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Rivalry Week

Posted at 8:00 am on Saturday, November 24th, 2007 by Vince

[The following post was published at on November 23, 2007.]

This is it: Rivalry Week. It started last weekend with Ohio State and Michigan squaring off in Ann Arbor, continues through Thanksgiving, and culminates on Saturday. Arkansas at LSU, Texas at Texas A&M, Georgia at Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, and Florida State at Florida are just a handful of familiar long-time foes battling it out on the gridiron this weekend for bragging rights. Most of those don’t mean very much on the national scene, but there are a few others that do. How about Missouri and Kansas facing off for a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game and a chance to play for the National Championship? The stakes can not be much higher than that game. Of course, our Virginia Tech Hokies play a fairly high-stakes game this Saturday at Virginia. The winner advances to the ACC Championship Game and the loser does nothing but wait until the bowl invitations are announced.

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is past. In many ways it seems like yesterday that I made my first road trip of the football season for the opening game versus East Carolina. Now the holiday season is staring me down. Before I know it, Christmas 2007 will be a memory, the 2007 college football season will be in the books, and we’ll be in the middle of basketball season. Where has the season gone? It truly has been a roller coaster ride that has brought us to November and the best football we’ve seen the Hokies play this season. Now, with the regular season all but in the books, and a trip to Jacksonville on the line, Virginia Tech takes on Virginia.

I’ve spent a little too much time observing various message boards this week, and it’s quite easy to let yourself get aggravated when visiting the other teams’ boards. With both teams playing well, and so much on the line, the fans are a little extra pumped for this one, and online forums allow people to take on personality traits they wouldn’t otherwise have. Simply put, internet message boards can sometimes bring out the worst in people. Before it sounds like I’m getting soap-boxy, I’ll stop, because it is not my intention to rant about evil messages boards and the internet. I bring that up because maybe it explains why so many (on both sides) sound cocky about Saturday’s game. There are some Hokies and Hoos alike who exude overconfidence that I just can’t get into. Rivalry games can change how teams play, so I’m really not sure what to expect this Saturday.

That said, I do admit that both sides have reasons to be confident. Both played some of their best football in their last games, both are 9-2 overall, both are ranked in the polls fairly high, and both defenses are playing at a high level. If I were a Virginia fan, I’d be confident because my team has found ways to win. We Hokies can rail on the Hoos all we want about their soft schedule and poor offensive numbers, but at the end of the day Virginia has found ways to win a number of very close games. Winning brings a team together and instills confidence despite shortcomings. Like or it not, Virginia has won just as many games as the Hokies, and the Cavaliers finally seemed to break loose in their last game when they pasted Miami 48-0.

As a Virginia Tech fan, I’m confident in the Hokies because they are not the same team that I watched get spanked by LSU in the second weekend of the season. They are healthy, the offense is clicking, and they are putting lots of points on the board. The Hokies have won five of their last six games in convincing fashion. Gone are the 17-7 and 17-10 wins, now we have seen 27-3, 40-21, and 44-14. We have also seen the Hokies respond to adversity on the field. Both Miami and Florida State crawled back in the game in the third quarters, but Tech shut them down in the fourth. The Hokies will not be scared if this game is close in the third quarter.

If you ask me, Virginia Tech is a better team on paper. I think any reasonable college football fan would agree with me on that. The Hokies have played more quality opponents, and they have better numbers overall. However, I won’t be calling this an easy win for Tech, and I expect the Cavs to give us their best shot on Saturday.

Quick Hits

  • If you thought our rivalry was intense, or if you thought the Ohio State vs. Michigan rivalry was intense, think again. The Wall Street Journal reported on the bitter rivalry between Kansas and Missouri. Long story short: that rivalry goes back to the Civil War days where towns in each state were pillaged by raiders from the other. After reading the article, the term “Jayhawk” doesn’t seem so cuddly anymore.
  • With reports of the BCS commissioners possibly expanding the “at large” pool from the top 14 to the top 18, Tech’s chances of an at-large BCS in the event of a loss in the ACC Championship Game may greatly improve. Heck, the Hokies might stay in the top 18 and receive an at-large bid should they lose to Virginia. Each team’s bowl situation is very much a subplot of Saturday’s game.
  • After the Hokies started sluggishly, the quarterback position was debated relentlessly, and folks thought whoever was under center might be a liability. Looking back on the season, nothing has been further from the truth. Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor have thrown only four interceptions so far this season. Glennon threw one pick against East Carolina and one at LSU. Taylor threw one against North Carolina and one against Florida State. On the flip side of the ball, Jameel Sewell has thrown eight interceptions this year.
  • I hate to admit it, but I just can’t get into the rivalry like some folks on the message boards. While I want to see Tech beat Virginia every time they play each other in every sport, I just don’t feel the amount of hate that bitter rivals are supposed to feel. Life is too short to let one football game get me bent out of shape. Maybe my lack of animosity towards Virginia is because one of my sisters is a Virginia alum, and she does not fit the stereotype that we have of Virginia folks. Perhaps it’s the outpouring of support we received from UVA in the aftermath of April 16th. Heck, maybe I have gotten soft because I moved to Charlottesville last year and the Wahoos have rubbed off on me. If you see me drinking a Zima at a tailgate this weekend, feel free to punch me in the neck.

