Believe it or not, the Big East and Rutgers are not the sole realms of discontent this year in the college football world. Look around - Texas A&M, Washington, Auburn, there's plenty of hatred to spare. One program however that I would have never expected to fall on hard times would be Virginia Tech. You would have thought that all Frank Beamer needed to right the ship was reinserting quarterback Tyrod Taylor back into the starting lineup, but frustration is mounting in Blacksburg as of late, and most of the ire is directed towards offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring. Even if warranted, fans are always going to turn on the coordinators first if there is no obvious player scapegoat.
I am fairly open to guest posts. They don't have to be about Rutgers, but as long as you're talking about football and vaguely coherent, send them in. Most of these are going to come from my friends, but a couple will be from people I don't know all too well (like the author of the piece below), and I'm definitely open to anything from complete strangers.
Virginia Tech has no offense this year, and frankly it's not looking good for the Hokies after FSU managed to take out our top two QBs (and pay us back for knocking out Drew Weatherford in last years game in the process). With the news about our backups prepping for the Maryland game, I’d say the prognosis is grim for my Hokies.
What does this mean for our already poor passing offense? I expect it to disappear. Bryan Stinespring, the single largest contributing factor to Frank Beamer not having a national title, basically refused to try passing the ball after the ECU game with the two qbs who have taken snaps in practice and have worked throwing the ball. Our best game in terms of passing was at Nebraska, and that was based upon our ability to run the ball, coupled with their desire to leave the middle of the field open. The man could not play call himself out of a paper bag. What would help our running game which is the core of our offensive game plan? How about trying to convince the secondary we MIGHT pass. We don’t try to stretch the field; he refuses to have the receivers run a route deeper than 5-15 yards.
His ability to play call never seems to fit the situation, his choices are simply boggling. Look at the Orange bowl last year. To end the first half, Brandon Ore got to carry the ball for nearly the entire drive. He ran through the Kansas front 7 and took us 70+ yards down the field for a touchdown. In the second half I think he touched it maybe a grand sum total of 5-7 times. WHY? The moment a particular game plan works his plan becomes, do the opposite. His ability to put our offense in bad positions and force them to make something out of nothing is continuously infuriating. Forget the O-line being mediocre, or the fact that our top receivers coming into the year got injured. Look no further than Eddie Royal. His stats at VT are rather pedestrian, but look at what he has done since he went to the NFL. It’s a waste of talent, pure and simple; it’s what Stinespring does best. Take the talent that should equal at least a top 50 offense and make it a sub 100 one.
This team will never make it to the next level of success as long as the offensive staff we have in place is there. I respect Beamer a great deal for his loyalty, I love to see coaching continuity, but his offenses have been putrid for years. Loyalty is one thing, holding your team back is a completely other thing.
I’m sure the man is personally very pleasant and intelligent, but he’s one of the worst offensive coordinators I’ve ever seen keep his job. He was awful when I arrived there, he was awful when I left, and he’ll still be awful as long as he has his job. What does Virginia Tech need to do to get to a national title game? Stop letting Stinespring call the plays on offense.
Discontent with playcalling is seemingly universal. Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech fans want to take shots down field, while Rutgers fans are sick of Mike Teel overthrowing wide open receivers. Later on, our guest shares his thoughts on the level of parity in the ACC.
Atlantic Coast Confusion
Maybe that sounds trite, but it’s really the only way to describe the season thus far. The worst part about it is that eight weeks into the season, there is really no way to see who will end up in Tampa on December 6th, much less who will end up the eventual ACC champion. The Coastal Division looks stronger given their record and some impressive turn arounds for perennially bad programs. The Atlantic division can’t seem to figure out which teams they want to field, as each week it’s a guessing game as to whether each taem will show up or not. Everyone talks about the SEC team cannibalizing each other, but, frankly, the ACC has done so much more of that this year that I don’t know if there is conference with more parity. That’s not to say the competitive level is as high as it is in the Big XII south or the SEC, but it’s a spectacularly level playing field even at nine weeks into the season.
The Virginia Cavaliers are on top of the ACC Coastal. Take a moment to let that sink in. This is a team that lost to Duke by 31 points, and has now managed to make something out of very nearly nothing. As an ACC fan and a Virginia Tech fan, all I can do is shake my head. If there is one piece of evidence that points to this conference being a confusing mess, this right here epitomizes it. Their last four games are going to be brutal, but right now they all look winnable, which you couldn’t say after the first 4 weeks of play.
