Virginia Tech-West Virginia Review: The Art Of Blocking

Virginia Tech
Blocking has been an issue for the Virginia Tech offense this year. (Ivan Morozov)

Well, my brain said WVU by a few scores, but my heart said Virginia Tech. Guess I got exactly what I deserved. On the other hand, I think I figured out why I’ve had so many relationship disasters over the years. So, I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

My pre-schooler got bloodwork done a while back. I held him on my lap and let him watch cartoons to keep him occupied. When the nurses popped the needle in, he asked, “Why are they hurting me?”

About the time that third quarter rolled around, I really understood what that little guy had gone through. That first half had me on edge—for whatever reason, I don’t think I’ve been that into a game for a few years now. And then it fell apart. The Kool-Aid is out of my system, replaced by bottom-shelf, plastic-jug vodka.

Let’s double-down and look at a painful play from last year. Watch Johnny Jordan at center and Kaden Moore at right guard:

Jordan gets put on a rodeo ride, which forces Jalen Holston to cut back. But Moore’s getting bull-rushed into the cutback lane, so there’s nowhere to go. Both guys improved their play as the season went on, but now, a year later, they seem to be back where they started. Going back to the failed fourth-down conversion from Thursday, here’s Jordan getting pushed back:

And here’s Kaden:

It’s not fair to just blame two guys: everyone’s had their moments. Braelin Moore (#98) gets subbed in on the 3rd and 1 as a package wrinkle and looks like he’s the pickle in a judo demonstration or something. He’s going buck-wild, lunging, and his head is on the wrong side of the defender—if he gets the barest block here, Tech probably gets the yard they needed. Meanwhile, on the 4th and 1, Nick Gallo has the opposite problem: he’s late off the ball and allows his guy through on the down block, which mucks up the pull.

Last week I made a crack about the old “one block away” Beamerism. Turns out, I was wrong: it’s more like “two or three blocks and a broken tackle away.”

I don’t think these guys are suddenly much weaker, or that their competition is so much better than last year’s. And even if either of these were true, it doesn’t explain the frequent instances of rushers allowed through unblocked. This isn’t an o-line full of future hall-of-famers, but it isn’t as bad as we’ve seen, either. Tech’s blockers are unfocused and losing control of their intensity, and their recognition and technique are failing as a result.

In Appreciation of Blocking

Blocking might look like the most Cro-Magnon thing this side of Russian slap contests…