Wednesday, December 31, 2008

CRuhland OB Desktop No. 3

Yes, that's the kicker. But regardless it's probably the sweetest desktop Clark has cooked up for us this year. Go download it and others at his site.

Monday, December 29, 2008

What to Watch in the Orange Bowl

The Team

The team took a different approach to this year's bowl game. More hitting, more film review, more time spent on the offensive and defensive scheme. However, all of that means nothing if the team comes out soft and listless again.

It's one thing to prepare like this game isn't just a reward. Acting like it's more than just a reward is completely different.


- Cincy cornerback Mike Mickens is expected to play in the Orange Bowl and I'm interested to see how he performs. With a healthy Mickens, the Bearcats are solid at stopping the pass. Without him, they are easier to exploit. Mickens injured his knee and missed Cincy's last three games.

- The Bearcats have a surprisingly good run defense and that combined with a new starter on the offensive line could make it difficult for the Hokies to get yards on the ground.

- However, the bigger concern with the retooled offensive line is pass blocking. It was weak to begin with, but now with one lineman changing his blocking patterns at a new position and a new starter, it could be a disaster. It will be up to Tyrod to buy himself time and pick up yards on the ground.

- I'd like to see the Hokies move the pocket with Tyrod to give him a better opportunity to find open receivers in passing situations. However, since we never do that, I doubt we'll see it now.

- The Bearcats have a solid and quick linebacking corps so I don't think we'll see a lot from the tight ends in the passing game.

- The guy, other than Darren Evans, who needs to have a big game for the Hokies is wide receiver Jarrett Boykin. The receivers finally started to come into their own late in the year and Tyrod can finally trust them to run the correct route on plays. Boykin's coming out party could be in the Orange Bowl.

- If the Hokies win the game, I think the MVP is going to have to be Tyrod.


- For the second consecutive Orange Bowl, the Hokies will be missing a starting linebacker. Last year, Vince Hall injured his knee while riding a wave runner prior to the game. This year, Brett Warren is out with a partially torn ACL. Warren is replaced by r-freshman Barquell Rivers, who will make his first career start and see his first significant time.

- Rivers is supposed to have a bright future and his specialty is stopping the run. Rivers will likely start at Warren's position next year as a sophomore, so this is good experience for him.

- Jason Worilds will miss the game due to his shoulder, which he hurt early in the year. Worilds has been the team's best pass rusher this year, but the drop off between Worilds and Nekos Brown is not nearly as steep as the one between Warren and Rivers. The problem will be if Brown or Orion Martin are injured during the game. The Hokies now have no depth at defensive end. Or at any position for that matter.

- The key for the Hokies on defense will be getting pressure on Tony Pike. Cincinnati is just like every other pass first spread offense. If you get pressure on the quarterback and disrupt the timing between him and the receivers, you will have no problem stopping them.

- Orion Martin hasn't been as noticeable to me the last few games of the season. I thought he wasn't having his best games at the beginning and end of 2008. He was outstanding the middle part of the schedule and the Hokies need him to return to that form and get to Pike. The less the Hokies have to blitz, the better against Cincy's spread formation.

- I expect this game to go similar to the first BC game when the Bearcats have the ball. Cincy will get theirs via big plays through the air. However, the Hokies will also get big plays on defense with sacks and turnovers. The team that wins will be the team that makes the most of its big plays.

- I expect a big game from Macho Harris. This is his last game and last chance to make a big impression on NFL scouts prior to the All Star games. Harris will do all he can on defense, offense and special teams to get this team a win.


- I think Cincinnati will score about 20 points in this game. The key will be whether or not the Hokies can score 21. With Tech's kicking game, which is just as good as Cincy's in my opinion, and turnover-creating defense, I think they will.

Watch the Box Score For:

1. Cincinnati turnovers
2. Virginia Tech rushing yards
3. Tony Pike QB rating
4. VT 3rd down percentage

VT Players to Watch:

5 - Tyrod Taylor, So., QB
32 - Darren Evans, Fr., RB
1 - Macho Harris, Sr., CB
90 - Orion Martin, Sr., DE

UC Players to Watch:

15 - Tony Pike, Jr., QB
16 - Dominick Goodman, Sr., WR
5 - Connor Barwin, Sr., DE
49 - Torry Cornett, Sr., LB

Final Score: Virginia Tech 23, Cincinnati 20

Friday, December 26, 2008

How bad do we need to beat Cincy?

Heather Dinich is correct, we need this win in a bad way. However, she doesn't have a lot of space to write in her cover-it-all blog, so she's missed some reason why the Hokies have to beat the Bearcats.

Conference braggin' rights

Yes, a win would be big for the ACC. The conference's record in BCS bowls (one-and-a-lot) has been well publicized. A loss by the conference champ and Big East defector to the current Big East champ and CUSA defector would look undo any progress the ACC made during the regular season in the eyes of the public.

But winning this game for the conference probably really only matters to the coaches. I doubt the players feel any responsibility to the other teams in the conference to win this game.

Tech's own bowl blunders

To complete what Kyle Tucker said in his lede from his story earlier this week, it was Freud who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Well, by Freud's definition, I'm insane for going to this football game.

I said last year I wouldn't go to another Hokie bowl game. Not after experiencing the loss to that damn basketball school last year. Guess what? We're playing another basketball school with similar players, similar offense and similar season to the Jayhawks.

Beating Cincy would not only give Tech a win in a major bowl for the first time since 1995, it would make all fans believe in our coaching staff again. Coach Beamer has said several times (and so have the players) that we're treating this one differently. That this year's Orange Bowl isn't a reward. If we play against Cincy like we did against Kansas, it means it was all lip service.

Stinespring's job

It was announced after the ACCCG that Bryan Stinespring will be returning to Blacksburg next year. Bold move considering he still has one more shot to throw away all the progress the Hokies' offense made in the last five games.

Then again, they did the same thing last year before reverting to poor execution and poor play calling in the bowl game, giving fans eight months to complain about how bad the offense (and Stinespring) are. If the same thing happens again this year, it won't be pretty. If you thought Stiney got bad-mouthed leading up to this season, you have no idea the venom that will spew from Hokie fans over the next eight months.

Hope springs eternal

The outcome of the Orange Bowl will determine how these young Hokies will be viewed by the rest of the country and in the minds of Hokies fans leading into the 2009 season.

With a win, Tech could very will be considered for a spot in the Top 10 next season. If they lose to Cincy, I wouldn't consider them for any spot above No. 20 in next season's preseason poll.

Any way you slice it, this team needs to win this game in the worst way. That includes everyone: The conference, the coaches, the players, the fans. Win and the Hokies can hang their hats on another 10-win season. Lose, and it's just another long off-season.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from furrer4heisman

Everyone has their own Christmas traditions. Where I come from, it isn't Christmas until we see this on our TVs:

Merry Christmas, Hokie fans. It's a time of year to sit back, sip egg nog and reflect on the birth of one of the greatest and most important human beings to ever walk to the earth. Happy 62nd birthday, Jimmy Buffett.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Merry Hateful Christmas

I figured Christmas was as good a time as any to fire up the old Hate Index. Christmas is a time of joy, cheer and merriment. And nothing brought me more joy, cheer or merriment this year than rooting against the teams I dislike most. 'Twas a great year to be a hateful Hokie.

Most of the teams I loathe are staying home for the holidays. And even the ones who experienced success got the shaft. It was a beautiful, beautiful football season. Here's how the teams I root against rated on the Schadenfruede Scale, with 10 bringing me the most pleasure from someone else's pain.

Virginia (5-7): 10

The Hokies beat the Hoos for the fifth consecutive season and ninth time in the last 10 tries. Not only that, but the win gave Tech the Coastal crown and guaranteed the 'Hoos wouldn't be going bowling. It was an amazing day.

West Virginia (8-4): 7

The honeymoon for Coach Stew lasted about 20 minutes. It was beautiful to check WVU message boards for the Stew-pendous apocalypse that followed each loss.

Tennessee (5-7): 8

Didn't go bowling. Fired its legendary head coach. Hired a young whipper-snapper who's going to be in waaaaay over his head. It was fun to watch, Vols.

Miami (7-5): 5

Tough to watch them beat us, but great to watch them collapse epically in their last two games.

Louisville (5-7): 6

That 5-7 includes a fantastic 1-6 record against Big East foes. Oh, and they lost to Syracuse again, meaning they finished D.A.L. in their conference. Welcome back to irrelevancy, Cards.

Michigan (3-9): 7

This number would have been higher, but toward the end it was just sad.

Texas (11-1): Off the Chart

Yes, the Horns had the most successful season among the teams I loathe. However, they got left out of the Big 12 title game in favor of my alma mater. It was joyous to watch them B&M.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Trading Schedules with Cincinnati

It was brought up on the TSL football board where the Hokies would have finished in the Big East and where Cincinnati would have finished in the ACC. I have a similar questions: How would the Hokies have fared against the Bearcats schedule and vice versa?

