2008 Monday Thoughts: Boston College

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elephant in the room — Virginia Tech’s struggling offense — had been sitting
quietly in the corner all season, and the Hokies notched a 5-1 record despite
their lack of offensive production. But Saturday night, the elephant got rowdy
and starting knocking over furniture and breaking stuff. Things finally
collapsed, and in the aftermath of Tech’s 28-23 defeat, all eyes are on the
offense, or lack thereof.

But there’s more to this game than a lack of offensive production. The most
disturbing thing about this game is that the Hokies were soundly thrashed on
both sides of the line of scrimmage, and Boston College was the more physical,
aggressive team. VT was simply outclassed in this game, in more ways than one.

You’ve read everyone else’s analysis by now:

  • VT wins turnover battle and scores two TDs on defense.
  • VT gives up big plays on defense and special teams.
  • Pathetic offensive showing (zero offensive TDs) loses game.

I’m going to highlight some of the subtext, some things you may not have
noticed. Get a helmet, because we’re about to take some knocks on the head.

Stats Tell the Tale

Much is being made of VT’s 5-1 turnover advantage and the 17 points scored
and set up by the Hokie defense. In most games, that statistic is good enough to
bring a win.

But in most games, those statistics are accompanied by other statistics that
herald victory. If you’re causing the other team to turn it over, it’s generally
because you’re the more physical team, the more gifted team and/or the more
experienced team. You’re just better, and if you’re winning the turnover battle
5-1, you’re winning other statistical battles, as well.

Not in this case. Look beyond the turnover margin and points off turnovers
statistics, and you see that Virginia Tech didn’t win many major statistical
battles in this game.