#20 R.P.I. Virginia Tech @ #1o5 R.P.I. Syracuse:
Virginia Tech football hits the road for a 3:45pm Saturday afternoon date in Will’s much ballyhooed “Jiffy Pop Dome” in mid-state New York. The game is on ESPN and our beloved Hokies are a 20 point favorite in this one. Or in other words, good ole V.P.I. really should win this one and they could, -possibly even should- win this one going away. This segues us neatly into today’s word of the day…
Today’s word of the day is… opus.
noun, pl opuses or opera (ˈɒpərə)
- an artistic composition, esp a musical work.
- (Classical Music) (often capital) (usually followed by a number) a musical composition by a particular composer, generally catalogued in order of publication:
- a seminal musical piece.
- Saturday at 3:45pm?
Head Coach: first year Dino Babers: age=55, (2-4 year; 39-2o overall); has a rep’ for rushing (ex-Hawaii Rb himself), being a Qb whisperer, and doing more with less. Dino has won at both of his previous head coaching stops (Bowing Green MAC titlist) and lead Eastern Illinois into the play-offs each year. Finished 1st place in-conference every single season as the big whistle prior to the ‘Cuse.
Syracuse 2015 record: 4 up 8 down and 2-6 in the Atlantic Coast
Syracuse Defense: (starters back=7)
- Total D is 113th, 99th in rushing D and 1o6th in passing D.
i.e. very user-friendly
- 94th in Qb’s sacked and 1o9th in Tackles for a Loss (TFL).
- 118th in explosiveness!
- Converting into a forty-three or Tampa-2 base scheme as I type.
- This defense is similar to a Cover-2 defense, except the MLb drops into a deep middle coverage for a true(r) Cover-3 look when he reads a pass play. Said to be a D that limits big plays; although it industrializes smaller speedier guys with an emphasis on hitting via design. Misdirection is a bugbear for the Tampa-2 and there is a deep middle seam between the minimum of hashmark splits between the Fs and Ss, and behind the deep dropping Mike that can be exploited here. Not a blitzy stop-unit, relies on a lot of 4-man pressures.
- The entire ‘Cuse defensive front-wall is 100% underclassmen! Need I say more? Okay, I will, as they are still growing into the B.c.s. power-conference game as I type. Such might service the needs of 2018 well enough; though the ‘Cuse defensive front-4 is looking pretty needy in 2016 terms at the moment. The dLine is 1o7th in Havoc and one would surely like to think we can run a bit on such a juvenile lot. De is very thin and inexperienced, and Dt is barely adequate; if that. dLine does have a lot of pass-rush movement(s) to it. Stunts, twists, loops, whatever. As it was (mostly) them vs. the Qb with no more than the occasional 1-man red-dog for help.
- Linebacking is the one strength here, 37th in Havoc says so. So does having all three starters back. Although it too is a diminutive strength with two starters tipping the Toledo’s at 2o9 lbs. or less! 6′, 230 lb. t-Jr. Mike-Lb Zaire Franklin is a tackling machine, he’s the best of the lot here and could start at more than a few other A.c.c. schools. Nonetheless, he has missed a lotta practice time in the last two years and needs to stay healthy for a change. Linebackers will invert the arrowhead and toggle the Mike an extra yard deep. Sam will cheat up to the LOS for a 50 look at times.
- The Secondary is almost pushing up last, at a 127 penultimate in Havoc. And that makes pretty good sense when you are starting 75% sophomores in your hind-4. Hind-4 is a bit more zone heavy than I expected at times. Saw a lot of hook-zone drops from the Will and the Mike and they sure shadow or roll side-to-side with the Qb. Gotta be an opening in that zone to throw behind their roll, even if that is passing across one’s body and therefore against the grain. A “one thousand one” delayed release could work wonders for any Te/Rb here. Did see some tighter boundary Cb looks with medium-man on the field side | both proved available to rocket type HR throws.
- Saw some even or 4-4 looks with the Ss cheating up on the Sam or short-side.
- NOT a good tackling team. Really flunkies in Euclidean terms. Too shallow, no (boundary or help) leverage, and just plain overshooting collision type hits. Lottsa army looking Lombardi’s bane of: “Grab! Grab! Grab!” tacking downfield here. Or in other words, I just saw the ‘Cuse choke and cough up a bunch 20+ yard plays on breaking tape. Wish I’da known to T-chart it in point of fact. Though this halt-unit is a chunk yardigist wet dream. It really is.
‘Cuse Offense: (returning starters=8)
- Total O is 36th, 111th in rushing O, and 12th best in throw O!
- Oddly enough, 100th in Red Zone O!
- 98th in sacks allowed and even worse at 113th in TFL allowed! (wow!)
- A relatively mere 86th in explosiveness, as this is something of a up-tempo quick hitting West Coast O.
- Accordingly, 6th highest in offensive pace!
- Full-time hurry-up Spread set base.
- 6’3” 2o7 lb. t-soph., and buggy-whip looking Eric Dungey is a pretty dang nice Qb, I’m just not convinced he is a great Qb, at least not at the moment. Though he sure is a rushing threat (5 majors/TDs) in the red-zone. And oh yes, just shy of 1,9oo passing, on a 11:4 clip with a 64% and change connect percentage is startling enough. Ditto having 10,124 passing yards, 65 TD’s, and 41 rushing TD’s as a VHT (very highly touted) Oregon high school kid out on the left-coast. Heady kid, as he put up some excellent .edu scholastic numbers and that has continued as a Honor Roll student for the big orange up in NY. Accordingly, some whispers say he was down to deciding between being a Yalie or “a Harvard man” until the ‘Cuse got into the mix. He’s that smart. Kinda like the (Dobbs) kid at UTenn was. Was a pretty fair to middling Db in high school to boot. Though he’s getting racked up this year (see: sacks/TFL allowed); hence the drop to a gimpy looking 1.6 ypg in rushing on 80 attempts already. And he’s a bit railing looking or something of a Dadi Nicholas at Pivot on top of that. Dude could mix in a steak and a protien shake or three. Ergo, he spent most of last year dinged up (head injuries); and then spent four full games in the training room for it. Hence his completion percentage has dropped 4% and change since Sept. of this year and so has his Qb rating. Down almost 24 points since then. This is a good, smart, savvy quick-passing though narrow looking kid playing behind an even narrower blocking oLine.
- 6’2” 2o2 lb. final year grad. and r-Sr. (Maryland transfer) Amba Etta-Tawo is a pass catching stud. There is a drop-off (pardon the pun) after him however as the rest of the ‘Cuse pass catchers are below 11 yards and change per catch; whereas Amba is pressing up on an 18 yard/grab average. Amba has always had a big-play making knack, including averaging 17 and 22 ypc for the Terps. Amba is pursuing a master’s degree in instructional design, development and evaluation | he was awarded a u.grad in geographical sciences. i.e. another smart cookie. In football terms he is a really sleek route runner, hard to get a clean look -never mind a clean shot- on this one. 400m second place finisher for all of Ga. in high school T&F. So he can run fast and he can run fast all day; as that is the most grueling sprinting event of them all. Not bad work from the merely 119th ranked Wr in the nation scholastically; if you can get it. And there are a buncha iso’ “go make a play” sideline works to this guy all game long –pun, intended.
- Syracuse only enjoys two runs north of 27 yards so far! Leading the way is Donte Strickland; a 5’11” 199 lb. t-soph Rb. Donte is a high velocity, shifty, cutty, low to the ground runner who the whispers say is a bit beat-up at the moment. Really cut up looking guy on breaking-tape, and yet his numbers have dropped by 2.o ypg in the last month. This kid has talent, he just needs a bit less, work. Jordan Fredericks was supposed to be the starting Tb; though the vibe here is that he lacks physical conditioning; and there you go.
- oLine was supposed to be pretty well suspect –at least for those not named all-A.c.c. caliber C r-senior, 6’3” 293 lb. Jason Emerich. Jason is legit and he can transfer and join the Vice-squad yesterday as far as I am concerned. Other than he is hurting and so are two other ‘Cuse starters upfront (right-G and left or blindside Ot); –as the whispers say two of the three are likely done for the duration! This now leaves the ‘Cuse courting first year freshman at C and at right-G. May St.Jason bless! This all conspires to leave a formerly perhaps decent enough block unit pretty well gutted. Though the right side is massive (333+ lbs. ) indeed.
