Saturday, December 25, 2004

I'm Dreaming of a Maroon & Orange Christmas

*** vs Miami ***

On Dec 4, Virginia Tech extended their winning streak one
more game against the Miami Hurricanes, 10-16. This win
makes the Hokies the undisputed champions of the ACC. What
an accomplishment they have achieved in dominating the ACC in
their inaugural season with the conference.

Late in the game, the Hokies scored a touchdown that broke a
nail biting tie score, but Miami blocked the extra point
leaving Hokie fans with the very real worry that a single
touchdown gone unanswered would end the game with a 17-16
Miami win. But with a team that has the defense of Virginia
Tech, having a 10-16 lead under these circumstances lends
better odds, and the Hokie defense came through giving
Virginia Tech fans a reason to scream "ACC Champs!" while
leaving the Orange Bowl.

The Hokie defense did what fans have become accustomed to
watching, contained one of the most potent offenses in the
country. A well composed Brock Berlin executed pass plays
successfully, but Virginia Tech's defense kept composure and
limited the Miami offense to drives that didn't produce a high
amount of scoring.

I watched The Hokie offense play some of the best football
they've played all season. Why do I think that? They played
the most well rounded game of their twelve game season. Hokie
teams of the past have relied on one or two superstars to get
the job done on offense. This offense has a broad range of
talented players spanning many positions, beginning with the
offensive line and continuing through the running backs, wide
receivers, tight ends, and of course quarterback. The offense
used all their assets without going to the same play and same
player repeatedly.

One last thing, if the announcer of of the Miami game ever
reads this, you pronounce it as "said-rick" Humes, not
"see-drick" Humes!

*** vs. Auburn ***

In the Sugar Bowl, the Hokies have more than their hands full
facing who I believe should hold the Number 1 spot in the
country. Auburn has gone undefeated in the SEC, arguably the
toughest conference in College Football. They've got a well
rounded offense, a solid defense, and have won all their
contests this year by more than one touchdown.

However, even with the odds stacked against them, the Hokies
have the ability to take this one. On offense, if Auburn tries
to shut down the Hokie running game, they can go to their wide
receivers. If they shut down the wide receivers, the Hokies
can go to their tight ends. And when holes in the Auburn
line form, quarterback Bryan Randall can rush just as well as
a running back. When it comes to defense, I expect the Hokies
to play toe to toe against Auburn.

Some think that the Hokies' loss to USC earlier in the season
doesn't bode well for Virginia Tech's performance this game.
Already pundits haven't asked if the Hokies will loose, but how
badly. However, I confidently say that if the Hokies would
win against USC if a rematch happened in the post season. They
had three major factors going against them in their first
contest against USC. First, the Hokie wide receivers played
their first collegiate level game ever. Second, the running
game suffered from a suspended Michael Imoh and Cedrik Humes
still recovering from injury. Third, let's face it; the
pass interference call drastically changed the momentum
in saving the Trojans from the Hokies having the ball set on
the ten yardline, well poised to take an even bigger lead.

All in all, I think the Hokies will surprise a lot of College
Football fans this game by at the very least making it a good
game into the fourth quarter or by winning the game outright.

*** Glance at the Top-Ten ***

Last Predictions

1 USC vs. UCLA
Prediction: USC over UCLA by 33
Outcome: USC 29, UCLA 24

2 Oklahoma vs. Colorado
Prediction: Oklahoma over Colorado by 19
Outcome: Oklahoma 42, Colorado 3

3 Auburn vs. 15 Tennessee
Prediction: Auburn over Tennessee by 9
Outcome: Auburn 38, Tennessee 28

4 California vs. Southern Miss
Prediction: California over Southern Miss by 27
Outcome: California 26, Southern Miss 16

10 Louisville vs. Tulane
Prediction: Louisville over Tulane by 27
Outcome: Louisville 55, Tulane 7

Bowl Predictions
Orange Bowl: 2 Oklahoma vs. 1 USC
USC has ridden the waves of the early polls all season.
Oklahoma has gone undefeated this season with a tougher
Prediction: Oklahoma by 17

Rose Bowl: 12 Michigan vs. 5 Texas
Both of these teams have played well with tough schedules.
I hate to make a call on this one.
Prediction: Texas by 2

Fiesta Bowl: 20 Pittsburgh vs. 6 Utah
The Big East has produced better conference champion
teams than this year.
Prediction: Utah by 31

Outback Bowl: 16 Wisconsin vs. 7 Georgia
Georgia has the better team, but I think Wisconsin will
pull this one out in the end with heart.
Wisconsin over Georgia by 6

Liberty Bowl: 10 Boise State vs. 8 Louisville
Louisville sits in a similar position that Virginia Tech
did back in the mid-90's in that it has the talent to
play with the top ten but struggles for that recognition.
This team almost beat Miami in the regular season. Boise
State has a good team, but I like Louisville better for
this one.
Prediction: Louisville by 10

Holiday Bowl: 21 Texas Tech vs. 4 California
Prediction: California by 14

Top 10 Rankings
Rank | "Where's the Ice" | ESPN/Coaches | AP | BCS
1 | Auburn | USC | USC | USC
2 | Oklahoma | Oklahoma | Oklahoma | Oklahoma
3 | USC | Auburn | Auburn | Auburn
4 | Texas | California | California | Texas
5 | California | Texas | Utah | California
6 | Va. Tech | Utah | Texas | Utah
7 | Utah | Georgia | Louisville | Georgia
8 | Louisville | Louisville | Georgia | Va. Tech
9 | Georgia | Va. Tech | Va. Tech | Boise State
10 | Tennessee | Boise State | Boise State | Louisville

ACC Champions

by "Mad" Jay

I just LOVE the sound of "ACC Champion
Virginia Tech Hokies"! As I gathered with
some of my fellow alumni in the spring of
2003, we pondered the upheaval that threatened
the future of Virginia Tech football, and
yes threatened even the future of the
university as a whole. The possibility of
being forsaken and left to die on the vine
in the Big East had us all gravely concerned.
I distinctly recall saying that I would rather
cellar dwell in the ACC for a few years
rather than win a joke of a Big East conference.

Fast forward to December 4th, 2004 and the
Hokies not only made it into the ACC, but
they did something that seven of the current
schools in the ACC had never done - they
won the football championship. The Hokies are
headed to the Sugar Bowl after addressing their
most important need - getting rid of the NFL,
me-first mentality and play with heart at a
level that hearkens back to the 1999 squad and
other Hokies teams from the mid-90's.

Of course it was easy for fans and analysts alike
to diagnose the problem. It's a whole lot tougher
with the mentality that most of today's top
athletes seem to have, to solve the problem. Frank
Beamer has done a masterful job in executing this
plan. Taking the season one game at a time is
something I place almost religious fervor on, and
that's exactly what Coach Beamer was able to do.
Between that philosophy and deeply rooting the team
concept in the 2004 Hokies, Beamer deserves coach
of the year in the ACC and consideration for
national coach of the year awards.

The defensive performances against Miami and
Virginia just about brought tears to my eyes.
Apparently some of the top recruits in the nation
welled up with a little emotion as well,
considering the verbal commitments from recruits
that Tech has been receiving lately. Bud Foster
will be a head coach in the next five years. I
just hope that the Hokies are able to bring a
national title to Blacksburg by then.

The injury situation will hopefully have sorted
itself out by the Auburn game. The single most
important player the Hokies need to have healthy
is Jimmy Martin at left tackle. Protecting Bryan
Randall and giving Mike Imoh room to run are
absolutely critical against a defense just as
tough as Tech's. With a healthy team, Virginia
Tech will give Auburn all it can handle. I've said
all season that this team can play with anybody
when they've got their heads on straight and we
will certainly see if that's true since I believe
that Auburn should be playing for the national title.

Just so that you don't feel let down, Calm and Beloved
Reader, I am still infuriated with offensive coordinator
Brian Stinespring. The playcalling towards
the end of games has been pretty good, but the early
gameplan has been terrible and it will take a full 60
minutes of execution for Tech to beat Auburn. I can
honestly say, after an overachieving season, that
while I fully expect the Hokies to win, they really
can't lose in the Sugar Bowl. Already, the national
media isn't giving them a chance. Of course, this is
the same media that picked Tech to finish anywhere
from 6th to 8th in the ACC. Stay tuned for my Post-Bowl
Season report where I can channel all my pent-up
frustration at the BCS system. In the meantime,

GO HOKIES!!!!!!!

Friday, December 03, 2004

A Good (Great?) Season

by "Mad" Jay

My colleague thinks I haven't been mad in two weeks. WRONG! The poor
tackling in the first half of the Virginia game could be the Hokies
death knell against the Hurricanes. Whereas Virginia took missed
tackles and turned them into extra yards, the Hurricanes take missed
tackles and score touchdowns. Also, "Where's the Ice?", how
about "Where's the Love?" Does my distinguished friend not believe
that the Hokies are one of the top ten teams in the country?
Obviously not, from his rankings.

I do think the Hokies are a top ten team, but we'll find out where in
the top ten Virginia Tech belongs after Saturday's game. I was right
that the running game would dictate the outcome of last weekend's
game. I am confident that the passing game will determine the outcome
of this weekend's game.

Brock Berlin is a physically talented psychological wreck. If Tech
can get pressure or even better yet a pick or two, they will be in
his head. However, if Berlin has
as much time to throw the ball as he did against Virginia and Wake
Forest, the Hokies will suffer the same fate as those two opponents.

On the other side of the ball, I am GREATLY - and by GREATLY I mean
on the point of a nervous breakdown - concerned about the injuries.
Jimmy Martin on the offensive line protects Brian Randall's blind
side and he's out with an ankle sprain. And I don't care what the
coaches and analysts think, Mike Imoh will not be back at 100%.
Hamstrings are too hard to fully recover from for any player in two
weeks, much less a skill position player. Josh Hyman's injured knee
is the icing on the training room's cake, as the Hokies greatest
offensive weapon from the UVA game will be at 75% at best. So if
Randall can still muster a solid passing game early on in a
hostile environment it will free up the running game and Tech has a
chance to win an ACC title.

Not too bad for a team picked to finish anywhere from 6th to 8th in
the conference by analysts and my friends alike. Even I, the eternal
optimist (cough,cough) didn't predict an ACC championship in Tech's
first season in the league. But I knew we would finish top four and I
am very proud to be a Hokie after the way this team personified the
word "team" and rediscovered Hokie football.

This will be a good season even if Tech loses, but it will be a great
season if they win. I think they can do it, but the passing game on
both sides of the ball will be the key.


ACC Showdown

by Brian "Where's the Ice?"


Virginia Tech took the field on Saturday against UVA and played THEIR
game, one with a pace set by the defense. A scoreless first half made
for a strong indication that the better defense would determine the
outcome. The Hokie defense did exactly what they needed: containment,
containment, and containment. They didn't make risky attempts for
interceptions, controlled the UVA secondary, and kept Virginia
quarterback Marques Hagans' feet moving.

The only Virginia touchdown came from a thirty-two yard pass to Alvin
Pearman who most certainly deserved it making a catch with a leap
that would make Michael Jordan himself gape.

Lastly on defense, Hokie special teams delivered too. Blocking
Virginia's first field goal attempt kept the Wahoos from striking
early and the game scoreless through the first half.