Hokies vs. Cincinnati's Schedule

Eastern Kentucky: W
@ Oklahoma: L
Miami U.: W
@ Akron: W
@ Marshall: W
Rutgers: W
@ UConn: L
South Florida: W
@ West Virginia: W
@ Louisville: W
Pittsburgh: W
Syracuse: W
@ Hawai'i: W

Record: 11-2, 6-1

Same record, same results for the Hokies against the Bearcats' schedule. The Hokies would have dropped the two toughest road games against OU and UConn. The other tough game would have been against Pitt and LeSean McCoy, but I would give Tech the edge in Lane Stadium. Yes, the Hokies would face a tough road test in the Mountaineers and the Hokies didn't play well on the road this year. But there's no way in hell I would ever say a Bill Stewart-coached team would beat a Frank Beamer-coached team. Now, what about Cincinnati against our schedule?

Bearcats vs. Virginia Tech's Schedule

vs. ECU: W
Furman: W
Georgia Tech: L
at North Carolina: L
at Nebraska: W
Western Kentucky: W
at Boston College: W
at Florida State: L
Maryland: W
at Miami: W
Duke: W
Virginia: W
vs. Boston College: W

Record: 10-3, 5-3

I think Cincinnati poses match up problems for the BC defense and beats them twice. Yes, BC can stop the run cold. But that really doesn't matter to a spread offense that passes first and asks questions later. Georgia Tech's ability to get pressure with its front four and UNC's gifted secondary get them victories against the Bearcats. The offensive talent and road environment in Tallahassee would be too much for the Bearcats to overcome.

So, there you have it. Both teams would still come through with conference titles and would still likely play each other in the Orange Bowl if they played the others' schedules.

Orange Bowl Game Guide

Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati

Time: 8 p.m.
Date: Thursday, Jan. 1, 2008
Place: Dolphin Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.

Last Meeting: The Hokies beat the Bearcats, 29-13 in Blacksburg in 2006. The Hokies trailed 10-5 at halftime and 13-12 after three quarters before out-scoring Cincy 17-0 in the fourth quarter. The game was sealed by a Macho Harris pick-six with two minutes to go in the game. Dustin Grutza was sacked twice and intercepted twice by the Tech defense. Branden Ore ran for 170 yards and a touchdown to pace the Hokies offensively.

Trends: This is the 16th consecutive season the Hokies have played in a bowl and the third consecutive season the Bearcats have appeared in a bowl...the Hokies have lost four of their last five bowl games while the Bearcats are on a three-game bowl win streak...Virginia Tech has won three in a row and four of its last five...Cincinnati is on a six-game win streak.

What to Expect: The two teams are polar opposites on offense. Tech will try to establish the run while Cincy will try to spread the field to open up its passing game.

The Hokies may have a tough time moving the ball on the ground against the Bearcats. Cincinnati was No. 2 in the Big East in rush defense, allowing 104 YPG. That was good enough for No. 13 in the country. However, the better running backs they faced did have success against them.

LeSean McCoy averaged 4.8 yards per carry and had two touchdowns when he faced the Bearcats. Pitt had to abandon the run when trying to make a late comeback against Cincy or McCoy would have had more than 82 yards on 17 carries. Donald Brown of UConn averaged 5.2 YPC on his way to 150 yards and two scores.

So while the Bearcats have a good run defense, it is possible for Tech to have success on the ground. It will come down to which offensive line shows up for the Hokies. With the shake-up on the interior of the line, yards could be hard to come by for Tech.

The Hokies will try to put as much pressure on Cincy QB Tony Pike as possible. Pike is a gritty performer, but can make mistakes when pressured. The key will be for the Hokies to take advantage of an offensive line that isn't one of the best we'll see this season. Jason Worilds won't be healthy, but if we can get the kind of performance he was able to give late in the season with a bad shoulder, we'll be alright.

I expect Cincy's offensive performance against us to be similar the one BC had in the game in Chestnut Hill. We will get pressure and force turnovers and sacks, but they will have two or three big plays on us.

Both teams have played a lot of close games this year and I don't expect this one to be any different.

Hokies win if: Darren Evans runs for 100 yards and the defense gets pressure on Tony Pike.

Bearcats win if: They convert big plays into points and force the Hokie O to make mistakes.

Dot-dot-dots: These two teams were scheduled to meet in the regular season in 2009, but the game was moved to 2012 so the Hokies could play in next year's Chick-fil-a College Kickoff...the two teams met in what was the first bowl game for both schools, the 1946 Sun Bowl...Cincy won that game, 18-6...the Hokies have never won in The Stadium Formerly Known as Joe Robbie, they've lost two Orange Bowls and one regular season match up with Miami there...this is Virginia Tech's first New Years Day bowl since the Gator Bowl in 2002...this is Cincinnati's first New Years Day bowl since the Sun Bowl in 1951.

Bearcat Blogs

Cincinnati Enquirer: Bill Koch
The News Record: Bo Jessee
1530 Homer: Lot D Josh Katzowitz

Monday, December 22, 2008

Looking for a Bearcat Blogger

Throughout the year, I've exchanged Q&As with a blogger from the opposing team prior to each game. There were only two games this year where I couldn't find an opposing blog (ECU and Furman) and a third where the guys I E-mailed about doing a Q&A never replied (Duke). Well, that first category may have company soon. After searching near and far, I can't find an independent Cincinnati Bearcats blogger.

Cincy isn't represented in the BlogPoll and no Google search with the combination of "cincinnati," "bearcat," and "blog" got me anywhere. So now, I'm forced to just come out and plead for someone not affiliated with the mainstream media who happens to blog about the Cincinnati Bearcats to come forward and represent the Big East champs in a friendly question-and-answer session prior to the game.

There has to be someone out there with the same irrational love I have for Hokie football who happens to direct their affection to Cincy sports. I mean, we can't have a BCS team get lumped into the same category as ECU and Furman, can we? The worst case scenario is that I'll approach one of those bloggers that actually gets paid for what they do to field questions. But hopefully it doesn't come to that.

Miami Checklist

Thanks to friends, friends of friends and random acquaintances I will be spending nine days in glorious South Florida for the Orange Bowl and BCSCG. I've been to Miami a couple of times and seen Cocaine Cowboys thrice, so I have a decent idea of what to expect from nine days in the land that taste forgot.

As with every other city I've been to multiple times, I developed a checklist of things that have to get done before I leave. It's like eating beignets at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans, getting a burger at The Varisty in Atlanta ("What'll ya have?!") or getting pants-shittingly drunk at Top of the Stairs in Blacksburg. There are some things you just have to do when you go to a certain city on a football road trip.

Miami is no different. However, because Miami is like no city I've ever been to in the U.S. and Miami Beach feels more like the Mediterranean than South Florida, its checklists is vastly different than just "get hammered at (name of bar)". No, Miami is a state of mind as much as it is a city. For more, read Swindle's piece on his experiences with the city from earlier this season.

There will be football and plenty more during my nine days in Miami. Here's what's on tap so far. Yes, I know most of these are touristy bullshit. I'm from Oklahoma. Miami might as well be Mars. Don't worry, there will be plenty of photos posted on the blog from both games. In the words of Morris from Slap Shot, here's to all the gorgeous snatch in F-L-A.

Miami Checklist
- Joe's Stone Crab
- Margaritaville in Key West
- Go to a bar with a 24-hour liquor license
- Find a cigar that is from that one island we're not supposed to be able to get cigars from
- Drive down A-1-A even though traffic is always unrelenting

If you can think of anything else I should do, please chime in in the comments.

Playing to the Level of the Competition

Look at the picture that graced the front page of after Tech won the Aeropostale Holiday Festival Sunday. That doesn't look like a happy group that just won a tournament in the World's Most Famous Arena, does it?

It's probably because the Hokies looked horrible against an already atrocious St. John's team that was missing its two best players. The Hokies committed 15 turnovers (it seemed like 30 watching the game) and uglied their way to an 81-67 win over the Johnnies. It never seemed like the Hokies were going to lose to St. John's, but they certainly never seemed in control, either.

So far, this team has looked far better in its losses than in its wins. The Hokies look good when they face quality teams and horrible when facing lesser opponents. The game against St. John's was Tech's last chance for a non-conference win over a BCS school. They got it, but the lowly Red Storm are hardly a team to put at the top of your Tournament resume.

After being one of the last teams out of last year's Tournament, the Hokies bolstered their non-conference schedule. And while the schedule itself was harder, the Hokies were unable to get a win that they can point to at the end of the season and say, "this is why we deserve to be in." Yes, those losses were close (by a total of eight points) but they needed at least one marquee win to be considered a Tournament team.

Tech learned last year that a fourth-place ACC finish and nine conference wins does not a Tournament team make. It will likely be the same this year. This team won't get a bye in conference tournament and will only hope to be an NIT team at the end of the year.

This is still a young team and it looks like Malcolm Delaney will be a star. But I wonder if this team will experience addition by subtraction when AD Vassallo exhausts his eligibility at the the end of the season.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Marshman will miss Orange Bowl

Per Kyle Tucker's excellent blog. Beamer made a few announcements at bowl media day today, including that Nick Marshman is academically ineligible and will miss the Cincinnati game. There are also injuries to discuss.

