Posted on: January 4, 2011 2:05 am
Edited on: January 4, 2011 8:35 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Stanford holds Virginia Tech to a scoreless second half in their 40-12 win for the Orange Bowl title.
Offense - Stanford put together one of the most complete offensive second halves that Virginia Tech has seen all season after holding a 13-12 halftime lead. They did it the way they've done all season, with a balanced attack of rushing and passing. The final damage totaled an evenly distributed 534 yards of total offense, with quarterback Andrew Luck leading the way with 287 yards passing and four touchdowns. After being frustrated by Virginia Tech's defense in the first half, Luck adjusted at halftime. With the chains off, Luck's presence opened up the run game as well for Stanford, proving once again why they are the best one-loss teams in America The Cardinal fans may have seen their last of Andrew Luck in that jersey, but it was one heck of a farewell show. GRADE: A-
Defense - Virginia Tech has a backfield full of playmakers, and Stanford absolutely shut down the Hokie rushing attack. The Hokies were held to only 66 yards as a team on the ground, and the Cardinal successfully turned the Hokies into a one-dimensional team by the second half. Once they accomplished that, Stanford began turning up the pressure on Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Taylor, normally elusive and cool under pressure, was sacked eight times and forced into throwing a crucial interception in the third quarter that led to a two play, 97 yard scoring drive. If the Hokies had scored on that position, they could have tied the game at 19, but instead the Cardinal defense answered and changed the gameplan entirely for the Virginia Tech offense. GRADE: A
Coaching - When John Harbaugh gave his interview right before halftime, he mentioned that he liked "some" of what Stanford was able to get done in the first half. Andrew Luck mentioned after the game the change was about the little things. This was one of those moments when you determine that someone is one of best coaches in college football. Harbaugh and the Stanford staff repurposed Stanford's scheme at half to match defensive coordinator Bud Foster in the ongoing coaching chess match. As we saw, it worked out well for the Cardinal. Having said that, Harbaugh is so gone. His stock won't get any higher than it is right now, and the way he treated the question all night just left a feeling that he was ignoring the inevitable. GAME: A
Offense - Tyrod Taylor had one incredible play. Don't let that go unnoticed. But the Virginia Tech rushing attack of Darren Evans, Ryan Williams, and David Wilson combined for only 44 yards, well below the trio's average. The rushing attack usually helps keep the defense honest and allows Taylor to make more plays. The offensive line also struggled late to pick up the blitzes, and the Hokie offense could not find any kind of production in the second half against Stanford. GRADE: D+
Defense - Virginia Tech has been strong defending the run for most of the season, but for the first time since Boise State (the last time they played a Top 5 ranked team) strong defensive play was negated by giving up the home run. Throughout the game, strong stops would be quickly overshadowed by a crucial and/or big yard play by the Stanford offense. The few highlights the Hokies defense did have occurred in the first half, but by the end of 40 points and 534 yards a few highlights won't give you a good grade here. GRADE: D
Coaching - Bud Foster dialed up a new set of blitzes that gave the Stanford offense fits in the first half. Unfortunately, Harbaugh and the rest of the Cardinal staff adjusted at halftime and Virginia Tech had no counter. The speed with which the game got out of hand in the third quarter was surprising considering how resilient this Virginia Tech team has been all season. I assumed that the Hokies would need to play a full 60 minutes of hard-fought football in order to win. One half of perfect football wasn't enough to win against one of the better teams in Stanford's school history. GRADE: C-
FINAL GRADE: I was really excited about this game, and figured that it had the chances to be a quarterback duel for the history books between Luck and Taylor. Instead, I was most impressed with Stanford's defense and Harbaugh's ability to adjust at half. The game quickly turned into a promotional piece for Luck and his head coach. Now we will wait and wade through days filled with sources and tips, all claiming to know the fates of Harbaugh and Luck. My guess? Both gone. No sources, just a hunch. FWIW. GRADE: B-
Posted on: January 3, 2011 12:21 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2011 12:36 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
The Basics: Virginia Tech and Stanford meet in the Discover Orange Bowl on Monday night in Miami at 8:30 p.m. EST.
Why To Watch: Many fans have complained about the level of play in the games thus far in the bowl season. If you enjoyed the thrill of the Rose Bowl, you can expect a similar battle in Sun Life Stadium on Monday. After losing to Oregon in Autzen Stadium, the Cardinal took matters into their own hands to prove themselves as the best one-loss team in the nation. Heisman runner-up Andrew Luck led Stanford as they won the last seven games of their schedule by an average margin of 22.0 points.
