Tuesday, October 21, 1997

Big East Recap

This past weekend in the Big East was an interesting one. There were two games of note that are interesting to discuss ... then there's the Rutgers game.

Miami 45, Boston College 44, 2 OT: after scoring a TD in the second overtime, BC went for two and didn't get it. Miami responded by scoring a touchdown and kicking the extra point to win. Tom O'Brien will be second-guessed over this one for a long time. One stat of interest is that BC ran for 360 yards on 49 carries, for a per-carry average of more than 7 yards. Omari Walker had 185 yards, and Mike Cloud had 157. Looking forward to Tech's November 8th matchup with the Canes, this bodes well for a Hokie offense that so far has depended upon the run. What does not bode well is that Miami's Edgerrin James had 271 yards rushing on 33 carries.

Syracuse 60, Temple 7: the Orangemen are smoking. They have won their last three games (over ECU, Rutgers, and Temple) by a combined score of 166-10. They scored 60 points on just 400 yards of offense against the Owls, while Temple had two interceptions, lost two fumbles, and only had 7 yards rushing on 34 carries. The game was in the Dome.

Army 37, Rutgers 35: sigh. Duke beat Army. Rutgers didn't.

Looking Forward in the Big East

As the Big One with WVU approaches, it's a worthwhile exercise to recap the Big East race and how much this game means. I think it's a safe bet at this point to say that it's a three-horse race between Tech, WVU, and Syracuse for the league title. The title will either be won by one of these three teams at 6-1, or Tech at 7-0. Here are the remaining schedules for these three teams, with Big East games in bold.

Date Virginia Tech
West Virginia
Oct. 25 at WVU VT open
Nov. 1 UAB at Syracuse WVU
Nov. 8 Miami open BC
Nov. 15 open Temple at Pittsburgh
Nov. 22 at Pittsburgh at Notre Dame open
Nov. 29 at UVa Pittsburgh (11/28) at Miami

First of all, you can see that a three-way tie for the conference title at 6-1 is impossible. WVU and Syracuse play on Nov. 1, and that eliminates one of those two teams from going 6-1. I like Syracuse's chances for going 6-1, since they're on a roll and they have their confidence back. I also still think that Syracuse will beat Miami in Miami on November 29th.

Let's assume for a minute that Syracuse is going to go 6-1 (I don't like WVU's chances in the Dome, and like I said, I think Miami is going down when they play the Orangemen). This means that WVU will be saddled with a second loss when they play against Syracuse, and the Mountaineers won't be a part of the Big East championship picture. It's obvious that if Tech doesn't beat the Mountaineers this weekend, things will become immensely complicated. With a loss to WVU, the pressure would be on the Hokies to run the table the rest of way, including at Virginia.

If the Hokies lose to WVU and pull off wins against the 'Canes and Pittsburgh and wind up in a 6-1 tie with Syracuse, then Tech wins the first tiebreaker, the head to head matchup. But if the Orangemen are ranked five spots higher than Tech, then the Alliance can take them (it doesn't have to). You can see that in the event of a two-way tie with Syracuse, the UVa game suddenly becomes hugely important, because of its effect on the rankings. For the record, the Hokies' average ranking at this point is #18, and Syracuse's is #30. So the Hokies might be able to absorb one loss and stay ahead of Syracuse in the rankings, but two losses could spell doom for the Hokies' Alliance Bowl hopes (then again, if we're only 8-3, we don't deserve to go to an Alliance Bowl ... but that's another topic).

Of course, the 6-1 tie with Syracuse is only one possible scenario out of many, and this little analysis points out the obvious - that winning the Big East with a 7-0 record is the best option (duh). Going 7-0 in the Big East is goal #1 as far as I'm concerned. I'm not interested in tying for the league championship again and having to listen to the garbage from opposing fans that we've never won the Big East outright. Regardless of the rankings, regardless of what the national press says about us and the Big East, and regardless of what happens in the Virginia game, an outright Big East conference championship would be sweet, indeed.

Bad News for Ace

Ace Custis suffered a major blow this past weekend when he tore an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and had to undergo reconstructive surgery on his knee. I don't know if this is the same knee that Ace injured as a freshman at Tech.

To bring you up to date on Ace, he had tryouts with the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors, but he landed as a free agent in Dallas, where he had done well in five preseason games. Greg Roberts on Roanoke's Channel 10 reported that Ace had been told that he had won a roster spot and would be a Dallas Maverick this coming year. The good news is that Greg also reported that Dallas will honor their commitment to Ace and will keep him on injured reserve while he rehabs, and then will give him another shot next year. If anyone can overcome this kind of adversity, it's Ace, who at his young age has struggled with injuries and family tragedies more times than most of us will in our entire lives.

