Friday, November 22nd, 1996
Make no mistake about it - this will not be as cordial as the ECU game. Heck, it won't even be as cordial as the Miami game. Instead, it's going to be an all-out war.
The trash-talking between the WVU and Tech fans has been in high gear all week long. A check of various message boards around the Internet reveals some acrimonious shots being fired in both directions. I visited one WVU message board that Hokies invaded and were blasted for their efforts.
To be honest, I didn't see much actual trash-talking, but instead, I saw about a million messages of the "Hey, let's stop talking trash and start talking football!" variety. So some trash-talking must have gone on - I must have just missed it. Strange.
That hasn't stopped the WVU coaches from, in my opinion, making asses out of themselves this week. WVU's defensive coordinator called the Hokies "the most blatant holding team in the Big East," implying that Jay Hagood, Billy Conaty, and the boys aren't really any good, they just hold a lot.
Reports out of WVU also indicate that Don Nehlen is going to insist that the refs, of all things, make sure that Jim Druckenmiller is wearing his mouthpiece. It seems that Nehlen is overconcerned for the health of Druck's teeth, because he thinks the Hokie QB is calling audibles at the line without a mouthpiece. It's an NCAA rule that football players must wear mouthpieces.
That's right. Instead of Nehlen and his staff preparing his team for the mighty Hokies, they're picking apart game film and priming the refs to look for such heinous crimes as not sticking a little piece of rubber in between your teeth. Not to mention that it must send a hell of a confident message to your team when you start complaining to the refs before the game even starts.
I tell you, I've had a lot of respect for WVU and their fans over the years, but this week is trying my patience. Do your talking on the field, Mountaineers.
X's and O's
The matchups seem pretty clear. Despite the fact that WVU has an awesome defense, the track records this year would indicate that the Hokies offense will be more likely to score against the WVU defense than the WVU offense will against the Hokie defense. Tech has not been held below 21 points all year long, while WVU has struggled mightily at times to score.
If Tech can play smart football and avoid the killer turnover, they should win. The goal of the Hokies offense, no joke, should be to outscore the WVU defense. That's step one, and it should be enough, because I really think that the Hokie defense can shut out the WVU offense.
WVU's chance at moving the ball on the Hokies is to utilize the short passing game. WVU runs a west-coast style offense that does just that, and it has had some success against BC and Rutgers, who run the same defense as Tech. That's like comparing apples and oranges, though, because BC and Rutgers don't have the personnel that the Hokies do. Still, if WVU watches some Miami game film and works the short game, they could score some points.
The home field advantage should be huge for the Hokies, although 8,000-10,000 WVU fans are expected to be there. If the Hokies can score and get up early though, that will neutralize the WVU fans, who proved in the Syracuse game that they're not averse to bailing out of a game if they're trailing at half time.
One last note: I read the preview on Kevin Kinder's WVU site on my Links page, and although Kevin predicted a loss for the Mountaineers, he did call Druck "a little overrated."
Ah, when will they learn? Never, I hope.
The Hokie Handbook
I got my first look at Chris Colston's Hokie Handbook, and I can report that it's a winner. Chris covers just about the entire history of Hokie football in chronological order, with more and more coverage of the more recent years, culminating in a jumbo-sized chapter on the 1995 season.
Being a 1987 graduate, I was particularly fascinated by the descriptions of the Dooley years. A lot of stuff went on during those years that I was clueless of, being an ignorant student, and it was interesting to read about it.
And much to Chris's credit, he only gives about 20 lines of space to the dismal 1992 season.
The Hokie Handbook is stocking-stuffer priced at $9.95, and Chris tells me it can be ordered by calling 1-800-492-4043. It's also available at Volume Two and the University Bookstores and selected national chains. And it definitely gets the Hokie Central stamp of approval. I read it while I was sitting in front of the TV, and I was so interested in it that I didn't even look up when the beer commercials came on.