Virginia Tech searching for answers on offense
If you haven't checked out my notebook from today's paper, you should do so now because I have some interesting tidbits on defensive end Steven Friday, running back Ryan Williams, tight end Andre Smith and freshman Ricardo Young. But in that story, I didn't address the topic on everybody's mind since Saturday's 19-0 shutout of Boston College: The state of Virginia Tech's offense.
From an offensive standpoint, the mood here in Blacksburg has been much better than two weeks ago when the Hokies' red zone woes ultimately resulted in a 21-16 loss to James Madison, the most shocking upset of the college football season thus far.
But after the Hokies' offense managed just one touchdown and four field goals despite some prime field position courtesy of a defense that caused three Eagles turnovers, the questions about the Virginia Tech offense have once again surfaced.
In all, the Hokies managed three field goals and one touchdown when they got inside the red zone against Boston College, and gained just 343 yards total. If you take away quarterback Tyrod Taylor's 59-yard completion to wide receiver Danny Coale on the third play of the second half -- a pass that ultimately resulted in only a field goal -- Virginia Tech averaged just 4.65 yards per play, their lowest total in that category this season.
It's "frustrating because I told the offense before the season that we need to put in more touchdowns than field goals," Taylor said. "Of course coming out of the situation with points is always good, but you want those to be touchdowns more than field goals. ... We expected more, but four games in, we got a lot of football to play. We can still meet those expectations.”
I'll have more on this in my advance for Saturday's game against No. 23 North Carolina State, but considering this offense returned almost every contributing skill-position player from a year ago, and eight starters overall, the inconsistency has been puzzling, to say the least. It seems things had been straightened out after the Hokies put up 49 points against East Carolina on Sept. 18, but if the Boston College game was any indication, that was more an indictment on the Pirates' 114th-ranked defense.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s outside or inside the red zone," offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring said Tuesday. "We’re not getting enough points. That’s an issue. I think it is. We’ve just got to do a better job of doing our job, all of us included.”
Again, be sure to check out my story Saturday where I'll get much more in depth on this issue, but I figured I would share some of the research I've dug up on cfbstats.com. I've been trying to figure out how a team that seemed to hit its stride offensively during the last four games of 2009 could be so affected by the loss of two starters -- offensive linemen Ed Wang and Sergio Render -- from last season's Chick Fil-A Bowl.
I've broken these stats up into three categories: Scoring, Statistics, and Red Zone Efficiency. For comparison's sake, I've also included numbers from the first four games this year, the entire 2009 season, and the final four games of 2009 when the Hokies offense was at its best.
Points Per Game
2010: 28.5 points/game; 10th in the ACC; 57th in the country
2009: 31.8 points/game; 2nd in the ACC; 24th in the country
Final 4 games of 2009: 38.25 points/game
Yards Per Rushing Attempt
2010: 4.27 yards/carry; 8th in the ACC; 61st in the country
2009: 4.72 yards/carry; 3rd in the ACC; 25th in the country
Final 4 games of 2009: 4.76 yards/carry
2010: 186.5 yards/game; 8th in the ACC; 87th in the country
2009: 183.9 yards per game; 9th in the ACC; 95th in the country
Final 4 games of 2009: 214.75 yards/game
2010: Allowed 3.25 sacks/game; 4th in the ACC; 12th in the country
2009: Allowed 2.77 sacks/game; 1st in the ACC; T-14 in the country
Final 4 games of 2009: Allowed 2 sacks/game
2010: 41.86 percent on 3rd down; 7th in the ACC; 57th in the country
2009: 43.02 on 3rd down; 6th in the ACC; T-32nd in the country
Final 4 games of 2009: 53.7 percent on 3rd down
2010: 366.8 yards/game; 8th in the ACC; 70th in the country
2009: 392.1 yards/game; 6th in the ACC; 49th in the country
Final 4 games of 2009: 450.5 yards/game
2010: Scored TDs on 9 of 18 trips; 11th in the ACC; T-81st in the country
2009: Scored TDs on 32 of 53 trips; 7th in the ACC; 52nd in the country
Final 4 games of 2009: Scored TDs on 15 of 22 trips
Red Zone Rushing
2010: 1.97 yards/carry; 12th in the ACC, 91st in the country
2009: 2.47 yards/carry; 8th in the ACC; 81st in the country
Final 4 games of 2009: 3.34 yards/carry
Red Zone Passing
2010: 3-of-9 for 23 yards; 10th in the ACC; 97th in the country
*78 teams in the country have attempted more passes and the Hokies were 102nd nationally in completion percentage
2009: 11-of-23 for 107 yards; 9th in the ACC; T-104th in the country
*115 teams attempted more passes and the Hokies were T-74th in completion percentage
Final 4 games of 2009: 6-for-10 for 60 yards
| September 29, 2010; 11:10 AM ET
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