UConn Votes to Go 1-A

From The USA Today - Connecticut has accepted the Big East's invitation to join it for football. While the transition from I-AA to I-A will take several years, UConn will likely play a full Big East schedule for the first time in 2004. Coach Skip Holtz termed the move "a tremendous uplift for the university,'' but didn't feel there would be an immediate impact. "It would change our recruiting gears a little," he said. "But we can't wiggle our noses and have kids grow three inches, gain 20 pounds and get quicker." The move hinges on the state legislature approving spending more than $100 million on a new 35,000-seat campus stadium, which does have the support of Gov. John G. Rowland.

Will here again ... wouldn't it be nice to have our state legislature "consider" spending $100 million on a new football stadium for the Hokies? For those of you who don't know, it's against Virginia state law to use state education funds for athletics, so it'll never happen. I continue to be amazed at how the legislatures for other states throw money at their university's sports programs, a la Rutgers and the $35 million that the NJ legislature gave them to spend on their stadium a few years back, and I continue to wonder how in the world Tech will be able to compete long term with those kind of bucks being thrown around at other schools.

As for UConn "playing a full Big East schedule in 2004," I'm laughing out loud at that one. This is one Hokie who doesn't think there will be a Big East in the year 2004, not unless the conference appoints a commissioner with more vision than that pinheaded, small-minded Mike Tranghese, and not unless the presidents of the basketball-only schools wake up and realize that football is king. So go ahead, UConn, blow your money on a trip to 1-A status. Just don't expect the Big East conference to be there when you arrive.

Take Off to the Great White North ... and Play the Huskers, Eh?

In case you haven't heard, Houston University has backed out of a home-and-home series with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, which means that Big Red is looking for a new dance partner in 1998 and 1999. Don't worry about the Tech athletic department knowing about this news - we on the message board made sure that they heard about it.

The latest news on that front came when a message board poster put a link to a newspaper in Big 12 territory that reported that a group of Canadian investors was trying to put together a game in the SkyDome in Toronto that would pit the Huskers against a Big East or Big 10 opponent. Virginia Tech was the only school mentioned by name in the article as a possible opponent for Nebraska. I'll try to keep you posted on what I hear, but it sounds like a great opportunity. Although I'm sure the Canadians wouldn't exactly show up in force to see it, it would no doubt be on TV and get our name "out there." Not to mention being able to tee it up with Nebraska again and receive a few more up-close lessons on what it takes to be the best.

In other scheduling news, it has been rumored that a game might be set up against North Carolina in the year 2000, to be played in Ericson (sorry if I spelled that wrong) Stadium in Charlotte, home of the Carolina Panthers. That would be a great game in a great venue. Charlotte is an easy 3 hour drive from the New River Valley.

As If You Needed It ... More Proof That AP Voters are Morons

This week, Northwestern, at 3-5 (with losses to Wake Forest, Rice, and Purdue, and a narrow victory over Duke), received 8 points, good enough for a #36 ranking, one slot behind Syracuse. Lord, give me strength....

Hokie Hotline Notes

Once again, brought to you by the ever-reliable GalaxHokie, are his notes from Monday's Hokie Hotline radio show. Thanks, Galax! Next week, the Hotline will be broadcast from the University Volume Two Bookstore. I'll be there, so show up! Showtime is at 7:00 sharp.

Hokie Hotline Notes by GalaxHokie - Monday, October 20, 1997

Tonight's Hokie Hotline notes...

Ricky Bustle was on during the first half-hour.

INJURY REPORT: 1. Re Scales, Bustle said "I don't know if he can make it." Scales has been running on the ankle some and did a workout today attempting some cuts. The workout was with trainer Eddie Ferrell and they'll know more tomorrow about recovery. 2. Steuwe: looks like he can play this week. He didn't practice Monday, will probably return Tuesday. Bustle said that last week it
didn't look good, however.

Bustle said he didn't go to Friday Midnite Madness basketball event because he was out recruiting. (Roth asked if he went). Normally Bustle stays home on Fridays when VT is at home in order to run meetings with the offense, he said, so this was a chance for him to hit the recruiting trail.

Roth and Bustle said it was impressive that JV team beat Fork Union last week because FUMA is loaded with talented players, many of whom are already committed. Some players still available and coaches will evaluate film of them on Thursday.

Dave Meyer made good decisions and good throws as JV QB. Brian Remley had a good game at receiver, and the second team OL got lots of work. Clemente played both ways -- they didn't say where he played on offense.

VT is last in BE in passing yards, Roth said. Bustle responded that VT needs to open up the passing game. Said Big East teams are playing more people up on the line of scrimmage. They talked about Miami's ability to run against BC last week. Bustle said Miami ran the same four basic plays that we used.

