Small Pleasures: Miami
by Kevin Cuddihy, 11/3/03
Hello and welcome back to Small Pleasures after a game that was a BIG pleasure to watch, as the Hokies knocked the "top ten" monkey off of their back, and proceeded to kick it, stomp on it, and then spit on its carcass for good measure. Damn, Sunday night after the game as I write this, and I'm STILL fired up!
Small Pleasures, if you're just joining us, is dedicated to highlighting the plays that might not make SportsCenter but still contribute to the game, or sometimes just serve to make the game more fun. It's easy to showcase the fumble returns and TD runs, but the plays behind the big plays can bring joy as well. When you've got Small Pleasures, the game becomes more of a pleasure overall.
As always, we start with a nod towards the opponent in keeping with Senor Weaver's "Hokie Respect" theme of 2003. I must admit I had a hard time coming up with something for Miami. For a while I thought I would point out The Ibis for presciently wearing as its jersey number Miami's final score, but thanks to a joke of a personal foul call (how was that NOT offsetting fouls?) Miami threw up a meaningless TD to ruin that. Luckily I was still on too much of a high to sleep Saturday night and stayed up to watch the 2 a.m. highlights, and saw my salvation. Kudos to #77 for Miami, Chris Myers. At 6-5, 285 pounds, he hustled down the field after Michael Crawford's interception to make the tackle at the 10 yard line. That's a load to bring so far, and at that point in the game to still be hustling so much is commendable.
But on to the Hokies! If you've been reading Small Pleasures throughout the season, you can probably tell I'm a big fan of the way Kevin Jones has played this year. Against Miami he picked up a trifecta of Small Pleasures from me, demonstrating yet again how he's become a complete running back. From the start of the game the Canes were not only hitting KJ hard, but absolutely ripping at the ball and slamming him to the ground. They must have some year-old game tape, because the KJ of 2003 does not fumble. Whereas last year a couple of those might have popped loose, Saturday Kevin held on tight, took some huge hits, and kept on chugging. As a matter of fact, he even GAVE some huge hits, especially on Sean Taylor. Towards the end of the first quarter KJ took a run down the right sideline and before going out of bounds absolutely leveled Taylor, knocking the all-everything safety backwards a couple yards.
Even with the devastating hits, though, KJ still knows his bread and butter is with his moves. He plowed through the line for a two-yard touchdown late in the third quarter, but the run to watch was the run prior. First and 10 from the 10 after Crawford's INT, Kevin Jones bounced off of not one, not two, but THREE Canes on an eight-yard run that set up his touchdown immediately thereafter. An all-around great game from Kevin Jones (26 carries, 124 yards).
By the way, memo to the band: David Clowney likes "Radar Love." Midway through the fourth quarter the Hokies huddled while waiting for The Man in the Red Shirt to get off the field and allow the game to continue to its glorious climax. The band struck up the tune, and Clowney proceeded to shimmy and dance his way through the musical interlude while standing in the huddle. I think Clowney just got himself a theme song.
The defense was the true star of this game, and as such we highlight a number of defensive Small Pleasures. Let's start with the support for the big plays. DeAngelo Hall was incredible on his fumble return, not only popping the ball up in the air but snatching it immediately and taking it to the house. But what made that play was Hall, Jimmy Williams, and Vinnie Fuller staying at home and stringing out the reverse to the wide side. If the Hokies overpursue the expected run to the right, that play goes for big yardage. Instead, it's a big play the other way.
Also of note on that play, as well as Eric Green's interception return for a score: Check out who the lead blocker is on both touchdowns. Yup, that's number 99 Cols Colas right there with both speedsters playing chaperone. Colas also showed that hustle early in the third quarter. One play after forcing a fumble by Berlin that Miami recovered, Colas sped from behind the line of scrimmage to make a tackle 12 yards downfield and prevent further gain on a Miami flare pass. They picked up the first down (just barely) but could have got more on the play were it not for Colas.
As I mentioned in the Syracuse article, when the defense stays disciplined, good things happen. On the third down preceding Miami's blocked field goal, Brock Berlin attempted to put a move on Kevin Lewis to either pull him up and complete a pass over him, or force him back and run for the first down. Kevin Lewis instead stood his ground, and ended up with a two-yard sack to force the failed field goal attempt.
A Small Pleasure that's starting to turn into a big pleasure is James Anderson on kickoff and punt coverage. I've been impressed with him on special teams all year, but Saturday he took it to a different level. Starting with the kickoff after the Hokies went on top 17-0, Anderson made the tackle on three consecutive kickoffs, and then to top it off took down Roscoe Parrish on the next punt return as well, after only three yards. Watch number 42 on kickoffs the rest of the season. It'll open your eyes to the talent this young man has.
And lastly, it wouldn't be fair to end the article without some praise for the fans, both in general and specifically. First off, all the fans who went to The Walk brought a small pleasure to each and every player. It was great to see so many people there, and it was great seeing some of these big tough players trying their hardest to keep a huge grin off their face. As Kevin Jones said post-game, he was moved almost to tears. I don't want to ever see another poster question what The Walk means to the players simply because some wear headphones. Oh, it means a lot. (And a personal note to Coach Beamer: I didn't mean to almost pull your ring off your finger when I shook your hand. That was an accident.) Also deserving praise is the level of pure mayhem out of the fans from the get-go. Check out just the first quarter: Miami had two false starts, a delay of game, and declined a chance to re-kick a punt with Tech in good field position because of the fans' affect on their kicking game. Absolute mayhem.
Specifically, Will Stewart deserves all the praise he gets for the turnout at The Walk, and hopefully this will help turn a corner in his relationship with the athletic department. He deserves all he gets from this. And speaking of things Will Stewart gets ... kudos as well to poster F4EHokie. For those of you who don't know, over the past few months F4EHokie spearheaded a pledge drive, with a target of $3,000. That's been realized, and Saturday at F4E's tailgate, Will Stewart was officially informed that he'll be taking part in Frank Beamer's Fantasy Football Camp next summer. The only request made of him: Have "TechSideline.com" put on the back of his jersey.
That's all for this week's Small Pleasures. There were so many pleasures big and small from this game, way too many for one article. So bring yours up on the board, and share them with the rest of TSL. We'll see you next week after the Hokies play Pittsburgh on Heinz Field. Here's hoping that scoreboard doesn't show a surge of ketchup much at all!