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Survival of the Fittest
by HokieZ (Greg Zesinger), 8/25/00

Now that Survivor has officially come to a conclusion, we can focus all of our attention on the new football season, kicking off this weekend as the Hokies take on Georgia Tech. But before GameDay kicks off at 7:00 on Sunday, I feel an obligation to chime in with some sort of Survivor parody.

I can’t help but conjure up images of host Jeff Probst questioning castaways "Butch" and "Mike" at tribal council about the existence of an alliance. Mike would deflect the question, saying "What you might perceive as an alliance is simply the type of relationship that occurs when people are thrown together in a situation like this. Is there an alliance between Butch and myself? Of course not!" Slightly crazy castaway "Lee" would chime in with a "Not so fast, my friend, and mention how he had overheard Butch finally agreeing to teach Mike how he too could have "swagger" in exchange for an alliance. With all eyes on Butch, he would try to change the subject. "So, um, those rats are pretty tasty, aren’t they?" Contestant Kirk would then pick up the tangent, talking about how the rats were okay, but the little orange and blue mice he had caught tasted even better.

When Probst asks if anyone feels nervous about the council’s vote, Don raises his hand, and understandably so. Despite being marooned on a deserted island, thousands of miles from the nearest civilization, somehow, a plane pulling a banner with "NEHLEN MUST GO!" appears periodically in the tropical sky, circling the island. "They follow me wherever I go," sobs a crestfallen Don.

The votes would be cast. Probst would go to tally the votes, and would constantly be frustrated by needing to have everyone re-vote. "Would whoever is doing it, and you know who you are, PLEASE write down a name this time. I am sick of going to tally the votes, and pulling out ‘WE’RE BACK, BABY’ all the time!" Mike’s buddy would just giggle.

Meanwhile, crusty, cantankerous "George", perhaps due to grossing out most of the other castaways with his constant "digging for buried treasure", would earn an early exit from the island, unsurprisingly earning seven votes off from his fellow castaways.

But enough about the show, the one survivor we care about now is the Virginia Tech football team. Can they survive a 12-game season, beginning with a grueling 3 game stretch over the course of less than two weeks? Absolutely.

Tech are heavy favorites against the Yellow Jackets, and the same will hold true against the Zips. All things being equal, Tech should defeat both squads handily before their big test at ECU. The key will be a quick jelling of the defense, and making sure our star players stay healthy. My hope is that both the GT and Akron games will be blowouts early, allowing many of the starters to rest in the second half. The Hokies won’t be used to playing real games so close to one another, so it will be very important to maintain fresh legs going into the game against the Pirates.

Like the past two years, VT has a legitimate shot at going undefeated in the regular season. They were three plays away in 98-99, and did it last year. Those "experts" who talk about the "curse" of the Carrier Dome fail to realize how close the Al Clark-led Hokies came to defeating the Orangemen. Without Donovan McNabb on Syracuse, and with Michael Vick on the Hokies, that particular curse should be lifted. As we all know, the real test looming, assuming wins in each of the previous games, is Miami. Obviously, the Canes are loaded, and by the time Nov. 4, rolls around, Ken Dorsey (who, based on his nice stats against collectively unimpressive competition, I believe is a bit overrated) will have a full season of game experience under his belt (counting the 3-4 games from last year). Like always, it will be a dogfight, but six in a row feels right to me. UVa will always be a tough game, but I don’t think they can beat Vick in a sold-out, newly renovated Lane Stadium.

And speaking of Vick, you’ve got to believe he’ll be the sole survivor of the Heisman race. As the top returning vote-getter, the trophy is his to lose. If you’re like me, you’ve wondered how he could possibly match a season like last year’s. How could he hope to duplicate a season of plays like the flip vs. JMU and the sideline scramble vs. WVU? A season of nearly breaking the national record for pass efficiency? Could he really experience the dreaded sophomore slump that many fans and experts seem to expect? Absolutely. But you know what, we quite possibly might not notice the difference. There is no doubt Mike will be the best QB in the Big East. With an incredible offensive cast returning around him, he’ll continue to pull amazing play after amazing play out of his magic hat. And even a sophomore slump for Vick might be equal to a Heisman season for others.

Some other notes:

  • Eager to combat the perception from recruits that they failed to properly promote Thomas Jones for the Heisman last year, UVa has already sent out press packets and custom CD-ROMs to media outlets nationwide, touting Jones for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
  • In a related effort to show recruiting targets that they mean business, the UVA Sports Information Department has taken a cue from VT’s official MV2K website, creating individual Heisman campaign websites for ALL UVa players. However, they’ve encountered some snags, as they’ve discovered that forward-thinking/insane cybersquatters have already snatched up the highly-coveted "www.ljubomirstamenichforheisman.com" site, among others.
  • Stories out of Tallahassee report that FSU QB Chris Weinke has shed close to twenty pounds in the offseason, in the hopes of increasing his mobility and improving his stock in the 2001 NFL Draft. While reporters speculate that the loss occurred due to an intense exercise and diet regiment, further investigations seem to point to Weinke’s failure to reorder his Rogaine as the main cause. "No comment," said Weinke’s former barber.
  • Speaking of Tallahassee, contingents of FSU players were spotted at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions earlier this month. One player stated that wanted to make sure they had all their bases covered so that after the election, they would really understand who it was that they hadn’t shot. Meanwhile, at both conventions, there was a surprising amount of support for dark horse candidate Caleb Hurd.
  • In Miami, eager to take advantage of his embarrassment of riches at tailback, Butch Davis has been toying with several formations designed to get his talented backs on the field more often. Davis is reportedly looking at the wishbone, wing-T, and an as yet unnamed formation, with Najeh Davenport lining up at fullback, Clinton Portis lining up at tailback, Jarrett Payton lining up at slotback, and James "Heisman in 1999" Jackson lining up at we’reback.
  • A couple years ago, Miami receivers, including Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne, vowed not to cut their hair until the Canes made it back into a bowl game. Hoping to work similar magic, several girlfriends of the Miami players have pledged to refrain from shaving their legs until the Hurricanes are able to defeat Florida State and Virginia Tech. Could be a hairy situation, indeed, for the Canes.
  • Rumors swirl that College GameDay will visit Miami on Nov. 4 for their big matchup against the Hokies. In order to build the hype even more, it’s been suggested that all-star wideouts Santana Moss and Andre Davis run a race before the game as a preview of the Big East Outdoor Track 100m finals.
  • New starting FS Willie Pile out of West Potomac HS in Alexandria, VA marks the 2nd Northern Virginian in a row manning the spot. Predecessor Nick Sorensen attended Marshall.
  • Several Hokies have expressed interest in using a new product from the makers of Breathe-Right strips. The new See-Right strips, attached above and below the eyelids, force the eye open at the widest possible distance. Nathaniel Adibi and Lamar Cobb are expected to be among the first to try them.
  • With Carter Warley stepping in as VT’s starting placekicker and possibly nursing a sore back, the amount of missed field goals this season is expected to go up slightly. Blacksburg sales of Pepto-Bismol, however, are expected to go down.
  • Shane Beamer is reluctant to give the Yellow Jackets any of his dad’s secrets for the BCA game, but he told them in a pinch he would go out and snap during punts.

That’s all for now. Win #1! Go Hokies!


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