Tuesday, September 2, 2008

ECU Reaction: Offense


QB Sean Glennon was quoted after the game as saying he played well for 90 percent of the game. Well, it was more like 75 to 80 percent, but that other 25 percent was pretty damn bad.

What Glennon did do well was go through his progressions and check down to a receiver that was open. What he didn't do well was be consistently accurate with his throws. He fired high to Boone on his first pass of the game, which was intercepted deep in the red zone. A bad throw led to a turnover.

After the interception, four pass plays were called in the next six. This was good to get Glennon back in rhythm and get the pick out of his mind. All were either designed short passes or check downs by Glennon. Nothing special. On the first two drives, all of his passes were short to the left or short over the middle.

Offensive Line

The offensive line was inconsistent, not just from series to series, but from play to play. Tech's first possession of the fourth quarter began with an eight-yard run by Lewis following some excellent blocking. This would be the last play featuring good play by the offensive line for the Hokies. The line struggled on the next five plays and culminated with Sergio Render completely missing a blitzing linebacker and forcing an incomplete pass from Glennon.

The line was horrible the last three possessions and either didn't give Glennon time on passing plays or weren't opening holes for Evans and Lewis.

Who knows what the line play would have been like with DeChristopher in the whole game. It would have definitely been better and may have made the difference. The Hokies averaged only three yards per rush, atrocious by Virginia Tech standards. Of course, the Hokies averaged 1.1 yards per rush in 2007 against the Pirates, so maybe I shouldn't complain so much.

Play calling

The Hokies initially started trying to sit on the clock and protect a 22-13 lead when it got the ball with 10:18 left in the game. The Hokies ran three straight run plays for a first down and started its next series of downs with a little over eight minutes left. Glennon threw a dumpoff pass to Lewis for a four yard gain, setting up a very manageable 2nd and 6.

Instead of running on second down, the Hokies ran a pass play, on which Glennon got no blocking and threw an incomplete pass to the middle of the field to Andre Smith. I was a bad throw, but he was under pressure. Third down featured the lookout block by Render and an incomplete pass. The Pirates scored on their next possession to cut the lead to two.

The Hokies got the ball with 3:31 left and a two point lead. A facemask penalty gave the Hokies 1st and 10 at their 40. Evans got no blocking on first down and gained a yard. The Hokies then lost 10 yards on second down on a screen pass to Lewis. This is the most questionable call by the Hokies the whole game. Yes, the Pirates brought a blitz and yes, one or two broken tackles gives the Hokies a big gain.

But why rely on Lewis breaking tackles to get a decent gain or get back to the line of scrimmage? Why rely on the blocking of very inexperienced wide receivers to get a good play on 2nd and Long? A draw counters the Pirate blitz without relying on Lewis to catch the ball or receivers to block. A straight run might not get a big gain, but it at least works the clock and forces ECU to use a timeout.

However, the draw play came on 3rd and 19. Lewis ran for six, the Pirates called timeout, blocked a punt and won the game.

The 4th Quarter

The perfect storm of suck combined to do in the Hokies over the last three series. On the first series, the offensive line failed and Glennon was unable to have time to find open receivers, like he did earlier in the game.

On the second series, the play-calling was deficient and cost the Hokies the ability to run out the clock. Finally, facing a five-point deficit, Glennon was completely inaccurate and uncomfortable in the pocked and the Hokies stood no chance of a miracle drive to steal the win back.

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