Blog Entry

Stats That Matter: Broken tackles Hokie style

Posted on: September 14, 2011 4:29 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2011 4:41 pm
 
Last spring I began a recurring element to my blog called Stats That Matter. It was a way to examine the approach of a coach about some slightly outside the box statistic that the NCAA doesn't officially keep track of. The goal: illuminating a key detail the coach sees as reflective of their success. This week's Stats That Matter features Va. Tech running backs coach Shane Beamer who focuses on the real secret to what makes Hokie tailback David Wilson one of the breakout stars of 2011: Tackles Broken.

Beamer, who just returned to Blacksburg after coaching at Miss. State and South Carolina, noted that Wilson broke an astounding 15 tackles in the Hokies opener against Appalachian State. Beamer then was informed by Billy Hite, Tech's former RB coach who has been around Blacksburg since before TV was invented, that Wilson's performance actually qualified as a Hokie record for tackles broken in a game. Then, in WK 2, against East Carolina, Wilson almost tied his own school record, by breaking 14 tackles.

Beamer says he has been amazed at just how powerful the 205-pounder is. "I knew from watching him on TV how fast he is and how explosive he was is," said Beamer. "I had no idea just how strong he was. You go into our weight room and he holds two of the all-time records for running backs in power clean and the front squat. You watch him in the weight room and he's right up there with our offensive linemen in leg strength and a lot of things."

As Miss. State's running backs coach, Beamer had a talented, bruising tailback in Anthony Dixon, but the assistant said the 240-pounder never piled up the broken tackle numbers the way Wilson is doing. "Anthony was a great player, but he didn't have David's speed and explosiveness," Beamer said. In 2010, he was an assistant at South Carolina, but wasn't coaching running backs so he isn't sure how Wilson's numbers measure up to Gamecock star Marcus Lattimore. "I know Marcus had a bunch of em. I remember last year when we played Georgia, he had an obscene number of broken tackles and yards after contact."

Seeing Wilson power through tacklers, though, has proven to be an even bigger revelation for the younger Beamer: "I coach the kickoff return team here. I tell those guys 'you gotta continue playing until you hear the whistle because there's a shot where it looks like David is tackled and the play is over and then the next thing you know, you look and he's still running. And the guy who we were actually double-teaming, made the tackle or else he'd have scored a touchdown on the kickoff return.' So we have to continue to teach our guys with David the play is not over till the whistle blows."

The first thing Beamer does on Sunday morning when he arrives at the office is grade the game film from the previous day. In addition Beamer keeps tabs on tackles broken and yards after contact. He does not include the tackles Wilson breaks on kick returns in his game total, but he does factor in the ones he breaks on receptions. (Thus far, Wilson has only broken one tackle as a receiver in 2011.) Beamer said there isn't a place on the wall in the running backs room where he keeps the players total tackles broke, but says he probably should have one. "We talk about it on Mondays as a running backs group and we talk about it in front of the team. When a running back plays well, the one stat that we always include is the number of broken tackles that he had."

Beamer's criteria: "I count (a broken tackle) as any time where there is a defender in position to make a play and he gets a hand, arm, shoulder on the guy and doesn't bring him down. I don't count a broken tackle as (the ball-carrier) just making a guy miss in the open field or where he just runs away from somebody. The guy has to be in good position to make the tackle and get a body part on him."

The coach also doesn't include any time Wilson drags a tackler, say, five yards downfield before going down. "If I guy makes contact and then gets him down, I'll give him yards after contact but not 'a broken tackle.' It has to be a guy he breaks away from and that guy doesn't make the tackle."

By talking about a stat and emphasizing it, players take note. It becomes a source of pride, which is just how the coach wants it. "I think it's an important statistic," Beamer said. "The great running backs are the ones that are breaking tackles. They're always falling forward on contact. That's the other great thing about David. He's always falling forward and those yards add up. To me, it's so important. We talk to our running backs all the time about breaking tackles and being physical, and that's all a part of it."

Wilson, an All-American in track as a triple jumper, has clearly matured as a back. In his first two seasons at Tech, he averaged 5.7 and 5.5 yards per carry. This year he's averaging 7.1 as he's learned to become a more patient back while becoming even stronger after arriving at Tech at 194 pounds. "He is high-energy guy, so you have to constantly talk to him about the details--his alignment, how deep he is from the ball, taking the right step, making the right read," said Beamer. "We always talk to him about letting everything slow down for him--give your blockers time to get out there and get set up before you hit the hole. Last year, he got the ball and he just went full speed. There was no patience. 

"He probably felt like when he got in there, he'd better make something happen because with Ryan (Williams) and Darren (Evans), he didn't know how long he'd be in there. He's done a good job. He's not looking over his shoulder."

Now Wilson is the one everyone needs to be looking out for.
Category: NCAAF
Tags: Va Tech
 
Comments

Since: Sep 27, 2006
Posted on: September 16, 2011 4:05 pm
 

Stats That Matter: Broken tackles Hokie style

Really Hokie from St Louie?  I completely understand u guys dropped a few balls to. I was being a little sarcastic to your boy JHOKIE.   ...We also could argue bad calls all day, you guys had at least 2 no calls where there should have been pass interfrence. You see what u want to just like the other our fans do.   ....Btw, they don't give points for yardage gained.   ....We led most of the game, you guys pulled ahead, we tied it, you went back ahead, we had the ball & a chance to tie it back up. We didn't and you guys won by 1 TD. It's called a close game.  ...What you did to App St, that's a blow out, a stomping, whatever.   ...Penalties or not, bad calls are not, you guys weren't coming in that stadium and blowing us out. 