The worst and maybe best part about the Coastal is that nearly every team has a chance to win it. No one with the possible exception of Duke can really be counted out yet. That being said, I don’t think that UNC or Miami have a particularly good chance at it. UNC due to their two in division losses to both UVA and Virginia Tech. Miami has yet to put together a full game, and beating a struggling Wake Forest team doesn’t count. The ‘Canes will be a dangerous team next year, but they haven’t quite gotten it together in my book like I expected them to after the first few weeks. Georgia Tech looked like it had the fast track as the best team in the Coastal, but dropping a game at home to UVA from the same problem that has plagued them all season, turnovers, makes it hard for me to think that they will bounce back into contention. They’ll keep turning the ball over, and putting your defense even if its great back out on the field for long periods of time doesn’t win you football games.
That really epitomizes the whole problem with the Virginia Tech football team this year. It's not turnovers, but a completely inept offense that is holding them back from being the clear front runners in the Coastal division, if not the ACC like they have been since joining back in 2004. The VT defense has been solid with the exception of the ECU game, where poor tackling was their primary failure. Just look at the BC game; 5 turnovers, 2 returned for TDs, held BC to no points in the second half, and the Hokies still managed to lose by 1 possession. It’s amazing that they managed to pull off five wins in a row the way the offense has played most of the season. The North Carolina schools have probably been the nicest surprise out of the Coastal this year; forget the staggering Hokies and the surging Hoos, the fact that the Tar Heels are competing for the division title, and that Duke has quadrupiled their win total from last year are things to be excited about.
If we want to discuss poor teams in the ACC, look no farther than the Atlantic division. Their best team is a slowly improving, but I think mediocre Florida State. Their youth in the secondary would be a serious issue if anyone in the ACC had a respectable passing game. Clemson is a total bust, beyond even my wildest imagination. How that team managed to lose track of everything it did last year in the off season is staggering. Beyond the poor play calling, and not getting the ball to their best play makers (Spiller and Davis,) it just looks like the team doesn’t care on the field. NC State would be a good team if it could keep players healthy and field a secondary made up of anyone other than what they’ve got. They can’t, so they are easily the worst team in the ACC. Wake Forest has had a complete collapse, from being the best-looking team in the ACC, to near the bottom, which has to be difficult for Coach Grobe. Somewhere along the line the offense got out of synch, and I’d point to the FSU game as the start of it.
Then there is the mystery called Maryland. Currently tied for the lead with FSU atop the Atlantic, the Terrapins are playing the dark horse position about as well as anyone can. It really helps make you fly under the radar when you lose to Middle Tennessee State and a 1-3 Cavaliers team. Both of those are embarrassing losses, even with the improvement seen from UVA I’m having a hard time feeling good about this Maryland team. If Clemson is the perennial underachiever, then Maryland must be the most schizophrenic team in the ACC. Week in and week out it’s a guessing game as to which team will show up. The most interesting thing to watch in the ACC right now is whether the team that beat Cal and destroyed Wake Forest is the one that shows up more often in these last 4 games starting with a Thursday night game in Blacksburg. If the bad Maryland shows up and the Thursday night mojo holds strong for VT it could be a rough position for them to be in heading in their last 3 games, 2 of which are against the other Atlantic front runners, FSU and BC. Boston College, this team continues to be an underappreciated squad. Their problem is the same as Georgia Tech’s though, turnovers. Chris Crane has done well to replace Matt Ryan, except when it comes to him turning the ball over. It was bound to bite them some week and it finally did against UNC in week nine. BC is continuing to do more with less, and as much as I hate them, BC is not some fluke quality team.
Everyone can say that the ACC's expansion is a dud, but that would be a serious misconception. I think bringing those teams in raised the competitive level of the whole conference. It hasn’t been pretty, and probably won’t be for some time. This conference is tough from top to bottom, starting with this year, there are no gimme games anymore. Everyone that thinks it’s a weak conference is overlooking the difficulty of making it through the ACC schedule undefeated. The league is balancing out, and I do think that by the end of the year you’re going to see significantly improved squads across both divisions. No one from the ACC is going to the National Title game, but I’d stake some money on the bowl eligible teams finally putting up a positive record for the ACC this season. We’re showing we can play ball with the big boys now and its time to stop overlooking ACC teams just because we lose to each other.
I do count myself lucky enough to have several friends across the college football world, and I've been nagging at them for a while to give me scraps, here and there, for this site. With luck, others will relent and give me something else in the near future.