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

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

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 57

Quite the special game for both teams, but the Sharks were too much for the Minnesota Wild and won 5-2. Special was the name of the game, as in special teams. Out of the seven goals, six were from the man advantage.

Poor nsblues/BHD won’t be too happy about this one.

Whenever a team goes 4-for-7 on the power play, chances are the end result will be a win. That’s what the Sharks did. For at least one night, no one can mention how bad the power play is at home. It was stellar. Jason Demers was the quarterback, replacing the still-injured Dan Boyle, and did a marvelous job. He scored two goals on his only two shots.

Demers amassed 21:48 of ice time, playing in all three situations — even strength, power play and penalty kill. This kid will be something special. Boyle was his favorite player and inspiration to be an offensive defenseman. I can’t imagine how cool it is to end up playing with your favorite player and learn from him. Now Demers just needs some defensive improvement to become that all-around defenseman players can count on.

Back to the game: the Wild scored first showing the Sharks they were here to play. After Demers’ first tally, the Wild struck again right at the end of the first period to make it 2-1. Perhaps the hangover from the Chicago loss was getting to them, but that was cured during intermission. Goalie Evgeni Nabokov stepped his game up tremendously and made key save after key save.

Get off me, Kim. I'm a man! I'm 40! (From SJSHARKS.com)

I was reading Sharks beat writer David Pollak’s blog earlier, and a few people were questioning why Nabokov keeps starting. Well, my little grasshoppers, if you had followed the Sharks intently at all, you would know coach Todd McLellan is doing this to prevent what happened last year. McLellan gave Nabby much more rest and it didn’t work at all. This time around, he’s letting Nabby keep playing. McLellan has stated this a couple times.

I don’t see fatigue being much a factor anyway with goalies. They may be on the ice all 60 minutes, but how much are they really playing? An offensive forecheck for 30 seconds where Nabby has to watch the puck. Make one save and the puck is going the other way. He isn’t exerting that much energy during games, at least not continuously. People are looking into this way too much.

Anyway, Demers’ second goal followed by Joe Pavelski’s wicked wrister put the Sharks on top for good. Pavs’ wrister makes even the toughest men become screaming, little girls.

Speaking of little girls, Joe Thornton continued his horrendous play tonight with seven giveaways. At some point, McLellan must address this — whether reduced ice time or a complete line demotion. Thornton just isn’t trying. I think the Sharks would be better off strapping skates on a two-by-four.

Patrick Marleau finished things off with two goals in the third (one may or may not be credited to Dany Heatley). I wonder when serious contract talks start or if they already have. Patty is San Jose. Sign him for the rest of his life. Just, please, keep the “C” far, far away.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 21  MIN 18; Scott Nichol led with eight.

Detroit meanders their way into town on Tuesday. Godspeed.

–Ray

January 31, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 32

Quite the playoff atmosphere tonight and while the Sharks lost 3-2 in a shootout to the St. Louis Blues, the Sharks deserved to win. Karma is karma, though. The Sharks stole a game in St. Louis earlier this year and the opposite happened this time.

Blues goalie Ty Conklin is insanely lucky. He simply isn’t this good to make the saves he made tonight. All luck. It’s so frustrating to see amazing chances go by the wayside when a sub-par goalie gets confident. This game should have been 6-1 by the third period, and it could have ended 8-1. But nooooooo, Conklin always decides to play well against the Sharks. Prior to the start of the game, he had a 3-2-1 record against San Jose, with a 1.68 goals against average and a .940 save percentage. Crazy numbers. Geez, this guy is annoying.

Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov matched Conklin save for save though. He made a specatcular save with 30 seconds left to keep a 2-1 lead. However, he was unable to stop one more shot with 6.6 seconds left in regulation. That goal tied it at 2-2 sending the game to overtime.

Let’s go back and talk about regulation. What a great game to watch. Both teams played 60 minutes of hockey. No one took any breaks. The Sharks didn’t look sluggish at any point during the game and neither did the Blues. This could very well be a playoff matchup; however, I hope it isn’t because the Blues are like a mosquito to the Sharks.

