Virginia Tech Football: Fans Need To Board the Fire Bryan Stinespring Bandwagon

Johnathan CaceCorrespondent IOctober 20, 2010

Virginia Tech Football: Fans Need To Board the Fire Bryan Stinespring Bandwagon

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    Frank Beamer, left, needs to replace offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring if the Hokies are going to keep progressing.
    Frank Beamer, left, needs to replace offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring if the Hokies are going to keep progressing.

    This article was written to make a plea to all Hokie fans. You need to be on the bandwagon to fire Virginia Tech's offensive coordinator, Bryan Stinespring.

    The coaches talk about the online blogosphere and dismiss them as crazy fans, even sites with great analysis like firebryanstinespring.com. Getting called crazy by the coaches isn't something any Hokie fan wants but after the play calling against N.C. State, Stinespring forced everyone to speak up and speak loudly.

    For those who don't follow the program, the offense 'exploded' in recent weeks with Tech scoring 41 points against the Wolfpack, 45 against Central Michigan and 52 against Wake Forest. Shouldn't that hush some of the maroon and orange Kool-Aid drinkers? Shouldn't the offensive coordinator get some credit for scoring 138 points in three games?

    Almost none of the credit belongs to Bryan Stinespring. This article written at the beginning of the season is likely the last bit of credit he will ever get. The following slides will explain why.

The Hokies Offensive Identity

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    David Wilson doing what the Hokies do best, run the football.
    David Wilson doing what the Hokies do best, run the football.Elsa/Getty Images

    Virginia Tech has established itself as a defensive and special-teams oriented team. Offensively, Tech is a run first squad that wants to dominate the time of possession.

    It is a great identity to have and in many ways represents the Virginia Tech community and its values. And it's one shared by Big Ten school Wisconsin.

    Wisconsin and Virginia Tech are similar teams with similar identities – both have the run first mentality with stout defenses and loyal fan-bases. Comparing the two programs statistically, though, tells a different story.

Virginia Tech's Offensive Statistics

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    The Virginia Tech offense in picture form.
    The Virginia Tech offense in picture form.

    Virginia Tech has only averaged 380+ yards three times since Michael Vick left after the 2000 season.  They just broke the 400 yard average for this season after putting 605 yards on Wake Forest.

    And they haven’t beaten the goal of 380 by much in the past, going for 392.1 yards in 2009, 380.9 in 2005 and 401.8 in 2003.

    The ironic part is that 2003 was also the last time the Hokies didn’t have ten wins in a season. The defense was just bad that year.

    And here are a couple of additional side notes. Tech also won the Orange Bowl in 2008 with the 103rd ranked offense in the country. They actually averaged below 300 yards in 2006. Their record was 10-3 that year. They also finished third in the BCS standings going into bowl selection week with the 100th ranked offense in 2007.

Wisconsin's Offensive Statistics and the Difference It Makes

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    Wisconsin beats the number one team in the country. Virginia Tech loses to the third best.
    Wisconsin beats the number one team in the country. Virginia Tech loses to the third best.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Wisconsin on the other hand has had six seasons averaging 380+ yards a game in the same time frame. They have averaged over 400 yards per game every season since 2006 when they went 12-1.

    Twenty yards per game may not seem like much but football is a game of inches. What if Tech had scored another touchdown against Boston College in 2007? If they had converted another third down against USC or Auburn in 2004? If they had capitalized against Georgia Tech and UNC in 2009? If they had scored any points against Boise State in the first quarter this season?

    The lack of production on those plays broke each respective season and made the difference between being in the national title conversation and being the ‘Chokies.’ No one would be complaining if things had fallen into place in the big games for the Hokies but Stinespring has unequivocally proven he can neither sustain a functioning offense nor make the right call under pressure.

    Neither team wants to be a Houston, Nevada or Georgia Tech, teams that light up the scoreboard but use really odd schemes that teams won’t likely see the rest of the season. The Badgers haven’t lost their identity despite Paul Chryst taking over the offense for Wisconsin in 2005 (note he’s averaged 400+ every year except the first).

    So what's stopping Virginia Tech from doing the same thing?

The Hokies Can Only Go As Far As Bryan Stinespring Let's Them

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    He's been questioned by everyone, now there's definitive numbers to support them.
    He's been questioned by everyone, now there's definitive numbers to support them.

    It's definitely not a lack of talent. In early estimates, there are 7 NFL draft picks in the next two years on the offense alone: Ryan Williams, Darren Evans, David Wilson, Tyrod Taylor, Blake DeChristopher, Dyrell Roberts and Jarrett Boykin. Given all that talent, the Hokies should be putting up 600 yards per game, not just on homecoming.

    Wisconsin has less NFL ready talent than Virginia Tech but they just beat #1 Ohio State and only lost to upstart Michigan State. If it's not the talent, it has to be the coaching. And out of a coaching staff of Frank Beamer (who just tied former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler for 10th all-time with 234 wins) and Bud Foster (widely regarded as one of the top defensive coordinators in the country) and Bryan Stinespring, Stinespring is the weakest link.

    The next question becomes, can we prove that he makes enough mistake to account for the yard disparity? Thankfully, yes.

Stinespring's Season Trends

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    Stop laughing, Bryan. Your play calling isn't funny, it's just bad.
    Stop laughing, Bryan. Your play calling isn't funny, it's just bad.

    These are the statistics calculated from notes taken from videos of games (property of ESPN, no copyright intended). There is an error of about plus/minus 3% because of exhaustion. Stinespring’s trends throughout the season are simply astonishing.

    Season Trends – On drives that ended with a touchdown, field goal, missed field goal or turnover (especially poignant against JMU), Virginia Tech called a rush play 151 times and called a pass (QB scrambles and sacks included)l 129 times.  That’s 53.9% run.

    On drives that ended in a punt, Virginia Tech called a rush 67 times and called a pass 94 times (scrambles and sacks included.) That’s 41.6% run. This statistic was highlighted against N.C. State when 24 pass plays were called as opposed to 11 rushes on non-scoring drives. That’s a big difference, 12.3% to be exact.

    And that’s not because Tyrod’s inability to convert, he’s the most efficient passer in the ACC. And it isn’t accounted for by third and longs, the Hokies have only been in third and five or longer situation 43 times, 53.75% of the total third downs. 46.25% were third and less than 5 and just watch any highlight video to see how many third and longs Tyrod has converted by pure individual effort.

    When plays were called from the shotgun, a play pass is called 75.1% of the time (145 of 193). This was also highlighted against the Wolfpack when 31 shotgun plays were called and 28 of them were passes or 90.3% - more on that game later.

    On average, Tech gains only 68.6 yards over the average that team’s defense allows per game. They have only played two ranked teams and the second one just lost to East Carolina and is no longer ranked.

    Stinespring’s predictability should be blatantly apparent at this point, but he also cannot make the right decision under pressure. He has made play calling mistakes that have been game changing, and/or displayed idiotic tendencies throughout every game this season.

Trends Against Boise State

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    This could have been the Virginia Tech fans if we had converted the second to last third down.
    This could have been the Virginia Tech fans if we had converted the second to last third down.Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    Third down and eight with 2:06 left in the fourth quarter. The Broncos have no timeouts and converting the first down seals a 30-26 victory for the Hokies. What does Stinespring do? Call a 20 yard go route to Jarrett Boykin.

    Tyrod had to throw the ball after two seconds, taking no time off the clock and giving Taylor no option to scramble. This gives the Broncos a minute and forty seven seconds to score. And they do.

    Then they throw 50 yard bombs twice when trying to get a field goal to send the game into overtime.

Trends Against James Madison

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    This should have never happened. Ever.
    This should have never happened. Ever.

    The Hokies ran for an incredible 8.6 yards per carry. But rather than keep running the ball like he usually does, Bryan decided to switch things up and gives Taylor 24 throws and 16 rushes (14 scrambles) for a total of forty plays. Darren Evans and David Wilson get a combined 21 rushes. In the rain.

    What happened to the 2008 Maryland game when Darren had 32 carries for 7.9 yards per carry by himself? The only logical thing to do, of course, would be to cut his carries in half when he is averaging 10.7. And only give it to his speedster of a partner the ball 6 times.

    There were eight total drives in that game. One was extended by a personal foul, two were extended by Tyrod’s amazing scrambling capabilities, two ended on poor play calls (needed 2, went for TD; needed 4, ran for 0), and two ended on passes that would not have gotten the first down even if they were completed. That is almost the definition of crumbling under pressure.

    And they also lost and only scored 16 points. To a FCS team.

Trends Against East Carolina

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    The Hokies had a reason to celebrate with a win over ECU. But it was far from a spectacular performance.
    The Hokies had a reason to celebrate with a win over ECU. But it was far from a spectacular performance.Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    After getting called out on national television in the Boise State vs. Oregon State game (how pathetic is that?) on the number of rushes called on first down (77.8% at the time to lead the country – wow), Bryan decides to switch things up by running play action plays on first down. I’ve wanted him to call those plays for weeks.

    Oh, wait. He called a play action pass of over 20 yards five times out of 10 when Tech had more than 45 yards to score a touchdown – on first downs alone. They all happened before the eleven minute mark in the fourth quarter when Tyrod’s play action bomb miraculously came to Jarrett Boykin in double coverage who ran it for a touchdown.

    In the course of the game, 12 20+ yard passes were called. Three were completed, four Tyrod had to scramble and five went incomplete. When the ball was actually thrown, 20+ yard passes averaged 8.9 yards. Darren Evans averaged 9.1 yards. When Tyrod had to scramble on those passes, he averaged 13.75 yards. Yet Evans only had 10 rushes and Taylor had nine.

Trends Against Boston College

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    There weren't many offensive highlights but the defense played well, giving the Hokies their first shutout since 2006.
    There weren't many offensive highlights but the defense played well, giving the Hokies their first shutout since 2006.Elsa/Getty Images

    The Hokies were forced into field goals four different times and only found the end zone once in the game. Three of the field goals were from inside the Eagles’ 15.

    Their defense is good but when you out gain them by just under 100 yards, win the time of possession by seven minutes and only put up 19 points, something is up.

Trends Against N.C. State

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    Darren Evans averages 10.7 yards per carry and David Wilson averages six yards per carry. Yet they were only allowed to run the ball 34.4% of the time.  Through all of Tech’s scoring drives, there were 16 rushes as opposed to 10 passes. In all other drives, 24 passes and 11 runs.  That’s a difference of 30.1%.

    Stinespring was also called out by an ESPN announcer during the game on a play he designed. There was no route to lure the linebackers away so instead getting a twenty yard pass and a first down, the Hokies lost yards.

Trends Against Central Michigan

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    This was his worst game, in my opinion.

    This was just an extension of the N.C. State game, just against a much worse opponent. David Wilson averages 12.5 yards per run and Darren Evans has five yards per run. The typical run-happy Bryan Stinespring gives them the ball seven times each during the game. He called 30 passes as opposed to 18 runs.

    In a comeback win over N.C. State, yes, calling more passes makes sense.  But they came back against the Wolfpack using the run, not the pass. Against Central Michigan, putting your do-it-all quarterback in unnecessary compromising situations is dumb. Especially when your running backs are averaging 8.75 yards per carry.

    Oh, and they went 0 for 8 on third downs.

Trends Against Wake Forest

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    This was Jim Grobe's face for almost the entirety of the game against VT. Giving up 49 in the first half will do that to you.
    This was Jim Grobe's face for almost the entirety of the game against VT. Giving up 49 in the first half will do that to you.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The coaches talked about how they don’t want Tyrod to get injured.  In the world of Bryan Stinespring, that means give Tyrod seven straight pass plays and no rushes on a single drive when up 42 - 14. He barely had to play in the second half because the Hokies put up 49 points on the Deacons by the half.

    By the way, he has a splint on his wrist this week. Because of an injury suffered in the second half when he shouldn't have been playing.

    Also, Wake’s defense is last in the ACC and 111 of 120 in the country. They gave up 68 points and 535 yards to Stanford, 31 points and 485 yards against Florida State and 48 points and 487 yards to Duke. Comparatively, 52 points and 605 yards is not as amazing as some might think, though the fact that we broke 600 easily is fantastic and commendable.

There's More Criticism Where That Came From

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    Throughout the course of the season, there was one relatively shining moment for Stinespring and it happened just last week.

    Seriously? This is the offensive coordinator for a team that has won 10 games six seasons in a row?

    People complained last year and year before about how we ran too much.  But now that it’s working, we pass more than we run. Instead of 'if it ain't broke don't fix it,' Bryan goes by 'if it's broke don't fix it. And if it's working, break it.'

    It’s honestly mind boggling how predictable and idiotic the offense has become. And yet Virginia Tech still has the second longest streak of ten win seasons behind Texas. Hokie Nation loves you, Bud Foster.

    Even former defensive player Purnell Sturdivant called out Stinespring while he was still on the team. And he claims he’s not the only one on the team. And then there was this year from David Wilson and how he was not getting enough carries.

    Then he brings it on himself when he tells the media he let his son call some red zone plays. The ones that worked. He knows what people think about him so why would he joke about that? None of this is surprising, not anymore.

    And to top it all off, Bryan Stinespring himself said he hasn't done a good job coaching.

    The only positive thing I’ve ever heard about Stinespring are his recruiting capabilities. But when the players he recruits are upset about how the offense runs, doesn’t that defeat the entire recruiting process?

    How exactly does someone sell a program to recruits that players within said program have called out? And in a broader sense, or how does one sell an entire fan base on a tried and tested failure of a strategy?

Is 2010 Stinespring's Last Year?

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    The answer is you don't.

