2007 Monday Thoughts: William & Mary

Careful, I keep telling myself. It was just one game. I’m always saying that
you can’t draw a lot of conclusions from one game, and it’s not smart to flip
out or get hyper because of one game. Having said that, the one game we’re
talking about here, a 44-3 win over Division 1-AA William & Mary, was pretty
alarming. It was a win that was lopsided on the scoreboard, but nearly even
statistically. ACC play opens this Saturday for the Hokies, and alarm bells are
clanging loudly.

For the record, this one was a 44-3 yawner that yours truly left at halftime,
setting a personal record for leaving a Hokie football game early. Hmmm, after
years of staying until the final whistle, with the notable exception of the 1991
whipping at Virginia (38-0, bad guys), I’ve left two out of four games early
this year: LSU and William & Mary. Boy, are those two games at the opposite
end of the spectrum, or what? I went into the game disinterested, and as the
first half muddled to a close, I decided to head out and find something more
engrossing to do.

Here are the pertinent parts of an otherwise forgettable game. First, here’s
the flow of action:

  • VT was stopped inside the ten yard line twice by William & Mary and
    had to settle for field goals.
  • W&M dropped a punt snap, giving Tech the ball on the Tribe 5-yard
    line, leading to a short TD run.
  • Brandon Flowers returned an interception 49 yards for a TD.
  • The Hokies put together their longest drive (9 plays, 58 yards) and got a
    TD from Kenny Lewis, Jr., ending the first quarter 27-0.
  • Eddie Royal returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown.
  • VT substituted liberally on defense. Purnell Sturdivant got an
    interception.
  • Against VT’s backup defense, W&M drove 94 yards in 9 plays and kicked
    a field goal.
  • Late in the first half, VT got a 34-yard TD from Branden Ore on a screen
    pass, making it 41-3 at half time.
  • Second half: VT substituted liberally on offense, including the entire
    offensive line, and put forth a very tepid second-half effort, outscoring
    W&M 3-0. Final score: 44-3.

Here are the statistics and facts:

  • Tyrod Taylor: 6-of-13, 72 yards, 1 TD.
  • Branden Ore: 10 carries, 25 yards, 1 TD.
  • Kenny Lewis, Jr.: 10 carries, 43 yards, 1 TD.
  • VT: 38 carries, 133 yards against a 1-AA defense that was previously
    surrendering 273 yards per game on the ground.
  • VT starting wide receivers: 0 catches.
  • VT possessions longer than 6 plays: 1.
  • VT offensive touchdowns: 3.
  • VT offense: 287 yards.
  • William & Mary offense: 262 yards.

Those numbers, and an objective evaluation of how the Hokies
“looked,” paint a bleak picture. But you know what? Today, I do not
have the appetite to go off on the Hokies. It was an odd game, with lots of
plays that threw things out of whack, and the Hokie starters, while they were in
the game, out-athleted William & Mary for a big lead and a big win. Once the
backups got in, particularly the backup offensive line, things just bogged down
and became a practice session. That doesn’t inspire me to analyze or draw
conclusions. I’m just glad the game is over, because it bored me.

Having said that, there are ongoing concerns that bear watching as ACC play
gets ready to open against UNC this coming Saturday.

Branden Ore

Nine games after he smoked Clemson for 203 yards on 37 carries, Branden Ore
is a shadow of his former self and seems to be declining even further. After the
Clemson game last year, Ore’s 2006 statistics were 166 carries for 939 yards
(5.66 ypc). In the nine games since then (only seven of which he has played a
full game), Ore has 140 carries for 403 yards (2.88 ypc).

He
looks different. He looks slow, he looks tentative, and he looks like
he’s giving up on plays. He doesn’t have the same burst that he used to. He
still has good vision, from what I can tell, there’s just not much to look at in
the way of holes. When he does find a hole, he’s not exploding through it in the
same fashion. On his 34-yard screen for a touchdown, he nearly fell down at the
ten yard line.

Something’s wrong with Ore, and no one is talking about it or offering
reasons.

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