Saturday, May 31, 2008

Road to OKC: UF 2, VT 0 (9)

The Hokies go 2NQ at the 2008 Women's College World Series after losing to No. 1 Florida, 2-0, Saturday in Oklahoma City.

Angela Tincher suffered the loss despite striking out 19. The Gators scored two runs in the ninth on a double by pinch hitter Mary Ratliff. Tincher struck out the first two batters of the inning, but gave up two singles and hit a batter before Ratliff's double.

The Hokies had a chance to win the game in the seventh. Erin Ota led off the inning and reached third on a fielding error by Florida center fielder Kim Waleszonia. Gator pitcher Stacey Nelson intentionally walked Charisse Mariconda and Misty Hall to load the bases for Kelsey Hoffman. However, Hoffman grounded into a double play and Jessica Everhart grounded out to end the inning.

Both Thursday and Saturday, early clouds gave way to bright sunshine and temps in the 90s. It was hot, but average for Oklahoma in late May. The Hokie fans Saturday were into the game, getting loud on almost every two-strike count. A few Hokies decided to have fun with the Florida faithful. Every time they started the "Gator Bait" chant, the Hokies behind me responded with chants of "We Eat Gator."

It was a great year for the Hokies and a great career for Angela Tincher. She delivered another brilliant performance, pitching her way out of trouble a few times in the game. However, the Hokie bats were again unable to provide any run support. Below are photos from Saturday's game.

Even softball fans tailgate in the a.m.

Fun at the WCWS Fan Fest

Bracket in front of the stadium

Statue in front of the stadium

Hokies prepare to take the field

Angela Tincher

Hokie fans from Stillwater, Okla.

Hokies are eliminated by Florida

Friday, May 30, 2008

Road to OKC: Game 2 vs. Florida

One loss and the Hokies' season is over. If it comes today, it will end a storybook season for the softball program. It's been fun to follow the softball team this year at the game against Team USA, through ACC play and their run through the NCAA Tournament and WCWS. But there is still work to be done.

The Hokies face the No. 1 seed in the tournament, Florida at noon Saturday. With a win, the Gators will break the NCAA record for most wins in a season. The winner plays again at 7 p.m. while the loser goes 2NQ.

Florida is a team that relies heavily on its offense. Pitcher Stacey Nelson has struggled recently and the Hokies should have a chance to score some runs. Virginia Tech's Angela Tincher is pitching after a full day of rest, which is a big advantage for the Hokies. If Tincher throws the same quality game she did in her first game against Texas A&M, I believe the Hokies will win.

The key offensively for Tech will be getting runners into scoring position. They were able to collect six hits off Texas A&M pitcher Megan Gibson, but couldn't string them together or get down sacrifice bunts that would have moved runners over. A lot of runners were stranded at first base.

Nelson is the type of pitcher that the Hokies can excel against. She doesn't have a lot of big game experience and doesn't give up home runs, which the Hokies don't hit anyway. The home run Nelson gave up in the eighth inning Thursday against UL Lafayette was only the second she's allowed this season. However, she walks a lot of batters, something Virginia Tech should be able to take advantage of.

Gobbler Country at the WCWS
Game 1 vs. Texas A&M
WCWS Preview
Guide to OKC
WCWS Information

Culver tours Parkersburg destruction

If you're a regular reader of The Wizard of Odds, you know about the plight of Parkersburg, Iowa, a football town that was devastated by a tornado Sunday. Thursday, Iowa governor and former Hokie football player Chet Culver toured Parkersburg and attended a prayer service there.

The damage to the town has been estimated at $6 million. Click here for information on how to help the town of Parkersburg.

“It has been five days since this deadly tornado struck our state, and the state of Iowa has rallied behind these communities that have been devastated by Sunday’s severe weather,” Culver said through a media release. “These communities may be damaged, but they are not destroyed. I have the utmost confidence that the homes, businesses and schools that have been affected will be rebuilt, and our state will be stronger than ever.”

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Road to OKC: A&M 1, VT 0

It was an outstanding performance by two remarkable athletes in Angela Tincher and Megan Gibson. What I was most impressed by was Tincher dialing it up to 70 mph on four consecutive pitches to record two strikeouts with a potential go-ahead run on third base in the fourth.

However, in the sixth, Virginia Tech gave up the only run Texas A&M needed when the always reliable Charisse Mariconda threw wildly to first base on what would have been the third out of the inning. Virginia Tech outplayed a superior team for the most part, but was unable to string its hits together. Texas A&M was and the heart of its order scratched across an unearned run against Tincher, who was her typical dominant self.

Something you may not have noticed watching on TV: ESPN's TV breaks between innings were unbearably long. At the beginning of the game, Tincher and Gibson would complete their warmups and then have to wait almost a minute before the inning would start. Both adjusted and toward the end of the game would wait a minute in the dugout before going out to begin their warmups.

Tough luck for Tech. But, this is a double elimination tournament and they will get a chance to survive and advance against No. 1 Florida at noon Saturday. Below are pictures from Thursday's loss to A&M:

Entrance to Don E. Porter ASA Hall of Fame Stadium

Fan Fest outside the stadium

Game 1 between UF and ULL

The new and improved scoreboard at the stadium

Hokies before their first WCWS game

The Hokie Bird makes an appearance in OKC. First time ever?

Hokies take the field for the bottom of the first

Hokies bat in the top of the seventh

Hokies fall to A&M and enter the losers bracket

Road to OKC: Game 1 vs. Texas A&M

The Hokies will have their hands full today against the Aggies. While they are getting most of the attention from the media, the Hokies are definitely the underdog. Outside of Megan Gibson, they Aggies don't have a lot of power threats. But they can all hit, with almost everyone in their batting order above .300.

It will be up to Angela Tincher to keep the Aggies at bay and give her offense a chance to scratch a run against Gibson. Gibson will go out there with something to prove. Many thought she should have been named player of the year over Tincher.

Check back later for a recap and photos from the game.

2008 WCWS

Gobbler Country Coverage
WCWS Preview
Guide to OKC
WCWS Information

Media Coverage
Oklahoman: After tragedy, it's hard not to pull for Hokies
Oklahoman: Hokies, Tincher recall no-hitter vs. Team USA
Roanoke Times: Angela Tincher's big test
Richmond Times-Dispatch: In a world of her own
Lynchburg News-Advance: Hokies depart for College Softball World Series
WDBJ7: Tech's softball team gears up for first College World Series
Norfolk Virginian-Pilot: Underdog Tech softball heads into its first College World Series

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Road to OKC: WCWS Preview

Virginia Tech is definitely the underdog in this tournament. The Hokies are one of two unseeded teams in the field (UL Lafayette is the other). The key for the Virginia Tech will be avoiding playing two games in one day. They rely heavily on starting pitcher Angela Tincher and although she proved she is capable of being dominant in two games in one day in Ann Arbor, its important to get her arm as much rest as possible.

The good news for the Hokies is there isn't much WCWS experience on its side of the bracket. This is Florida's first appearance and UL Lafayette hasn't been since 2003. Texas A&M advances to the World Series last year and went 2NQ (2NQ - Two and Barbecue, or losing both games in a double elimination tournament). The lower half of the bracket is where all the muscle is in Alabama, Arizona State, Arizona and UCLA.

Obviously, if the Hokies can win their first two games, they will be in good shape. However, they will take quite an effort. They face Texas A&M and player of the year candidate Megan Gibson. Gibson is an outstanding all-around player. She is the Aggies best pitcher at 38-1, 0.98, is batting .345 and leads the team in home runs (13) and RBIs (48).

The Hokies were able to score runs thanks to errors and mental breakdowns by Michigan in the Super Regional. That won't happen against A&M. The Aggies have the best fielding percentage in the nation.