Excorcising the demons

Posted at 7:00 pm on Friday, November 16th, 2007 by Vince

[The following post was published at on November 16, 2007.]

As the final seconds ticked off the game clock last Saturday at the end of the Florida State game, I could almost hear Tangina from Poltergeist declare to the Hokie Nation that “This house is clean.” We could finally sing, “Ding Dong, the witch is dead!” The proverbial monkey was finally off of our collective back. It had been over 30 years since the last time we beat Florida State – in fact, Coach Beamer had never beat Bobby Bowden – but the last three losses to those hated ‘Noles were particularly bitter. As new members of the ACC, Florida State was the only team we had yet to conquer on the gridiron as an ACC peer.

Those last three games against Florida State (’99 National Championship Game, ’01 Gator Bowl, and ’05 ACC Championship Game) were certainly on our minds last Saturday, and the emotional release after the win punctuated that point. Even though the win was barely a blip on the college football radar, the fact that the students rushed the field after the game demonstrated what the win meant to the program. The Seminoles had seemed to be our nemesis team: when we played them the stakes were high, Bobby Bowden managed to out-Beamer the Hokies, and Tech lost. The 40-21 victory over the Seminoles exorcised those demons, and the Hokies can now only look towards the future.

What exactly does the future hold? Two of the Hokies’ most familiar foes are the only opponents remaining on the regular season slate. Tech has faced Miami every season since 1992, and they have faced Virginia every season since 1970. Recent history has been kind to the Hokies as they are 3-1 against each the last 4 years, but these aren’t your big brother’s ‘Canes and ‘Hoos. Miami has lost their last 2 games, and 4 of their last 5, including a 48-0 woodshed beating at the hands of the Cavaliers. At 5-5, they still need to win one more game to become bowl eligible. With Virginia Tech and Boston College remaining, Miami’s postseason fate remains very much in jeopardy. Meanwhile, Virginia, who had been the posterboy of mediocrity the last few years, has scratched and clawed their way to be amongst the ACC elite. Following an embarrassing loss at Wyoming the first week of the season, the Wahoos went to work and flew under the radar to a 9-2 record with only the Hokies standing in their way to a trip to Jacksonville at the end of the season. Who would’ve thought that the regular season finale in Charlottesville would mean so much?

As for Saturday’s game against Miami, it’s hard to believe that a game against the Hurricanes could mean so little in the grand scheme of things. Virginia Tech’s win over Florida State eliminated Miami from the division race before the ‘Canes could eliminate themselves by losing to UVA. There have been so many memorable games between Tech and Miami that have meant so much. The 43-10 smackdown we gave them in Blacksburg in 1999, the 41-21 loss they handed to us a year later when it was #2 vs #3, the Earnest Wilford drop in 2001 when Miami was #1 on their way to a national championship, and the 31-7 beating we handed to them in 2003 when they where #2 are just a few of some of the great games played between the two schools.

This time Miami isn’t ranked, and the outcome of the game will not affect our quest for an ACC Championship. Even with the reduced stakes, I can’t help but to feel excited about Saturday’s game. Saturday is senior day for one of the more memorable senior classes Virginia Tech football has seen. The likes of Vince Hall, Xavier Adibi, Chris Ellis, Duane Brown, and Eddie Royal will be playing their last game in Lane Stadium. In addition to that, this season has made a turn for the better since the nasty loss to LSU, and this will be the last time that most of the fans will get see this team in person.

At 8-2, the Hokies are just two wins away from yet another 10-win season, and the Hokies control their own fate for their bid at a second ACC Championship. Those dark weeks following the loss in Baton Rouge are nothing but a distant memory, and Tech put together some very nice wins. Even with the QB swap-a-roo (which I have warmed up to), I get the feeling that the team is starting to hit their stride. Hopefully they will build on this momentum and win four more games this season.

Quick Hits

  • Did you catch Bobby Bowden’s comments about last weekend’s game? The Roanoke Times reported that the game was one of the three worst physical whippings suffered by any of his teams during his coaching career. That is some high praise, although I’m not entirely surprised by it. That was one of the hardest hitting games I think I’ve ever witnessed.
  • ACC Championship Game update: Things are much clearer now. The winner of next week’s Virginia Tech vs Virginia game will play the winner of this week’s Boston College vs Clemson game.
  • How about Maryland? Just when I thought they’d end the year with a losing record and have to stay home for the holidays, they pull off one of the biggest upsets in the ACC by knocking off Boston College. They are now 5-5 overall, and with Florida State and N.C. State remaining they have a legit shot at getting bowl eligible.
  • While Miami has looked bad the last few weeks, I don’t expect Saturday’s game to be an easy win for the Hokies. It’s a rivalry game, and I get the “wounded animal” sense from the Hurricanes. They were embarrassed last week, and they’re going want to prove to themselves that they’re not that bad.
  • Yet another #2 goes down. While writing this column, I watched Arizona upset #2 Oregon on Thursday night. They’re the fourth #2 team to lose this season. (Not to mention the #1′s have been upset.) This has truly been a fun year to watch college football, and I don’t have a clue who’s going to make it to the National Championship Game.

