Tech’s September: Good Fortune then Great Performance

Virginia Tech 2009 Season Recap: Part I

A 7th-ranked Virginia Tech looked ahead at a potential opening loss against a strong Alabama as nothing to be worried about, even if the Hokies had big aspirations for 2009 — hoping to do more than just repeat as ACC champions. You might as well get a loss out of the way early. And a loss was, frankly speaking, expected as Tech’s key tailback, sophomore Darren Evans, who ran for 1,265 yards and 11 TDs last season, tore his ACL in preseason practice. Enter redshirt frosh Ryan Williams as Evans’ expected replacement.

(5) Alabama 34  (7) Virginia Tech 24

Sat 5 Sep 2009 • 8:00 ET • Atlanta GA

Hokie QB Tyrod Taylor (5) is harrassed by Tide LB Rolando McClain (25). Kevin Cox/Getty Images.

It was just a matter of slowly wearing down the Hokies for Alabama to win college football’s season opener in the Georgia Dome, the Kickoff Classic. The Crimson Tide had to. Because Beamer Ball—calling for all three phases of the game to contribute to the scoring—was invoked by the maroon and orange.

Dryell Roberts returned a 98-yard kickoff for a TD to put Virginia Tech up 7-6 in the first quarter. An interception led to a Matt Waldron FG to put the Hokies ahead again in the second quarter 10-9. Three penalties against the Crimson Tide virtually handed Virginia Tech a TD near the end of the first half to again give the Hokies the lead 17-16. And, Alabama lost a scoring opportunity deep in Tech territory when Roy Upchurch was stripped of the ball. So the Hokies wouldn’t go away.

But, in the end, Alabama won by physically dominating the Tech. The stats told the story that the final score didn’t. The Tide had 22 first downs to Tech’s 11, and won on third-down efficiency: 6/17 to Tech’s woeful 2/12. Alabama out-gained Tech 498 to 155 total net yards; 268 to 64 net rushing yards; and 230 to 91 net passing yards. In addition, the Hokies fumbled 5 times, losing 2 of them.

A slow-boil of the Hokies by the dominating Crimson Tide.

Virginia Tech Performers:
Passing
Tyrod Taylor — 9/20, 91 yds passing. 0 TDs. 0 INTs.
Receiving
Ryan Williams — 2/42 yds. 0 TDs.
J. Boykin — 3/19 yds. 0 TDs.
Rushing
Ryan Williams — 13/71 yds. 2 TDs.
Kicking
Matt Waldron — 1/1 FGs. 3/3 XPs.
Returns
Dyrell Roberts — 4 /195 KRs. 1 TD.

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Coming off a disappointing opener, albeit against a formidable opponent (who now we all know is playing for the national championship and has the Heisman Trophy winner), the focus going into Game 2 against Marshall was on QB Tyrod Taylor. Last week’s loss was Taylor’s first as the main starting signal caller for the junior—during the last two seasons, Taylor split time with Sean Glennon. But frankly the big problem was Tech’s rushing defense. The Tide ran all over the Hokies with a 5.5 yards per carry clip.

(14) Virginia Tech 52  Marshall 10

Sat 12 Sep 2009 • 1:30 ET • Blacksburg VA

Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams (34) breaks away from the Marshall defense to score in the first half. AP photo/Don Petersen.

After a sluggish first quarter, the Hokies ripped off four TDs in the second, and the game was pretty much finished at the break with the score 35-7. It wasn’t Alabama. But it was a win. And it was a record-setting performance. Ryan Williams, and freshman David Wilson who did most of his work in the second half, each rushed for more than 160 yards, a first in modern Virginia Tech history. Williams got the Hokies off to a lead in the first quarter with a 57-yard run right up the middle of the Thundering Herd defense. Williams added two more rushing TDs in the second quarter.

Hokie QB Tyrod Taylor took a while longer to get his game on. He threw an INT in the endzone, but finally got a scoring pass late in the first half. In the end, it was in the numbers. Virginia Tech gained a total of 605 net yards, 444 of them on the ground, and pretty much “took (Marshall) behind the woodshed and whipped” them as Marshall coach Mark Snyder said after the game.

In the fashion department, Tech wore all-white uni’s and a throwback helmet with a white “V” below an orange “T”. The helmet design paid tribute to Frank Loria, a Tech safety of the 1960s who later became an assistant coach with Marshall and died in the famous 1970 Marshall plane crash. Marshall wore all-green on the road for what is believed to be the first time in their modern history.

A nice tribute by both the Hokie and Herd organizations.

Virginia Tech Performers:
Passing
Tyrod Taylor — 9/16, 161 yds passing. 2 TDs. 1 INT.
Receiving
D. Roberts — 2/31 yds. 1 TD.
J. Boykin — 2/32 yds. 0 TDs.
X. Boyce — 2/13 yds. 1 TD.
Rushing
David Wilson — 12/165 yds. 1 TD.
Ryan Williams — 16/164 yds. 2 TDs.
Kicking
Matt Waldron — 1/1 FGs. 7/7 XPs.
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Back to real football. 19th-ranked Nebraska rolled into the Southern Appalachians after opening with two wins over Arkansas State and Florida Atlantic. So, the Hokies really didn’t know how good the Huskers were. Tech appeared rejuvenated after hammering Marshall, but there were the same questions regarding the quality of opposition. This was a much-anticipated matchup—a program with great history coming to Blacksburg. A win would give Tech a real chance at getting back into the national picture with a resurgent Miami coming to town the following week.