On the offensive side of things, Bryan Randall consistently made well
placed passes. Although the developing receivers, such as Eddie Royal
and Josh Hyman, have improved in their number of dropped passes
throughout the season, that number still needs to decrease even

Tight ends Jeff King and Jared Mazzetta didn't get as many catches as
in the previous contest against Maryland, but they played a crucial
role not so apparent in the stats: Virginia knew they had to guard
them closely. That opened up more opportunities for the Hokie running
game and passing to the wide receivers.

Lastly, Virginia Tech didn't have to solely rely on Michael Imoh for
their running game. Cedric Humes ran the football the best I have
watched him run all season. His thirty-seven yard touchdown run in
the fourth quarter demonstrated Virginia Tech's ability to run with
more than one ball carrier.


So who'd have thought the season would come to this? The two ex-Big
East teams of the ACC will compete for first place in the ACC
Saturday. Mad Jay hasn't gotten mad (well, at least not like usual)
for two weeks in a row! And even after a third redesign in six
seasons, Miami still has the tackiest uniforms in College Football.
It must have something to do with the heat.

If Miami (8-2, 5-2) wins over Virginia Tech (9-2, 6-1), they will
take first place in the ACC by default with the higher BCS ranking
between themselves and Virginia Tech. If Virginia Tech wins this
contest, they alone will hold the ACC title.

Hurricane and Hokie fans have become well acquainted with this
rivalry. As the two newcomers to the ACC compete for first place, it
only grows to a level more intense. Miami, originally thought endowed
with an ACC title after defeating FSU, slipped unexpectedly two weeks
in a row, first against UNC and then against Clemson. Virginia Tech,
with many fresh faces on their roster, didn't have many expectations
from College Football fans nor pundits, just to make a respectable
showing in their first season in the ACC, but they have become the
dark horse leader of the ACC.

Defeating the Cavaliers gives the Hokies all the momentum they need
to beat the Hurricanes, even on the road. But momentum alone can't
accomplish this. Miami slipped against teams they shouldn't have, and
one can reasonably speculate that came from a mentally ill prepared
Hurricane squad. Miami won't fall to Virginia Tech for that reason.

So to beat the Hurricanes, what must the Hokies accomplish? On the
defensive side of things, they should use a similar containment
strategy to the one that they did against the 'Hoos. Miami won't turn
the ball over as much as other ACC teams either. They won't make the
type of mistakes that Georgia Tech and Maryland did. This means the
cornerbacks and safeties must not take the risks that sometimes lead
to interceptions. Brock Berlin will burn the Hokie defense if they
get caught doing that.

The Hokie defensive line will probably face a tougher challenge in
trying to get to Brock Berlin than they did with Marques Hagans.
Berlin has better receivers to whom he can throw and a better head
for the position of quarterback.

Although a seasoned quarterback, Berlin could also come as a weakness
in Miami, one of which Virginia Tech could take great advantage.
Hurricane fans expected him to lead Miami to by now already having
the ACC championship in hand and looking onward to a BCS bowl.
However, he and Miami have not achieved that, and old ghosts from his
last year's performance could very well come back to affect him
mentally. If the Hokies can make a few key things go wrong early,
that could trigger errors made by Berlin.

On offense, the Hokies need to keep their efforts balanced. They
should mix up the running game with Michael Imo getting roughly sixty
percent of the carries, and they should have Cedric Humes and Justin
Hamilton sharing the rest. Randall should also try to make a balanced
use of his tight ends King and Mazzetta. And he should of course
continue to look for receivers Hyman, Royal, and Clowney. Just coat
their hands with sticky tape before the game!

Hokie fans, we've come to what the rest of the season has made the
ACC title game. As the newest addition to the ACC, the rest of the
College Football world will watch this game closely.


Last Week's Predictions

Cincinnati vs. 8 Louisville
Prediction: Louisville over Cincinnati by 13
Outcome: *Louisville 70, Cincinnati 7

10 Boise State vs. Nevada
Prediction: Boise State over Nevada by 27
Outcome: *Boise State 58, Nevada 21

Georgia Tech vs. 7 Georgia
Prediction: Georgia over Georgia Tech by 20
Outcome: *Georgia 19, Georgia Tech 13

22 Texas A&M 5 Texas
Prediction: Texas over Texas A&M by 16
Outcome: *Texas 26, Texas A&M 13

Notre Dave vs. 1 USC
Prediction: USC over Notre Dame by 17
Outcome: *USC 41, Notre Dame 10

This Week's Predictions

1 USC vs. UCLA
Prediction: USC over UCLA by 33

2 Oklahoma vs. Colorado
Colorado definitely has a shot here, but the odds stack far against
their favor. Coming off a three game winning streak, Oklahoma would
make a mistake by taking them too lightly. But I don't think Olkahoma
Prediction: Oklahoma over Colorado by 19

3 Auburn vs. 15 Tennessee
Tennesee has the tools to beat Auburn, and the SEC championship
hanging in the balance could give them the extra push they need to
win. This one could really go either way. Tennessee didn't play too
well against Kentucky; they shouldn't have had to come from behind in
the final minutes of the game. For that reason, I choose Auburn.
Prediction: Auburn over Tennesee by 9

4 California vs. Southern Miss
Prediction: California over Southern Miss by 27

10 Louisville vs. Tulane
Prediction: Louisville over Tulane by 27

Top 10 Rankings
Rank "Where's the Ice" ESPN/Coaches AP BCS
1 Auburn USC USC USC
2 Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma
3 USC Auburn Auburn Auburn
4 Texas California California California
5 California Texas Utah Texas
6 Utah Utah Texas Utah
7 Georgia Georgia Louisville Georgia
8 Louisville Louisville Georgia Boise State
9 Tennessee Miami Miami Louisville
10 Miami Boise State Virginia Tech Miami

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Moving Forward

*** Maryland ***

November 19, 2004, Herma Beamer passed away leaving Hokies’ head coach Frank Beamer with the dilemma of whether to coach Thursday night’s game or not. Her words to him to coach the team and win before the UNC game when first hospitalized helped Beamer make that decision.

