The Virginia Tech Hokies just barely pulled off a win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Saturday, vaulting VT to 2-1 for the season and 1-0 in the ACC.
So, how did the Hokies win? Well, they did two important things: the coaches kept Sean Glennon on the bench, and the defense played pretty well against the pass, forcing GT to keep the ball on the ground and play a slow run game.
However, GT's run game was a lot more effective than it should have been. That's why this 20-17 game was so darn close. That, and terrible play calling from Virginia Tech's offensive coordinator, Bryan Stinespring. As the OC, this guy to me is responsible for what happens on the field during offensive drives. Stinespring has taken a lot of heat from blogs, fans and sports news sources locally and nationwide, but for good reason. Perhaps head coach Frank Beamer is just getting too old and senile to see what's right in front of him (OK, many of you will think that's blasphemy, but Beamer is not infallible).
There were so many bad offensive play calls Saturday versus the Jackets that I doubt there was one fan in the stands or watching at home on ESPN who was satisfied with what happened. On third-and-long plays, the play call would be a screen pass from QB Tyrod Taylor that would be lucky to make it back to the line of scrimmage before the receiver was down and the punt team was on the field. It also seems as if the coaches have Taylor persuaded that he can't do anything but run. Plenty of times, Taylor had open receivers downfield, but he would instead run for only a couple of yards. That's not to say Taylor isn't one talented QB, and his run game is indeed superb (read: unfathomable, magical, amazing to watch). However, if VT is going to be competitive, the offense needs a pass-game boost once in a while. Taylor has a good arm on him, so he just needs some proper coaching to back him up.
On defense, VT was great on secondary, but the D-Line was pretty weak. I had a lot more faith in defensive coordinator Bud Foster before Saturday's game. The defense fell for the same series of plays every time GT was on offense, and they fell for the same exact option play so many times I lost count. GT was able to gain positive yards on pretty much every rushing play, and that almost sealed the Hokies' fate. Let's face it — if not for the athleticism of Taylor and his ability to get into the end zone by himself quite often, then VT might face some big problems. Luckily, good defense (except against the option) and special teams (VT had another extra point block credited to its special teams Saturday) are getting better and better.
Overall, Beamer made the right decision to bench the ever-disappointing Glennon. Hopefully, he'll listen to the Hokie Nation and either make sure Stinespring doesn't get to make any more calls for the Hokies, or at least pressure him to get the offense making some bigger plays. The Hokies didn't look terrible against GT, but they definitely need to be more agressive and step up the little things at all levels if VT is going to ride this success into the postseason. There needs to be better play calling on offense. And QB Tyrod Taylor needs to stay healthy — because he is the new face of Virginia Tech.
In NFL news, the Carolina Panthers pulled off another comeback win Sunday against the Chicago Bears, 20-17. To many, this season is starting off reminiscent of the 2003 season that saw the "Cardiac Cats" endure many hard-fought battles on the gridiron on their way to the Super Bowl. Are the Cardiac Cats back? Will things look even better when Steve Smith returns next week?