Should Tech beat A&M, they will likely face No. 1 seed Florida. The Gators are 67-3 this season and score runs in bunches. A win in their second game would give the Hokies a day off before facing the winner from the losers bracket. However, a loss would send them to the lower bracket, which might actually be tougher than the top half. It features the two-time defending national champion (Arizona), the highest scoring team in the nation (Alabama) and the greatest powerhouse in the history of softball (UCLA).

The Hokies have a great pitcher in Tincher, but at this point every team has a great pitcher. While Tincher is arguably the best pitcher in the nation, she will need help. The Hokies finally broke through with six runs in the third game of their Super Regional and they will need the same timely hitting in every game in OKC. Stranding the bases loaded like they did in the ACC tournament and their regional in Tennessee isn't an option. They are a team that relies on smallball and will need clutch hits to advance.

Texas A&M Aggies (54-7)

How they got here: Won Big 12 Tournament at Don E. Porter ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, hosted their regional, went 3-0 and beat Louisiana Tech to advance, hosted their super regional and swept Stanford.
Pitching: Ranked No. 7 in the country in ERA. Best pitcher is Meagan Gibson at 38-1, 0.98 in 40 appearances, 39 starts.
Hitting: Ranked No. 27 in the country in hitting. Best hitter is also Gibson, who is batting .345 and leads the team in home runs (13) and RBIs (48).
Notes: Have best fielding percentage in the nation...lost both games in 2007 WCWS...are on a 15-game winning three basestealers are a combined 42-for-43 on SB attempts.

Florida Gators (67-3)

How they got here: Won SEC Tournament in Baton Rouge, La., hosted their regional, went 3-1 and beat Central Florida to advance, hosted their super regional and swept Cal.
Pitching: Ranked No. 2 in the country in ERA behind Michigan. Best pitcher is Stacey Nelson at 45-3, 0.73 in 54 appearances, 44 starts.
Hitting: Ranked No. 16 in the country in hitting. Best hitter is Ali Gardiner, who is batting .405 with seven home runs and a team-best 56 RBIs. Have hit 61 home runs this season.
Notes: First ever trip to WCWS...lost to Texas A&M in the super regionals last season...67 wins ties NCAA record for victories in a season, set three times previously.

UL Lafayette (51-13)

How they got here: Won Sun Belt Tournament in Troy, Ala., went 3-0 in Baton Rouge regional, beating LSU to advance, traveled to Houston beat the Cougars in the super regional in three games.
Pitching: Ranked No. 16 in the country in ERA. No. 1 pitcher is true freshman Ashley Brignac at 30-5, 1.38 in 42 appearances, 33 starts. No. 2 pitcher is Donna Bourgeois at 16-4, 0.97 in 35 appearances, 20 starts.
Hitting: Ranked No. 9 in the country in hitting. The Ragin' Cajuns have four hitters ranked in the top 80 in the country in hitting. Best hitter is Holly Tankersley, who is hitting .452 and leads the team in home runs (21) and RBI (72).
Notes: Fifth WCWS appearance and since coaches are husband and wife Michael and Stefni Lotief.

Road to OKC: Guide to Oklahoma City

I was born in Texas, but got to Oklahoma as quick as I could. I grew up in and around Oklahoma City and have seen it grow into an excellent place to live. When friends come in from out of town, they are usually surprised by how much there is to do and how good a time they have.

OKC may have a boring reputation outside of the state, but it's home and I think there's plenty to do and see here. I hope the Hokies that make the trip for the WCWS leave feeling the same way.

Where to Stay

Don't stay near the softball complex. It isn't the best of areas and the hotels near the stadium aren't great. Your best options are Downtown, Northwest Expressway and Broadway Extension in Edmond. From Downtown, you can access I-35 from I-40. From NW Expressway, you can access I-44, which gets you to I-35 in about three minutes. I work at NW Expressway and May Ave., and made the trip from there to the softball complex for the game against Team USA. The total drive time is 10-15 minutes. From Edmond, you can access I-35 from the Kilpatrick Turnpike in minutes.


Courtyard by Marriott OKC Downtown
- $190/night
Residence Inn Oklahoma City Downtown/Bricktown - $210/night
Sheraton Bricktown - $185/night
Renaissance Oklahoma City - $210/night
Historic Skirvin Hilton - $170/night

Northwest Expressway
Comfort Inn at Founders Tower - $75/night
Country Inn and Suites Oklahoma City - $70/night
Marriott Oklahoma City - $180/night
Extended Stay America OKC - $70/night

Broadway Extension (Edmond)
Fairfield Inn Edmond - $110/night
InTown Suites Edmond - $170/week

What to See

Those of you coming to OKC have to stop by the Oklahoma City National Memorial. On April 19, 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed, killing 168 people. The memorial is beautiful and stirring and worth taking the time to visit.

If you went to public school in Oklahoma, like I did, you've been to the Omniplex about 20 times. It's a science museum that also has a dome-shaped theatre similar to IMAX. If you have kids, this is the place to go between sessions. The Zoo is kind of average and the Cowboy Hall of Fame is interesting if you're unfamiliar with the history and culture of the West.

National Memorial - Downtown
Oklahoma City Museum of Art - Downtown
Omniplex - near softball complex
Cowboy Hall of Fame - near softball complex
OKC Zoo - near softball complex

What to Do

OKC boasts one of the best minor league ballparks in the country in AT&T Bricktown Ballpark. The RedHawks have a homestand that starts May 31. Also, Oklahoma has Indian Casinos. Lots of 'em. The two biggest are Riverwind in Norman (25 minutes south of OKC) and FireLake Grand in Shawnee (25 minutes east of OKC). You won't find craps, but you'll find slots, poker and blackjack.

Oklahoma RedHawks - downtown - homestand starts May 31
Remington Park - horse racing and casino - near softball complex
Frontier City - amusement park - Northeast OKC on I-35
White Water Bay - water park - west of downtown on I-40
Chesapeak Boathouse - rowing and kayaking - downtown
Riverwind Casino - Norman
FireLake Grand Casino - Shawnee

Where to Eat

If you stay downtown, you'll find plenty of chain restaurants on the canal like Zio's (Italian), Chelino's (Tex-Mex) and Hooters. But there are plenty of others worth checking out.

Mickey Mantle's Steakhouse - on the canal - upscale dining
The Mantel - Sherridan and Mickey Mantle - great for lunch
Bourbon Street Cafe - Cajun food on the canal - my favorite restaurant in OKC
Crabtown - on Sherridan in Bricktown - seafood
County Line - near softball complex - BBQ

If you're feeling adventurous, you can stop by my mom's restaurant, Deer Creek BBQ in Edmond. It's on the corner of MacArthur and Covell. It's about a 20 minute drive from downtown, but if you E-mail me before you show up, I'll be sure you enjoy a free meal.

Where to Drink

If you're downtown, you'll want to go to Bricktown. It's where most of the nightlife is. If you're 21-35 and a douchebag, you'll want to go to Skyy Bar, above Mickey Mantle's Steakhouse. If you're looking for a more relaxed atmosphere with a large beer list and live music on the weekends, you'll want to go to TapWerks. If you want a sports bar, Coach's and Bricktown Brewery are where you'll want to go. And if you're looking for cougars (or are a cougar), Drinkz is your spot.