Hokie team captains Jared Mazzetta, Bryan Randall, Mikal Baaqee, and Jim Davis all elected for the team to wear “H” decals on their helmets in honor of Coach Beamer’s mother. The team came out hard, strong, and fast.

Family tragedy didn’t come as the only matter contributing to the emotion of this game for Beamer, but also that he’d face his longtime friend and Coach of the Terrapins, Ralf Friedgen. With all the contributing factors that made this game a very different one in mood for all Hokie sports fans, they played the game and…

…Beamer coached the Hokies to a 55-6 dismantling of the Maryland Terrapins.

This game ended in the first five minutes of play, but I have to give Maryland credit for giving the Hokies a push out of the starting gate. Five turnovers won’t happen in Virgina Tech’s favor against Virginia and Miami. But, even without that, I still think the Hokies would have dominated the Terrapins, maybe not with as many points on the board, but nonetheless, I still believe they would have.

They made good use of all the runningbacks, and in a much needed way. Michael Imoh’s hamstring pull serves as an example why no team should deliberately rely on one player to fill the role of a position, unless quarterback. We all remember how that went last year, right?

And that serves as a good lead into my next point: why did Beamer take so long to get the second string of players into the game? One offensive possession after the turn of the half would have made a perfect opportunity to get some of the less experienced players on the field. I think Beamer hesitated to long to do this.

All in all, the Hokies looked excellent in form. They used their tight ends for passing. Jared Mazzetta and Jeff King really gave the Hokie offense a lot of potency as an alternative to the running game or passing to Virgina Tech’s developing wide receivers.

*** Virginia ***

On to this week’s contest, the Hokies will most likely take the fields with a slightly less than healthy Mike Imoh. I think Hokie offence should plan to rely on Mazzetta and King more so than they have in the games leading up to the one against Maryland. Imoh will probably get a few carries, but the offense will also need to turn to a combination of Cedric Humes and Justin Hamilton for rushing.

When it comes to the Cavalier offense, the Hokies will find themselves up against a great deal of firepower. Alvin Pearman and Wali Lundy have a combined rushing total of 1638 yards so far this season. Heath Miller, Michael McGrew and Alvin Pearman have a combined receiving yardage of 1106. QB Marques Hagans has completed 1751 yards in passing. So how does a Hokie defense contain them? They have to maintain balance in all aspects of their defense. If UVA gets a slow start with their running game, they can very easily fall back on their passing game, and vise versa.

The defensive line has to get Hagans consistently. The number of sacks will play a key part in the success of Hokie defense. Also, Virginia Tech’s corners and safeties can’t get caught taking too many risks. They need to emphasize on containment and denial through good coverage rather than looking for the interception. Taking risks of gaining interceptions worked well against Maryland and other ACC teams, but it won’t work against Virginia.

This game happens over the Thanksgiving holiday, so get some Turkey, plop down on the sofa, but don’t let the tryptophane take you out of this one. It should make for a good game.

*** A Glance at the Top Ten ***

Last Week's Predictions

7 Michigan vs. Ohio State
Prediction: Michigan over OSU by 14
Outcome: Michigan 21, *OSU 37

13 Wisconsin vs. 18 Iowa
Prediction: Iowa over Wisconsin by 9
Outcome: Wisconsin 7 *Iowa 30

Florida vs. 8 FSU
Prediction: FSU over Florida by 27
Outcome: FSU 13, *Florida 20

3 Auburn vs. Alabama
Precition: Auburn over Alabama by 10
Outcome: *Auburn 21, Alabama 13

12 Miami (7-2) vs. Wake Forest (4-5)
Prediction: Wake Forest over Miami by 6
Outcome: Wake Forest 7, *Miami 52

This Week's Top-10 Predictions

Cincinnati vs. 8 Louisville
Cincinnati has a good team, so I expect a good game here, but Louisville deserves their ranking.
Prediction: Louisville over Cincinnati by 13

10 Boise State vs. Nevada
Prediction: Boise State over Nevada by 27

Georgia Tech vs. 7 Georgia
Prediction: Georgia over Georgia Tech by 20

22 Texas A&M 5 Texas
As one of the biggest rivalries in College Football, a prediction on this game really makes for a hard choice. Texas has played strongly all year, and I think they have a little bit more firepower. Playing at home will also give Texas a more of an edge
Prediction: Texas over Texas A&M by 16

Notre Dave vs. 1 USC
USC definitely has the better team, but unlike other years, I don't write off Notre Dame so easily. They've demonstrated the ability to play with the top teams. I think the Fighting Irish could take this if a few key plays go their way, but I don't stack the odds in their favor.
Prediction: USC over Notre Dame by 17

Top 10 Rankings
Rank "Where's the Ice" ESPN/Coaches AP BCS
1 Auburn USC USC USC
2 Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma
3 USC Auburn Auburn Auburn
4 Texas California California California
5 California Texas Utah Texas
6 Utah Utah Texas Utah
7 Tennessee Georgia Louisville Boise State
8 Georgia Louisville Georgia Georgia
9 Louisville Miami Miami Miami
10 Miami Boise State Boise State Louisville

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Last Stretch

*** The Last Stretch ***

Having Miami in the Big East must have made them susceptible to the now apparently late-season-slide sickness that the Hokies have repeatedly caught over the passed few seasons. Does the ACC pose itself as a potential cure for Virginia Tech football of this? The next three games will tell that.

Hokie fans have looked down the stretch at these last three games most of the season: Maryland, Virginia, and Miami. Hokie football also finds itself in a position none of the experts dared predict: in a potential run for the ACC title. Not to become cocky yet, the Hokies still have three games that could lead them into the all too familiar late season skid.

This week, Virginia Tech hosts Maryland, a team who has lost all the games they should have won and won a big one that they shouldn't have, against Florida State. Their performance this year doesn't provide a lot of material to contemplate upon what the Terps will rely when facing the Hokies. Most of their games did not produce high numbers on offence, so they will have to count on their defense more so.

Against Florida State, quaterback Joel Statham completed 98 yards and 99 yards of passing to wide receivers Vernon Davis and Josh Allen respectively. That produced a majority of their offense. If Maryland tries to mount a strong attack on offense, they will probably go to them in their passing game.

In my opinion, the biggest threat Maryland has doesn't come in their talent, but in their emotion. They began this season ranked at twenty, and they have now sunk below mediocrity in the ACC standings. Defeating a dark horse contender for the ACC title such as the Hokies would do something to restore their now wounded pride.

*** Games to Watch & Predictions ***

Over the passed few weeks, teams in the top 20 have dropped and the Hokies have risen in the BCS standings. Could the 15 Hokies rise even futher? This list has some of the games of which the outcome could benefit Virginia Tech in their late season push. "Where's the Ice" has decided to take a stab at predictions this issue. Next week's version will summarize the results.

7 Michigan (9-1) vs. Ohio State (6-4)
Ohio State has the ability to win this, but Michigan has played very well this year and only lost to Notre Dame, who actually has a good team this year.
Prediction: It will stay interesting until late in the Third or early in the Fourth Quarter, Michigan over OSU by 14

13 Wisconsin (9-1) vs. 18 Iowa (8-2)
Wisconsin has had a great year, but so has Iowa. Wisconsin has had a recent slip from their efforts at a lossless season. Prediction: Iowa over Wisconsin by 9.

8 Florida State (8-2) vs. Florida (6-4)
Plain and simple, firing a coach mid-season in College Football just makes for a really bad idea. Prediction: FSU over Florida by 27.

3 Auburn (10-0) vs. Alabama (6-4)
As soon as the pundits start talking about teams going without a loss one game away from the regular season end, College Football fans often watch such teams falter even against teams not thought of a comparable caliber. Alabama fits that description and has in fact played well this year against some tough opponents. I think in the end Auburn will win, but it will go down into the final minutes of the game. Prediction: Auburn over Alabama by 10.

12 Miami (7-2) vs. Wake Forest (4-5)
Miami stinks right now. Beating Virginia redeemed themselves somewhat after their losses to UNC and Clemson, but I think they will underestimate Wake Forest. Prediction: Wake Forest over Miami by 6.

A Mighty Contest

by Mad Jay

"What mighty contests rise from trivial things!" - Alexander Pope

I do not care about the ACC championship, the BCS or any other lofty goals that the Virginia Tech Hokies may have. If I had it my way, the Hokies would have one goal only right now - beat Maryland on Thursday night. And if Virginia Tech can put a complete game together, they can beat the Terrapins all the way back to College Park, MD.

The Hokies have gone to the well on several occasions this season, and we all know that you can go to the well one-too-many times. The defense has won the game by making a play with less than a minute left in four out of Virginia Tech's seven victories. The other three wins were 63-0 over Western Michigan, 62-0 over Florida A&M and 41-17 over the Duke Blue Devils. Not exactly a who's-who of college football, eh?

So what this means is that when the Hokies are up 27-14 on the road against a North Carolina Tarheel team that has a lot to play for, and Bryan Randall throws a PERFECT 25 yard pass on third down to a wide open Josh Hyman, HYMAN NEEDS TO MAKE THE !@(mailto:*#&*!@%23%5E$&*(!%25^ CATCH! By not making the catch, well, you know what ensued; the resulting momentum shift catapulted the Tarheels into a field goal drive followed by a blocked punt for a touchdown, etc, etc. The offense is not finishing people off and I blame - that's right you guessed it - THE COACHES!

Read this now and remember it later - the offense is going to have to make some plays to beat Maryland. If the game comes down to a close finish - despite home-field advantage, Thursday night national TV and having been in close games all season - the Hokies are going to the well one-too-many times if they want the defense to win it for them again.

Don't get me wrong, I think the offense has done some wonderful things the past two weeks. What I mean is thank God for Mike Imoh and Eddie Royal. And Randall has been up and down, but comes through when it matters. The pass-blocking and lack of tight-end involvement still remain a concern for me, but much has been done to improve the blocking assignments for picking up the blitz. I have been hard on Brian Stinespring and I still don't think he's the right guy for the job, but I will applaud his efforts in resolving the blitz issue........for now. That being said, it had better be resolved for good because Maryland, Virginia and Miami all have insanely fast linebackers.

I know the home of the Fighting Gobblers will be loud and I expect the home team to be pumped up. I expect that if the Hokies can get an early lead, they will not allow Maryland to crawl back into the game unlike the late letdown against North Carolina. Stay warm on Thursday night, Hokie fans, whether through proper clothing or with liquid courage and GO HOKIES!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


by Where's The Ice?

*** Georgia Tech ***

The battle of ACC's Tech's kept me on the edge of a Charleston, SC barstool screaming at a television as USC Gamecock fans gave me strange stares. But can you blame me? Most of this game kept me guessing that the Hokies would only nip at the heels of a Georgia Tech running game. The last ten minutes of the fourth quarter must have sent all diehard Hokie fans over the top in excitement.

Although the Virginia Tech Hokies rallied late to surge up to and then ahead of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, they made too many errors.