Marshman is out, meaning the offensive line is going to have a new starter for the first time since the Nebraska game. The five offensive linemen (LG Marshman, C Ryan Shuman, RG Sergio Render, LT Ed Wang and RT Blake DeChristopher) had been on the field together for nearly every play the last nine games.

The only major time missed the last nine games was by Shuman, who was out half the game against Duke. Beamer said Jaymes Brooks will start at right guard and Render will move to left guard for the Orange Bowl. Brooks has played four plays this season (three vs. Furman and one vs. BC).

This really upsets the apple cart on an offensive line that struggled when it didn't have all five starters going. DeChristopher was injured four plays into the ECU game and the O-line struggled until he returned for three-quarters of the plays against North Carolina.

While I consider Marshman to be the fifth-best offensive lineman among the five starters, I don't like how this will affect the interior of the line. The three interior linemen and running back Darren Evans were especially effective together the last five games of the season. Now, you've got Render learning a new position (even if he is the best lineman we have IMO) and a redshirt freshman getting his first career start.

This could undo all the progress we've seen this season on the offensive line.

Beamer's quote, from Kyle Tucker's blog:

"... Marshman knew he needed to pass six hours. I mean, he’s already graduated. It’s one of those things, but he knew he needed to pass six hours and didn’t get it done.”

He sounds pretty disappointed/pissed Marshman didn't live up to his end of the bargain.

In other news, Jason Worilds and Brett Warren are questionable for the Orange Bowl. Like Tucker, I expect Worilds to play despite a shoulder that has popped out of place just about every game since Maryland. He's played and played exceptionally through the pain.

The loss of Warren is a big one. He's been a fantastic run stopper this year and if he can't go, it will be yet another redshirt freshman, Barquell Rivers, getting his first career start.

It would just be fitting for the Hokies to conclude this crazy, youngster-filled season by seeing two more redshirt freshman see their first significant action in a BCS bowl game.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hokies vs. Tide to Open 2009

Virginia Tech finally knows its opponent for the Chick-fil-a College Kickoff. The Hokies will face the Alabama Crimson Tide on Sept. 5 in the Georgia Dome to open the 2009 season.

Alabama went 12-1 this season and faces Utah in the Sugar Bowl. It will be the second consecutive season the Hokies will open their season on a neutral field. They played ECU in Charlotte to kickoff this season.

The Hokies have the chance to play in Atlanta three times in 2009. They open with the Tide in the Georgia Dome and later travel to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech during ACC play. A trip to the Peach Bowl at the end of the season would make Hokie fans very familiar with the ATL by the end of the season.

The Tide will be formidable foe for the Hokies. Alabama will likely have much of the same great defense back for next year. However, it will be debuting a new quarterback in the game next year. Virginia Tech was a very young team this year and will likely have all of its skill position players back.

The announcement of the date with the Tide also sets the Hokies non-conference schedule for 2009. Like in 2007, the Hokies will get all of their non-conference games out of the way before opening ACC play, which is how I'd prefer things every year.

2009 Schedule
Sept. 5: Alabama (Atlanta)
Sept. 12: Marshall
Sept. 19: Nebraska
Sept. 26: at East Carolina

Let's Do Some Lines: Bowls

Time for some ACC-quality homerism. All lines are from Bodog, the official illegal online gambling site of furrer4heisman. My picks are in bold.

ACC Bowls

Eagle Bank Bowl
Wake Forest -3 vs. Navy
- Hopefully Wake can protect the ball better in the rematch.

Meineke Car Care Bowl
North Carolina -0.0 vs. West Virginia
- One of the non-BCS games I'm looking forward to seeing.

Champs Sports Bowl
Wisconsin +5 vs. Florida State
- Two bad coaches. One bad bowl game.

Emerald Bowl
Cal -7.5 vs. Miami
- Two teams trending in opposite directions. Bowl
NC State +8.5 vs. Rutgers
- Lots of points in this one.

Humanitarian Bowl
Maryland +1 vs. Nevada
- ACC teams are always hit or miss on the Smurf Turf.

Music City Bowl
Boston College -4 vs. Vanderbilt
- The 'Dores lost to Duke. At home.

Peach Bowl (I know and I don't care.)
Georgia Tech -4 vs. LSU
- Although I don't like that EVERYONE is picking the Jackets now.

Gator Bowl
Clemson -3 vs. Nebraska
- Same slow defense that lost to VT.

Orange Bowl
Virginia Tech +2 vs. Cincinnati
- Please put pressure on Pike.

Other Bowls I Like

Florida -3 vs. Oklahoma
- OU needed a big game on the ground. With Murray out it ain't happening.

International Bowl
UConn +4.5 vs. Buffalo
- We saw a good RB dominate here last year.

Rose Bowl
USC -9 vs. Penn State
- Because the Big Ten sucks.

Holiday Bowl
Oregon +3 vs. Oklahoma State
- Seen OSU's record in big games?

New Mexico Bowl
Fresno State -3 vs. Colorado State
- CSU is the worst bowl team not playing in Shreveport or Notre Dame.

How I Did Last Week Against the Spread:

ACC: 1-0
Correct: Virginia Tech
Wrong: None
Nation: 2-3
Correct: Pittsburgh, Oklahoma
Wrong: Ball St., Alabama, West Virginia

Year to Date:

ACC: 46-34-1
Nation: 37-36
Total: 83-70-1

Thursday, December 18, 2008

An Open Letter to BSU's Tom Collins

To: Tom Collins
Director of Intercollegiate Athletics
Ball State University
HP 116
Muncie, IN 47306

Dear Mr. Collins,

I understand your head coach, Brady Hoke, has decided to leave Muncie for San Diego State. This is a very important time for you and Ball State. The man you select to replace Coach Hoke will take over a program that is coming off the best season in its history and has incredible talent.

There is only one person qualified enough to lead Ball State during its meteoric rise to elite status in college football. That person is Bryan Stinespring, the offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech.

Stinespring has directed the Virginia Tech offense since the 2002 Gator Bowl. He began as offensive coordinator shortly after the program rose from obscurity and into college football's limelight. And on his watch Virginia Tech has become one of the most consistent teams in the sport.

Virginia Tech is one Orange Bowl win away from its fifth consecutive 10-win season. Only Texas and USC can make the same claim!

Stinespring has helped develop such talent as Kevin Jones and Eddie Royal. Jones had a spectacular career at Virginia Tech and Royal is coming off an excellent rookie season in the NFL.

He's also an innovator. This year when Virginia Tech looked like it might be down to its third-string QB, he moved tight end Greg Boone under center and gave the Hokies a "Wild Turkey" package that was successful in helping the Hokies win four of their last five games and capture a second consecutive ACC title.

But the main reason you should hire Stinespring is a very simple one. He wins. No offensive coordinator has guided the Hokies to as many wins as Stinespring. The results are in his career. And he has more wins than any offensive coordinator the last five years. While Texas, USC and Oklahoma were watching their offensive coordinators take jobs elsewhere, Stinespring was plugging away in Blacksburg, collecting wins.

Stinespring deserves his chance to take the reigns of his own program. Now is the time and Ball State is the place.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

No "In Waiting" Deal for Foster

Per the surprisingly on-top-of-things Heather Dinich:

Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver said today officials have nixed the idea of a head-coach-in-waiting plan for defensive coordinator Bud Foster or anyone else on staff for that matter. [...]

"I've talked to our president, and I've talked to coach [Frank] Beamer and we see the coach-in-waiting concept as something that's viable for a year, maybe a maximum of two years if you know there's going to be transition, but coach Beamer could be here another eight, 10, 12 years and we just don't think that's the kind of arrangement we want to have with that kind of tenure still possible," Weaver said.

If this isn't Bud's last year on staff, next year probably will be. His time to take a decent head coaching job is starting to run out. Eventually, some school will offer him the reigns and he'll have to take them.

This is really disappointing. Beamer announced earlier this week that Stinespring will stay, even though he has another game left this season to piss off Hokie fans and leave another bad taste in our mouths for eight months. Now, Foster isn't going to get a HCIW deal I think he deserves.

The crossroads is still coming. Things are starting to stagnate in Hokieland and eventually we will have to deal with the fact that our time to be a national championship contender has come and gone. Hell, at this point I can see Bud leaving after next season, Stiney getting a HCIW deal and me mixing Old Crow and lacquer thinner to celebrate. I'm beginning to think my team hates me.

ACC Needs a Contender

This item just showed up on my RSS reader: The ACC led all conferences in Pro Bowl selections in 2008. That's cute.

The ACC has plenty of things to be proud of on the football side of things. It usually leads college football in draft picks and first-round picks. Its players succeed at the next level. It had the best win percentage against BCS non-conference teams in 2008. A record 10 teams qualified for bowls this season.

