Small Pleasures: Texas A&M
by Kevin Cuddihy, 9/22/03
Hello, and welcome back to another Small Pleasures. Debuted last week here on TSL, Small Pleasures aims to take a look at the hidden gems of each football game. The big plays are certainly celebrated, and rightly so, but here we take a look at some of the smaller plays that are the building blocks to success, or even just cool to notice when the focus seems to be elsewhere. So away we go.
As stated last week, each Small Pleasures will open with an item for the opponent, in keeping with the Hokie Respect theme. For Texas A&M, their small pleasure certainly has to be in their 98-yard touchdown drive. It's hard enough to launch a drive that long in football, much less on the road against a top ten foe. That drive, and the experience that comes with it, will certainly benefit them later this year.
On to the Hokies! The first small pleasure this week is not a person, but an idea: Motion on offense. Simply put, motion on offense opens holes for the Hokies. Remember that phrase, and repeat it for your friends in the stands when you see someone go in motion. VT has been getting great gains all season when putting a man in motion, and they picked up the practice Thursday to great success. Often the man going in motion was ...
Richard Johnson. Many on the board and in articles have pointed out the delayed deep handoffs from Randall to Jones that allowed KJ to see his holes with plenty of time to make a move and get good yardage. However, on a good half of those delayed handoffs the Hokies sent Richard Johnson in motion. Keep this in mind for the future! Richard Johnson in motion gives Tech three added weapons out of that set: end around, wide receiver pass (remember, Richard was a HS quarterback), and running the option with Randall and Johnson to the wide side. That's using one play to set up another, and we WILL see Richard Johnson get the ball at some point this season on this play, hopefully while the defense keys in on Kevin Jones due to Thursday's game film.
Speaking of Kevin Jones, he gets his second Small Pleasure award of the season for the same thing as before, picking up the blitz wonderfully. For the second time this season, KJ was the lone blocker on a blitzer with a head of steam. Just like he did against UCF Kevin stood his man up, this time less than a yard from where Randall set up to pass. If KJ is even knocked backwards, Randall is forced to scramble. Instead, the blitzer goes from 30 to zero in a heartbeat, thanks to KJ's much improved ability in picking up the blitz.
On to the defense, then. Bud Foster gets a nod of the head this game for his halftime adjustments. According to the Hokiesports.com play-by-play, Texas A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal had 69 yards of positive rushing, with 22 yards of negative rushing subtracted from that. Numerous times in the first half, Tech had a blitzer take an angle to the hash mark to try to get to McNeal, resulting in a sidestep to the sideline and positive yardage. Not so in the second half. Foster made an incredible adjustment at halftime with his troops, so that only TWO of those 69 positive yards came in the second half, while 20 of the 22 negative yards were in the same timeframe. Impressive.
And last, Cols Colas provided a small pleasure with his demonstration of how to play the option. Picture perfect, by the book, couldn't have been done better. With Texas A&M down nine and driving in the third quarter, Reggie McNeal took off to his left. Colas completely ignored McNeal and went right to the pitch man, to the point where if McNeal had attempted a pitch he would have hit Colas square in the back. Pitch man contained, Colas' teammates focused on McNeal and kept him to a very minimal gain. Excellent work, and helped stall A&M's first drive of the second half, setting a tone on defense.
So there's this week's Small Pleasures; again, feel free to point out and discuss some of your own on the message boards. See you next week after the UConn game!