Friday, November 02, 2007

Well............ Maybe next year

I guess there's a downside to playing in the national spotlight - stink it up on the field and everyone gets to see. Well, that's just what the Jackets did tonight - stink it up. They didn't just lose to VaTech, they did it in a completely deflating, gut-wrenching, uncharacteristic and frustrating way. There were two or three key moments when the Jackets could have gotten themselves right back into it - but only managed to self-destruct, missing wide open passes, giving up big plays to the Hokie offense and turning the ball over.

What were the keys to the game? Well - first - no offense.......... Second - no defense............. Third - we turned the ball over 6 times. Folks, there's your ballgame. What more do you need to know?

Now, I have no doubt everybody on that team played their hearts out. I have no doubt they played hard. However, they didn't play well. There's a difference.

Just my first thoughts after the game, but this one was mostly on the players, not so much the coaches. Don't get me wrong, we win together and lose together, but there are always reasons whey you win or lose. The Jackets are not prone to turnovers, yet Taylor Bennett threw 4 INT's, Nesbitt threw one and we lost one fumble. The 3rd down Josh Nesbitt pass-play was a BRILLIANT play-call. Absolutely brilliant, and James Johnson was WIDE open. It should have been 7 points and a 17-10 score. Instead, Nesbitt just threw a bad ball. The announcers argued about whether it was on Johnson or Nesbitt, but truly it was a bad throw. Flutie was right. Either way, players didn't make a play on a great play call................JW Daniels has great coverage on that Hokie WR late in the game, and the guy just goes up and takes the ball away and runs in for a TD. Can't blame that one on the coaches.

There are probably two key coaching areas you could really criticize. You could hang a big albatross around Jon Tenuta's neck. His scheme's did not work tonight. Just didn't. We got burned in the passing game repeatedly and gave up over 400 yards of offense to a team that's just not that good offensively. So maybe you could hang some of this on Tenuta. Second, you could hang some blame on Charles Kelly on that key momentum changing onside kick. Why were our guys running the other way? Why was the kicker able to squib it, run AROUND it and let the ball go 10 yard then roll into his lap? Where were the Tech players? That was bad coaching and make no mistake - Coach Beamer's staff saw something in the film room and they put that play in as a result. It worked.

Again, it's everyone's fault, but tonight I just see it as more of an execution thing. I thought the play calls were good, but mostly the players just made more mistakes than they have in the past. Just one of those nights.

Oh wait, there was one other coaching issue. How do you walk to the line-of-scrimmage on the first play of the game and call a timeout? Sorry, but that's coaching and preparation.

Our coaching staff appears to be brilliant at in-game adjustments, but for some reason, we cannot develop a game-plan in the week leading up to the game that results in a good first half. Give us all summer for Notre Dame and we're fine. Give us a weakling like Samford and we're ok. But every other game has been a tough first half, and a very good finish. Tonight was generally like that. The defense adjusted well coming on in the 3rd quarter, but the offense just couldn't take advantage with turnovers at all the worst moments.

So is it clear the formula to beat Tech? If you have a QB who is a good, QUICK decision maker and you can structure some solid mid-range passing routes then you can pick apare this team. There were blitzes where our guys went unblocked and Glennon still got the ball out to a guy for a nice gain. Recognition, decision-making and accuracy from your QB and soft-spots in the zone are the key to beating Tech. On the surface having a mobile QB like Tyrod Taylor seems to be the better option, but it's not.

Michael Johnson continues to confirm that he is a beast. He wreaked havoc yet again tonight - speed rushing Glennon, sacking him multiple times, forcing a fumble and blocking a field goal from behind the line-of-scrimmage on what looked like a 15 foot sky leap. This guy sure is fun to watch.

Jonathan Dwyer is clearly special, and at this point, I will have a hard time understanding why he wouldn't get more carries. It is going to be fun to watch this guy in the years ahead (could be only two though)

Taylor Bennett is a ok QB, not a great one......... and he had a very bad night. I'm sure he's feeling terrible. The poor guy is going to hear all week that maybe it's time to give another guy a shot. He's going to hear all week about how he's just not a collegiate QB. Maybe he has reached his potential, maybe not. I don't know, but in terms of winning this year, we're tapped out. He's not going to win anything for us. Until tonight he just managed to "not lose" games. Tonight he definitely helped us lose (along with a lot of other guys). Having said all that......

...............Josh Nesbitt is not ready to be a collegiate QB. When he rears back to throw, I just hold my breath. The vast majority of throws I have seen him make are off-target, too hard, too soft, rainbows, prayers. As a passer this guy does not seem to have the skills that Reggie Ball had as a freshman............Now, as a running back, this guy might have a future. He is a serious bruiser running the ball, carrying guys with him and he's definitely fast. Maybe even a WR or a DB, but I don't see Nesbitt turning into the 2nd coming of Joe Hamilton. Just don't see it. However, there's a reason I do what I do and others evaluate talent.

You know what, VaTech is a very good team. VERY good. They have struggled with different things during the season, dealt with injuries. They took a hit in confidence with that stomping by LSU and the BC loss was a crusher - but outside of that they have played well and won everything else. Heck, they had BC beat too. They are a good defensive team that tends to play well in spotlight games (except against BC). So nice game to the Hokies. Turns out that lunch pail covers sledgehammer.

So now what are we playing for? Still one win away from bowl contention with Duke, UNC and UGAg still left to play. Clearly these are the remaining goals:

  • Beat UGAg. Clearly this is the big cookie left. I don't want to look ahead, but this is really the only thing left that could make any of us feel REALLY good about the season. Ending with a victory over Georgie would certainly heal a lot of wounds
  • East Coast bowl. Bowl position is going to be important. Who wants to watch another Christmas bowl on the west coast? Well, my buddy Walt would "love" it since he lives in LA, but the rest of us? Don't think so.
  • Bowl Victory. We need to finish the season strong. We need to to win our bowl game. Beat UGAg, and win a bowl game and we can all head to hoops season feeling ok.
  • Pride. What do you have in you? That thing deep in your gut and in your heart that you have to find to prove to yourself and your teammates that you have what it takes. Pride


In the postgame show, Coach Gailey said he told his team that everyone is going to be against them...... That everyone except family and close friends is going to be telling them how bad they are. Here's my deal - I back this team 100%. I love this team. However, that doesn't mean this team plays to their potential every week. That doesn't mean the coaching staff develops the right game-plan every week. Just because people point out the obvious doesn't mean they're against the players................. Now, I've been a Coach Gailey supporter on this site, but folks - it's obvious the Chan Gailey heat is now officially turned up. There are frustrations from the nuts to the old-timers. The casual fans to the fanatics. The Chan Gailey "hot seat" is going to be a hot toic this week.

In fact, let's talk about what we will hear this week:

  • Taylor Bennett needs to give way to Josh Nesbitt.......... My question - where is Calvin Booker? Why aren't we trying this guy? Isn't he #2?
  • Chan Gailey needs to be fired. There's no stopping this train now. Could there be a buyout of his contract? Is the CBS rumor true?
  • Is Jon Tenuta's defensive scheme getting stale? Have folks truly figured him out?
  • Is John Bond really a good OC?..... Personally, I think it's unfair to judge him based on 9 games. Weren't we criticizing Coach Kelly for special teams and now we have gone from one of the worst to best special teams units in the nation in his 2nd year? Let's give Bond a bit of a pass here (from a 30,000 foot view)

All-in-all, it was just a bad frustrating night on a national stage. That just stinks. But I love the Jackets and will continue to support them.