However, its champion and BCS participant (and team this blog follows) is 9-4 overall and 5-3 in conference play. Compare that with all the conference champ-eens:

Mountain West: Utah (12-0, 8-0)
WAC: Boise State (12-0, 8-0)
Big 12: Oklahoma (12-1, 7-1)
SEC: Florida (12-1, 7-1)
Big Ten: Penn State (11-1, 7-1)
Pac 10: USC (11-1, 8-1)
Big East: Cincinnati (11-2, 6-1)
CUSA: East Carolina (9-4, 6-2)
ACC: Virginia Tech (9-4, 5-3)
Sun Belt: Troy (8-4, 6-1)
MAC: Buffalo (8-5, 5-3)

It's a good thing Buffalo beat Ball State or else the Hokies would have braggin' rights over Troy and that's it.

Parity was great for the league this year. It was by far the most exciting league race to watch in college football this year. But real respect doesn't come from having players succeed at the next level or by putting 10 teams in bowls.

The ACC can definitely hang its hat on having the best record against BCS opponents and on going 6-4 against God's Conference this year. But what the ACC really needs is for a team to separate itself and be in the discussion for the BCSCG.

A lot was made of Texas, Oklahoma and Florida battling for the two spots and USC and Penn State's attractive resumes. Those teams were talked about on SportsCenter. The ACC and its exciting conference race obviously was not. It was fun for us to watch, but no one else was watching.

The ACC is a tremendous conference for all sports, including football. But parity is only fun for a short while. Seasons like 2008 are great every now and then, but the ACC needs a team to step up and have a chance to play for the national title. It should have been Clemson this year. Hopefully it will be the Hokies next year.

Once we have a team contend for and win the national championship, we can go back to having a season with the kind of parity we saw this year. Then, people outside of the ACC will actually watch.

Newsome to Penn State

VHT QB Kevin Newsome announced today he will be attending Penn State. It looked for a while like Newsome was going to come to VT, but he didn't want to sit behind Tyrod Taylor for two years. That and Joe Paterno finally got to him.

Cue the crazy old guy:

UPDATE: BCO has a good breakdown of Newsome and the future of our QB situation.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Stiney's Coming Back

Bryan Stinespring's seat is so hot, Frank Beamer had to make an announcement that he wouldn't be fired. Hokie fans will get at least one more year with their favorite whipping boy.

The Tech offense is very bad. And I really don't see it getting better next year. However, next year may not be all Stiney's fault. We are going to have an inverse problem from this season. This year we had an experienced offensive line and very green skill players.

Next year, all the skill players will be back and seasoned while the offensive line will see a lot of new faces. There are two seniors on the line, guard Nick Marshman and center Ryan Shuman. Junior guard Sergio Render could conceivably jump to the NFL after this season. That would mean a completely new interior for the Hokies, not something that's conducive to having a strong run game.

Bad offensive lines are the No. 1 killer of offensive coordinators. Tommy Tuberville is a close No. 2.

So, to recap: Stiney stays, the offense is bad and it probably won't be any better in 2009. Tastes like chicken.

Apparently, I'm a Better Fan than You

If you creep on the TSL football boards and rarely post, like I do, you've probably noticed the current pillow fight centers around whether or not some fans are "True Hokies."

A lot of the discussion is whether or not those who oppose Bryan Stinespring are true Hokies. Honestly, it's a moot point because he's going to be back next year. Another point of contention is how a lot of fans aren't going to the Orange Bowl. Apparently, those who are forsaking the Orange Bowl aren't true supporters of the team and therefore aren't True Hokies.

Well, since I'm going to the Orange Bowl, that must make me a True Hokie, right? Hell no. It just makes me a masochist.

Why anyone would trust Beamer's spiel that this year will be different is beyond me. I don't, but for some reason I'm going anyway. It's expensive, it's the same city I was in last year and it's probably the least-anticipated of the BCS bowls.

So am I going to the Orange Bowl out of loyalty to my team? No. Am I going because I support the employment of Bryan Stinespring? Not really. Am I going because I think we're going to win easily? Good heavens, no.

No, there are two simple reasons I'm going to Miami for the Orange Bowl.

1. As stated before, I'm a masochist. Those who know my dating history know this is true.
2. Joe's Stone Crab.

That's it. Those are the only two reasons I can think of that I'm going to this bowl game. I'm not a better fan or a True Hokie, I'm just a glutton for punishment who also happens to be a glutton for crab meat.

Heisman gets it right for once

OU's Sam Bradford was named the winner of the 2008 Heisman Trophy Saturday, beating out Texas' Colt McCoy and Florida's Tim Tebow. To be honest, I thought it was going to go to Tebow again. Thankfully, it didn't. We don't need to give Gary Danielson any more fuel for when he broadcasts Gator games next year. It's already unbearable to listen to Danielson verbally blow Tebow. If the golden boy had added a second Heisman before his senior season, it would have been unwatchable.

Because I'm biased toward people from Oklahoma and biased against any and all things pertaining to the state of Texas, I believe the Heisman should have gone to Bradford and not McCoy. However, the Heisman doesn't always go to the most-deserving player. Sometimes it's almost a career award. Here's my opinion on who should have won each trophy since 1990.

2008: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
Deserving: Bradford.

2007: Tim Tebow, Florida
Deserving: Darren McFadden, Arkansas. McFadden was the best player in the country, but was on an average team.

2006: Troy Smith, Ohio State
Deserving: Steve Slaton, West Virginia. Smith was the quarterback of the best team in the country, but wasn't spectacular. Slaton was.

2005: Reggie Bush, USC
Deserving: Vince Young, Texas. Young had maybe the best season by a quarterback of all time. If the vote had been after the Rose Bowl, it might have been a different story.

2004: Matt Leinart, USC
Deserving: Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma. Peterson is the best college running back I've ever seen.

2003: Jason White, Oklahoma
Deserving: White. Larry Fitzgerald was only in the running because that's who ESPN wanted to win the award. Eli Manning was more deserving than Fitzgerald.

2002: Carson Palmer, USC
Deserving: Brad Banks, Iowa. Banks came out of nowhere, which is why he didn't win. The fact the vote was relatively close tells you the kind of year Banks had.

2001: Eric Crouch, Nebraska
Deserving: Sex Cannon, Florida. The Rexstacy had better numbers.

2000: Chris Weinke, Florida State
Deserving: Josh Heupel, Oklahoma. Weinke got it as a career award.

1999: Ron Dayne, Wisconsin
Deserving: Michael Vick, Virginia Tech. Another career winner. Vick had the most spectacular freshman season in the sport's history.

1998: Ricky Williams, Texas
Deserving: Williams.

1997: Charles Woodson, Michigan
Deserving: Peyton Manning, Tennessee. Yes, it can be argued that it would have been a career award for Manning, but I still think got robbed.

1996: Danny Wuerffel, Florida
Deserving: Wuerffel.

1995: Eddie George, Ohio State
Deserving: Tommie Frazier, Nebraska. The '95 Nebraska team was the best in college football history (I won't listen to arguments otherwise) and Frazier had the best year for an option quarterback.

1994: Rashaan Salaam, Colorado
Deserving: Salaam.

1993: Charlie Ward, Florida State
Deserving: Ward.

1992: Gino Toretta, Miami
Deserving: Marshall Faulk, San Diego State. Worst Heisman winner in history?

1991: Desmond Howard, Michigan
Deserving: Will Furrer, Virginia Tech. Overlooked by everyone. Conspiracy theories abound.

1990: Ty Detmer, BYU
Deserving: Will Furrer, Virginia Tech. The original screw-job. How it didn't go to Furrer I'll never know.

Monday, December 15, 2008

CRuhland OB Desktop No. 2

This week's Orange Bowl desktop from Clark features Darren Evans pwning BC in the ACCCG. I put in a request for an ACC Champions desktop. Clark is currently enjoying his Christmas vacation so hopefully he can find time to make one. If he does, I'll post it. Go here to download this and other desktops at Clark's site.

End of Semester Club Sports Update

Ice Hockey: The Hokies are 6-0 in conference play and 12-2 overall in the ACHA. They are currently No. 13 in the ACHA's D2 Southeast rankings. Matt Harrison leads the team with 26 points, including 16 goals. The Hokies' next home game is Jan. 23 against UVa in Roanoke.

Field Hockey: The field hockey team went 7-2-1 in the fall after starting the season 5-0. Dana Kuth scored seven goals during the season, including a hat trick in the Hokies' 6-0 win over Longwood.

Golf: The golf club team won the Northern Conference Championship at Honey Run Golf Club in York, Pa., in October. The Hokies beat UVa by one stroke for the title. Quinn Boyle took home individual honors with a 27-hole score of 112.

Fencing: Matt Burgess took home first place in mixed saber at the Tech Open on Oct. 18. Garrett Marschner tied for third in mixed epee in the same event.

Men's Soccer: The men's soccer club team won the Hokie Invitational in mid-October on its way to a 7-7-4 record.

Men's Volleyball: The Hokies won the VT fall invitational, going 6-0 and not losing a set to open the season. They then went 7-1 at a tournament at JMU and 4-1 at a tournament at Michigan State. The Hokies will spend the spring semester trying to qualify for the NIRSA club volleyball national championship in Kansas City in April.

Ed. Note: If you would like your VT club team to be featured in Goin' Clubbing, feel free to E-mail me.

