The A-Line It is what it is, unless it is not
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2007
4
Sep

Griping and Such

The post-game conversations contained more than a bit of unease. Fans in attendance did not see what they expected. The big underdog had actually made a game of it. If the heavy favorite showed no more punch than this, what would happen when the heavier weights appeared on the schedule?

These conversations were held outside a lot of stadiums late Saturday afternoon, including Lane. Others would include the ones in Raleigh and Austin, Texas, plus a fairly large one in Ann Arbor. With the exceptions of the State and Big Blue folks, however, distraught fans were discussing a win.

I suspect the conversations around the Big House had a bit of a harder edge than did those around Lane. A trendy pick to play for the MNC, as Big 11 favorites usually are, Michigan laid an egg for the ages, losing to I-AA upstart Appalachian State. The career of Frank Beamer is studded with inexplicable losses to huge underdogs, but Frank has never presided over as big a boner as did Lloyd Carr. That Tech-Temple game has now been replaced as football’s most astounding upset and Tech’s reign as this year’s ‘America’s Team’ was a short one. That designation was wrenched away by those ‘other’ Mountaineers, an infinitely more likeable bunch than those up the hills carrying the same nick.

For all of the fan angst and loon screeching about Saturday’s game, Tech did win. By double digits, too. Tech was the better team with the better personnel and in the end they did what good teams are supposed to do, find a way to win. Whether the shortcomings perceived to be on display against the scrappy bunch from ECU will prove fatal down the road remain to be seen and likely will. But, Tech is still 1-0 and for another week at least a resident of the Top 10.

Tech’s celebrated offensive line weaknesses showed up. Tech will face much better defensive fronts than the one that so easily handled the Hokies’ maligned o-line. One will be trotted out this Saturday. But, when push came not to shove but actually blocking somebody, the line performed well enough for the Tech offense to salt the game away with a Third Quarter score.

The Pirates were a scrappy bunch, seemingly handling the emotion of the day much better than did Tech. Defensively they shut down the Tech ground game, while their offense looked a lot like one that caught the Tech coaches completely off guard; they didn’t do much of that straight drop back passing that had been prepared for, even after the erstwhile starting ECU quarterback was suspended. It sure seemed that Skippy and his coaches had spent the week actually preparing their team instead of chasing after every television camera that rounded a corner in Merryman.

But, while the WVU-style offense used by Skippy caused Bud’s defense more problems than even WVU did the last couple of times they played, most of the damage was done between the thirties. Aside from the short field touchdown set up by a Tech turnover, most every time ECU got near the money side of midfield they were swatted back. That is what good teams do.

Tech now moves on to what figures to be a sterner test this Saturday night at LSU, the Game That Can No Longer Be Dodged. Certainly Tech can win the game- it has been a long time since they went into one with no chance. Coachspeak dictates that a team’s biggest improvement comes after the first game and it usually does. Tech and a lot of other teams have gone from inauspicious openings to stellar seasons. Maybe the offensive line, the only real glaring weakness on this team, can give a better accounting of itself. Or maybe it is time to quit believing all of the enormous amounts of hype that comes out of Blacksburg each and every year for a football program that is pretty good, but rarely quite as good as Tech claims.

For all of the high anxiety and pounding of panic buttons displayed by Tech fans, it certainly pales in comparison, or should, to what is going on not only in Ann Arbor but also across the state. That was quite the opening game turned in out West by the Hoos.

Losing 23-3 to Wyoming? Yikes! algroh is certainly off to a rousing start in this ‘Boise or Bust’ season. Has Carl started shifting assets around to free up some cash? That was a miserable offensive performance, even by the low standards established by boygroh. Maybe when the Great NFL Legend talks his way back onto an NFL staff, there will be a towel boy position for boygroh.

Not only did algroh cause the latest episode of Hooville bridge painting to carry a message not quite as positive and uplifting as the last, he also managed to demonstrate some of that coaching acumen that Hokies appreciate. Very late in a lost cause, algroh decided, for reasons known only to the Great NFL Legend, to blow off the red shirt of his most highly regarded freshman, quarterback Peter Lalich. algroh hastened to announce to the cackling media afterwards that Jameel Sewell would remain his starting QB. It would seem Lalich’s learning year was sacrificed simply for the hell of it. Well, not having an experienced Lalich around come 2011 is not likely to be algroh’s problem.

Considering how the state’s two coaches have handled their star quarterback recruits, at least so far, does cause a question to pop to mind: Do those Hokies bellowing for Tyrod REALLY want Frank to be more like algroh?

Around the rest of the ACC, there might be a new coach at NC State but, unfortunately, Chuckie’s players are still around. That was certainly in evidence Saturday as the Pack bumbled their way into a loss against a Locational Florida. Captain Tom was no more amused than the State fans. This might take a while.

Wolfpackers were no doubt thrilled while watching Monday night those sideline shots of FSU’s new/old ‘Executive Head Coach’ Chuckie. Jaws dropped all over the Old North State when the ESPN clowns pointed out that Chuckie was in charge of player discipline for his old boss Pa Bowden. They got an eyeful Saturday of how well that worked out for Chuckie in his last gig.

The Seminoles quickly demonstrated their Chuckie influence as they blundered their way into a First Half deficit that proved to be too large to overcome. Tech sure wasn’t the only team showing just how difficult it is to try and operate behind an inexperienced offensive line, no matter the identity of the OC. Tommy Bowden continued his mastery of Daddy and shoved back the annual Tommy Bowden Death Watch until later in the season.

Last season’s laurels were nowhere to be found on Chestnut Hill as Wake dropped its opener to Fredo. Darn those seasons after. Georgia Tech provided a glimmer of conference pride by dismantling Notre Dame as Charlie Weiss showed great difficulty in adjusting to those irritating college quarterback eligibility rules. Brady sure didn’t leave after four years, eh, Charlie? The Tar Heels showed life in Butch’s first game while Duke was Duke, stinking up Wallace Wade as usual, this time to a bottom feeder from the Li’l E. You know it has gotten tough on Methodist Flats when the Dukies start pining for the good old days of Fred Goldsmith.

Speaking of Fred, he continues to work his way down the college football food chain, this time surfacing at D-II Lenoir-Rhyne. His challenge Saturday is taking on none other than Appalachian State. Enjoy, Fred.

A new season is underway, with Week One providing much message board fodder for the loons. Michigan’s certainly is a hoot, certainly for those of us old enough to remember when watching football was actually fun. For some of us, it still is, even if the spread was only ten.

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