Virginia Tech-West Virginia Review: Various Topics Covered

Virginia Tech
Leddie Brown got West Virginia on the board early against Virginia Tech. (Ivan Morozov)

That was a tough game to watch. The boards are buzzing with questions, and I couldn’t pick a theme, so this week is a bit of a buckshot article.

Gap Fits

On WVU’s first TD, the broadcast team pointed to Dax Hollifield (#4) matching the motioning H-back as the cause for the long run. Here’s the play:

You can see Hollifield moving to the alley, so he’s technically been removed from the box. But the motion man is almost to the sideline, which is BFE as far as interior runs are concerned. It’s a one-for-one trade, and no one gains a numbers advantage. If anything, Hollifield gained a slight advantage for Tech’s defense by staying in the alley, where he can play the cutback; the H-back, meanwhile, completely removed himself from the play. It’d make more sense to blame Hollifield and Tae Daley (#17) flying down to the receivers. Two defenders are already there, so that puts four defenders over three receivers. Maybe that was a flub, maybe it wasn’t. Even then, having four over three still leaves a Hokie defender for every gap in the box if the RB carries. It’s risky, but if everyone fills their gap, they make it to third down on any give to the RB.

The inciting problem behind the play is reminiscent of Louisville’s long TD run they broke off before halftime in last year’s game. Last year, Josh Fuga was the culprit when he got reached, and here it looks like Norrell Pollard (#3) giving up his gap. It’s only a split second, but it’s at exactly the wrong time for Leddie Brown (#4) to streak by. Nasir Peoples (#31) and Alan Tisdale (#34) are pressing their own gap responsibilities, so they don’t have a chance to fill the void.