Thursday, October 11, 2012

No Seriously, How Will the Hokies Beat Duke?

With an overall record of 3-3, Virginia Tech is officially off to its worst start in football since 1992.

That season, the Hokies finished 2-8-1 and Frank Beamer was forced to fire the majority of his coaching staff in order to retain his job.

Tech's loss to North Carolina also harkened back to the early nineties when the Tar Heels returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

It marked the first instance of  that since 1993, the year Frank Beamer and company began their still intact (for now) run of bowl games.

The Hokies are in a tough spot and I say this with all sincerity, they will have their hands full Saturday against Duke.

The Blue Devils are 5-1 and riding high after a a 42-17 thumping of Virginia.

Redshirt sophomore Anthony Boone threw four touchdown passes in that one, and Duke's outstanding starter Sean Renfree should be back for the trip to Blacksburg. Both may play as Boone is a bit more mobile and gives Tech something extra to prepare for.

Sean Renfree is trying to lead Duke to a bowl game for the first time since 1994.

Renfree is a 6-5 redshirt senior who will most certainly get a shot in the NFL after this season. Both QBs give Duke the ability to stretch the field, which is why they have the No. 30 passing offense in the country.

To be fair Duke has played a weak schedule, but their passers are legitimate and they have the ACC's all-time leading receiver in senior Conner Vernon.

Vernon has 239 career receptions including  41 for 555 yards and five touchdowns this season.

Duke doesn't run much, but they do enough on the ground to keep defenses honest and as stated before they will run a bit more with Boone at quarterback out of the read option.

The Blue Devils aren't a strong defensive team. That pairs well with the bright spot from Tech's loss at Carolina which was a decent passing performance.

Logan Thomas threw for a career-high 354 yards and must be salivating over Duke's 76th ranked pass defense.

The big question is how does the much maligned Tech defense stop Duke's spread passing attack?

Look for a simpler scheme from Bud Foster, more base 4-3 defense and less of the nickel package. That works better in terms of personnel and should allow guys to stay in their natural positions.

The weather for the frigid 2008 game was not Sean Glennon's fault. 

It will still be a challenge, but the defense has played better at home for whatever reason and the Hokies desperately need a win if they hope to salvage what has been thus far a disappointing campaign.

Duke probably should have beaten Tech last year in Durham but the Hokies pulled out a 14-10 win.

Duke has been close to winning this game several times in recent years, including the 2008 match up in Blacksburg when the Hokies ended up winning 14-3—without a doubt the coldest game I've ever attended.

Again, Saturday will be a challenge for the Hokies. They are down in the dumps and Duke is rolling along and just a game shy of bowl eligibility.

That being said, Tech should squeak out a close one at home. I wouldn't be shocked by anything at this point but there is still a significant talent gap between these two teams and Virginia Tech is backed into a corner.

We'll see if that's enough Saturday.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hokies Lose to Cincinnati at Miserable FedEx Field

The last hour or so weaving around on the beltway between Baltimore and D.C. always gives me a sense of the general lawlessness and mayhem due on arrival in our nation's capital and outlying areas.

It's always a bit unnerving to get passed by a cop going 85—especially when he seems unfazed by the encounter.

Such was the tone set en route to Virginia Tech's 27-24 defeat at the hand of Cincinnati last Saturday in Landover, Maryland.

I had a general sense of foreboding leading up to this game as soon as soon as Eric—one of my numerous attorney's—and I confirmed the trip mid-week.

It wasn't just the previous trip FedEx for the loss against Boise State on our minds either. There were many positives from that excursion and the dreadful 0-2 by Tech start led to a strangely successful season.

Eric later confided that he had a similar feeling to mine during the week. Things were not meant to be.

Mainly, that was due to a junior quarterback from New Orleans named Munchie Legaux.

Munchie Legaux slips past the Hokies' Kyshoen Jarrett (34).

Munchie torched the Hokies for a career-high 376 yards passing with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.

For Tech's part, they bungled around much of the first half before a late rushing touchdown by Logan Thomas gave Tech a 7-6 lead and hope of a turnaround.

It wasn't to be however as the Hokie defense turned in another subpar performance, allowing 495 total yards.

Something appears off with this particular group of Tech defenders.

Antone Exum has really been struggling at corner, but there's no one behind him on the depth chart ready to go.

The offense performed at a near acceptable level despite not scoring for much of the game. Tech totaled just over 400 yards as a group and averaged 4.7 yards per carry.

There are probably some things to build on offensively, but it's largely cancelled out by the lack of scoring.

Despite being largely outplayed, Cincinnati scored only two field goals in the first half. Tech could have an should have taken control of the game.

Logan Thomas continues to struggle, the most glaring example coming on an overthrown pass to a wide open Randall Dunn that was intercepted at the goal line.

The one positive for Tech is special teams appears to be much improved.

Freshman punter A.J. Hughes had another nice night against the Bearcats punting 7 times for an average of 45.9 yards. Cody Journell also had a field goal making him 5 of 6 on the season.

FedEx Field was far from capacity Saturday in Landover, Maryland.

The Hokies now have an all-time record of 0-3 at FedEx Field, featuring losses to USC, Boise State and now the Bearcats.

Tech is 3-2, and while technically still 1-0 in ACC play, an 0-2 mark against Big East teams this season would currently place the Hokies in last place in a far weaker conference than the Big East they once excelled in.

The match with North Carolina in Chapel Hill looks like it will be a big challenge for a struggling bunch of Hokies.

Carolina is ineligible for the ACC Championship and a bowl game this year after having been found guilty of academic fraud, impermissible agent benefits, participation by ineligible players and a failure to monitor the football program. 

Despite the sanctions, UNC appears somewhat rejuvenated under first year head coach Larry Fedora and is playing for some measure of pride.

These are usually close scrappy games between Tech and Carolina and expect this one to require a heavy bourbon intake to stay calm throughout.

The Tarheels are passing well with Bryn Renner at quarterback. The junior has completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for 1422 with 14 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions.

The Hokie pass defense is struggling and this might not be the best medicine.

Tech-Cincinnati "Highlight" below for those who care to revisit.


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