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Virginia Tech Football: Ten Critical Plays From The Ohio St Game, Highlighted On Film

Every game has its big plays but not all are glaringly obvious. A look at ten critical plays from last Saturday night that I feel impacted the momentum and outcome of the game.

Brewer to Hodges for game-winner
Brewer to Hodges for game-winner
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

In every football game, there are big plays, plays that make all the highlight reels and sometimes determine the outcome of the game.  However, there are also critical plays (made or NOT made) that have a more subtle impact.  In this piece, I will highlight 10 plays that I feel were important to the flow, momentum and result of Saturday night's tilt in Columbus.  Additionally, I'll throw in some "honorable mention" moments and three "sick" plays.

Play 1:

1st Qtr, 13:39 (8:21 clip): When on the road facing a talented team and a hostile crowd, it's always important to prove early that you can handle the overall pressure.  After netting five yards on their first two plays, VT was facing a 3rd and 5 from their 25.  Brewer's completion to Bucky Hodges, while an ill-advised throw, set the tone for the rest of the night, especially on 3rd downs.  Tack on the additional 15 yards for the late hit and this play was instrumental.

Play 2:

1st Qtr, 6:17 (27:40 clip):  Facing 3rd and 9 from their own 18, J.T. Barrett drops to throw, immediately faces heavy pressure, avoids the sack and escapes for a 24-yrd gain.  Not only does this play prevent VT from getting excellent field position, it extends a drive that eventually leads to seven points.   Barrett does a great job sidestepping the blitz, but equal credit belongs to OG Billy Price, who first helps on Dadi before releasing to pick up a blitzing Chase Williams.

Play 3:

1st Qtr, 2:08 (38:20 clip): Game tied at 7, VT is driving, 2nd and 10 from the Ohio State 46 yard line.  Marshawn Williams runs an inside zone read, picking up 8 tough yards before apparently fumbling before being down.  Coach Meyer correctly prompts an official review, which does determine a fumble occurred but "no clear recovery" was made.  This was a huge moment, as a turnover was prevented, allowing the drive to continue, ending in seven points.  (Wang does an excellent job blocking on the TD run and Marshawn makes the correct read)

Play 4:

2nd Qtr, 10:13 (1:01:30 clip):  VT leading 14-7, OSU has just hit a 56-yard completion to Devin Smith and is now facing 2nd and goal from the 10.  Corey Smith (#84) is lined up wide left, single coverage by Brandon Facyson with no inside/safety help.  After an excellent step to the outside, Smith releases clean inside Facyson.  Barrett makes the correct read, an excellent throw ... and Smith drops the easy TD.  The game should be tied at 14; instead the Buckeyes come away empty after a missed field goal

Play 5:

2nd Qtr, 4:57 (1:12:52 clip):  Brewer’s offense is backed up, staring at 3rd down and 17 from their own 4-yard line.  Any pass at this point is risky, as a sack or holding (in the end zone) will result in a safety.  Isaiah Ford is split-out wide left, with Malleck lined up offset to the right and Rogers left of Brewer.  The Buckeyes only rush four, allowing time for Ford’s route to develop while excellent pass protection creates a perfect throwing lane for Brewer.  Ford runs an excellent route right past the chains and Brewer places a perfect pass, released before Ford’s outside break.  What should have been an opportunity for excellent Buckeye field position is thwarted by a well-executed, gutsy play.

Play 6:

2nd Qtr, 2:14 (1:19:11 clip):  Coach Foster’s unit has just forced another Buckeye punt, with a chance for decent field position to start a two-minute drive.  Cameron Johnston, OSU’s punter, hits a booming kick, driving Greg Stroman back to his 5-yard line.  Unfortunately for Johnston, he out-kicked his coverage, breaking down pursuit lanes and leaving Stroman room to pick up chunk yardage.  If only a VT player would provide a block to spring Stroman … Kyshoen Jarrett obliges, cracking back to destroy LB Joshua Perry, helping spring Stroman to a 34-yard return.  An excellent special teams play sets up a precision two-minute drill that nets the Hokies seven more points before halftime.

Play 7:

3rd Qtr, 03:11 (1:58:29 clip):  After almost three full quarters living dangerously (and successfully) on D, VT gets beat for a big play touchdown.  On 3rd and 4 from its own 47, Ohio State finally uses a clearout/slant combination to beat Foster’s coverage.  At the snap, the slot wr to the right (Jalin Marshall, #17) is covered head up by Chuck Clark while the wide option  (Michael Thomas, #3) is also covered head up by Brandon Facyson.  Marshall runs an inside route, leaving space for Thomas to make a big play ... IF he can beat Facyson to the inside.  The play works perfectly as Barrett delivers the ball to Thomas who makes Facyson miss, then sprints the final 45 yards without a defender in sight.  VT’s lead is cut in half and the momentum is definitely with the Buckeyes.

