Tuesday, September 30, 2008

WKU Game Guide

Virginia Tech vs. WKU

Time: 1:30 p.m.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008
Place: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Va.
TV: None (Game can be seen on the Internet on ACC Select)

Last Meeting: First meeting.

Trends: The Hokies have won four consecutive games after starting the season with a loss to ECU in Charlotte...the Hilltoppers have lost their last seven games against I-A opponents...they are 1-8 against I-A opponents since becoming a transitional I-A team last year...the Hokies have won their last 29 home non-conference games.

What to Expect: WKU managed 157 total yards in their last game against Kentucky, with 99 of those yards coming from running back Bobby Rainey...however, those 99 yards came on 11 carries, including a 40-yard run against the Wildcats...the Hokies should have no trouble stopping the WKU offense, which has been anemic against Kentucky...the Hilltoppers had a much-publicized 15 yards through the air last week on 14 attempts...needless to say, Hokie fans won't be adding WKU passing game coordinator TJ Weist to the list of possible replacements for Bryan Stinespring.

I expect the Hokies will continue to work on the passing game this week even though they are facing a lesser opponent...Tyrod and the wide receivers need to maintain the momentum they built against Nebraska.

I hope the Hokies have a complete game...none of this 'leading Furman 3-0 at half' crap against the 'Toppers...they need to stay healthy as well...the loss of Davon Morgan has already hurt the depth chart on the defensive side of the ball.

The Hokies win if: They play solid defense and continue the momentum on offense they built last week.

The Hilltoppers win if: The Hokies don't take this game seriously.

Dot-dot-dots: The last non-conference opponent to win in Lane Stadium was Virginia in 1998 and the last non-BCS opponent to win in Lane Stadium was Miami (OH) in 1997...the Hilltoppers are in their second and final year as a transitional I-A team...although they count toward the 120 I-A football teams, they are ineligible to win the Sun Belt or participate in a bowl until next season...WKU's lone win against a I-A opponent since jumping from I-AA was last season against Middle Tennessee...the Hilltoppers prefer to be referred to as "Western Kentucky University" or "WKU" and not "Western Kentucky" or any of its variants...Tech running back Darren Evans has scored a touchdown in his first five games of the season...the Hilltoppers are 0-3 against I-A competition this year...they are giving up 6.2 yards per carry, 6.4 yards per attempt and 6.3 yards per play against I-A competition...meanwhile, on offense, they average 2.7 yards per carry, 4.9 yards per attempt and 3.7 yards per play against I-A teams this season.

Just of the hell of it, here's Big Red, one of my favorite mascots in college sports:

There are a lot of comical, EDSBS-type posts I'd love to do lampooning Big Red, which by all accounts is the bastard child of Cookie Monster and Clifford the Big Red Dog, but the four-letter network has already done that to death.

Say what you will about college sports' Crypty The Cryptosporidium. At least he's a good sport.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Road Trip No. 3: VT at NU

Gobbler Country Road Trip No. 3
Football: Virginia Tech at Nebraska
Memorial Stadium
Lincoln, Neb.
Miles Round Trip: 900
Total Dollars Spent: $380 ($200 hotel, $50 gas [split], $65 ticket, $5 program, $60 food and drink)

It was on of the biggest wins in program history. The win over Texas in the 1995 Sugar Bowl and the 2003 win over Miami are the only other two that come to mind as far as wins that boosted the programs national stature. No, this Nebraska team wasn't close to being on par with the Nebraska team that beat the Hokies in 1996. But the Hokies still went to one of college football's grand venue and came away with a huge win.

The Nebraska defense did a good job of stifling the Hokie run game early and often. However, Tyrod Taylor was the difference. His ability to escape pressure and get first downs with his feet helped sustain drives. His ability to finally see open receivers downfield helped set up a lot of points for the Hokies.

Tech was unafraid of the Sea of Red and played lights out from the beginning. I can't think of another game where I was as proud of the Hokies as I was after this one. Maybe Georgia Tech last year when the Hokies followed a disappointing loss to BC by going on the road and thrashing the Yellow Jackets. But Saturday night the team played like I knew they were capable of playing. It was great to see them show where their ceiling is at the most opportune time.

Lincoln is a great place to be for the weekend of a big college football game. The Husker fans were very welcoming. Some were really, really welcoming. There was plenty of good-natured trash talk the night before the game, but the Husker fans were first class all the way. They were even gracious in defeat, a quality I like to think the Hokie fans have but many fan bases don't.

O Street was the place to be Friday and Saturday Night. It's a row of bars just south of the stadium that tries to emulate 6th Street in Austin. It isn't nearly as big as the 6th Street area, but it has something for everyone. There are hole in the wall bars for folk who want a quiet atmosphere, sports bars for mingling with fans and full fledged clubs blaring techno and hip hop. The place I ended up spending most of my time was a sports bar called Brother's. It had a decent beer selection, including a favorite of mine, Leinenkugel Honey Weiss.

I ran into a friend of mine I knew was in town on Friday night and we bar hopped until last call, which for some un-Godly reason is at 1 a.m. in Nebraska. What a gyp. Saturday night I ran into another friend of mine at Brother's who I didn't know was in town and who I hadn't seen since the '05 Miami game. We proceeded to close the place down.

Saturday was spent with the guys from the Clubhouse Tailgate. I was able to watch the early and afternoon games and sample some of the best homemade BBQ I've had. And this is coming from someone whose family owns a BBQ restaurant. Great food as always, guys.

Thanks to all the Huskers for making my first "real" Lincoln experience a pleasurable one. Thanks to all the Hokies who made bar-hopping and tailgating before the game and partying after the game a success. What a weekend and what a game.

Corn. Everywhere.

Clubhouse Tailgate enjoys the UNC-Miami finish.

No words, really.

Communion call at Clubhouse Tailgate.

Memorial Stadium from the bridge to Haymarket Park.

Kickoff of VT-NU.

Husker score and release a Sea of Red (Balloons).


Brother's on O Street after the game.

Lost a bet with Hokie Nation.

Hokie fans celebrate a hard-earned victory.

Week 5 ACC Power Poll

Great win for the Hokies and Noles, Wolvies really need Wilson back. WTF, Wake:

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


- Fine, Maryland moves up from No. 11.

- Clemson has stopped caring.

- The Wake loss was not indicative of its team. I still think they win the Atlantic.

- Really don't like having Virginia Tech at No. 1 this early. Especially with two tough road games looming.

- Yeah ... UVa ... um ... yeah.

This Week's ACC Games
Oct. 4
BC at NC State, noon on Raycom
Duke at Georgia Tech, noon on ESPNU
WKU at Virginia Tech, 1:30 p.m.
FSU at Miami, 3:30 p.m. on ABC/ESPN
UConn at North Carolina, 7:00 p.m. on ESPN2
Maryland at Virginia, 7:00 p.m. on ESPNU

If Duke beats Georgia Tech, the Blue Devils will be tied with the Hokies atop the Coastal. Wrap your mind around that. UConn takes its unbeaten record to Chapel Hill, where the Heels are looking good with Sexton at QB. The FSU-Miami loser can kiss its Tampa dreams goodbye.

Monday Masochism: USC

It still wasn't pass interference.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tupac Explains My Mood After the Last 3 Games

For Sid Bream Speed, Gordo and Titus, this is for you. Fast-forward to the 4:05 mark for my thoughts on the wins over your Jackets, Heels and Huskers:

Not even remotely safe for work.

The Stones Explain My Feeling During the Fourth Quarter Last Night

Oh Those Heart Attack Hokies!

Great win. Another game that came down to the wire, but a great win. I'm proud of the team and the Hokie fans that were in Memorial Stadium. Nothing better than a road win. Other than winning on the road and then going bar hopping in the town of the opponent.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Nebraska Game Post

"Going to Lincoln is like going to Siberia." - Brian Bosworth

Here's hoping the Hokies wear the throwbacks tonight. They look infinitely better than the regular road threads.

Post your thoughts on the game in the comments. Go Hokies!

Friday, September 26, 2008

What to Watch vs. Nebraska


- Nebraska will be able to get pressure. Ndamukong Suh (en-dom-ah-ken SUE) is a talented (and large) defensive tackle who will be able to get pressure up the middle and also clog running lanes.

- Suh, pictured above against New Mexico State, presents a challenge the Hokies haven't face this year. He's able to pressure the quarterback up the middle. In the last two games, pressure on Tyrod Taylor has come largely from the defensive ends, allowing him to move up in the pocket and escape to the open field. Against the Huskers, Tyrod will more often than not be flushed to one side of the pocket or the other.

- I actually think this will help Tyrod. For one, he's a short guy and getting forced outside the pocket will help him see receivers downfield. Also, his speed and agility is best used on the sidelines, especially against a defense that shows a lot of man coverage in the secondary. Instead of escaping the pocket up the middle, where defensive tackles and linebackers were often waiting for him, he'll be forced to the boundaries, where cornerbacks and safeties will be covering receivers and not focusing on Tyrod. Also, Tech's receivers are good blockers, which serves them well in this scenario.

- I think Nebraska will be able to stop the run early, but the Hokies will eventually wear them down on the ground and will be able to gain yards late in the game. That's if they decide to stick with the game plan (a la North Carolina) instead of ditch it and panic (a la Kansas).

- If the Huskers are able to stop the run and contain Tyrod, I think you'll see Sean Glennon play a significant role. Glennon will be able to throw on Nebraska's secondary if needed.


- Nebraska's receivers are deceptive. They are primarily possession receivers, so technique and positioning will be crucial for the secondary. However, they if you get lulled to sleep, they're able to break a big play, especially Nate Swift.

- I think the Hokies will be able to stop the Nebraska ground game. The defensive line has improved every week.

- Quarterback Joe Ganz has good moves when out of the pocket. Don't think he can't hurt you with his feet. Containment will be key for the Hokies, just like the Huskers.

- I think this is the game Macho Harris finally breaks out and gets a pick.


- Someone on defense will make a play that wins us this game.

Check the box score for:
1. Turnovers
2. NU third down %
3. VT yards per rush
4. NU sacks

VT Players to Watch
1 - Macho Harris, Sr., CB
19 - Danny Coale, Fr., WR
33 - Brett Warren, Sr., LB
7 - Sean Glennon, Sr., QB

NU Players to Watch
93 - Ndamukong Suh, Jr., NT
12 - Joe Ganz, Sr., QB
6 - Armando Murillo, Sr., CB
87 - Nate Swift, Sr., WR

Score: Virginia Tech 27, Nebraska 23

ACC Best of the Blogs: Week 4


Corn Nation: ESPN Holds Ticketholders Hostage with "Sometime After" 8 pm Kickoff
"The Big XII conference announced today that the Nebraska-Missouri game would be televised by ESPN was met with two reactions from Husker fans: "Cool!" or "F***." Which group you are in depends on two factors: where you live and whether you have tickets."


BC Interuption: Resume Ranking Game
"Jeff: Today we play a game that is commonly played on ESPN before the NCAA tournament brackets come out so that people evaluate a team based on what they've done and not what their name is. I am going to give Brian ten teams and their wins and losses so far this season and who they beat based on their national rankings. After Brian ranks them 1-10 I will tell him who the teams are, where I got the rankings, and why he is wrong."

Eagle in Atlanta: Marketing that works: Parents Weekend Patsies
"1. Parents don’t care who we play. They are in town to see their kids, see the campus, go out to dinner, and sample the BC experience. They hear about the tailgating. They see BC on TV. Now they get a chance to go to a BC game. They are willing to see any game. So it’s not Notre Dame or Clemson. It’s still BC football. And by playing a patsies, a win is highly likely, which sends them home happy."


Block-C: Extreme Korn Report: Blarrrrrg
"HORSESHIT, COACH BOWDEN.How DARE you reject my chatter to install WILLY KORN as quarterback for life?!? I’m a reactionary alcoholic so ever since I read this garbage I’ve been mainlining the MOST EXTREME LIQUOR DRINK KNOWN TO MAN. Vodka-SURGE martini with a twist of kerosene. EXPLOSIVO. What’s that? You don’t have stockpiles of a soda that went out of production 7 years ago? You dumb asshole. Even Wikipedia knows it’s the MOST EXTREME SOFT DRINK KNOWN TO MAN."


Scalp 'Em: Drew Weatherford Got The Shaft
"Drew Weatherford got and is currently getting the shaft, and quite frankly I’m sick of it. You’d think from some of the message board posts, blogs and reports that the guy couldn’t tie his shoes without help, or that he needs assistance throwing a ball. Guess what? He doesn’t."

Tomahawk Nation: Hey Bobby, don't forget the sunscreen
"Get out. Seriously. Leave our program. You have some of the lowest admission standards in the country and your program is in the middle of the most fertile recruiting ground in the world, yet you don't care that you've lit this well-oiled machine on fire and crashed it into a ditch? Wonderful, old man. FSU's fans don't demand National Championships every year. They do, however, demand and deserve a coaching staff that is committed and qualified to the chase. Bowden no longer fits that bill, and hasn't for over a half decade. I wish he would step out and get down to that beach. We know he won't yet, because he fears the "next big event after retirement.", a reference to the fate of his idol, Bear Bryant, who died soon after retirement."


The Legacy x4: Yes, bye weeks suck...

GT Sports: Overdue Post-Game Thoughts - Mississippi State
"I'm sure you're more interested in the game. However, when you're there with your wife and young kids, it's hard to focus completely on the happenings on the field. That's fine by me though, as Saturday was about the family first. So here are my stream of consciousness thoughts."


Hall of Canes: Bad Blood for NC?
"Former Canes Coach Butch Davis, now at North Carolina, apparently bad-mouthed current UM boss Randy Shannon during recruiting season, saying there would likely be a new leader brought in if Miami's program had another losing season."


Carolina March: UNC to Suspend Football Season Until Congress Passes Wall Street Bailout
"CHAPEL HILL, NC: Butch Davis today announced that he would suspend the 2008 college football season on Thursday and seek a delay until at least mid-November so that he could return to Washington to try to forge a consensus on a financial bailout package."

Tar Heel Fan: So Why Is Butch Davis Thinking About Using Two QBs?
"Let me state upfront. I have zero love for a two QB system. The Coach Who Shall Not Be Named’s use of the QB-by-committee during the great debacle of 2006 turned me off to the use of two QBs in a game. In my mind you need one voice in that huddle and the offense is acclimated to that one individual. In my opinion when you change up QBs during the game, you give the rest of the players in the offensive unit something else to think about. It just seems to invite instablilty."

Tar Heel Mania: Hello, Deer. Have You Met Headlights?
"Mike Paulus: Yeah, I am sooo pumped for this game, even though I’m probably not going to see a snap. But hey, if I’m in the game, it;s because you’ve slammed the door shut, T.J. Now let’s kick some! Let’s go, T.J.! Let’s go, Quan! Let’s go, Greg! WHOOOOOOOO!!!"


Section Six: I'm not concerned.
"Goddamn vending machine's out of cinnabuns again."

StateFans Nation:
Preparing for a Full Night of Harrison Beck
"As a devout reader of the hilarious NFL Blog known to fans as KSK, I can’t help but think of their Rex Grossman posts everytime Harrison Beck enters the game - particularly this one (warning - more bad language than a BJD95 live blog that involves UNC or Duke)."

Yet another... Q&A with www.thebullgator.com's Joel Smith
"I was approached this week by Joel Smith of www.thebullgator.com, a blog dedicated to South Florida and UF athletics, to partake in a Q&A exchange between the two sites. I thought, sure, what the hell!"


Good Ol' Blog: Duke week: The most important game of the season
"A superb article (hat-tip KnoxvegasWAHOO*) by Southern Pigskin on the current situation in Hooville, breaking down the current outflow of talent and Groh’s “hot seat” prospects. The author actually list some relevant factors that help Groh in not getting booted, which is sadly a rare thing in online missives about whether Groh is going to get booted."

From Old Virginia: So, not too shabby
"Maybe this'll work out OK. I got around to watching the UConn game. Sort of - I watched the offense, anyway, with the specific purpose of making some attempt at evaluating the quarterbacks as is my custom. I didn't bother watching the defense. It stinks, and you didn't need me to tell you that."


Tech Sideline: Nebraska Primer
"The Hokies head to the midwest to play the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday. Playing a team so far away during the regular season isn’t something Virginia Tech does a lot. They did play at LSU last year and at Texas A&M in 2002, but generally the Hokies stick to the east coast. To get you better prepared for the game, here’s a quick primer on Nebraska."

College Game Balls:
The Top 10 Differences Between UVA Football and the Titanic
"8. One sank in Atlantic, other in Coastal"

Tailgate Fever: Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner
"We are invincible. No, not the storied Va. Tech defense or the ridiculed Hokie offense. Not even our legendary special teams, who failed to block a kick last week for the first time all season. We are invincible. Us. Tailgate Fever. Our crack research team, which has until this point relied on a magic eight ball to make most of our major life decisions, correctly predicted the final score for two consecutive weekends: 20-17 and 20-17, which will now and forever be known simply as The Numbers. After fourteen long years toiling over detailed analytical data, record books, and Vegas odds sheets, we have finally figured out how to correctly predict the final score of our games. Nothing can stop us now."

The North End Zone: Game 4 and 5: UNC Recap, Corn F'ers Preview and Predictions
"Since the roommate had to be a jerk and go get Rock Band 2 this week, The North End Zone offices have been a little neglected. Sick days increased 400% over the past 3 days. (Seriously, the game is freaking awesome. Last night we played Journey. When was the last time Zelda gave you that privilege?)"

Wild Turkey CFR: Hokies find their mojo, defeat baby blue
"The first half was the ugliest 30 minutes of offensive football the Hokies have played all season. The low point came when Tech couldn't even figure out how many players to put on the field. Stinespring's 10 man formation experiment didn't work, and the Hokies burnt timeouts on back to back plays. The Tar Heels did a good job of containing Tyrod Taylor's rushing, and the Hokies couldn't muster anything else. The only score of the half for the Hokies came on a Dustin Keys 19 yard field goal, and even that gave us indigestion. Following a fumble recovery on the Carolina 6 yard line, Tech could only manage to move the ball 3 yards. Carolina lead 10-3 at halftime on a 32 yard touchdown to Brandon Tate. Desperate times called for desperate measures. I resorted to an orange shirt. I said I never would, but I felt the season hanging in the balance. Early in the third quarter, the orange was not producing. I was having cold feet on the but before I was able to remove the orange menace, Greg Little ran straight through the Hokie defense for a touchdown. It's 17-3 Heels. Damn you, orange."


Old Gold and Blog: Replay Booth: Offense vs. Florida State
"Everyone knows the offensive performance against Florida State wasn't exactly the best we've seen from this offense, and in some ways it may have been one of the worst, so let's take an in-depth look and see what we've really got here."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Let's Do Some Lines: Week 5

Here are the lines from the ACC for Week 5 with my picks in bold. All lines are from Bodog, the official illegal online gambling site of furrer4heisman.

Virginia +7 at Duke
- Duke is favored. And they should be.
North Carolina +8 at Miami
- Until UNC's new QB proves themselves, I'm not picking the Heels.
Maryland +11 at Clemson
- Tigers' offensive line issues worry me.
Colorado +6 vs. Florida State
Buffs + humidity = fail.
Navy +16 at Wake Forest
Lots of points, unlike last week's Wake game.
South Florida -9 at NC State
- No W with out Wilson.
Virginia Tech +7 at Nebraska
- Please?

Other teams I like:

UConn +3 at Louisville
- Luhvull isn't as good as K-State made them.
Florida -22 vs. Ole Miss
- Unless Vandy is just a juggernaut.
Auburn -7 vs. Tennessee
- Betting against Tennessee may become my new favorite hobby.
Fresno State -7 at UCLA
- See above.
Oklahoma -19 vs. TCU
Stoops + revenge game at home = pain.

How I did last week against the spread:

ACC: 2-5
Correct: NC State, Georgia Tech
Wrong: UCF, EMU, UNC, A&M, FSU
Nation: 2-3
Correct: Air Force, Texas
Wrong: ASU, Tenn, Ole Miss

Year to date:

ACC: 12-11
Nation: 12-6
Total: 24-17

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Q&A with Corn Nation

The three authors who produce the Web site Corn Nation were nice enough to answer an extended Q&A for the site. I'll post a link to the Q&A I did for their site when it's posted.

Here are my answers to Corn Nation's inquiries.

Q: What is the biggest difference between Nebraska under Pelini and under Callahan?

Blankman: I’d say that the biggest difference is the staffs. Under Callahan, Nebraska did have some dynamic individuals coaching, but I feel that perhaps their hands were shackled a bit. In respect to coaching, I think Pelini’s staff is superior as of this point, but he’s only three games in. When it comes to recruiting, Callahan is bleeding edge good. I would pay good money to have him on as a recruiting coordinator full time.

Husker Mike: I think Bo Pelini defers to his assistants much more than Bill Callahan did. There are many stories about how the previous staff wasn't in agreement on various issues, and in the end, Bill Callahan made almost all of the major decisions. My impression is that I think the current staff seems much more cohesive than the previous staff.

Corn Blight: I can’t answer that question without the inclusion of Steve Pederson our former athletic director that hit the street before Bill Callahan. Taking him into consideration, the difference could be likened to a state under an oppressive communist regime versus that of a freedom-loving democracy. No hyperbole, no kidding.

Q: How has the mentality of the fan base changed with Osborne and Pelini now in charge?

Blankman: By and large it’s been, “Happy days are here again” especially with the option wrinkles that Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson has put in for Husker QB Joe Ganz, but I think that there’s a general sense of normalcy. With Callahan at the helm, it was a fan base divided. It was always Thanksgiving dinner and you never knew when drunk Uncle Ernie was going to rip one or go off on how much of a bitch his third wife was.

Corn Blight: Before it was a constant battle between ending life slowly with alcohol consumption or quickly with a handgun. Now I enjoy ending my life slowly with alcohol without fear of family intervention. I’m fairly certain the police won’t come to my house this season. It’s a great feeling.

Q: How much do we really know about the Huskers after they led off the season with WMU, SJSU and NMSU?

Blankman: Very little. You’ll probably see about the same amount against Virginia Tech. Missouri is when you’ll see Nebraska’s full attack on both sides of the ball.

Husker Mike: Hopefully, not much. We've seen flashes of potential, but without much serious competition, it's hard to evaluate where the program is now. That won't be the case three weeks from now.

Q: On offense, the star appears to be running back Marlon Lucky. How important is it to the success of the offense for him to have a big game?

Blankman: Lucky is one aspect of the offense. The thing about the Nebraska offense is it can be utilized in so many ways. There are an abundance of backs (Lucky as the run/receiver combo, Castille as the bruiser, Helu Jr. as the young gun all-arounder) along with a fairly consistent QB in Joe Ganz who will make mistakes, but he’s fairly heady and deceptively fast.
Nebraska also features very physical wide receivers. In the grand scheme of things if a Defensive Coordinator only keyed on Lucky, he’d be foolish. If he focused entirely on the running game, however, that’d be my recommendation.

Husker Mike:
I'm going to be the contrarian on this one, as I don't think Marlon Lucky is "the star" on offense. I believe Marlon Lucky is the most exciting player in the open field, to be sure. But I think he's a role player that you exploit in certain circumstances. More important to me is the play of Joe Ganz in this offense, and whether he and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson can get Lucky the ball in space where he can utilize his speed to break things.

Corn Blight: It’s not important that Lucky have a great game, but it is important we establish the run. As Blankman mentioned, we have three good running backs. What hasn’t been mentioned is our two senior receivers, Todd Peterson and Nate Swift. Neither are fast, but both are chain-moving machines. Nate Swift is the quietest best receiver in Nebraska history and could break the all-time reception record this season. The guy gets open, catches the ball and keeps the chains moving, but if we can’t run, we’ll be in trouble.

Q: Most Hokie fans probably hadn't heard of Joe Ganz until late last season and some may still have never heard of him. What kind of quarterback is he and how good is he at running the offense?

Blankman: Well as I mentioned he’s solid. He’ll make mistakes and I look for him to make one or two against the Hokies. I’d wager an INT (possibly a housecall) or fumbled snap, but when he gets into a rhythm, the team ignites and feeds off of his energy. If he gets hot, watch out because more often than not the rest of the offense will follow.

Husker Mike: Ganz has a little Rich Gannon in him. He's got some mobility which allows him to run with the ball as well as throw, but the big thing is his understanding of the offense. His only downside is that sometimes he sometimes forced the ball into coverage which were intercepted.

Corn Blight: The only reason people haven’t heard of Ganz is because there are so many other great Big 12 quarterbacks. I wouldn’t trade Ganz for any of them. He’s a playmaker who can hurt you with his feet. He’s better throwing on the run because of a baseball background. If he’s forced to stay in the pocket, he’ll make mistakes.

Q: In what ways has the Nebraska offense changed with Ganz as the quarterback compared to when Sam Keller was under center?

Blankman: Keller didn’t have enough time to learn what was going on and Ganz had so much more time to pick up what OC Watson was laying down. You’re going to see a lot more confidence and simplicity in the huddle, guys knowing what they’re doing and giving effort. There won’t be a lackadaisical attitude.

Husker Mike: They've added some option and zone read into the offense to exploit Ganz's mobility. I don't think Keller ever got confident in the offense; he was always quick to check down to his safety valve on his reads.

Corn Blight: Sam Kelller.… Sam Keller.… not ringing a bell, sorry. The foundation is still the same West Coast Offense, but the keyword for Nebraska’s offense this year is ‘multiple’. That means we can run anything and you’ll see a bunch of different formations. Ganz is experienced and confident and knows the offense well.

Q: Pelini was outstanding at LSU, but when he was Oklahoma, his secondary regressed dramatically from the previous year (under Mike Stoops) and often seemed confused by his scheme. How has your secondary taken to the new coaching staff and what are their strengths and weaknesses?

Blankman: Cornerback play is very encouraging. You’ll see Armando Murillo, Prince Amukamara and Anthony West quite a bit. I think you’ll be impressed with the last two as they are very young. Safety play has been horrific. At this point it’s like playing darts. Throw a player into the fire and see if he can make a play. Larry Asante stepped up his game against NMSU a bit, but that’s NMSU.

Corn Blight: The last year under Callahan the defense was completely lost. I’ll spare you the statistics, but they didn’t tackle, weren’t physical and were unwatchable (see previous alcoholism reference). This year, they have life. They play with passion (mostly), they tackle well (mostly), and they understand (mostly) what their coaches expect of them. Once we get rid of (mostly) we’ll be fine.

Main difference between this year and last - last year they were defeated before they walked on the field. This year they’ll play ‘til the end.

Q: What does your defense do best?

Blankman: Want to kill people. The attitude of the defense is to maul, scrap, scrape and get the ball back or at least punish the carrier/QB trying.

Corn Blight: Against y’all, we’ll stay mostly with a 4-3. The defensive line should play well and stand their ground against the run. Linebackers are playing better than was to be expected given we had four experienced seniors graduate. Cody Glenn converted from running back to linebacker for his final season and has proved himself to be a player, compiling 12 tackles in his first game as a starter against Western Michigan.

Given that Tech doesn’t run a spread, we won’t be forced into playing five, six or seven defensive backs. The secondary we show against Tech should be pretty decent, the cornerbacks are fine, the safeties adequate.

Q: How do Nebraska fans view Virginia Tech's football program?

Blankman: I felt VT would be far better than they’ve shown so far this year. Overall I feel that the Hokies are a mid-tier program, but I could say the same about Nebraska. I remember the 1996 Orange Bowl and felt VT would be a scrappy bunch. I still marvel at Beamerball and think it’s a lot of fun. I admire what Frank’s been through and how much of a good time he has with his kids.

Overall? I like VT and look forward to not only this game but the trip to Blacksburg because of it’s rep of being a snake pit. I don’t know if Tech will ever be in the national elite, but then again I never thought Gary Pinkel would ever have a team ranked #1, so shows what I know.

Corn Blight: Frank Beamer, stand up guy, great coach, runs a good program but just hasn’t put it over the top. The Hokies have established themselves as a team to not be taken lightly, a team that always plays hard and finds ways to win. They’ll always be competitive and contend for their conference championship.

I’m not sure what Hokies fans expect from their program this season, but after losing Brandon Ore, their four top receivers and a host of injuries, they’re going to have problems. You don’t just replace playmakers like you’re swapping people in a video game.

If the Hokies have a bad season, I hope they have some patience with Beamer. He’s a great coach.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Nebraska Game Guide

Virginia Tech at Nebraska

Time: 8 p.m.
Date: Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008
Place: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.

Last Meeting: Nebraska beat Virginia Tech, 41-21, in the second of two Orange Bowls played in 1996. Ken Oxendine ran for 150 yards in a losing effort for the Hokies, who watched the Huskers score the last 17 points of the game.

The Hokies have won three consecutive games...the Huskers are 3-0 for the first time since 2005.

What to Expect: It's hard to know what Nebraska's going to do on Saturday because they haven't played anyone. The Huskers beat Western Michigan, San Jose State and New Mexico State by a combined score of 120-43.

Nebraska does have good skill position players in running back Marlon Lucky, quarterback Joe Ganz and wide receiver Nate Swift. Swift and fellow wideout Todd Peterson are primarily possession receivers. Both teams' strengths are in their running backs.

I was surprised to see the Huskers have had more first downs through the air than on the ground. This tells me they may not be that great at third-and-short situations. However, I am still more fearful of Lucky's ability to break big plays than the two receivers. If the Hokies can stop the run, I think they'll be fine.

The Huskers are solid on the defensive line, but I'm not sure about their secondary. It will be weakness vs. weakness when the Hokies are forced to pass.

Hokies win if:
They're able to run the ball and control the tempo of the game. They can't afford to get down early in Memorial Stadium. Coming back from 14 down isn't going to happen this week. Nebraska's defense is fairly aggressive and the Hokies need to use that aggressiveness against them with counter plays and creativity on offense.

Huskers win if: Lucky dominates on the ground, the Huskers make plays when they need to through the air and are able to put pressure on the quarterback.

Dot-dot-dots: Since joining the ACC in 2004, the Hokies have played two true road games against non-conference opponents...they lost to LSU last year in Baton Rouge and beat WVU in 2005 in Morgantown...the Huskers face three teams who played in BCS bowls last year: VT, OU and KU.

Hate Index No. 2

The Hate Index is a sometimes-updated feature here on Gobbler Country in which I let all of our rivals and enemies know how much I loathe them. It doesn't have to just include teams. It can be specific players or even members of the media. The first installment was a crash-course in Gobbler Country hateration and can be viewed by clicking here. All aboard the Hate Train.

OK, this isn't so much an update of the Hate Index as much as it is taking the opportunity to brag and then make fun of our primary rivals. Sure, this will probably ensure that we'll lose to Nebraska. Karma is a bitch that way. But, hey, what the hell...

Virginia (1-2)

Only win so far this year was a very unimpressive win over Richmond. Lost to USC and UConn by a combined 736 points*. And their starting quarterback was kicked off the team for drinking underage. So far, its been a pretty good start of the season for the Hoos. Have fun try to beat the spread against Dook, ass holes.

Hey, remember when Virginia Tech was known as the thug school? Well, I don't remember us ever having to kick both the starting and future quarterback off the team. Of course, both Sewell and Lalich will probably be back on the depth chart next year. Buncha classless cheaters who will win at any cost.

* - Rough estimate.

West Virginia (1-2)

Nice coach you guys got there. He's a homeless man's Joe Kines. The inmates are officially running the asylum at WVU. The couches are safe, but the coaches may be ignited soon.

Tennessee (1-2)

So far the Clawfense has been a wild success for the Vols as they continue to confuse defenses and pile on points. Actually, they suck worse than before as Fulmer continues to get outcoached by the best and also most mediocre coaches in college football. They lost to UCLA, who since then have lost two games by a combined 80 points. After beating UAB, the Vols failed to score a touchdown against Florida. Arian Foster should be one of the best running backs in the country. Too bad Clawson makes me almost appreciate the offensive wizardry of Bryan Stinespring.

UVa, WVU and UT's wins have been over Richmond, Villanova and UAB, respectively. Maybe the Hoos and Eers should join the CAA.

Hate Index Update


Nothin' But Love
1. Duke Football
2. Clemson
3. Georgia Tech
4. NC State
5. Wake Forest
Mildly Annoying
6. Boston College
7. Maryland
May Your Canals Be Filled With Sand
8. Florida State
9. North Carolina
10. Miami
11. Duke Basketball
12. Virginia

Non Conference

Nothin' But Love
1. Oklahoma
2. Ohio State
3. Air Force ($$$)
Mildly Annoying
4. The SEC (minus Tennessee)
5. East Carolina
May Your Canals Be Filled With Sand
6. Michigan
7. Louisville
8. Texas
9. Tennessee
West Virginia
10. West Virginia

Monday, September 22, 2008

NC State is an Equal-Opportunity Thief

Smoke like Miami? Check.
Rubbing an animal like Maryland? Check.
Carrying the US and state flags like Virginia Tech? Check.
Running downhill like Clemson? Check.

What do you do when you don't have any traditions of your own? Apparently you take traditions from everyone else and use all of them. Posers.

From Yet Another NC State Sports Blog.

Travel Guide to Nebraska

If you're like me and making the trip to Lincoln for VT-NU, please read Corn Nation's travel guide to Lincoln by clicking here.

I hope to see a bunch of Hokie fans on O Street Friday night and tailgating all day Saturday before the game.

Go Hokies!

Week 4 ACC Power Poll

The ACC didn't lose a non-conference game this week. Yay, us!

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

- No. 9-11 are almost interchangeable.

- FSU drops five sports after failing miserably at home. Carolina drops farther than I had planned due to the news TJ Yates is done for the year.

- Miami jumps BC for dominating in College Station. BC's offense looked bad until the fourth quarter against UCF.

- Georgia Tech played outstanding without Josh Nesbitt. Hmmmmmm... Nesbitt goes out and the Jackets don't fumble. Hmmmmmm...

- The Wake-Clemson game on Oct. 9 will decide the Atlantic. The VT-Miami game on Nov. 13 may decide the Coastal. I'm not sure the Tar Heels can move on without Yates.

This Week's ACC Games
Sept. 27
Maryland at Clemson, noon on Raycom
North Carolina at Miami, noon on ESPN2
Virginia at Duke, noon on ESPNU
Rhode Island at BC, 1 p.m. on ESPN360
Colorado vs. Florida State (Jax), 3:30 p.m. on ABC/ESPN
Navy at Wake Forest, 3:45 p.m. on ESPNU
South Florida at NC State, 7:30 on ESPNU
Virginia Tech at Nebraska, 8 p.m. on ABC

Three huge non-conference games, two meaningful conference games and Pillow Fight '08 between the Hoos and Dook. Hopefully VT/FSU/NCSU can go at least 2-1. I feel bad for the Tar Heels, having to go on the road to Miami the week after losing Yates. Maryland at Clemson has a little more intrigue after the Terps won the last two. I still expect them to get blown out, though.

Monday Masochism: Donovan McNabb

How on earth did we win that game?

Fosterball. That's how.

Over a quarter of North Carolina's yards on Saturday came on the two touchdown plays. Almost half its rushing yards came on a 50-yard TD run by Greg Little. I said the game would come down to big plays and for a while, it looked that would be the case. However, North Carolina hurt itself with penalties and turnovers.

In the first half, the Tar Heels got the ball deep in Tech territory often. Their second, third and fourth drives of the game started at the Tech 33, 42 and 49. However, they came away with only three points out of those three drives.

Key No. 1: Heels waste early opportunities.

In the second half, North Carolina QB TJ Yates left with an injured ankle and wouldn't return. The Tar Heels scored on their first play sans Yates, but it quickly became obvious that Mike Paulus isn't as good at football as his brother is at basketball. And I think Greg Paulus sucks, so that's saying something.

Key No. 2: Yates leaves the game.

Following the 50-yard touchdown run by Little, the Heels final three drives ended in a punt, a fumble and two interceptions. After the touchdown, the Hokie defense returned to its earlier form, shut down the running game and forced Paulus to throw. He couldn't.

Key No. 3: Heels turn the ball over late.

The Tar Heels committed 14 penalties for an obscene 121 yards, including a crucial push out of bounds on a punt return by Macho Harris in the fourth quarter. The ensuing drive resulted in Dustin Keys' game-winning field goal.

Key No. 4: Heels commit costly penalties.

So far, it appears the Hokies won the game because the Heels beat themselves and the Hokies were lucky enough to see Yates leave the game. For the most part, that's true. But the offense did rebound in the second half and after flailing and faltering in the first half, the Hokies were able to pound the ball at the Heels and there was little they could do to stop them.

Key No. 5: Hokies wear down Heels, beat them on the ground.

It was an ugly win, but a win nonetheless. The offense still has a lot of work to do. Fortunately, it's three weeks before the Hokies play another conference game. Losing to ECU eliminates any chance the Hokies had at dreaming of a national title. The focus now has to be on winning the ACC. They now own the tiebreaker over two of their top three challengers in the division. Beating Nebraska and WKU would be nice, but in order to do that, progress has to be made on offense.

Inside the Box Score

- The first thing that jumps out at me - VT First Downs: Rushing 6, Passing 6. That's a huge improvement. We were actually able to get first downs through the air. It's a start.

- VT Third Down Conversions: 3-16. AHHHHHHH! My eyes! They burn!

- Evans averaged 4.4 ypc and Lewis 4.0. That's a huge improvement for Lewis and Evans keeps on trucking. If Evans average ever dips below 4.0 in a game, we'll be in trouble.

- Tyrod Taylor 11-for-21 passing, 6.0 ypa, 0 TD, 2 INT. Until Tyrod gets better through the air, teams will be able to load up in the box against us.

- VT sacks: 4 for 39 yards. This is the kind of pressure we expected all year. All three defensive ends played well.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

VT-UNC Game Post

Use this post to comment on the UNC game. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. and can be seen on ABC in the ACC viewing area and on ESPN for those receiving the Notre Dame-Michigan State game on ABC. If you're like me and the Miami-Texas A&M game is on ABC, you're S.O.L. and have to buy the Tech game on GamePlan. I know, it sucks.

Friday, September 19, 2008

What to Watch vs. North Carolina

The Stands

Hokie fans are notorious for taking over Kenan Stadium. The amount of Tar Heel Blue was up in 2006 from 2004 and I have a feeling with Carolina's recent success, it might be more difficult for the Hokies to make this similar to the Cubs playing in Milwaukee. Still, I expect a lot of orange and maroon Saturday.


The running back situation will go like this: Kenny Lewis will start, the first series will go three-and-out and Darren Evans will get most of the carries in the first quarter and the first half of the second. After that, look for more Lewis and some Josh Oglesby (with maybe some Dustin Pickle sprinkled in) in the second quarter and most of the third. Then Evans will get all the carries in the fourth quarter.

While Evans is by far the most effect back the Hokies have used so far, I have no problem with this. Why? Because it means Evans is fresh for the fourth quarter. All the good teams do this. Oklahoma would even do it with Adrian Peterson. He would get spelled during most of the third quarter and then dominate in the fourth.

If the Hokies are going to win, they need to wear down the Tar Heels in the first three quarters by pounding the ball against the UNC front seven. The Hokies have to keep it close so Evans can be the difference maker in the fourth quarter.

Look at what happened against Georgia Tech. Evans had one carry until late in the third quarter. After that, he had three of the last four carries by running backs in the third and all six carries by running backs in the fourth quarter. Evans was a beast against the Yellow Jackets and I look for him to be the same against the Tar Heels.

However, I don't think it's going to be enough. At some point in this game, the Hokies will need a big play in the passing game. And it can't come from Tyrod Taylor dropping back, tucking and running. They will need to hit a home run through the air. Something they haven't done so far this year.

The Tar Heels will stack the box against Taylor to both try and stop the run and to try and contain him when he tries to scramble. Unless he makes plays with his arm, there won't be much room for the running backs to run.

The Tar Heel secondary played better than they have played in years against Rutgers. Only time will tell if this was because of how terrible Rutgers is or how good the Carolina secondary has become. Personally, I was impressed with the secondary. They played with confidence and swagger against the Scarlet Knights. They will have the same swagger in front of the home crowd Saturday.


It will come down to how much pressure the Hokies can get on TJ Yates. I think the Carolina passing game will be all or nothing on Saturday. It will have one or two big plays from Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate. However, the Tar Heel passing game will also have periods where it is disrupted and out of sync because of the Hokie front four.

I was very impressed with both Nekos Brown and Jason Worilds against Georgia Tech. They both raised their level of play with Cam Martin not nearly 100 percent. Martin will be back Saturday, but may not be at full speed. I think it will again be up to Brown and Worilds to make plays. But it does make me feel good to know the Hokies can rotate three defensive ends again.

The defensive tackles looked completely different against Georgia Tech than against ECU and Furman. They had the Jacket snap count down and were very disruptive when I had though the Jackets would be able to run up the middle all day on the Hokies.

John Graves and company will have to have the same type of game for the Hokies to win Saturday. Because of how they played against Georgia Tech, I think the Hokies will be able to stop the Tar Heels on the ground. However, if they revert to their form from the ECU and Furman games, the Hokies are in trouble. Stopping the ground game makes it easier to stop the passing game.

The Hokies have had miscommunication among the secondary early in the season. Davon Morgan and Dorian Porch have both struggled at rover and because of this, I think you'll see a couple of big plays through the air from the Tar Heels. It will be up to the leaders of this defense, Kam Chancellor and Macho Harris, to keep the youngsters in check and keep them from having a complete meltdown.

The Tar Heels will have big plays through the air, but we can't let this become like the situation at Boston College in 2006 where you have bickering over missed assignments that affects the team the rest of the game. Keep it together and stop them on the next play.


This game will come down to big plays. The Tar Heels have more home run hitter than the Hokies right now, which is why I think they will win. Right now, I think the Tar Heels can score quickly while the Hokies have to be more methodical to get their points. A big play late will turn this game.

At times this game will be ugly and unwatchable like the Georgia Tech game last week or the North Carolina game last year. But in the end, it will be a big play from North Carolina that will turn the game. Kind of like the last time the Hokies played in the Tar Heel State.

You also have to take into account that this is the first true road game for most of the Hokie roster. How they handle the pressure will dictate how the Hokies do Saturday.

Check the box score for:
1. VT sacks and QB hurries.
2. NC yards per completion.
3. Tyrod Taylor completion percentage.
4. NC yards rushing.

Players to watch for VT
6 - Jason Worilds, DE, So.
5 - Tyrod Taylor, QB, So.
32 - Darren Evans, RB, So.
17 - Kam Chancellor, FS, Jr.

Players to watch for NC
87 - Brandon Tate, WR, Sr.
13 - TJ Yates, QB, So.
52 - Quan Sturdivant, LB, So.
16 - Kendric Burney, CB, So.

Score: North Carolina 25, Virginia Tech 21

ACC Best of the Blogs: Week 3

Aside from UVa, all seems to be well in the ACC after the Week 1 meltdown. On to the blogs ...

Boston College

BC Interruption: Oddsmakers: Central Florida Visits Chestnut Hill
"Jeff: I think the Eagles will fairly easily win 8 games and go to a very winnable bowl game. That would mean that the Pats would basically have to miss the playoffs. Their is a slight chance that the Eagles win 10, 11, or 12 games this year but the Patriots still play a 16-game regular season plus the playoffs so the odds are fairly low. 15%."

Eagle in Atlanta: Crane's comfort level: where does he work best?
"This was our standard offense on Saturday. Crane was at his best when he would get the snap take a few quick steps and fire a short out to the flats. Georgia Tech was playing off the receivers, so this was an easy completion. However, the challenge with this style of attack is that our receivers are not game breakers. If they catch a short pass in the flats, they are unlikely to turn it into a big play. But pocket passing was not foolproof. Crane struggled from the same formation and progression when trying to make throws across the field. His timing was off or his throws were off or he was releasing too low and getting tipped. Also, his fundamentals went out the window as the game wore on."


Sporting Gnomes: Let's Eat 'Em
"Let’s be honest, the campus is filled with thousands of predators. They’re called students. With a few traps and some BB guns in the hands of some good ol’ boys, I’m pretty sure this problem can be controlled at a yearly cost of 4 cases of Busch beer."


DudeSpin: Ka-Ching!
"I am pleased to announce that we were reunited with Crazy Sweaty Guy. While the afternoon heat and lack of pre-game tailgaiting time clearly hindered his performance, he did have one special move up his sleeve (well, if he wore sleeves). For the traditional key rattling during kickoffs, he pulls out a gigantic ring of easily 100 keys. What’s the one thing that makes Crazy Sweaty Guy scarier than he already is? Knowing that he can get into your dorm room at night."

Florida State

Scalp 'Em: Watch Out Wake Preston Parker Is Back
"DEBUTING AT DOAK CAMPBELL STADIUM… THE ALL NEW 2008 Preston Parker! Preston Parker is more aerodynamic than ever… he’s shaved his head. In other news he’s also added a Super Pursuit Mode, in case he needs to play defense."

Tomahawk Nation: What makes this Wake game different?
"This should cause problems to a Wake Forest defense, who in the past, loaded up against the run and dared FSU to pass. If they choose this option this year, they have a much better chance of being burned because of the talent level of the options at QB this year."

Georgia Tech

The Legacy x4: Paul Johnson don’t take no crap from nobody
"Paul Johnson is a borderline cocky smartass who is also a freakin’ badass. We all know that. We all love that. He’ll argue and defend his offense until he’s blue in the face. He’ll take a deep breath and then rip you to shreds."

GT Sports: Football: Jackets Lose @ VaTech
"Really, you can stop at this one and have your answer. Dwyer fumbles at the end of the 1st half with a little over a minute to go and the result is 7 points for Virginia Tech. When you lose by 3, that's the difference. Throw in a Josh Nesbitt fumble in the 1st half at the Virginia Tech 33 and you've killed another potential scoring drive. Then you have a Nesbitt INT in the 2nd half that led to a Field Goal."


Turtle Waxing: Sometimes you get the bear
"In all it was a nice win but nothing to get overly carried away with. Once Riley got settled the Cal offense was going through Maryland's defense like crap through a goose. Riley had over 200 yards passing the 3 touchdowns in the 4th quarter alone. For the game Maryland was out gained 461 to 297 total yards by Cal. That is not a formula for winning very often. If Cal wasn't so horrible on third down (2/11) or had about 10 more minutes the game probably would have been very different. Maryland jumped on the Bears early and it took them three quarters to shake off some bad penalties, questionable coaching decisions and spotty quarterback play to erase a 21 point deficit."


All Canes: Miami @ Texas A&M - Random Thoughts
"Does this team have the grit to build on a semi-close game at Florida? How will 1-2 impact their mindset going into ACC play starting next Saturday should the Canes lose to the Aggies? More importantly, where are Jermaine McKenzie and Arthur Brown?"

North Carolina

Tar Heel Fan: Joe Ovies Tapped To Oversee Fan Bases
"Along with his duties as chief enforcer of the local rivalries, Ovies will also be using his acerbic wit to take critical shots at the prominent coaches and players to stir the passions of the respective fan bases further. Easley said that having fans in North Carolina frothing at the mouth over their respective schools will lead to increases sales for local business specializing in team paraphernalia as well as an uptick in business for sports bars and ticket sales for home games."

Tar Heel Mania: The Game Circled On My Calender
"How much does a win mean for the Tar Heels? It means they’ll be 3-0 for the first time since 1997. It means they’ll win their conference opener for the first time since 2001, the 41-9 drubbing of Florida State that still makes me smile whenever it comes to mind. It means that both team and fan morale will be sky-high for the first time Julius Peppers graced our campus. This is the first game that will truly tell us where we stand in the college football universe. Most importantly, it means that we will have a season-long advantage over our biggest conference contender. If you’re not pumped about this game, I don’t know what to tell you."

NC State

Section Six: Hide The Women And Goalposts -- The Improved ECU Pirates Are Comin' To Town
"Last year's win over ECU brought about the kind of bewildered joy that occurs rarely, especially over these last few years. I can't really explain it, but you probably know what I mean--when the team treats you to a huge pleasant surprise of a performance, something you never saw coming. Watching it unfold, I was transformed into the guy from those Bud Light commercials. Dude! Dude? Duuuuuuude. The high point of the season for me."

StateFans Nation: Saturday’s Inevitable Purple Tide
"As we have have said many times, this is ECU’s Super Bowl, every year. This is especially true when the Pirates are favored, and even more so when favored and playing in their favorite place to riot, Carter Finley Stadium. Nine out of ten NC State fans don’t give a rat’s ass about the game, other than a little schadenfreude when the hillbillies go home disappointed. We don’t remember any Wolfpack tears shed when then-AD Jim Valvano cancelled the series and pledged never to renew it. You see, Valavano - like most thinking people - didn’t see the logic in scheduling games that mean the world to your opponent, and nothing to your own institution (other than the significant chance of serious property damage)."


From Old Virginia: Booted
"I call bullshit. I don't believe for a minute that this has the support of Al Groh. If Littlepage had said, "This is my decision and it has the support of head football coach Al Groh, who really likes his job and realizes that I have the power to change his employment status," then yes, I'd believe it. But - hell - I don't even believe 100% that this is Littlepage's decision. If it is, shame on him. If not, shame on whoever made the call, and more so for making Littlepage take the heat.

Virginia Tech

College Game Balls: We Beat Georgia Tech but Our Offense Still Sucks
"We are learning how to win close games. Learning how to overcome adversity and win close is a huge boost to the psyche of the Hokies. Playing through these types of games now will really help the young Hokies grow up fast. If we do get things turned around I will feel a lot better about our chances if we are down a score late in the ACC Championship and so will the team."

TSL Blogs: Your Gah.Tech Eye in the Sky!
"Aristotle once taught that there are six parts to a play. Then hexa or closing part is the “Spectacle.” Saturday’s game was that and then some as our Hokies won in spectacular fashion. We won by three points, Gah.Tech had three turnovers, two missed big plays and one key injury. So how did we win while being outgained at home by 140 yards???"

Virginia Tech Fan: Running Back U.
"For me, VT has always been about featuring premier running backs. While not always household names, Ken Oxendine, Shirone Stith, Kevin Jones, and my favorite Hokie Lee Suggs defined the rise of the Hokie program. These were combo backs, who could pound you inside, break outside with speed, open the game with a big play, and get the short yards when needed. What I loved about Suggs was his nose for the end zone. Remember the year (I believe it was 2002 but I could be wrong), when Suggs was ‘money’ inside the 10 yard line? You could just count on him to get the ball in the end zone."

Wild Turkey CFR: Stinespring's brilliant play calling leads Hokies to victory
"The Hokies survived the Orange curse! You know why? I wore maroon. You're welcome."

Wake Forest

Old Gold and Blog: 5 Good Questions: Florida State
"For this week's installment I had the pleasure of exchanging questions with Jerry Scott from Nole Spear It (clever, eh?). His answers to my questions appear below, and my answers to his questions are here on Nole Spear It."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hall of Fame: Justin Hamilton

The number on Justin Hamilton's jersey was about the only thing that stayed constant during his career with the Hokies.

Hamilton came to Virginia Tech as a running back in 2001 and redshirted. As a redshirt freshman in 2002, he was flanker who saw most of his playing time on special teams. Hamilton blocked two kicks in 2002.

In 2003, he was moved to split end and started six games. Despite suffering a sprained ankle mid-way through the season he was second on the team in receptions. After the early departure of Kevin Jones to the NFL following the 2003 season, Hamilton was moved back to running back before his junior year.

Most of his playing time in 2004 came either early in the year when Mike Imoh was suspended or in garbage time. However, he still managed to rush for rush for over 300 yards and three touchdowns.

He had ankle surgery after his junior season and missed spring practice. He was moved to free safety to occupy a position previously filled by Vince Fuller. It was his first season on defense and was expected to play a position that made the defensive calls.

However, Hamilton was excellent his senior year at free safety in 2005 and helped the Hokies win the Coastal Division. He had 25 tackles and three interceptions as a senior. The 2005 team may have had the best defense Tech has had.

Hamilton currently plays for the Washington Redskins.

Take 22 guys with the unselfishness and work ethic of Justin Hamilton and you'll never lose a game. For being an exemplary Hokie, Justin Hamilton is in the Gobbler Country Hall of Fame.

Let's Do Some Lines: Week 4

Here's a look at the Week 4 ACC lines with my picks in bold. All lines are from Bodog, the official illegal online gambling site of furrer4heisman:

East Carolina -7.5 at NC State
- Yeah, I know they'll probably get blown out. I don't care.
UCF +10.5 at BC
- Still unsure about BC's offense.
Mississippi State +8.5 at Georgia Tech
- Shutout?
Eastern Michigan +21 at Maryland
- Back to earth time.
Virginia Tech +3 at North Carolina
- I just have a bad feeling about this one.
Miami -4 at Texas A&M
- I've decided that, this season, betting on a road team that's giving points is about as smart as coming between John Holmes and a line of coke.
Wake Forest +4 at Florida State
- I've changed my mind on this game. It'll be high scoring, which favors FSU, IMO.

Other teams I like this week:

Air Force +8 vs. Utah
- I'm going to bet on the Falcons until they lose me money. Could be this week.
Arizona State +7 vs. Georgia
- Because they lost to UNLV last week.
Texas -30 vs. Rice
- Just like they did to UTEP.
Tennessee +7.5 vs. Florida
- Phil Fulmer is the worst coach in D-I, when you take into consideration how much talent he has had over the years. However ... At home. Getting points. It's not like Tennessee is bereft of talent here.
Mississippi -6.5 vs. Vanderbilt
- If Vandy wins on the road, I'll officially be impressed.

How I did last week against the spread:

ACC: 3-3
Correct: Duke, Georgia Tech, UConn
Wrong: Rutgers, Cal, Clemson (by half a point!)
Nation: 2-1
Correct: Air Force, Mississippi State
Wrong: Texas Tech (by half a point!)
DNP: Texas

Year to date:

ACC: 10-6
Nation: 10-3
Overall: 20-9

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Q&A with Bill Roth

Bill Roth has been the voice of the Hokies since 1988. Despite being a Syracuse grad, it's easy to say Roth is a Hokie, through and through. Often, Roth is the only way I'm able to follow the team, whether it's on the Internet or on XM Satellite Radio. He's a consummate professional who is able to display his passion for the Hokies without being an over-the-top homer.

Thanks to Roth for taking time out from his schedule to answer a few questions.

Coming from Syracuse, was it difficult at first to win over the Hokie fan base? How long did that take?

Well, remember I was 22 years old when I was hired here at Virginia Tech, just nine months out of college, so my biggest concern was to try to be the best announcer I could be and to take advantage of what was an amazing opportunity for someone right out of college. I was just hoping not to screw up!

Our biggest issues and concerns back then were getting the games on radio stations that people could actually hear in DC, Richmond, and Hampton Roads. People were probably delighted to get the game broadcasts regardless of who was talking on the other end.

The only full-time analyst you've had has been Mike Burnop, who had been on the broadcast a few years before your arrival. How much did he help you get acclimated to the team and fans?

Mike was terrific back then, and I’m sure you know how close we are as friends today. Both of our families, etc. Mike is from Salem, and of course, he knew everyone in Blacksburg and the New River Valley and Roanoke Valley and that helped a great deal when I first got here. Mike was able to provide a lot of historical perspective in those early years, plus he introduced me to the New Yorker Deli on Williamson Road in Roanoke. Wow.

How much does having Burnop as the analyst help the broadcast? Your personalities seem to play off each other well on air.

Mike’s an excellent broadcaster and superb analyst. I can’t imagine doing a game without him to be honest. He’s fair and accurate and isn’t afraid to call out a player or coach if need be. He’s a die-hard, loyal Hokie, but he is quick to praise the other team when that praise is warranted. We kid around lot. More so off the air, but it comes through on the air as well. He’s funny and witty. We have a good time on the air and I’m glad it comes across that way. You know, however, that he never leaves any food in the press room dining area for anyone else, but we love him anyway.

What changes have you seen in the athletics department and the fan base since you came to Virginia Tech? You've witnessed incredible growth in both since arriving in Blacksburg.

Wow, that’s a tough question. The amazing explosion in facilities, academic advising, student support, team and individual success, the growth of the Hokie Nation, fund raising, the list goes on-and-on. My first game in Blacksburg, we had wooden bleachers in the south endzone, a high school scoreboard with lights that often didn’t work, tiny little P.A. speakers in front of each section (some of them actually worked), and 25,000 was a good crowd. Our university has grown immeasurably, too under Dr. McComas, Dr. Torgersen, and Dr. Steger. Plus David Braine and Jim Weaver. You talk about five dedicated people who have really shaped this university and its athletics programs. Impressive, smart, caring, passionate people. From 1988 till 2008, what’s happened at Virginia Tech is truly remarkable.

Working with Coach Beamer, and seeing him build this program has been amazing. He has such a great love for this school and his commitment to building Tech over the last two decades has been sensational.

Games are available to a much wider audience now with the broadcasts available online and on XM Satellite Radio. Has that caused you to change the way you call a game? Do you try to call it for a more national audience now?

That’s a great question. I think one of the attractions of XM is the ability to hear the hometown announcers. When I listen to a Cubs’ game, I want to hear Ron Santo crying or cheering in the background of the call. Or when I listen to a Toronto Maple Leafs or Montreal Canadiens game, I enjoy hearing the provincial accents and unique subtleties that come across. When the Leafs score, you’re ready to grab a LaBatt! I think XM is terrific for Hokie fans and ACC fans around the country but in terms of calling the game, it’s a Virginia Tech feed all the way.

Mike and I did talk a few years ago, when we added WTEM to the network, about how many ACC alums lived in Washington, DC, and that quite a few Maryland, UVA, and Carolina alums would be listening to our broadcasts, and that’s turned out to be the case. When you have a big 50,000 watt station in a city the size of Washington, and our ISP Sports Network broadcasts are heard on the primary sports station in a city that size, it’s important that our scoreboard segments and our pre-game and halftime shows cover the conference. That’s why we do ACC notebooks and focus on ACC scores. Not only for Virginia Tech fans, but ACC fans in general.

In addition to play-by-play you also host Virginia Tech Sports Today on Sunday at the Hokie Hotline on Monday. It's a busy schedule. Can you take us through a typical football game week for you?

Monday: The key to every week, and every broadcast is the preparation time involved for each game, or each talk show, or each Virginia Tech Sports Today. Monday starts the same as any other day. Always read every newspaper (on-line) and see what’s happening around the ACC. I have two news services that I use each day to get the latest stories on the Hokies and their opponent. It’s easy, for example, to read all the stories on UNC this week and I cut-and-paste any quote or note that might be useful. That’s a daily process, really seven days each week. Mondays, we also finish up any paper work from the previous week’s game, listen to Coach Beamer’s morning teleconference, write and produce the News of the Day segment for Hokie Hotline, prepare questions for the Monday night show, go over the game notes for the Hokies and their opponent highlighting the various story lines. BJ, that’s Bryan Johnston, churns out about 50 pages of notes every week so there’s a lot of reading just on our team. Plus the other team puts on a press packet each Monday, as does the ACC. So combined, there are probably 100 pages of notes to peruse which probably sounds harder than it is. There are a lot of stats that don’t mean a lot, but it’s important to find that key stat or note to use on the broadcasts. At 5, I do a show in Richmond. At 5:30, I do a show in Blacksburg. From 7-9 we do the Hokie Hotline with Coach Beamer. Then, after the Hotline, we finish up the TV show format for the following week. Grant Kittelson at WDBJ-7 in Roanoke and I talk (or text or e-mail) about what we’re doing on next week’s Virginia Tech Sports Today.

Tuesday: We start working on this week’s TV show first thing on Tuesday mornings. Rich Maxey and Mark Layman, who produce the show for us, come up, set up cameras and we conduct interviews with our players and coaches. We tape a few TV segments on Tuesday morning too. We then have a press luncheon with Coach Beamer starting at noon and we conduct radio interviews with him and several players at this event. Mike Burnop and I sit and talk over things with coach and then spend much of Tuesday afternoon producing various elements for the football pre-game show. Adam Witten and Alan York at our ISP studios do a good job of working on the ACC notebooks and getting sound (those are comments you hear of the other coaches and players). For example, on Tuesday morning of the UNC game, I had interviews with Butch Davis, Hakeem Nicks and Kenric Burney in my in-box by 9 a.m. So, we take all the VT sound and UNC sound, comments from Coach Beamer and Coach Davis, and start working on the pre-game show that you’ll hear on Saturday. I also pop by practice and see how the Hokies look, visit with our trainer Mike Goforth, and try to pick up a few notes from the practice field.

Wednesday: By Wednesday, most of the radio production is done. Mark and Rich finish up the pre-game elements for the TV show too. I start working on my column, The Kroger Roth Report, and the Hokie Podcast, which has to be done by midnight. I also start working on my play-by-play chart, which is a 14 x 12 heavy card with names, personal data, and info on both teams. I talk with the other team’s broadcaster or Sports Information Director to make sure I have everything right. One thing about the ACC, as broadcasters, we all get along great and it’s fun to chat on game weeks and pre-game to get a key story or note that I include on that chart. Some of the info never gets used, but it’s good to have.

Thursday: By Thursday, my chart is done, and I go over all those game notes, newspaper clippings, and interview quotes to make sure I have everything I need. There’s some number memorization too for the other team. I try to talk with our coaches during the day, or at practice again to make sure I’m all set for the broadcast. For home games, this is a big day recording the things you see on HokieVision, like our NFL flashback, Hokie re-wind, Great Moments in VT history, etc. Kevin Hicks and his staff do a great job in our video office or producing those video segments you see on the board at Lane Stadium. I get to voice those packages. I also finish up the Kroger Roth Report.

Friday: This is a travel day. This week, it’s Chapel Hill. Next week, Nebraska. We’ll drive to this week’s game, set-up our gear at Keenan Stadium. We’ll have a sound check there. We actually have two complete set-ups in the stadium. One in the radio booth, and one in the locker room for Mike’s post-game interviews with the coaches and players. Mike and I will go over our bullets and story lines for the pre-game show and talk more with the coaches and players at the hotel that night.

Saturday: Game day starts about four hours before kickoff when we get to the stadium. More last-minute notes and preparation. I should mention Mike Kelly, who is our reporter on the sidelines, Johnny Alga, who is the spotter in the booth, Carter Myers, our statistician and Chad Cleveland, and Chris Ferris who handle all our technical stuff. Those guys do a great job and help out more than I can say. People hear Mike Burnop, Jerry Massey, Adam Witten and me on the air, but there are so many behind-the scenes people who help us each week. Plus the people at all those radio stations, the managers and board operators. There are a lot of people working to make sure you can hear the game in your hometown, or at the stadium. Each person does his or her own part, even Carter’s wife Esther who bakes us cookies or brownies every week! It’s fun to be part of an operation like that when dozens of people participate each week.

We go on the air 90-minutes prior to kickoff. I can tell you, it’s a lot more fun when the Hokies win! That’s a week in a nutshell.

This year there was a lot of attention on the now infamous Jason from Arlington call during Hokie Hotline. Have you allowed the show to get more controversial and have more critical discussion of the team this year, or does it only seem that way because of the one call?

I thought Jason was respectful and passionate in his question, and I could tell from his voice that he is a die-hard Hokie fan who really wanted to get his point across. That makes for good radio. As for controversy, listen, only Ohio State and Florida have won more games than Virginia Tech over the last decade so usually we're doing a radio show coming off a victory. There's not much controversy when the home team wins. But good, respectful dialogue makes for good radio, whether it's the Hokie Hotline or Neil Boortz. Fans are passionate and want to win championships. Sometimes that passion spills onto talk shows, but we're all big boys. We can take it.

Every Hokie fan has a favorite call of yours, whether its Druck-to-Holmes, the end of the '99 WVU game or the "Give it to me, Roscoe" play. Do you have any that you consider to be your favorites?

Druck to Holmes wins for me. I’m so glad Jermaine caught that pass -- with his elbows if you look closely at the picture. Later, when Jermaine worked for Tech, I would see him in the halls and just hug him! Eventually, he would see me and start runnin’ the other way! No, I’m kiddin’ on that. Jermaine is a great guy and a real credit to this school.

Turning to this year's team, the Hokies have had their struggles early and all three games have had their anxious moments. Do you think we're in for a whole year of "Cardiac Hokies"-style football?

The ACC is very balanced. I think we’ll have plenty of games that are decided in the final minutes, yes.

If this team ends up winning 10 games this year, will it be Frank Beamer's best coaching job since he's been at Virginia Tech?

It’s too early to tell. This team could win 8 games it might be Frank Beamer’s best coaching job since coming to Tech.

Finally, an obligatory question about the quarterback situation. Do you think Sean Glennon has been a victim of circumstance since he's been with the Hokies? He had a very good year in 2006, which was erased from fan's memories due to the second half of the CFA Bowl and the last two seasons he's been put in a situation where it was basically impossible for him to succeed due to an inconsistent offensive line in 2007 and youth at the skill positions this year.

I think Sean did succeed in 2007, as hat offensive line came on later in the season. If you look at his play at Ga Tech, UVA and against BC last year, I think he had success. For this year though, it’s apparent the Hokies need Taylor at QB. More so than last year, because of the makeup of the offensive line and the youth at the receiver positions.