Virginia Tech has been on quite the tear themselves, having won 11 straight after starting the season 0-2. The Hokies fell to Boise State and James Madison in a five day span that caused many to write the Hokies off in 2010. When Virginia Tech picked themselves up, they stormed into conference play with a "refuse to lose" attitude that carried them all the way to their fourth ACC Championship since joining the conference in 2004. Whether it was coming back from a 17 point halftime deficit at N.C. State or knocking off Georgia Tech with a fourth quarter kickoff return TD, the Hokies have displayed a resiliency in each game that is representative of their season.
As far as personnel goes, the game could end up being a duel between two of college football's hottest quarterbacks. Luck, likely the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, has been phenomenal all season and will look to finish strong what will likely be his last season at Stanford. Virginia Tech has been led by ACC Player of the Year Tyrod Taylor, who has overcome multiple injuries throughout his career to thrive in his final season in Blacksburg. Taylor entered with expectations of the next Michael Vick, but it has not been until 2010 when those comparisons have really felt accurate. Both quarterbacks are as dangerous with their legs as they are with their arms, and it should make for a thrilling back and forth between the two teams.
Keys to victory for Stanford: Establish the running game early, and use it to dictate the pace of the game. So much focus is put on Luck's ability to spread the ball out to several receivers, running back Stepfan Taylor is often overlooked as one of the most consistent aspects to the Cardinal offense. Averaging just over 85 yards per game, and ranking second in the Pac-10 with 15 touchdowns, Stanford can utilize Taylor to control the game - particularly if the Hokies are forced to focus heavily on defending the pass. Getting penetration into the Virginia Tech backfield will be crucial for Stanford as well, forcing Tyrod Taylor to make decisions on the run out of the pocket. Taylor is at his best when he has protection to hang in the pocket and then take off up the middle, Stanford should focus on forcing him to the sidelines where he has less room to make people miss in the open field.
Keys to victory for Virginia Tech: The Hokies have to play a complete game against Stanford. The Cardinal are so talented on both sides of the ball, not to mention well-coached and tough as nails. There will be no opportunities to take a play off and certainly no second chances for Virginia Tech. This is a winnable game for the Hokies, but they must be as close to mistake-free as possible. Stanford didn't blow out all of their opponents this year, but they did a great job of wearing down their opponents. It would be incredibly unoriginal for me to reference "Beamer Ball," but if the Hokies can get a big play out of their special teams unit it could be the deciding factor in a gritty matchup that could come down to the final minutes.
The Orange Bowl is like: One of the "other" Summer Blockbusters. You know those summers when Hollywood trots out a series of big budget movies? Well the Orange Bowl is like the Memorial Day release. It's not going to get the July 4th treatment or anything like that, but it certainly will set the tone for the rest of the summer season. The Orange Bowl has the potential to be one of those memorable games, so getcha popcorn ready.
Posted on: January 1, 2011 7:22 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
As Virginia Tech prepares for the greatest test of their 11 game win streak against Stanford in the Orange Bowl, the last thing that head coach Frank Beamer wants to do is doubt his team's focus. ESPN.com's Heather Dinich reported Saturday that two Virginia Tech players have been suspended for the first quarter of Monday's Orange Bowl for missing their 1 a.m. curfew on New Years Eve. Running back David Wilson and safety Antone Exum will miss the first quarter of the Orange Bowl as punishment for missing curfew.
“We’re going to keep them out of the first quarter of the ball game, take some of their travel money, and that will be the end of that,” Beamer said regarding the suspensions. “The good thing is they were in their hotel, the bad thing is they were out of their room. They knew they needed to be in there.”
Wilson is a crucial part of the return game, and also the next in line behind Ryan Williams and Darren Evans. With Williams a game-time decision due to a re-aggravated hamstring, the suspension could result in a heavy load early for Evans. Wilson is expected to be replaced in the return game by talented defensive back Rashad Carmichael. Exum is listed second on the Virginia Tech two-deep depth chart, and has played in all 13 games this season.
Posted on: December 20, 2010 12:32 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2010 12:41 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer has taken pride in building a successful program both on and off the field. His accomplishments in 2010 may have been overshadowed by Maryland's Ralph Friedgen in the eyes of the conference [ENTER SOLAR ECLIPSE JOKE HERE], but Beamer is receiving his recognition on the national level.
The Hokies head coach was announced on Monday as the recipient of the inaugural Joseph V. Paterno Coach of the Year Award. The award is "designed to honor the spirit of Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, whose long-time success on the field has been matched only by his impact away from it."
“This award is extremely special, No. 1 because of the coach’s name on it, a guy that I have deeply admired for many years and appreciate very much his impact on college football,” Beamer said in a release from the school. “And secondly, because of what it stands for. Academics and involvement in the community are things that I have strived hard to provide, along with a winning football program. I am very appreciative that other people recognize that.”
Beamer's on-field accomplishments have been well-documented. He is the only FBS coach to win 10 games in each of the last seven seasons. Since joining the ACC in 2004, Virginia Tech has won the conference championship four times, including running the table in 2010. After starting the season with two losses in five days, Beamer helped orchestrate one of the most impressive winning streaks in recent ACC history. After tearing through 11 wins and an ACC Championship, the Hokies now prepare to face Stanford in the Orange Bowl on January 3.
Posted on: December 3, 2010 8:09 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
The ACC Championship Game will have a familiar look on the field, but very different feel than years past. The ACC Championship was first held in 2005, and the first five seasons were all played in the state of Florida (first Jacksonville, then Tampa the last two years). But playing conditions will be a bit different as the title game moves north in 2010 to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. Saturday night's weather forecast calls for 40 degrees with a 40 percent chance of rain. Not exactly the breezy 60 degrees and clear that Tampa will enjoy at the same time.
But the teams on the field should look right at home, no matter where the location. Saturday's showdown is a rematch of the first ACC Championship Game, held in 2005. Until Virginia Tech's arrival, the ACC practically belonged to the Seminoles. Florida State won 12 conference championships in 14 years, finishing with a victory in the inaugural title game. Saturday will mark their first return since that game. The Hokies, on the other hand, are looking to add some more ACC hardware after locking up their fourth division title in six seasons of conference play.
On Saturday, the ACC's past will try and reclaim the throne from the ACC present. Here are three keys to the 2010 ACC Championship Game.
1) Florida State's pass rush must get to Tyrod Taylor
Without a doubt, the success of Virginia Tech's offense starts and finishes with Tyrod Taylor. The 2010 ACC Player of the Year has matured from a dangerous young talent to one of the most complete offensive threats in the nation. The job of containing him will start with the Florida State front line. The Seminole pass rush led the conference with 43 sacks in 2010, and they will be needed to penetrate into the Virginia Tech backfield to disrupt Taylor and force him into making some mistakes. Unfortunately, Florida State may find it difficult to do that to a player who only threw four interceptions in 256 pass attempts.
2) Battle of the X's and O's: Jimbo Fisher vs. Bud Foster
One thing that Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer went out of his way to mention on Friday was the Florida State's play calling. "Running the right play at the right time, they are good at that," Beamer mentioned when asked about Florida State's offense. That offensive play calling is still done by head coach Jimbo Fisher. On Saturday night, Fisher will go toe to toe with Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster - widely regarded as one of the best defensive coordinators in the game. The chess match between Fisher and Foster could, and might, be one of the deciding factors in deciding the new conference champion.
3) What, if any, effect weather plays on the game
"The only thing that is iffy is the weather," Frank Beamer said. "You know, cold doesn't affect a game anymore. Rain affects a game a little bit, wind I think affects a game a little bit, but hopefully the weather is going to be okay, and if not, both teams got to play in it." As was mentioned, the weather will be a big change from Tampa or Jacksonville. But how will each team react? Both offenses are so balanced and both defenses are incredibly disciplined, so it is hard to give an edge one way or another. But adding the weather factor on top of the national spotlight and a berth to the Orange Bowl on the line, and you never can predict how a college football team will react. Of course, there could no rain and wind could be a non-factor, in which case the point is moot.
Prediction: I'm sticking to my prediction from the expert picks, both offenses are far too balanced to kept from the end zone. No matter what the conditions, there are too many different weapons on the field to not set up some touchdowns. Virginia Tech 31, Florida State 24.
Posted on: November 28, 2010 10:58 am
Edited on: November 28, 2010 11:52 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
1.) The Randy Shannon Era is done at Miami - Late Saturday, Miami announced that head coach Randy Shannon was fired, and the school would move forward with a coaching search immediately. While Shannon brought in several top-ranked recruiting classes, he failed to ever crack into the ACC elite in his four years at Miami. Miami fans collected money to have a banner flown over Sun Life Stadium on Saturday: 4 YEARS 0 ACC TITLES LOTS OF EXCUSES FIRE SHANNON. The only thing more depressing than the banner was the mostly-empty stadium below. Whether you believe the reports that an "emergency meeting" was called following the 23-20 overtime loss to South Florida, Saturday was undoubtedly the icing on a cake of concerns regarding the state of Miami football. Now, on to the real fun: the replacement rumors.
