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!!!