Tag:Frank Beamer
Posted on: September 26, 2011 10:07 am
Edited on: September 26, 2011 2:20 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 4



Posted by Bryan Fischer


As much as it frustrates the rest of the country, there's a reason why the SEC is continually touted as the nation's best conference. There's a reason why they've won five straight BCS championships.There's a reason why the league is so competitive. And it's not hard to figure out either.

Defense, and lots of it. S-E-C Speed, S-E-C D.

With nearly half the league ranked 75th or worse in total offense through four games, five ranked teams and a 25-4 non-conference record don't happen by accident. Six teams are in the top 30 in scoring defense, including Alabama and Florida in the top five.

For LSU, the fearsome part of their defense is the backend. Defensive back Tyrann Mathieu repeated as Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week thanks to six tackles and two turnovers against West Virginia. A week earlier, his teammate Morris Claiborne was tabbed for the award after two interceptions against Mississippi State. If there's a better pair of corners in the country on one team, they're in the NFL. Mathieu's interception that he took down to the one right before halftime helped stretch the Tigers' lead to 20 and Claiborne's 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown ended all hopes of a Mountaineers rally and kept momentum planted firmly on the LSU sideline.

"West Virginia did a very good job, but our defense showed up to play and we got off to a nice start," Les Miles said after the game. " Morris Claiborne’s return was right on time, and we were able to finish it off. We made some mistakes, but we overcame that adversity."

What was surprising Saturday was just how little pressure LSU's front seven were able to get on opposing quarterback Geno Smith. He finished with a school-record 468 yards of total offense as the Tigers game up more yards in a game than they had since 2005. Giving up chunks of yards to a Dana Holgorsen-led offense is nothing new, but what kept the game in LSU's favor was the big play ability of coordinator John Chavis' defense.

Ultimately, the Tigers don't win by scoring, they win by scoring on defense.

Mathieu, who wears Patrick Peterson's old number seven, is as ball-hawking as you can get. Peterson was a one-man island last season, often taking away half of the field by himself in zone coverage if he wasn't locking up his man one-on-one. While Mathieu isn't as good in coverage as the man he took over for, he has a great feel for the game and reads plays as well as anybody on the back half. When he roams or blitzes, things just happen - as they did in Morgantown on Saturday. Despite losing Peterson, this secondary is better and deeper than it was a year ago as Claiborne and others have elevated their game. As one NFL scout told CBSSports.com writer Gregg Doyel, there are actually more than four NFL players among this group.

Read more about Tyrann Mathieu in Bruce Feldman's Big Picture

"The offensive game plan was not a problem," Holgorsen said. "Turning the ball over four times is a problem, and they have something to do with that too. They have a pretty good defense."

LSU has scored first and led at halftime in each of the Tigers' games this year. It's all part of the plan: Score first, play defense, be opporunistic and win the fourth quarter.

Alabama uses a similar strategy. Before the season, one person inside the program said what many had been saying: this defense was better than 2009's championship squad and might be one of the most talented ever under Nick Saban. They might have an even faster secondary than LSU and use the speed to play everything in front of them, swarming to ball seconds after the snap.

Against Arkansas, they also delivered shot, after shot, after shot on quarterback Tyler Wilson. The 3-4 the team runs allows Saban and coordinator Kirby Smart to mix in plenty of zone blitzes to create pressure on quarterbacks who rarely can tell where it's coming from before the snap. The Tide recruit athletes who can move well in they scheme more than anything and that's translated into a fearsome unit that is living up to their reputation as the best in the country. They play smart and play well.

"Well we set out to establish that we were going against the best offense in the SEC and a lot of people were labeling us as the best defense in the SEC, so we wanted to go out and show people what we were capable of with all cylinders turning," linebacker Dont'a Hightower said.

Though the highlight of the game with Arkansas was Marquis Maze's punt return for a touchdown, that was nearly the straw that broke the razorback's back. As Saban and others admitted it was a defensive play, DeQuan Menzie's interception, that shifted the momentum after the offense couldn't convert on the goal line.

"That was a big turning point in the game from a momentum stand point, and you know, we need to make more plays like that, get more turnovers," Saban said. "People are going to see what we do and figure out ways to deal with it. Our challenge is to get better every day."

That's a scary thought - for Alabama or for any SEC defense. Can't wait to see them match up with LSU on November 5 as much as the offensive coordinators do not.