Dany Heatley scored first from a Joe Thornton pass. He ripped it from a bit inside the blue line and Conklin had no chance.

The Blues got on the board with an awkward, change-up type shot from Jay McClement. Nabby looked like he just saw Ryane Clowe in tights.

Joe Pavelski scored the other Sharks goal in the second period. Douglas Murray took a shot from the point, and Pavs, standing right in front of Conklin, deflected it in.

Joe Pavelski gives Ty Conklin a serving of Wisconsin booty as he scores (From SJSHARKS.com)

That was the only good thing Murray did tonight. He did try hard, but he got burned bad by both T.J. Oshie and David Perron. Two times each. I hope coach Todd McClellan saw that, because Murray needs defensive help. Right now he’s just a pylon taking up space.

The Sharks power play looked outstanding. Unfortunately, they never converted an opportunity. The puck movement was there, passes were quick, decisions were made swiftly and the correct shots were taken. But like I said before, Conklin’s jersey must have had a few thousand four-leaf clovers in it.

This loss is tough to take. I can’t put it any simpler than that. A game-tying goal with 6.6 seconds left, and it was shorthanded — it just sucks. I’m sure the guys are extremely downtrodden in that locker room. Hopefully one of them thinks like me and hopes Conklin never plays against the Sharks again.

I can already hear the postgame quotes now: “Give St. Louis credit,” “You gotta give the Blues credit.” I really don’t want to hear that mess. Just say, “Well that friggin’ blows; that goalie is so lucky.” Stop giving other teams credit.

Shootout

In the shootout, Nabby showed his weakest part of his game – his infamously wide five-hole. Man is that thing big. (Pun intended).

Fight

Right off the bat, Ryane Clowe dropped the gloves with B.J. Crombeen. Mainly a throw-a-whiff affair, Clowe got a few punches to land. Clowe gets the win.

Also, David Backes was being a rat trying to get Heatley to drop the gloves. Heatley didn’t go for it, but Frazer McLaren jumped off the bench and went to beat down Backes. Backes turtled like a true coward, while McLaren got a third-man-in penalty and was thrown out.

Fourth Line

The fourth line of McLaren-Mitchell-Vesce looked really good tonight. Vesce and Mitchell played together down in Worcester and developed some chemistry. I don’t recall any bad mistakes from the line. They always seemed to be on the forecheck wearing the other team down. I hope Vesce stays up.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 23  StL 28; Murray led the team with four.

The Flames come to town on Saturday. It’s the last game before the Sharks begin a streak of 8/10 games against divisional opponents.

–Ray

December 4, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 2

Quite the disgraceful performance from the Sharks against the Colorado Avalanche tonight, losing 5-2.

The team looked lost on defense — constant positioning errors by both young players and veterans leading to numerous weak side goals. No communication on offense or defense. Goaltending was absolutely atrocious. Nabokov needs to get his act together very quickly. There was a phrase I heard from Tony Kornheiser saying something like “once is an anomaly, two is a trend, three is a problem.” Nabby has two games to make drastic changes, or the trade rumors will start, as if they hadn’t already.

There were two bright spots I saw. Patrick Marleau looked magnificent in his new C-less sweater netting San Jose’s only two goals. Defenseman Jason Demers was the best d-man of the night for the Sharks. He looked confident moving the puck and with his decision-making with the exception of the goal against he was on the ice for.

Jason Demers handles the puck

Jason Demers handles the puck. (From SJSHARKS.COM)

Other than that, it was disgusting to watch. As I said in Vol. 1, the Avs came out in the first five minutes with a fury and scored first. The Sharks answered in the sixth minute though, cooling off the Sakic emotions. From then on, it was all about effort. The youngsters for the Avs wanted to prove something to themselves, their teammates, and the fans. They were successful.

I wouldn’t say the Sharks didn’t put forth a good effort, but they just weren’t good. The Sharks put 40 shots on goal — something they always do under head coach Todd McClellan; however, the shots are not well-selected. Most are just random slapshots from the point hoping for a deflection. Ryane Clowe is the only legitimate player who will get in front of the net and try for deflections. That strategy needs to be tweaked to find better passing lanes before randomly drilling the puck to the crease. I think most players are shooting just to shoot (because that’s what Todd wants), but if the shot selection isn’t there, you give confidence to the goalie. Avs goalie Craig Anderson is not that good; that’s just the truth. But with every weak shot, he starts believing he is Luongo.

