A Guide to El Paso - As Written by a Hokie Who's Stuck There

Editor's Note: Bumped to the front because EPHokie did a great job putting this guide together. If you're making the trip to El Paso and have questions, she might be able to answer them in the comments.

Safety

Safety first, kids. Don't go to Juarez. Just don't. I don't care what you've heard - NO. Also, visiting Lower Valley (far East side) isn't a great idea, nor is driving Paisano after dark.

El Paso is located in the high desert - the elevation here is 4000+ feet above sea level. For those of you who live at or near sea level, it's not going to be fun when combined with the low humidity. Drink a LOT of water. Really. Bring a refillable bottle of water and keep it topped off all day, every day. Also not fun at this elevation is the sun - if it's at all sunny, please wear sunscreen. You will burn much faster here. Finally, the lip balm of your choosing (I'm a Burt's girl, myself) will be greatly beneficial. (Also, if you're prone to nosebleeds or are sensitive to low humidity, consider asking your hotel for a humidifier to put in your room. It'll make life so much nicer.)

Rewinding Scot Loeffler's First Season at Tech

Perhaps the most manic relationship between the staff and the fanbase this season was between new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and those that wear orange and maroon. Loeffler was hired after coordinating a dreadful offense at Auburn. That poor year stands in stark contrast to Gus Malzahn's offensive revival that has Auburn on the verge of a national championship. Based on his season at Auburn, many fans didn't have confidence in Loeffler turning around an offense that sputtered under the combined leadership of Bryan Stinespring and Mike O'Cain. With an offensive unit depleted by injuries, defections, and inexperience at the skill positions that was expected to adopt a complex, multiple scheme, Loeffler faced a major challenge right off the bat. How did he fare in his first season on the job, and is this the true Scot Loeffler offense?

What I Didn't Know About UCLA

How much did everyone pay attention to UCLA football throughout the season? I watched them blow past Nebraska 41-21 in early September because that game was on the TV in the bar next to the one broadcasting the Hokies. Outside of that, I didn't watch much Bruins football. For my own edification, I watched UCLA's games against Stanford (L 10-24), Arizona State (L, 33-38), and USC (W, 35-14).

UCLA (9-3, 6-3) finished runner up to Arizona State (10-3, 8-1) in the Pac-12 South. The Bruins were ranked 17th in the final BCS Standings. Of the teams they played ranked in the final BCS Poll UCLA lost to no. 5 Stanford, no. 10 Oregon, no. 14 Arizona State, and beat no. 25 USC.

By a measure of traditional statistics, UCLA is a balanced and formidable opponent.

Virginia Tech to play UCLA in the Sun Bowl

All of the bowl projections throughout the week that had the Hokies heading to El Paso to play UCLA held true. According to the AP, Virginia Tech will play UCLA in the Sun Bowl. The game will be played Tuesday, December 31st at 2:00 PM ET and will be broadcast on CBS. UCLA is a 9-3 team that went 2-3 against the Top 25 and spent most (if not all of, it's too early on a Sunday to confirm) its season ranked.

Earlier in the week Sun Bowl Executive Director Bernie Olivas said this about the Hokies then potential bid, "A lot of scenarios point to Virginia Tech towards us and we would be extremely happy with that".

I've Got The Lighter

Those movies or TV shows when it's about to hit the fan, but a character calls a timeout to puff one last cigarette. It's a stick of a last meal conveniently kept in a pocket. Put 'em down, but gently. Back to the action.

(Don't watch if you don't want a Breaking Bad spoiler.)

Let's Talk About the ACC Championship Game

The ACC Championship Game is tomorrow night. I expected Virginia Tech to represent the Coastal right up until DeVon Edwards picked off Marquise Williams to seal Duke's division championship. Until that moment, in my mind, it was always when, not if Duke would lose. However, the Blue Devils stunned the Hokies at the end of October and never looked back finishing the season on an 8-game win streak; a perfect record in October and November. Impressive for a program that only got press in Virginia for beating Virginia.

Florida State is one win away from being back. (Some may argue two wins, but if a program plays in the national championship game, it's undeniable that it's nationally relevant.) The last time FSU was this close to being back was over a year ago, before they lost at North Carolina State.

Hokie Hoops After Eight

Last time we checked in, our heroes were on their way to Brooklyn in order to play the best team in the country. Did I have confidence in them? Of course not! But that game happened, and then they played three more games after that. Let's look at a few quick game summaries before we break this team down.

Michigan State 96, Virginia Tech 77: This was probably many of y'all's first endeavor into watching this team. Well, what you witnessed was somewhat of a bipolar game in which some things went incredibly right, and others went "Oh God, just burn it all down" wrong. What went right? Jarell Eddie was unconscious in the first half, knocking down a ton of jumpers, and with the help of Adam Smith, kept the Hokies competitive for most of the opening half. In fact, an Eddie three-ball cut Sparty's lead to three with just three minutes left in the half. That, however, was when the wheels fell off the bus (which, apparently, was on an elevator). State went on a 10-0 run to extend their lead to 13 going into halftime, capitalizing on a few poor turnovers and bad perimeter D (two of the things that went extremely wrong, another being the eight shots taken by Devin Wilson and Ben Emelogu combined, but I'll get to that).

Decade of Dominance: UVa in Review

The Hokies finished the season on a positive note with a decisive if ugly win against the pretenders from the University of Virginia. Congratulations to the seniors who finished their career with four wins against the bow tie neighbors to the north. Nothing about the 95th edition of the Commonwealth Cup was pretty, but the Hokies succeeded in achieving victory with a combination of superior effort, some trickery, and a significant helping hand by a University of Virginia offensive staff which managed to do everything but hand Bud Foster their playbook with a silver bow prior to kick off.

The Hokies did not finish the game unscathed. Trey Edmunds had an outstanding game, but was lost until fall practice with a broken tibia early in the fourth quarter. Brandon Facyson, who UVa did not seem interested in challenging with the exception of a go route prior to the Edmunds touchdown run in the second quarter, suffered an AC joint sprain. Now, Virginia Tech enters bowl season looking for a way solidify depth because of injuries, while also using the extra weeks of practice to identify which players are most likely to replace the ten key contributors who will be playing their final game for the Hokies.

Reflecting on the 2013 Regular Season

Virginia Tech's regular season is over. I hate this time of year. I'm sad there's no game to look forward to next weekend. Although, now there's a complete body of work to reflect on.

Tech's 8-4 record was a reasonable expectation at the beginning of the season. Lose to two-time defending national champion Alabama in the Dome, on the road against Georgia Tech on a short week, against a talented Miami in Sun Life Stadium for the second season in a row, and stumble against a random unexpected team. If there's a neat way to go 8-4 against this schedule, that'd be it. Instead, over the course of the season Tech edited and rewrote its narrative.

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 CoachingSearch.com, yes.

UCONN: A source tells CoachingSearch.com 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.

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