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Random Thoughts on 2009
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #413, January 1, 2010
Virginia Tech closed the 2009 season in fine style, whipping Tennessee 37-14 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. A 10-3 record marks another successful season for Frank Beamer and his coaching staff.
It's easy to talk about guys like Ryan Williams, Tyrod Taylor and Bud Foster, but today we'll ignore the obvious and focus on other things. Here are a few random thoughts from the 2009 season. Some of these thoughts might have already crossed your mind, and others, maybe not.
First of all, there's nothing in the world wrong with a 10-3 season. Virginia Tech is one of just two programs in the country to post six consecutive 10-win seasons. There are 120 teams playing 1-A college football. Obviously it's not an easy thing to do. A lot of fans felt bitter about the losses to Georgia Tech and UNC, but when you focus on the season as a whole, and what Frank Beamer has been able to accomplish since joining the ACC, it's hard to not be impressed.
Kenny Jefferson is the best lead blocking fullback of the ACC era. No other Hokie fullback in the last six seasons blocked as consistently as Jefferson did in 2009. If you check out a highlight film of Ryan Williams runs, it's Kenny Jefferson consistently leading the way in short yardage and goalline situations. Jefferson was one of the most underappreciated players on the 2009 squad, and his lead blocking will be missed.
Speaking of Jefferson, let's take a quick look back to the Alabama game. Jefferson was suspended for that game, which meant Tech lost their best blocker in their short yardage formations. Then Greg Boone got hurt early in the game, and the Hokies lost their best edge blocker. With no fullback and only Andre Smith and Sam Wheeler at tight end, the Hokies were very limited with their formations in that game. If the Hokies played the Tide again, the offense would play better. Ryan Williams would touch the ball more than 13 times. Jarrett Boykin would start above Xavier Boyce, and get ALL the snaps, rather than half of them. And with Jefferson and Boone in the game, Tech would have all of their formation options and their best blockers. I'm not saying the Hokies would be Alabama, as I think Bama is the best team in the country. But I do believe the Tech offense would look a lot more competent.
The ankle injury that plagued John Graves all season cost Virginia Tech one, and possibly two games in the month of October. The banged up Graves gutted out the season, but he had no tackles for loss and no sacks until the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Graves got healthy with no games over the last month, and he dominated the UT offensive line on Thursday night. A healthy Graves would have made a big difference in that UNC game, when the Tar Heels repeatedley rammed the ball down Tech's throat in the second half.
It feels really good to break the losing streak against the SEC. Until the Chick-fil-A Bowl, the Hokies had not defeated an SEC team since beating LSU in Lane Stadium in 2002. That conference is like ACC and Big East basketball. Everybody is tough, even the teams at the bottom of the standings.
This is going to be a good offseason. Remember the depressing offseasons following the 2005, 2006 and 2007 season? Tech won the Gator Bowl in 2005, but it was tainted by the antics of Marcus Vick. In 2006, the Hokies blew a 21-3 halftime lead in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Georgia. In 2007, they let an overmatched Kansas team beat them in the Orange Bowl. The offseason following the 2008 season was a lot better because the Hokies were coming off an Orange Bowl win against Cincinnati. The 2009 offseason will be even better after blowing out an SEC team on national television on New Year's Eve. In general, offseasons stink after a bowl loss, but they are great after a big win. This offseason will be a good one.
Virginia Tech's kicking game this year was magnificent. Brent Bowden and Matt Waldron were both First Team All-ACC players, and Dyrell Roberts and Jayron Hosley were outstanding in the return game. Tech's punt and kick coverage teams were excellent, and their punt and kick protection teams were just about perfect. BeamerBall ruled in 2009.
I know Virginia Tech was going to beat Tennessee when I saw Kenny Jefferson knock the helmet off linebacker LaMarcus Thompson on a lead block to the left in the first half. Not to keep gushing over Jefferson, but he looked like Jarrett Ferguson out there on Thursday night. Too bad he's a senior.
The Hokies return the bulk of their team in 2010, including almost all of their star power. The offense can only get better, and you can be sure that Bud Foster will put a quality unit on the field yet again. Expectations will be big, but the talent will be there to meet them.
Tech Hokie Bird Wool Pennant
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