Georgia Tech did very well in taking advantage of those mistakes. This included three turnovers in the first quarter alone, and they could have had more if the Hokies had not recovered one of their own fumbles.

The Hokie offense became stagnant until their late game push. The Hokies have relied on passing to their tight ends Jared Mazzetta and Jeff King, but they utilized them to this effect very little. Also, Michael Imoh ran backwards at the one-yard line leading to a sack near
the ten-yard line. This cost the Hokies a touchdown they should have gained.

A second quarter touchdown made the outlook improve for the Hokies. Bryan Randall threw a magnificently placed thirty-four yard touchdown pass to David Clowney to get the Hokies on the board. However, the Hokie offense would only return to stagnant play until late in the
fourth quarter.

To get themselves back into the game, the Hokies capitalized on big mistakes made by Georgia Tech. First, Georgia Tech quarterback Reggie Ball ran himself into his own endzone chased by Chris Ellis giving the Hokies a safety. Then, quarterback Bryan Randall made an eighty yard
pass to an all too wide open Eddie Royal who then made a spectacular dash for the endzone. One Hokie possession later, Randall threw a fifty-one yard touchdown to a poorly covered Josh Morgan for the lead.

Given the sharp turn in momentum of this game for the Hokies, I want to mention the three most pivotal plays in my opinion that caused that turn of momentum.

1: Xavier Adibi (in his earlier than expected return) made a long sprint to sack Georgia Tech quarterback Reggie Ball. This greatly compromised Yellow Jacket field position well enough that they failed to score a game-clinching touchdown.

2: Chris Ellis chased Reggie Ball into a safety to put the Hokies within a one-possession scoring difference, a touchdown and two-point conversion.

3: Bryan Randall threw an eight-one yard touchdown pass to Eddie Royal. I also include Randall's two-point conversion pass in this play.

*** Hokie Wish List ***

Last week, TSF created a wish list for the Hokies, so this week's issue will tally the wishes granted, those denied, and those yet to come.

Wish #1: Miami over Virginia (Nov 13) & Wake Forest (Nov 20)
Result: yet to come

Wish #2: Pitt Panthers (Nov 25) or BC edge (Nov 13) out WVU.
Result: yet to come

Wish #3: Purdue loses to Northwestern (Oct 30), Iowa (Nov 6), or Ohio
State (Nov 13).
Result: Purdue 10, Northwestern 13

Wish #4: Mississippi over LSU (Nov 20)
Results: yet to come

Wish #5: Oklahoma over Oklahoma State (Oct 30)
Result: Oklahoma 38, Oklahoma State 35

Wish #6: California over Arizona State (Oct 30)
Result: California 27, Arizona State 0

Wish #7: Texas A&M over Texas (Nov 26) and Texas A&M loses to Oklahoma
(Nov 6)
Result: yet to come

Wish #8: Mississippi over LSU (Nov 20)
Result: yet to come

Wish #9: Northwestern over Michigan (Nov 13)
Result: yet to come

Wish #10: Georgia loses to Florida (Oct 30) and Auburn (Nov 13)
Result: Florida 24, Georgia 31

FSU 17, Maryland 20
TSF did not include the FSU vs. Maryland game on this list, but it still values mention because it will help the Hokies push for a higher place in the ACC standings. With this win Maryland earned their first ever against FSU.

Miami 28, UNC 31
Another game not included, Miami's fall to UNC affects Virginia Tech in two ways, one good and one not so good. It helps Virginia Tech in their hunt for a better ACC standing. It hurts the Hokies in their hunt for a higher national ranking. The BCS computer poll will not hold a victory against Miami, should the Hokies accomplish that, as significant because of Miami's loss to UNC.

A couple of firsts happened in this day of College football. This marked a day when all three major Florida football teams lost: Florida, Florida State, and Miami. This has not happened sin1978. Also, UNC earned its first ever victory against a top five ranked team.

*** Winning the ACC? ***

Who will win the ACC? Could the Hokies, originally thought by some to serve as the ACC's doormat, attain first place in the inaugural season in their new conference? They currently hold first place in the conference in a three-way tie with Virginia and Miami. I don't want to
become overly optimistic, but the Hokies have good shot.

Current ACC Standings
Conf Overall
Team W L W L
Virginia 3 1 6 1
Miami 3 1 6 1
Virginia Tech 3 1 6 2
Florida State 4 2 6 2
North Carolina 3 2 4 4
Georgia Tech 3 3 4 3
N.C. State 3 3 4 4
Clemson 3 3 4 4
Maryland 2 3 4 4
Wake Forest 1 4 4 4
Duke 0 5 1 7

Virginia Tech has four opponents left on their schedule, all ACC teams: UNC, Maryland, UVA, and Miami. They could potentially afford one loss in the quest depending on how other games unfold, but running the table would ensure a first place in the ACC.

Next game, the Hokies face the UNC Tarheels. The Tarheels kept Miami from making the late game push that they did against Louisville for a win.

Chad Scott, UNC's running back found holes in the Miami defense, but I don't think the Hokie defense will prove as vulnerable to that as did the Hurricanes. Nonetheless, Virginia Tech will have no easy task in stopping him.

When it comes to offence, if the Hokies can take advantage of mistakes the way they did in the fourth quarter against Georgia Tech, they'll have opportunities to get into the endzone, but waiting until the last six minutes of the game could fail unlike this week.


by Mad Jay

A coach's job is to get his or team into position to win a game. Through running challenging in-week practice and preparation, to film study, to calling the game - this is the task of a coach. The offensive coaching staff did everything it could to try and LOSE last week's game against Georgia Tech.