Hokies Thank the World event – Nov 17

Posted at 11:46 am on Friday, November 9th, 2007 by Vince

I saw this posted on a few message boards, so I thought I’d help spread the word:

Hokies Thank the World

The event is free and open to the public. Please arrive on time and visit the check-in tent on the drillfield. Wear something Orange or Maroon (preferred but not required), and dress appropriately for the weather. Jackets may be laid on the ground during the satellite and helicopter operations.

The Hokies Thank the World event takes place on Saturday, November 17, the morning of the Virginia Tech – Miami game in Blacksburg. Join fellow Hokies on the Drillfield as part of your gameday activities!

The “Hokies Thank the World” event will bring together thousands of Hokies on the Virginia Tech Drillfield to spell out a message of thanks to the world in recognition of the global outpouring of support and love for the Virginia Tech community following the events of April 16. The message of thanks will be recorded by ground, aerial, and satellite imagery and will be shared with the world through The event will take place on November 17, 2007 beginning at 10:35am and ending at approximately 11:12am on the Virginia Tech Drillfield in Blacksburg, Virginia. All are invited to participate in this community-wide effort to thank the world. The event will take place rain or shine. In the event of cloud cover, the satellite imagery may not be collected, but aerial imagery will be collected as scheduled.

ACC Divisional Scenarios

Posted at 8:00 am on Friday, November 9th, 2007 by Vince

[The following post was published at on October 29, 2007.]

Unfortunately, I don’t have much of a blog update for this week. Work has been busy, and I haven’t had much time to write. Instead of leaving my readers empty handed, I took a few minutes to go over the various scenarios for both division races in the ACC. While there are three teams with just one conference loss, there are still a number of teams who can still win their division for a shot at the ACC Champsionship.

Here is what we know:

  • NC State and Maryland have been eliminated from the Atlantic Division race.
  • North Carolina, Georgia Tech, and Duke have been eliminated from the Coastal race
  • Boston College and Clemson control their respective destinies in the Atlantic
  • Virginia Tech and Virginia control their respective destinies in the Coastal

The situation in the Coastal division is the more simple of the two, so I will start with it.

Virginia (5-1): The Cavaliers are in the driver’s seat of the Coastal. Regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s game at Miami, UVA will advance to the ACC Championship Game if they beat Virginia Tech on the last weekend of the regular season. If Virginia loses to Virginia Tech, they can back into the division title if they beat Miami, the Hokies lose back to back games to Florida State and Miami, and Miami loses their season finale to Boston College.

Virginia Tech (4-1): Virginia Tech also controls their own destiny in the Coastal Division. If the Hokies beat either Miami or Florida State, and then beat the Wahoos in Charlottesville on November 24th, then Virginia Tech will earn a trip to Jacksonville. If Miami beats Virginia this weekend, then the Hokies can still win the division if they lose to both Florida State and Miami provided Tech beats Virginia and the Hurricanes lose their season finale to Boston College. There is no scenario that allows Virginia Tech to go to the ACC Championship Game with a loss in Charlottesville.

Miami (2-3): Miami can still win the Coastal Division, but they would need some assistance by the Hokies. In order for the Hurricanes to earn a trip to Jacksonville they would need to win out (Virginia, at Virginia Tech, at Boston College), and Virginia Tech would have to beat Virginia at the end of the season after losing to both Florida State and Miami. This would create a three-way tie for first at 5-3, and Miami would win the tiebreaker because they would have beat both Tech and UVA. (Note: even though it’s possible North Carolina wins out and finishes at 5-3 to fit into that first place tie, Miami would still win the tiebreakers.)

While the Atlantic Division looks just as simple with Boston College leading, things can get pretty interesting if BC stumbles down the stretch. Because there there are actually a ton of permutations for the Atlantic crown right now, I’m going to go through the easiest path to the ACC Championship Game for the teams in contention there.

Boston College (4-1): BC still resides all alone at the top of the Atlantic Division. They just need to beat Clemson and beat either Maryland or Miami. This would put the Eagles at 6-2 or better with the possible tiebreakers over Clemson and Wake Forest should there be a tie for first place.

Clemson (4-2): Clemson has Wake Forest and Boston College remaining on their ACC schedule. If the Tigers beat them both, they would finish at 6-2, with a possible tiebreaker over BC, and Clemson would earn a trip to Jacksonville.

Wake Forest (4-2): While Wake has a good ACC record, they need a little help in order to advance the ACC Championship Game. Wake Forest needs to beat Clemson and North Carolina State to finish at 6-2. Because the Demon Deacons lost to Boston College in week 1, they would also need the Eagles to lose at least two of their last three games.

Florida State (3-3): Assuming I did my math correctly, it is still possible for Florida State to make to the ACC Championship Game. In addition to winning their two remaining ACC games (at Virginia Tech, and vs Maryland), the Seminoles need a whole lot of help from the divison rivals. Boston College would have to lose Maryland and Miami, but the Eagles would need to beat Clemson. Clemson would have to lose to Wake Forest and BC. Wake Forest would have to beat Clemson, but lose to NC State. North Carolina State would have to win out. This would create a four-way tie for first at 5-3, and the Seminoles would win the tiebreakers.

The situation in the Atlantic will become much more clear this weekend. Wake Forest and Clemson square off on Saturday in what is essentially an elimination game, and Florida State travels to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech. Come Sunday, the Atlantic could very well be a two horse race.

Post passwords

Posted at 8:49 pm on Monday, October 29th, 2007 by Vince

FYI – Don’t be alarmed by the passwords I’m using to protect new posts. Posts are only protected for a few days after they’re published on

Reflecting on the BC loss

Posted at 8:30 pm on Monday, October 29th, 2007 by Vince

[The following post was published at on October 29, 2007.]

The build-up to Thursday night’s game was palpable during the week and a half following the Hokies victory over Duke. Boston College had reached #2 in the rankings, and the Hokie Nation was ready to knock them off in a Thursday night game on ESPN. A quiet confidence seemed to permeate the fans, the coaches, and the players. Although we were banged up, we knew we could beat Boston College, and Thursday didn’t seem to arrive quick enough. During the wait, Boston College head coach Jeff Jagodzinski got sick of hearing about how tough it was to play in Lane Stadium on a Thursday night. He bristled at the suggestion that the crowd would affect the game. “They have lights,” Jagodzinski had stated, suggesting that’s all they needed for a night game. Virginia Tech fans took his comments as a lack of respect for the hostile environment for which they were responsible. Messages boards buzzed, Facebook groups were created, and Hokie Nation was hellbent on making Lane Stadium roar with the ferocity of past seasons

When Thursday night finally arrived with cool weather and lots of rain, the fans were not deterred, and I got to experience one of the most entertaining 55 minutes of football I’ve ever seen in Lane Stadium. Virginia Tech’s offense made few mistakes, they even had some success running the ball, the defense absolutely stifled Matt Ryan’s high powered passing attack, and the Hokie crowd was as raucous as I’ve ever seen. The driving rain seemed to stir the fans’ spirits and make us yell even louder. The cool air could not penetrate our determination to do whatever we could to positively affect the outcome of the game.

For virtually the entire game, we felt like we were succeeding.

Then it happened. I cannot pinpoint exactly when or what it was, but I realized “it” happened when it was too late. We took our collective foot off the gas. Was it when Vince Hall was whoopin’ it up on the Virginia Tech sideline during a late-game interview? Was it the faked field goal attempt where we pooched a punt inside BC’s 10 yard line? Was it during the ensuing BC drive that resulted in their first points?

When Matt Ryan completed pass after pass during the Eagles’ first scoring drive, my good friend Kevin Jones experienced a familiar feeling set in.

Kevin (not the football player) writes, “As a high school athlete, I had been in that same position so many times before. Obviously I’ve never been in a spotlight as large as the one in which the Hokies were on Thursday night, but I’ve had that same feeling none the less. The Hokies played such a heartfelt battle, and they dominated the number 2 team in the country for 55 excruciating minutes of soaking wet football. However with 4:16 left to play, they were no longer playing to win the game, they were trying not to lose. This mode of play is so hard to avoid in games that you were unsure of to begin with. You are surprised at the way you have played so far, and you try so hard just to make it to the end of the game. Once playing not to lose, it is almost inevitable that you will. You get the “dang, this can’t be happening!” feeling, and you try to stop the bleeding. Then what can go wrong, does go wrong, and the game that was once in hand turns into defeat.”

While we watched the game clock tick down towards what seemed like inevitable victory, that exact scenario played out. Matt Ryan brought Boston College back from the dead. Lane Stadium went quiet.

It was probably one of the toughest losses I’ve experienced as a Hokie. There are a few from ’98 that hurt, the letdown of 2003 was embarrassing, and last season’s Chick-fil-A Bowl loss was particularly bitter. This one is in a different category. It’s in the “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” category. We had the game won, and we blew it.

Many Virginia Tech fans are debating the causes of the loss. Was it the lack of pressure on Matt Ryan during Boston College’s last two drives that caused the loss? Maybe it was because special teams weren’t so special? Or the offensive play calling? The injuries? Maybe if it had continued to rain we would’ve won because Ryan wouldn’t have had a good grip on the football at the end.

I just can’t play that game of “what if.” As a Cleveland sports fan, I have experienced this kind of loss many times before, and there are some defeats that just seem to be inexplainable. This is not to say that we are without flaws and that the loss on Thursday night was a fluke. I know our team has their shortcomings, and I know that it will be difficult to win 4 in a row to finish the year at 10-2. I just don’t want to get into a debate to try to explain a loss where it is impossible to pinpoint the exact cause of the defeat. I’d rather try to put the game behind me, and look towards the future.

The future is still bright for Hokie football, and there a number of positive things that came from this past weekend.

  • Our anemic offense actually moved the ball on the ground. Brandon Ore had his best outing of the year and finished with 97 yards on 20 carries.
  • Even with Vince Hall on the sidelines, our defense held Boston College to 32 yards rushing the ball. This is by far the lowest output of the year. The Eagles are averaging 131 rushing yards per game.
  • Our two losses have come to two teams that were ranked #2 at the time of the games. One could argue that the Hokies are the best two-loss team in the nation because of this. (I wouldn’t make that argument.) Hold your head up high, Hokie Nation, those aren’t bad losses in the grand scheme of things.
  • The Hokies still control their own destiny in getting to the ACC Championship Game. Before Virginia’s loss to N.C. State, Virginia Tech needed to win out to get there. With UVA losing, the margin of error has increased. A single loss to Georgia Tech or Florida State will not prevent them from playing in Jacksonville on December 1st.

My only advice for the Hokies is to cheer up. The loss was tough, but it’s not the end of the world. There is lots of football left to play, and we are still in the hunt for an ACC Championship.

A look back and a look ahead

Posted at 4:30 pm on Wednesday, October 24th, 2007 by Vince

[The following post was published at on October 24, 2007.]

With week 8 now in the books, we are now just over halfway through the college football regular season, and what a half season of college football we have seen! It seems like every week there have been monumental upsets, and the top 10 of the rankings have essentially been a revolving door of teams. The Hokies are back in top 10 as well, right where we thought they’d be at 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the ACC, but the road to this point has been bumpy with some unforeseen twists and turns.

Instead of rolling through our early opponents and playing LSU tough, the Hokies have had issues moving the ball on offense in those early games, and they were completely dominated in Baton Rouge. Our defense didn’t look stellar the first few weeks, our offense had a non-existent running game, a true freshman was taking snaps, and doubts crept into the minds of the Hokie Nation. After a lackluster homecoming win over North Carolina, a nervous Hokie Nation wondered if things were going to get worse before they got better.

After a nice win on the road at Clemson and during the clobbering of Duke that led toTech’s 4 straight win, a funny thing happened in Durham: the Hokies, players and fans alike, got their swagger back.

While everyone reminds themselves that it was “just Duke”, it was still the kind of lopsided win that we hadn’t seen in awhile, and it renewed our hopes of a possible ACC championship. The offense began to move the ball with ease, the defense gave Duke no room to breath, and special teams finally blocked a kick. The players were having fun, and the fans now feel a sense of genuine excitement for the upcoming stretch of games that will make or break this season for the Virginia Tech Hokies.

What stretch of games the Hokies have left on their schedule! Boston College on Thursday night for a top 10 match-up; on the road to Atlanta for another Thursday night game versus Georgia Tech; the familiar foe in the Miami Hurricanes; the much anticipated in-conference visit by Florida State; and a trip to Charlottesville to take on UVA in a game that may decide the division.

Read the rest of this entry »

A look at the ACC

Posted at 9:30 pm on Friday, October 5th, 2007 by Vince

[The following post was published at on October 5, 2007.]

What a difference a month makes. Before the season started, we expected to see the same ol’ Hokie defense, a much improved offense, and a possibly shaky kicking game. Instead, we have watched our defense play solidly, but not better than last year, we have seen our offense struggle, and we have watched our kickers excel. After five weeks of the season, one would think the questions about our offense would have been answered by now. Instead, we head to Clemson with an uncertainty hanging over our heads.

Clemson was supposed to be a road test, but an expected win, on our way to the ACC Championship Game. Everyone and their mother picked us to win the ACC this year. While that championship is very much within reach, there is much more doubt that we can achieve it. We are presently 5.5 point underdogs at Clemson, and we wonder when we will see consistent output by our offense. I have to admit, immediately after the win over North Carolina, I was expecting another Tiger-sized beatdown during our visit to another Death Valley. Clemson was looking like one of the top teams of the ACC, and we had an ugly win over a not-so-good UNC team.

However, Clemson didn’t look so hot when Georgia Tech rebounded from their loss to Virginia and beat the Tigers Saturday night. The Yellow Jackets held Clemson to 34 rushing yards on 32 attempts. That’s barely over 1 yard per carry. The more I think about it, the more I expect to see the bruising defensive struggle everyone expected to see on September 8th. Not necessarily because both teams feature good defenses, but because both teams have struggling offenses. The team that comes away the victor will have won in spite of their offense, not because of their offense. In short, it will be a typical ACC game.

What can I say about this year’s ACC? Once again, it’s a defensive-minded conference with subpar offenses, and no standout team. As a whole, the conference had a solid weekend last week. With out of conference wins over then #10 Rutgers, #22 Alabama, and Pittsburgh, the ACC did not look as bad as everyone thinks they are. However, with Clemson’s loss and Boston College’s lackluster 24-14 win over Massachusetts, there don’t appear to be clear favorites for the conference championship game. Boston College is the only unbeaten ACC team, is the only ACC team in the top 10, and they are the only team in the Atlantic division without a loss. They are 3-0 in conference play, and they appear to be in the driver’s seat for that division. However, they have a difficult conference schedule with trips to Virginia Tech, Maryland, and Clemson, and visits from Florida State and Miami. Clemson’s only loss was outside the division, so they control their own destiny in the Atlantic. Wake Forest, Florida State, and Maryland all have 1 loss in conference play, and still have most of their conference schedule remaining.

Virginia is the other ACC team with a 3-0 conference record, and they sit at the top of the Coastal division. They appear to have a favorable conference schedule with road games at Maryland, NC State, and Miami, and home games against Wake Forest and Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers haven’t proven themselves on the road just yet, and it’s quite possible they lose at Maryland and Miami. Miami and Virginia Tech are 1-0 in conference play behind UVA in the Coastal. The key road trips for the Hurricanes appear to be at Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Boston College, and their key home games are against Georgia Tech and Virginia. The Hokies remaining schedule is probably the most difficult in the division, with trips to Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Virginia, and key home games against Boston College, Florida State, and Miami.

With Georgia Tech, Duke, and UNC each with 2 losses in ACC play, you have to think that the Coastal is the a three horse race between UVA, Virginia, and Miami. On the flip side, the Atlantic division looks wide open to me. Boston College presently looks like the top team in the division and the conference, but that can change in a hurry. If I had to guess right now, I’d probably pick the Hokies to play Boston College for the conference championship. UVA needs to win some games on the road before they earn the right to be the favorite in the Coastal, and Miami’s only quality win so far was against an overrated Texas A&M squad. Our Hokies haven’t exactly proved anything either, so it’s quite possible that the Coastal division champion has 2 losses in conference.

The good news for the Hokies, if you can say that, is that the real meat of our schedule starts three weeks from now on October 25th, when Boston College comes to town. After the Clemson game, we visit Duke and then have our bye week. This gives us more time to get our problems on offense ironed out before we run the gauntlet in November. Also, Clemson is a game outside of our division. Even if we lose on Saturday night, we still own our destiny within the division: win out after Clemson and we’re in the ACC Championship Game. Yes, that’s a tall order, but there is plenty of time to right the ship.

Before I conclude this week’s post, I wanted to give a quick shout-out to South Florida. Following their upset win over West Virginia, and their rise to the top 10, I can’t help but feel excited for them and their fans. They’re experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime rise to the top of big-time college football.

I know many college football fans are scoffing at their #6 ranking in the AP Poll, and they believe Bulls don’t deserve it. Personally, I have no idea if they’re the 6th best team in the nation at this point. It’s still somewhat early in the season, and they kind of slid into their #6 ranking thanks to the carnage of the top 10. That said, give South Florida credit. They went to Auburn in week 2 and beat them. In week 3, they did what a top team is supposed to do, and they beat up North Carolina 37-10. Then they took out a national championship contender in last weekend’s Friday night game. I know there is no transitive property of college football, but consider that Auburn just knocked off Florida and we only beat UNC 17-10. South Florida has some quality wins at this point. Great job Bulls!

Things are not always what they seem.

Posted at 8:00 pm on Friday, September 28th, 2007 by Vince

[The following post was published at on September 28, 2007.]

A couple of weeks ago, in my post following the LSU game, I seemed to have ruffled the feathers of some of the readers of Many took my thoughts to be that I was down on Tyrod Taylor. I just want set the record straight.

First off, I’m not down on Tyrod – I’m down on the offense. Secondly, I’ve officially drank the Tyrod Taylor kool-aid. Tyrod has been very poised the last few games, and he doesn’t look like a true freshmen out there on the field. He has made some great plays, and, I admit, he gives our offense better opportunities to score. That said, I stand by the statement that our offensive line is bad. The fact that we couldn’t stick it in the endzone from inside the 20 against William & Mary our first two drives really makes me nervous about our tougher games this year.

If we can’t get a touchdown in the redzone against a Division I-AA opponent, what’s going to happen when we play Boston College, Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Miami? The good news is that many of those games are a month or so away, so the offensive line has some more time to improve. The bad news is that I just can’t shake the feeling that we’re looking at a four-loss year. North Carolina and Duke are the only ones I can mark down as wins with a high degree of confidence, but I just can’t help to think that between road trips to Clemson, Georgia Tech, & Virginia and home games versus Boston College, Florida State, & Miami that we’ve got three losses waiting for us.

But hey, what do I know? I’m just a Virginia Tech fan like the rest of you. I follow our Hokies with passion, and I think Blacksburg is heaven on earth. Hopefully this year’s team will prove me a fool for doubting. When I start to think negatively about this year’s offense, I just need to remind myself about last year. Last season, Hokie Nation was in meltdown mode after back-to-back losses to Georgia Tech and Boston College. Tech fans were in a state of despair, and many were expecting to see a few more losses. Things weren’t what they seemed, and the team ripped off six wins in a row.

