BLACKSBURG VA - SEPTEMBER 18: Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Frank Beamer returns to the sidelines after talking with an official against the East Carolina Pirates at Lane Stadium on September 18 2010 in Blacksburg Virginia. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
The topic du jour for Hokie beat writers and bloggers is the offense's struggles in the red zone. The Hokies have reached the end zone on nine of their 18 trips, which ties them for 81st in the nation in red zone TD percentage. Tech red zone TD percentage was 60.4 in 2009 (52nd) and 46.6 (108th) in 2008.
This week, those struggles have been dissected to death. Joe at the Key Play broke down every play we've run in the red zone this season and discovered we run too many plays for negative yards. Darryl Slater looked at Tech's history of running (and running and running) in the red zone. But a quote from Kyle Tucker's examination of the problem lets you know what the Hokies' problem on offense really is.
When asked about Tech's tendency to run on nearly every first down in the red zone, here's what Frank Beamer had to say:
"Well, did you count the number of wins we had? Did you throw that stat in there?"
And there it is. To me, our problems in the red zone, and on offense in general, boils down to the coaching staff's inability to admit that there's a problem. Beamer was asked about play-calling and percentages and his answer used the past tense. How many wins we had.
College football is not about how many wins you had last year or how many you had in the last six seasons. It's about the ability to recognize trends and adapt accordingly. We did with the defense in 2003 when Cal obliterated our (basically) 4-4 defense in the Insight Bowl.
Last year, I thought Bryan Stinespring had turned a corner as an offensive coordinator not because of any stats we put up at the end of the year, but because after the Nebraska game, a game we won (past tense), he examined film with his team and took responsibility for some of the offense's failings and admitted that he made some bad calls.
That brings me to the whole point of this post: Responsibility. Earlier today David Teel posted some quotes from Paul Johnson ripping his Yellow Jackets for their performance against NC State. He asked if Beamer would ever say things like this. The fact is, Beamer does it all the time, but he does it passive-aggressively.
How many times have we heard Beamer and other coaches say this year that we were one play away or one block away or didn't execute. These quotes from Beamer, like the one above about past-tense wins, deflects responsibility from himself and the other coaches and onto the players.
And that makes me sick.
Yes, these kids are receiving scholarships and at some point have to make plays. But they're still kids who aren't getting paid to play this game (I hope). And they are players that this coaching staff recruited and coached and are responsible for. Beamer is responsible for hiring the coaches that are responsible for recruiting and coaching the players.
If we're consistently one play or one block away, over and over again, year after year, the responsibility is not on the players, it's on the coaching staff. All of them. Beamer, Stinespring, Curt Newsome, even Bud Foster, who isn't nearly as bad as the rest of them but it still prone to saying things similar to "one play away."
That has to wear on these players to hear from their own coaches in the media say that if they were the ones from keeping the coaches' great schemes from coming to fruition. The responsibility for winning and losing falls on everyone, both the players and the coaches.
And after seeing Stinespring take some responsibility after Nebraska, it makes all that much more disappointing that we've reverted to talking about one block and one play away from having success. When are we going to hear from Beamer that we were one call away or that we didn't have the kids coached up for that one play or one block? When is the responsibility going to be shared equally?