Stat of the week

After wrapping up a 56-31 win over Rice, just about everybody was talking about Heisman candidate and Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. Look up the box score and it's easy to see why: he went a ho-hum 29-33 for 338 yards and five touchdowns as the Bears racked up 673 yards of offense. Even more eye-popping was the fact that he threw more touchdowns than incompletions for the second consecutive game. Griffin has also thrown more touchdowns (13) than incompletions (12) this season. He is completing 85% of his passes, hasn't thrown an interception and is throwing for nearly 12 yards per attempt. As one would expect, he tops the NCAA efficiency rankings, just ahead of Wisconsin's Russell Wilson.

Other stats of note

- Florida beat Kentucky for the 25th time in a row and by at least 34 points for the fourth straight year.  The Wildcats are on the losing end of the two longest active losing streaks to one team, the other being the 26 game streak to Tennessee.

- Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz set a school record and tied the NCAA record by throwing seven touchdown passes against UC Davis over the weekend. He sat out the second half after the Warriors led 49-0 at half but not before he also passed for a school record 424 yards in a half.

- Notre Dame is dead last in the country in turnover margin at -2.50 a game. The Irish have given the ball away 15 times in four games, more than they did in all of 2009 and 2006. The defense has forced just five this year.

- Quarterback Denard Robinson is the nation's leading rusher at 168.7 yards per game, over 15 yards a game more than runner up LaMichael James. While that's pretty impressive, he wouldn't be in the top spot were it not for the NCAA not counting his stats from the game against Western Michigan - which was stopped early. Of course, who knows, he might have been able to pad his stats during that game and still be in the lead a few weeks later like he is now.

- Texas A&M running back Cyrus Gray had his nine-game streak of at least 100 yards rushing broken. The Aggies really went away from the ground game in the second half and never did establish Gray against Oklahoma State. Meanwhile, Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden set school records for completions (47) and passing yardage (438).

- James was back to putting up video game numbers for Oregon against Arizona this weekend. He rushed for a school record 288 yards and also set the all-purpose mark. His first quarter touchdown run also gave him the Ducks record for career touchdowns as well. His 288 yards were more than the Wildcats have rushed for all year (249).

- Florida Atlantic had just one first down against Michigan State but racked up 20 against Auburn's defense in a 30-14 loss. The Owls are dead last in the country in offense and have scored only 17 points all year. 62% of FAU's offensive yardage this year came against Auburn.

- South Carolina's defense allowed just 77 yards to Vanderbilt and only five first downs all game. Defensive stud Melvin Ingram scored yet another touchdown, his third in as many weeks. By reaching the end zone, Ingram is tied for third on the team for points scored with quarterback Stephen Garcia.

- A few miles away from Columbia, Clemson receiver and freshman sensation Sammy Watkins is leading the Tigers in scoring after 141 yards receiving and two touchdowns in a victory over Florida State. Through four games this year he has 433 yards receiving and six touchdowns, marks that would have placed him second and third on the team respectively in each category last year.

- Four teams topped the 400 yard rushing mark last Saturday, led by Air Force rolling up 595 yards against hapless Tennessee State. Oregon had 415 yards against Arizona, Florida rushed for 405 against Kentucky and Army pounded Ball State for 402 yards. A team has rushed for over 400 yards 10 times this year while a team has passed for over 400 yards 22 times through week four.

- According to SI.com's Stewart Mandel, Illinois is 4-0 for the first time since 1951. I'm with him, how is that possible?

- Georgia Tech has six plays of 70+ yards this year and seven one-play scoring drives.

Yard-by-yard

-  Hats off to Mike Gundy's halftime adjustments. After being held about 1,000 points below their average in the first half to trail by 17, the Cowboys offense exploded as Brandon Weeden started picking apart Texas A&M's secondary with intermediate passes on their way to a comeback win. The Aggies turned the ball over three times and anytime you give Weeden the ball on a short field, watch out. The most telling sign was the lack of panic on the OSU sidelines as they fell behind. Though they hadn't been in the position before, it was as if they knew what to do and went out and executed. The defense isn't quite as good as Oklahoma's but they'll be able to ride the offense quite far in Big 12 play.