The uncertainty surrounding the rest of this season feels very similar to the uncertainty we felt at the midway point last year. With UNC and Duke book ending the trip to Clemson, followed by an off week, there is time for the offense to get going before they hit that nasty stretch of the schedule starting with Boston College (who, by the way, is playing extremely well).

This is my suggestion for everyone who is letting our stagnant offense get them down (including myself): take a deep breath and relax. There is one very difficult game in the next four weeks, so we have good chance to get things together before we make our run at a division title.

Before I sign off, I’ll leave you with some items from the things are not always what they seemed department:

  • Do yourself a favor and forget about last week’s box score. Yes, we barely out gained William & Mary, and our rushing stats were not good. However, don’t forget that the second string defense was in the game by the second quarter, and the second string offense started the second half. We took our foot off of the gas, and then the game was about getting reps. If you look at the first quarter when the starters were in the game, our offense often had a short field, and that helped skew the box score for the first quarter. The only part of that game that worries me is our inability to get two touchdowns in the first two redzone appearances.
  • Everyone expected Branden Ore to be a league leading running back this season. Unfortunately, he is having a sub par year so far. What happened? Is it our offensive line? Is he out of shape? I hate to say it, but Kenny Lewis, Jr. looks like our best tailback right now. I hope Branden can get it turned around.
  • LSU gained 598-yards against Virginia Tech on September 8th. Ohio and William & Mary combined for 376 yards the last two weeks. I think we can all agree that Bud Foster got things turned around defensively.
  • Virginia beat Georgia Tech last weekend … and it absolutely stunned me. With Notre Dame going to 0-4, Georgia Tech’s win over them doesn’t look so good. The Yellow Jackets, whom I thought would compete for the Coastal Division title, might be a pretender this year. UVA, who looked absolutely horrid in the first few weeks, got a nice quality win at home. With a favorable conference schedule this year, you have to admit that the Wahoos have a shot at the division.
  • Miami rolled up and smoked and Texas A&M last Thursday (Sep 20). Miami looked much better on Thursday than they did in the first few weeks, although it was obvious to me that A&M did not deserve their #20 ranking. Miami is not as bad as they looked against Oklahoma.
  • Someone forgot to tell me not to sleep on Boston College this year. They’re 3-0 in conference play with a win over defending ACC champ Wake Forest and a dominating win over then #15 Georgia Tech. I figured that they’d finish in the middle of the pack with a new coach. Now, I’m thinking they’re the team to beat in the Atlantic division. (By the way, I still have to look up which division is called what.)
  • Michigan got a nice win over Penn State in the big house. The rumors of doom & gloom in Ann Arbor following Appalachian State’s and Oregon’s wins over the Wolverines have been exaggerated. Look at their schedule; they have a relatively soft schedule until they finish up with Wisconsin and Ohio State. The Wolverines will be competing for the Big Ten championship going into their final two weeks, and those last two weeks may decide Lloyd Carr’s fate as their head coach.
  • Last year I finished second at the end of the season in the College Football Pick’em I run. After two weeks (we started in week 3), I am dead last. Last weekend I finished worse than the guy that didn’t pick two games. If you’re thinking about putting money down on a college football game at some point, make sure your consult with me to ensure your pick is the opposite of mine.

Thoughts on LSU, Tyrod

Posted at 9:00 pm on Tuesday, September 11th, 2007 by Vince

[The following post was published at on September 10, 2007.]

One word could be used to describe me after LSU’s completely dismantled the Hokies: salty.

I was literally and figuratively salty both during and following the game. Literally because the Louisiana humidity had me sweating the entire day, and I had salt deposits on the front and back of my shirt. Figuratively because I was disappointed and angry at our performance Saturday night. LSU pounded us from every direction and made us look like a high school team. No, I didn’t expect to walk out of Tiger stadium Saturday with a victory, but I did not expect to see us get schooled 48-7.

The most disappointing aspect of the game was how the Tiger offense put together methodical drive after methodical drive against a defense that is supposedly one of the best in the nation. LSU had a few big plays, but they surely didn’t need them. Their offense consistently moved the ball, and they kept our defense guessing the entire game. Not including LSU’s final “drive” of the game (where they knelt one play to run out the clock), the Tiger offense scored on 8 drives and punted on the other 3. LSU never turned the ball over.

On the other side of the ball, LSU’s defense looked like men amongst boys. They were often in our offensive backfield, harassing Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor all night. The Hokies were held to 149 total yards. Somehow, I haven’t figured it out yet, we managed to get rid of the goose egg on the scoreboard. However, LSU’s defense deserved a shutout.

There just isn’t much more I can say about LSU. They played absolutely lights out on both sides of the ball Saturday, and they handed us one of our most demoralizing losses in recent memory.

As for us, it really was depressing to watch. It felt like we took a few steps back that game, and we left Baton Rouge with more questions than answers.

