Tech’s October: A Sniff at a National Title Chase Torn Asunder

Virginia Tech 2009 Season Recap: Part II

Before the previous week’s game, the Hokies were offended that the media were not giving their side their due. Now that the Maroon and Orange were getting ready to march into their first away game of the season with a Number 6 national ranking, Tech probably just as soon would have liked a little anonymity. Duke’s coach David Cutcliffe, well known to the Vol faithful, has turned around the Duke football fortunes so much so that the Blue Devils are not playing third fiddle in the Research Triangle’s football conversations anymore. If there were ever a banana skin game for Virginia Tech, this was it.

(6) Virginia Tech 34  Duke 26

Sat 3 Oct 2009 • 12:00 ET • Durham NC

Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams (34) changes direction on Duke's Chris Rwabukamba (16). AP Photo/Gerry Broome.

Duke didn’t play like the 17-point underdogs they were painted by Las Vegas. The Blue Devils’ senior QB Thaddeus Lewis was 22 for 40 for 359 yards with two TD passes. Unfortunately for Duke, they settled for too many FGs, four, instead of TDs, two, and just couldn’t finish. They couldn’t stop Lewis’ counterpart, either. With Duke keying on stopping Tech’s ground game, the Hokie QB Tyrod Taylor was given a golden opportunity to be good, and he was great. Taylor threw for 327 yards (17 for 22) with two long TD passes, one for 36 yards to Danny Coale in the first quarter and one to Jarrett Boykin for 28 yards in the second quarter. In the second half, Taylor’s air game allowed Tech’s ground attack to flourish and Josh Oglesby ran for two fourth-quarter TDs of 12 and 19 yards.

It certainly wasn’t great execution by Tech. At halftime, The Hokies had seven infractions for 55 yards, finishing the game with 12 penalties for 105 yards. But, Duke only had one lead in the game, and that was in the first quarter after Thaddeus Lewis hit Brandon King for a 48-yard TD strike to open the game’s scoring. But after Tech came back to even the score on a Taylor-to-Coale TD pass and a Waldron 40-yard FG early in the 2nd quarter, the Hokies never relinquished the lead.

Virginia Tech Performers:
Passing
Tyrod Taylor — 17/22, 327 yds. 2 TDs. 0 INTs.
Receiving
J. Boykin — 6/144 yds. 1 TD.
D. Coale — 3/94 yds. 1 TD.
Rushing
Ryan Williams — 24/83 yds. 0 TDs.
J. Oglesby — 6/59 yds. 2 TDs.
Kicking
Matt Waldron — 2/2 FGs. 4/4 XPs.

**********************************************************

Hello Top Five! But what a time to face Boston College. You see, Virginia Tech lost to BC in close games during the regular season in ’07 and ’08 only to get revenge by pounding them in the ACC championship game both years. But this year, even though the Eagles were 4-1 at this stage, they were not ranked, mainly due to the pounding they took at the hands of Clemson, 25-7, in their conference opener.

(5) Virginia Tech 48  Boston College 14

Sat 10 Oct 2009 • 12:00 ET • Blacksburg VA

Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams (34) brushes off Boston College's Mike McLaughlin. AP Photo/Don Petersen.

This time, Virginia Tech didn’t wait for the ACC conference championship game to exact revenge on Boston College. They just pasted the Eagles right away, from one end of Lane Stadium to the other. The ever-improving Tyrod Taylor threw for two early TDs. Ryan Williams kept running — 159 yards and a TD. And the Hokie defense harried 25-year old freshman QB David Shinskie all day long (that’s right, a 25-year old freshman—he’s been busy playing minor league baseball for a few years). After the first three quarters, BC has two first downs and 28 yards. After the first half, Shinskie was 0-for-9 passing with two INTs, one of which was returned 22 yards for a TD; Tech led 34-0 and had 293 yards to BC’s 3.

This wasn’t a game. It was more like the mid-season unveiling of a secret national championship contender. Damn that loss to Alabama!

Virginia Tech Performers:
Passing
Tyrod Taylor — 7/10, 126 yds passing. 2 TDs. 0 INTs.
Receiving
J. Boykin — 3/69 yds. 1 TD.
D. Coale — 2/27 yds. 1 TD.
M. Davis — 1/80 yds. 1 TD.
Rushing
Ryan Williams — 18/159 yds. 1 TD.
D. Wilson — 13/34 yds. 1 TD.
Kicking
Matt Waldron — 2/3 FGs. 6/6 XPs.

