Friday, October 21, 2005

Virginia Tech - Maryland Thoughts

I'm sure you all saw the same game I did last night, so a recap of Virginia Tech's win probably isn't all that necessary. Just for kicks though, here were a few things about the game I thought worthy of notice:

1. Marcus Vick was sensational(on the ground). With no other games to watch in college football, Vick shined in ESPN's Thursday night showcase, racking up a smooth total of 133 yards on the ground and a score. Eclipsing the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career, #5 flew along the field for runs that seemed reminiscent of older brother Mikey V.

Now, if only he were as successful passing the ball, he'd of had a perfect night. The redshirt junior in his prime time debut unfortunately threw a total of three interceptions, but it seemed as if his turnovers were only a small drawback to his breakout performance. With that being said though, his ability to open up the field with his feet was crucial, and it kept Maryland's defense reeling all night.

2. Once again, Virginia Tech was sloppy on the road. Did I not foresee this in my earlier post? Going into halftime the Hokies should have been cruising along, boasting an emphatic 21-3 lead. Instead, after Vick's TD run to make it 7-0, the Hokies blew two goal line opportunities to score and go into the locker room only up by four. Not capitalizing on those two drives from inside the 10 was extremely shocking, and for a second there, I wasn't 100% sure that Tech was going to get the win. That was by far one of the most disappointing halves offensively for the Hokies thus far this season.

In case you managed to forget those blown chances, or happened to miss it, here they were, as provided in the box score. I'll let the play-by-play speak for itself.

Blown scoring opportunity #1, from the Maryland 7:
Down/YardTimePlay Outcome
1st-G, MD 79:10 - 2QM. Imoh rushed to the right for 1 yard gain
2nd-G, MD 68:33 - 2Q M. Vick incomplete pass to the right
3rd-G, MD 68:29 - 2QM. Vick rushed to the left for 5 yard gain
4th-G, MD 18:22 - 2QM. Imoh rushed up the middle for no gain. M. IMOH FUMBLED. G. McPhearson recovered fumble and returned for 6 yards.

Blown scoring opportunity #2, from the Maryland 1:
Down/YardTimePlay Outcome
1st-G, MD 11:14 - 2QM. Vick rushed up middle for no gain
2nd-G, MD 10:45 - 2QM. Vick rushed up the middle for 3 yard loss. M. Vick fumbled. M. Vick recovered fumble
3rd-G, MD 40:12 - 2Q M. Vick passed to M. Imoh to the left for 1 yard gain
4th-G, MD 30:02- 2QB. PACE MISSED A 20-YARD FIELD GOAL

Just pathetic.

Also contributing to Virginia Tech's miscues were their turnovers. On the night, the Hokies coughed up the ball left and right, giving away the pigskin four(!) times. Coming from a Beamer-coached squad, that's simply unheard of. Fortunately enough for Tech, the Hokie defense was phenomenal, practically giving up nothing to Maryland after all those Hokie giveaways. They were able to shut down the run and limit Maryland QB Sam Hollenbach to just 158 yards on 14-30 passing attempts.

However, as mediocre as Hollenbach was in his passing game, Marcus Vick wasn't all that much better. Though the redshirt junior was superb on the ground, his throwing was not even remotely as inspiring. Against an average Maryland pass defense, Vick did not throw for a single score, yet managed to throw a grand total of three interceptions.

After looking at Tech's several mishaps from last night, I cannot stress enough how much worse Virginia Tech has played on the road than at home this year. Excluding Duke, the Hokies have not been dominating opponents in away games like they should. At times, they seem to go into mental lapses as a team and lose focus, only to make costly mistakes. Fortunately enough, however, on the season they have been able to pull it together towards the ends of their games, and make the big play when it matters most.

Good news for the Hokies, however, is that their next two games, arguably two of their toughest, will be played at home in Lane Stadium. Quite frankly, no one can touch us there, and Boston College and Miami will find this out the hard way. When it's all said and done though, one last road trip still remains on the Hokies diminishing schedule -- a two hour drive to Charlottesville to take on a Cavalier team that you can never count out. One can only hope that Virginia Tech finally snaps out of their away game troubles for the pivotal Battle of the Commonwealth, because one thing's for sure, if they want to return home victorious again, they're going to have to.

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