2007 Monday Thoughts: Georgia Tech

Thursday night, the Hokies turned in their most balanced performance of the
year against a solid opponent, throttling Georgia Tech 27-3 in Atlanta. To this
layman’s eye, the offensive game plan, play calling, and performance rank among
the best of Bryan Stinespring’s tenure, if not the best, and the defense
and special teams were solid again. The Hokies appear to be gelling at just the
right time, with a critical three-game stretch coming up that will determine the
ACC’s Coastal Division championship.

Everybody’s
raving about the performance of Sean Glennon, and I was impressed with his
outing, which was nearly perfect for most of the first half, when he piled up
196 yards passing on 18 of 23 completions.

What stood out to me, though, was the offensive game plan and playcalling by
Bryan Stinespring. I’m not as savvy a football observer as someone like TSL’s
Raleigh Hokie, but I often find myself watching Virginia Tech football games and
wondering what, exactly, the Hokies are trying to accomplish on offense. Not
this time around. This time around, the game plan was apparent, and the
execution, for most of the game, was very, very good.

This game made me think back to the
2002 Pittsburgh game
, which the Hokies lost in Lane Stadium, 28-21. That was
the infamous game in which the Hokies had a commanding 21-7 lead, had all the
momentum, and had just stopped the Panthers on third down … except Tech’s
Ronyell Whitaker committed a personal foul, Pitt scored two plays later, and a
Panther comeback was underway.

But that’s not why I recalled that game. I recalled it because I remember
thinking after the game that Stinespring, who was in his first year as offensive
coordinator at VT in 2002, had just prepared and called one of the most
Mickey-Mouse games I had ever seen. Pitt held the Hokies to 275 yards on the
night, 59 of which came on one Lee Suggs rushing play.

Beyond that one play, the Hokies stunk on offense. I remember thinking how
little deception and disguising of plays went on. When Hokie QB Bryan Randall
was under center, the Hokies ran the ball, usually straight at Pitt, in
drive-blocking fashion. When Randall was in the shotgun, he stood in the pocket
and threw it. VT never rolled the pocket or handed off. It was like watching a
little league team play.

About two years later, when I attended BeamerBall.com’s fantasy football
camp, I asked Stinespring what the worst game he had ever coached as an OC was,
to see if he would mention that Pitt game. He didn’t, saying instead that Boston
College 2003 was his worst, because the Hokies started out red hot and then went
cold, and in Stinespring’s words, “I didn’t put us in position to win that
football game.”

He certainly did Thursday night against Georgia Tech. Stinespring had a very
good game plan, and Sean Glennon carried it out to near-perfection in the first
30 minutes, when the Hokies took a 17-3 lead. Virginia Tech’s offense slowed
down a bit in the second half, but still hit one big play in the third quarter
to go up 24-3 and coast home.

The Hokies have scored more points than 27 many times under Stinespring, but
I don’t think I’ve seen as good a game plan, executed as well, in his tenure.

And it was right on time, wasn’t it?

The Offense

The buzzards were circling after the BC game, when the Hokie offense had a
decent outing, but kept shooting itself in the foot and couldn’t post enough
points to hold off the Eagles late. Bryan Stinespring needed to have a good
game, and he had one here. A great one.

Have you heard that Georgia Tech blitzes a lot? Me, too. The way to beat a
blitz is to throw it where they ain’t, but that’s easier said that done. Matt
Ryan and Boston College shredded Georgia Tech’s defense earlier in the season
for 527 yards (435 passing), but not many other teams can exploit a blitzing
team like the Eagles can.

The Hokies had 481 yards, a VT season high, including 296 passing yards and
185 rushing yards (also a season high, boosted by a 70-yard run by Jahre
Cheeseman). Not known for their offensive prowess, VT blew away Georgia Tech’s
defensive season

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