**********************************************************

Now things were getting serious. With the thrashing of BC, Tech inched upward to Number 4 in the polls and even with one loss on their ledger were now considered a contender for the national title. Yes, they were going to have to get a lot of help for that to happen, and yes there was a lot of football to be played, including a return trip to Atlanta, the town where the Hokies had lost the only game of the season so far. But for now, Blacksburg was jumping. Looking at the schedule, all it would take would be a win at Bobby Dodd Stadium against the 5-1 Yellow Jackets to get to another ACC title game. A tall order, because Va Tech would be facing an offense like none yet seen this season.

(19) Georgia Tech 28  (4) Virginia Tech 23

Sat 17 Oct 2009 • 6:00 ET • Atlanta GA

The North End goal post came down and so did Virginia Tech's dream of a national title. AP Photo/John Bazemore.

Georgia Tech completed just one pass all evening. But, they ran for 309 yards, and all but 37 of them came in the second half. The Yellow jacket’s run-oriented offense proved it can win (and eventually it won the ACC), even with it’s somewhat archaic structure, one that incorporates elements of the wishbone and the veer (remember the veer older Vol fans?). And what made it click in the second half was Georgia Tech’s QB Josh Nesbitt, who rushed for 122 yards and 3 TDs, the third of which was a 39-yarder with 3 minutes left to put the Jackets ahead and put nails in the Hokie’s road to another ACC title game. This was the fifth time Nesbitt rushed for more than 90 yards, but his lone pass completion wasn’t insignificant—a 51-yarder to Demaryius Thomas set up a TD that gave the Jackets a 7-3 lead heading into the lockers for the halftime break.

Virginia Tech saved their best for the second half—a Ryan Williams 66-yard TD run up the middle and a Tyrod Taylor 22-yard TD scamper up the middle. But it wasn’t enough. Instead, Georgia Tech ended up posting their first win at home over a top-five team since Bobby Dodd lead the Yellow Jackets over Bear Bryant’s Number One Alabama in 1962. And the Tech fans celebrated accordingly, storming the field, engulfing their heroes in the middle of the gridiorn, and tearing down the goal post at the north end of Bobby Dodd Stadium. Bobby Dodd—former Vol great. Hmmmm.

Virginia Tech Performers:
Passing
Tyrod Taylor — 10/14, 159 yds passing. 1 TD. 2 INTs.
Receiving
D. Roberts — 3/66 yds. 0 TD.
D. Coale — 2/47 yds. 0 TD.
R. Williams — 2/22 yds. 1 TD.
Rushing
Ryan Williams — 14/100 yds. 1 TD.
Tyrod Taylor — 13/63 yds. 1 TD.
Kicking
Matt Waldron — 1/1 FGs. 2/2 XPs.

**********************************************************

National championship hopes deflated. ACC championship hopes not. The remaining schedule favored Tech. The Hokies were one of four teams from the Coastal Division with one loss; Duke, Virginia, and Georgia Tech being the others. So Va Tech at this point needed help from Wake or Duke to topple the Yellow Jackets if they were going to Tampa to play in their third straight ACC title game. But first things first—the Tar Heels came to town with a formidable defense, ranked seventh in the nation even though the team had lost three of their seven games.

North Carolina 20  (14) Virginia Tech 17

Thu 29 Oct 2009 • 7:30 ET • Blacksburg VA

QB Tyrod Taylor (5) of the Virginia Tech Hokies is defended by E.J. Wilson (92) of the North Carolina Tar Heels.

As advertised, it was Carolina’s defense that stifled Tech’s hopes for an ACC crown. The Tar Heel’s Casey Barth kicked a 21-yard FG on the final play to stifle a once promising Virginia Tech season. Tech were beginning a drive hoping with an end for a try at a game-ending FG. But with 2:02 remaining, Ryan Williams was hit by Tydreke Powell at his own 24 yard line and fumbled away possession to Carolina who ran down the clock for the game-winning FG.

Tech’s offense against Carolina’s vaunted defense was anemic—256 total yards and only 11 first downs; only 95 yards rushing (96 by Williams with a negative total by all others). Overall, the game was a bit of a slogger. Carolina had a 7-0 lead at the half, and each side added TDs in the third quarter for a 14-7 Tar Heel lead entering the final quarter. The Hokies went ahead after Matt Waldron kicked a 36-yard FG and then Tyrod Taylor punched in a 1-yard sneak. But Casey Barth kicked a 19-yard FG to even the score at 17-17 before his game-winner at the end.

Virginia Tech Performers:
Passing
Tyrod Taylor — 11/23, 161 yds passing. 0 TDs. 0 INTs.
Receiving
D. Roberts — 4/60 yds. 0 TD.
J. Boykin — 3/49 yds. 0 TD.
X. Boyce — 2/34 yds. 0 TD.
Rushing
Ryan Williams — 23/96 yds. 0 TD.
Kicking
Matt Waldron — 1/1 FGs. 2/2 XPs.

**********************************************************

COMING UP

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.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: