I watched the replay of the Virginia Tech game for the first time yesterday morning. Tivo is the most wonderful invention since the wheel, by the way. To review, when watching a game in real time, I watch the ball, like most people. When watching a replay of a game I've seen before, I watch specific players to see what they're doing and whether or not they're executing.
On the first replay, just like last week, I watched right tackle Carnell Stewart on offense and right defensive ends Kirston Pittman (no relation) and Rahim Alem.
Carnell Stewart was improved approximately 1000% from last week. He really struggled against Titus Brown last week, but was quite good against Virginia Tech. The only miscues were one false start penalty and a sack against. Other than those two plays, he was a very helpful member of the offensive line.
His best block of the night was on the play pictured above. Stewart got out to the second level of the defense and pancaked a Tech linebacker, helping to spring Keiland Williams for an electrifying touchdown run.
He also pass blocked very well, giving up only the one sack, but no further QB hurries or pressures.
Watching Stewart closely, he still has to work on getting blocks at the second level of the defense. As mentioned, he pancaked the linebacker to spring Williams for a touchdown, but on every other play which required him to block someone other than a lineman, he struggled to get his body on a defender.
When he was blocking a lineman, however, he did a very admirable job. He kept his man out of the backfield on running plays, and kept his man away from the QB on passing plays for the most part. I can't say he always kept his man from making a tackle, because it's not true, but he never let his man make a big play. He's not our best lineman, but he certainly didn't look out ofo place last night.
If I was grading him, I'd give him a B- for the Virginia Tech game. If that doesn't sound great, keep in mind that his grade in the Mississippi State game would charitably have been a D.
On defense, Kirston Pittman did a much better job of disrupting plays and making tackles than last time. He was really kept in check against MSU by left tackle Michael Brown, who usually kept him out of the play with a one-person block. In contrast, against Virginia Tech, Pittman spent a good bit of time in the backfield or chasing down a ball-carrier. He didn't make every play, of course. No one ever does. He was a much bigger factor against Virginia Tech, however.
Rahim Alem is clearly behind Kirston Pittman at this point. He is not as effective as Pittman when he's in the game, but he managed to get a sack on Saturday, which I believe is the first of his career.
Honestly, after watching the replay of the Virginia Tech game, I have a lot more respect for what MSU was able to do with us. Sure, our defense was very dominant against MSU, but their left tackle and right defensive end had excellent games against us, and were much better than their counterparts on Virginia Tech.