(13) Virginia Tech 16  Nebraska 15

Sat 19 Sep 2009 • 3:30 ET • Blacksburg VA

Virginia Tech's Danny Coale hauls in the pass to save the Hokie's arse against Nebraska.

The Hokies just couldn’t get much sustained sustainable sustainability going all afternoon. But that’s not what necessarily wins football games. Let’s fast-forward to late in the fourth quarter. With 4:40 left in the game, Nebraska’s Alex Henery kicks a 38-yard FG to put the Huskers ahead 15-10, Tech can’t get the ball past mid-field on their possession, and the Big Red go three-and-out on theirs. A Nebraska punt backs the Hokies up near their own goal line with only 1:44 left in the game.

Second down and six from Tech’s own 16 yard line. Hokie QB Tyrod Taylor dropped back and saw Danny Coale running all by his lonesome down the left sideline. So, he did what all good youngin’s would do. He flung that tater to see what may. Coale hauled it in, but was forced out of bounds at the Husker 3 yard line with just over a minute left. A QB sack and a throwaway later, Taylor scrambled around the Hokie backfield forever but finally found Dyrell Roberts in the end zone to win it for Virginia Tech.

Basically, Va Tech pulled this one out of their arse. They gained all of 195 yards in the first three quarters and only what you would call one bona fide scoring drive. In the opening quarter, Tech’s Dyrell Roberts returned a KO 76 yards to set up a short opening drive for a TD. After that, it was punt, punt, punt and a FG. In the third quarter, the Hokies gained less than 10 yards. In the final quarter, it was pretty much more of the same until Taylor saw Coale running wild down the left sideline.

Virginia Tech Performers:
Passing
Tyrod Taylor — 12/27, 192 yds passing. 1 TD. 0 INTs.
Receiving
D. Coale — 2/89 yds. 0 TDs.
J. Boykin — 4/43 yds. 0 TDs.
Rushing
Ryan Williams — 21/107 yds. 1 TD.
Kicking
Matt Waldron — 1/1 FGs. 1/1 XPs.
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Number 9 vs. Number 11. That’s a good one. And one that both the Miami Hurricanes and Virginia Tech Hokies saw as a game with potential to have a lot to say about the ACC and perhaps more. And both played each other while ranked for the first time since 2005. This was THE TEST for the Hokies. Miami came to Lane Stadium after playing two ranked opponents and winning both, against Florida State and Georgia Tech. Averaging 33.5 points and 465 yards of total offense, the Hokies had to have been thinking about their couple of sup-par performances against quality opponents and a quality show against a sup-par opponent. More troubling was their QB Tyrod Taylor who usually was a dependable runner, but had rushed for negative yardage in two of his first three games.

(11) Virginia Tech 31  (9) Miami 7

Sat 26 Sep 2009 • 3:30 ET • Blacksburg VA

Miami QB Jacory Harris was harried by the Hokie defense all afternoon in Blacksburg.

This was basically a blitzkrieg on Jacory Harris, the highly-touted sophomore Hurricane QB. The Hokie defense harrassed him. They hurried him. They forced him into bad decision-making and crucial early mistakes. They dominated him. Harris had been sacked only twice in his first two games. Just a couple of minutes into this one, Hokies’ strongman Dorian Porch didn’t sit on his name. He hit Harris who coughed up the pigskin to Porch at the Hurricane 11, leading to Tech’s first score. Meanwhile, RB Ryan Williams and QB Tyrod Taylor ran all over Miami on a wet day in Blacksburg. But it was the Hokie defense that shone like a beacon, allowing Miami only 209 net total yards, including only 59 yards rushing. A far fall for Miami from their first two games.

Again it was an all-around game by Beamer’s boys. A strong running game, a utilitarian passing game, and a big special teams play when in the second quarter the Hokies blocked a Miami punt attempt and Matt Reidy recovered the ball for a TD to make the score 21-0 Tech. That pretty much took care of the disrespect some of the Hokie players were feeling before the game, as all of the national media attention seemed to be on the resurgent Miami Hurricane program and their sophomore QB Jacory Harris. The Virginia Tech defense played their game of the season and took care of that little r-e-s-p-e-c-t problem that Aretha sang about a few years ago.

Virginia Tech Performers:
Passing
Tyrod Taylor — 4/9, 98 yds passing. 1 TD. 0 INTs.
Receiving
R. Williams — 2/40 yds. 0 TDs.
J. Boykin — 1/48 yds. 1 TD.
Rushing
Ryan Williams — 34/150 yds. 2 TDs.
T. Taylor — 10/75 yds. 0 TDs.
Kicking
Matt Waldron — 1/2 FGs. 4/4 XPs.
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COMING UP

THU 24 DEC: PART II OF III – A SNIFF AT A NATIONAL TITLE CHASE TORN ASUNDER.

SAT 26 DEC: PART III OF III – A PERFECT NOVEMBER GIVES NO ACC CROWN.

SUN 27 DEC: A RIVALRY MADE IN (SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN HEAVEN) IS ALL TALK.

MON 28 DEC: TRYING TO SHED A NATIONAL INFERIORITY COMPLEX.

TUE 29 DEC: GOODBYE SENIORS – WE HARDLY KNEW YA.

WED 30 DEC: PEACH BOWL GAME PREVIEW.

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