coleryan Posts:13308 Followers:19
On 08/31/2014 11:36 AM in NCAA Football

Virginia Tech at Ohio State Game Day Central

The Ohio State Buckeyes broke in a new quarterback in their win against Navy, but get a step up in competition this week when they face the Virginia Tech Hokies.

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Let’s go!

Cole

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
poppacapp Posts:62 Followers:36
08/31/2014 02:18 PM

Tight!
Go Hokies!

coleryan Posts:13308 Followers:19
09/01/2014 11:44 AM

Dominant? No. Victorious? Yes. Satisfied? No. Frustrated? At times. Playmaking? At times. Relieved? Absolutely.

Ohio State’s defenders had those thoughts yesterday as they left M&T Bank Stadium after a 34-17 win over Navy. They gave up 370 yards on the ground, the most since allowing 381 in a loss at Michigan in 1995.

But the Buckeyes won, and they quickly flipped the rearview mirror to avoid the Navy glare.

“You’re not going to see the triple option (offense) ever again,” defensive tackle Michael Bennett said. “So that was more of a team that people hate to start with because it’s just so different. It’s a tough game, and those guys are really good at what they do. So it’s great to get them out of the way. Virginia Tech (on Saturday) is going to be a pass-rushing game, and that’s what we love to do.”

In the offseason, Ohio State overhauled its defense, bringing in Chris Ash as co-coordinator after horrendous efforts against the pass. But Navy and its triple option were not going to provide a showcase. The effort will be something to talk about, Ash said, but that’s about it.

“Nothing translates to what we’ll be doing for the rest of the year,” he said.

If Virginia Tech is smart, it will incorporate some counter plays off an option look after Navy used them to find open spaces against the Buckeyes in the second half. Just when Ohio State defenders had gotten used to flowing to the edge to cover the option, a Navy back was cutting up inside.

“They found out about that counter in the third quarter or something and just kept running it,” Bennett said. “That was frustrating, especially as a nose guard.

“You finally think you’ve gotten through and, pffttt, the ball’s gone. I don’t even know why that was working so much. … We’ll find out in film. They find something that’s working, and they keep running it till we figure it out.”

It certainly will be reviewed, Ash said. “But I thought our guys were very coachable on the sideline. We were able to make some adjustments when we needed to at some critical times,” he said.

The defense also scored the first touchdown of the season, when defensive end Joey Bosa hit quarterback Keenan Reynolds early in the second half, forcing a bad pitch that outside linebacker Darron Lee returned 61 yards. And after the Buckeyes pushed the lead 27-17 in the fourth quarter, the defense forced the first Navy three-and-out of the second half.

“Was it pretty? No.” Ash said of the overall effort. “But did we make stops and make some plays when it counted? Absolutely.”

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13308 Followers:19
09/02/2014 03:41 PM

The Ohio State Buckeyes' national title hopes took a hit when Braxton Miller was lost for the season with a torn labrum in his shoulder. However, those aspirations were bolstered by a schedule that has them playing four straight games against unranked foes before their first Big Ten game at Maryland on Oct. 4.

The trouble with that mindset is the Buckeyes would do well not to look that far ahead. The Virginia Tech Hokies may be traveling to Columbus this week with only a few power ranking votes to their credit, but there are many factors pointing toward coach Frank Beamer's club being able to pull off a double-digit upset this weekend.

1) Underrated Virginia Tech passing attack

Virginia Tech isn't thought of as having a potentially dominant aerial attack, but the Hokies were one of only three ACC teams to have three wide receivers with at least 40 receptions last season (Clemson and Florida State being the others) and all three of those wideouts (Willie Byrn, Demitri Knowles and Joshua Stanford) returned this year.

Pass catching volume wasn't the only positive among this group. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Hokies' 2013 wide receiver corps ranked 29th nationally in yards per reception (14.4).


2) Young Buckeyes pass defense

Although Navy's triple option generally keeps the ball on the ground, statistically speaking, the Buckeyes had a great opening game in the area of pass defense, locking down QB Keenan Reynolds (2-for-4 for 20 yards and just 1.8 yards per carry). Their 12.4 Total QBR allowed after Week 1 ranks 10th nationally and first in the Big Ten.

Ohio State can also take solace in the fact that Doran Grant could end up as one of the best cornerbacks in the country. Last year, Grant posted 5.7 yards per attempt allowed that was much better than the 8.2 YPA tallied by his much more highly touted teammate Bradley Roby.

As positive as those elements are, the Buckeyes still have to deal with the factor of replacing three starters from last year's secondary with a nearly untested group of players. Their two starting safeties (Tyvis Powell and Cam Burrows) are both sophomores and had five combined starts to their credit prior to this season (all by Powell). Their other starting cornerback, Eli Apple, redshirted the 2013 campaign and made his first career start against Navy.

The Midshipmen's run-heavy offense threw only one vertical pass (an aerial thrown 11 or more yards downfield) last week. The Hokies will not let this group off so easily.

3) Shaky offensive line play for the Buckeyes

These first two factors indicate that Virginia Tech should have a good chance of turning this into a pass-heavy game. The Buckeyes may be tempted to respond with a run-heavy game plan, but that may not be in the cards due to offensive line woes that come with replacing four starters. Coach Urban Meyer noted that this group "didn't resemble an offensive line at Ohio State the first two quarters," and the stats bear that assessment out.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Buckeyes allowed four quarterback pressures and one sack in only 19 dropbacks by J.T. Barrett. Their run game didn't fare much better, as the Buckeyes gained zero or negative yards on seven non-kneeldown rushing attempts against Navy. Those plays led Ohio State to rank 74th nationally in percentage of rush attempts that gained zero or negative yards, so the Buckeyes might not be able to lean on their ground game to take pressure off their passing attack.


4) The Bucks' vertical passing success could tempt them to air it out

Meyer indicated that he wanted to open the offense up against Navy in the first half, and it's easy to see why Barrett posted an impressive 83.4 Total QBR in his first career start, in part because he completed four of five vertical passes and could have completed all five were it not for a drop by Dontre Wilson. Vertical success is a big part of Meyer's game plan, as the Buckeyes ranked 19th nationally in vertical YPA (12.85) last season. If the run game cannot get into gear, Meyer may end up attempting to match Virginia Tech's downfield aerial assault.


5) Tough Virginia Tech secondary and pass rush:

Trying to go vertical may not be a good idea when facing a secondary as powerful as Virginia Tech's.

The Hokies bring back all four secondary starters from a defense that ranked eighth nationally in Total QBR allowed last season (29.3). Cornerbacks Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson were both thrust into the starting lineup as freshmen, and they responded by ranking in the top six in the ACC in passes defended per game and in the top three in interceptions.

This quartet will be tested a lot more this year, as the Hokies lost 25 of their ACC-leading 39 sacks from last season, but it's not as if Virginia Tech lacks for replacement pass-rushing talent. Prime on this list is defensive end Dadi Nicolas. Last season, Nicolas racked up seven tackles for loss, four sacks, three pass breakups, eight quarterback hurries and one interception despite playing in only 313 of the Hokies' 812 defensive plays.

If he can continue that pace over the course of a full-time starter's set of defensive snaps, Nicolas will contend for All-ACC honors. More importantly, he and defensive tackle Luther Maddy (the team's sacks leader in 2013) could be a thorn in the Buckeyes' pass blocking side all game long.


6) Bottom line

Coaches often attempt to offset significant talent differentials by turning a game into a shootout, as those contests are seen as being 50-50 propositions.

That way of thinking would be enough of a reason for the Hokies to lean on their aerial attack against the Buckeyes, and the aforementioned factors prove this approach is their highest percentage chance of pulling off an upset. Ohio State has the firepower to match Virginia Tech, but if inexperience in the offensive line, secondary or quarterback positions stunt the Buckeyes' ability to play shootout football, the Hokies could pull off the biggest upset of this young season.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13308 Followers:19
09/03/2014 09:06 AM

Sooner or later, it happens to the best of coaches. They spoil a generation of their school’s fans by recruiting great players and winning championships and taking those fans to the best bowl games. And then all of a sudden it doesn’t happen for a couple of years, and those same fans are ready to put the ol’ coach in the rest home.

Frank Beamer saw it happen to two of his friends, Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno, so he had to know it was coming. And it has. But in his 28th season at Virginia Tech, Beamer thinks he has a run left in him, and there would be no better place to launch it than Saturday at Ohio Stadium against eighth-ranked Ohio State.

The unranked Hokies are young, with freshmen all over the two-deep roster on offense. Nonetheless, Beamer is excited for the prime-time opportunity in front of what will be the largest crowd the Hokies have ever played.

“Any time you’re playing a top program in the country, a team that people have mentioned for the national championship, if you can go in there and get a win, it’s great for the program,” Beamer said.

It would be the biggest road win in the history of a program that has been built on the hard work and can-do attitudes of countless players who — Michael Vick being the exception — might not have been five-star recruits but often produced five-star results.

Beamer’s 267 wins are the most of anyone still coaching in the Football Bowl Subdivision. None has been at the same school as long as he has at his alma mater.

“I’ve been fortunate,” Beamer said yesterday upon returning from his daily walk around campus after lunch. “I doubt if it’ll happen again. The money is too big, and people want results right now.”

It was different when he started in 1987. Beamer inherited a program headed for NCAA probation, and midway through that first year, he was docked 20 scholarships over the next two seasons. He won just 24 games in his first six years.

“That’s the worst form of punishment because three, four and five years down the road, those guys that should be playing, you didn’t recruit them,” Beamer said. “That messes with your foundation.”

Nevertheless, while “I might have been naive,” he added, “I didn’t see why Virginia Tech couldn’t compete at the highest level.”

Recruiting improved as the Hokies left behind decades of being without a conference and joined the Big East in 1991. Four years later, they won the conference title, beat Texas in the Sugar Bowl and finished in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll for the first time.

“That got us rolling,” Beamer said, “and then Michael Vick came along.”

Vick, a video game come to life, made Virginia Tech cool. As a redshirt freshman in 1999, he quarterbacked the Hokies to an 11-0 regular season and a spot in the national championship game, which they lost to Florida State. They finished 11-1 again in 2000 before Vick left to become the No.1 pick in the NFL draft.

Along the way, “Beamer Ball” became synonymous with the Hokies as their defense and special teams made a habit of scoring off turnovers, blocked punts and kicks. Two pages of the program’s weekly news release are devoted to it. In 28 seasons, the tally has reached 134 touchdowns.

Asked what “Beamer Ball” is, its namesake simply says, “Whatever team is on the field has a chance to score.”

In 2004, Virginia Tech joined the Atlantic Coast Conference and began a run of eight straight seasons in which it won 10 or 11 games. It won the ACC championship game four times in seven years. The Hokies have played in bowl games 21 years in a row.

But the past two years have not been up to that high standard — records of 7-6 and 8-5 — and talk has begun that Beamer has lost his touch. He replaced some of his assistants on offense a few years ago and said his current staff is the best he has ever had. That and the infusion of young talent on offense has him optimistic that more seasons of double-digit wins are around the corner.

He doesn’t want to miss them. “I get asked all the time now: ‘How long are you going to coach?’ ” Beamer said. “I say as long as I’ve got a good quarterback, a good kicker and good health. … So I’m good to go for at least this year.”

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13308 Followers:19
09/04/2014 10:48 AM


Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Brewer hasn't had to wait long for his first huge stage.

The Hokies play at No. 8 Ohio State on Saturday night.

Virginia Tech is no stranger to big games, but has struggled to show it belongs among the elite in recent years. The Hokies have lost six of their last seven games against ranked opponents, many of them in lopsided fashion.

Brewer says a victory before 105,000 fans at Ohio Stadium would be "huge" to show that the Hokies are still a powerhouse program. The Buckeyes have won 25 consecutive regular season games, the longest such streak in the nation, and 64 in a row at home against unranked non-conference foes.

Says Brewer: "This is what college football is all about."


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The Hokies are just outside the top 25 in this week's AP Poll. It will be a big test for the Buckeyes who started off slow last week against Navy.

Coach Urban Meyer says the time is now to leave the excuses at the door.

“Excuses were there last week. There were nine new starters on offense. Now they are veterans. No more excuses and let’s get going,” he said.


  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13308 Followers:19
09/05/2014 12:07 PM

Urban Meyer has heard others say his team is too young, or that it was crippled by the loss of two-time Big Ten player of the year Braxton Miller.

He doesn't buy it.

After the Buckeyes came back from a slow start to beat Navy 34-17 in their opener, Meyer said he doesn't want to hear anything more about inexperience or adversity as No. 8 Ohio State prepares for Saturday night's big showdown against visiting Virginia Tech.

''They're veteran players now,'' he said Monday of those who saw their first college action last Saturday. ''Enough with the excuses and get going.''

The Buckeyes trailed 7-6 at the half and by a point midway through the third quarter. But they pulled away late behind some big plays by the defense and by Miller's replacement at quarterback, freshman J.T. Barrett.

Barrett, in his first college game, completed 12 of 15 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 50 yards and was honored by the Big Ten as one of its freshmen of the week.

He gave himself a stern talking to after throwing an interception while Ohio State was on the march inside the Navy 10 midway through the second quarter.

''After the interception, I was, like, `J.T., you know you shouldn't have thrown it, but you still threw it and now you've got make up for it,''' Barrett said later.

For a 19-year-old playing his first game since midway through his senior season at Wichita Falls (Texas) Rider High, Barrett was solid. He became the second Ohio State freshman to start at quarterback in a season opener since 1950.

Asked how Barrett has to improve against the Hokies, Meyer hesitated.

''I'm just trying to think of the mistakes he made,'' Meyer said. ''He's just not the dynamic guy. I wouldn't mind, when he decides to run, to really go. But he played pretty well.''

The Hokies are no stranger to the big stage, but they've struggled to show they belong in recent years. Since winning 10 of 15 games against ranked opponents from 2008-11, they have lost six of the last seven.

Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer figures they could change that in one night. The Buckeyes have won 25 consecutive regular-season games, the longest streak in the nation, and 64 in a row at home against unranked nonconference opponents.

''That would be huge,'' Brewer said. ''It's going to be a tough matchup. We know that going in, but I'm excited about the challenge and the task at hand. This is what college football is all about.''

The Hokies showed signs of more consistent offense in their 34-9 victory against William & Mary in last Saturday's opener, with Brewer connecting on 23 of 30 passes for 251 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

The meeting will be the first between the schools, and Buckeyes linebacker Darron Lee said seeing Brewer in the pocket will be a welcome relief for the defense after opening against Navy's run game.

''I'm sure the D-line's really happy that they get to pass rush now as opposed to taking on double-teams all day,'' Lee said. ''It's a bit of relief, not so much a specific job description as it was for Navy.''

Hokies coach Frank Beamer, in his 28th season, has long believed that a team makes it largest improvement from Week 1 to Week 2, and going from an FCS school to the Buckeyes requires it.

''Their defensive front, I'm not sure anybody's better in the country,'' Beamer said, adding that Ohio State, across its depth chart, ''certainly has the talent of a national championship team.''

If Barrett got a passing grade in his debut, Meyer wasn't thrilled with the play of those blocking for him. The offensive line, with four new starters, was average for the most part except for a couple of key plays that turned the tide in the second half as Ohio State scored 21 of the final 24 points.

Having finally gotten a look at their growth chart, now the Buckeyes must tweak things so that everybody is on an upward arc.

''It's not just J.T. When we say expand the play book, it's for J.T. and it's for the offensive line,'' Meyer said. ''Once those two groups come together, which I'm expecting that to happen rather quickly ... well, it better or we won't win this (Virginia Tech) game.''

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0