- I'm not quite ready to say the Michigan defense is good but it's certainly much improved and solid enough in a weaker Big Ten for new coordinator Greg Mattison. After the much maligned unit struggled all of last year, they seemed to turn a corner against a very good offense in San Diego State. The Wolverines shutout talented running back Ronnie Hillman and the Aztecs in the first half, the first time they've pulled off the feat in the first half in over two years. Hillman hadn't fumbled since the first carry of his freshmen season last year and yet coughed it up twice. We've been in this position with the Wolverines before last year - a fast start, Denard Robinson being Denard Robinson - before fading badly at the end in Rich Rodriguez' last year as head coach. This year, though, might be different. The schedule is manageable and with the defense being more opportunistic than they have been in the past, Michigan could have a much different ending.

- Michigan's archival Ohio State doesn't have the kind of stability that the Wolverines have but they had to be encouraged with the solid first start for quarterback Braxton Miller. He didn't cause anybody to label him the "next" anything after going 5-13 for 83 yards and rushing for 83 yards but it looks like he's the future after a disastrous passing game for the Buckeyes I saw firsthand against Miami. What's funny is the last time I saw Ohio State play on the road was a couple of years ago at USC. The offense struggled and the next game a talented true freshman by the name of Terrelle Pryor started for the first time. Pryor tossed four touchdowns in that game and led the Buckeyes to an 8-1 record as a starter. While Miller didn't come anywhere close to looking like his predecessor, he looked comfortable running the offense and playing with what the defense was giving him. No one's saying he'll be able to replicate what Pryor did on the field but it looks like yet again the Buckeyes have another true freshman ready to lead them into Big Ten play this year.

"I slept pretty good," he said of his first start. "I really didn't have any jitters at all."

With improved play from Miller and the rest of the offense, head coach Luke Fickell might sleep better too.

- There's no offense quite like Georgia Tech's. It's an option attack but one that has a dangerous passing game that is part of the reason the Yellow Jackets are leading the nation in yards per game. They piled up 496 yards on Saturday in a nice win over North Carolina. Quarterback Tevin Washington is the triggerman but unlike previous players at the position under Paul Johnson, he looks like he can legitimately get the ball down the field accurately. Of course, it helps to throw the ball to 6-foot-5 receiver Steven Hill. There were times where he looked just like Calvin Johnson while making one-handed catches on his way to 151 yards and a touchdown. Hill might be the best receiver no one's really talking about but with Washington throwing the ball and running back Orwin Smith helping out on the ground, expect to hear more about Georgia Tech going forward.

- Poor N.C. State fans. As if it weren't enough to see former quarterback Russell Wilson at the helm for a top 10 team, Thursday's blowout loss to Cincinnati couldn't have given anybody any confidence in what's to come this season. The offensive line gave up six sacks to go on top of three turnovers, two of which were interceptions thrown by Wilson's replacement Mike Glennon without much thought. There's some talent on the team but clearly not enough in a much tougher ACC this year. It's going to be a long season until North Carolina's Committee on Infractions hearing for Wolfpack fans.

- I thought the Clemson game would be a bit of a letdown game for Florida State and while they made it close, the execution just was not there for the Seminoles. Of course they wanted to win and definitely were without some key players, but they invested so much into the game against Oklahoma one would have to think that they spent a little too much time watching film from last week instead of film of the Tigers. Just when it seemed like the defense was ready to make a stop or the offense get going, there'd be a penalty (they finished with 11 for 124 yards). On the other side, it finally appears that Clemson is getting the hang of offensive coordinator Chad Morris' new hurry-up system. Tajh Boyd still has moments that must make Morris rip out some hair but he is looking much more comfortable behind center. With electric freshman Sammy Watkins making plays every time you tune in, it's easy to see why there's plenty of optimism in Death Valley.

"I'm super excited about how our players keep growing this offense and executing. And we're only four games into this offense," Morris said. "It's crazy."

- Penn State beat Eastern Michigan 34-6 as part of the Big Ten's weekend of home games against directional schools to raise money for themselves. The Nittany Lions might have come out with a victory but it was a costly one - starting outside linebacker Mike Mauti will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Considered to be the team's best backer, this is needless to say a big blow to a team that already has struggled some on both sides of the ball. Mauti missed the 2009 season with an ACL injury to his other knee and was limited at times last year due to a shoulder injury. Senior corner D'Anton Lynn was also hurt and had to be transported to the hospital to have his head and neck examined after a hit.

