitzing was largely ineffective.
- I'm sure he gave the we're still in the speech at half time, and this time it worked.
- Won after spotting the Wolfpack 17 (like Boise all over again), making this the largest deficit that Frank's Hokies have ever overcome.
- We look like we don't know we're playing a football game until half, sometimes later or not at all. That's on you head ball coach.
- Had another penalty called on the punt block team! You need to fix this Frank! I've been yelling at the top of my lungs over this for weeks now! Since you like Larry the Cable Guy so much, perhaps you'll appreciate this helpful piece of half-wit hillbilly advice: Get 'er done!
- Sounded like a child in the press conference before the game where he was asked about his team's offensive woes.