Small Pleasures: Temple
by Kevin Cuddihy, 11/17/03

It was a much closer game than anybody but Bobby Wallace probably predicted -- and maybe not even him. Lots of agonizing and arguing on the boards about the game: Was it a letdown after being knocked out of a BCS game, or yet another symptom of a late-season collapse? That's for other people and other times, though, for here we still have Small Pleasures to celebrate!

For those of you just joining us, Small Pleasures looks beyond the highlights to call attention to the little things, the supporting plays and fun asides that make the game more enjoyable. Let SportsCenter show the touchdown passes and long runs; Small Pleasures celebrates the plays in the background leading to those.

As always, we start Small Pleasures with a tip of the hat to the opponent, in full recognition of Jim Weaver's Hokies Respect theme. This week's pick was easy: Walter Washington. The former JUCO quarterback took hit after hit after hit and kept his feet, putting up an astronomical 151 rushing yards against the Tech defense on 26 rushes -- and that includes 30 yards lost on 5 sacks! I can't recall the last time a quarterback put up those kind of numbers against the Hokies.

Now for the Hokies! First off we have to highlight the VT fans who made the trip to Philadelphia. Fifteen thousand plus filled the stands, and what a treat it must have been when we lined up for our first offensive play with the "all-Philly" backfield of Kevin Jones and Doug Easlick for them to be in their hometown, yet playing in front of a home crowd as well. Great showing!

For those of you following Small Pleasures throughout the season, you may have noticed that each article tends to have a certain theme to it. That's not ever on purpose, but it just seems to happen. This week's theme turns out to be blocking.

First up I want to highlight the job done by Will Montgomery. Three times the Hokies had third and short, and all three times Kevin Jones followed the block of Montgomery. Once it led to a 47-yard gain, but the other two he simply rode the big fella's back to just get the first down. Two of those three drives ended in scores, so Montgomery had a big hand in 10 points for the Hokies.

It wasn't just the offensive line throwing blocks for KJ either. Early in the second quarter Mike Imoh threw a block on the outside that allowed Jones to run for 14 yards on third and five, and then late in the third quarter Ernest Wilford pancaked a defender downfield on a KJ 22-yard ramble. And in a nice reward, Wilford ended that drive with a 28-yard touchdown reception from Bryan Randall.

One other theme I wanted to bring up for the game: Play-action. I've seen many on the board pleading for more play-action, and the events of the game seem to indicate they have a case. Marcus Vick's called-back touchdown pass to Ernest Wilford came after a nice play fake. On Wilford's touchdown that counted, Randall not only faked a pitch, he also faked a reverse before finding Wilford in the end zone. VT also got a couple nice gainers to Justin Hamilton in the first quarter after faking the toss sweep.

By the way, I wanted to give a Small Pleasure to both Hamilton and Stinespring for how Hamilton was used Saturday, and all season long as well. As we've seen many do against the Hokies, Hamilton took what the defense gave him by sitting underneath the defender for quick gainers. All three of his receptions came for first downs, and two were those quick-hitters we've seen teams use all season when the Hokies play off the line. He's become a great possession receiver for the Hokies.

On special teams, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Jimmy Williams downing a punt at the one yard line -- actually making the reception after a nice high punt by Vinnie Burns. We've seen great coverage like that all season out of Vinnie Fuller, so it's nice to see Jimmy Williams taking notes and following in Fuller's footsteps.

Unfortunately having to listen to the game on the radio it was hard to take much note of the defense. As good as Bill and Mike are, they don't let me see who gave the extra effort, or who played something perfectly. However, I do want to give a Small Pleasure to Brandon Manning, as at least from the sound of things he was all over the field on Saturday. One play in particular in the first quarter, he came from nowhere to trip up Umar Ferguson on a shovel pass, leading to a fourth and three Temple went for and missed. Tech scored their only points of the first half on the ensuing drive.

That's it for this week's Small Pleasures. If you have your own, especially if you were at the game, please feel free to bring them up on the message boards and discuss them! We'll see you again next week after the Hokies try to extend their winning streak over Boston College to eight games. Does anyone have old BC rosters? I'd be curious to see a list of all the BC players over the past few years who graduated never experiencing a win over the Hokies. Here's hoping we add to that list this year, and then start a new list for another team the following week as well.


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