Friday, December 12, 2008

ACC Best of the Blogs: Week 15

Ed. Note: The next Best of the Blogs will come after bowl season.


BC All Access: BC Falls Short Again
"Obviously this is a tough loss to swallow. I thought this was BC's game to lose, and they certainly did not play well enough to win this one. Again the story of the game for BC was turnovers. Rich Gunnell's fumble inside the 5 yard line was a huge mistake. Dominique Davis also committed several costly turnovers, including a fumble for a touchdown and a pick that led to another. Ball security has not been our strength all year and we once again showed this weakness."

BC Interruption: The Blame Game, ACCCG Edition
"Jeff: The conference fixed the problem by moving the game to Charlotte. The game will be a hot ticket there because of proximity to the schools in the game alone. Meanwhile, on average the two teams competing in the game will be ranked higher nationally than they were this year. There won't be the SEC dream game to compete with and the economy hurting ticket sales so the ACC Championship Game will get more hype and will be better attended. Nothing needs to be done beyond moving the game in 2010."

Eagle in Atlanta: Bring the band!
"I don't know where the 39 number came from. It may have something to do with the size of the charter or available hotel rooms. If a 40th member necessitates another plane, have some of the folks fly commercial. Or send the band down in a bus. These kids earned a trip too. Unless there is reason against sending a larger band, then BC should step up and get these BC guys and gals to Nashville."


Block-C: DSOT of the Day: Vicarious Excellence Edition
"Sun Tzu once said something to the affect of “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” He also wisely stated “If you can’t beat ‘em - talk shit on future opponents’ messageboards.” This sad Sakerlina fan has decided to do just that over on some ‘Husker forums."

Sporting Gnomes: Koenning doesn’t help his cause
"Look, Vic deserves some respect. But if even he says that success is driven by talent, then unless he was primarily responsible for the recruiting of the defense (and he may be, I refuse to follow recruiting), then his resignation/dismissal is largely superfluous."


Chant Rant: Fisher "Very content at FSU" -- maybe because he now has more control to make things happen
"A less cynical view: Fisher used the mere fact of Auburn's interest to expand his role as Head Coach In Waiting. Put another way, his loyalty statement bought new concessions from T.K. Wetherell. We all know it worked last year with the West Virginia scare. According to T.K., "...he got what he wanted in play-calling and (some other concerns).""

Scalp 'Em: What Scares Me More Than Bowden Staying
"If Jimbo Fisher got hit by the proverbial bus (or in this case, left the program) tomorrow FSU Football would survive. Would it be an ideal scenario? No. It never is for a business when there’s a sudden departure of an important person. Fisher may or may not lead the Noles to national titles, but does anyone think he’s loyal to FSU? I think he’s contractually obligated to FSU as it is right now, and I think that down the road if / when a better opportunity comes along, he’ll be happy to go. It’s a business after all. I don’t fear that after watching OU put up a ton of points, and teams like Buffalo beat Ball State. There’s a ton of parity in college football and a ton of good coaches out there. Everyone is replaceable once the few legends that are left retire."

Tomahawk Nation: FSU Player Development and Attrition, and has a change in control occured?
"I'm not paid to make readers happy like Ellis is, so I'll go ahead and say that Amato is easily the guy the insiders complain about the most. They consider him a clown, a fraud, a total has been who is drawing a charity paycheck, and someone who has zero hope of ever landing another decent D1 head coaching job. Rumor has it that he is the one who frustrates Jimbo the most. Hopefully Chuck "The Clown" Amato has recruited his last kid for FSU."


The Legacyx4: I promise not to do this too often
"If you live in the 1st District of Illinois or 6th or 10th Districts of Texas, and are planning on voting for Reps. Bobby Rush, Joe Barton, or Michael McCaul respectively two Novembers from now, do me a favor. Don't vote. Go commit a felonious act that will bar you from voting ever again in those states."


Turtle Soup: Cosh Leaving; Blitzing May Happen in ‘09!
"However, I’m very happy as a Maryland fan that we are going to get a new defensive coordinator. Like I said last week, this team has to get back to being aggressive and not passive. The defense needs to go after people and make things happen, not give up yards and hope to force teams into field goal tries."

Turtle Waxing: Early ACC report
"Outside of the two powers at the top it is oddly Maryland that probably has the best non-conference resume of any team in the league. The Terps have wins over Michigan State and Michigan and have gotten the attention of NCAA prognosticators. Over at Buster Sports Andrew Jones claims Maryland has set itself up nicely with their out of conference play. Michigan State still figures to be one of the top two or three in the Big Ten and Michigan may make some noise this year after upsetting UCLA and Duke in the last few weeks."


All Canes: Marve transfer rumors surface...
"Truth be told, Marve and Harris both seemed to regress a bit this year. Against Florida, Marve had moxie and the issue was a bland offensive game plan from Patrick Nix. At some point, the training wheels would come off and Marve would be unleashed on the college football world."


Tar Heel Fan: The Scholarship Numbers Game
"In all likelihood something similar could happen here. Players will quit, transfer, Hakeem Nicks might go to the NFL, some recruits won’t qualify, some recruits will enroll in down the road. It is definitely a huge puzzle and as Allen Wallace points out hugely complicated. The real debate in this whether a coach can or should cut a current player off in favor of giving his scholarship to a new recruit? This seems to be the beef Wolfpack fans have with Davis thus their use of the term “waiver wire” which is used in professional sports to cut a player a team no longer wants."

Tareye/Buckheel: Heels joining Big East?
"Perhaps, as part of some sort of conspiracy the UNC-Chapel Hill Tar Heels are considering joining the Big East as they face their third Big East team this season -- Rutgets, UConn and now West Virginia -- or maybe it's just coincidence."


Section Six: A Quick Glance At Rutgers
"With a couple of hot offenses going up against a couple of blah defenses with bad secondaries, the Pizza Bowl looks like it's going to be one of the most exciting games of the bowl season. Sounds good to me--we haven't had a good shootout in a while."

StateFans Nation: Laugh. Think. Cry.
"It’s important that even the young generation of State fans understands why Jimmy V was such an endearing – and polarizing – personality for those of us that can never remember being anything but a State fan. But it’s not a romantic history; in fact, it’s quite tragic."

Yet Another...: Three Non-BCS Bowl Games You Should Watch
"This game scares me silly, to be honest. Rutgers passes the ball well; State struggles at times in pass defense. The Pack's not nearly as bad as their 90-something-ranked pass defense numbers suggest, but no one would ever confuse this team with one that's impossible to pass against. Teel is playing lights out, as is Wilson, so it may come down to which quarterback dazzles more when the lights come on."


From Old Virginia: Ch-ch-changes
"So is this such a good thing? Well, yes. By all accounts, of course, Mike Groh is a good man, hard worker, great with the players, etc. etc. etc. Most coaches are, and I'm not here to impugn the man's character. But there was a direct correlation between Mike's hiring as OC and the sudden plop sound of our offense hitting the water in the porcelain bowl. The playcalling was a particular point of complaint; I maintain that the playcalling was the one single factor more than any other that cost us a bowl trip. So Mike had to go. Mike's been a loyal Wahoo since 1991 and hasn't held a job at any other college; it can't be fun, firing your son, which is why you don't hire him in the first place. 99% of coaching hires end badly, or at least with some degree of animosity, and it only gets worse and more awkward and more uncomfortable and more acrimonious and really adjectivey when flesh and blood is involved."

Good Ol' Blog: Who would want this job?
"As a Virginia fan, I’m generally not shy about allowing my bias to color my blogging. I’m a UVa supporter with a blog, not a journalist living up to objective standards. You know, like those of a Dick Vitale or other non-partisan journalistic types that clearly aren’t rooting for a specific team. So, often, my arguments and contentions are influenced by my desire for UVa and the Wahoo nation to succeed in everything they do. And that’s pretty standard in the world of sports blogging."


Beer Control Offense:
Champions Again ... a ramble
"What a weird year. Young and crappy on O til the last couple of games, young and mediocre on D til about game 6 then, like gang busters the DT's did their job and everyone got better. The holiday season known as college football is almost over, but luckily for VT their last game is in an enviable, if overlooked BCS game."

College Game Balls: But… But… We’re Texas
"A Sooner fan held this up during the Oklahoma rout of Missouri. This is just a huge fuck you from Oklahoma to Texas."

Fire Bryan Stinespring: The Marcus Vick Effect
"Something else happened in 2005, of course. Marcus Vick self-destructed for the last time and was abruptly shown the door, leading to no small amount of embarrassment and humiliation for Frank Beamer and the entire program and leaving us without a quarterback. And then, as some of you probably well know, that next season, 2006, was the first season for Mike O'Cain and Curt Newsome."

Tech Sideline: Your ACC championship winning Eye in the Sky
"The best news is that Frank and Staff once again correctly measured how many points it would actually take to beat so-and-so. This time it technically (pardon the pun) only took 13 points to to beat B.C., the other 17 were a version of O&M gravy to use that holiday colloquialism loosely. But will that far-right offensive approach be enough to take the next step and get back to a MNC game before Tyrod leaves? I’ll leave that vote and discussion to you…but it is worthy of some consideration in my book."