This is the maddest I have been in a victory since the Hokies beat Temple last year when the Owls missed an extra point. Last Thursday night the preparation was obviously there and the short passes early in the game were exactly what I prescribed. They set-up the late deep passes that burned the blitz and led Virginia Tech to victory. So why would I be so mad, asks my Calm and Beloved Reader? It's simple - the players made the plays to win the game in SPITE of some horrific pre-Halloween game management by Brian Stinespring and Frank Beamer.

Brian Stinespring is offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. It's not too hard to read between the lines if you're on the offensive line, when Stinespring chooses to go for it on 4th and 1 yard from the opponent's 21 yard line - AND THE PLAY IS A TOSS SWEEP?!? It says a
little something to the field goal kicker as well. In a scoreless defensive struggle, kicking the field goal from the 21 yard line with the ACC's leading field goal kicker may have been just too damn obvious.

But then it SCREAMS lack of confidence in the offensive line AND Justin Hamilton when given a 2nd and goal from the opponent's 1 yard line the play call is the same toss sweep to Mike Imoh again. Both toss sweeps are for 7-10 yard losses.These are play calls that you just can't make. You learn these basics in JUNIOR VARSITY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL. And I swear that the team feels the effects of these play calls. If you watched the offensive linemen storm off the field after that fiasco on the goal line, you saw a lot of helmet tossing and hurt pride.

But the coup de grace was the play calling after Roland Minor's first of two very nice interceptions. If I was epileptic, I would have a had a damn seizure when I saw the play call on 3rd down with two and a half minutes remaining. It was was an attempted pass in the flat to our tight end. First of all, the tight end would have caught the ball 10 yards away from the first down; if you do call a pass play there, then go for the first down! But how do you call a pass play with the opponent out of timeouts? I damn near got sick to my stomach. These type of play calls usually decide games and we, as fans, are damn lucky to have a defense that makes plays, and preserves victories. For the record, that is three games this year closed out by the defense making a play to win.

Speaking of defense, Bud Foster provided the perfect counterpoint, of course. His defense adapted and adjusted and after giving up two touchdowns off of turnovers, the Hokies held the Yellow Jackets to 136 yards and 6 points. Bryan Randall made some phenomenal runs and throws and the players never gave up. There's a lot to be proud of in that victory.

But make no mistake - the next two opponents for Virginia Tech are North Carolina and Maryland who just beat the #3 and #5 teams in the country respectively on Saturday. Now that the Hokies have done the hard part and learned how to beat the blitz, the coaches have to make certain not to take away any opportunities to win these football games. The players play too hard to do that to them. If that's not motivation enough for the coaches, well then they need to remember that it's their JOB, for goodness sake!!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


by Where's The Ice

*** Georgia Tech ***

This weekend, the Hokies take on the Yellow Jackets, a.k.a the Rambling Wreck, on Thursday Night Football this week, so set the dial to ESPN, get out the chips and dip, and pump up the volume.

Generally, other ACC teams don't quiver at the thought of Georgia Tech, but Virginia Tech can't afford to take them too lightly. Instead of getting to watch this game on TSF Chief Editor's newly acquired High Definition TV or at a Hokie friendly atmosphere bar, I'll get to watch it in Charleston, SC surrounded by USC (the other one) Gamecock fans, and believe it or not, they wear hats that read, "Go Cocks!"

Here are a few Hokie stats and things for which the Rambling Wreck will prepare. Their coaching staff well understand the formidable Hokie defense, ranked seventh in the country overall and fifth in scoring.

They won't take Bryan Randall lightly either. They know he can pass, he can run, and he doesn't make many mistakes. Randall will make his thirty-second straight start this game, a new school record, so the Yellow Jackets can't count on mistakes due to inexperience.

As for Ga. Tech's assets: they have a strong defense themselves, one that has only allowed one touchdown in their past two games.

Linebacker Gerris Wilkinson will lead their defense which is ranked sixteenth overall in the nation. Wilkinson ranks third in the ACC with ten tackles per game including seven sacks. Count on him to be going after Randall.

On offense, PJ Danies has become the ACC's leading rusher. Calvin Johnson, a freshman, ranks third in the ACC receiving yards per game and third in receptions per game. He's earned Rookie of the Week twice this season.

So what do the Hokies need to do Thursday night? They need to shut down the Yellow Jacket stars.

On defense, I have every bit of confidence that the Hokies can achieve this. I expect some defensive and special teams scoring.

Where the Yellow Jackets have their best chance lies in the Hokies offense. Although strong, Georgia Tech will look for vulnerabilities in the Hokie offense, probably in attempts to take advance of Virginia Tech's inexperienced freshmen wide receivers. They also have pleanty of footage to study of Tech's Mike Imoh for habits and patterns.

Georgia Tech's head coach Chan Gailey said of Imoh, "I think they have started to settle on him a little bit more. Any time time you start to settle on somebody, then you can figure out what he does best and work some schemes into the offense to let him do what he does best."

*** Hokie Wish List ***

I only find it natural to play a few scenarios in my mind where the Hokies climb the BSC standings. This season, the Hokies have risen to a national ranking with the hope and belief that they can rise yet further, with a little help of course.

So what would it take for the Hokies to earn a good bowl bid this season outside of the games they play? Here, I lay out my top ten -- somewhat realistic -- wish list games that would help the Hokies, and in turn the most significant games Hokie fans should watch.

Wish #1: Miami over Virginia and Miami over Wake Forest: Simply put, the better the top team in the ACC does, the better Virgina Tech looks because the Hokies play Miami the last game of the year. Either a win or a well-played loss would strengthen the Hokies' chance at a bowl bid if Miami walks into this game undefeated.

Virginia slipped against Florida State. They definitely don't want to slip again. They will come out strong against Miami.

Wake Forest's record does not resemble the talent of this team. Their losses, even against highly ranked teams, came within one possession of a win. They definitely have the potential, but not necessarily the odds, to overcome Miami, especially at home.