What’s next for our offense? We knew our offensive line would struggle, but I felt like they hit rock bottom on Saturday. Maybe I’m being too negative here, because LSU’s front seven is the best they’ll see all season. As for the future, the future is now in the hands of freshmen phenom Tyrod Taylor. Personally, I don’t get it, but more on that later. The fact of the matter is the offense looked very bad, and it hurts to see that with the talent we have at tailback and in our wide receiving corps.

Did last year’s defense deserve it’s number one ranking? We didn’t lose many starters on the defensive side of the ball, and it was expected that this year’s defense would pick up where last year’s defense left off. On Saturday, the defense looked nothing like the squad that led the nation in total defense the last few years. If they are truly an elite defense, they should be able to keep any offense to less than 8 scoring drives. Ok, I admit, we’re not as bad as we looked on Saturday, but I’m beginning to think our defense is not as good as we thought.

Is the ACC really this bad? The supposed top team in the ACC got blown out by the cream of the crop of the SEC. Miami got worked by Oklahoma, and Florida State only beat UAB by 10. Wake Forest was a pleasant surprise, only losing by 3 to Nebraska, and Georgia Tech was the league’s “bright spot” as they blew out Division I-AA Samford by the score of 69-14.


I know there are many Hokies who were happy to see Tyrod make his debut on Saturday night, and I know many are happy that he’s getting his first start on Saturday. (At the time of this writing, I haven’t read any message boards since Friday night, so I don’t know the pulse of the virtual Hokie Nation. I expect the debates are raging.) Personally, it upsets me. I was pretty pissed off on Saturday when Beamer threw Tyrod in the game. Yes, Glennon made a few bad decisions, but he also had the LSU defense in his face the entire time. You cannot judge Sean’s performance Saturday night at face value. He was getting hit hard behind a substandard offensive line. When Tyrod came into the game, I felt like the coaching staff had essentially given up on the game. I felt like that sent a bad message to the team and to the fans.

I did not think Taylor played a whole heck of a lot better than Glennon, although he was able to make a few plays with his feet. That brings me to my next point. The fact that we are going with Tyrod Taylor tells me our offensive line is really that bad. It tells me we need to have a dual threat quarterback under center, because he needs to cover up for the inadequacies of our line. I didn’t like it in 2003 when we played musical chairs at the quarterback position, and I hope this year doesn’t turn into that. That year ended up being a complete disappointment, and I want this team to achieve more success than the ’03 team did.

Don’t get me wrong, I want Tyrod to go out there and light it up. However, the fact that we’re going with him so early just feels like a red flag. Our trips to Clemson and Georgia Tech look much more difficult now. I’m glad we have a few weeks of lighter competition before we hit the meat of the schedule.

Positives from the weekend

Getting back to lighter side of life, I want to take a moment to thank the LSU faithful for being absolutely gracious hosts on Saturday. Folks, if you consider yourself a college football fan, you have to go to Baton Rouge for a LSU game once in your life. They are professional tailgaters, they are passionate about their team, and they are great hosts. I wandered around their campus a few times on Saturday. Although I was on the receiving end of many “Tiger Bait!” chants and friendly razzing, I saw smiles and was welcomed to Baton Rouge. By the end of the afternoon, I was invited to a half dozen tailgates and given food and beer. They were a lot of fun to hang out with, and I received very few negative comments after the game. I would consider going back to Baton Rouge for a LSU game regardless of the opponent, and I recommend you do the same if you couldn’t make this trip. LSU is what college football is all about.

Looking forward to our schedule, this weekend’s game against Ohio means much more than it did before Saturday. It is vital for the team to regroup and bounce back after Saturday’s Bayou beatdown. It will be difficult to recuperate both mentally and physically. They need to come out strong and united this Saturday in Lane Stadium, because this game will set the tone for the rest of the season. The players can either let their performance in Baton Rouge get them down, or they can use it as motivation to prove to the fans and to themselves that they are better.

— —

EDIT … I wanted to clarify my thoughts on the Clemson and Georgia Tech road trips. Two things concern me.

  1. Starting a true frosh means you’re going to have some ugly mistakes behind center. Clemson will be another difficult environment, and GT has a superb defense, which means the likelihood of those freshmen mistakes will be higher.
  2. The fact that we’re going with Tyrod at this point really really concerns me about our offense. It means that we need a mobile quarterback to make up all of our shortcomings.

Maybe I’m putting too much stock into #1, and Tyrod will do just fine. However, I can’t emphasize #2 enough. Beamer has never been one to hand over the reins to a true freshmen, so since he is doing so this season means we’ve got serious problems on the offensive side of the ball. Tyrod Taylor is a great talent, and he’ll be able to cover up for our crappy offensive line at times, but he will not cure our offensive woes all by his lonesome.

Putting the QB situation off to the side for a moment, look at one other player’s stats …

According to Brandon Ore has rushed for 98 yards on 37 attempts averaging 2.6 yards per carry. His longest run the last two games? 9 yards.

Folks, it doesn’t matter who we have behind center. If we can’t get our tailbacks some running room, we’re going to have some rough games this year.