Play 8:

4th Qtr, 12:01 (2:16:29 clip): On 2nd and 12 from his own 27-yard line, Michael Brewer makes his biggest mistake of the game.  Facing a four-man rush, with six blockers, he may have felt he had additional time to make a play or throw the ball away.  Instead, he let four + seconds pass then didn’t secure the ball to protect against a big hit.  Buckeye DE Joey Bosa (#97) beats two blocks then creates the biggest turnover of the game.  Ohio State is given a short field and promptly ties the game.  While Brewer played an excellent game, this one play was awful, considering the field position and the game situation.

Play 9:

4th Qtr, 08:51 (2:25:09 clip):  While there are many plays that were integral to the "answer" drive, the actual winning TD pass is the most critical, for obvious reasons.   Facing 2nd and goal from the Ohio State 10, Coach Loeffler dials up a great call and both Brewer and Bucky make excellent plays to secure the touchdown.  Malleck and Stanford are lined up right, with Ford split wide left and Bucky in the left slot.  The defense has three to cover two on each side, although LB Grant is shading towards strong side.  After the snap, Bucky runs vertical, forcing LB Darron Lee (#43) to stay flat (he also needs to protect against an inside route by Ford).  Bucky then plants hard, accelerates past safety Vonn Bell (#11) and catches a perfectly-thrown ball from General Brewer.  What a drive to answer the Buckeyes' tying score.

Play 10:

4th Qtr, 1:09 (2:45:33 clip): The last true series on offense for Ohio State resulted in multiple sacks, punishing Barrett and making him understandably quick to make his read (s).  I feel the last sack, by Deon Clarke (#40), was the final blow, leading directly to the game-ending interception the very next play.  Barrett and his running back (Rod Smith, #7) had no chance to prevent this sack.  In fact, Smith blocked correctly, taking the outside blitzer (Donovan Riley, #2), expecting inside help/chip on Clarke.  Once Smith was left blocking two free blitzers, the play was over … as was the game following the next play.

Honorable Mention:

There were many other plays, made by both teams, that could have made my top ten list.  Below are just a few:

** 1st Qtr, 2:32,   Brewer avoids sack on 3rd down, scrambles for first, keeps scoring drive alive.

** 1st Qtr, 0:59,   Marshawn Williams’ TD was a thing of beauty.  David Wang made two good blocks (releasing to the linebacker after chipping the dline) and Mars made a great read and run.

** 2nd Qtr, 10:33, Nice long completion by Barrett to Devin Smith, beating Chuck Clark.  However, Clark stayed with the play, making the tackle, which helped prevent the Buckeyes from scoring.

** 2nd Qtr, 1:10,  Pretty delayed screen to Malleck, excellent design, perfect execution.

** 3rd Qtr, 13:10, Facyson makes a great play to prevent a long TD

** 3rd Qtr, 7:19,   Jarrett interception while playing a very deep free safety.  Great change of coverage.

** 4th Qtr, 10:21  Edmunds makes a killer block, springing Deon Newsome for a big gain

** 4th Qtr, 05:21  Barrett misses Dontre Wilson in flat; Wilson had 40 yards without a defender in sight

** 4th Qtr, 02:39, J.T. Barrett almost saves Ohio State, scrambling for 21 yards on 3rd and 20

** 4th Qtr, 0:59, Riley’s interception seals the win.  Next time, PLEASE fall down after making the INT!!

Sick Plays:

Finally, there were three absolutely "sick" plays made in the Shoe Saturday (sick = amazing!).  I rank them as follows:

  1. 1) 2nd Qtr, 14:24  Dontre Wilson makes a ridiculous catch against good coverage by Chuck Clark
  2. 2) 2nd Qtr, 02:14  Jarrett destroys Joshua Perry to spring a long Stroman punt return
  3. 3) 2nd Qtr, 08:30  Chuck Clark lays the wood on an option for a tackle for loss

Stick with Gobbler Country for more of Bobby Boogie's breakdowns. Follow us on Twitter @gobblercountry, and on Facebook as well. We hope you enjoy the coverage GC is bringing you! Rest up you crazy fools, the team will need the Nation's support once again as it attempts to mitigate the middling threat that is East Carolina.