Road to OKC: WCWS Information

2008 Women's College World Series
Oklahoma City
Don E. Porter ASA Hall of Fame Stadium
May 29-June 4

Resources WCWS Page
NCAA Softball
WCWS Bracket
All College Assn WCWS Page
Map to Stadium

All Times Local (CDT)
Double elimination

May 29
Game 1 - Florida vs. UL Lafayette - Noon - ESPN
Game 2 - Texas A&M vs. Virginia Tech - 2 p.m. - ESPN
Game 3 - Alabama vs. Arizona State - 6 p.m. - ESPN
Game 4 - Arizona vs. UCLA - 8 p.m. - ESPN

May 30
Game 5 - Winner G1 vs. Winner G2 - 6 p.m. - ESPN2
Game 6 - Winner G3 vs. Winner G4 - 8 p.m. - ESPN2

May 31
Game 7 - Loser G1 vs. Loser G2 - 11 a.m. - ESPN
Game 8 - Loser G3 vs. Loser G4 - 1 p.m. - ESPN
Game 9 - Winner G7 vs. Loser G6 - 6 p.m. - ESPN
Game 10 - Winner G8 vs. Loser G6 - 8 p.m. - ESPN

June 1
Game 11 - Winner G5 vs. Winner G9 - Noon - ESPN
Game 12 - Winner G6 vs. Winner G10 - 2 p.m. - ESPN
Game 13 - Game 11 rematch if necessary - 6 p.m. - ESPN2
Game 14 - Game 12 rematch if necessary - 8 p.m. - ESPN2

Championship Series (Best of 3)
June 2 - Game 1 - 7 p.m. - ESPN2
June 3 - Game 2 - 7 p.m. - ESPN2
June 4 - Game 3 (if necessary) - 7 p.m. - ESPN2

Monday, May 26, 2008

Road to OKC: Hokies punch their ticket

The Hokies are coming back to OKC. Virginia Tech has advanced to the Women's College World Series by beating Michigan 1-0 and 6-1 Sunday in Ann Arbor. The WCWS begins Thursday at Don E. Porter ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, the same site of Virginia Tech's 1-0 win over Team USA in March.

In the first game Sunday, Tech scored an unearned run in the first inning on a throwing error by Michigan catcher Roya St. Clair. Angela Tincher made the run hold up by striking out 15 Wolverines. In the decisive game, Tech scored four runs in the third inning off Michigan pitchers Nikki Nimitz and Jordan Taylor.

Taylor and the rest of the Wolverines lost their composure after they felt Taylor was being squeezed by the home plate umpire. She struggled to find the plate and walked in the first run of the game. Taylor and other members of the Michigan team were seen shouting at the umpire while others slammed their gloves to the ground after ball/strike calls did not go their way.

The Hokies, however, maintained their heads and coasted to a 6-1 win and a berth in the WCWS. The Hokies looked like the veteran team with a national title under their belts, not the Wolverines.

The Hokies will face Texas A&M in their first game at 3 p.m. EDT Thursday in OKC. Check this blog Tuesday for a preview of the WCWS. I plan on attending all Virginia Tech's games during the tournament and look forward to seeing a lot of Hokies in Oklahoma City this week.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Great Moments in Beamerball: Give it to me, Roscoe

About this play:

Nov. 1, 2003 | Hokies vs. Miami
Lane Stadium | Blacksburg, Va.

The Hokies used two defensive touchdowns by DeAngelo Hall and Eric Green to build a 31-0 lead on their way to a 31-7 win over No. 2 Miami. It was the highest ranked opponent the Hokies had ever beaten. Hall's touchdown opened the scoring early in the second quarter. He stripped the ball from Miami receiver Roscoe Parrish and galloped 28 yards for the touchdown.

The play is made famous by Bill Roth's call. "He said, 'Give it to me, Roscoe, give it to me!' And down the sidelines Hall went!"

This is the one Virginia Tech game the last few years I didn't attend that I wish I had. The atmosphere for that game was unlike any seen at Lane Stadium. It was one of those special nights where the opposition just had no chance.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Road to OKC: Super Regional Preview

The Hokies are two wins away from returning to Oklahoma City for the Women's College World Series. After winning the Knoxville Regional with a Metallica-inspired 4-2 win over Tennessee Sunday, the Hokies travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., for a best-of-three series with the Michigan Wolverines.

Michigan has become a softball powerhouse the last few years. However, they have not made the WCWS since winning the national championship in 2005. They have lost in a Super Regional each of the last two seasons. However, this season is different because for the first time since 2005, the Wolverines are hosting the Super Regional.

The Wolverines are the No. 4 national seed in the NCAA Tournament and ranked No. 6 in the coaches poll.

Michigan Wolverines (51-6)

How they got here: Earned an at-large bid out of the Big Ten conference and were given the No. 4 national seed in the tournament. Michigan went 3-0 in the Ann Arbor regional, easily beating Wright State, Notre Dame and Kent State.

Hitting: Michigan features one of the most feared hitters in college softball in 1B Samantha Findlay. She is best known for hitting a championship-winning, three-run home run to beat UCLA in the 10th inning of game three in the championship series as a freshman in 2005. This year, she leads the team in almost every significant statistical category including hitting (.401), home runs (21) and RBIs (69). At the end of the regular season, the Wolverines were batting .302, 29th in the NCAA. Their 5.39 runs per game is ranked 24th.

Pitching: Michigan finished the regular season with the best pitching staff in the nation with a 0.78 ERA. Freshman Jordan Taylor is 30-3, 0.70 and sophomore Nikki Nemitz is 21-3, 0.97. Together, they account for every inning pitched by a Wolverine this season.

In 2005, became the first school east of the Mississippi and the first cold-weather school to win the national title...Wolverines are 12-2 at home this season with losses to Northwestern and Iowa.


This won't be easy. Expect runs to be at a premium as the best pitcher in the nation (Tech's Angela Tincher) faces the nation's best pitching staff (Taylor and Nemitz). What worries me is that the Michigan pitchers don't give up a lot of home runs. Taylor gave up eight in 210.0 innings and Nemitz gave up four in 174.0 innings. The Hokies tend to score runs on home runs. They scored 10 runs in Knoxville and eight of them came on homers. The Hokies will need to succeed more when playing small ball. They've left a lot of runners on base in the ACC and NCAA Tournaments.

Fair or not, this will probably come down to Tincher. She's not going to have a lot of room for error and one run may be too many for the Hokie offense to compensate for. The key will be every time Tincher faces Findlay. She's drives the Wolverine offense and Tincher has to keep her from doing damage.

The schedule favors Michigan's ability to use two pitchers. The Hokies will likely use Tincher in all three games and if Game 3 is necessary, it will mean she has to pitch three games in two days.


Hokies at Michigan Wolverines
Wilpon Complex at Alumni Field
Ann Arbor, Mich.
All Times EDT

Game 1 - Sat., May 24 - Noon (ESPN)
Game 2 - Sun., May 25 - 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 3 - Sun., May 25 - 3 p.m. (If necessary - ESPN)

Super Regional Information
NCAA Tournament Bracket

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Importance of Turnovers

If you out-rush your opponent, have fewer turnovers than your opponent and put pressure on the opposing quarterback, you'll win almost every college football game you're in. Tech's running game has already been discussed. As for the other two, well, one can be a byproduct of the other. If you're able to put pressure on the quarterback, you're able to force him into making decisions he wouldn't otherwise making and possibly force an interception on a bad throw or a fumble on a sack.

Winning the turnover battle requires solid play from both the offense and defense, just like out-rushing the opponent. However, out-rushing the opponent is more indicative of how both teams' lines played through the whole game. Turnovers can often have a more immediate impact on the game.

Turnovers have an effect on field position, momentum and the crowd. An interception by the home team can ignite the crowd and give momentum to the offense that wasn't there previously. By contrast, a fumble in the red zone by the home team can silence a frenzied fan base. Turnovers can also lead directly to points, as every Hokie fan knows.

So why is it important for the Hokies to have more takeaways that giveaways? Simple. Tech has not lost a game in which the opposition committed more turnovers than the Hokies since 2004. The Hokies lost at home to NC State despite forcing two turnovers and committing one. Since then, they've rattled off 28 consecutive wins when forcing more turnovers than they've committed.

Here it is by season since the Hokies joined the ACC in 2004:
ACC games in parenthesis

Committing fewer turnovers
2004: 6-1 (4-1)
2005: 8-0 (4-0)
2006: 8-0 (4-0)
2007: 7-0 (6-0)
Total: 29-1 (18-1)

Committing more or equal turnovers
2004: 4-2 (3-0)
2005: 3-2 (3-2)
2006: 2-3 (2-2)
2007: 4-3 (2-2)
Total: 13-10 (10-6)

Turnovers can also explain the Hokies' struggle in recent bowls. Since joining the ACC, Tech's only bowl win was in the 2006 Gator Bowl over Louisville. In that game, Tech forced four turnovers and didn't commit any. The Hokies forced Card QB Hunter Cantwell to throw three interceptions, the last of which was returned for a game-clinching touchdown in their 35-24 win.

However, in the three losses, the Hokies lost the turnover battle by a combined total of 9-4, including 7-2 in the last two bowls against Georgia and Kansas.

An important part of winning the turnover battle is the quarterback. It's important to have a smart quarterback capable of managing the game and not committing dumb turnovers. Sean Glennon has filled this role for the most part, but has had two bad outings in bowl games. He threw three in the Peach Bowl loss to Georgia and two more in the Orange Bowl loss to Kansas.

While Glennon has laid two eggs in bowls, he is responsible for the Hokies winning the turnover battle in a lot of their games. He doesn't force passes that aren't there, he doesn't throw into double coverage and when he misses, he's typically putting the ball where only his receive has a chance to make the catch.

Tyrod Taylor, being a mobile quarterback, is by nature going to commit more turnovers than a pocket quarterback. This is because mobile quarterbacks carry the ball more often and are more susceptible to fumbles. He threw three interceptions last year, only one of which had enough negative impact to have an effect on the game. But what an effect it had.

The other key component to turnovers are the defensive ends. They're the ones applying pressure to the quarterback, forcing interceptions and fumbles. And fortunately for the Hokies, they have had some great ones the last four years. Jim Davis, Noland Burchette, Darryl Tapp and Chris Ellis were about as good as you could ask for over a four-year period. This year, it's up to Orion Martin, Jason Worilds and Nekos Brown to continue the tradition.

The Hokies should have another good year in the turnover battle in 2008. They have a solid group of defensive ends and two playmakers in the secondary in Macho Harris and Kam Chancellor who can force interceptions. They also have two quarterbacks who aren't going to force things that aren't there and cost the Hokies a game with a dumb giveaway.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Great Moments in Beamerball: 1993 Independence Bowl

I was at this game. A few memories:

1. Tech's uniforms were great in this one. I like the orange pants.
2. Hokie fans had a great chant during the game: "Hey Hoosiers, There's Always Basketball".
3. My dad flew us to Shreveport the day of the game in what I think was a Cessna. After the game, we were taxiing to the runway when one of the tires got punctured by a nail. Good thing we noticed BEFORE taking off.
4. With the departure of the Orange Bowl, the Cotton Bowl and Independence Stadium are in a tight race for title of "Worst Stadium Used for College Football".

About the play:

Dec. 31, 1993 | Hokies vs. Indiana
Independence Bowl | Shreveport, La.

The Hokies led, 14-13 before scoring two non-offensive touchdowns in the final 35 seconds of the half. Tech returned a fumble with 23 seconds left to make the score 21-13. Indiana then got into field goal range and called a timeout with one second left in the half for a 51-yard attempt. The field goal was blocked and taken in for a touchdown by Antonio Banks and the rout was on. Tech went on to win, 45-20.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

5 Youngsters to Watch in 2008

Here are five freshmen and sophomores (other than Tyrod) who could make an impact by the end of the season:

1. The Running Backs
(RFr., Darren Evans, RFr., Josh Oglesby, Fr., Ryan Williams)

One of them is bound to take control as the No. 1 running back by the time the Hokies finish their non-conference schedule. Evans is the closest right now. Oglesby could be there if he improves his pass blocking. Williams is the X-factor.

Williams most likely will not redshirt. He'll get on the field somehow, even if the coaches have to put him in as a receiver to do it. How quickly he starts getting carries depends on how he is able to adjust to the Hokies' blocking scheme and his ability to pass block.

2. RSo., John Graves, DT

A sophomore is currently No. 1 on the depth chart at defensive tackle. That isn't good news to me. Graves was unimpressive during his freshman season and needs to have a better 2008 now that he has a year of experience under his belt.

He's a tall, agile DT, which worked for Barry Booker the last two seasons. I'd prefer at least one of our defensive tackles be of the large, stocky, gap-filler variety, but now that Taco Thompson has lost 30 pounds, that won't be the case.

Hopefully Graves and Thompson can use their agility to slip blocks and make tackles in the backfield.

3. RSo., Jason Worilds, DE

He's quick and he's agile and he has a sixth sense for getting to the quarterback. Worilds has shown all this in practice the last two years, but now will get his chance to show it as a starter.

I think Worilds is the prefect replacement for the departed Chris Ellis and its his time to shine. He's the next in the long line of great Tech defensive ends.

4. Fr., Vinston Painter, OT

The Hokies plan to start redshirt freshman Blake DeChristopher at right tackle next year. I wouldn't be surprised if the much-ballyhooed Painter gets his shot at right tackle as well. The Hokies need help and depth on the offensive line.

If Painter is as good as he's been touted, he could start seeing significant playing time late in the season.

5. Fr., Allen Stephens, LB

Ok, on this one I'm a little bias. He's from the same part of Virginia as my family (Halifax County Rep-ra-zent!) and I've been reading and hearing about him for the last two years.

The kid is a fierce competitor and a freak of nature by all accounts. If he can adjust to the speed of college football, he should be a beast at linebacker for the Hokies. Probably not this season, but one can hope.

ESPN ACC Spring Recap 2008

ESPN has posted its 2008 spring recap for the ACC. Heather Dinich's review of the Coastal Division can be found here and Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach's what to watch for in the fall can be found here.

Dinich is high on Tech's returners at linebacker and on the offensive line. However, she questions the Hokies' depth at cornerback and their need for a starting running back.

Schlabach is looking forward to what the Hokies will offer on offense with two experienced quarterbacks and four inexperienced running backs.

The ESPN writers appear to be high on Clemson, but question whether the offensive line will be the Achilles' heel for the Tigers. Maisel looks forward to seeing which Maryland team will show up in 2008.

Dinich seems to think Miami will have a solid year if new QB Robert Marve can live up to expectations and the defense buys into what new defensive coordinator Bill Young is selling. Young was the DC at KU last season.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

ACC looking at new bowls for '09

ACC commish John Swafford announced today at the ACC meetings in Amelia Island, Fla., this will be the last year the conference will be tied in with the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho.

Swafford said the conference is looking into affiliations with the Congressional Bowl in DC and the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

The ACC will send its ninth bowl eligible team (if there is one) to the Congressional Bowl in 2008 to face Navy (if they, too, are bowl eligible). The GMAC Bowl is currently affiliated with CUSA and the MAC.

The Humanitarian Bowl has seen an ACC participant six of the last seven years, including Clemson, (2001), Georgia Tech (2003, '07), Virginia (2004), BC (2005) and Miami (2006). The ACC has gone 4-2 in the Humanitarian Bowl.

I never minded being affiliate with the goofy bowl in Boise. Between the smurf turf and the nearby ski resorts, it always seemed like it would be a cool place to go bowling. Then again, I don't mind cold weather. But there is a stigma attached to going to the Humanitarian Bowl. The cold and the blue turf and the fact that Boise isn't exactly a popular destination for a bowl makes the recipient of the Humanitarian Bowl berth the punchline of many jokes.

However, Boise is a much more desirable vacation destination to me than Birmingham or El Paso, where the Big East sends two of its bowl teams. However, those two bowls, the and Sun, respectively, offer more lucrative tie-ins. The Big East faces the SEC in the Bowl and the Pac 10 in the Sun Bowl. The Big East also faces the Big 12 in the Texas Bowl, played in Houston.

If the ACC is going to start fixing its tie-ins, I'd rather see more tie-ins against BCS conference teams instead of just switching from the WAC to CUSA with the GMAC move. Why not try to send a team to the International Bowl (Toronto's a great city, even if it is Canada in January) to face Connecticut or South Florida instead of facing Tulsa or Memphis in Mobile?

Road to OKC: Knoxville Regional Preview

The Hokies begin their quest for the Women's College World Series this weekend in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee hosts Tech, Louisville and Winthrop May 16-18 for the right to advance to a Super Regional against the winner of the Ann Arbor Regional.

The road to Oklahoma City will be a tough one for the Hokies. Their region is full of solid teams. It will take an outstanding effort from Angela Tincher and timely hitting from the Hokies' batting order to advance out of Knoxville.

This is Tech's fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Hokies have been bounced from the tournament before the regional's final day in each of the previous three seasons.

In 2006, the Hokies were sent to the Knoxville Regional and faced Louisville in the first round. They beat the Cards on day one, 1-0 in 12 innings. However, they lost to Tennessee and Louisville on day two by a combined score of 19-2.

Tennessee (47-14)

How they got here: The Lady Vols received an at-large bid from the SEC. They lost to Florida in the semifinals of the SEC tournament, 6-1.
Hitting: No. 12 in the nation at .317. 1B Tonya Callahan is No. 6 in the country in hitting with a .469 batting average. Callahan has 16 of their 38 home runs this season. She leads Tennessee in home runs and RBIs (61). The Lady Vols are No. 20 in the country in scoring, averaging 5.58 runs per game.
Pitching: No. 40 in the country in ERA at 2.05. The good news is Monica Abbott has graduated and moved on to Team USA. However, Tennessee still has a solid pitcher in Ashton Ward, who is 27-5, 1.94 this season.
Notes: The Lady Vols are seeking their fourth consecutive trip to Oklahoma City...they are 26-6 at home this season, 18-0 in non-conference home games.

Louisville (30-21)

How they got here: The Cards received an at-large bid out of the Big East conference. They lost to USF, 2-1, in the semifinals of the Big East tournament.
Hitting: Not ranked at .270. They are No. 77 in the country in scoring at 4.37 runs per game. Their leading hitter is C Melissa Roth at .361. She is also their biggest threat on the basepaths, successful on nine of 11 stolen base attempts. Freshman 3B Chelsea Bemis leads the Cards in RBIs with 49. No other player has more than 26.
Pitching: No. 83 in the country with a 2.61. Their ace is Kristen Wadwell at 18-13, 2.19.
Notes: 14-10 in road and neutral games...this is their fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Winthrop (36-17)

How they got here: Automatic berth as the Big South champion. Beat Liberty, 6-1, in the Big South championship game.
Hitting: No. 66 in the country at .282. No. 68 in scoring with 4.44 runs per game. OF Lisa Kingsmore is No. 9 in the nation in hitting at .459. She is second on the team in RBIs with 30 behind 3B Mallory Hogan's 49.
Pitching: No. 20 in the nation with a 1.50. Sophomore Megan Evans is No. 38 in the country in ERA with a 1.32. She is 18-6 this season.
Notes: 17-12 in road and neutral games...lost to Virginia Tech, 3-0, in the championship game of the Hokies United Memorial Tournament in Botetourt, Va., Feb. 24.

Schedule (all times EDT)
Friday, May 16
Game 1 - 2:30 - Virginia Tech vs. Louisville
Game 2 - 5:00 - Tennessee vs. Winthrop
Saturday, May 17
Game 3 - Noon - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 (ESPN2)
Game 4 - 2:30 - Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
Game 5 - 5:00 - Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4
Sunday, May 18
Game 6 - 1:30 - Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5
Game 7 - 4:00 - Rematch of Game 6 (if necessary)

Regional Information from
NCAA Tournament Bracket
ESPN Preview

Off Topic: D3 WCWS in Salem

The D3 WCWS will be played in Salem, Va., May 16-20. Lynchburg College (39-6) has advanced to the D3 WCWS as the No. 2 seed in the tournament. The Hornets will face Muskingum at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

5 Guys Who Need to Excel in 2008

Here are five players the Hokies need to have great years in 2008:

1. Jr., Ed Wang, OT

Wang will move from right to left tackle in 2008, replacing the departed Duane Brown. Why is Wang important? Because at left tackle he'll be protecting the quarterback's blind side. Wang missed most of fall practice and the first six games of the season in 2007 due to a broken left ankle. This year, the Hokies need Wang healthy from the start as he adjusts to the most important position on the offensive line.

If Wang is able to fill Brown's shoes at left tackle, Glennon will be kept upright more often and the Hokies pass game will be improved. However, if he can't adjust to his new role, the passing attack and the offense overall will be in big trouble.

2. Jr., Kam Chancellor, S

Hall, Adibi, Flowers and Ellis are all gone from last year's defense. New leaders need to be found and quickly or we might see a repeat of the matador defense the Hokies used in 2003 (Ole!). Chancellor needs to be the guy that steps up and guides the defense. He's also switching positions from rover to free safety and will need to make adjustments before the season. Chancellor broke out as a sophomore last year at rover and was one of the Hokies' hardest hitters.

Now at free safety, Chancellor will be quarterbacking the defense and I believe will lead the Hokies to another outstanding year on defense. He's bigger and faster than free safeties Tech has had in the past. However, he needs to take over this defense. His leadership skills will be vital to preventing a repeat of 2003's disaster.

3. Sr., Dustin Keys, K

Assuming Keys wins the position, the Hokies will need him to be clutch in 2008. This is the second consecutive season Tech has a new kicker. Last season, Jud Dunlevy beat out Keys and a host of others to win the job and performed admirably during the season.

We'll know Keys is doing a good job if we don't notice him. If we do notice him, that means he's missing kicks. That's not good for a team that I think will have a lot of close calls this year. With so many new players playing new positions this season, Tech will need as many points as they can get.

Is this the part where I'm supposed to make a pun about Keys being a key player in 2008? OK. Good.

4. So., Tyrod Taylor, QB

Here's all Tyrod needs to do in 2008:

1. Show up healthy in the fall and prove to Hokie fans and media he doesn't need to be redshirted.
2. Give Glennon a breather when he needs it or if he gets hurt (like in the FSU game last year).
3. When in the game, give opposing defenses a different look in strategic situations to keep them on their toes.

Nothing more. Nothing less. The kid doesn't need to be a world-beater yet. Next year, however...

5. Jr., Cordarrow Thompson, DT

"Taco" had a strong spring after dropping 30 pounds. The Hokies will need him to help anchor its rush defense since No. 1 defensive tackle John Graves has yet to show his potential at the position.

Thompson showed signs of being a solid player late in the season in 2007. He finished the season with four tackles, and a sack while being No. 5 on the depth chart.

Coaches are raving about Thompson's ability. The Hokies are very thin at defensive tackle, so they will need Thompson and Graves to have big years in the middle of the defensive line.

Coming Thursday: 5 Freshmen or Sophomores to Watch in 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Road to OKC: ESPN takes advantage of Tincher hype

If you watched ESPNU's coverage of the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament over the weekend, you saw Angela Tincher's face a lot during halftime and between games. The network ran a feature on Virginia Tech's softball win over Team USA several times during the weekend, especially on Sunday after the Hokies won the ACC softball tournament.

The game has rebroadcast several times on ESPN2, giving the country a glimpse at the Hokie program's greatest moment. Now, the Hokies have another chance to appear on the network.

If the Hokies beat Louisville Friday in the first round of their NCAA regional in Knoxville, they will face the winner of Tennessee-Winthrop. That game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 at noon EDT Saturday.

