James Madison 21, Virginia Tech 16: Postgame Stream of Consciousness

Alright, it's done. I've watched every snap on ESPN3. In a related story, there is no more alcohol left in this house and I would really appreciate it if one of you would come by and drive me to a convenience store to buy more. KTHXBAI.

Now it's time to get down and dirty and analyze Virginia Tech's first loss to an FCS team in the Beamer era and the second ever loss for a ranked team to an FCS opponent. Let's get the party started. Steve, turn my theme music up.

Steve, I said TURN. MY. THEME. MUSIC. UP.

Oh yeah, we're gonna get all emo up in this piece! I get the feeling I'm gonna be listening to this and The Cure a whole lot this season!

This is going to be a very spiritual, spiritual moment for all of us.

  • It will be much easier to say who isn't to blame for this loss, so I'll make a list: Ryan Williams. The Secondary.
  • Hey! That's it! Everyone else shares in it, evenly. Even me. Trust me, I did something stupid enough today that, karmically, I shouldn't be all that surprised that this happened. But RW and the defensive backs are excused. Go stand over there and watch me and everyone else run stands for the first 30 minutes of practice tomorrow morning.
  • Williams ran like a man possessed today and the secondary wrapped up and had good coverage today. Other than that, everyone sucked.
  • Bryan Stinespring almost gets to watch me run stands, too. I know, that's surprising right? Well, the only reason he gets to run with me is because we should have put up more points in the first half. There were some bogus third down calls in that half that led to us settling for field goals on our last two drives of the first half and first drive of the second. But watch carefully and you'll see he's not at all to blame for the second half.
  • After the field goals, we had drives end on an INT, a fourth down that wasn't converted and a fumble. Now, Stiney obviously didn't throw the INT or fumble the ball on what would ultimately be our final offensive play of the game. But what about that fourth down?
  • At the time, we were down, 21-16 and decided not to kick a field goal that would make it 21-19. We went for it. JMU was obviously going to blitz up the middle to clog rushing lanes and/or get pressure on Tyrod Taylor. So what's the best play to run in that situation? A slant over the middle of the field, which is vacated by the blitz.
  • And guess what? It worked! Jarrett Boykin beat his man over the middle and was open for six. But Tyrod underthrew him and the pass was batted away! Sad face!
  • So why wasn't Ryan Williams in when Darren Evans fumbled on the last drive? Probably because Williams was gassed after his big 16-yard gain two plays earlier when he reversed field on a short pass and then got the first down for Tech. With RW on the bench, DE fumbled and that was it.
  • And the offensive line was a special kind of terrible again today. They consistently gave ground to a defensive front that had no business owning the LOS, considering their size. JMU made it it's mission to stop the run and did it. Kudos to them.
  • What helped was that Tech was never able to be a force in the down-field passing game for two reasons. First, because the rain helped make Tyrod less accurate down field. The weather shouldn't be an excuse because both teams had to deal with it, but for whatever reason Tyrod wasn't very accurate when throwing deep. Also, he didn't have enough time to find open receivers downfield because we still can't pass block. Awesome!
  • Because of this, Tyrod was forced to tuck and run more often than we'd like, which did lead to some good runs, but it wasn't enough to force JMU to do anything than put guys in the box to stuff the run and put pressure on Tyrod.
  • And now, the defense. Holy sweet mother the defense. They couldn't tackle and the linebackers couldn't cover anybody. After Kwamaine Battle was hurt and John Graves had no one to help him at DT we couldn't stop anything up the middle.
  • Without Battle, JMU was able to run Nevada's pistol zone-read option to perfection for over three quarters. We were horrible on both lines, especially on the D-line. Graves was held relatively silent for most of the game. Steven Friday had another sack and looks to be a good pass rusher, but we were never able to get JMU into passing downs. The Dukes just ran the ball down our throats.
  • The Dukes! Ran the ball! Down our throats! Welcome to 2003, everyone. Every team from here on out will try to run the ball up the middle on us and only go away from that when we prove we can stop it consistently. It's the first time since '03 that that's been the case. Even ECU, which runs the Air Raid, will probably run a whole lot of zone-read option out the shotgun that will kill us since the Pirates have a mobile QB in Dominique Davis and a solid running back in Jonathan Williams.
  • And the tackling. Wow, the tackling. Hey, remember in the preseason when I was fretting about Barquell Rivers being out for the first part of the season and you all were like, "Don't fret, F4H, Bruce Taylor has been great in practice?" Remember that? Well, Bruce Taylor is horrible. He can't tackle or cover anyone and we should be praying for Barquell Rivers' quad muscle every night while rubbing buttermilk on it in a hyperbaric chamber.
  • We should be doing the same for Alonzo Tweedy's groin because Jeron Gouveia-Winslow also struggled again. Against JMU. 
  • Now, if at some point during this season we can get a decent pass rush, cover anyone over the middle, tackle consistently and run block efficiently, we'll be fine! Wow, that's a long list! This is going to be great!
  • So, welcome to hell. Were in the 10th circle of hell. This is the season every numskull fan from an opposing team has been waiting for. This is the year we struggle and everyone gets to think is the beginning of the end for our little run of success at football. The big question is whether or not we prove them right.
  • Do we fight back, win some games, compete for the ACC and then return next year and do the same? Or do we go quietly into that good night, prove everyone else right and, years from now, point to this game as the day Virginia Tech football jumped the shark?
  • I hope we fight back and prove to everyone that this is a strong football program that can survive this kind of adversity and use it to get stronger. But, regardless of the answer, I'll be wearing a Virginia Tech polo to work every Monday after a loss. It's far more important to be a Hokie after a loss than a win.
  • And it always will be.
  • F4H. Out.

 

  • Update: After reading the above post, I realize I don't give adequate credit to James Madison, which is a huge error on my part. Drew Dudzik played an amazing game, Mickey Matthews coached an amazing game by implementing the pistol and the JMU defense stopped our bread and butter all day long. Dukes fans should be very, very proud. It's true we did ourselves no favors, but a lot of that was forced by the way JMU played. It was an absolutely outstanding effort on the Dukes' part in every aspect of the game. Congratulations, Dukes, you deserve it. Oh, and Mark is right. This comes down to coaching, straight up. We just got out-coached by a dude named Mickey.
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