Dominate Defensive Performance Leads to 13-10 Win in Overtime

by JustinC on December 29, 2012 · 9 comments

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20121228 080536 Russell Athletic Bowl Hanl 500 300x199 Dominate Defensive Performance Leads to 13 10 Win in OvertimeDepending upon how you view things in life, last night’s game was either the most painful thing you've witnessed or perhaps a sign of things to come. I really want to start off this article by giving a lot of props to our defense. Rutgers only touchdown came 20 seconds into the game after an ill-advised snap from starting center Caleb Farris that rolled into the endzone and was recovered by Rutgers for the touchdown. After that, the Scarlet Knights scored three points. Just three. That’s incredible.

Offensively, the Hokies were just flat out bad. Through three quarters, the Hokies had 80 yards of total offense. That’s bad. No, that’s horrible, putrid, and any other synonym you want to use here. However, Logan Thomas took advantage of an Antone Exum interception in the 4th quarter to tie the game at 10. Then Cody Journell kicked the eventual game winning field goal in overtime, giving the Hokies the 13-10 advantage and victory.

In my mind, those were the two biggest plays of the game, offensively. But, it’s hard to overlook Exum’s interception as the play of the game. At the time, Tech was down 10-3 and if the Hokies wanted to win, they needed a big play from their defense. Gary Nova lofted one deep, his receiver stopped running his route, and Exum hauled in an easy interception. The fourth year junior returned it 32 yards down to the 21 yard line then Logan did the rest with a 21 yard touchdown strike to Corey Fuller on 3rd down.

That was the turning point in the game. The Hokies went from down 10-0 to tied at 10 in a matter of about 3 minutes.

For those who don’t remember, here are some other big plays that occurred during the course of this game.

* On 2nd and 10 at the beginning of the 1st quarter, Farris sent a snap whizzing past an unsuspecting Logan Thomas. The ball eventually rolled into the endzone and was recovered by Rutgers for a touchdown. The reason for this play was because Farris saw a Rutgers lineman in the neutral zone so he snapped the ball. The refs threw the flag but after some discussion, they picked up the flag so the touchdown stood. On this particular play, Farris did what he was taught to do but like everything else this season, the outcome didn’t go the Hokies way.

* After a 40 yard AJ Hughes punt late in the 1st quarter, Rutgers running back Savon Huggins broke off a 25 yard run to the Virginia Tech 46. The Hokies defense would hold the Scarlet Knights out of the endzone but Nick Borgese made a 36 yard field goal to stretch the lead to 10.

* With just under two minutes to play in the 2nd quarter, Thomas tossed his first pick of the day. Luckily, the Scarlet Knights couldn’t do anything with it. Tech would rough the kicker after holding them to a three but the Knights ran out the clock and headed into halftime.

* Midway through the 3rd quarter, Gary Nova threw a pass right into the arms of Detrick Bonner only to be dropped. On the next Rutgers drive, Exum got his hands on a pass but failed to haul it in. Exum had one dropped pick six on the night and Bonner dropped two easy interceptions. As much as I want to praise these guys for the way they played last night, it would be hard to imagine a Deangelo Hall or Macho Harris dropping those passes.

* The biggest passing play of the night came on Tech’s first play from scrimmage in the 4th quarter. Thomas found Dyrell Roberts down the right sideline for 32 yards, effectively flipping the field. Later on that drive, Journell would make a 25 yard field goal to cut the lead from 10 down to seven.

* After the Hokies tied the game at 10, Journell had a chance with 2:20 left on the clock to give Tech a three point lead. The junior put some leg into a 51 yard attempt, the longest of his career, but the kick fell just short. If the rain hadn’t become a factor, I think Journell might have been able to just slide it through. Needless to say, it was one of his more impressive attempts this season even though it fell about three yards short.

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* This is a little out of sync but I want to give a shoutout to A.J. Hughes, who saw extensive action last night. He had two 50-plus yard punts and averaged 42.2 yards per punt as well. Give this kid a full off-season and he should develop into one of the to punters in the ACC next season. When your offense does stall, it’s nice not having to worry about giving the other offense a short field.

* One of the biggest plays from a defensive lineman came from Derrick Hopkins on Rutgers first play in overtime. The Scarlet Knights trailed 13-10 at this point and Hopkins broke through the line on first down for the sack on Nova. This pushed the Scarlet Knights back to the 31 yard line.

* The last play of the game cost Rutgers their chance to extend it. Their kicker slid a 42 yard attempt just outside of the goalposts, sealing a Hokie victory.

Coaching Changes Are Needed And Will Come

During the game last night, word leaked out that Virginia Tech Wide Receivers Coach Kevin Sherman was leaving for Purdue. Sherman has produced six NFL caliber wide receivers during his stay in Blacksburg and should add two to that tally after this April’s draft (Davis and Fuller). Honestly, I didn’t have a huge problem with Sherman as a coach other than his wide receivers sucked at blocking for whatever reason. Granted, this is a recent occurrence and one we didn’t seem to have last season with Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale on the outside.