2.) Another year, another Coastal Division title for the Hokies - In Saturday's 37-7 win over Virginia, Virginia Tech may have cemented itself as the team of the decade in the ACC - and they have only been a member sin 2004. Virginia Tech finished the season undefeated in conference play, a feat that has not been accomplished since Florida State in 2000. Since the expansion in 2004, Virginia Tech has appeared in four of the last six ACC Championship Games as the the Coastal Division champion. Since getting virtually written off from the national scene after an 0-2 start that included a loss to James Madison, the Hokies have methodically dissected their way through their remaining schedule. A full stable of healthy running backs and a matured Tyrod Taylor have kept the Hokies productive, while the defense has held conference opponents to 14.1 points per game. Virginia Tech has improved continuously throughout the season, and now stand just one win away from their third Orange Bowl appearance in the last four years.
3.) On the day that Florida State got crowned, they looked like champions - Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State staff did not want any distractions in Doak Campbell Stadium, so they requested that the stadium staff not report the score of the Maryland-N.C. State game. After all, the Seminoles could do nothing to improve their position in the ACC Atlantic Division race, so they might as well not worry. Instead Florida State went out and dismantled their rivals from Gainesville, ending a six game losing streak to the Gators. They did it in style too, with senior Christian Ponder dicing up the Florida secondary for 221 yards and three touchdowns. When the game finished, Fisher and the Seminoles were greeted with the news of Maryland's victory. At times this season, Florida State has struggled to look like a team that wanted to compete for a league championship. But they did not look that way on Saturday, representing the conference well in the storied rivalry. Virginia Tech was one of the three opponents not on Florida State's conference schedule this year, so the Seminoles enter with a fresh slate against the conference's best team. Now we will get to see if Florida State can do what no other ACC team has done in 2010: beat Virginia Tech.
4.) Despite little to play for, Maryland did come to play - While there were concerns about how "up" Maryland would be for this game, Torrey Smith showed up. Torrey set the stage early, snagging in seven receptions in the first half. When the Terps had to have a score, trying to capitalize on a Russell Wilson interception before halftime, freshman quarterback Danny O'Brien counted on Smith in the end zone. After the Maryland defense held Russell Wilson on 4th and Goal, everyone expected the Terps to try and burn the clock. But when Torrey Smith burned his man down the field, O'Brien took a strike deep and connected for a 71 yard touchdown. Smith accentuated the score with a penalty-inducing slam dunk on the goalpost that slammed shut the Wolfpack's ACC Championship Game hopes. The Terps have been a particularly aggravating thorn in the side of N.C. State, stealing four of the last five matchups in the series. While Maryland may feel disappointed missing out on the ACC Championship Game, the win still caps off an unbelievable turnaround from the 2-10 season in 2009. Head coach Ralph Friedgen has been getting some (deserved) Coach of the Year discussion, and Smith likely just picked up a few more NFL scouts for Maryland's bowl game. All in all really impressive performance by Maryland to close the season.
5.) Boston College shows tremendous resiliency - When Boston College star running back Montel Harris underwent season-ending surgery, the Eagles lost the backbone of their newfound offensive attack. Harris averaged 127 yards per game in conference play, helping Boston College bounce back from a five game losing streak that almost crippled their season. But Boston College showed tremendous resiliency and finished the season on a five game winning streak to become bowl eligible for the 12th straight season. That same resiliency showed in the performance of backup running back Andre Williams on Saturday. Williams stepped up in Harris' absence and delivered one of the best rushing performances of the season. Head coach Frank Spaziani did not feel nervous handing the rock to Williams, and did so a whopping 42 times. But the usually tough Syracuse defense was not able to contain Williams, and freshman racked up 185 yards rushing and added a touchdown. Maybe it is the influence of linebacker Mark Herzlich, but this Boston College team simply refused to buckle in 2010.
Posted on: November 16, 2010 1:35 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
It takes a special kind of mentality to return kicks and punts. Running headlong into the football equivalent of oncoming highway traffic is not exactly written into human rationality, after all, and finding the right person with the speed to take a kick to the house and the bravery to risk injury by running at that coverage team with purpose.