- Speaking of Penn State, the team that almost beat them last week, Temple, ended up routing Maryland 38-7. Steve Addazio has quietly taken what Al Golden left him and turned the Owls in a forced to be reckoned with. Junior back Bernard Pierce is the Northeast's best kept secret, as he rushed for five touchdowns and 149 yards to power Temple's first road win over a BCS foe in nine years.

- How bad is Oregon State? The Beavers lost 27-19 to a UCLA team that is not without their own issues on both sides of the ball. Many expected them to get a boost - they were favored at home - with the return of all-purpose threat James Rodgers and tight end Joe Halahuni but it was to no avail. It's the worst start of the Mike Riley era and unlike many of his previous teams, there's just no execution. There's been issues behind the scenes and at quarterback on offense while the defense is still breaking in plenty of new players. As Pac-12 play continues, don't expect things to get any easier until the Beavers get back to their roots of playing smart football and keeping the turnovers to a minimum. For UCLA, it was a game they just had to have if they're to sneak into a bowl game this year. According to the LA Daily News , a joyous Rick Neuheisel told a group of fans after the game  "Anybody have fun on the flight here? Not as much as you'll have on the flight home!" Of course, he also added that the Bruins haven't been 1-0 in the conference, "in a long time."

More on College Football
Analysis
Dennis Dodd Dennis Dodd
That Okie State rallies past Texas A&M is insult enough. That the Aggies cough up a 17-point halftime lead to a Big 12 power on their way to SEC is more than Dennis Dodd can stand.
Read >>
Brett McMurphy Brett McMurphy
LSU proves worthy No. 1 by beating three ranked teams on the road, whipping West Virginia on Saturday. Read >
Gregg Doyel Gregg Doyel
Notre Dame's Brian Kelly is an offensive genius and generally a wise man. Gregg Doyel says that intellect pushes Kelly to rely on defense. Read >>
Related links
Video
Quote of the week

"Big 12! Big 12! Big 12!" - Oklahoma State fans after their victory at Kyle Field. Perhaps it was also fitting that Texas A&M had two 12th man penalties on defense early in the game.

Quote of the week, part II

"The speed of the game, it's kind of lighting struck the outhouse and we were in it." - Kentucky defensive coordinator Rick Minter after the Wildcats' 48-10 loss to Florida.

Tweets of the week

"Arizona will always be a basketball school.. So Child please!" and "If one more person EVER tells me Arizona is turning into a "football" school .. Can kiss the baby"

- Former Arizona forward Derrick Williams during his football team's blowout loss to Oregon. Ouch.

Fisch's Finest

1. LSU

2. Alabama

3. Oklahoma

4. Boise State

5. Stanford

6. Wisconsin

7. Oklahoma State

8. Oregon

9. Virginia Tech

10. Nebraska

Where we'll be this week

The big CBS primetime matchup between Alabama and Florida from the Swamp will have Mr. College Football himself, Tony Barnhart, in attendance. Dennis Dodd will be at Camp Randall for Nebraska's first Big Ten conference game against Wisconsin while Brett McMurphy will be listening to 'Enter Sandman' as Clemson plays at Virginia Tech. I've got early duty as I'll be at Texas A&M's first SEC conference game (well, first unofficial one anyway) against Arkansas at Cowboys Stadium.

Leaning this way

Alabama at Florida (8 p.m. ET, CBS)

The past three meetings has featured one of two teams ranked number one overall and while neither will be in the top spot in the polls this year, a top 12 matchup awaits down in the Swamp. Both the Gators and Tide have tough defenses that are ranked in the top five nationally in the three big defensive categories (total/rushing/scoring defense) so each offense figures to have a little more trouble moving the ball than they have so far this year. Alabama's speed will be the difference as they bottle up Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps to come out with a victory.

Nebraska at Wisconsin

Welcome to the Big Ten Nebraska. Camp Randall should be jumping around as they welcome in the Cornhuskers and Taylor Martinez. Look for Russell Wilson to continue to be sharp and not turn the ball over and the Badgers' defense to make just enough plays to win. Martinez should be able to move the ball though, Wisconsin's defense hasn't really been tested - much less by an offense like Nebraska's.

