Friday, February 13, 2009
Your 2009 Hokie Football Schedule
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If the Hokies are going to keep making barrels in 2009, they're going to have to face three distinct and equally challenging parts of their schedule. Get ready, because I'm going to be running the barrel metaphor into the ground all season long.
Tech's schedule is conveniently divided into three equal parts by the calendar. September is the most convenient travel month with three home games and a neutral-site game. However, Tech will face three of college football's premier programs in Alabama, Nebraska and Miami. Alabama saw a resurgence in 2008 under second-year coach Nick Saban. However, in 2009, Alabama will have a new quarterback, running back and a revamped offensive line. I think the Hokies luck out by facing them to start off the season.
Nebraska is the same slow Nebraska we saw last season. And this year the Huskers will also have a new quarterback and lose their best running back and receiver. Again, I'd rather face them early. Same with Miami, which is still a young team. Later in the year, the Hurricanes will be a force to be reckoned with. But facing the Canes early and at home strongly favors the Hokies, in my opinion.
October sees the Hokies' first two true road games. The month starts with a trip to Lane Stadium South to face the Dukies. A week later, Tech faces a team it hasn't beaten in the regular season since 2005. The BC game won't be on a Thursday night in Blacksburg for the first time in a while. With all that the Eagles lost on defense and with Dominique Davis getting the reigns full time, it will be interesting to see how both teams are playing going into this game.
The month ends with the Hokies facing their two main competitors in the Coastal, Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Tech has won its last two trips to Atlanta, but the Jackets and their triple-option played very well at home last year. The schedule of the North Carolina game I feel favors Virginia Tech. The Hokies have a bye week before facing the Tar Heels and catch them on a Thursday night, when Lane is at its fiercest.
The season ends with Tech playing three of its final four on the road. That's the exact opposite situation of last season, when the Hokies had three of four at home to close the season. Conveniently, Tech won its three home games and dropped its one road game in that stretch.
These road games include a Thursday night non-conference game against ECU, Tech's first trip to Maryland since 2005 and the traditional post-Thanksgiving game against UVa. Sandwiched between the Maryland and UVa games is a home game against up-and-coming NC State.
So what's the hardest portion of Tech's schedule? Well, by the end of the season it may very well be November. While on paper, the teams don't seem as challenging as Tech's opponents in September and October, don't discount the fact that three of them are on the road. Dowdy-Ficklen will be a hornets nest for the national TV game and the Hokies aren't used to traveling to College Park. And of course the 'Hoos will be motivated to get the Hokie monkey off their backs.
No matter what, the Hokies are certainly going to have to earn their barrels this year. By the time November runs around, they will have already faced three powerhouse programs, a team that has their number in the regular season and the two teams likely to be their main competition for the division crown.
It will be anything but easy.