A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

Virginia Tech demoralizes a nation. The Hokie Nation.

Nathan (Michigan) and my (Virginia Tech) college teams finally have something in common — they are the only ranked teams to lose to an FCS school.

Unbelievable.

I started to worry furing the first quarter against James Madison when the score wasn’t 21-0, and it all went downhill from there.

Coming into this season, every Hokie fan knew we had a lot to replace on defense, but the problems are far greater than anyone imagined. Even the most fundamental part of defense — tackling — is difficult for them.

Where do these players get off thinking they can just push people and they will go down? Why is it so hard to wrap up a player and bring them down?

Linebacker Bruce Taylor has already started making excuses saying practice tackling doesn’t equal game-speed tackling. Of course it doesn’t, but why don’t you start using proper technique and it won’t be a problem — especially against a second-rate opponent in JMU.

The Hokies are being featured in a "How Not To Tackle" DVD.

Jeron Gouveia-Winslow is struggling mightily in Cody Grimm’s old spot.

So, how much blame should be put on Bud Foster for the defense? About 50%. Allowing 33 points against Boise, then 21 against JMU should never happen under Foster. I could be giving him too much credit, but I think his schemes alone can limit teams to 15 points.

As for the absurdly bad offense, it’s time for a change. Bryan Stinespring has got to be in the bottom five for worst offensive coordinator in college football. With so much talent, how can Tech put up 16 points last week?

Tyrod is scrambling way too much. Every play he is rolling out of the pocket. Why? He is a good passer, and he used to have great chemistry with Danny Coale. I think I’ve seen Coale catch a handful of passes this year.

You’ve also got Ryan Williams, Darren Evans and David Wilson in the backfield, the latter of which is already saying he regrets not redshirting. The Hokies don’t need any more drama.

I could go on forever about the offense, but I’ll stop.

Last but not least, Frank Beamer. He’s now 1-26, I believe, against top-five teams. And now he’s lost to a FCS opponent. It’s time to start looking for a replacement now.

But the last thing we need is a Bobby Bowden or Joe Paterno situation. Just because Beamer has gotten Tech on the map and a household name in college football doesn’t grant him an automatic 10 more years of mediocrity.

Clearly whatever he says to the team before big games fails. It’s like a broken record — a big game involving Tech? Put all your money on the Hokies losing. It sucks to even say that, but it’s true.

Everyone seems Bud Foster is the easy pick to step up. I’m not sure if that’s the right pick. I’d be worried about a Norv Turner situation — great coordinator, bad coach. Foster’s enthusiasm is unquestioned, though, and it just might be what all the Hokies need to hear.

Whatever the case, something needs to change now.

–Ray

September 15, 2010 Posted by | Football | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Column: Miami overhyped

This is the full version of my column in the Collegiate Times:

Column: Miami Overhyped

Ray Nimmo

For the last several years, when the University of Miami wins a game, the media proclaims the U is back.

And unfortunately for Hurricanes fans, the U never really is back.

Once again, the media jumped on the Canes bandwagon following Miami’s 33-17 rout of Georgia Tech last Thursday.

Jacory Harris

Miami quarterback Jacory Harris

Sure, Canes quarterback Jacory Harris was 20-25 with 270 yards passing and threw 3 touchdowns, but the Yellow Jackets’ passing defense ranks 85th in the NCAA.

In Georgia Tech’s first game, they allowed Jacksonville State quarterback Marques Ivory to be 23-38 and throw 193 yards and two touchdowns.

So before crowning Harris as the next Jim Kelly or Vinny Testaverde, gain some perspective.

The first game Harris played this season against Florida State could easily have been a loss for the Canes; however, it quickly turned into a Harris lovefest.

Harris threw two interceptions in the contest, bringing his career total to nine compared with 17 touchdowns. When Harris faces a real defense on Saturday, people will find out just how good he is.

Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster will have his crew ready for the biggest Atlantic Coast Conference game of the year.

Harris has only been sacked once this year and hasn’t faced much pressure from defenses. Expect a lot of blitz packages and pressure from defensive end Jason Worilds. The Hokies will get to the quarterback and force Harris to make bad decisions.

It will then be up to the ball-hawking secondary to make the necessary plays to shutdown Miami’s speedy wide receivers.

There are a few problems, though.

While the defensive gameplan will, without a doubt, be an excellent counter to Miami’s offense, the execution is in question.

The Hokies defense has not performed up to typical lunch pail standards.

Tech is ranked 77th in total defense. They haven’t been out of the top-10 in that category since 2003.

Pinpointing the problem is nevertheless difficult.

The young linebacking corps? Injuries in the secondary? Defensive line not living up to the billing?

What about the offense? Because of their impotence and consistent three-and-out play, the defense must be on the field for more than half the game. Look back to the Alabama game. When was the last time you saw a Tech defense that worn out at the end of a game?

These are some of the best athletes in the country, and there is no excuse for being that tired with the high-class conditioning that goes on at Tech.

The defense did answer the bell against Nebraska by not allowing a touchdown, and employing a bend-but-

Virginia Tech vs. Miami

Virginia Tech vs. Miami

don’t-break mentality.

Miami is not Nebraska, though. The Canes may actually have better athletes the Alabama and Nebraska, so it’s paramount the offense find a rhythm early to keep the defense well-rested.

This game has much bigger implications than the previous three. This one counts. No excuses. With Miami being in the Coastal Division and already boasting a 2-0 record in the ACC, this game could very well decide the Hokies’ ACC title hopes.

The players and coaches know it, though.

“This game might as well be the ACC Championship game,” running back Ryan Williams said. “It’s big for us. It’s real big for us. We have to come out fighting strong from the first quarter through the fourth quarter.”

Coincidentally, Williams grew up a Miami fan, and looked up to previous Canes running backs: Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis and Frank Gore.

Williams has the Miami-type swagger. He showcased it against Nebraska when he did his variation of the “Dirty Bird” touchdown dance—he calls it the “Dirty Hokie.”

Williams redshirted last season and didn’t take part in last year’s 16-14 loss at Miami.

He will be here this time around, in Lane Stadium. The last time the Canes traveled to Blacksburg, the Hokies destroyed them 44-14.

The Canes did take care of the Hokies in 2005, in Lane, 27-7—a game that will hereby be forgotten, but the Hokies are 4-2 against Miami the last six meetings.

Tech knows how to beat the U, and the media has forgotten it. Miami jumped in the rankings from No. 20 to No. 9 in the Associated Press poll this week. With that jump, they leapfrogged No. 11 Tech.

Perhaps someone should notify the authorities the Hokies are three-time ACC champions. Miami has won the ACC championship exactly zero times.

The ACC championship runs through Blacksburg, so don’t sweat the Miami swagger.

Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor

Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor

September 25, 2009 Posted by | Football | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Let’s have another look”

Ray’s take on Instant Replay in sports:

With the brand new addition of instant replay to baseball drags up what seems the neverending debate of instant replay in sports. First of all, we all have been in that situation, as fans, while watching a game saying something like “There is no way he caught that! I want to see a replay!” Upon seeing the replay, it confirms your thoughts and you want the call changed on the field. Up until baseball now, it was soley up to the umpires and if you have been paying attention this year, it seems like they keep saying the opposite of what really happened, (they call a foul ball a home run, call a home run a foul ball). I cannot recall seeing a highlight o sportcenter where a controversial call ended up being called right. Of course, that my be their way of trying to get to commissioner Bud Selig. That is our job as the media, but I digress.

I believe instant replay should be implemented in some way in every sport because it can and most likely will be utilized. There is no sport where there a 0 controversial calls, so long as there is a referee. Now, with that said, I do not believe in instant replay for every single play. I completely understand the MLB umpires only implementing replay for home run calls. Having it for balls and strikes would just draw out the usual 3 hour TV time game.

The NFL has its replay system as close to perfect as you can get. There will be missed calls but that is to be expected with human error and sometimes limited camera angles. I think they replay the right things and to add anymore would enlongate the game. Sure, there are times when commentators say “this play is unreviewable,” (i.e. down by contact) but that only comes up once every few games; not enough for replay to be implemented.

The NHL has a replay system which is mainly used for goals and for pucks being played with high sticks (mostly coming in scoring situations). The difference between the NHL replay and NFL replay is that there is a ‘war room’ in the NHL where all the replay calls come from. The NFL has the head referee of the game go look at the play and he makes his own judgment call. I would say the advantage goes to the NHL there, that way if they miss a call you can blame the head referees of the league. Just leave the refs on the field to give out penalties and their regular jobs, but NOT deciding the game.

To the people that are completely against instant replay, I can’t understand why you would want it that way. Replay only helps the game, not hampers it (if used correctly of course). But the inevitability says there will be opposition to everything but in order for advancement, you have to drudge through it. It is good to see that Major League Baseball is willing to change and make the right calls for the betterment of the game.

-Ray

August 29, 2008 Posted by | Baseball, Football, Hockey | , , , , , , | Leave a comment