Fortunately, college football players are the type of players who would at least try, because that's football and that's just the way of things. And so with Virginia Tech needing some help in the return game after losing three returners over the last couple weeks, VT coach Frank Beamer figured he could use tailback Ryan Williams back there in a pinch. And sure enough, Williams -- wait, what's that? Okay, let's just skip all that:
"Ryan decided at the end he’d rather not do that," Beamer told the Daily Press . "You want a guy back there that wants to be there. I’m not sure what Ryan’s reasoning was, but it was his decision.”
As the Daily Press points out, Ryan Williams does have one career return in college... and zero successful returns; Williams muffed a punt that led to an Alabama field goal in a 34-24 loss for the Hokies to start 2009. Since then, Williams has stayed away from special teams, and truly, more power to the guy; if he knows he's not cut out for it, then that's that, and it's probably better for the team that he not stand back and field punts or kicks. That takes a lot of maturity to realize, and though humility doesn't necessarily make a good football player, it does make for a good teammate.
Posted on: November 14, 2010 12:52 am
Edited on: November 14, 2010 12:57 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
1. Seminole redemption is sweet - Wow. What a finish for Florida State. After getting bullied around the field for three quarters, a Florida State interception completely turned all of the momentum in Tallahassee. Clemson was completely dictating the game thanks to the play of Jamie Harper, who finished the game with 143 yards rushing and 54 yards receiving. But as Florida State's defense continued to keep the Tigers out of the end zone in the second half, the offense could not get anything going. Finally, quarterback E.J. Manuel started taking over in the fourth quarter thanks to a potent option attack that delivered the first touchdown drive of the game. But nothing was sweeter than the redemption for kicker Dustin Hopkins. Hopkins missed a game-winning field goal at home a week ago against North Carolina, but absolutely crushed his 55-yard attempt against Clemson as time expired.
2. Clarity will not come this week in the Atlantic - A week ago, the ACC Atlantic Division got flipped upside down with Maryland, Florida State, and N.C. State all dropping games when they had an opportunity to seize the lead in the standings. On Saturday, all three squads shared the same fate again, though this one had a happier ending for the contenders. But with none of the three teams losing, the division is still up for grabs between the Seminoles, Wolfpack, and Terrapins. The team with the most control over the situation is Maryland, who plays the Seminoles and Wolfpack at home for their final two games of the season. N.C. State owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with Florida State, so the Seminoles will need help from the Terrapins and/or North Carolina in order avoid losing the division to the Wolfpack.
3. A strong running game will ease the pressure on a young QB - With Jacory Harris out due to the concussion suffered against Virginia, Miami turned to freshman quarterback Stephen Morris once again to lead the Hurricanes. The greatest thing a young quarterback can have is a good running game, and Morris benefited from one of the best on Saturday. Damien Berry and Lamar Miller both missed practice at the beginning of the week, but showed no signs of being slowed against the Yellow Jackets. Berry, Miller and Mike James combined for 218 yards on 36 rushes to lead Miami in the 35-10 win.
4. All VT does is win - Most of the nation tried to throw away the Hokies after a widely-publicized 0-2 start. But all Frank Beamer has done since joining the ACC is dominate in conference play, and that doesn't appear to be stopping anytime soon. Since joining the conference in 2004, Virginia Tech has a 45-11 conference record with three conference championships on the mantle. The Hokies have matured and gotten stronger as the season has progressed, and despite dealing with injury issues on both sides of the ball, played one of their most complete games of the season against North Carolina. At 6-0, Virginia Tech has nearly clinched their fourth division title. They still need to defeat Miami in Coral Gables to clinch it, but the win in Chapel Hill may have been enough to lock it up eventually.
5. Yates exposed by Hokies secondary - After being the subject of much criticism for the last two seasons, senior quarterback T.J. Yates entered Saturday's game in the midst of one of strongest statistical seasons in recent history at North Carolina. Yates has also been etching himself into Tar Heels history, setting a school record with 439 passing yards against Florida State last week, the first North Carolina win in Tallahassee. Yates also became the school's career leader for pass completions against Virginia Tech. But it was a few of those incompletions that spoiled Yates' strong statistical start. Entering the game with 15 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions, Yates failed to throw a touchdown and tossed four interceptions against the Hokies. One game does not spoil Yates strong 2010 campaign, but it was a credit to the Hokies defense that refused to let North Carolina receivers get open downfield. Only three of Yates' 18 completions were to wide receivers, with the senior being forced to check down virtually all day against the stiff Virginia Tech defense.