Small Pleasures: UConn
by Kevin Cuddihy, 9/29/03
Welcome back to Small Pleasures. It's easy to stand up and cheer for the diving catches for touchdowns, or long runs to the end zone, but with Small Pleasures we give a little bit of recognition to the little things that can sometimes mean the difference between success and failure. So with that, we're off!
As always, Small Pleasures will start off with a quick kudo for the opponent in keeping with this year's Hokie Respect theme. As with JMU, it's hard to find much pleasure in a blowout but UConn is obviously a team on the way up. While many talk about their offensive productivity against the Hokies, equally as important was UConn putting the bagel on the Hokies for third-down conversions. With VT coming into the game with a 67 percent third-down conversation rate, Connecticut held the Hokies to 0-for-8 in that department, stalling a number of Hokie drives and getting their offense back on the field.
Enough respect, let's move on to the Hokies! I want to single out both of the top running backs this week for two different things in the same general vein. First up is Kevin Jones, who is becoming a regular in this feature. He's doing the small things that lead to success in addition to the highlight-reel runs, which is sure to help him out when the NFL comes calling. KJ's toughness has been on display all season as he tries to avoid his previous dancing ways and showcase his renewed toughness. He made a good run into a great one with 6:40 left in the second quarter, as a UConn tackler caught up with him after roughly eight yards. However, KJ laid a fierce stiff-arm on the guy, and churned forward an incredible fifteen more yards after initial contact, for a 23 yard run. Pure extra effort from Kevin Jones.
Cedric Humes put some extra effort in as well and got a touchdown for his troubles. On his 58-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, Cedric was dead to rights at about the ten. A defender had taken the angle and just had to reach out for his shoulder pads or dive to get him down. Cedric responded with some impressive evasive maneuvers, arching his back and lifting his knees to juuuuust barely stay out of the reach of the defender, using great technique to make sure he hit paydirt. At the end of a blowout Humes was still going all out to get the score, doing the little things that matter.
Another score brought out another Small Pleasure, this time from the entire offensive line, on Bryan Randall's 28-yard touchdown pass to Ernest Wilford. While Randall threw a beautiful ball and Ernest Wilford made an incredible catch, I'm inclined to give the credit for Tech's first touchdown to the OL. Randall took but a three-step drop, and the line provided him with plenty of time to throw the ball. He got hit right after he threw it, but for the OL to give him Wilford the time to make his move and get down the field and Randall the time to survey the field and make the throw on only a three-step drop deserves special recognition.
While it didn't result in a touchdown, Marcus Vick threw a pass that gave me great hope for the future. With Vick taking the helm midway through the third quarter, his first pass of the half seemed to be designed to go downfield. His eyes went from the deep man, to the middle receiver, and finally his head tailed left and he picked up Steve Canter as his safety receiver, hitting him on a short flare pass that Canter took 13 yards for a first down. Great field vision, and great use of the outlet receiver.
Lastly, I wanted to single out someone who usually doesn't get noticed unless something goes wrong: The holder. On Carter Warley's 35-yard field goal near the end of the first half, Bobby Peaslee snagged a snap that was heading behind his back, grabbing it before it went past him and getting it down in plenty of time for Warley to knock it through the uprights. Yeah, the points weren't needed, but it's always great to see good hands in a holder like that.
So that's it on this week's Small Pleasures. Got something you noticed while watching that game that you think deserves to be highlighted? Bring it up on the board! See you next week as the Hokies look for pleasures big and small against the Rutgers Knights.