Clemson at Virginia Tech

The first big test for both teams as Clemson goes on the road to take on Frank Beamer's squad. Clemson made several key mistakes that kept Florida State in the game last week and if they turn the ball over, that plays right into the Hokies game plan. Virginia Tech should win but don't be surprised if this is a close ACC battle.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: ACC, Air Force, Al Golden, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Army, Ball State, Baylor, BCS, Bernard Pierce, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, Brandon Weeden, Braxton Miller, Brett McMurphy, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, Bryant Moniz, Calvin Johnson, Camp Randall, Chad Morris, Chris Rainey, Cincinnati, Clemson, Cowboys Stadium, Cyrus Gray, D'Anton Lynn, Dana Holgorsen, Denard Robinson, Dennis Dodd, DeQuan Menzie, Derrick Williams, Dont'a Hightower, Eastern Michigan, FAU, Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida State, Frank Beamer, Geno Smith, Georgia Tech, Greg Mattison, Gregg Doyel, Hawaii, Heisman, Illinois, James Rodgers, Jeff Demps, Joe Halahuni, John Chavis, Kentucky, Kirby Smart, Kyle Field, LaMichael James, Les Miles, LSU, Luke Fickell, Marquis Maze, Maryland, Melvin Inrgam, Michigan, Michigan State, Mike Gundy, Mike Mauti, Mike Riley, Mississippi State, Morris Claiborne, N.C. State, NCAA, Nebraska, NFL, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, Orwin Smith, Pac-12, Patrick Peterson, Paul Johnson, Penn State, Rice, Rich Rodriguez, Rick Minter, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Griffin III, Ronnie Hillman, Russell Wilson, Sammy Watkins, San Diego State, SEC, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Stephen Garcia, Steve Addazio, Steven Hill, Stewart Mandel, Tajh Boyd, Taylor Martinez, Temple, Tennessee, Terrelle Pryor, Tevin Washington, Texas A&M, Tony Barnhart, UC Davis, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Western Michigan, Wisconsin
 
Posted on: September 23, 2011 9:41 am
Edited on: September 23, 2011 9:45 am
 

Virginia Tech WR Boykin (hamstring) ruled out

Posted by Chip Patterson

Virginia Tech has had the advantage of a soft early season schedule to break in new starting quarterback Logan Thomas. Unfortunately for the redshirt sophomore, the last week has left him thin with wide receiver options heading into Saturday's tilt with Marshall.

Senior wide receiver Jarrett Boykin has been ruled out for Saturday's game due to a hamstring injury. According to the school, Boykin injured the hamstring this week in practice.

Boykin is the Hokies' career leader in receptions, and is second on the team with 10 catches for 93 yards and a touchdown through three games. While Boykin's injury is not a long-term concern, the news comes less than a week after senior wide receiver Dyrell Roberts was ruled out for the season. Roberts broke his left arm in the opening kickoff of Virginia Tech's 26-7 victory over Arkansas State. It is expected he will apply for a medical redshirt and fifth season of eligibility.

The good news for head coach Frank Beamer is that he enter the season with a stable full of capable options at wide receiver. Marcus Davis and Danny Coale have arguably been the most explosive options for Logan Thomas, and junior D.J. Coles has shown some promise in limited action.

If the Hokies can take care of Marshall, they will enter conference play 4-0, but still not having faced an opponent from a BCS AQ conference. They will have no warm-up for ACC play, starting off with visits from Clemson and Miami before traveling to face an improved Wake Forest squad in Winston-Salem.

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Posted on: September 22, 2011 10:50 am
Edited on: September 22, 2011 1:27 pm
 

CBSSports.com Future Football Power Rankings

Posted by Chip Patterson

In our CBSSports.com realignment crystal ball, Brett McMurphy and the rest of the Eye on College Football team broke down each conference landscape and the division of power after the current wave of realignment settles and the college football ship sails forward. But what about the entire college football landscape? How do the six major conferences stack up against each other when it comes time for the BCS contracts to renew in 2014?

By our best guess, no conferences will implode we will still have six major conferences. There has been some expanding, replacing, and in the case of the Big East even further separation between football and basketball. As a reminder, here are our projections for further conference realignment once this current wave of transition is complete.