TechSuperFans: Game Review - VT vs. BC in ACC Championship
"Look no further than with 10:00 left in the game and Boston College taking possession at their own 29 yard line having just cut the score to 24-10 and forced a Hokie punt. Jason Worilds, whose shoulder has popped out in EACH of the last 3 games and been popped back in on the sidelines, willed his way past the BC offensive tackle to swat the ball out of BC QB Dominique Davis' hands. Former walk-on Orion Martin, who showed up at Tech 4 years ago weighing 230 lbs and trying to make the team as a tight end, bull rushed his man into the QB and snatched the ball off of the bounce to dash into the end zone and put the game out of reach. What scored that touchdown and clinched the game was a burning desire to leave everything on the field for one's teammates."

VT Fan: Woe, These Hokie Hoopsters
"It has to be killing Coach Seth Greenberg. Let’s face it, his team is guilty of many of the “ills” of a team that doesn’t have “it”. They fail to win close games. They struggle to beat inferior teams, then get up and play well against good teams, only to fall just short. They are not scrappy as in years past. They get in foul trouble. They can’t put teams away when they get ahead. But most of all, against good teams, late in games, you just don’t feel they’ll rise up and win."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

ACC Bloggers' 2008 Football Awards

I solicited ballots from as many ACC bloggers as I could think of to come up with our own awards for the 2008 football season. Ten blogs submitted ballots, representing eight of the 12 schools in the ACC. A big "thank you" goes out to everyone who participated, I think it was a decent turn out for it being the first time we've done this. Hopefully we can get a lot more people involved in future votes.

Participating Blogs

allCanes (Miami)
BC Interruption (Boston College)
College Game Balls (Virginia Tech)
From Old Virginia (Virginia)
Gobbler Country (Virginia Tech)
The Legacyx4 (Georgia Tech)
Tar Heel Fan (North Carolina)
Tar Heel Mania (North Carolina)
Tomahawk Nation (Florida State)
Turtle Waxing (Maryland)

The Awards

ACC Offensive Player of the Year

Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Georgia Tech: Dwyer was a unanimous selection for Offensive POY, collecting all 10 first-place votes cast. He thrived in Paul Johnson's option offense, leading the ACC in rushing yards with 1,328. He was No. 2 in the conference in rushing touchdowns with 12.

ACC Defensive Player of the Year

Macho Harris, CB, Virginia Tech: In our closest vote, Harris claims the conference's Defensive POY by a single point over Florida State's Everette Brown. All of Harris' points came from the four first-place votes he received. He finished T3rd in the conference in interceptions with six, including two returned for touchdown.

ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year

Russell Wilson, QB, NC State: It wasn't unanimous, but Wilson ran away with the award. He finished with the highest passer rating in the conference and led the Pack to four wins to close out the season and secure a bowl bid.

ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year

Brandon Maye, LB, Clemson: Maye led all freshmen in tackles with 66, including 4.5 for loss. His best game came in his first as a Tiger when he recorded 12 tackles, six solo, against Alabama in the Georgia Dome.

ACC Coach of the Year

Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech: Another runaway winner, Johnson led the Yellow Jackets to nine wins in his first season on the sidelines in Atlanta. Not many expected Johnson's option offense to work this well this quickly against ACC opponents, however, the Jackets finished tied atop the Coastal and won at Georgia.

CRuhland OB Desktop No. 1

Clark is posting a new Orange Bowl desktop at his site every week leading up to the game. The first one is also our first cheerleader shot of the season. Jeez, Clark. It took you this long to finally give us some eye candy?

Click here to download this and other Hokie desktops at Clark's site.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sony Suite is Big-Ticket Item at Orange Bowl

Every bowl gives its players gifts. But this year the Orange Bowl is offering participating players a chance at what is essentially a $300 Sony shopping spree. Sony will have a suite at the team hotel loaded with Sony products. Each player will be given a $300 spending limit and their choice of whatever they see.

“I don’t even need to know how many people will be coming through the doors,” Cooperstein said. “The NCAA allows each bowl to award up to $500 worth of gifts to 125 participants per school. Schools always bring more than that and pay for it on their dime. We’ll make up 500 folios and order forms for each school.”

Other items the Hokies will leave Miami with:

- Tourneau watch
- New Era hat
- Pair of Crocs
- Ogio backpack

Pike an Unlikely Hero for Cincinnati

Before the start of the 2008 season, Cincinnati's best option at quarterback was a guy that ended up not being on the team. Ben Mauk led the Bearcats to a 10-3 record and a win in the Bowl over Southern Miss in 2007. Mauk's quest to gain eligibility for 2008 was denied.

Next up for the Bearcats at quarterback was Dustin Grutza, a senior who had served as Mauk's back-up in 2007 and had been Cincinnati's starter the previous two seasons. Grutza led Cincy to an easy win over Eastern Kentucky in the opener and then suffered broken leg late in the loss to Oklahoma the next week.

Pike replaced the effective Grutza and was less than spectacular in relief. He completed 3 of 11 passes for 21 yards and threw an interception. However, he was exceptional over the next two weeks against MAC foes Miami U. and Akron.

As a starter

He threw for 561 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in the two games before breaking his non-throwing arm against the Zips. Pike had surgery and missed the next two games.

When he returned, he struggled on the road against UConn, completing 10 of 27 passes for 136 yards, a touchdown and an interception in a 40-16 loss to the Huskies. However, the game was close until UConn scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes of the game.

Since then, Pike has managed the Bearcats' no-huddle spread attack effectively. Over the Bearcats next five games, he threw 10 touchdowns and three interceptions, and more importantly led Cincinnati to five wins and a Big East championship.

However, Pike had a bad game in his last outing at Hawaii, going 13-of-21 for 108 yards, a touchdown and two picks. Grutza came on in relief and led the Bearcats to a come-from-behind victory long after I had passed out on the couch in front of the TV.

Scouting Report

So how will Pike fare against the Hokie defense? The best pass defenses Pike has started against were UConn (No. 7), West Virginia (No. 38), Pittsburgh (No. 43) and South Florida (No. 44).

Obviously, Pike didn't play well against UConn, the best pass defense he faced. However, he had just returned from injury, so that was a factor. Pike didn't even play in the second half due to numbness in his left hand (on the arm he broke). He left the game with the Bearcats up, 13-10.

Here's the quote from Cincy WR Mardy Gilyard:

“He was hurting in the first quarter but he didn’t say nothing,” said UC wide receiver Mardy Gilyard. “He only mentioned it to me. In the second quarter, I could see him slowly getting up on some plays. He kind of shortchanged a couple of balls, not really trusting himself like he usually does so I knew something was going on.”

Against the other three defenses, he combined to complete 52 of 90 (57.8 percent) for 768 yards (256 per game), six touchdowns and an interception. Basically, he wasn't superb, but he didn't do anything to lose the game for Cincy.

Matchup with Virginia Tech

The Hokies, for all their struggles against the pass early in the season, ended up with the No. 15 pass defense in the country. In their final seven regular season games, only twice did the Hokies give up more than 200 yards passing in a game. They gave up 263 yards to BC in the ACCCG.

One thing about Pike that I like as a Hokie fan is he takes a lot of sacks. The Hokies have performed well against prototypical drop-back quarterbacks like Pike this year. They have been able to get pressure and force mistakes against drop-back quarterbacks.

Since the Bearcats don't have much of a run game, the defensive ends should be able to pin their ears back and go after Pike. The key to stopping a pass-first spread attack is to get pressure on the quarterback. That's why Oklahoma had so much success against Texas Tech.

The Hokies are definitely capable of stopping Cincinnati's potent passing attack. We have two great cornerbacks in Macho Harris and Stephan Virgil, who has made a name for himself this season. If we are able to get pressure on Pike rushing four, we will be fine.

Cincinnati's offense reminds me a lot of Kansas' from last year. The big difference is the Bearcats don't have a big, power running game like the Jayhawks did with Brandon McAnderson.

The Bearcats have already done to themselves what the Hokies go out to do every game on defense: Take away the run game and make them one-dimensional.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cincinnati on YouTube

As part of your crash-course on the Hokies' opponent for the 2009 FedEx Orange Bowl, here are select YouTube clips of Cincinnati's season.

2008 Stadium Entrance

Cincinnati 28, Pittsburgh 21

Cincinnati 26, West Virginia 23

Oklahoma 52, Cincinnati 26

Monday, December 8, 2008

My 2008 ACC Awards Ballot

For whatever reason, I decided to compile the ballots from my fellow ACC bloggers to come up with our 2008 ACC football awards. The ballots should be in to me and/or posted on the various ACC blogs you know and love soon and I'll have the results by the end of the week. For now, here's my ballot for you all to dissect.

Three points for a first place vote, two for second, one for first. Pretty straight-forward.

Offensive POY
1. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech
- Easy choice.
2. Russell Wilson, NC State
- Does Mike Glennon jump ship?
3. Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina
- Best receiver in the league. Again.

