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