It is one of three regional games scheduled for ESPN2 this weekend. Games six and seven from Tuscaloosa will also be shown live. ESPNU has coverage of every game from the UCLA regional.

5 Things I'm Worried About in 2008

Five areas that concern me heading into the 2008 season:

1. Rush Offense

Here's what I think about the running back situation: If Darren Evans leads the Hokies in rushing yards next season, they will have a good year. If Tyrod Taylor, Kenny Lewis or Jahre Cheeseman lead the Hokies in rushing next year, it means it was a down year.

Basically, I think one of the freshmen, be it Evans, Josh Oglesby or Ryan Williams, needs to be THE GUY in the backfield. Lewis is best as a situational back and I don't think Cheeseman has the skills to be a great ball carrier. But the untapped ability of the freshmen trio could be Tech's greatest asset in the backfield. One of them has to step up. However, I don't think it will happen until after the Western Kentucky game when the Hokies get into the teeth of their ACC schedule.

The coaching staff will likely give most of the early carries to Cheeseman and Lewis because they have more experience with the offense. It will be up to one of the other three to take carries away from Cheeseman and Lewis. The best bet is Evans, who has shown the ability to pass block, which is the best way on to the field with running backs coach Billy Hite.

For Tech to have a great year, one of the freshmen have to break through. And if Tyrod leads the team in rushing, it means the whole system was shot to hell.

2. Rush Defense

The Hokies lost two of their best linebackers in recent memory with the departures of Hall and Adibi. They are also not very deep at defensive tackle. In fact, the Hokies lost the top three on their depth chart at the position.

Tech faced a similar situation in 2003 and saw teams rush for ridiculous numbers against them that season. And most of those rushing yards came right up the gut.

The coaches are raving about sophomore Taco Thompson, who is likely to start and be No. 2 on the depth chart next year. However, even if he is as good as advertised, the Hokies have no depth at the position.

If the defensive tackles have trouble stopping the run, it means the Hokies are going to have to use more linebackers and safeties to help stop the run. That will leave them vulnerable to passes over the middle to backs and tight ends and to long bombs on the sideline to wide receivers facing man coverage.

3. Kicker

Senior Dustin Keys will likely win the kicking job. It will be the third kicker the Hokies have had in as many years. If Keys has the same year Jud Dunlevy had in his only year as the starting kicker last season, the Hokies will be fine. If he doesn't, we could see two or three kickers get their shot during the season.

4. Early Games

With the influx of new talent, there is likely to be some growing pains. The Hokies struggled to score points early in the season last year, but were still able to win the games they were supposed to win. They may not be this lucky this season because of how green the defense will be.

I'm worried about the ECU game because they Pirates are a solid team and its on a neutral field. If last year's ECU game had been played in Charlotte instead of Blacksburg, who knows how the game would have turned out.

The Hokies also have road games against up-and-coming UNC and Nebraska. The Huskers are trying to return to glory and their new head coach, Bo Pelini, did a number on the Hokies as the defensive coordinator at LSU last year. However, he had a lot more talent at LSU than he does at Nebraska.

Still, the road game will be a very tough test for the Hokies.

5. Keeping the QB Upright

Protecting the quarterback's blind side next year will be Ed Wang at left tackle. It's a new position for him. I think he's the best offensive lineman Tech has going into 2008, but there will likely still be a learning curve.

At the other tackle spot is Blake DeChristopher, who has never played in a college game.

Coming Wednesday: 5 Guys Who Need to Excel in 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008

5 Things I'm Not Worried About in 2008

Five areas where the Hokies will be fine going into the 2008 season:

1. Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

OMG! WTF! We lost four senior wide receivers from last year!

Get over it. Yes, Royal, Morgan, Hyman and Harper were very good. But they can be replaced pretty easily. The Hokies' offense doesn't need great wide receivers.

Having those receivers as threats on the outside does spread the defense and make the run game easier. But they aren't necessary for the offense to be productive. Where they come handy the most is in the red zone as possession receivers when the defense is trying to stop the run.

The Hokies appear to have found a go-to receiver in spring practice. Brandon Dillard showed great speed in the spring game and will probably be Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor's primary target in the fall.

What Tech needs to do now is fill certain roles. The Hokies need a possession receiver in the red zone, which looks like it could be Cory Holt. He made a nice catch in the back of the end zone for a touchdown in the spring game, but is still adjusting to the position.

With Macho Harris now as an option as and the possibility of using Ryan Williams on the outside just to get him playing time, the Hokies will be just fine at receiver.

And it's looking like Tech has another good tight end duo in Greg Boone and Sam Wheeler. Tech has a tradition of having good combos at tight end. Boone and Wheeler could be the best combo its had. Wheeler has having a great year before suffering a season-ending knee injury at Georgia Tech last year. Boone has improved steadily each year at tight end since switching from quarterback.

The passing game won't be a problem for the Hokies in 2008. Another reason for this is next on the list.

2. Quarterback

The two-quarterback system, when orchestrated properly, can do outstanding things. It helped win Florida a national championship in 2006 and did the same for LSU last year. I think the coaching staff needs to take a look at the game tape from the LSU game last year (as painful as that is) and take some tips on how the Tigers used Flynn and Perrilloux. Glennon and Taylor can be used the same way.

Glennon needs to be the starter and leader of the offense. Taylor needs to be used to show the defense a different look and give the offense versatility when it needs it. He can also help the running game.

3. Pass Defense

Despite the loss of Ellis, the Hokies are pretty deep at defense end. Again. Orion Martin stepped up last year and was an excellent complement to Ellis rushing the quarterback. He can also drop back in pass coverage and use his nearly 40-inch vertical to snag passes.

Jason Worilds set the message boards ablaze last year with his performance in fall practice. He'll probably be a starter next year and is ready to break out. Nekos Brown moved to defensive end last year and had a solid season.

With those three applying pressure and Harris and Kam Chancellor lurking in the defensive backfield, it won't be easy to be a quarterback against Virginia Tech next year. That's why rush defense will be so important. Forcing opponents into passing situations will be a quick way to force turnovers.

4. Field Position

Brent Bowden showed versatility as both a driver and a wedge last year. He was able to boom kicks and pin them close to the goal line.

Macho Harris looks to take over return duties for Royal this upcoming season and showed last year he has the ability to break one at any time.

5. Winning the Division

Tech could drop one or two games in the conference in 2008. But that shouldn't stop them from winning the division. Their primary opposition in the ACC Coastal is Miami. The Hurricanes are also very young and have a lot of good talent, but they are still building.

The rest of the division is very poor. Duke is a doormat, Georgia Tech is installing a new offense and has seen a lot of players transfer, UVa lost a lot of talent and UNC is getting closer. UNC could be the darkhorse, but needs to be better at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

If Tech beats Miami, it should win its division and be bound for Tampa and the ACCCG.

Coming Tuesday: Five Things I'm Worried About in 2008

An E-mail from VT Club Sports

I've received a few E-mails in response to my post about the men's lacrosse club team. However, one of them surprised me. Not because of what it said, but because of who it was from.

Virginia Tech's Assistant Director of Recreational Sports/Sport Clubs, Alan Glick, E-mailed to point out (justifiably so) that the post made it appear that if Tech added men's lacrosse as a varsity sport, the club team would go away. I touched briefly upon the notion that both teams could co-exist, but the tone of the article made it seem that the club team would be doomed if a varsity team arrived on campus. That was my error. I should have made it more clear that keeping the the club team was not just likely, but nearly guaranteed should Tech start a varsity lax team.

Below is Alan's letter, reprinted with his permission:

I read your very informative piece tonight on the men's club lacrosse program. As the sports club director, I'd just like to make a point that was not really addressed in your article. VT would not be in an "either/or" situation regarding having a club vs. a varsity men's lacrosse program.

My office advises and funds 29 sport clubs, including the men's lacrosse team. There are a number of sports at Tech that exist as both club and varsity (i.e. women's volleyball, women's lacrosse, baseball, men's & women's soccer, among others), there are some sports that exist as only club and not as varsity (i.e. men's lacrosse, bowling, clay target, water ski, crew, snow ski, among others) and there are some sports that exist only as varsity and not also as a club sport (i.e. football, women's volleyball, track & field, among others).

Even if the athletics dept. were to add men's lacrosse as a varsity sport sometime in the future, we (the Dept. of Recreational Sports) would continue to support/fund/advise a men's club lacrosse team. Any decisions made by the athletics dept. would not really impact our sports club program. Some of our students think that if athletics adds a new sport, that means that they will scoop up our club team (i.e. men's lacrosse or field hockey) and drop it into the athletics dept. Obviously, Jim Weaver would hire a coach and fund a new sport with a recruiting budget, etc ... maybe some of our club athletes would try to make the varsity roster, and probably many of them would be happy to continue to participate in the club version of the sport.

So, VT might one day have a varsity men's lacrosse program, but we will always have a club team as well. It's not an either/or situation- I'm not sure the average Hokie fan realizes this. It might not be that important in the scheme of things, but I did want to point that out. Our club team will always be a part of VT.

As far as additional varsity sports being added in the near future, the only sport that Jim Weaver has publicly stated will be added next is women's golf. Beyond that, he hasn't made any public statements. If you have any questions about our sports club program, just let me know.

Alan Glick

Friday, May 9, 2008

Weekend News and Notes: May 9

Here's what's happening around Gobbler Country for May 9-11:


The Hokies continue play at the ACC Tournament in College Park, Md. Tech beat Maryland, 7-4, in the first round Thursday. The Hokies face FSU Friday at 12:30 p.m. If they win, they don't play again until 11 a.m. Saturday. A loss means they have to win four games in three days to win the ACC Tournament. That road would begin at 8 tonight against BC, who eliminated Maryland late Thursday.

Angela Tincher was named ACC Pitcher of the Year for the third consecutive season. She and 3B Charisse Mariconda were named to the All-ACC first team. C Kelsey Hoffman and OF Jenna Rhodes were named second-team All-ACC.

UPDATE: The Hokies successfully defended their ACC title by beating NC State, 2-0, Sunday to claim the 2008 ACC Championship. The tournament was shortened to single-elimination after heavy rains in the College Park area Friday. Tincher was named the tournament MVP after no-hitting FSU in the semifinals and shutting out NC State in the title game. The NCAA Tournament Selection Show is 10 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU and ESPNEWS.


Tech plays host to a three-game series against No. 1 Miami. The Hokies and 'Canes meet at 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday at English Field.

The Hokies are 0-9 all-time against the 'Canes and will be hard-pressed to earn their first victory over Miami this weekend. Miami is 20-2 in ACC play, with losses to Florida State and NC State.

The 'Cane hitters have scored 208 runs and hit 40 home runs in 22 ACC games and will face a Tech pitching staff that has is 4-20, 6.73 in ACC play. 1B Yonder Alonso is hitting .358 with 10 home runs and 27 RBIs against ACC opponents.

UPDATE: The Hokies shocked the Hurricanes in game two of the series, beating them, 7-6, in game one of a doubleheader Saturday. Tech trailed, 5-1, after four, but scored three in the seventh to tie the game at six and scored the winning run in the eighth on a double by Austin Wates. Justin Wright pitched a complete game for the Hokies to improve to 3-0 this season. Klint Reed was 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs to pace Tech offensively. Miami took the other two games of the three-game series.


The No. 30 Hokies begin NCAA Tournament play at 2 p.m. Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn., against No. 37 Kentucky. If the Hokies advance, they would play at 2 p.m. Sunday. No. 8 Tennessee and Furman are the other two teams in Tech's regional.

Kentucky boasts the No. 20 singles player in NCAA, Bruno Agostinelli, from Niagra Falls, Canada. He is 22-13 this season and is the likely opponent for Tech's No. 1 player, Albert Larregola, from Lleida, Spain. Larregola is 27-14 this season and has already secured a spot in the NCAA singles competition, set for May 21-26 in Tulsa, Okla.

This is Tech's second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Hokies fell to Old Dominion in the first round last season, 4-3.

UPDATE: Tech beat Kentucky, 4-0 in the first round Saturday and fell, 4-0, to Tennessee in the second round Sunday.

Former Hokies

Patrick Nyarko (Soccer): Nyarko is currently on the MLS Chicago Fire's reserve team. The Fire reserves play at 10 a.m. Friday at D.C. United. He started in both of the previous two Fire reserve games, once as a midfielder and once as a forward. He scored the Fire reserves' lone goal in their previous game April 20 against Kansas City.

UPDATE: Nyarko had an assist in Chicago's 2-0 win in the reserve match. He now has a goal and an assist in three reserve matches this season.

Joe Saunders (Baseball): The former Hokie pitcher has had an incredible start to the 2008 campaign. He is 6-0, 2.61 in seven starts this season. He takes the mound at 7:10 p.m. Saturday at Tampa Bay opposite the Rays' Scott Kazmir. Saunders was shaky in his previous start, May 4 against the Orioles. He gave up four runs on 12 hits, but earned the win. The Springfield, Va., native is tied for the AL lead in wins with teammate Ervin Santana, the Yankees' Chein-Ming Wang and the Indians' Cliff Lee. He is eighth in the AL in ERA.

UPDATE: Saunders took his first loss of the season in the Angels' 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay Saturday. Saunders gave up a run on four hits, all singles, walked four and struck out three in 6.0 innings. He is now 6-1, 2.48. The Rays loaded the bases with one out in the first inning off Saunders and scored their lone run off him on a ground out by Evan Longoria. Saunders would not allow another runner past first base. The Angels had a chance to get a no-decision for Saunders in the eighth when they loaded the bases with one out. However, neither Torii Hunter nor Garrett Anderson could get the ball out of the infield to end the threat.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Roth Report Features Bowls and Basketball

Today's Kroger Roth Report on has several interesting notes, including the ACC's new bowl alignment. It also touches on when and why the ACC will go to an 18-game conference schedule in basketball.

The ACC is now affiliated with nine bowls, including the new Congressional Bowl in Washington, DC. It's cliche to say there are too many bowls out there, but what else are you going to watch on a Tuesday night in mid-December? The NBA? Please. It means more college football, which is fine by me.

Virginia Tech will likely gain a home conference game in basketball starting with the 2011-12 season. That's when the ACC could move to an 18-game conference schedule to reduce scheduling costs and increase TV revenue. ACC teams currently play 16 regular season games against conference opponents. The Pac 10 and Big East play 18 conference games. I'm also a proponent of this move. It makes it more likely to see UNC, Duke or Maryland in Cassell Coliseum every year.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Hall of Fame: Will Furrer

My first college football game was Sept. 28, 1991. The Hokies traveled to Norman, Okla., to face the No. 6 OU Sooners. Virginia Tech was 1-2 going into the game and would finish the season 5-6. They were two seasons from their first Beamer Bowl Berth and were in their first season in the Big East.

OU was 2-0 going into the game and would end up having a typical Gary Gibbs season. The Sooners went 9-3 with losses to Texas, Colorado and Nebraska, the same three teams they lost to almost every year Gibbs was coach.

The Sooners were quarterbacked by Cale Gundy, a sophomore, local legend and brother of current OSU coach Mike Gundy. Cale would go on to re-write the OU passing record book, partly because he played almost from the moment he arrived on campus and mainly because it had almost been illegal to pass at OU for the previous 40 years.

The Hokies were quarterbacked by Will Furrer, a lefty from Central Pennsylvania. It was his senior year and he had thrown for over 2,000 yards the year before. Furrer also played almost from his arrival at Virginia Tech from Fork Union Military Academy.

The Hokies were huge underdogs, but fought valiantly on the road, losing 27-17. Tech trailed, 13-10 at halftime, but two third quarter touchdowns did in the Hokies. Furrer threw for 268 yards, but also threw three interceptions.

Furrer was exciting to watch in that he could scramble and had a big arm, but he also threw a lot of interceptions. His career may not have been very accomplished, but he gets in to the Gobbler Country Hall of Fame because he was a gunslinger and was the quarterback for the Hokies when I first became a Hokie fan and for my first Hokie (and college football) game.

Notes: Furrer started Mike Ditka's last game as Chicago Bears head coach, a 27-14 loss at Dallas on Dec. 27, 1992...according to the Virginia Tech media guide, Furrer and Steve Casey are the only two quarterbacks since 1952 to lead the team in passing four consecutive years...Furrer was drafted by Chicago in the fourth round of the 1992 NFL Draft...he is currently the president of IF Marketing and Advertising in Georgetown, Texas, a suburb of Austin.

Men's Lax Club Going to Nationals

The Virginia Tech men's lacrosse club team, which was profiled here April 17, has been given an at-large selection to the MCLA national tournament.

The Hokies (14-2) will travel to Dallas, Texas, for nationals May 13-17. They have been given the No. 10 seed in the tournament and will face No. 7 Colorado State at 7 p.m. CDT May 13 at the Ross Stewart Soccer Complex in Farmers Branch, Texas. CSU was the No. 2 seed in last year's tournament and made it to the semifinals before falling to Oregon. This year, the Rams went 10-5 in the regular season.

Tech would face the winner of No. 2 Chapman (Calif.) and No. 15 Florida at 7 p.m. May 14 with a win over CSU. A loss would send the Hokies to the consolation bracket, where they would be guaranteed two more games.

The semifinals and final will be held at Texas Stadium in Irving, home of the Dallas Cowboys. The semis will be at 5 and 8 p.m. May 16 and the championship will be at 7 p.m. May 17.

Congratulations to Coach Joel Nachlas and the Hokies and good luck in Big D.

Boston College and Florida State were also selected to the MCLA tournament field. With the four ACC teams in the NCAA Tournament, this makes seven ACC schools whose lacrosse teams made it to their respective postseason tournaments.

MCLA National Tournament

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tincher's No-hitter on ESPN2 Tonight

You can see the tape delay of Angela Tincher's no-hitter against Team USA at 7 p.m. EDT tonight on ESPN2. The Hokies beat Team USA, 1-0, March 26 in Oklahoma City. Click here for the original report and photos from the game.

This weekend, the Hokies travel to College Park, Md., for the ACC Tournament. Tech is the No. 2 seed and will face host Maryland in the first round at 12:30 p.m. Thursday. If the Hokies win, they will face the winner of the Florida State-Boston College game at 10 a.m. Friday. Should they fall to the Terps, they face the FSU-BC loser at 8 p.m. Saturday.

A look at Tech's side of the bracket:
(Rankings are ACC games only)

No. 3 Florida State
Regular Season: The Hokies took two of three from the Seminoles in Blacksburg April 18-19.
Pitching: 4th in the ACC with a 2.09 ERA...while she's only started nine games, freshman Sarah Hamilton has been FSU's best pitcher this year...she is 8-1, 1.46 in 17 appearances.
Hitting: 2nd in the ACC at .257...76 runs are second-most in ACC play this run producer is Brittany Osman, who has nine doubles, six home runs and 41 RBIs this year.

No. 6 Boston College
Regular Season: The Hokies swept the Eagles in Chestnut Hill April 12-13.
Pitching: 7th in the ACC with a 4.01 ERA...opponents are hitting .277 against primary starter Allison Gage.
Hitting: 8th in the ACC at .192...also have most strikeouts in ACC play of any of the eight ACC teams...Renee Ramos is only player batting above .300 at .346.

No. 7 Maryland
Regular Season: The Hokies took two of three from the Terps in College Park March 29-30.
Pitching: 5th in the ACC with a 3.36 25 appearances, 13 starts, Meredith Nelles is 10-3, 2.17.
Hitting: 5th in the ACC at .225...Sarde Stewart leads the team in hitting (.345), home runs (10) and RBIs (47).

The Hokies and North Carolina are far and away the most complete teams in the conference and should have no trouble advancing to face one another in the championship game. All games will be webcast on The championship game will be televised on various regional sports networks at noon Sunday.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Comparing Glennon to Randall

I'll admit I've been harsh on Sean Glennon in the past. I was anything but a Glennon supporter going into the 2006 season and after that year's BC game, I gave up on him. I considered 2006 to be a lost season and Glennon to be the second-coming of Grant Noel.

But then Glennon and the Hokies rattled off six consecutive wins and led Georgia 21-3 at halftime of the Peach Bowl (We don't use corporate names here. It's still Peach and Citrus to me.). However, after a dismal second half against Georgia led to a 31-24 loss, Glennon was again in the dog house to Hokie fans.

The arrival of Tyrod Taylor to Blacksburg didn't help Glennon's cause either. Fans and media anointed Taylor the QB of the future and considered Glennon a caretaker of the position until the true freshman was ready. Glennon's every move was dissected and criticized.

But there's a problem. Glennon's a really good quarterback. He's won a lot of games for Virginia Tech and leads an effective offense. No, the offense isn't nearly as sexy as when Taylor's behind center, but Glennon is more efficient.

When I think back on it, my opinion of Glennon was the same of my opinion of Bryan Randall. I wasn't a big Randall fan until just before the 2004. Season. The Hokies had collapsed in the second half of the 2002 and 2003 seasons with him as the quarterback. I was ready to see Randall exit the scene and see Marcus Vick take over as the quarterback.

But then Vick got suspended for the 2004 season and I realized Tech would be better off for it. Randall no longer had to be looking over his shoulder to see if he was going to get pulled. He was a senior who had been through two difficult seasons. In 2002 and 2003, Randall and the Hokies were learning how to win games. And it paid off with a 2004 season that saw Tech win its final eight regular season games and win the ACC in its first year in the conference.

I think its going to be the same way with Glennon. He already has an ACC Championship that I give him a lot of the credit for. Now, I don't hope that Taylor redshirts, is suspended or injured. I hope Taylor plays a lot in 2008 and complements Glennon and the rest of the offense.

But it's my belief Glennon is going to have a great 2008 and gives the Hokies the best chance to do great things. To me, Randall and Glennon's career paths have been similar and I think Glennon will have just as good a senior year as Randall.

Glennon vs. Randall by the numbers:
(For records, I considered games in which the quarterback played the majority of plays).

Freshman Year
Randall: 12-34 (35.3%) 114 yards, 0 TD, 0-0 record
Glennon: 8-11 (72.7%) 137 yards, 1 TD, 0-0 record

Sophomore Year
Randall: 158-248 (63.7%), 2,134 yards, 12 TD, 10-4 record
Glennon: 170-302 (56.3%), 2,191 yards, 11 TD, 10-3 record

Junior Year
Randall: 150-245 (61.2%), 1,996 yards, 15 TD, 8-5 record
Glennon: 143-235 (60.9 %), 1,796 yards, 12 TD, 6-3 record

Senior Year
Randall: 170-306 (55.6%), 2,264 yards, 21 TD, 10-3 record
Glennon: ?

Sophomore and Junior Seasons
(Both started their sophomore and junior seasons)

Randall: 308-493 (62.5%), 4,130 yards, 27 TD, 18-9 record
Glennon: 312-537 (58.1%), 3,986 yards, 23 TD, 16-6 record

Vs. Conference Opponents
Randall: 158-265 (59.6%), 2,171 yards, 15 TD, 7-7 record
Glennon: 214-355 (60.3%), 2,767 yards, 16 TD, 11-3 record