Monday, February 27, 2012

2012 Hokies Football Schedule

There will be a lot of storylines to follow this year with Virginia Tech football. There will be the maturation of a quarterback that could be a top draft pick as early as 2013. A defense full of young stars, with the potential to be one of the best in the entire country. Plus a number of candidates, both old and new faces, who could step up to fulfill roles left behind by instant legends.

All of those, and more, will begin to take shape when spring practice starts in a few weeks, but today all chatter Hokie football related will center around the officially released schedule. VT benefited from a relatively low key non-con schedule last year to help mold a fresh body at QB, and this year he'll take that next step to see how much more he can grow as a player and a leader. While there isn't a huge marquee out of conference foe for the second straight year, this fall will require this Hokie team to be good early, and great later on.


9/3 (Labor Day) Lane Stadium
Virginia Tech has tried in the past to start off the year with a big win without much success besides a respectable looking final score. While beating the Yellow Jackets won't be as sexy a victory as against a top-10 team on a neutral field, it will be a much more important victory.

All Tech fans (V and G) know this game has always determined the divisional champion. And while it won't seem as big with 0-0 next to each team, there is never a downside to getting an early lead on the competition. Not to mention the fact that Bud Foster gets all summer, and what should be a completely healthy (knock on wood) defense, to go against this Triple Option offense.

I just hope we make it to kickoff this time. 

9/8 Lane Stadium
Instead of being excited about a made for TV game against a conference rival, a lot of Hokies immediately thought "Who are we playing next on such a short week?" There are many demons that each program develops during their ups and downs, and a current down for an otherwise strong ACC history for the Hokies would be the loss against JMU in 2010. Whether it was the emotional letdown from the previous loss, the weather, or as many speculate, a short turn around from the previous game, it's one that won't go away, even after much success.

While beating Austin Peay isn't the cure to bad memories, it should at least not be a repeat in what was a dark day in Hokie football. The only logical way I can see this game going sour is if GT chop-blocks all of the 2-deep on both sides of the both, resulting in season ending injuries to everyone. 

Besides that unlikely chain of events, this will be the first of many home games in a row where the most memorable part of the day will be what you choose for your pre-Noon tailgate spread. To breakfast or not to breakfast?

9/15 Heinz Field
This game will be more interesting in the long run than it may be in 2012. A home-and-home with the Panthers was scheduled before the current round of expansion took place, when it was unknown that these two teams would play each other every year from there on out. With the decision to keep this series on the schedule, despite the fact Pitt will be joining not only the same conference, but the same division as the Hokies, these two get to play each other once or twice to figure things out before it effects their conference records. 

First road game of the season against a BCS team and old/future conference foe will make this a better road trip than either ECU or Marshall last year for those who like to travel. It also helps that it won't be cold yet up north, even though Virginia Tech is one of the few ACC teams that possible cold games in the future won't be advantageous over. If anything, go so you can sit inside one of the shooting locations for one of 2012's biggest movie releases (The Dark Knight Rises).

9/22 Lane Stadium
There isn't much I can say to hype up this game. A Bowling Green team that finished 5-7 last year comes into town with uglier versions of both of Virginia Tech's colors. The shades and fowl chosen just seem to lack the personality and style (term used loosely) I've grown accustomed to over the past quarter century.

Once again, the most time consuming decisions of the day will be relegated to tailgate and clothing choices instead of actual football strategy. Excitement level expected to be down, even if undefeated and highly ranked.

9/29 Fed-Ex Field
The Bearcats finished last season with 10 wins and a ranking next to their name. While the Big East will continue to fight for its post-expansion relevance and direction over the next couple years, Cincinnati can take advantage of leaving members to continue to finish at the top of the standings.

The Hokies have played Cincy a number of times in their ACC lives, most memorably in the Orange Bowl in 2009. The games have never been terribly close or competitive over a full 60-minutes, but they haven't been blow outs either. The past couple trips to Fed-Ex Field haven't ended in the Hokies favor, so another one of those small demons will be there in the back of some people's minds in the week leading up to this one.


10/6 Kenan Stadium
Conference play will continue for good with a trip to Chapel Hill. As much as I don't like UNC as a program, I have to give credit where credit is due. They have one of the best looking campuses we have the pleasure of going to every couple years. It is hard to talk in depth about this team as they'll be starting over with a new coach for the second straight season, but I still recommend the trip given the time of year.