Big Ten - remains at 12 teams
Pac-12 - remains at 12 teams
SEC - Adds Texas A&M and Virginia Tech
Big 12 - Adds BYU to replace Texas A&M
ACC - Adds Connecticut, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh. Loses Virginia Tech to the SEC
Big East - loses Connecticut, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh. Adds TCU, Houston, UCF, Villanova, Navy, and Air Force as football schools.

Based on these projected movements, here are the CBSSports.com Realigned Football Conference Power Rankings

1. SEC - Based on our projections, the rich get richer. The almighty SEC, holder of the last five national championships, adds the passion and history of Texas A&M along with a Hokies program that has won four ACC titles in the last seven years. Since joining the ACC Virginia Tech has been the most dominant team in the conference, and adding Frank Beamer's squad along with the Aggies is nothing but an upgrade to an already dominant conference.

2. Big Ten - The reason Jim Delany is comfortable with his current membership roster is because he doesn't need any more members to survive. The most important pieces in the makeup of the Big Ten are some of the most storied programs in history, and he only increased that status with the addition of Nebraska. The Big Ten Network pioneered conference-wide television rights, and this conference is till among the best in the nation even after sitting out this last round of realignment.

3. Pac-12 - Larry Scott opts to stay at 12 in this wave of realignment because there is no reason to expand. The possible additions of Texas, Oklahoma, and their in-state counterparts was beginning to look like more of a headache than the conference wanted to deal with at this point. The Pac-12 has annually fielded at least one national title contender, including a top three AP finish in three of the last four seasons. But while the Big 12 can also claim title contenders, the Pac-12 offers depth where the Big 12 does not. Briskly brushing over Washington State, schools like UCLA, Cal, and Arizona State all have the potential to field a competitive team on a yearly basis. The same cannot be said for the likes of Iowa State and Kansas.

4. Big 12 - After being days away from possible implosion, this conference likely survived because Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said "no." With Oklahoma getting the reform they wanted from the conference, and Texas getting to keep the Longhorn Network, all the conference needed to do was replace Texas A&M. BYU doesn't bring enough to the table football-wise to boost their stock over the Pac-12, but tossing the Cougars into the mix isn't too much of a downgrade either. Bronco Mendenhall has delivered six bowl appearances and five Top 25 finishes since taking over as head coach in 2005, and the upgrade from independence will only boost exposure and recruiting.

5. ACC - From a football perspective, this wave of realignment will only add to the national criticism of mediocrity in the ACC. Pittsburgh, Connecticut, and Syracuse have only three COMBINED Top 25 finishes in the last decade - all three are Pittsburgh, and none of them is higher than 15. Additionally, losing Virginia Tech to the SEC strips some of their recruiting presence in the Hampton Roads/Virginia Beach area and erases their greatest recent benefactor in the BCS formula. These additions secured the conference's future, but did not boost their overall status among the other BCS conferences.



6. Big East - The addition several non-AQ schools will boost the excitement and intrigue for Big East football. Do not confuse this excitement and intrigue for an upgrade in performance, where you can likely expect a similar situation to the state of the conference since the last ACC raid. TCU and West Virginia will carry the banner for the conference nationally, while come combination of USF, UCF, Louisville and Navy will beat each other up to the result of the occasional national ranking and numerous 8-win seasons. The Big East's current membership boasts their "competitiveness," but after this realignment it will be TCU, West Virginia, and everyone else clawing to 7 wins for bowl eligibility.
Posted on: September 19, 2011 7:04 pm
 

ACC poll reactions, Week 3

Posted by Chip Patterson

The new polls were released on Sunday, and the ACC was able to capitalize on an impressive non-conference performance by adding to their poll presence. Florida State fell from the top ten after their primetime loss to Oklahoma, but big wins for Clemson and Georgia Tech paid off in national rankings.

Florida State (AP: 11/Coaches: 14) - The Seminoles certainly had a chance to jump into national-title contender status, but the home loss to the top-ranked Sooners has dropped FSU from current consideration. Virginia Tech (AP: 13/Coaches: 11) - The Hokies jumped out to a big lead early on Arkansas State, and cruised in the second half to a 26-7 win. Virginia Tech's string of non-ranked opponents will continue this week, with a trip west to face Marshall. Once conference play starts, the Hokies will begin to face opponents that could raise their stock in the polls or reveal a team unworthy of their ranking. How the voters perceive the currently undefeated Hokies could change after hosting Clemson, Miami, and a road trip to a revived Wake Forest team.