Wish #2: Pitt Panthers (Nov 25) or BC edge (Nov 13) out of WVU. Since the Hokies are ex-Big East members, I want the former in-conference rivals to do well, but not when they have a ranking a few spots above the Hokies.

Wish #3: Purdue loses to Northwestern (Oct 30), Iowa (Nov 6), or Ohio State (Nov 13).

Wish #4: Mississippi over LSU (Nov 20)

Wish #5: Oklahoma over Oklahoma State (Oct 30)

Wish #6: California over Arizona State (Oct 30)

Wish #7: Texas A&M over Texas (Nov 26) and Texas A&M loses to Oklahoma (Nov 6)

Wish #8: Mississippi over LSU (Nov 20)

Wish #9: Northwestern over Michigan (Nov 13)

Wish #10: Georgia loses to Florida (Nov 6) and Auburn (Nov 13)

*** Other BCS News ***

The current contracts with the major television networks will come up for renewal at the end of this season for the BCS. The BCS wants to add a fifth championship game to the already existing games: Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Rose Bowl.

Note that ABC has already renewed the contract for the Rose Bowl. That game has a contract separate from the others. This fifth game would include teams from conferences not currently in the BCS and begin in the 2005 season.

ABC has the current contract for all these bowl games, but has not sought to renew aggressively enough to close a deal in exclusive negotiations that will soon end. CBS, NBC and FOX have arranged to meet with BCS officials.

Barry Frank of IMG said, "I think...the fifth game is acting as a deterrent rather than an added value."

In response, George Bodenheimer, President of ESPN and ABC Sports, has said that ABC still has interest.

Zook'ed ON YOU

by EhhTee

Nine weeks of football are behind us. Eight weeks are on tap.

The BCS is under attack... again.

Ron Zook is out as coach at Florida. Is Steve Spurrier on tap to come back?

Utah is on fire.

Virginia Tech is ranked. If two plays/calls went the other way the Hokies would be undefeated. If two other plays/calls went the other way the Hokies would be 3-4.

Ohio State, Florida, and LSU has slipped into nothingness. Auburn and Wisconsin are surprising many.

This year is a little more than half finished and one thing hasn't changed: college football is full of controversy, drama, and surprises.


The University of Florida has slipped off of the polls as its football squad continues to struggle under the direction of Ron Zook. Its glory days under Steve Spurrier are remembered well and fans are calling for his return ala the return of Joe Gibbs to the Washington Redskins. The nail in Ron Zook's coffin was last weekend's loss to then 1-5 Mississippi State. To Zook's credit, Steve Spurrier could not beat the Bulldogs in Starkville either. He was 0-2 at Mississippi State.


The state of Florida is the focus of yet another controversy (Presidential elections aside). In
week one of the BCS ranking, Miami came out the number two team. Despite being number two in both the human polls, Oklahoma started at number three in the BCS poll. This week, the teams swapped to match the human polls, but the damage was done and the BCS critics are out in force.

Some day, we'll have a system that everyone can agree upon. And some day, we'll all die. Which will come first? Well, I'm betting on the latter.


The University of Miami looked invincible on Saturday as they demolished the NC State Wolfpack. This same team that dominated the Hokies on defense, looked poor against the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes might very well have been fueled by the four hurricanes to make landfall in other parts of that state.

Hokie Two Step...

The Hokies, currently fourth in the ACC, are at a crossroads. As Mad Jay puts it, they're staring down the path toward the ACC Championship. Much stands in their way. There is several other paths that they can take. It is very likely they will end up taking one of these paths.

All of these paths begin in Altanta. Tomorrow, the Hokies can take a giant leap down a path to a great season. They could also, take a path towards what has become all too familiar. A late season slide into mediocracy.


With early elections going strong, Florida already has nine lawsuits pending trial on the election. Will this country ever get it right?


by Mad Jay

This week the Virginia Tech football team faces a great challenge - stare down a path that realistically leads to the ACC championship and take the first step. The initial obstacle to overcome is the Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech, Thursday night in Atlanta, Georgia.

In preparation for this game, I have reviewed countless hours of game film and interviews. This has led me to conclude that Georgia Tech is going to try something defensively that nobody could possibly predict, except me...........and maybe every other football fan of either Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech; every alumni of both schools; the concession-stand employees at the game on Thursday; Ralph Nader; and Tommy (the deaf, dumb and blind kid that The Who wrote a rock opera about). So by nobody, I guess I just meant Brian Stinespring. Anyway, this writer is predicting that Georgia Tech is going to blitz the holy-milk-and-cookies out of the Hokies.

For Virginia Tech to win this game they will need to stop three things - the blitz, the blitz and the blitz. The Yellow Jackets are going to come with the defensive rush on 1st down and 10, 3rd down and long, in the red zone, at midfield and maybe even if Bryan Randall is taking a knee at the end of the first half. If I were the coaching staff I would expect to be gang-rushed by all three starting Yellow Jacket linebackers and the strong safety as I arrived at the stadium getting off the team bus.

Until Virginia Tech defeats a blitzing defense, as properly demonstrated by Miami on Saturday against the NC State Wolfpack, teams are going to haunt Bryan Randall in the backfield. The defense of the Hokies can get the job done assuming that they cover this freshman phenom at wide receiver, Calvin Johnson. The special teams are back to playing the way I expect Hokie special teams to play.

So if Virginia Tech wants to finish the season strong it all starts with being able to handle the blitz in a raucous stadium in downtown Atlanta. As an eternal optimist, I raise my drink in hopes that the blitz is picked up and Virginia Tech returns to Blacksburg victorious! But if the Hokies lose this game by failing to pick up the blitz, you'd better buckle your seatbelts before reading next week's installment.

Go Hokies!


by EhhTee

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