Virginia Tech 50, Arkansas State 0
by Will Stewart,, 9/27/97

Click here for the game recap with stats

Note from Will: I wasn't able to attend this game, but from talking to other Hokies, listening to the radio, and reading the papers, here's what I was able to put together.

Despite all the griping about our schedule, sleepy little games like this are necessary, if only once a year. They give the team a week off from the intensity of conference play, they give the home fans an opportunity to meander into the stadium instead of rushing away from the tailgate, but most importantly ... they give the backups some serious playing time.

The downside to massacres like this is that they don't do anything to enhance your all-important "reputation," and if you're particularly unlucky, one or more of your starters goes down with an injury.

Another Look at Our Goals

Let's play the same game as last week and take a look at the goals I set for the Hokies at the end of the Syracuse game. These goals were for the four-game set of Temple, ASU, Miami (OH), and Boston College:

  • Win - there was no doubt that the Hokies would win this one. Arkansas State is a very, very, very, very (insert infinity "very's" here) bad team. It was just a question of how ugly it would get. I thought the 50-0 final score was just about right. We didn't run it up, and in fact, the Hokies actually let the clock run out at the end of the game with the ball on the ASU one-yard line. ASU coach Joe Hollis praised Beamer and the Hokies after the game, and you can bet he wouldn't have done that if we had crammed the ball in the end zone, Spurrier-style.
  • Hone the defense and move it up in the statistical rankings - how does (-28) yards rushing for Arkansas State sound? The Hokies are now 20th in the country in rushing defense, at 88.3 yards per game. Tech is 21st in total defense (279.3 yards per game), 5th in the all-important scoring defense (8.8 per game), and 4th in turnover margin (+2.5 per game).
  • Develop depth in the offensive line and improve the passing game - the backup OL played about 1-1/2 quarters, which is great to see, because Kadela, Lehr, Carter, Short, and company all need to log some playing time in preparation for next year. As for the passing game, Al Clark continues to put up stats that blow the passing efficiency meter off the scale. He was 11-14 (with one drop) for 177 yards, 2 TD's, and once again, 0 INT's. For the season, Al is 31-51 for 527 yards, 5 TD's, and 1 INT. I don't have his QB rating handy, but it's huge. Al does not show up in the NCAA rankings because you have to have 15 attempts per game, and he is only averaging just under 13. For him to hit the magical number of 15 per game, he will have to throw 24 passes against Miami (OH) this weekend.
  • Move up in the polls - no progress here, but it's not Tech's fault. There was a dearth of Top-20 games this past weekend, and no one in front of Tech played a tough opponent. The top 15 spots or so in each poll remained unchanged, so Tech is still #12 in the coaches poll and #14 in the AP poll.
  • Put the Ox on his way to a 1,000-yard season - Oxendine carried only 10 times for 45 yards, and after he got his TD, he was out of there. That's a good move, because it prevents injury, and Lamont Pegues got plenty of PT (15 carries for 94 yards). Parker only ran 6 times for 45 yards.
  • Stay healthy - Bingo! No major injuries, and in fact, the Hokies took the opportunity to rest John Engelberger, Pierson Prioleau, and both whip linebackers on the two-deep roster, Korey Irby and Cory Bird. This means that redshirt freshman Sean Ruffing got the snaps at the whip spot, and by all accounts, he played well.

So we got what we wanted out of this one. The Hokies got the shutout without pouring it on Arkansas State. They won with class, and most importantly, Frank Beamer, who has been the man for several years now in Hokie hearts, is now THE MAN in the statistics as well. My one major disappointment about missing this game is that I didn't get to see Beamer's 65th victory, the one that made him the winningest football coach all-time at Virginia Tech.

Ewww, Look at That Mole on Cindy Crawford's Cheek!

That's my way of saying that I'm about to dig down deep and find something bad about this game, which is no mean feat with a 50-0 victory.

Let's see here ... hmmm ... nope ... no, that looks good ... hmmm...ah, here it is!

13 penalties for 113 yards.

I'm telling you, this team is out of control. It is completely undisciplined, and they're going to lose at least 4 games this year because they can't play without committing a dumb penalty every 5 minutes. If there's one flaw in Beamer's coaching ability, it's the fact that he is completely unable to teach his players how to play under control and not commit stupid infractions.

