Friday, November 11, 2011

I Come Not To Bury Virginia Tech, But To Praise Them

I constantly mock Virginia Tech for their inept offenses.  Admittedly, with my pro-Virginia rooting interests in the ACC, this comes off like complaining that Sofia Vergara doesn't have the best muscle tone, but I persist.  Generally speaking, the Hokies have dominated the ACC since it split into two divisions, helped in no small part by Florida State and Miami abdicating their presumed thrones in the Atlantic and Coastal almost immediately.  However, Virginia Tech has not made a splash on the national stage because their offenses have been hopelessly behind their defenses and special teams.  When watching the Hokies survive a 14-10 game at Duke (Duke!), I wondered whether Bud Foster was finally going to snap and strangle some combination of Bryan Stinespring and Mike O'Cain.  Foster should have spent the fourth quarter of that game getting a look at younger players and enjoying the sunshine of an October day in a half-empty stadium.  Instead, he had to be on edge to ensure that the Hokies didn't blow their embarrassingly small lead.

So you can probably imagine my surprise when I experienced the sensation of being impressed by an aspect of the Hokies' offense last night.  That aspect?  Logan Thomas is huge and hard to tackle.  It's possible that this aspect of the Virginia Tech attack is underrated.  What made Tim Tebow such a great college player?  One factor was almost certainly the fact that he was money at converting third and short.  Ditto for Cam Newton.  We all remember Cam's big plays, but his best attribute may have been that it was impossible to get the Auburn offense off the field in anything other than third and long because Newton could consistently fall forward for four yards.  How did a slightly-inferior Michigan team upset Notre Dame in September?  Their ability to stop the Irish on a trio of third and shorts in the later stages of the game.  How did Michigan have a chance to tie Iowa on Saturday?  Again, because Greg Mattison is a ninja at coming up with ways to stop conventional running plays in short yardage situations. 

Maybe last night was a bit of an outlier because Georgia Tech has a smallish defense, but I came away thinking that Thomas is a major asset.  He isn't close to Newton or Tebow in the passing department, but in the ACC, he doesn't need to be.  He is unstoppable when the Hokies need a few yards, which means that Virginia Tech's drives are more likely to end in touchdowns as opposed to field goals or punts.  In other words, he is so useful that he can weak offensive coaches look smart.    

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