This week, some questions for Gobbler Country proprietor furrer4heisman. My answers to his questions will be up at GC later this afternoon.
1.) Until I happened to check the numbers last week, I hadn't realized how much more productive Tyrod Taylor has been through the air this season. What's been different for Taylor in 2009?
A lot of things. The pass protection still isn't good, but it's not nearly as atrocious as it was last season. Last year the Hokies gave up the most sacks in the ACC (38). So far they've allowed 25, which is 7th in the league. Next is the receivers. Last year the receiving corps had one returning catch. Tyrod didn't have a rapport with them and didn't trust them to make the catch or even run the correct route. This year the receivers are making tough catches and Tyrod trusts them enough that when given man coverage he just lofts the ball up and believes his receiver is going to be the guy that comes down with the ball.
Finally, a big difference can be seen in Tyrod himself. He's more confident in the pocket and seems to trust himself to make the right decision when it comes to throwing the ball or tucking and running. His trust in his teammates and himself has turned him into a quarterback this season. Before he was just an athlete that played the position. Now, he's a QB.
2.) Seems like there was a lot of criticism directed towards Tech's offensive coordinator in the early part of the season, but the offense got on a roll in October and continues to be one of the more productive groups in the ACC. Has the criticism died down at all? What is it about this system that people don't like?
The criticism of Bryan Stinespring will never die down because there's a certain percentage of our fan base who won't be satisfied until we have an offense like Oklahoma that's lighting up scoreboards. Well, that's never going to happen at Virginia Tech because that's not what Frank Beamer's offensive philosophy is. Beamer wants an offense that controls the ball, keeps our defense fresh and doesn't make mistakes.
So with our offense, it's more important to look for efficiency than productivity. This year our offense has been very efficient and has been in the top quarter of the country in yards per play most of the year. While the individual play calling has always been suspect with Stinespring, he coordinates the offense the way he's supposed to. This year the offense has been much more efficient than in the past and there's no way you can blame any of our losses solely on him. That hasn't always been the case.
3.) Not that he's been bad, but Russell Wilson has struggled a bit with teams that run a lot of zone coverages. Do you think the Hokies will lay back a bit or come with the pressure?
Virginia Tech's base defense is a zone, so you'll see a lot of that. Our defense is at its best when the front four is able to get pressure. Fortunately that's been the case most of the year with Jason Worilds and Nekos Brown at the defensive end spots. Even the tackles are coming around.
When we do blitz, you'll see Cody Grimm coming in from the whip linebacker spot. I have noticed that we've been bringing a lot of heat in obvious passing situations lately, so you'll see more blitzing if you guys have trouble running the ball on first down.
4.) Why isn't Bud Foster a head coach somewhere?
Before this year Bud has always said he doesn't want to leave unless its for a BCS job where he has a chance to win soon. Well, those jobs don't usually hire coordinators. They usually want a guy who has a proven track record as a head coach. I think Bud has realized that, which is why he said he was interested in the Memphis job. He knows he needs to go somewhere and cut his teeth before he gets handed the keys to a BCS program. My guess is if he doesn't leave for a head coaching job this offseason, he definitely will next offseason. Unless of course the Hokies give him a head-coach-in-waiting deal.
5.) You've already made some recommendations via email, but for the benefit of readers who might be making the trip, what is Blacksburg's can't-miss bar?
The bar I always go to is Top of the Stairs. The locals call it TOTS. Its right near campus and is catty corner from the student union. It's a prototypical college town bar and has a good mix of students and alums on gameday. It has decent food, but the item you have to get is a Rail. Basically it's a large cup filled with every bottom-shelf liquor they have mixed with a splash of soda and a splash of grenadine. It'll run you $8 and get you a headstart on blacking out before the game even kicks off. Enjoy.