I’d like to apologize for missing the little big plays post last week, and for not being able to do a full gif review this week. I’ve been a slacker. This week I’m going to switch things up a bit. After an improbable win Saturday, there were countless questions. Just how good is this team? How well did the young players play? Who kidnapped Ted Roof and called the defense in his stead? I’ll try to answer these and more.
So What Happened on Those 2 Long Runs?
The Marshall run was fairly straightforward. Kenny Cooper did a great job pushing the DT out of the hole, and the MLB followed the pulling guard too far to the sideline. Marshall made a nice cut into the opening and the rest is history.
The Jordan TD was a bit more interesting. The blocking was good, especially the back side cutoff. However, on the play side, Hokie DE Ken Ekanem jammed Fromayan so hard he took himself out of the play. Jordan ended up running around him. Marcus Marshall also tripped into a pretty good cut block.
How did CPJ outsmart Bud Foster?
There were a couple big blocking adjustments made in this game centered around the failures of the 2015 version of the Techmo Bowl. Tech struggled against DE jams and with getting to the MLB on the option, and struggled to seal the edge on the Rocket Toss last year, so CPJ switched up the blocking assignments. On the option, The Tackle would release outside of the DE and block the safety, while the AB would come inside to cut down the MLB. The DE would still get a good jam attempt, but this would draw the defender to the outside, giving up good dive looks all afternoon.
On the rocket toss, the playside guard would pull to the outside and head to the second level, while the OT would release to the second level as well. This left the DE unblocked, but counted on the DE to take himself out of the play by jamming the OT.
CPJ also noticed on film that the LB level was using the pulling guard as a read key for counters. CPJ called traps to take advantage of the hard LB flow. This was a major contributing factor to Marshall’s long run
The “Triple Option” play that gives this offense its misnomer is officially known as the Inside Veer, because the offense veers to the play side in order to hit the B-gap with the dive and facilitate blocking. To counter this, Foster had his DL slant hard to the play side, which ended up backfiring. Marshall was able to cut into the voids created by the slants, and the LBs were flowing too hard to maintain gap integrity. Overall, Foster just put too much flow into the defense in order to defend the edge, when he should have been more worried about the middle.
How did the Defense play this well?
Did Ted Roof find himself? Did the players just play better? Did the Hokies just completely implode? The answer is all three.
Roof did a few things right in this game, he got the safeties more involved than they had been in previous weeks, called for tighter coverage, and called necessary blitzes. When the Jackets were up, he reverted to the soft, worthless defense he’s known for, so I’m not sure if this improved scheme is here to stay, but we can hope.
Improved execution on the part of defensive players played a bigger role. The Hokies came out on their first offensive series and ran 3 successive screens, a play Tech struggled to defend all year. They forced a 3 and out. In particular, Rod Rook- Chungong did an exceptional job of recognizing screens and getting to the sideline all night. Tackling was improved, and players were defeating blocks they weren’t defeating during weeks prior. The entire team seemed to have increased vigor and physicality.
The biggest improvements may have been in coverage technique. The corners stayed on their men much better in both zone and man, and they effectively attacked the catch point on several big plays.
Then there was the Hokie offense. Ohhh the Hokie offense. Some teams shoot themselves in the foot. They emptied the entire magazine into it. Jerod Evans threw bad pass after bad pass, and the Offensive Line was offensive. The Tech DL regularly bullied the Hokie front, and they were worthless in space. They missed block after block on screen passes, wasting opportunities. On one early screen in particular, VPISU had 2 OL outside on a screen with only PJ Davis in the area to defend. Davis managed to slip by both linemen and make the tackle. That’s inexcusable.
Then there were the drops. The 4th down play was huge, but perhaps bigger was the drop on this screen. This was perhaps a TD, and would have completely changed the flow of the game.
How’d the Freshman linemen play?
The short answer was very well for true freshmen, but the long answer is a bit more complex.
Parker Braun was legitimately great and deserved his ACC player of the week honors. Braun is one of the best pulling guards I’ve seen in a while, and he’s starting to improve on the other aspects of his game as well. His backside cut blocks have improved, and his biggest challenge going forward will be gaining muscle while not hurting his mobility. He’s the best Guard on the team right now.
Lee has done a great job of cutting off the back side, and is adept at getting to his man at the second level. He needs to work on actually throwing cut blocks in space and will need to add a lot of mass in the offseason, but the ability is there, and he’s showing his talent far earlier than anticipated
With Cooper, there was some good and some bad. He got good initial movement on drive blocks, but struggled to keep his feet and finish the block repeatedly. I would have liked to see better blocks in space too. He has movement skills, however.
It’s hard to believe all 3 2016 OL signees would start in the same game this year, but here we are. They appear to be more talented than the OL from previous classes, they’ll just need to develop and continue to patch the holes in their games.
Did Jordan lock up the starting job for next year?
No. Absolutely not.
Jordan did certainly help his case for being the starter next year, but he still has major holes in his game that prevent him from being a lock. He missed several reads, and made suspect decisions in the passing game. He could have easily had a couple of hastily thrown dying quails picked off.
Perhaps the biggest issue with Jordan has been footwork. It forces his timing to be off when he gets to the edge, messing up the pitch relation. It’s not that Jordan can’t pitch, just that he usually isn’t in the right place relative to the AB.
He’s a heck of a downhill runner, and has good quickness and breakaway speed for his size. He just hasn’t quite mastered the offense yet.