    College football is a sport dominated by revenue, as clearly displayed in this summer’s conference merry-go-round where basketball powerhouse Kansas was a phone call away from not being in a big-6 conference. And that money comes from television revenue and alumni donations.

    This year that crucial second part of the equation may finally have enough of an influence to get Stinespring fired despite Frank Beamer’s undying loyalty to his coaching staff. They respect the loyalty to his friends but feel that as a head coach, your first loyalty is to the team.

    And others agree that2010 could be a make or break year for Bryan.The straw, albeit a very heavy straw, that broke the camel’s back was Tech’s loss to JMU in Lane Stadium.

    It was arguably the worst loss in Hokie history, with the only other remotely close loss was against a horrendous Temple team in 1998. This was the status quo in 1980, not 2010. This is status quo for a team that only appears in the top 25 every few years. This is no longer acceptable at Virginia Tech.

Where Virginia Tech Is Trying to Go

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    Admittedly, Hokie nation has been spoiled by a coaching staff that routinely turns lumpy rocks of recruits into sparkling gemstones. And it’s been spoiled by conference championships and ten win seasons.

    But finishing in second place can only satisfy the thirst for greatness for a small period of time. That time has expired. Hokie nation wants to have a team who consistently is in the hunt for the national title.

    The goal is no longer the Coastal division or ACC title – it's the big one.

    The talent is there but the Hokies consistently find ways to lose marquee games. And 99 times out of 100, that fault lies falls squarely on the offensive and OC Bryan Stinespring.

    They want to be mentioned with perennial powerhouses like Texas, USC, Alabama and Ohio State. And with the recent decline of premier programs like Notre Dame and Michigan, the time to capitalize is now.

    Six of the teams in the preseason AP top 10 lost a game and Boise is not one of them. Virginia Tech could be in the top three, arguably first, if we had an offensive coordinator who could come through in the clutch and turn unnecessary losses into wins. The Hokies are now 25thand on the verge of losing our 10-win season streak.

This Is the Logical Thing to Do

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    I may have to buy one of these.
    I may have to buy one of these.

    Virginia Tech was willing to make a gutsy call at the beginning of the year to not let speedster David Wilson redshirt. The reasoning was that the coaches wanted their best players on the field at once.

    Using that same exact logic – logic that has benefited the Hokies greatly this season – Bryan Stinespring needs to be removed from his position as offensive coordinator. And that’s being nice, because he has been involved on the offensive line in some capacity since 1993 and the line has been far and away the worst unit from year to year.

    Virginia Tech has needed a running quarterback the past decade because our line simply cannot block adequately enough to protect pocket passers. Sean Glennon wasn’t as awful as some Tech fans made him out to be, but he just wasn’t mobile enough to get the play off in time under pressure that came too often and too quickly.

    Now that dual-threat quarterbacks are rapidly taking over college and professional football, teams are becoming better and better prepared to handle the added threat. This doesn't bode well for the Hokies.

    Tyrod Taylor has played amazingly well this season, and without his uncanny ability to escape pressure, the Hokies would be far worse off than five and two. He’d be in the Heisman race if it weren’t for a couple of botched calls that would have turned losses into wins. And definitely forget about the two conference championships and Orange Bowl appearances in 2007 and 2008.

Conclusion

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    Conspiracy theorists are considered crazy until one of them is right. It’s the same with the college football. The ‘crazy’ Hokie blogosphere – and every other Hokie fan across the globe – has every right to complain about the play calling. What exactly has to be done to make someone make the right decision when the facts are so blatantly obvious?

    The best we can do is stand together and say enough is enough.

    Enough with the excuses from Frank Beamer. Enough with the predictability and unnecessary losses. Enough with being a team who drops out of the national title conversation midway through the season. Enough with the BS.

    Will enough have changed by next season to allow a talented team on both sides of the football to take the next step as a program? Or will poor play calling handicap rookie quarterback Logan Thomas and leave the Hokies on the outside looking in. Again.

    It’s a question that can’t be answered until the season opener in 2011, but there is one variable that can be taken out of the equation based on clear factual evidence and historical proof. And it can be done with one quick and easy decision.

    Fire Bryan Stinespring. He can no longer be the offensive coordinator of the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Final Notes

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    Thanks for the read and PLEASE comment!
    Thanks for the read and PLEASE comment!

    Please leave comments either on here or my Twitter account @VT_CaceClosed. Follow me for up to date news on Hokie sports as well as links to other Tech articles. This should be an open discussion because no one has a personal vendetta against anyone, people just want the best for their team. Please challenge the statistics if you feel they are inaccurate and any rebuttal against them that seems legitimate will be reviewed for accuracy. Thanks for reading!

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