Small Pleasures: Boston College
by Kevin Cuddihy, 11/24/03
Well, it's another slightly muted Small Pleasures today, but a loss doesn't stop the train. I and tens of thousands of others still had a great time at the game. Would a win have been better? Of course. But as I've said before, even in a loss we can find Small Pleasures to enjoy.
For those of you just joining us on Small Pleasures, we look beyond the highlight plays to what caused them, what came before them, or who contributed to them in a smaller way. Instead of the long touchdown runs or deep balls we look at the plays and players that don't get the SportsCenter time but are just as important, either to the game or to its enjoyment. They truly bring us Small Pleasures.
As always, we start with a nod to the opponent, the Boston College Eagles, in a show of Hokie Respect as encouraged by Jim Weaver. I'd like to highlight not a player for Boston College, but a play: The QB rollout. Boston College pulled this off with great success a number of times during the game, sometimes getting good yardage off a QB run, other times tossing it to a back or tight end for a completion. More importantly, however, is the effect this play had on the Hokies' pursuit of Derrick Knight. With this one play Boston College was able to take a little bit off of our pursuit, allowing runs by Knight to succeed that much more. A great play to use against our defense, and one that succeeded wonderfully for BC.
On to the Hokies! First a non-football note. Kudos to all the fans who showed up for the men's soccer tournament game on a chilly Friday night to watch the Hokies beat Clemson 6-5 in sudden-death penalty kicks and advance to the second round of the NCAAs. While slow to arriveb the crowd never seemed to stop growing, filling the stands and any available open area until I'd estimate more than 6,000 fans were there for the action. Thanks to some obnoxious play by the Tigers and some poor calls by the refsb the crowd got into the game early as well, making for a raucous atmosphere and one the players showed their appreciation of with a post-game sprint to the stands to thank the fans.
Now to move from futbol to football. To start, I'd like to renew some Small Pleasures that I brought up in last week's article. It's always good to see repeat "offenders" so to speak, so I wanted to bring them up first. First is Jimmy Williams, staking his claim even more to being Vinnie Fuller's backup as top punt-return headhunter. One week after catching a punt in the air at the one, Williams was johnny-on-the-spot when BC fumbled a punt in the third quarter, pouncing on it quickly and giving the Hokies good field position.
Also seeing repeat commendation is the downfield blocking of the Hokie wide receivers. On Kevin Jones's 55-yard catch-and-run, about 40-45 of those yards are due to the Tech wide receivers blocking their butts off. Ernest Wilford came from about 10 yards behind the play to throw a block as well to help KJ get extra yards. And on Jones's touchdown late in the first quarter, check out Chris Clifton escorting KJ into the end zone, making sure the last two defenders don't get close enough to dive at his feet. Way to finish out the play.
While sometimes it seems our wide receivers are primarily blockers, Ernest Wilford deserve recognition for adjusting to Bryan Randall's bomb in the fourth quarter and making a big catch to set us up in scoring position for the then-go ahead score. It was a carbon copy of an incomplete pass from Randall to David Clowney on the previous series, where Clowney didn't break off his route on an underthrown pass and the ball fell to the ground. Ernest showed his senior experience and went back for the ball, hauling it in for 52 yards.
Kevin Jones, as is becoming usual for him, laid another great hit on a defender. SportsCenter will ooh and ahh over the spin and juke touchdown, but NFL scouts will drool more at the hit he laid on Will Blackmon in the fourth quarter, driving him back and picking up a couple additional yards.
We saw another repeat "offender" on the defensive side of the ball in Brandon Manning. All over the place against Temple last week, this week Manning make a great one-handed tackled of Knight on BC's first drive, helping hold the Eagles to a field goal instead of the touchdown Knight gets if he shakes off Manning.
While it didn't prevent a touchdown, I wanted to highlight DeAngelo Hall for another tackle on Knight, this one in the second quarter. Knowing he had help should Knight cut inside, D-Lo strung him out to the sideline and shoved Knight out of bounds with a four-yard loss on second down, leading to BC's first three-and-out.
Later in the second quarter, however, D-Lo lost his cool and earned himself a personal foul after a first down BC play. What I saw afterwards is what heartened me a bit. Cols Colas immediately got into Hall's face, smacking his helmet to get him calm and back into the game. Great senior leadership.
That's it for this week's Small Pleasures. Got your own? Bring it up on the board? Otherwise, we'll see you next week as the battle for the Commonwealth Cup unfolds from Charlottesville and the Hokies take on the Cavaliers. Go Tech!