While they may be lacking in intimidation, the campus of UNC is picture perfect in the early fall on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Parking is scarce, which makes the tailgating rather non-existent, at least in large quantities This is one of those places you'll enjoy your pre-game more if you sleep that extra hour in the morning, and spend time leading up to kickoff walking around the campus.

10/13 Lane Stadium
It is a little frustrating that this will be the third home game in a row that many people will be debating whether or not to go or just watch on TV. We have the conference doormat coming into town after six straight weeks of games without a weekend off. With the bulk of the season starting the following week, this may be many fans' bye weekend.

Perhaps if this game was on Friday the 13th instead of Saturday the 13th, there would be at least a supernatural element to suggest a surprise outcome, but most people will know what they're going to see this day. With three weeks between the previous home game and the next one, I'm sure there will still be a strong outcome from the Hokie faithful, even if it doesn't look like a rather appealing game here in February.

10/20 Memorial Stadium
Revenge. Revenge, revenge, revenge.

This is pretty much what this game will be about for most Hokie players, coaches, and fans. Regardless of either teams' record, ranking, or place in the standings, the Hokies will want to win this game badly. Logan Thomas and others on offense will want to erase two horrible performances against this team, and the boys on defense might have a bone or two to pick as well.

Clemson ranks right up there with Virginia Tech in terms of "must see" locations for college football. The fan base, stadium, and small city atmosphere are perfect to encapsulate football in the south, and as close to SEC style tailgating I've seen in the conference. This will also be the beginning of three tough weeks that could make or break the season for Tech.


11/1 (Thursday) Sun Life Stadium
Virginia Tech and Thursday night games are almost a given every season. While it has been Georgia Tech and UNC the past couple seasons, we get some new blood this year with a couple of teams from the Sunshine State.

Attendance at Sun Life has been "meh" at best the past few games against VT, and hopefully the Thursday night atmosphere will make it more respectable for national tv. Just hopefully it isn't a good enough turnout to give the Canes a reason to play hard. Best case scenario, a couple of ranked teams battle it out for a national audience to help with an ACC image that needs improving. As long as the Hokies walk away victorious of course.

11/8 (Thursday) Lane Stadium
More than likely, it will either be Clemson or FSU in Charlotte representing the Atlantic division. The fact that the Hokies have to play them both in-season could set up yet another rematch between two teams in the conference championship (has happened in 4 of the 7 title games so far).

This could also be one of the biggest Thursday night games in VT history if the season pans out in a realistic way. Early advantage in skill may lean towards the Seminoles, but they'll also have to travel from Florida to a possibly freezing Blacksburg. How the Hokies will fare against the "Big 3" won't be known for another eight months, but I'm sure we'll hear about every possible scenario and outcome between now and then.

11/17 Alumni Stadium
The Hokies will return to normal Saturday football when they head up to cold Chestnut Hill in mid-November, although it probably won't feel much like it. Boston College won't be the best team by any stretch of the imagination this season, but there will be a few things in their favor.

The Hokies will have just gone through a brutal stretch of games, and no matter their record, a couple things you can't get in Massachusetts is reasonable weather and a large college football crowd. Luckily the team gets an extended week to heal up from battle, but I'm calling this as my uninspired performance of the year.

11/24 Lane Stadium
The regular season ends as it always does against UVA on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. There is also no reason to think it won't end in a win as it always does as well. UVA has become a better team under London, and this years team should be a little older and more experienced than years past, but that doesn't change the fact the total score against UVA with London as their coach is a not-so-close 75-7.

The only downside to this annual beatdown is the fact it signifies the end to yet another year of college football. Upon first look, there aren't a ton of huge games, especially not at home outside of GT and FSU. But in February we would watch us play Blacksburg High if it meant seeing Hokie football during the offseason, so we shouldn't take any games for granted, no matter the opponent or location.

The majority of the season will probably rest upon the three game stretch in late October/early November, and my all too early, non-researched prediction would be around a 9-3 or 10-2 regular season record. I won't commit to when those losses will occur, but the important part is an exciting year of Virginia Tech football is both so far, and also oh so close.


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Friday, December 2, 2011

Game 13 Preview: The Rematch (For All The Marbles)

Your new hit single from Taylor Swift. For real girl, just stop dating whoever your instinct tells you to; you're always wrong.

Wow, two sentence in and I've already wandered off the beaten path. What was I supposed to talk about again?

Oh yea, that game we always win then get a ring from. After this year, when our staff has one hand full of rings, do you think they'll show up next fall with one arm looking like the Terminator, and the other arm looking like Christian Bale in "The Machinist"?

I should start this preview with a confession. As sports fans, a lot of us can be superstitious. We think that if we wear a certain shirt, or drink a certain beer, or whatever before a game, it will be the good luck charm that pushes our team to victory. Well I don't have any rituals that I do before or during every game, but I do have a bit of a streak going on.

I am 0-for-lifetime at Hokie neutral field games. This list includes the '99 National Championship, '05 Sugar Bowl, '05 ACC Championship, '06 Chick-fil-A Bowl, '08 Orange Bowl, '08 Season Opener in Charlotte, '09 Season Opener in Atlanta, and '11 Orange Bowl. And to get to the point, yes, I will be at the game on Saturday. (On the flip side of this, I've been to A LOT more away games, with the only loss I've witnessed was the beatdown at LSU)

So if the Hokies lose to Clemson again (I was also at the first meeting), we can all just blame me. 

With the exception of the temperature, this game is almost the exact opposite of the last one. The Hokies are the talk of the town, coming in with a long winning streak, a dynamic young quarterback, and the confidence to go up against almost anyone. The downside to this is it doesn't mean jacksh*t if we are to lose. It won't matter that we'll still be the highest ranked ACC team, or have the best conference record, because we won't be the ACC Champion. *flashbacks of 2005*

Clemson Wins If

1. Uncle Sam Returns
Sammy Watkins is one of, if not the most dynamic freshman in college football this year. It is no coincidence that this losing streak by the Tigers happened at the same time he's been injured. There are a lot more problems during these past four games than what he could have fixed by himself, but he can be a difference maker. In the first game against Tech, he was held to 4 rushing, and 38 receiving yards. The Tigers didn't need him to win that night, but they probably will if they hope to win again this week.

2. Boyd Stops Throwing To The Wrong Team
After starting 6-0, with wins over multiple ranked teams, Tajh Boyd looked like the best kept secret in college football. He had a completion percentage over 60%, and a 11-1 TD:INT ratio. During the losses of the past month, he has thrown 6 interceptions, 5 of which came when the Tigers were losing. With the Hokie offense rolling, it is almost a given they will score more than 3 points this game, and a strong possibility that the Tigers will have to play from behind. Which Boyd will show up with the big game on the line?

3. The Hokies Left All Their Mojo in Charlottesville
The Hokies played their first complete game of the year last Saturday. So while frustrating, it wouldn't be surprising to see a quarter or two of sub-par performance from their offense. We saw what happens when the Hokies play four quarters, and what has happened when they play zero. Clemson needs help outside their own players to win this one, and we'll see on Saturday which Hokie offense shows up.

Virginia Tech Wins If

1. Defense Abuses a Battered Offensive Line
It is almost a nationwide joke about how Jekyll and Hyde Clemson is every year. There will be games when they look like they're a top tier SEC team, and then games when they'd be lucky to beat the Citadel. Usually this problem can be attributed to a bad offensive line. Right now the Tigers have a bad offensive line. Now this has been caused by injuries up front, so unlike other years it isn't completely the team's fault. Fortunately college football doesn't play with a handicap, so they don't get any special treatment for being injury prone. I'm sure Gayle, Hopkins, and company will be more than happy to give their players in the backfield some extra love and attention though.

2. Wilson Sets Records
David "The Jet" Wilson only needs 61 more rushing yards to break Ryan Williams' single season rushing record of 1,655. He also only needs 204 yards to set the ACC single season rushing record of 1,798. The first is likely, while the second is a stretch in this game. If he does run for 200+ yards however, I can all but guarantee a Hokie victory just from that one box score stat. This Clemson defense is 92nd in the country against the run, and gave up 123 yards (but no touchdowns) to DW in the first meeting. Good luck trying to stop him this game.

3. The Lieutenant Keeps His Confidence
I don't need to explain to you fine people how awesome Thomas the Tank Engine is. If you want to watch any of his amazing highlights this year, just pick any game. Except the Clemson game. That was the first game for Logan and the Hokies this year in front of a primetime, national audience. He only had 125 yards passing, and 8 yards rushing if you factor in getting sacked four times. He has admitted openly to the media that he was nervous and not under control that game. Since that game he has been near perfect, and with the past three games being national, spotlight games, there is no reason to believe that this game will do anything to unnerve him.

Score Prediction: Gobblers 35   Tigers 17


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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Week 13 Predictions

Gimme Games

Upset Watch
VT over UVA
NCSU over Maryland
UNC over Duke
Miami over BC

50/50 Games
UGA over GT
SCAR over Clemson
Vandy over Wake
FSU over Florida

Friday, November 25, 2011

Game 12 Preview: Gotta Do Everything Our-Damn-Selves

Really Florida State? You were a preseason top-5 team and you couldn't even beat UVA at home, in a night game? Here's a hint to all the recruits that don't read my blog: Just because you're talented out of high school, and pick a school that gets a lot of airtime on ESPN, doesn't just give you wins at this level. But I suppose it doesn't matter, because win or lose they'll still talk about your team, even though you haven't been relevant in a decade.

Rant over.

Really UVA? You won't just go away will you? It doesn't matter that you've been bitch slapped by your in-state rivals longer than FSU hasn't been relevant. Your biggest goal this year was to go to a bowl game, and now you're playing in the divisional championship. At home no less. With your momentum, this should be a guaranteed upset. I mean, who hasn't won when they were in this exact position in the past?

Oh that's right, you guys.

I would honestly be more afraid of the upset if this game didn't mean anything. If you were just another 4-7 team that we had nothing to gain from beating, I could see us taking one on the chin. But now you're playing in our league. We play for championships. We're the consistent team that has dominated this conference since the day we joined. When we're focused and ready, good luck stopping us with your handful of players whose parents might know their name, but no one else.

But for the sake of argument, we'll look at the keys for both teams.

Virginia Tech Wins If

1. Thomas the Tank Engine Keeps on Trucking
The Lieutenant has been almost unstoppable since the loss against Clemson in early October. A few bad passes against Duke has given him the only two interceptions he has thrown in the past six games. And don't get me started about his punishing running ability, because just like him, if I start I can't be stopped. If it is a short yardage situation, he should just be given a first down at this point. Last week, Logan himself said he would like if UVA beat FSU, so that this game would mean more. Part of that was being PC because he knows we play UVA and not FSU, but most of that is being a true competitor. Watch for big plays from the big guy all day long.

2. Get Pressure on Rocco
Earlier this year, UVA tried using a two-qb system due to a promise made by new coach Mike "Whatever It Takes to Get You Here" London. He promised true freshman David Watford playing time if he came to UVA, and was true to his word early on. Since he reneged on that promise, UVA has won four straight. Rocco has been solid, but he's far from perfect. Most of the passes are high percentage, which requires discipline and accountability from the front-7 on defense. Try to make Rocco force something, and let our secondary do their job.

3. Show Up
Now I don't mean that all they have to do is be on the field at game time and the game is over. And we're not one of the five best teams in the country right now. But there is a reason the Hokies are ranked that high. They're good. They do their job. And they don't lose often; especially in November, or on the road, or against UVA. With all things being fair, Virginia Tech should win this game the vast majority of the time they play it. The team's biggest problem this year is consistency for an entire four quarters. If they show up for at least three, but especially if it's for all four, then this should be a tune up to another ACC Championship.

Virginia Wins If

1. Unleash Fluffy
For those of you with a life, Fluffy is the name of the three-headed dog in Harry Potter. Today I am using it to refer to the tandem of running backs for UVA. The name just fit to me for some reason. Having a productive, power running game can help win lots of games. It helps control the clock, tires out the defense, maybe even frustrates them enough to make a dumb decision. The Hokies are no slouch against the run though. Whoever wins this battle up front will go a long way in determining the score at the end of the game.

2. Forces 4th Downs
UVA is very effective in stopping teams from converting 3rd downs. VT is very good at picking up 3rd downs, especially in short yardage situations. Third down is the biggest chance for momentum changes. Stay on the field and keep them tired. Come up short and you give them the ball back, or best case scenario settle for a field goal. 3rd down is also the perfect opportunity to have LT size someone up and run them over. Can't say I wouldn't enjoy watching him take down as many of their players as possible in his first of three matchups against this team.

3. Hell Freezes Over
There is this place that many people believe that you go to after death if you lived a bad life called Hell. This place is filled with all the evil, bad things you can imagine, and one of its motifs is it is very hot. I mean we're talking fire, lava, molten rock, the whole shebang. And even though I'm not a scientist, I have found that in life, heat always beats cold when the two lock horns. So this would make it very improbable that a place like hell could ever be overwhelmed by cold to the extent that the entire underworld could become encased in ice. We're talking about odds that look like 1 out of the digits of pi (you have to remove the decimal for this joke to make logical sense of course).

We are Virginia Tech, and beating UVA in football is what we do.

Score Prediction: Gobblers: 33  Pretenders: 21


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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Week 12 Predictions

After deciding to not play the 4th quarter, the Hokies still pulled out the victory on Thursday night. Now all that is left our favorite post-Thanksgiving dessert: beating the Wahoos the Saturday after Turkey Day.

How big that game will be this year will partially be determined by the outcome of their game today, so let's take a look at all the games across the conference this week.

Gimme Games

Notre Dame over Boston College

Upset Watch

VT over UNC
GT over Duke
FSU over UVA
Miami over USF
Clemson over NC State

50/50 Games
Wake Forest over Maryland

No upsets predicted this week, but one possible blowout. Notre Dame ends their mini-ACC tour with the Eagles, after already taking down the Deacs and Terps in consecutive weeks. If the Irish had scheduled Duke instead of Wake Forest (not that WF is a major step up in skill) they would have played the bottom 3 ACC teams this year, and are probably bragging about their dominance. Don't worry ND, all of us free thinkers know you're just posing to be the team and program that you once were. Have fun beating all the bottom feeders.

Now that the day of the game is here, let me say how happy I am we didn't lose to the Jackets, therefore making this game actually matter. I don't really see any way that the Devils pull this upset, although the combined score of both teams may be high. Without any chance of going to a bowl game this year, Duke may leave it all out on the field next week against their cross-town rivals, but today I don't see the emotion being there to win against a superior opponent.

Last year, USF beat in-state rival Miami to end the regular season, which was just one of many disappointing losses to the Canes. Technically Miami hasn't even reached bowl eligibility yet, but with the Bulls today, and the Eagles next week, it's probably just a matter of time. How crazy would it be if Miami wasn't even able to get to a bowl game this year. Lots of people are predicting no bowls for a few years after sanctions come down, but nobody thought it would be possible if they only had to win 6 games.

Clemson hasn't looked as dominant over the last handful of weeks, but they're still 9-1 and #7 in the BCS. This has trap game feel to it, as NC State hasn't looked great at all this year, sans UNC game, and top-15 SEC in-state rival is on the docket next week. After needing to rally to beat Maryland and Wake Forest, we'll find out how good of a gameday coach Dabo really is. If this team can come out and take care of business today, then we'll see if they'll be ready for the Cocks next weekend.

The big game of the weekend is of course the Hoos and the Noles. UVA needs the win to stay alive in the Coastal Division race, but the Noles have been playing as they were advertised preseason the past couple weeks. If this was a home game for Virginia, I would entertain the option of the upset. But regardless of what Zima is being consumed by their fanbase, we live in the real world. In that world it says that UVA has over-performed this year, and eventually reality will come crashing back down. Right now they have dreams of ACC Championship Games dancing in their head, but in 8 short days they could be just another 7-5 team going to a crappy bowl game.

Oh and Maryland loses again this week.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Game 11 Preview: Virtue Tech vs. UNCheat

In my very first article that I wrote for this blog, I discussed the seemingly rampant pattern of cheating that had taken place at a triage of schools in the ACC. Not to say that it was Virginia Tech's fault, but it was the three teams in their division that are most likely to compete for their spot in the ACC Championship game year in and year out.

Georgia Tech did something nobody is going to remember, and won a conference championship. Miami did it with their usual South Beach style, receiving a lot of air time on all the sports talk shows when the news hit, but nothing in the win column. UNC also has nothing to show for their sins, but their program has been deemed not relevant enough to warrant any real national exposure, even though it's easily the worst, or at least most widespread problem we've seen at any of the college scandals in the past few decades.

It wasn't just players taking benefits. Nor was it only rogue coaches doing things (or kids) that they shouldn't have been. Academic integrity, or lack thereof, was only a small percentage of their crimes on Santa's Naughty List. This was clearly a program and institution who thought they were important enough, or just untouchable with one of their own running the conference, to feel that they could bend the rules in every area of the game and get away with it. And for this, and not just my own personal disdain, I hope that the NCAA punishes them accordingly, and not just to the level that they feel will be acceptable by the general public who doesn't really care.

Now that I've got all that off my chest, I suppose I should talk about the game.

UNC Wins If

1. Defense steps up
Running against this defense has been a chore for many teams this season. They barely give up a field's length worth of yards on the ground a game, but they're going up against the leading rusher in the league. If they can shut down Option A for the Hokies, and make them one dimensional, it won't guarantee anything, but it will make things easier for them. The Hokies have also shown that they can be inconsistent on offense, so if they get stopped early, it will help the Heels' ability to keep the game and momentum on their side.

2. Offensive Balance
Normally when you speak of a typical UNC team, offense is usually average at best. This year is no different, but they do have two capable young players who can go off at any game. QB Bryn Renner and RB Giovani Bernard have shown they can individually frustrate defenses if they get going early. Renner has one of the best completion percentages in the league, while Bernard has a great combination of size and speed. It seems like a given the Hokie D will dominate this pedestrian offense, but we thought the same thing last time they were in Blacksburg.

3. Win the Turnover Battle
This sounds obvious, and one of the keys for almost any game, but here is the importance in this matchup. Renner does have a high completion rate, but he also has a number of interceptions thrown. He has been pressured a high number of times this season, and when that happens there is usually a sack or a pick. On the other side of this, the Hokies have also had their problem with INTs when their young QB is pressured. David Wilson, who wanted to not have any fumbles all year, has had his moments of butterfingers this year. Which side takes care of the ball better will go a long way in determining the outcome, especially if the Heels have more takeaways than giveaways.

Virginia Tech Wins If

1. Keep the Defense Rested
As I mentioned earlier, the Tar Heels have a hard time when their QB doesn't have a lot of time to make smart decisions. In the past five games, he has been sacked 14 times. And of course sometimes a "hurry up" is better than a sack when it's a team that has problems with giving the other team the ball. As long as there aren't a number of long drives, this team has the speed and ability on defense to frustrate any offense this side of the Mississippi. 

2. Don't Look Ahead
Even though every coach and player will tell you all the right things in interviews, everyone knows that winning this game doesn't matter as far as winning the division goes. They can possibly clinch the division with a win, but regardless of any of the possible outcomes between this and the FSU/UVA game, all it takes is a win in Charlottesville to get back to Charlotte. The last time this team was in a similar situation at Duke, they fell into the classic trap game mentality. This game should be different, as it is at home, Senior Night, and a slight revenge game from two years ago. Also if we want to take this further than just looking ahead to next week, the players should know that if we're looking ahead to every season in the foreseeable future, if they want orange jerseys/uniforms to be a possibility under Beamer ever again, they cannot lose in tomorrow's apparel.

3. Home Crowd A Factor
Thursday night is going to be a cold one in Blacksburg. Sometimes it is hard for most people to get jacked up for a 6-4 opponent in this type of weather. What needs to pointed out though is that UNC is only 1-3 on the road this year. I'm sure no one on their team will say it was because they were on the road, but they're 5-1 at home, so it has to be a factor to some degree. More importantly than just the opponent, is the fact it is the last home game of the year. Most of us obsess over this team year round, and those nine months of the offseason makes us really appreciate those 6-7 games a year we're at home. Sometimes we forget about that on a cold night in November against a middle-of-the-pack conference team. 

But something we should never forget is that for a handful of these players, it will be the last game they ever play at Lane Stadium, and possibly anywhere. They have given up most of their time, their bodies, their youth, and much more to this sport and this program, so that those of us who sit on couches, or behind computer screens nit-picking everything they do, can go out with a smile on our face the next day because they won a game. They deserve a lot, and while some of them will receive a paycheck at the next level for an undetermined amount of time, the least they deserve is our respect and appreciation. If you are one of the lucky 66,233 people who can attend this game in person, you need to be there early and late to show these young mean what they mean to all of us, win or lose.

But neither they nor I am planning on losing.

Score Prediction: Gobblers 31   Cheaters 14

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Week 11 Thoughts

I don't know about the rest of you, but every year after the Georgia Tech game, win or lose, I feel like there is a huge weight lifted off the shoulders of the football team and us fans. They're the type of team, that no matter if you're more or less talented in a given year, they're going to be a problem. Their style of play requires more preparation than any other game you'll probably play, and once it's over, you're glad you can just forget about it for another year.

Having said that, I feel a lot better about our chances against them the next couple years at the very least. The Hokies played with probably the youngest and possibly smallest front seven that has ever beaten the Jackets, and should only get better from here. Jack Tyler gets the biggest shoutout from me, because while even though he had a dumb mental mistake early in the 3rd quarter, his ability to play against this type of defense with almost zero game experience shows how well focused and coached he and this team is.

As I said in my keys to the game for a Hokie victory, we didn't need a shutout, just enough stops to have the opportunity to capitalize on offense. That is exactly what happened. After giving up a touchdown on their first drive, we held them scoreless until a last second field goal to end the 2nd quarter, which seemed like a mental lapse not expecting them to come out firing with less than a minute on the clock. After giving up 13 more points to start the 3rd quarter, the defense once again buckled down, and didn't allow even a threat of a score from the Jackets. The big stand came on 3rd and 2, then 4th and 1, allowing the offense to raise the lead from one to eight.

As is usually the case, many were afraid of another lethargic showing from the offense. After getting into GT territory twice early, and having to punt both times, it looked like this may be another game where the coulda/shoulda/woulda would fill the message boards for how close we could have been to winning. Luckily after those two drives, the offense came out to one of its best showings of the season.

Another one of my keys regarding the offense was to spread the ball out to all its playmakers. David Wilson went buck wild for a career high in yards. Logan hit three different receivers for touchdowns. DJ Coles came up with a big catch on a 3rd and long, which was long because of a false start on him on 3rd and medium. Even Oglesby had his moments in relief of DW to help move the chains. And of course The Lieutenant was an unstoppable force anytime he wanted to go forward.

Next on the docket we have the Tar Heels of UNCheat, with what should be a hyped, albeit freezing cold, home crowd on Thursday. Last time the Heels visited, also on a Thursday night, we were upset in a game I'll never forget having to leave. I'm a huge hater of the Tar Heels, and not only had I invited a UNC friend of mine, but I was also living in Chapel Hill at the time. Luckily I moved down to Florida two weeks later, so I didn't have to put up with any crap for too long.

Across the ACC

I suppose we should start with Clemson this week as they're the first team to punch their ticket to Charlotte. After giving up 21 straight 3rd quarter points to go down by two touchdowns to Wake Forest, the Tigers settled down, and with a little bit of help from the refs, kicked a game winning field goal as time expired. It's still unknown if the ACC will get its dream matchup of two 11-1, top-10 teams, but Clemson and their fans being at the ACCCG is probably best case scenario from a selling point. A Clemson/VT matchup, regardless of records and rankings, will be a rocking time in Charlotte.

The only team at this point who can break up what will probably be the best ACCCG game in history, is UVA. After putting away Duke late (really Duke, how many dropped passes can you have in one game when that's supposed to be your only strength?) the Wahoos are still in control of their own destiny in their division. If they can upset the Noles on the road this weekend, then the Commonwealth Cup won't be the only thing on the line the Saturday after Thanksgiving. That's asking a lot, but you never know in this conference.

Boston College and NC State played about as boring a game as you would expect from those two. The Pack had many opportunities to try and win with a late touchdown, but the Boston College defense did a remarkable job at playing for pride in front of the home crowd, and walked away the victory. Many people will talk about FSU being the most disappointing team in the conference this year because of their pre-season ranking, but if you go by fanbase feelings at the end of the year, I think NCSU would get my vote for this "honor". The lone highlight for them this year was shutting out rival UNC, but besides that, there isn't much for them to be happy about this year.

FSU and Miami had a pretty entertaining game that was ruined by the worst reffing job of the day in the ACC, which is saying A LOT. Even though neither team was playing for anything except what mid-tier bowl they'll be going to, the players appeared to be playing for a lot more. There were hard hits, lots of trash talking, and some pretty good plays throughout the game. FSU winning never seemed in doubt, but Miami got it close enough to keep the game on my main tv until the very end. I'm a big fan of that matchup being an opening season game, because you can only imagine how much better the game could have been if there was something to play for.

And Maryland played and lost.

Week 11 Predictions: 5-1
November Predictions: 8-3
October Predictions: 24-7
September Predictions: 31-8
Overall Year-Long Predictions: 63-18

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