Clemson (AP: 21/Coaches: 22) - The Tigers hit their stride at just the right time with their upset over Auburn in Death Valley. The game was a coming of age for sophomore quarterback Tajh Boyd and an arrival party for star wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Clemson's celebration will be short-lived, as head coach Dabo Swinney prepares the Tigers for a crucial Atlantic Division showdown with Florida State on Saturday.

Georgia Tech (AP: 25/Coaches: 24) - Those who have doubted Georgia Tech's offense bit their tongues on Saturday when the Yellow Jackets piled up 604 rushing yards against Kansas. The 12.1 yards per carry was an NCAA record (minimum 50 carries) and the defense is starting to look comfortable year two under coordinator Al Groh. The Yellow Jackets are happy to break through, and will get their chance to prove themselves against North Carolina on Saturday.

North Carolina (AP: None/Coaches: 25) - The poll status of Everett Withers' squad is a bit of a head-scratcher. The Tar Heels just make the cut for the Top 25 in the USA Today poll of coaches. But the Associated Press voters do not show anywhere close to the same proportion of love for North Carolina, with the Tar Heels receiving just a handful of points. My only guess is that Butch Davis is a well-respected member of many coaching circles, and the Tar Heels could be getting extra credit from coaches while the presence of an interim is getting them less from the press. Either way, we'll have a much better idea of how North Carolina stacks up after facing No. 25 Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Saturday.

Other Receiving Votes - Miami is the top non-ranked vote getter after knocking off Ohio State at home. Maryland, a week after being on the cusp of national ranking, fell to the bottom of the "other receiving votes" pile after falling to West Virginia on Saturday.

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Posted on: September 19, 2011 11:47 am
 

VT WR Dyrell Roberts (arm) likely out for 2011

Posted by Chip Patterson

Virginia Tech's passing game took a hit on Saturday, with wide receiver Dyrell Roberts breaking his arm on the opening kickoff against Arkansas State. According to the school, Roberts underwent surgery on Sunday and is "probably out for the rest of the year."

The senior from Smithfield, VA caught three passes for 45 yards in the season opener against Appalachian State, and has seen the field as a third or fourth receiver every season since arriving in Blacksburg. While rarely being a first target for Hokie quarterbacks, Roberts provided experience and depth to the passing game, still working out the kinks with sophomore quarterback Logan Thomas.

At this point in the season, Roberts is still eligible to redshirt and preserve one more year of eligibility. The school made a note of it in their release, and it seems that is the plan of action moving forward.

The Hokies are undefeated, but their passing game currently ranks next-to-last in the ACC. Against Arkansas State Thomas made noticeable improvements with his reads and comfort distributing the ball, but there were still lapses in decision making - two of which resulted in interceptions.

The Hokies will travel west to face Marshall this weekend before kicking off their conference schedule. The Hokies have been criticized for a soft non-conference slate, but they will be forced to prove their worth early against Clemson, Miami, and at a high-octane Wake Forest team in the first three weeks of October.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: September 17, 2011 7:38 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 13 Virginia Tech 26, Ark. St. 7

Posted by Chip Patterson

VIRGINIA TECH WON. Virginia Tech jumped out to a 23-7 halftime lead, and kept the visiting Arkansas State Red Wolves at bay until the final buzzer sounded on the 26-7 victory. Cornerback Jayron Hosley picked off Ryan Aplin twice, and the Hokies defense held the Red Wolves to 63 rushing yards on the afternoon.

HOW VIRGNIA TECH WON: The Red Wolves came out firing, connecting on a deep pass and scoring on their first possession. After that score, Virginia Tech's defense did not allow much of anything from Hugh Freeze's team. Hosley's two interceptions compliment a seven tackle afternoon to lead that talented defensive unit. On the offensive side Danny Coale pulled in a career-high seven catches for 128 yards and a touchdown. But after halftime the Hokies offense staggered, and was only able put a single field goal on the scoreboard.

WHEN VIRGINIA TECH WON: Trailing 7-0 in the first quarter, Logan Thomas failed to convert on a 4th and Goal to tie the game. The defense took matters into their own hands, scoring the first points for the Hokies on a Ryan Aplin sack for a safety. Thomas took the cue from the defense, and connected with D.J. Coles on a 49 yard touchdown the next drive. After the Hokies took the lead they never looked back.