Since: Feb 28, 2011
Posted on: September 16, 2011 11:30 am
 

Stats That Matter: Broken tackles Hokie style

Yeah but bob, the same thing could be said for us. Our recievers dropped 2 passes in the Endzone and a third when we were past your last line of defenders. So its really is all speculation. The fact of the matter is that you were outgained on offense 3 fold. You couldn't stop the run, and in the end you lost the ballgame. And saying BCS teams "whine" about penalties is completely moronic. There were two bad calls by the ref, one of which was the BS pass interference call that took away Hosley's pick. No one is complaining about the rest. It was the fact that on every play there were late hits being thrown by ECU, especially on David Wilson, and they went unnoticed. Thats what bothers people.



Since: Sep 27, 2006
Posted on: September 15, 2011 9:49 pm
 

Stats That Matter: Broken tackles Hokie style

I was just being nice JOKIE, actually we should have beat you by a couple of TD's. Those 2 easy INT's we shudda caught and at least 3 or 4 easy drops by our receivers made a big difference in the outcome. Last time I checked penalties and TO's are part of most games. It's funny how the BCS teams whine when they are not in their favor. We can't help you guys jumped offsides like 45 times. What a stupid penalty to repeat so many times. Must have been nervous. 



Since: Sep 15, 2011
Posted on: September 15, 2011 4:59 pm
 

Stats That Matter: Broken tackles Hokie style

First of all, love that comment that VT always has an easy schedule - Since 2002, weve played these teams within the first few weeks: LSU, A&M, USC (NC), LSU (NC), Nebraska, Bama (NC) +Nebraska, Boise. THIS year, yes its very easy, but if anything our AD puts us in a bad position every year with our out of conference scheduling. most hokie fans are incredibly grateful to not put our NC hopes on the line again in September. and the bottom line is, if history tells us anything it wont matter how cupcake soft the schedule was in september (see oregon 2010), if we run the table and there arent 2+ power houses already undefeated, we will be in the NC. i just hope there isnt the usual hokie slip up.

but in response to the ECU fan who tried to act like if not for the bad run defense, we "would have been handed an L" ... easy there buddy. actually the only reason yall were in that game was because of 1) 12 penalties on VT to ECU's 0 (and one of them being possibly the worst PI call ive ever seen on Hoseley's int) 2) 2 trips within your 10 yard line that yielded 0 points (and another to your 20 that we got 0 points for) 3) dropped passes in the end zone and other places from our wide receivers, plus inconsistent play out of our first year starting qb on the road ... ECU literally had 112 yards of total offense ... dont go acting like you're something your not



Since: Sep 15, 2011
Posted on: September 15, 2011 1:45 pm
 

Stats That Matter: Broken tackles Hokie style

I can't speek for everyone, but i'm about sick and tired of these teams in the SEC that haven't competed for the SEC title in the past 10 years still hiding behind the SEC name. I played high school football in a very strong district, fortunatley we were one of the top teams and were able to compete for the championship each year. But I didn't see any fans and players from the teams in our district that went 3-7 or 4-6 saying..."Yea we may lose half of our games but atleast we're in a strong district. Maybe some of these schools (Tennessee, Vandy, Kentucky) should follow suit and try to get into a weak conference so they can compete. The only people that are good at losing are the ones that lose alot! I think they need to go keep hiding behind Alabama, Auburn, and LSU and stop worrying about VT...A winning team!!



Since: Oct 9, 2009
Posted on: September 15, 2011 12:52 pm
 

Stats That Matter: Broken tackles Hokie style

I don't get the "can't win the big games" arguement.  Since 1995, Tech has the #17 ranked team against top 5 opponents.  The number 8 team against top 15 opponents and the #5 team against top 25 teams.  A lot of good teams are behind them yet you don't hear the same thing about those programs.  Tech has only lost once as the higher rated team against top 5 opponents.



Since: Oct 9, 2009
Posted on: September 15, 2011 12:47 pm
 

Stats That Matter: Broken tackles Hokie style

40yd, you signed up for cbssports to make this nonsense comment???  Since 2004, Virginia Tech has played USC, Alabama and LSU all in the year they won the national championship.  Not to mention Nebraska (twice), Boise State and Cincinnati during that time.  Also, in the next 6 seasons we play Pitt twice, Cincinnati, Alabama, Ohio St twice and Wisconsin twice.  By the way, you're beloved Tennessee plays Montana, Cincinnati, Buffalo and Middle Tennessee this year.  Not too tough itself.



Since: Dec 29, 2006
Posted on: September 15, 2011 12:46 pm
 

Stats That Matter: Broken tackles Hokie style

Dude, I hear what you are saying.  However, when you only lose one, maybe two games a year....in a BCS conference you should be considered a NC contender.  The Hokies have been knocking on the door forever.  As an alum, I am biased, but if they could just get over that hump and win the big game they would shut everyone up.  Anyways, point being that any program that consistently is in the conference championship game is always a NC contender.  There is no team in the country with VTs consistency.  Every other team is up for a year or two, then waaaay down.  VT is always up.  Now if they could just beat a top 5 team......UGH!!!!



Since: Sep 15, 2011
Posted on: September 15, 2011 12:34 pm
 

Stats That Matter: Broken tackles Hokie style

NC contenders every year, why? Because they keep a pansy schedule. Good thing JMU doesn't play the every year.



Since: Sep 15, 2011
Posted on: September 15, 2011 12:32 pm
 

Stats That Matter: Broken tackles Hokie style

SERIOUSLY! No wonder there is over-hyped NC possibilites every year when you have a pansy schedule. Ark. St. next? Lucky they don't schedule JMU every year. Always the big fish in the very little pond. Best way to establish a winning program, that and play on Thursday. Every year, NC contenders...sorry but Vick left a LOOOONG time ago. couldn't do it then either.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com