Looking in a Mirror
by Jim Alderson, 9/18/02

So far, so good. Tech’s unusual out-of-conference experience has so far resulted in the pasting of two ranked teams. Life is about to get a bit more difficult, but I gotta tell you, the games and the buzz surrounding the playing of LSU and Marshall sure beat the heck out of whacking teams with directions and hyphens in their names, or what has become the annual blasting of that team with the Maginot Line of a defense [Hey Beerman: Why does Paris have so many tree-lined streets? So the German army can march in the shade]. This is great fun.

Tech’s next game will find the Hokies journeying to Texas A&M. Let’s see, Tech will be in a loud stadium at an excellent land-grant university featuring a Corps of Cadets and the home team wearing maroon and sporting a strong defense. We will be playing ourselves. I suppose it is a little late for Tech to change its name back to Virginia A&M, and the ‘Tech’ designation seems to already have been taken in Texas, but, considering that this Hokie team is comprised mostly of young and impressionable teenagers, perhaps Frank can convince them that they are indeed still playing at home. Whatever works.

The Tech-aTm clash will also be televised by ABC, giving Tech the rare perk of so far having half of its game televised by the Big East’s broadcast partner. This delightful [if you live within range of a Virginia ABC station] occurrence has left certain people scrambling, such as the entire state of North Carolina, where secondary television stations are experiencing the programming bonanza of presenting a meaningful game between two very good teams opposite the contest carried by area ABC stations, that intersectional game of the year, BYU at Georgia Tech.

This turn of events no doubt has Big John Swofford, the ACC commish, bouncing basketballs off the walls of his lavishly-appointed Greensboro ACC office in frustration and puzzlement. Why, Big John must be wailing to the Football gods, did ABC stick his conference with such a clunker of a game when they could have televised Round 2 of this year’s battle between the states of North Carolina and Texas? ABC passed on the titanic NC State-Texas Tech showdown? Imagine that. This better not happen again if ABC wants any Duke basketball games for their sorry network. Just think, Disney could have shown the team starring a quarterback with a proven mastery of I-AA secondaries against the bunch whose tendency towards spirited fan behavior is rapidly making them known as the Maryland of the Southwest, with the added halftime bonus of the State coaching staff singing ‘Red River Valley.’ ABC obviously doesn’t recognize compelling television.

The Virginia Tech-Texas A&M game will be an interesting study in contrasts from last week’s televised contest involving a Texas team, the one where Mack Brown finally found somebody that he could defeat on television [note to Mack: any word yet from Disney on the possibilities of televising Texas vs. Tulane?]. There will be precious little wine tasting and tea sipping done in the parking lot before the Hokies and Aggies get it on; instead, the fare will likely be heavy on red meat and brown liquor. Both defenses will also be a little more stout than the one that finally enabled the Blonde Bumbler to live up to all of that hype.

Defense should be the hallmark of this game [Now watch it end up 48-45]. The Aggie one, with their cool ‘Wrecking Crew’ nick, looks to be at least as good as LSU’s, and has a much better working knowledge of run defense than Marshall’s, where the concept of stopping the run was as alien as the Herd playing in a BCS game.

When the Aggies put nine men in the box it will mean trouble, especially for a Tech team that still has issues with the passing game, to say the least. Bryan Randall will need to do a bit more this time around than simply turn and hand the ball to Lee or KJ. Kyle Field is not exactly the place where one would desire a young and still very inexperienced quarterback and a receiving corps that so far has been on the field seemingly only because you have to play eleven players to come of age, but it is going to have to happen for Tech to win. If either Lee or KJ cracks a hundred Tech should win, but the odds of that happening against the Crew are not good. Tech very much needs for this game to be Bryan’s coming-out party.

Win or lose, and from the moment the schedule was released this seemed to me to be the toughest game for Tech to win until that season-ending trip to Miami, this will be a great experience for the Tech program. The Hokies have already proven that no, they are not a team that compiles gaudy records beating up on a bunch of OOC dogs but a very solid program. The trip to College Station is another building block in the elevation of Tech to national power status. And, as stated earlier, it is great fun.

Jim Alderson, who first made his mark with his biting political commentary on the A-Line email newsletter, also brings a unique, sarcastic, and well-informed perspective on college sports, particularly (1) Virginia Tech sports and (2) ACC sports.  While Hokie fans currently have very little use for subject number 2, Alderson is an entertaining and informative columnist on subject number 1.  For even more fun, visit Jim's A-Line home page.


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