- Saw a whole lotta movement throws to guys on the run; not much in the way of sit-down Curls, Hooks and so forth here. Observed some real backfield variety as well. ‘Cuse will put Dungey under C and they have all sorts of I, ‘bone, broken-bone, Veer and so forth hybrid backfield looks. Rather creative in fact. Will play-action off of any Rb.
- Dungey was more slippery in the pocket than I expected; he does purchase time well enough; though he sure makes ill-advised throws on film. Pretty wild he’s not been picked (off) more (4 times) than he has.
- 46% run:pass 54% play matrix.
Orange Special Teams: (K returns)
Syracuse is only first best in punt returns thanks to all-American ‘esque efforts of 5’9” 179 lb. Sr. slot-Wr, Brisly Estime. Who is slippy like eel-snot. Estime ranks third at Syracuse in career punt return average (16.9), he is tied for fourth in most punt return touchdowns (3), and he is ninth in career punt return yards (536). I’d say that counts. Syracuse however is a below average 89th in KO returns. Just watched N.Dame house a KO return for six. The ‘Cuse is 106th in KO return defense and 101st in punt coverage; so there should be some room to run here. Syracuse has blocked zero punts and kicks so far. With one Orange FGA snuffed out and no punt blocks allowed.
Cole Murphy is a 6’3” 200 lb. Jr. year K who is a very modest 63% on his FGA’s thus far in 2016. That’s not real threatening; however, and upon closer review, you see that he is actually 76% for his career, and has not attempted any gimmes this year with his shortest FGA stacking out at 34 yards so far with one block. Cole is a member of the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll and has a career long of 50; although his P.A.T.’s were susceptible to blocks right up the A-gap gut as well.
r-Fr., 5’9” 183 lb. Sterling Hofrichter is Syracuse’s punter and he is a very pedestrian 61st in net putting at 37 and change. Talent does not appear to be a problem what with being ranked the sixth-best kicker and ninth-best punter coming out of high school. Did pick up a AAAAAA championship ring down in Florida -props on that- and has a very truncated follow through on punts, so roughing penalties are in play here.
Special Teams letter-grade: (D+++, to many little things could be done better besides the Punt Return wizard kid, he’s the truth)
- motive: N/A. These two don’t see much of each other.
- weather: N/A.
- health: big advantage to VT here what with 3 ‘Cuse oLine starters out. God Bless. Edge=VT.
- penalties: about even, both are currently better than average here. Edge=PUSH.
- intangibles: might be a small letdown trap in effect here, and ‘Cuse if nothing else does enjoy homefield dome familiarity. EDGE=’Cuse.
- fatigue: VT has a 68 spot advantage in Time of Possession (TOP). Edge=VT.
Illation, conclusion(s) and OPT digits:
The takeaway here is… that there is only a mere 237.6 yard per game difference in total D separates these two teams. That and the fact that the Syracuse throw-game -which is pretty spiffy- is nevertheless throwing right into the teeth of the 2016 Bud Bock’s alpha strength, or into coach Scott’s secondary. That, and the fact that the average to less than average Orange offensive front-5, is now beat all to hell. Do you really need anymore than that?
Only thing(s) I can come up with would be… the ‘Cuse takes a lotta home-run Major League Baseball play-off type shots on O. Surely they watched our E.c.u. film and broke tape on that. The ‘Cuse does have a punt return kid who is hell on wheels; maybe we even give them a short-field on another Hokie fumble?
Ergo, to wit, therefore …not real sure I feel comfortable picking us on pitching a shutout? Though this is a pretty favorable Atlantic Coast extra-divisional match-up and one that does leave you wondering if coach-Fu is about to compose an offensive masterpiece or his 2016 opus of sorts? As we really only need stop two maybe three guys here and this day should be won; quite possibly won in symphonic fashion and won running away.
As Virginia Tech’s defense has allowed a point in only three of the last 12 quarters. While Syracuse has dropped four of its last five while ranking last in the A.c.c. in total D and in scoring D alike. Whereas Virginia Tech is binging on a 137-2o point total 3-game win streak. Making these two squads two trains passing in the night.
Virginia Tech=44, Syracuse=11