April 9, 1996

The (Hokie) Bird is the Word

This past week, at the NCAA cheerleading championships, the judges made official what Hokie fans have know all along: the Hokie bird is the best there is.

That's right - Tech's own Hokie Bird was crowned as the national mascot champion! For those of you who saw the Hokie Bird's antics at the Sugar Bowl this year, that's no surprise at all. He is a flat-out-and-out riot. When you compare him to the UVa (ugh) Cavalier, or the West Virginia Mountaineer, or any of those other lame mascots around the country, it's no contest.

Sports Illustrated once called the Hokie Bird "a steroid-pumped chicken hawk," which I kind of liked. And there's no other mascot in the country with that same wise-ass grin on his face

The Hokie Bird's finest performance? Unfortunately, almost none of you got to see it. It came during the St. Joseph's basketball game in Cassell Coliseum this year. For those of you who don't know the story, St. Joe's has a Hawk mascot, a guy in a 40-year old Hawk outfit who flaps his arms from the beginning of the game to the very end, without stopping for a single second, even during halftime. It's a St. Joe's tradition and really a sight to see, that same guy flapping his arms nonstop for two hours.

Well, when the Hokie Bird saw this, he was fit to be tied. He terrorized that poor St. Joe's Hawk the entire game. The Hokie Bird started by pointing at the Hawk with that smirk on his Hokie-Bird face, and then he went down into the tunnel and came back out with a big red STOP sign, which he held up right in front of the Hawk's face.

No deal. The Hawk just kept flapping. So the Hokie Bird went and got a hula hoop and tried to throw it around the Hawk's arms (where the Bird gets this stuff, I have no idea). The Hawk avoided this attempt by running in terror (flapping his arms the whole time, of course), that same dull, stoned expression on his face.

Halftime was the worst for the poor Hawk. The Hokie Bird was just getting warmed up. Blue Ridge Cellular was running a special promotion at halftime, and they carted out a guy in full-body cellular phone suit. It was one of the goofiest things you've ever seen, and sure enough, after the Hokie Bird had done his halftime bit, he recruited the cell phone, and the two of them stalked the Hawk, cornering him and almost pinning his arms.

The sight of that Hawk running across the court, flapping his arms while he was being chased by a steroid-pumped chicken hawk and a cellular phone is the funniest thing I think I've ever seen. I nearly busted a gut laughing at the Hokie Bird torturing the St. Joe's Hawk.

So congrats, Hokie Bird. You're the best. By the way, when are you serving that Bevo meat I saw you carving up in the Superdome?

News Flash: Dave Braine is Going Insane!

No joke folks, I think Dave is losing it. God love him, but he said something the other day I couldn't believe.

Of course, at this point, you're going, "What, Will, what? What did he say?" Well, I was listening to a sports radio show the other day, and they were interviewing Dave, and when questioned about the football team, he said the following:

"I think the defense is going to be better than it was last year."

Holy cow, call an ambulance! Dave Braine is making outrageous statements over the air!

Actually, as you can tell by now, I'm just poking fun. My sincerest wish for the coming year is that Dave is right, because last year's defense was the most awesome, most stifling display of 'D' I've ever seen. And if this year's version can do better, then I want to see it.

What to Expect from the O-line Next Year

There was an interesting article in The Roanoke Times a few days ago about the offensive line, and how huge they are. Tech is going to start five guys who average well over 300 pounds. Somewhere in the 315 pound range, actually. I'm not sure I like that, and I'll tell you why (after all, this is My Opinion).

Flashback: it's late 1993, and the Hokies are slated to play Indiana in the Independance Bowl. It was Indiana's sixth bowl trip in eight years, and the Hokies first in about fifty years. Indiana was from the vaunted Big Ten, and Tech was from the fledgling Big East. Indiana featured a huge, hulking offensive line that outweighed Tech's defensive line by about 30 pounds a man.

I was terrified. I had visions of Indiana rolling up 350 yards rushing. So what happened?

You know what happened. Tech embarrassed them. Our guys treated Indiana's offensive line like an open window. After the game, the IU line complained that Tech's guys were "too quick. They wouldn't stay blocked."

That was the first and biggest vindication of the Frank Beamer / Phil Elmassion defensive philosophy. Namely, put small, quick guys on the defensive line, and watch with joy as they embarrass big, slow, offensive lineman.

So now, it's three years later, and the tide has turned. Tech is now the team with the big offensive linemen, and the rest of the country (the rest of the Big East, at least) is going to a VT-like defensive scheme featuring small, quick guys.

Recipe for disaster? Maybe. Remember what the defensive line for Navy, of all teams, did to us last year? They were impressive. Using their small size to their advantage, they shot the gaps and shut down our offense. I look at next year, and I wonder if you'll see more of the same. Big guys are good pass-blockers (more on that in a second), but they tend not to be good run blockers.

Not to worry, though, for two reasons:

  1. Tech has a starting running back (Ken Oxendine) who doesn't need good blocking. The Ox can create something out of absolutely nothing, which certainly was not Duane Thomas' style. Thomas had to have a good block to spring him, and then he was a holy terror in the defensive backfield, with his patented spin move.
  2. Tech's pass blocking is great. Tony Brackens of Texas said that Jay Hagood was the "best pass-blocker I faced all year." I've seen Jay struggle to make blocks in the open field. Sometimes he misses them, and sometimes he makes them (the Jermaine Holmes screen pass touchdown against UVa, for example), but if Tony Brackens says that Hagood is the best, then I believe him.

So here's what you'll see next year: in the running game, you'll see Kenny Oxendine streaking to daylight where there doesn't appear to be any, and in the passing game, you'll see big Jim Druckenmiller setting up behind a huge, hulking offensive line that gives him all day to throw.

You heard it here first.


TSL News and Notes Archives

TSL Home