Defensive POY
1. Macho Harris, Virginia Tech
- Because I'm a homer.
2. Nate Irving, NC State
- Irving was injured at points during the year, but was an absolute MEAST when he was on the field. Couldn't be stopped.
3. Mark Herzlich, Boston College
- Can't wait to see Brian from BC Interruption's comment on this one.

Offensive ROY
1. Russell Wilson, NC State
- Another easy one.
2. Darren Evans, Virginia Tech
- Because I'm a homer.
3. Montel Harris, Boston College
- Came on strong at the end of the year.

Defensive POY
1. Sean Spence, Miami
- Has a very bright future.
2. Adewele Ojomo, Miami
- Was occasionally unblockable.
3. Brandon Maye, Clemson
- Was supposed to be overshadowed by other CU freshmen.

1. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
- Should be considered for the national award.
2. Jeff Jagodzinski, Boston College
- No one thought BC would win the Atlantic.
3. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
- This may have been his best coaching job of his career.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Week 15 ACC Power Poll

There will be one final poll after bowl season.

Week 15
1. Virginia Tech
2. Georgia Tech
3. Boston College
4. NC State
5. North Carolina
6. Florida State
7. Clemson
8. Miami
9. Maryland
10. Wake Forest
11. Virginia
12. Duke


- We own you.

- Clemson was moved up. I realized after last week's poll that they deserved to be higher. This is a power poll, which weighs recent results more heavily than the season as a whole. If I'm going to have NC State at No. 4, Clemson should be higher than No. 9.

- No punishment for BC other than being jumped by the Hokies. They were without their starting quarterback.

- Everything else is unchanged.

Bragging in Print

The year, a bunch of friends and I decided to try a college fantasy league. It was an eight team league and all because we didn't like the set up over at CBS Sports, it was left up to the commissioner (me) to handle scores, standings and transactions. It was a helluva lot of fun.

It was a lot of fun mainly because I thoroughly dominated the league. I clinched my division with two weeks to play in the regular season and scored more points and had the fewest points against. I was like the '99 Hokies.

Well, yesterday, despite Percy Harvin getting a big DNP next to his name, Virginia is for Hustlers won the league championship game in dominating fashion. Strong efforts from Chase Daniel, Glen Coffee and the Hokie defense helped. But the fact my opponent got exactly dick from Kevin Riley, Demarco Murray and Domenic Goodman probably helped more.

Frequent commenter Sid Bream Speed finished sixth.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Road Trip No. 8: VT vs. UVa

Gobbler Country Road Trip No. 8
Football: Virginia Tech vs. Virginia
Lane Stadium
Blacksburg, Va.

Miles Round Trip: 2,200
Total Dollars Spent: $340 ($150 gas, $50 food and drink, $40 ticket, $100 souvenirs)

The biggest disappointment was I didn't stop at Corky's on either leg of this trip. I'm ashamed of myself. The first time through I skipped the usual stop in Jackson, Tenn., because I wanted to get to Blacksburg by 10 p.m. to join the tailgating festivities. It was worth. If I told you what happened at the tailgate Friday night you wouldn't believe me. It was ... um ... educational. Thanks, Russian.

This was the first time I ever spent the night at the Clubhouse Tailgate. I have no idea why I never did it before. Tons of fun and especially clutch for a Noon game when you can just wake up and start drinking and not have to worry about driving and parking the day of the game. It's the only way to go.

It was good football weather. It was cold, but not bone-chilling like the Duke game was. It was nerve-racking, but in the end we got another win over the 'Hoos. It was a good day.

The drive home, however, was not. I left three hours after the game expected to stop just outside of Knoxville and drive the rest of the way in the morning. However, I didn't take into account that Tennessee had a home night game that Saturday. So not only were all the hotels near Knoxville sure to be sold out, but I hit Knoxville just as the game ended and had to deal with post-game traffic.

So I kept driving and eventually got to Nashville, where I didn't want to spend the night. I felt pretty good and kept driving. I got to Jackson just after 1 a.m. and stopped to fill up. I was tired and should have spent the night there. But I hubris got the best of me and I decided that since I've come that far, I might as well make it home. So I loaded up on 5 Hour Energy shots and Red Bull and kept trucking.

Here's where trouble starts. I hate Arkansas and refuse to give it any of my tax dollars. So I always fill up in Roland, Okla., just before the Arkansas border and again when I first get to Tennessee. However, I noticed I wasn't getting as good gas mileage out of the Hokie Mobile as I'm used to. So I stopped in Memphis at 2:30 a.m. to top off so I didn't have to stop in Arkansas.

That's when I locked my keys in my car. In downtown Memphis. At Balls-Thirty in the morning. On a Saturday. Fuck. Me. Running.

I stayed warm and safe (well, as safe as I could be near downtown Memphis inside the convenience store and waited for AAA. When you drive as many miles as I do, you recognize the value of being a AAA Gold member. AAA showed up at 4 a.m. to unlock my car.

Yes, at this point I should have found the nearest hotel and at least taken a nap. But I was pissed and soldiered on. I nearly fell asleep at the wheel and died at least a half dozen times. But at Noon central time I finally pulled into my driveway. Needless to say, next time I'm just going to spend the night in Jackson, get lunch at Corky's and then drive home.

My home Friday night.


Cornhole in the morning.

Bobbi the dog stays cool.

Tailgating for the UVa game.

UVa Communion.

Kickoff of the battle for the Commonwealth Cup.

Tyrod directs the offense.

9 out of 10 against the 'Hoos.

Tailgating at the airport, South of the stadium.

Traffic three hours after the game.

Good morning, Oklahoma.

The usual stop at the casino in Roland.

The 4-Star Diner in Roland. I give it 3.5 stars.

ACC Best of the Blogs: Week 14


BC All-Access: Positives/Negatives from the regular season matchup
"BC cannot afford to turn the ball over or spot VT any points in Tampa. We also must do a better job of making Taylor 1-dimensional and taking away his running ability. If we do this BC will be in good position to avenge last year's loss."

BC Interruption: Good Cop/Bad Cop: Championship Game Edition
"Brian as Bad Cop: You won't be able to play the good cop on this one, Jeff, when BC beats Virginia Tech and the Champs Sports Bowl takes Virginia Tech over Florida State. That wouldn't necessarily be treating these teams equally now, would it? Besides, this is essentially providing disincentives for making the ACC Championship game and falling short. The ACCCG runner-up always seems to get jobbed here, since the other bowls don't want to wait until Sunday to fill their bowl selections. They'd rather get their selections out of the way early so they can sell more tickets. Don't you think the team that loses the Championship game would rather have been Georgia Tech, who at 9-3 (5-3) lost the tiebreaker to Virginia Tech to play in the Title game but gets to play in the ACC No. 2 bowl against the defending National Champions in their own backyard? The consolation prize for the ACCCG runner-up is a trip to Nashville against a 6-6 Vanderbilt team (a team that hasn't gone bowling since 1982) or a 6-6 Kentucky team that finished 2-6 in the SEC, DFL in the SEC East. These teams are hardly powerhouse SEC football programs. Some consolation prize!"

Eagle in Atlanta: A letter to a blimp pilot
"Since then it has been used to mock the conference and BC all over the internet. You can’t blame BC. These games were supposed to be battles between Florida powers. How was a private Catholic School from Boston expected to travel on relatively short notice? This year doesn’t look much better. Ticket sales are slow and the locals have resorted to giving the seats away. Most BC fans are resigned to our poor traveling reputation. At this point we only care about winning the game. A victory will do more to change perception than a few thousand more tickets sold ever would. That said, kind Sir, we could still use your help this weekend. Use your powerful zeppelin for good. Show off Tampa. Don’t try to embarrass the ACC."


Block-C: A Play in the Life of Chris Smelley
"Droppin’ back. Drop-ping back. Here we go… SHIT, they’re rushing right at me so fast. Cross the legs, don’t shuffle, belly button to receiver. They’re coming…. *WOOP* fuck yeah, sidestep. Right trigger, motherfuckers."

Sporting Gnomes: TDP goes “All In’ for Dabo
"I just threw up a little in my mouth just typing that. I am already sick of the Dabo-aid laced media going crazy on this decision. As I previously stated, I think that there is nothing on the market that would get Clemson where they want to be so this may be the best decision as Dabo is Clemson’s greatest recruiter (along with Napier). Now a few points remain to be seen:"


Dudespin: Victory Bell, or another Saturday Hell?
"In 1999, two young dudes traveled to Chapel Hill to see the 10th Airborne victory of their four-year college career. Optimism was high as UNC was suffering through a tough season filled with rumors that their head coach would soon be fired. Unfortunately, that 10th win did not happen, and the plucky young dudes graduated in the single digit win column. Sadly, had they returned for a Franchise-esque fifth year, they still wouldn’t have seen that 10th win. The Carl Franks era was not pretty."


Chant Rant: It was an ugly night at Doak, not even counting what happened on the field
"While our football Noles turned in a puke-poor performance against the Gators, our fan support was no better. Walking to the stadium, I saw twice as many fans dressed in orange and blue as in garnet and gold. In the stadium it appeared to be about half Gators. That tells me a lot of Nole fans sold out to the enemy. And because the Gator fans had something to shout about, they were louder than we were. So much for home field advantage. I actually heard a Gator fan telling a woman dressed in garnet and gold who was banging on her seat when Florida lined up on offense, to stop that, it was annoying. Thankfully, the spirited woman told him, "Welcome to Florida State's stadium...What did you expect?""

