Week 1 vs. William & Mary: The Good? The Bad? The Ugly?
It was so 21st century to see the TE involved offensively in a meaningful way. The way the game is trending, the TE can be utilized as a critical part of the passing game, particularly in the spread offense, because they create so many natural mismatches when split out wide. And, not only did Loeffler split out wide athletic freak r-Fr. Bucky Hodges (6-6, 244), he also split out fellow TE r-Jr. Ryan Malleck (6-5, 242). On some plays, Loeffler even went 2x2 with both Hodges and Malleck lined up at inside receiver. It was incredibly refreshing to see two TE’s on the field, and not lined up as additional blockers because the OL couldn’t pull their own weight. We have never, repeat NEVER seen this kind of potential from the TE position in burnt orange and Chicago maroon. Patriots: Brady, Gronk, (pre-prison) Hernandez. Hokies: Brewer, Hodges, Malleck. I’m not saying, I’m just saying.
Michael Brewer. Obviously we’re talking the "good" bad here. Brewer’s pocket awareness and decision-making were absolutely masterful against the Tribe. Not to take anything away from the offensive line, but they didn’t have time to allow a sack, as Brewer got the ball out "on time" repeatedly. He found the open receiver time after time and didn’t force the ball into mouse-sized windows, as we have become accustomed to seeing. He hitched up in the pocket to find his secondary reads (wow, what are those, right?), and scrambled intelligently when he had to. If I’m tOSU gameplanning to take away his favorite receiver, who do I pick? Ford’s the easy answer, but as mentioned above, Brewer wasn’t afraid to go to his big TE’s, or anybody else for that matter. He distributed his 22 completions to 9 different receivers. Nine. And Frank Beamer’s still coaching the Hokies. Let that sink in for a bit. That’s right: Brewer’s a bad, bad man.
Repeatedly choosing to run dive in goalline situations with Jr. RB J.C. Coleman (5-7, 194). If I have a banana sitting on my counter and I’m craving a steak, no matter how many times I put that banana on the grill, it’s not going to turn into the tender, delicious cut of filet mignon that I want it to be. Not to say that bananas are awful. They certainly can be appropriately delicious in their own right; however, pretending it’s something it’s not isn’t productive for either my dinner or the now-grilled banana. J.C. Coleman is not a between-the-tackles guy. He’s not a banger. And no matter how he aspires to be Ray Rice, circa 2012 (long before, ya know, elevators), he’s not going to be that guy. He has clearly worked his tail off for the program and certainly deserves to get touches. But, his touches should be determined more intelligently. Get the guy in space where he can use his speed; stop trying to have him move the pile by himself nearly every time, particularly when our line isn't exactly the best at moving the pile in short-yardage situations themselves.
1) T-Fr. RB Shai McKenzie (5-11, 221) averaging 11.8 yards per carry rushing,
2) QB Michael Brewer (6-0, 200) completing 77% of his passes (23/30),
3) The defense yielding only 117 yards and no touchdowns
4) The receiving corps.
1) only 222 total rushing yards against an FCS team. To be fair, the coaches probably felt that Brewer needed to throw more than McKenzie needed to run.),
2) Michael Brewer had more than one tipped pass, and one was intercepted.
1) Tech didn't win the turnover battle (two for each team)
2) William & Mary averaged more kick return yards (23.8 to 18.7); it didn't matter against The Tribe, but it could against Ohio State.
Strong play from Freshmen all over the field. I liked seeing T-Fr. WR Isaiah Ford (6-1, 174) catch the first touchdown of the season, and Shai McKenzie was running all over the Tribe. Also was fairly impressed with how Brewer was able to run the fast-paced offense. He had a couple mistakes and tipped balls, but overall he was better than I anticipated.
Penalties! A lot of penalties were just a lack of discipline and ill-timed, stalling some drives at times. It's the first game and some jitters and discipline issues are to be expected, but that's something to work on going forward.
Along with the penalties there were a couple of turnovers I could have obviously done with out. Also J.C. Coleman with 20 yards on 10 carries. Contrast that with the 11.8 yards per carry average McKenzie had. Coleman is too small to be a premier focus of the running game, time for the Hokies to move on from him, and I think they will.
Brewer showed great composure, kept his eyes downfield when he left the pocket, made smart decisions and accurate passes (see pass to Ford over linebacker). R-So. OL Augie Conte (6-6, 295) played tough the entire game, was aggressive and reached second-level blocks several times. Coach Loeffler made an excellent adjustment by abandoning the "under-center experiment" quickly.
Besides Conte, the offensive line didn't play aggressive enough, failed to reach second-level blocks consistently and used poor technique (too many failed cut blocks when keeping the block engaged was the correct read). Linebackers failed to scrape off blocks, particularly in run defense. D-line did not generate enough pressure; considering they were facing a bad FCS offense led by a new QB, I expected domination from our front four.
Special teams return and coverage teams were unable to provide lanes or disrupt returns consistently. Quality depth at all positions (sans WR,TE and DBs) was non-existent; serious drop-off means staying healthy even more important this season than most. "Mental" penalties; somewhat expected in the first game, these must be eliminated before conference play.
1) We won. Let's not get too presumptuous. :)
2) The overall commanding performance by Brewer.
3) RBs other than J.C. Coleman (no offense) eventually got the rock and showed we can be productive in the running game, if not lethal. The latter remains to be seen.
4) The Virginia Tech Football youth movement. What an injection of fresh energy into the program!
5) So. CB Kendall Fuller's phenomenal pass breakup in the end zone.
1) Running plays, passing plays, kickoff returns -- all given to J.C. What production did we see? Again, no offense -- he's a great representative for the program and it's nothing personal (how could it be?) -- but why exactly? Beamer almost apologized for deciding to start the other backs this week. This is ridiculous. Play the best player(s) at the position. End of discussion. Or it ought to be. J.C. will still get some opportunities. I would love to come back later this season and feast on crow about this.
2) Blocking on kick returns -- terrible! Come on, we can't outdo Bill & Mary on kickoff returns? Why are we continuing to be so bad at this?
3) ESPN News' feed. At least 3 or 4 times, the feed just stopped and didn't return for a while. I missed, for instance, almost the entire drive in which William & Mary had the long wild turkey run. I know others did too.
1) Almost everything that was bad.
2) Probably the ESPN announcers, though I don't recall exactly who they were right now. But I'm betting I'm right on this anyhow. Of course, Bill Roth and Mike Burnop are beauts, if viewed through a maroon & orange lens--not that there's anything wrong with that.
A win that was never in doubt. Strong performances by virtually every newcomer who suited up. The D that allowed under 100 yards without the three big gainers by W&M.
Michael Brewer both running and passing. An impressive debut effort, that lent considerably more excitement to the proceedings than previously expected.
Insistence upon using J.C. Coleman in situations that are not suited for him. In the name of seniority, loyalty, whatever you'd like to refer to it as. The score would have been more like 42-6 or 45-6 if J.C. hadn't gifted them three points with his fumble, or failed to pick up critical yards in red zone situations.
The indecisiveness shown in Shane's RB rotation. THE PENALTIES FROM VETERANS. The kickoff returners bringing the ball out of the end zone seven yards deep to get a return to the 15 yard line. The 5,000-6,000 empty seats.
What most impressed YOU or made you want to pull out your hair? Tell us in the Comments section below.