2009 Monday Thoughts: Alabama

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saw a lot of encouraging signs Saturday night for the 2009 Hokies, but I also
saw a lot more of the same-old-same-old. On the positive side, Tech played hard
and played with composure, and one new player in particular, Ryan Williams,
really stood out. But on the offensive side of the ball, the team once again
struggled with many of the same issues we have seen for three years running now.

Can someone explain to me why I picked Virginia Tech to win this game? Just
hard-headed, I guess, and full of preseason optimism. But after three straight
losses to three of the perennially more talented teams in the SEC — Georgia
(2006), LSU (2007), and Alabama (2009) — I’m finally ready to admit it: the
Hokies can’t play for 60 minutes with the big boys of the SEC.

Sorry to reiterate what you’re going to hear from SECSPN from now until
eternity, but it’s true. Virginia Tech has some talent and is a tough, gritty
football team, but the Hokies don’t have the sheer depth, size, and speed of the
top SEC teams. And offensively, the Hokies have now wet the bed three straight
times against quality SEC competition:

  • Georgia (2006): 189 yards, 9 first downs
  • LSU (2007): 149 yards, 11 first downs
  • Alabama (2009): 155 yards, 11 first downs
  • Average: 164 yards, 10 first downs

So the pattern is set. VT can’t beat the upper-tier SEC teams they’ve been
encountering lately, and the reason boils down mostly to the inability of Tech’s
offense to game plan and execute against quality, aggressive defenses.

The defense has had their issues, too. The Hokies played a great game against
Georgia in the 2006 Chick-fil-A Bowl, giving up just 200 yards and 9 first
downs, but against LSU in 2007 (598 yards, 28 first downs) and in this game (498
yards, 22 first downs), the defense was beaten by quality SEC offenses.

Ironically, LSU and Alabama were able to move the ball on the Hokies because
they gameplanned attacks against the Hokies’ defensive weaknesses and took
advantage of inexperienced VT players. Virginia Tech fails to game plan