Friday, July 30, 1999
Hokies Picked Second Behind Canes
You know, as much as Tech wants to start shedding the underdog role, it just won't go away.
Frank Beamer has been saying all during the off-season that it's time for the Hokies to accept the role of top dog and to learn to function as the hunted (I'm guessing Frank's trying to get rid of the whole Cincinnati - Miami-OH - Temple problem). I agree with him, but the Hokies can't seem to shake the role in their own conference.
On Thursday, the Big East Football Conference held its annual media day, and the media reps in attendance tabbed the Miami Hurricanes as favorites to win the conference over the #2 Hokies. Here's the official report from www.bigeast.org:
Miami selected to win Big East football championship - July 29, 1999
(Why they print the words "Big East" in all caps every time it appears, I'LL NEVER KNOW. IT LOOKS KIND OF SILLY, DOESN'T IT?).
This isn't surprising, and it doesn't really get me all in an uproar, either. At least it's a step up for the Hokies, who in the past have always been picked third or fourth in the Big East every single year, mostly fourth.
If the Canes and the Hokies can make it to November 13th unscathed in league play, their showdown will be the biggest game ever played in Lane Stadium, and the crowd and players will be absolutely insane for it. It will be a Lane Stadium classic.
The popular sentiment on the message board is to ridicule the Canes' defense as their weak spot, and I'll admit that I've stooped to it, also. Sure, they return ten starters on defense, but that's the same unit that coughed up well over 100 points in their last two regular season games, including a whopping 66 to Syracuse. So they'll probably stink again in 1999, right?
Maybe, maybe not. Remember, Tech's defense at the end of 1997 was pretty darn sorry, but when 1998 rolled around, it had transformed itself into one of the top units in the country. So we'll just have to keep an eye on Miami and see what their defense looks like this year.
For the Canes, the key is to get bigger and stronger on the defensive line. The Hokies have been able to push them around in recent years, and it has meant the difference against a Miami team that features awesome skill players.
The Canes have a good offensive line, talented tailbacks, world-class receivers and a smooth, gifted (but inexperienced) quarterback in Kenny Kelly, so we know they'll put up points, even against a great Hokie D. The key is Tech's offense, an unknown, against the Hurricane defense, another unknown. Add in the Tech special teams and a home-field advantage, and I like our chances in this showdown.
But hey, why am I going through all this? Tech has eight games to play between now and then, and recent history shows us that looking ahead is deadly. Even against Temple.