Have some Al Groh elocutions and a few links for you. I’m going to be taking a break for the next few days, more or less, so I won’t be posting notes on the blog this evening or Thursday. I’ll have something up short this afternoon. Onward…
1. On the Virginia-Virginia Tech rivalry:
“To give an analogy to the fans around here using Georgia and Georgia Tech’s rivalry, it’s as if suddenly we were both in the same conference. The tradition of the rivalry would be heightened just that much more because of the impact that it would have on conference standing, championships, postseason play and whatnot. That rivalry was always good, a very good one, but then when Virginia Tech came in the Atlantic Coast Conference and the game was at the end of the year and had the potential to have great implications on each team’s seasons in more ways than it ever did before.”
I obviously wasn’t around for it when Tech was in the SEC, but it’s hard to imagine how much more intense the Georgia-Tech rivalry would be if both schools were in the same conference.
2. Groh said that Virginia Tech is more multiple in its personnel packages than Clemson, primarily because the versatility of Clemson tight end Dwayne Allen allowed the Tigers to do a lot of different things without substituting. Note about Allen, by the way. His turf toe was hurting pretty badly Saturday and is going to keep him out of practice this week. He’ll make a difference, should both teams make the ACC title game.
3. Groh called a lot of blitzes, particularly late in the game, depending on the secondary to hold up on the back end in man coverage.
“They did a real nice job and they did allow us to try to be pretty aggressive given the circumstances and do some of the things that we would have liked to have done. We felt those players could execute those things. A lot of times, it’s not just about us having confidence on the sidelines. You want to call something that the player himself has confidence in executing.”
Secondary coach Charles Kelly deserve a good bit of credit for developing the defensive backs, which have become an obvious strength and will have four of the top five plus Fred Holton (out for the year with a torn Achilles) back next season.
4. On Jemea Thomas:
“He certainly was a real big-play performer the other night. Those are the kind of guys we look to get into the game. Based on how he’s evolved at that spot (and) plays that he made, we’ll certainly be looking to expand his role.”
Thomas merits it, obviously. It’ll be interesting to see what that will look like. I wouldn’t say any of the starting four defensive backs – cornerbacks Rod Sweeting and Louis Young and safeties Isaiah Johnson and Rashaad Reid – have played their way out of the lineup. Maybe they’d rotate more. Thomas can play both safety and corner, so perhaps that’s an option.
5. On the defense’s progress:
“It’s been a pretty good process. We were able to, the last two games probably, sustain performance more but in some of those earlier games, there was evidence of it that they could see. North Carolina, I think, we’d given up one touchdown in the first half, N.C. State, the same way, Maryland a field goal and whatnot. There’ve been a lot of the games where the start was fairly positive so there were a lot of plays within the game to show them this is what it can be just with more consistency. Just have to feel that maybe the process of the season as they’ve gotten more and more looks at things, they’ve gotten the consistency to sustain them through the game.”
It’s interesting; everything Groh said was true and fits into the narrative of the defense’s progress, but I imagine few of you would have been willing to accept him saying something like, “We’re getting better; we played good defense for a half against North Carolina. We just need to be more consistent” (and that probably includes me) it, particularly after the Virginia game or if the Maryland game had turned out differently. And, also, if Virginia Tech lights up the defense for 35 points and 450 yards, I imagine the “Tech can’t play 3-4 defense” and “Same old defense” sentiments will return.
To that end…
6. Groh on what Thomas does well:
“He’s got good instincts. He’s a very competitive player. He’s got a nice burst. His plays the other night, they clearly had a big impact on the game, but probably the next three games will provide a better answer to your question than anything that I say. I don’t expect this to be the case, but we get into the terminology of the famous ‘One-game wonder.’ Nice story for the time being, but the future is now. The past is done.”
Groh is not a man easily satisfied. For the record, the last part of his comment might come off sounding callous, but that wasn’t the case, just his matter-of-fact way of speaking. I imagine he was more than elated about Thomas’ play, but has a longer-term view. Just Groh being Groh, as one might say.
That’s it. A reminder to all of you posting that you’re not the only ones reading your comments. Please be mindful of more impressionable and sensitive eyes. I think I speak for most when I say that the redneck/nerd (or worse) debate really gets tiresome to wade through. I’d prefer to not have to step in.
Three Sting Daily reports, one from Matt Winkeljohn discoursing on Tevin Washington and two from Jon Cooper, one on the Tech offense switching its read key in the Clemson game from the playside defensive end to nose guard Brandon Thompson (a beast of a player) and another on former punter Rodney Williams, an inductee to the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame. Ceremonies are Nov. 9.
A blog post from the Washington Post about Virginia Tech’s outlook following the win over Duke.