Both Beamer and Bustle said they disagreed the BC coach's decision to go for 2 during the overtime vs. Miami. Both said they didn't intend to be second-guessing another coach, but they answered the question when asked. Bustle said the BC kids had played so hard in coming back that they should have kicked it.

Bustle said WVU is impressive on film. Typical WVU defense: strong, physical, players running to the ball, front four may be the best we've seen, they fight through blocks.

Roth noted VT's success on the road in recent years: 15-3 overall and 8-1 in Big East games.

Caller asked about option presence with this team, compared to the 1993 team with DeShazo. Bustle said VT is prepared to run the option 10-12 times a game -- no different than when Druckenmiller was QB. VT probably ran option "a little more" with Maurice because we did less then with the passing game. Also, defenses are doing things differently up front now, compared to 1993. "We don't want to be just an option team."

Coach J.B. Grimes went in to work today for the first time since bypass surgery. He worked 3-4 hours during film breakdowns and then went home to rest. This is the plan for his recovery, for him to gradually work his way back. No predictions were offered beyond that.

Bustle said the off week gives a chance to put in a new "play or two," but that you should (ALL TOGETHER NOW) "stay with the one who brung you."

Bustle complimented Al Clark for playing within himself and making good decisions. He pointed out that he's made good decisions about when to throw as well as when NOT to.

The next two Hokie Hotline shows will originate from the Volume Two bookstore.

Beamer said good practice today. Said he spent Saturday at home relaxing, took a walk around the neighborhood, watched some football, definitely did NOT do any lawn work!.

He and Roth talked about the LSU and Penn State situations last weekend and the letdowns after huge wins. Beamer said you try to guard against it by being focused, not listening to what others are saying about you (about bowls, what your winning margin should be, etc.) and going out and affecting what you can affect. Beamer talked about how last year's team became so focused and successful around this stage of the season.

Beamer acknowledged the Hokies may not have the capacity to score lots of points. Just have to play smart, no turnovers. Said we should be able to throw well off the play action because we run the ball well.

As promised, Beamer picked his all-time VT opponent teams for QB and RB. No current players were included, and Beamer stressed that he based it on how people played at the time, and not their pro standing today, etc.

Running backs: 5. (tie) Terry Allen, Clemson; James Stewart, UT; Ricky Williams, Texas. 4. Terry Kirby 3. Tiki Barber 2. Adrian Murrell, WVU 1. Curtis Martin, Pittsburgh ("could cut on a dime and keep going full speed")

Quarterbacks: 5. (tie) Glenn Foley, BC; Marvin Graves, Syracuse 4. Peter Tom Willis, FSU 3. Brett Favre, Southern Miss 2. Shawn Moore ("accurate, could run, in control") 1. Jeff Blake, East Carolina ("accurate, elusive, loved the game") Nominees at QB, Roth said, included a list of 3 national champion QBs, 8 first round draft picks, 2 Heisman winners. Players who didn't make the final 5 included: Gino Torretta, Major Harris, Erickson, McPherson. And of course Peyton Manning and McNabb were left off because of their current status.

Beamer says WVU is on a roll, having won 3 in a row. Roth noted that in August, neither team got a BE first place vote. This game was viewed then as a battle for third place.

Hokies will fly into Pittsburgh Friday and work out at a high school field with artificial turf before going partway to Morgantown for the nite. They will fly out of Morgantown and back into Roanoke on 3 small planes after the game.

Beamer said WVU is doing a nice job of throwing off of its running game. 'Eers are very balanced statistically, run vs. pass. Amos Zereoue (Spelling police: don't bother, I already looked Zereoue up!) is getting his yardage, but others around him are getting yards, too. They do a good job of getting ball to receivers in 1 on 1 coverage.

Roth put in a plug for basketball ticket sales: Dec. 5-6 games vs. South Carolina and UNC, respectively, at Charlotte Coliseum, $50 for 4-game package. UVA game (Roanoke) tickets are $20 each, 8 maximum purchase.

Caller asked about preparation for crowd noise at Morgantown. Beamer didn't really have an answer except to say that Tech's no huddle helps in this regard.

A caller asked Hokies to pause and reflect in memory of the Pulaski County High School football player who died during the game last Friday nite. Beamer said that former PCHS players Shayne Graham and holder Caleb Hurd attended the funeral today.

Caller asked about varying odds listing Tech as 2-3 point underdog. "If you saw the video (of WVU), you'd understand," Beamer said. WVU playing well in recent weeks.

Beamer said VT has used/shown about 60 percent of its playbook so far. He said they don't really "hide" a play away, but rather choose which ones are best for the game coming up.

Roth said that on the last trip to Morgantown, Mike Burnop destroyed the KFC buffet. They had to put up a yellow police tape around the buffet!



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