Jody Shelley got into a fight with David Koci and lost. I’m one of the few Shelley supporters; he is a good guy, and chooses fights at the right time. I can’t support him forever, so long as he keeps getting beat. Another loss and I might just call for his head too. We have Frazer McLaren and Brad Staubitz, who are more than capable of beating the hell out of the other team.

As you read in the first volume, I defended the selection of Rob Blake as captain. But Blake came out and took a double minor at the end of the first, forcing the Sharks to start the second on the defensive for the first four minutes. You can’t do that. I’m sure he knows that, so it will be interesting to see what he says in the postgame quotes.

One thing is for sure: the Sharks better get their act together in a hurry because the Ducks are next on the schedule. And it’s in Anaheim on Saturday.

–Ray

October 2, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Been a LONG time

Ray here–

I put the blog on the backburner after last football season and posted some Collegiate Times articles I wrote. A few things I do want to talk about lately, though.  Shawne Merriman, volleyball, Kenny Chesney and the inept Virginia Tech offense.

Merriman– Bill Cosby once talked about brain damage in his performance “Himself,” in 1983. The brain damage he spoke of was when children need to hear things three times or more to understand. Even then, they will disobey and when you ask why, they reply, “I don’t know!” Here’s a link to a youtube video with the excerpt.

Shawne must not understand what it means to be a good citizen or even a competent one. Stay out of trouble, even if the person accusing you of battery is a whacko named Tila Tequila.

Volleyball– What a pleasant surprise this has been! I got the women’s volleyball beat for the Collegiate Times this semester. I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical of what to expect, but it’s been awesome. The night I found out, I spent three hours researching the rules and watching youtube videos on how to play.

I’m still getting a grip on the abstract rules and how to calculate all the statstics, but watching the games is very exciting. The players can be a bit nervous when I interview them, but I think they will break out of their shell.

One player on the team doesn’t like interviews, and she is deemed off-limits to me. I wonder if she had a bad experience with any previous writers of any kind. She’s a good player too, so it sucks I can’t talk to her.

The team is 6-0 right now, and they are in Washington, D.C. for a tournament this weekend. I think they can win all three games handily if they do well. It is their first road test, so who knows what might happen.

Kenny Chesney– Please. For the life of me I don’t understand why ESPN chooses such crappy theme songs for college football. Chesney and Dave Matthews?! I didn’t know ESPN is a proponent of homoeroticism.

Watching the Georgia Tech-Clemson game tonight, they had another country singer, and I believe he is the “ACC singer.” God help us. How is some dude in a cowboy hat and tank top supposed to get us pumped for a violent, head-smashing sport? I’ve googled the topic and found about a 99% disapproval rate. The other 1% are girls who just say “I love Kenny!” or guys who pop their collars that love Dave Matthews. Disgusting.

The inept VT offense– Oh. My. God. How retarded is our offense? Oh wait, it’s not the offense who is retarded. It’s offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring. There are “Fire Bryan Stinespring” websites and blogs everywhere, and it’s hilarious. (http://firebryanstinespring.blogspot.com/)

The consensus says he still has a job because he and Frank Beamer are close friends. Well, good gracious, wake up Frank! You have had talented NFL receivers on the team in the past (Josh Morgan, David Clowney, Eddie Royal), and now you have Ryan Williams and Tyrod Taylor. You still can’t muster 100 yards in a ferrari. You would probably sabotage the engine. Fire this quack and get him out of the program.

Fire Bryan Stinespring shirt

Fire Bryan Stinespring shirt

I’d really like to get the chance to ask Frank straight up, “Are you satisfied with ACC Championships or do you want more?” We barely win the ACC as it is with Bryan’s pathetic offense, anyway. This is why you don’t hire your friends as coworkers. We might have to get shutout the rest of the season in order for Frank to notice something’s wrong.

September 11, 2009 Posted by | Football, Other, Volleyball | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment