Tuesday, November 24, 2009

game preview: Virginia Poly

Date/Time: November 28, 3:30 PM


Last matchup: VT 17, UVA 14

Last week: Clemson 34, UVA 21; VT 38, NCSt 10

History against the Hokies: 37-48-5

Line: VT by 16

Opposing blogs: Gobbler Country, College Game Balls, and don't forget to scroll down and check out the Q&A with GC.

I am shamed somewhat. As might have been kind of obvious, I've sort of been mailing in these previews. Football has been depressing me to the point where I start these previews and all I can think is, "we're going to lose anyway." I mean, I've been right, but as the Clemson game proved - or more specifically, the Simpson-at-wildcat formations and the trick plays proved - the coaches and players haven't given up at all. Say what you will about Al Groh, but when he says he's going about the business of coaching and not paying attention to the rumors, it's not just coachspeak. He means it, and it rubs off on the players. So if the game previews of late have been weak sauce, that changes this time around.

It helps, of course, that this week's opponent is who they are. It's hate time, people. I may have told this story before, but it's worth a retell. This is a true story. It's how you know I was probably destined to be a Hoo before I even knew it. This was back when I was looking at colleges - not even deciding who to apply to, but who to even look at and think about applying to. UVA was on the list. So was Georgia Tech. I thought to myself, Virginia, Georgia Tech....Virginia Tech might also make sense, right? Five seconds later I had forever disabused myself of that silly notion. I wanted to go to school in a college town, not a college trailer park. And besides that, I'd have to spend the rest of my life wearing colors that would make Helen Keller vomit, let alone the rest of us that actually have to look at that abomination, and cheering for a turkey. So that was out, and I never even bothered a second look.


- Empty the bag of tricks. I fully expect this to happen, actually. This is it for Al Groh. He's not showing it, but surely he knows it. There's nothing to save up for any more. Last year he brought out Vic Hall in the wildcat and Poly had no idea what to do with it. Last week it was Mikell Simpson, plus the pass to Torchia off the reverse. I was a little annoyed that it wasn't being saved for this week, but you have to believe Groh has more stuff ready to go. Remember, he used to pull this stuff out pretty regularly. Flea-flickers, hook-and-ladders, all that stuff. It's coming back on Saturday, and we'll need everything in there to get this done.

- Stuff Ryan Williams. There's a near-perfect correlation between holding him under 101 yards and Tech losing the game. Duke is the only exception. Williams is the key; Tyrod Taylor scares nobody.

- Want it more. We don't have the talent to match up, and can't win without this.

- Defensive touchdowns. Even if they bring the bag of tricks, the offense needs the help.


- Williams doesn't even need to break off big plays to beat us. He can do it four and five yards at a time. If we let him do that, over and over, we're not going to win.

- Turn the ball over. I think we can win if we do all the right things, even if VT doesn't turn the ball over a whole mess of times. But if we turn the ball over? We can't overcome that.

- Overreliance on boilerplate, vanilla pass plays. I don't mind if we hand the ball off a lot. Helps the defense, and Rashawn Jackson can carry the load, we know this. But we also all know how lousy the passing game has been. The pass should be sparingly and creatively employed. We can't win a shootout.


I don't know, and I hope that's a good thing. Obviously, the conventional wisdom is that we haven't got a chance, and so the more unpredictable the game is, the better. And I think it will be unpredictable. I think last week, with the new wrinkles, was just a sneak preview. Groh is cagey, and the Hall tactic last year was ever so close to working. There'll be more this year. Win or lose, I definitely think it'll be closer than the line says, and I'd bet on us to at least cover.


It's rivalry week in a big way.

North Carolina @ NC State, 12:00
Wake Forest @ Duke, 12:00
Clemson @ South Carolina, 12:00
Miami @ South Florida, 3:30
Boston College @ Maryland, 3:30
Florida State @ Florida, 3:30
Georgia Tech vs. Georgia, 8:00

That will likely be it for posting this week. I have an afternoon flight tomorrow. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Don't forget to messily slaughter, stuff, cook, carve, and eat a turkey. Do it for the good of humanity.

No comments: