Lil' Wang practiced on Saturday for the first time since breaking his foot against ECU. That's great news as far as the future of the o-line is concerned. Both starting guards, Jaymes Brooks and Greg Nosal, are seniors. The coaches raved over Wang during spring practice and August camp and he figured to rotate at guard this season. In his only complete game of the season he played 29 snaps against Appalachian State and graded out at 89 percent. Michigan's two inside tackles are stout, and it'd be a huge boost for his progression to get work against them.
First off, I'd like to apologize for the lack of basketball postings over the past couple weeks. It's been a hectic end to the semester, but basketball is back and so are the previews and recaps!
The Hokies currently sit at 6-3 on the season after a 78-67 win at Rhode Island on Wednesday. That win came after back-to-back tough losses at Minnesota and at home against Kansas State. In the Minnesota game, the Hokies once again fell victim to a slow start, falling behind 8-0 against a Golden Gopher squad that was missing its top two big men. However, Tech rallied back to take a three-point lead at the break. The game came down to the final minute and Tech had a 55-54 lead after an Erick Green layup with 23 seconds left. However, on the ensuing possession, Jarell Eddie committed a foul as Green slid off the elevated floor, banging his right shoulder on the concrete slab. Minnesota made the two free throws and Green made a miraculous comeback into the game with 9 seconds to go. After a Tech timeout, Robert Brown deflected the ball into the backcourt and was called for a backcourt violation (later ruled to be the wrong call). The Gophers made two free throws and Green's heroic heave at the buzzer clanked off the rim to give Minnesota a 58-55 victory.
Yesterday at a little after noon a man I didn't know from Adam senselessly lost his life in the line of duty protecting a place I love. I'm overwhelmed with a mess of emotions that I can't verbalize. All I can say is it feels like I lost a member of my own family.
By now you've probably heard Officer Crouse was survived by, among others, his wife, five children and step-children. My soul deflated and I slid down my office chair when I first read that. A wife was going to be without her husband, and her children were going to be without their father. It's a devastating conclusion to come to.
Hokies wanted to help. As the emotions unfolded in real time it almost seemed second nature to put the day's grief and on hold to try and help the Crouses. Hokies are helping. As of right now, these are the only two ways I know of to donate.
Hokies going to New Orleans, we're still trying to finalize the details of the Unofficial Sugar Bowl Meetup (unofficial because the BCO can't make it). Please leave a note on that thread if you're planning to stop by and say hello, and if you're assertive enough leave a suggestion of where it should happen.
Regarding our traveling rep, Tech has been allotted 17,500 tickets. On Tuesday the athletic department announced Hokie Club members and season ticket holders had purchased 5,000 tickets. Yesterday @VT_Foootball Tweeted, "students purchased over 1,200 tickets in the first hour to the Sugar Bowl". The general public will be able to buy tickets starting Monday at noon. If we don't sellout our allotment, expect more backlash from the mainstream media.
For those of you watching at home, ESPN announced Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe will be calling the game. Todd's Taste of the Town will no doubt leave him cringing in the fetal position; all that roux will clog up the intestines like lard down a drain pipe.
I felt like I traveled back in time on Saturday night. Not to just the first Clemson game this season, but to the Orange Bowl last year, October 17, 2009, September 8, 2007, September 30, 2006, November 5, 2005, etc.
All moments when a highly ranked Virginia Tech team folded in a big game.
Another night when nothing worked.
I can imagine how UVA felt two weeks ago -- probably very similar to how Tech felt on Saturday night.
It was a major disappointment. It was disappointing because you know every pundit who knocked Tech down the stretch smiled when they saw the score. While LSU, Oklahoma State and Kansas State all did what they had to do on Saturday, Virginia Tech could not get it done again.
This team, players and coaches, need to remember the more wins they rack up, the higher they climb in the rankings, the bigger the target on their back gets. Teams seem to show up and play Tech like its their Super Bowl, and when those teams have some semblance of talent and good coaching, Tech looks overwhelmed.
I've tried to keep my analysis as positive as possible this season, but I had a pretty tough time this week. If I don't have a lot of nice things to say, I'm just going to keep it short. There's really no sense in piling on.
1. Antone Exum - I almost vomited when he didn't fall on that Watkins fumble. But he opened the game aggressive and I thought he looked sharp much of the night.
Virginia Tech won 11 football games in 2011. They won the ACC Coastal Division. They beat #20 Georgia Tech in Atlanta, they blew out rival Virginia, ranked 24th, 38 to nil in Charlottesville. They went 4-0 against a feather soft non-conference schedule. They are ranked 11th in the final BCS standings. They kept it close against Clemson for two halves, and got paddled behind the shed in crunch time. They were heavily favored in the ACC Championship game, and got crushed. Their fans have reputation for traveling well. They have history in New Orleans. They're going to the Sugar Bowl.
Boise and Kansas State fans are disappointed and outraged, media personalities are, to put it mildly, critical of the Sugar Bowl's selection, and are putting the Hokies under the microscope.
Today's a hell of a lot better than yesterday. Earlier this evening we confirmed with two of our sources that Virginia Tech is going to the Sugar Bowl. Other news outlets such as CBSSports.com are also reporting the news. The Hokies will play Michigan on January 3rd, 2011. Today is a good day to be a Hokie!
So who's going?
For those of you interested, here's the official release from HokieSports.com: http://www.hokiesports.com/football/recaps/20111204aac.html.
Some days you are the hammer. Some days you are the nail. On Saturday, the Hokies were the board. The Hokies faced a perfect storm of an offense that utilized misdirection to completely counteract the Hokies "gap-scheme" defensively, coupled with a Clemson defensive line that completely manhandled the left side of the Hokies offensive line and their center all night. When VT did have time, their playmakers didn't make plays. It is easy to be upset with the final score, play calling, officiating, or whatever the gripe. I have tried very hard to remain calm and analytical both during and after the game.
Right now I'm sitting here pissed listening to El Camino. (For what it's worth, it's a great album.) I'm arguing with other Hokies that are pissed. I'm drunk, I'm sad, I'm depressed and I imagine some of you are sad, drunk or depressed. I wanted to win that game. I want to win every game. I bet you did too. I thought we were going to win that game, but I think we are going to win every game. I thought we were going to win that game going away. I wanted our 4th ACC Championship in the last 5 years, I wanted to brag, I wanted to fly to Miami to watch us play West Virginia. However, my dad used to say, "You can want in one hand and shit in the other, see what fills up faster."
Who: #5/3/5 Virginia Tech Hokies (11-1, 7-1 ACC) vs #21/21/20 Clemson Tigers (9-3, 6-2 ACC)
Time: 8:02 PM
TV Coverage: ESPN (Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit, Heather Cox)
Venue: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC (73,778 – Grass)
Series History: Clemson leads 18-12-1
- Last Meeting (2011): Clemson 23, Virginia Tech 3
- Clemson gave Virginia Tech its only loss of the season earlier this year in Blacksburg.
- Virginia Tech is making its fifth ACC Championship Game appearance. For Clemson it's their second trip to the Championship Game.
- The two teams have split four games played at neutral locations, including the 2001 Gator Bowl won by Tech 41-20.
- When ranked higher, the Hokies are 3-2 against the Tigers.
- OL David Wang – Out (Foot)
The Opponent: We all know what happened back on October 1. It was the nadir of Virginia Tech’s season, while Clemson appeared to reach its apex in the 23-3 victory at Lane Stadium. When the two teams meet Saturday, it will be a completely different matchup than it was the first time around. For a look at the preview going into that game, click here.
The bittersweet end of the college football regular season is here. These fourteen weeks have flown by and we are again at Championship Saturday. Conference pride and bowl destinations are at stake; we'll see very good games in most of these matchups. I still expect at least one shocker left, but who will provide it, and how will that shake up the BCS? For those not going to the games this weekend, this is your last Saturday to do absolutely nothing and have a valid excuse. Cheers and don't squander it.
I am really only thinking about the Virginia Tech Hokies this week. No apologies to the teams in other conferences. The media and fans can circle jerk the SEC later, as the BCS championship game approaches. This week is for the ACC Championship, even it matters little to those outside our footprint. My focus is on a team that has adapted, overcome, grown and is not satisfied. The 2011 Hokies make a strong case to be along side the '95, '99 and '04 teams on my personal Mount Rushmore of Hokie teams. It's easy to dream about the future with this squad, but right now I am really enjoying the present. Charlotte was great to us last year, and I am hoping it gets turned up to 11 this year. Let's enjoy one of the last remaining games of the season in true Hokie fashion and ROCK THE QUEEN CITY.
Friday, December 2nd
Hey y'all, the Primer is back again. From the bottom of my bourbon-soaked heart, I sincerely hope that everyone had a most excellent Thanksgiving with family and friends...and perhaps made some new friends in the successful #occupyScottStadium endeavor. It was quite heart-warming to hear the raucous chant of "LET'S GO! HOKIES!" through the TV.
While celebrating a superb effort against our in-state rivals is dandy, this football team still has two more challenges ahead before we close the books on the 2011 season. Our last game, of course, depends on our effort in a couple of days down in Charlotte, North Carolina, in a rematch with a 9-3 Clemson outfit.
Well folks, our long journey has brought us full circle. The Hokies arrive in Charlotte prepared to face a Clemson team which dominated them in Blacksburg several months ago. The Hokies have improved their level of play since that loss, as several key receivers have returned to health, Logan Thomas has gone from a question mark to THE ANSWER, and the defense has seen growth from their young players standing in for injured defensive stalwarts. Clemson however, stumbles into this game as losers of 3 of their last 4, including being dominated at the hands of South Carolina (who was without several top offensive weapons including Marcus Lattimore.) Vegas has established the Hokies as solid favorites, despite Clemson's win in Blacksburg.
Yes, this is a retread from earlier in the season, but that mock was so incredibly awesome we need to double up on ole 8-Ball. Check out the first Mock here for some inspiration. Good work last week. I'm fairly certain if we keep Mocking, the team will keep winning. My humble weekly offering:
Damn that was satisfying. I will write that again. Damn that was satisfying. Following our festive consumption of succulent turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and a tall glass of Avery Brewery Joe’s Pilsner, we nervously spent our time with family and friends nervously awaiting perhaps the most important football game to take place between Virginia and Virginia Tech in the last decade. I know I did. I ground on my teeth while I slept envisioning Logan Thomas running away from UVA’s pass rush. I woke up at 6:00AM Saturday morning in a cold sweat after a nightmare where UVA successfully bled the Hokie defense with short passes and power off tackle runs. I won’t lie to the readers of The Key Play. I was a nervous wreck.
Like many of you, I was with family this weekend. At one point in the second half, I heard my mom say "I've never heard Adam laugh so much during a football game."
But I couldn't help it. It was simply beautiful to watch. Everything about shutting out UVA feels right, doesn't it?
There isn't going to be much discussion about the second team guys, because it wouldn't be a good read. But there's plenty about the guys who played the majority of the game.
1. Antone Exum - It was another hit-or-miss game for Exum. He made a lot of plays, and was all over the field, but I saw him beat at least 2-3 times on big UVA gains. Overall, way more good than bad.
2. Josh Oglesby - I thought UVA really committed to stopping the run and it led to a lot of short carries. And because Josh had six carries, I think it was about impossible for him to get going.
3. Logan Thomas - He looked great from the very first offensive snap. You can tell, like Bryan Randall, like Tyrod Taylor, he loves winning. He plays with a fire in his belly. The block on David's should-have-been-a touchdown was flat out awesome.
4. David Wilson - As I said about Oglesby, I thought there often wasn't a lot of space to run the football, but he kept chipping away and snapped off five runs of more than 15 yards, and they all seemed to come at very opportune times. It's a real treat to watch him run the ball.
Is there any other way (besides bourbon) to celebrate?
Some of these images are via the Collegiate Times gallery.