WHAT VIRGINIA TECH WON: Logan Thomas got another game under his belt. The sophomore starter has not been particularly impressive three games into the season, but you can see him improving. There were some ill-advised passes on Saturday (two of which were picked off), but there were also some great reads and well-placed balls. Every game is more experience for Thomas, and getting a win along the way always helps the confidence.

WHAT ARKANSAS STATE LOST:Not a ton. Arkansas State started 10 of their 12 drives inside their own 30 yard line, and both of their most impressive offensive drives ended in Hosley interceptions. Defensively they were able to keep David Wilson from breaking the big play, and they frustrated Logan Thomas enough to force some mistakes. Not a terrible outing for Hugh Freeze and the Red Wolves.

THAT WAS CRAZY: After the first half had interceptions, long touchdowns, and even a safety; the second half was pretty uneventful. One field goal in the third quarter and a lot of punting. The Hokies have shown they can make it very difficult for a team to move the ball, but they seem to be struggling to with that themselves as well..

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Posted on: September 3, 2011 4:11 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 4:30 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Virginia Tech 66, Appalachian St. 13

Posted by Chip Patterson

VIRGINIA TECH WON. The Hokies fell victim to FCS James Madison in Blacksburg last season, and certainly were not going to let history repeat itself on Saturday with Appalachian State in town. Virginia Tech took only 47 seconds to force a turnover and get running back David Wilson into the end zone for the first touchdown of the game. That would be the theme of the day as the Hokies rolled to a 66-13 victory. Wilson made his first game as a starter count, picking up 162 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries.

WHY VIRGINIA TECH WON: Big plays and winning the turnover battle. The Hokies forced a fumble and three interceptions while not turning the ball over once. Cornerback Jayron Hosley was stellar in the return game, picking up 97 yards on punt returns and setting up the Virginia Tech offense with great field position.

WHEN VIRGINIA TECH WON: This game felt like it was going to be over in the first quarter. ASU's first four offensive possessions went like this: fumble, three and out, three and out, three and out. Virginia Tech wasn't doing a ton offensively early in the game, but the field position battle and big plays put this out of reach early for the Mountaineers.

WHAT VRGINIA TECH WON: Confidence. Even though it was Appalachian State, the Hokies needed a big win to ease the doubts surrounding the 2011 season. Wilson proved he can be an every down back, Josh Oglesby looked solid in the reserve role, and a handful of receivers contributed to the passing game. Defensively they forced turnovers and put pressure on the quarterback. The only question mark still lies at the quarterback position. Logan Thomas did a good job managing the offense, but was still a little out of sync with his receivers.

WHAT APPALACHIAN STATE LOST: You schedule games like this knowing there's a possibility of getting blown out. You could argue it is a little embarrassing for a program that recently started discussing the possibilities of a jump to FBS, but other than that no harm here for ASU.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Just the before the game, CBSSports.com's Sean Bielawski reported that Frank Beamer has signed a contract extension that carries through the end of the 2016 season. This is Beamer's 25th season with the Hokies, and his 241 career wins is second among active coaches behind Joe Paterno.
Posted on: August 31, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 2:43 pm
 

Virginia Tech tries out female kicker

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It seems that Beamerball is open to players of all genders, as on Monday Lauren Luttrell tried out to be the Hokies' placekicker. Luttrell, of course, is female.

She kicked for Spotsylvania High last year and is a converted soccer and volleyball player who just began kicking field goals in the spring of 2010. Luttrell must have been pretty impressive at her try out, too, because although she won't be kicking for the Hokies this season, Frank Beamer did say that he has invited her back to practice with the team next spring.

“Right now it’s kind of tough to come out there and get a lot of attention. Things are happening so fast right now,” Beamer told the Washington Post. “But I was impressed with her and we’ll bring her back out there in the spring.” 

Now if Luttrell does end up kicking for Virginia Tech, she will not be the first female to do so for a college football team. Though previous instances have had mixed results. Kathy Ireland was a very successful placekicker for the Texas State Armadillos in the movie Necessary Roughness -- whatever happened to Sinbad anyway? -- but that was fiction and doesn't really count.

There was also Katie Hnida who kicked for New Mexico after leaving Colorado due to some uncomfortable situations.
 
 
 
 
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