Ha! Gotcha! Just kidding! (now let's see if some industrious visitor from another team cuts and pastes that paragraph into another web site)

Let's see, what else? Oh, yeah, the real bummer in this game is the fact that Shayne Graham missed the first extra point of his career. Opie will one day be the career scoring leader here at Virginia Tech, but I'm sure he'll wake up in cold sweats for the rest of his life, remembering the extra point that he missed against Arkansas State in his sophomore year ... and how it changed his life.

Hey, give me break here. I'm really trying to be serious about this. Really.

A Couple of Impressive Backups

Sure, a lot of second and third stringers got to play in this game, but the two players that everyone was talking about after the game were Lamont Pegues and Nick Sorensen.

If you remember, I was blown away by Pegues in the Spring game. I said "believe the hype!" His performance this year has been less than remarkable going into this game, as he posted 27 carries for 84 yards, an unimpressive 3.1 yards per carry average. Even in the midst of all that, though, a few Hokies told me that they could see the potential he was showing, and Bill Roth was highly impressed, praising Pegues several times after statistically average performances.

Apparently, given the opportunity to carry the ball 15 times in a game, Lamont was more impressive against Arkansas State. One Hokie told me, "You know, I think he hits the hole faster than Oxendine, and he's shifty when he gets into the secondary."

Right on both counts. Billy Hite raves about Pegues, saying that he may be the best runner he's ever coached, and we here at Tech know that Billy's seen a few good ones. It's nice to see Lamont get his due and get his carries in a game.

As for Sorensen, I can't remember if I've said this on the site before, so I'll say it now - I've got a good feeling about him. I think he'll do well. I don't have any particular reason for saying so, other than the fact that he won his class in last summer's Ironman competition, and I'm kind of fond of QB's who do well in the Ironman. In his limited playing time against Rutgers and Arkansas State, Nick has played well and thrown the ball well.

He also has excellent speed for a quarterback, speed which he flashed on one particular run that went for about 20-30 yards. If I remember correctly, he was clocked at 4.5 in the 40-yard dash. Sorensen, a redshirt-freshman, stands 6-3 and weighs 195, and I'd like to see him get that weight up to at least 220 by the time he is ready to take the starting reins two years from now (assuming that Al makes it through without injury and none of the incoming quarterbacks steal the backup job from Sorensen).

I like the current pattern that Tech is developing of having a redshirt junior QB ready to step into the job. Will Furrer started as a (true?) freshman at Tech, and Maurice DeShazo started as a sophomore. Neither one was ready for the job at that point in their careers. Druck was a redshirt, prep-school junior, and I think we can all agree that he was ready from day one. Similarly, Al Clark, a redshirt, prep-school junior (age 22) also seems to be ready for the job that was handed to him this year.

Two years from now, Nick Sorensen will be a redshirt junior. Are you getting my point?

If Tech wants to take their place as a national power in football, I think we can't have a policy of plugging mistake-prone freshmen and sophomores into the quarterback job. For the hundredth time, with our defense and our running game, the quarterback's first priority is to play mistake-free football. Druck was the best at that, and Clark, so far, has been even better.

Next Week's Opponent

Since I didn't attend the game, I'm having a hard time coming up with any further comments on it, so I thought I would turn our attention to next week's opponent, the Miami (OH) Redhawks.

If you're making the mistake of grouping Arkansas State, Miami (OH), and UAB into one large group and defining them as our "crappy out of conference schedule," you probably need to do yourself a favor and remove Miami from that group.

I made the statement in my 1997 football preview that this game doesn't make me quiver in my boots, and I predicted a 35-14 win by the Hokies. I'm standing by both of those statements, but one thing is true about Miami: they ain't no Arkansas State.

Last week, the Redhawks played Army. Army, which runs the wishbone, had the #1 rushing offense in the country going into the game, averaging over 400 yards on the ground. Miami limited them to 261 yards on 61 carries and whipped Army, 38-14. The Redhawks also threw for 270 yards and two TD's, while running for 154 yards on 36 carries.

Miami is 3-1. Other than Army, the other two victories were over Ball State and Akron, while the loss was to Bowling Green. So while I'm warning you that the Redhawks aren't pushovers, the Hokies probably don't need to bring their A-game in order to win. A B+ will probably do it. But remember that one of the goals for this stretch of games was to win big, so the A game would be much preferred by this Hokie.

Tech should be close to 100% healthy for this one, so the Redhawks are going to have the displeasure of dealing with John Engelberger and a healthy Hokie D. If we're "lucky," the game will be slightly tight, and Beamer and Bustle will be able to exercise the Hokie passing game more than they could against Arkansas State. As long as no one gets hurt, we win, and the final score is impressive, I'll be happy.

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