Scalp 'Em: Not To Pick On Tomahawk Nation Again, But…
"First of all, the jury for Jimbo is still out. FSU had craptastic first halves all year, shouldn’t an OC have a good gameplan going into the game and not always be making adjustments at halftime? What makes anyone think that his hand picking the defense would be any better. Frankly, I’d hope he picks a DC that then picks the guys HE wants for the staff. You know, since Jimbo’s an offense kind of guy."

Tomahawk Nation: Did the Florida State Seminoles improve in 2008?
"Hmm, that doesn't seem like much of an improvement, but it is some improvement. The advanced data says we got better. What could be at work here? First, tougher competition, much tougher. Second, the Noles often threw underneath on 3rd and long in 2007, picking up yards, but failing to convert. Those 7 yard completions look good in the scorer's book but don't offer much to help the team. In 2008, the Noles picked up 1st downs much better, because they took risks, but they also failed on occasion and those failures hurt the total."


GT Sports: "The Man Who Broke Our Drought" by James Demby
"In the comments from our post about the Drought, we learned that the late Mr. Walker's grandson James Demby ended up at Tech, despite his whole family being Dawgs. After Saturday's game, James wrote a poem of his own. His poem follows this funny story he sent along with it."

The Legacy x4: ACC football demands respect
"Expansion added Beamer. The Amato, Bunting, Roof, and Gailey departures improved the conference's coaching talent astronomically. And look what we have to show for it in 2008: a 6-4 record against our primary rival of a conference. I expect continued success against the SEC as we've shown in the NFL draft that we've had comparable talent all these years. Now, we have comprable if not superior coaching. What do you all think about the conference debate?"


Turtle Soup: A Football Wrap
"First of all my initial thoughts on the entire program are that we have lost something. I have many games on tape from Ralph’s first 3 years here and there is so much of a difference between the team they were and the team they are now. First, it has nothing to do with talent. Yeah, they may have had a little more talent in the past, but would you compare Gulian Gary to DHB?"


All Canes: NC State 38, Miami 28
"I believe the writing is on the wall. Nix is unimaginative and coaches scared. He's reactive instead of proactive and seems content to milk a lead or bleed out a clock, as opposed to putting a foot on an opponent's throat and piling on. He officially lost me the fourth game of the season."

Hall of Canes: Deeply Disappointing
"Coaching? Please. Offensive coordinator Pat Nix is on the hot seat and may be dismissed. Veteran defensive coordinator Bill Young was brought in after he had a great year at Kansas but did not live up to the hype after a good showing against Florida."


Carolina March: Somebody's Going to Charlotte, Somebody's Going to Get Screwed
"The ACC's top two sub-BCS bowls have gone ahead and picked their teams, with Georgia Tech going to the Peach and Clemson headed to the Gator. That's 7-5, bowl-eligible only after its final game, coach-firing, technically 5th in the Atlantic Division Clemson, taking one of the ACC's most prestigious slots, and the only one against a Big 12 team for the next two years. Just a friendly reminder that the football postseason is just broken at the top, it's rotten all the way down the line; Clemson leapt at least three more worthy teams because a bowl organizer somewhere thinks it's 1982."

Tar Heel Fan: UNC 28, Duke 20
"The offense played much better this week with TJ Yates regaining his form on 15-19 for 190 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT. Shaun Draughan had a big day with 110 yards rushing and one TD of his own. Overall the offense was balanced which is what you love to see. A performance like this gives the Heels a high note to end the season on and gets everyone back on the same page heading into the bowl game."

Tar Heel Mania: Carolina is 8-4. WHOOOOOOO
"Considering where we were two years ago, this is a very, very big deal. This not lost on most Heels fans; if 41-10 freaked you out and took your mind off of the big picture for a while, you’re forgiven. Just as long as you also remember 44-12, 38-12, 45-24 and 28-7 with equal intensity. Carolina has had the most regular season wins and the fewest losses since 1997, and the greatest improvement in wins since 1990."


Section Six: Frickin' Lasers
"If anyone's worthy of wacky-computer-graphic-superheroization, it's Russell Wilson, who quite possibly is a superhero. I don't know how else you explain a quarterback that throws one INT in 252 attempts as a freshman and then goes on to commit zero errors while OPSing 1.000 (.335/.443/.557, to be exact. I've seen the future.) for the baseball team in the spring. No telling what his summer plans are, but I get the feeling they'll involve rescuing old ladies from burning buildings."

StateFans Nation: Jimmy V’s Farewell Speech In Reynolds
"Jimmy V Week is underway on ESPN, and while my wife and I were out at dinner, we saw V’s incredible speech at the ESPY Awards in 1993 replayed on the World Wide Leader. It was moving, as always, but the farewell speech I remember the best from Jim Valvano was one far more direct and personal for State’s fans — his last visit to Reynolds Coliseum on February 21, 1993, the night that NC State honored the tenth anniversary of the 1983 NCAA Champions:"

Yet Another...: Is it Right to Feel This Good About a Team That's 6-6?
"Russell Wilson...what can you say, other than "wow." The kid continues to amaze, turning busted plays into scores, breaking the will of opponents just when they get a glimmer of hope. I know he may be a couple of games late to the Player of the Year discussion, but there simply can't be another contender for Rookie of the Year in the ACC, and without a doubt NO other player in the conference means more to the success or failure of their team than Wilson."


From Old Virginia: Al's not leaving after all. Duh.
"As I've said before, I think Al deserves one final year to prove himself. I also think these are pretty clearly the sunset years of the Al Groh era, as evidenced by Littlepage overruling him on the Peter Lalich issue and booting the starting quarterback off the team. However, it's really a shame that the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately attitude is bringing out such vitriol among the general population. Groh not being fired has saved me the effort of writing the Al Groh Era Retrospective post I had half saved-up, but a little reflection for perspective's sake is in order."

Good Ol' Blog: What should happen next
"1. The buyout is just too freakin’ big to justify firing last season’s ACC Coach of the Year who simply got whacked upside the head with the worst unexpected attrition in college football this season. Losing the top two quarterbacks, the star defensive lineman, a top round offensive lineman, and a host of others was enough to make this a rebuilding season from the get go. In the end, it’s hard to justify spending that kind of cash to fire a guy one season removed from one of the best in Virginia history, especially given this season’s bad luck."


Beer Control Offense: The BCO's
"Cody Grimm, I bet that lil guy can pound some beers and barely act drunk. Probably do something crazy and make the wiminz swoon over him. BCO is sure to pick up some leftovers. BCO almost picked Taco since he has a cool nickname."

College Game Balls: GameDay Signs - Stillwater, Oklahoma
"The phrase “I’m Lou Holtz’d” will replace “cocked”, “smashed” and “hammered” in my lexicon."

Fire Bryan Stinespring: I Can Tell You 2 Teams We DON'T Look Like...
"Finally, there's Stiney, who throughout this season has made MANY bonehead calls, and has missed nearly as many. Many remember his 3rd and Pickle call, but of greater concern to me is that we had no apparent play call set for 4th down. Seriously! It's as if Stiney was so confident in Pickle that he expected to have time while they moved the chains to call in the next play. Call both plays. Hell, call a series on the sideline before they go in, and throw the no-huddle at them for a series. He doesn't have the talent to make this scheme work, nor does he have the people or the time."

Tech Sideline: One Reason Why Basketball Attendance Isnt What it Used to Be
"So the attendance problem, particularly at weeknight games, is two-fold: (1) about half as many student tickets as there used to be; and (2) the season tickets are now purchased by donors in relatively far-flung locales like Northern Virginia, Richmond and Tidewater/Peninsula/Hampton/etc. (Please don’t email me if my terminology about that area is sloppy; I’ve never lived there, but you get my drift: “Eastern Virginia,” 5-6 hours away.)"

Tech SuperFans: Game Preview - ACC Championship
"I don’t know that this year’s Hokie squad has poised themselves to accomplish this as well as last year. Last year, the team used the regular season loss to build motivation for payback over a number of weeks with a feeling of assurance that they’d reach the ACC championship with another shot at playing Boston College. This year, both the Hokies and the Eagles have hobbled into first place of their respective ACC divisions with the help from other key ACC contests. Given how the Eagles defense emasculated the Hokie offense in this season’s regular season game, I’d say that the Eagles have the wind at their backs."

VT Fan: Immediate Impressions: UVa Game
"Tyrod Taylor is a special player, and I don’t think Virginia Tech fans fully realize it yet. After the Duke game and the turnovers, I read many who were down on him. I won’t go into how unfair it is to critique a QB that has been thrown into the situations that he has, but simply watching the things he can do in the game on Saturday, I’m convinced he will be a star. He simply makes plays - with his feet, and increasingly more with his arm. And let’s face it, he doesn’t exactly have the nation’s best scheme or supporting cast around him."