School in the News: Virginia Tech

Tag: Virginia Tech

1Nov 2015
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School in the News: Virginia Tech

Frank Beamer

Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer has announced that he will retire at the end of the 2015 season. The longest tenured head coach in FBS football, he spent the last 29 seasons in Blacksburg and won over 230 games there. I don’t expect there to be a great deal of fallout in Michigan’s favor, because Michigan is only crossing paths with VT occasionally in this recruiting class.

2016 commits with Michigan offers: DE Jimmie Taylor
Roster players who were offered by Michigan: CB Kendall Fuller (Jr.), RB Shai McKenzie (So.), CB Mook Reynolds (Fr.), DT Tim Settle (Fr.), OG Wyatt Teller (RS Jr.)

Taylor is a 6’3″, 220 lb. weakside end who was being looked at as a Buck linebacker, which Michigan is desperate for in this class (or even right now). He was scheduled to visit in mid-June, but I never heard word whether that visit materialized or not. Either way, he was reportedly down to picking Virginia Tech or North Carolina before picking the Hokies. Michigan has its eyes on some other potential Buck linebackers – including Colorado’s Carlo Kemp, who is supposed to choose this week – but they might want to throw their hat back in the ring for Taylor with the coaching uncertainty.


12Feb 2012
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Sugar Bowl: Michigan vs. Virginia Tech Grades – Defense

This interception was Frank Clark’s best play of the day, but not his only good one.

Just like post-Nebraska and post-Ohio State, I reviewed the film of the Sugar Bowl and graded out the defense for good/bad reads, filling/missing assignments, and physical superiority/inferiority.  Each time a player had a significant impact on a play, he was given a grade ranging from +3 to -3.


FClark: +10 . . . Too quick for offensive line to handle; made a great interception
JRyan: +10 . . . Pursuit and hustle were stellar; took great angles
MMartin: +9 . . . Seemed to get tired in second half, but too fast off the snap most of the time
RVanBergen: +9 . . . No spectacular plays but just disruptive enough to force Wilson to hesitate
JKovacs: +7 . . . Good tackler but also wades through trash well
CRoh: +3 . . . Got reach blocked a couple times, but mostly filled his assignments
BBeyer: +1 . . . Limited playing time
KDemens: +1 . . . Missed several tackles, but made a nice PBU and filled his gap
QWashington: +1 . . . Limited playing time
JBlack: 0 . . . Looks too slow for weakside end
CAvery: -1 . . . Had trouble fighting off blocks early, but supported run well after first quarter
WCampbell: -2 . . . Got reach blocked too easily; too passive mostly, but had a couple “wow” moments
TGordon: -2 . . . Had a rough first half but got better as the game went along
BCountess: -3 . . . Picked on especially in zone coverage, but fared better in man
DMorgan: -4 . . . Not bad for a freshman linebacker but looked like a freshman linebacker
JFloyd: -5 . . . Okay in pass coverage, poor against the run

The usual suspects were stellar for the most part, but sitting atop the list is a bit of a surprise: freshman defensive end Frank Clark.  Aside from the highlight-reel interception, Clark consistently beat Virginia Tech’s left tackle with slants and speed rushes.  Of course, part of the credit for Clark’s +10 goes to Greg Mattison, who used Clark to stunt more often than he did with Roh.  Hooray for using players’ strengths!

Redshirt freshman SAM linebacker Jake Ryan was also outstanding, receiving only one negative mark (for being a little slow in getting to the flat in pass coverage).  Mike Martin was great in the first half, mediocre in the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth, and outstanding in the last few minutes of the game.  Ryan Van Bergen was solid throughout, but you could tell by the fourth quarter that his foot was bothering him.  Jordan Kovacs also made some nice plays throughout the game, although he did make some uncharacteristic misses in run support.

Going to the bottom of the list, redshirt junior J.T. Floyd wasn’t picked on much in coverage, but he received most of his negatives in run support.  He just wasn’t physical at all when coming up to support the run and at times he looked to be running away from contact.  On the opposite side of the field, freshman cornerback Blake Countess was targeted throughout the game.  And while he was more effective than Floyd in supporting the run, the more experienced and bigger Hokie receivers took advantage of him a little bit.

Freshman linebacker Desmond Morgan alternated a couple bad plays with one very good play.  Virginia Tech frequently motioned tight ends across the formation to change the strength, putting Morgan on the strong side and running at him.  He reads the backfield pretty quickly, but when a tight end or slot receiver would come crashing down on him, he would be a split second late in reacting to the block; at least one time, his slowness caused middle linebacker Kenny Demens to get caught up in the trash.

Meanwhile, defensive tackle William Campbell continued his inconsistency by literally knocking an offensive guard on his ass . . . and then playing pattycake on other plays (not so literally).  He is virtually unblockable when he fires off the ball, but if he stands straight up, he’s very easy to block.  The problem with playing Campbell is that he oscillates between performing like Mike Martin and performing like Adam Patterson.  His ceiling is great, but his floor is terrible.

4Jan 2012
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Sugar Bowl: Michigan 23, Virginia Tech 20

Troy Woolfolk’s helmet is thrust in the air under a downpour of confetti
(image via BTN)

Wow, that was an exciting game.  And not in a good way . . . except for the fact that Michigan won.  That was Michigan’s ugliest win of the season and it took some lucky calls to go the Wolverines’ way.

The offense disappeared. Yikes. Denard Robinson had 13 carries for 13 yards.  Fitzgerald Toussaint had 13 carries for 30 yards.  Altogether, Michigan ran the ball 30 times for 56 yards, or 1.9 yards per attempt.  Robinson completed 9/21 passes for 117 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 pick.  It was a bad night.  As I was laying out the Virginia Tech position previews over the past couple weeks, people kept commenting on how I was overrating the Hokies.  They are pretty good.  Maybe Michigan fans will understand that now.

Michigan got lucky.  The guys in the winged helmets played hard-nosed football at times last night, but ultimately, they got very  lucky on numerous occasions.  Two Jayron Hosley interceptions were negated, one because the ball hit the ground and one because he yanked on Jeremy Gallon’s jersey and got called for pass interference; he almost had another pick when he jumped a Junior Hemingway hitch route.  Free safety Eddie Whitley let two interceptions go right through his hands, including Hemingway’s 45-yard touchdown catch.  On top of Robinson’s one interception, he almost threw four  more . . . and on only 21 attempts.  Aside from the near-interceptions, Hokies wide receiver Danny Coales caught what might have been the game-winning touchdown pass, only to have it overturned because the nose of the ball hit the ground; it was probably the right call, but it could have very easily remained a touchdown after the replay booth took a look at it.

We’re going to miss Junior Hemingway.  That guy doesn’t get the ball very often, but he makes huge plays. He only had 2 catches on the night, but they went for 63 total yards . . . and 2 touchdowns.  Nobody else even sniffed the endzone.  Roy Roundtree makes some big catches once in awhile, but he hasn’t been nearly the receiver that he was in 2010.  Michigan needs a youngster to step up next year, whether it will be a redshirt sophomore Jerald Robinson or a freshman Jehu Chesson.  Hemingway was the obvious pick for Sugar Bowl MVP, at least on Michigan’s side.

We missed are going to miss David Molk.  I started off the game being extremely frustrated.  Starting center David Molk, who happened to win the Rimington Trophy this season for being the nation’s best player at his position, sat out the beginning of the game after injuring his lower leg during pregame.  Backup Rocko Khoury combined with Robinson to have two bad snaps on Michigan’s first three plays.  Both snaps were catchable but slightly off target, and the second one was a bullet to boot.  I can’t put all the blame on either player, but when you have one starter for the entire season and even up to pregame of the bowl game, it’s somewhat understandable that there will be some snap issues when the backup has to start the bowl game.  Molk returned after the first offensive series and the snap issues disappeared, although he looked gimpy for the entire game.  Michigan’s lack of a running game may have been partly due to Molk’s injury, but I’ll have to watch the game again to see what the real issues were.

That’s what true athletes look like in the secondary.  Michigan lined up in Cover 0 and got torched.  Virginia lined up in Cover 0 and got sacks.  The Wolverines’ cornerbacks and safeties just aren’t fast enough and athletic enough to lock up with decent receivers on a regular basis.  It’s frustrating to watch, but J.T. Floyd, Blake Countess, Troy Woolfolk, Jordan Kovacs, Courtney Avery, and Thomas Gordon aren’t the same caliber of athletes that the Hokies put out there.  Countess is going to be good, I believe, but he’s hit a rough patch here at the end of the season.  Watching Hosley, Whitley, Antoine Exum, and Kyle Fuller fly around the field was a bit of a wake-up call and shows how far Michigan has to go.  Hosley alone had 4 pass breakups.

Everyone’s expectations for Frank Clark just doubled.  The freshman defensive end made a highlight-reel interception when he leaped to knock down a Logan Thomas pass and came down with the pick.  I mentioned in the preview that I thought he would play quite a bit with defensive tackle Will Heininger out, and that came to fruition.  He seemed like a man without a position when he came out of high school, but it looks like he’ll be a good one for the next few years.

Tackling was an issue.  Michigan’s tackling has been so good this year that I’m going to assume this game was a bit of a fluke, but Michigan missed numerous tackles.  And some of the guys who were whiffing are normally very good tacklers, like Jordan Kovacs and Kenny Demens.  It’s understandable to whiff on David Wilson or get run over by the 6’5″, 254 lb. Logan Thomas, but Michigan was missing tackles on Danny Coales, Josh Oglesby, etc.  It was a bad time to have a poor night of tackling, but luckily it didn’t hurt the Wolverines in the win column.

Red zone defense was huge.  For whatever reason, Michigan really buckles down in the red zone.  As the announcers mentioned last night, Michigan was #2 in the Big Ten and #4 in the country at stopping opponents in the red zone.  Virginia Tech had long drive after long drive and ended the game with 377 yards (Michigan had 184), 22 first downs (Michigan had 12), and 76 offensive snaps (Michigan had 52) . . . but it doesn’t matter so much when you have to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns.

Brendan Gibbons to the rescue.  I don’t think anyone – including me – expected Gibbons to be so reliable this year.  But in the Sugar Bowl he went 3/3 on field goals (from 24, 37, and 39 yards out), including the game-winning 37-yarder, and 2/2 on extra points.  And for the entire year, he went 13/17 on field goal attempts and 54/55 on extra points.  Bravo to him.