Other than Sherman, I would expect news to leak soon of Quarterbacks Coach Mike O’Cain’s retirement and Curt Newsome retaking his old job at JMU.

With those three coaches being outsourced, the Hokies will look to revamp their offense with a new coordinator, a new offensive line coach, and a new wide receivers coach. Bryan Stinespring will likely stay on as tight ends coach and could easily be assigned the role of recruiting coordinator, taking that off Shane Beamer’s plate. Shane will likely be given more of the special team’s duties along with Frank, who will continue to oversee special teams but won’t have as much interaction with the units as in past seasons.

Overall, I think Tech fans will be pleased with what happens this offseason. The Hokies are eying Stanford OC Pep Hamilton as their top choice as coordinator. However, there are a few things that need to be worked out for him to take this job. But, if that’s who Frank wants then there shouldn’t be too many obstacles to overcome, especially since the cost of living in VA is about 10 times better than in Palo Alto, California.

With a 7-6 season in the books, I’m ready to move on to 2013. With a revamped offense and a defense that could be special, I think we might just see the Virginia Tech of old next season. Or at least one can hope.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeffro December 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm

The defense played well but they were not perfect. You cannot let 3 interceptions just fall to the ground. Bonner should have been wearing mittens out there, cause his fingers were useless at bringing in two easy INTs. Again, the Def played their nuts off. However, there is always room for improvement


justinc December 29, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Good point but still when you hold the opposing team to three points, it’s hard to nitpick them. Bonner needs to catch those passes though. Can’t let it hit you right in the hands and drop it. That’s just a concentration thing. Exum had a sure pick six and dropped it. Once again, that’s just concentration and making the play. But, something tells me he won’t drop those next year.


VTShane December 29, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Hopefully after last night and this season, some of what you predict above will happen. I would prefer Stinespring in a different geographic location though and I had no issues with coach Sherman. I have been hearing rumors and I REALLY hope they are true that Shawn Allen will be the new OC and have heard nothing of Pep Hamilton. I prefer Allen because a) The SEC mentality b) connection/relationship with Shane c) he is an O-line specialist and Co-OC!


justinc December 29, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Shawn Elliot would be a good hire, especially since I like USC’s offense. I think their limitations have been more personnel based than schematics. For instance, they’ve never had a QB with the talent of Logan Thomas or even Tyrod Taylor. Put Logan at USC this year and I think the Gamecocks win the East.

Really, either way we go will be drastically better than what we had this year. Doesn’t hurt that we should have a stud RB joining us in a few weeks (Drew Harris) and whoever the new OC is will have JC Coleman and Trey Edmunds to use at RB as well this spring.


VTShane December 29, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Yeah, I believe Shawn would be the better hire as he is East Coast, he is an O-Line guy and a West Coast guy just would take awhile to get into the recruiting scene. If we could get an SEC OC recruiting O-Line for VT, Bud Foster gets his first ever vacation!!! Do you know anything about the rumor of an underclassman RB looking for transfer release? Doesn’t bother me because Trey and Drew are going to AMAZE Hokie nation……just wait and see…….I’m having Suggs/Jones dreams!


justinc December 29, 2012 at 10:48 pm

There’s going to be some attrition this off-season, naturally there always is. But to my knowledge, I haven’t heard anything about our younger running backs. Plus, it’s foolish to transfer before spring practice unless you know 100% that your future is not looking good. Or, you just really dislike what’s going on right now.

But, I agree with you on Elliot. Like I said in an earlier comment, the Hokies can’t go wrong with either hire right now, if things trend that way.


Ted December 29, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Did anyone hear the reason the Refs picked up that flag when the snap went in the endzone?? The replay looked like Rutgers #94 was clearly in the neutral zone at the snap. Was offsides the call or was it something that was called on us and declined?

Why do I always feel ‘hosed’ with a PAC-12 crew when we play a current (Mich) or future (Ruts) Big-1G team?? Last night penalties 14 for 95 yds vs Rutgers 4 for 35 yds. I won’t re-hash last years Sugar Bowl…… Not sayin’ they were the reason for our poor offense, but just sayin’.


Josh December 29, 2012 at 8:42 pm

I never heard that there was an explanation for why they picked up the flag. FB, Caleb Farris and some writers that I read after said that there was someone in the neutral zone and that was the reason for the flag. One thing they should have done though for sure is review the play because clearly LT3 was down in the end zone before the ball came out. It’s debatable whether or not the ball was on the other side of the goal-line, but either way the game may not have went into OT if not for that call.

Clearly the officiating crew did a poor job. Matt Millen said so on a few of the plays including what should have been the Kyle Fuller interception.


Eric C December 30, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Dominant…the word is dominant…not dominate


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