TSL Roundtable: Looking back on William & Mary

Last week you were asked what you wanted to see from the William & Mary game.  This week, go back and talk about what you liked and didn’t like.

vt_fb_shai_mckenzie_2014_02

Upwind of uva: Revisiting my “want to see” list from last week, I got nearly everything I wanted and then some. While we didn’t necessarily dominate William & Mary, we did comfortably control the game. The offense really stood out as efficient, especially for the first game of the season. Questionable depth may limit the ceiling on this defense, but W&M only had one sustained drive on the day. Busted plays (on offense or defense) are going to happen, but on both sides of the ball I liked how we responded. On offense, Brewer was never rattled by the interception. The defense held W&M to six points off the two Tech turnovers. Those are good signs.

Offensive execution looked more polished than prior season openers. No head-scratching timeouts, which was nice considering a new signal caller and true freshmen at RB and WR. I really expected at least one motion or alignment penalty and we’ve had more than our share of over the past five or six years. That we didn’t is an indicator that the coaches have the players attention, and the players are coachable. (Editor’s note: Cam Phillips did line up wrong once, but overall the freshmen did very well in that regard.) Some of that may be a result of limiting the playbook for a FCS opponent, but it’s good to see anyway, and throw in the no-huddle look and it’s more impressive. As Chris Coleman said in another article, we’ve struggled more against lesser opponents over the past few years.

And then there’s Brewer and McKenzie. What a great start to their careers. I also liked what Williams was able to do, but my highest praise for the game goes to McKenzie. For lack of a better description he runs with purpose, and that purpose is to get large chunks of real estate behind him as quickly and directly as possible. Power, vision and even some wiggle (at full speed, no less). Dude’s gonna be special.

As for Brewer, this was great game management on display Saturday. He put the ball in the right place again and again. It was more than we could hope for from a transfer who didn’t even go through spring drills. One caution, though: what some people are calling a “catchable ball” looks to me like a floating pass. As teams begin to bring pressure and employ press coverage, it’s probably going to be harder for Brewer to find the big holes downfield he exploited found on Saturday. Will he be able to thread the needle with pace when he needs to? I hope so, because if not we’re going to see turnovers and more difficulty sustaining long scoring drives.

Defensively we have some question marks and time will tell whether they will be season-long challenges, but Bud & Co. are the best in the business at scheming to hide weaknesses. This year that may be tougher to do since those question marks include a chunk of the front seven, but other than to say I won’t be reading too much into the Ohio State game I’ll leave it at that for now.

All in all, a nice start to the season, and some of our biggest question marks coming in yielded strong debuts. I’m looking forward to seeing how much improvement there is from game one to game two.

Tafkam Hokie:  It is difficult not to be pleased with the game last week.  I think we all got to see most of the things we were looking for.  But to revisit a few specific items:

Can the defense force turnovers and possibly even score?  A 4 yard sack, forced fumble, and 45 yard fumble return to the W&M 2 yard line.  Check.

Can we kick a FG?  2-for-2, albeit from very short yardage.  Check.

Can we cover punts and kickoffs?   W&M had a total of 4 punt return yards and only returned a kickoff past the 25 once (and that was only to the 30).  Check.

Can we get out of the 1st quarter without wasting a timeout?  VT only used one timeout in the whole game, and it was in the 2 minute drill at the end of the 1st half.  Check.

I

...