Monday Morning Quarterback

For the Monday Morning Quarterback, a blowout loss would seem like manna from heaven. The Hokies took the Eagles behind the woodshed and applied a beating that was one of the worst we have seen in years. Picking at the carcass of such a loss is not a lot of fun, but that's why this column exists. So, this week we kick the good guys while they are down and find a few ways to rub salt in the wound.

The first thing that comes to mind is the offense. Virginia Tech has been doing the same things on defense since Beamer has been a head coach. They load the box, dare teams to run and blitz like heck on third down. That's what they do and everyone knows it.

The exception, however, is the BC coaching staff. BC had the ball eight times in the first half. They ran the ball seven times to start drives. The result was 21 yards on seven plays. Two plays went for five yards, but one of those was on a first-and-15. That means they were behind schedule on seven of their drives in the first half.

If the defense is crowding the line and daring you to throw it, throw it. Granted, they tried it once and that resulted in a pick-6. Giving up first down by crashing into the defensive front is just giving the defense what they want. BC was in long down and distance and forced to throw the ball.

Take a look at second down on those drives. Taking out the pick, that leaves seven drives. BC threw the ball five times on second down. One sack and four incompletions. That left them with impossible third down situations. On average, they needed to get twelve yards on their six third down tries to move the chains.

The obvious answer and one you see other teams do against this approach to defense is throw the ball on first down. Even a three yard dump pass is enough. It keeps the whole play book open on second down and gives you a fighting chance to move the chains. Giving up first down is just digging a hole for the offense.

The other issue on offense was the decision to put in the second unit to start the fourth quarter. You have to build depth and it is popular to use this technique to get the second team a series. In the college game where a third of the starters leave every year, it makes sense. It also makes sense to make it a part of the game plan. There's no point in just throwing the kids to the wolves.

The thing is, the point of playing the game is to win the game. Do that first and then worry about building depth. In this case, the game was getting out of control and the defense needed a rest. What BC needed at that point was a first down, not a three-and-out for minus-15 yards. The result was a quick TD and the game was out of hand.

On defense, we saw what happens when you give a mobile quarterback too much respect. The kid has wheels and can kill a defense if he gets loose, but he is not Michael Vick. BC seems to have made it a priority to keep Taylor from running the ball or getting out of the pocket. So much so they had no pass rush and the back seven were twenty yards off the ball.

Taylor is not a great passer, but he is not incompetent. Give any college quarterback ten seconds and they will find someone open and get the ball to them. We saw that on the two TD passes in the first half. Taylor had all day and just waited until someone finally got open.

Worse yet, the soft defense opened up huge running lanes for Ryan Williams. Instead of facing five or six guys in the tackle area, he had wide open space once he breeched the lines of scrimmage. In some cases, it was impossible to see a BC defender in the picture. They were too busy chasing around VT receivers and making sure Taylor did not leave the pocket.

The thing that ties it all together is the approach from the staff for this game. They appear to have accepted reality, which is usually a good thing. That reality is their team is not as good as the Hokies. That's an obvious fact to anyone who watched football. Virginia Tech is in the top-5 for good reason – they are one of the five best teams in the country.

The staff took that reality and came up with a plan to avoid mistakes and hope they got enough breaks to be in it at the end. Like grabbing a tiger by the tail, the plan was to hold on and hope the Hokies shot themselves in the foot enough times to keep BC in the game. Obviously, that did not happen.

It never happens.

The only way you beat a top ranked team when you are a mediocre team is to throw everything in the bucket at them. Losing by 34 points with a conservative game plan is just as bad as losing by 34 points with a go for broke game plan. The former is a foregone conclusion, the latter approach at least gives you a punchers chance.

This sounds like a whole lot of negativity and it is. That's sort of the point of this column. But, we have to give a least a nod to fairness. No matter what BC did on Saturday they were going to get a whoopin' by the Hokies. BC is in a rebuilding year caused by multiple coaching changes and a whole bunch of mistakes by folks not on the current coaching staff. It is these sorts of games that will help this program get back to championship caliber football.

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