Beating Virginia: A Journey into the Mind of Steve Fairchild

Normally, my film previews are straight-forward high level overviews of Virginia Tech's next football opponent. I identify opponent's strengths, reveal challenging matchups, and suggest potential strategies on how the Hokies can take advantage of weaknesses. I don't make predictions, although I would be lying if I said that I didn't think the Hokies would beat UNC, and that I was stunned that they lost to Duke.

But, this is Hate Week, and this 2013 Commonwealth Cup has presented a unique case study of Virginia's offensive unit and maligned offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild. Fairchild's criticism of Virginia Tech's campus prompted a response from Hokies running back coordinator Shane Beamer. Perhaps Fairchild should devote more time and energy to studying his own personnel and tendencies. Unlike a competent coach, who understands how to morph a scheme to maximize the strengths of his players and hide their weaknesses, Fairchild seems insistent on leaning upon the short passing game to win football games.

100% Chance of Hate Week

There are many reasons to hate UVa, but let me give you one more. As my father finished his undergraduate work in college he was preparing to go to law school at UVa, where he had been accepted and was enrolled. At that time we were at war in Vietnam, and many young men were being drafted to serve and honorably did so whether they wanted to or not. My father was among them the summer before he was to start at UVa, and instead of starting his law degree he went overseas as a non-voluntary member of the US Army.

#goacc Power Rankings: Week 13

You may have noticed that last week's theme was very festive, and you're probably wondering why, with Thanksgiving being tomorrow, I didn't cover a turkey day theme today. Well, let me put it simply. It's hate week y'all.

In the spirit of everyone's disdain for the University of Virginia, we have to acknowledge two things: how terrible that program has been for the past four years, and that Mike London could potentially be coaching his last game as the head man in Charlottesville.

With that being said, I wanted to take a look at just how miserable UVa has been in conference play under London's tenure. Sure, you can just say that they've gone 8-23 in almost four full seasons, but that just doesn't quite put it in enough context. So here, I'm going to bring up London's record against each team, and the highlights (or lowlights) that came in each series.

Enjoy, I know Al Groh would.

Could VT Assistants take a Ride on the Coaching Carousel?

Connecticut to interview Bud Foster? According to a report from Pete Roussel of, yes.

UCONN: A source tells that UCONN is expected to interview Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster

I would've never thought UConn would be the place to give Foster his shot at running a program, but it's a I-A program, that's fighting for relevance post conference expansion, with a recent history of losing. Also, UConn has a new stadium and the university made a commitment to football when it transitioned from I-AA, to I-A in the early 2000s. Given Connecticut's recent slump, and position in the AAC (instead of say the ACC) they're not going to fetch a big name coach, and they might have to take a risk and hire a someone without head coaching experience. I can't imagine a retread like Paul Pasqualoni will go over well with their fan base. In that case, and given his track record, Foster would be an excellent option for Huskies if they decide to hire a coordinator.

"Foe"Rensics: Virginia

Hello. Welcome to the last regular season "Foe"Rensics. While the chance still exists for us to have one more edition before the bowl game, we find ourselves in the unique position of rooting for Duke to lose in order to make it. That feels very weird to me. I'd prefer to focus on this: we have before us an opportunity to help LOLUVA finish their conference season 0-8. Whatever happens in the Duke-UNC game, being the final nail in a winless conference season for the Hoos would warm my soul.

In fact, I think now is the time to remind everyone that LOLUVA Athletic Director Craig Littlepage may not do the right thing without the appropriate level of public outcry. He may be swayed by the nine game losing streak or the dwindli...continued lack of attendance. But, and I feel this in my heart, that would be a mistake. I think it's time to resurrect an old campaign, but change the target slightly. Everybody, join me in saying:

Hate Week Quotes

Posting quotes is not something I do much of, but after watching Virginia Tech's weekly media session on Monday, and reading what the Virginia players had to say, I decided to. I get the feeling that the Hokies, at least the ones made available to the media, are focussed on the Hoos, and want to win this football game every bit as much as we do.

The following quotes were scraped from articles by the writers on the beat: Norm Wood, Mark Giannotto, Andy Bitter, David Teel, and Mike Barber.

Don't ask Bane Gayle what time it is.

Win the War in the Trenches, Win The Commonwealth Cup

Despite giving up 35, 35, 59, 45, and 45 points in the last five games, the Wahoos have an experienced defensive line that gets into the gaps and shoots up the field. This poses a tremendously challenging matchup for a Virginia Tech offensive line that has excelled against base looks, but has struggled with communication on stunts and blitz pick ups against variable fronts that are more interested in getting up field and creating chaos instead of maintaining gap control. If the Hokies can't control the Virginia defensive line, a Virginia offense that stays committed to running the football can score enough points to pull off a major upset in Charlottesville.

Defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta utilizes a 4-3 scheme, often eagling right defensive tackle Brent Urban on the inside eye of the left guard.

4-star DE/DL Michael Barnett Commits to Virginia Tech

According to 247Sports Ryan Bartow, South Carolina native and defensive lineman Michael Barnett committed to Virginia Tech. Barnett is rated as a 4-star prospect by,, ESPN, and 247Sports. He's Virginia Tech's second verbal commitment of the 2015 cycle. According to 247Sports, Barnett had offers from Clemson, Florida, Florida State, North Carolina and Tennessee among other schools.

Barnett tweeted his intention to commit today early Saturday morning.

Barnett visited Blacksburg many times over the past year, most recently November 16th when Virginia Tech hosted Maryland. This is what Barnett said 8 months ago about his offer.

Checking in on Hokies Hoops

"Do you want basketball tickets for Christmas?" That was the (pretty ironic) text I got from my mom about ten minutes after Tech lost to USC Upstate two weeks ago. It was at that exact moment in time where I wondered whether my nine-win prediction for this team was too kind. If this was how the entire season was going to go, I would rather have spent an entire year in solitary with Bruce Pearl than watch this team.

That was, however, only the first game of the season and I will admit to being a bit irrational. The team has since ripped off three straight wins over West Virginia, Western Carolina and VMI, sparking a very small hope in the fan base that this team is better than anticipated. Well in short, they probably are, but not for many of the reasons we expected.

Now, before I talk about what's been going on with the team I need to clarify something: this team won't be good. Now, let me clarify something on the point that I just clarified: this team's record won't be good. They'll almost definitely finish in the bottom two or three teams in the conference, so read all of the following through that lens.

Virginia Tech Offers Tina Fey

Editor's Note: TheFifthFuller is writing about recruiting. Everything going to hell during a bye week is a continuing theme this season.

In a surprising development, has exclusively learned that Virginia Tech has offered fanship to five-star Comedian/Actress Tina Fey out of Upper Darby, PA. The offer is notable since Fey has ties to rival school Virginia, graduating from there in the early 90s. Tech, however, has a recent history of gaining commitments from recruits with ties to the school, including brothers of current players. That strategy is a small part of the overall "Bitch, please" mentality the Hokies football program has to its in-state rival.

Fey would be a big get for the Hokies. She has demonstrated versatility and a broad reach to a large audience, something that can only help the Hokies national profile. She would also reach a vastly different demographic than recent high profile fan commit Britney Spears. Sadly, as has been the trend with many high profile recruits recently, some overzealous Hokie fans are already strongly lobbying Fey to pick their school.

#goacc Power Rankings: Week 12

The Toilet Bowl Division

Yeah...these teams aren't making a bowl game

14. Virginia (2-8, LW: BYE): The good news? The Wahoos had a bye last week, which is just one letter away from BYU, conjuring up memories of Virginia's ever more confounding win in week one. This week they play Miami, who Mike London has somehow owned during his tenure (3-0). While this just seems like a random statistic, let's look just a little deeper shall we? As we all know, the NCAA just wrapped up an investigation of Miami. What if having a cop on the across sideline messed with the Canes' head just a little bit, adding a bit of paranoia to the game? What if London told them he was part of the investigation, and Miami just didn't know any better? Wouldn't it explain at least two of their last three matchups?

If Virginia had a Thanksgiving Day disaster, it would be: Uncle Tenuta has one too many glasses of wine, and causes a scene at the dinner table. This forces London to put him down, hard, while Tom O'Brien and Steve Fairchild sit in stunned silence.

UVA Hate Week Gets in the Holiday Spirit

Editor's Note: And thanks to Wartooth, hate week is off and running.

It's that time again! UVA (14-day) Hate Week! Get in the spirit!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!
There'll be Zima for sharing
And wine and cheese pairing
Then sweet Wahoo tears!
It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Unexplainable: Breaking Down the Hokies Loss to Maryland

I have watched the film of the Hokies baffling loss to Maryland three times, and it is one of the strangest losses I have ever had to do a film review on. In the preview I pointed out that Maryland would have to do two absolutely critical things if it wanted to be competitive in the football game.

  1. The Terrapins needed to get the Hokies to abandon the running game, and then play man coverage behind a wide variety of blitzes and stunts from a multitude of alignments.
  2. With Bud Foster committed to man coverage, the Virginia Tech pass rush had to put C.J. Brown on the ground without him breaking contain.

I have never had less fun being right. Maryland put together two scoring drives—one at the end of the first half and another to start the second—largely on the back of Brown's scrambles that caught the Hokies in man coverage downfield. Offensively, as soon as the Hokies started to get some momentum back in the fourth quarter, Maryland was able to generate tremendous pass rush off a wide variety of stunts and blitzes that confused the offensive line.

BeamerBall: Attrition and Will Likely's Touchdown Return

It is clich to say that football is a game of inches or moments, but it often proves to be the case. Saturday's game against Maryland provided a wealth of frustrating moments, but ultimately two special teams plays haunted the Hokies as they muddled their way to overtime. Walk-on kicker Eric Kristensen dinged a 3-point attempt off the left post that would have given the Hokies a 10-point lead, and the Hokies punt return team gave up a touchdown return to freshman Will Likely that completely took the air out of Lane Stadium. If either play goes differently, perhaps the Hokies pull out a win in a game where they definitely were not sharp. I can't be critical of Kristensen. He was thrust into an impossible situation, and he hit both attempts solidly. Against an average opponent, the Hokies should not have been in a position where kicker needed to win the game. However, special teams as a whole continued to stink. Little was accomplished in the return game. And the coverage teams again struggled as they did against the Hurricanes and Alabama.

We lost to Maryland

If anything this team is inconsistent. Apologies in advance for typos as I am writing on my phone at a reverse tailgate.

This season Tech has figured out to beat good teams, and lose to average ones. It's been both a bumpy and enjoyable ride.