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Black Thursday 11/03/09

The A-Line Board of Football Experts

“We came in with a very specific plan.”- algroh

Well, that was certainly embarrassing. The Virginia Tech football season came to an abrupt end last Thursday night, or so it seemed, as the Hokies somehow or another managed to lose to North Carolina. Let’s have a quick show of hands: how many saw this one coming?

Indications from Frank during the week were certainly that he did not. He had spent his time not talking about the Tar Heels but instead whining to the ACC about the illegal chop-blocking employed by Georgia Tech and their coach Paul Johnson, the Mr. Personality of the conference. The team seemed to take their cue from the boss and came into Lane Stadium looking a lot like one that had their eyes firmly fixed on the rear view mirror. Carolina seemed to have missed the memo.

By the time the field goal that sealed Tech’s fate sailed through the NEZ uprights, it had become apparent that, despite all of the hype expended by the SID staff on their behalf, this Tech team just ain’t that good.  For all of the annual spiel about THIS YEAR being different, the offense is still the offense, never equaling the sum of its parts. Nothing much seems to ever change in that regard. At this late stage of Frank’s career, it seems unlikely that much ever will.

Defensively, Bud’s gang is hurt by a couple of things. One is the large amounts of time they are spending on the field as the offense augments its refined 3-and-out with the critical turnover. Secondly, while Bud is a very good defensive coordinator, he is a great DC when he has great players. They seem to be found in less quantities than in the most recent past on this unit. For all of the Merryman-inspired hype about all of the ‘young talent’ present throughout the Tech program, it doesn’t seem to have yet manifested itself defensively, particularly at the linebacking positions. Bud seems to have, temporarily at least, run short of guys named Adibi and Hall. A defense that is small and lightening fast as opposed to one that is small seems to be the difference between a defense that is respectable and one that is ranked among the best in the country.

Tech now moves into the final third of its 09 season playing for pride and a continuation of the 10-win streak that began when Tech entered the ACC. It also began following the 03 season, one in which a Tech team lugging around every bit as much hype as this one lost a couple of tough games and then fell off a cliff. It remains to be seen whether that happens again. Certainly a clue will be provided Thursday night as Tech takes on ECU in another of the Strawgrasper’s ‘Super Bowls’ against real teams. After that comes Maryland, NC State and the Hoos, what looks very much like the 3 worst teams in the ACC. While Tech certainly has its own problems to deal with, caliber of opposition alone would seem to mitigate against another 03-style collapse.

The end-of-season tussle for the Commonwealth Cup certainly seems to have lost a bit of its luster. Are there many Hokies trying to sell their Smithsonian tickets back to Hoos? Judging by the crowd viewing that sterling effort against Duke, there won’t be many takers for algroh’s Last Game. There will probably be more Hoos watching Tech play ECU to check out Skippy’s job application. The playing of ‘I’ve Got A Secret’ by the Great NFL Legend with Doug Doughty did serve to remind us that pretty soon algroh will be gone. I, for one, will miss him.

For Hokies, however, there are more pressing concerns than algroh’s final acts. As I prepare for Wednesday’s journey Down East, the top of the list includes Tech getting its season back on track. After Black Thursday, that seems a toughie. As a stunned Frank explained to Mike Burnop following the Carolina shocker, team goals now consist of continuing the 10-win streak. While that seems a bit modest when compared to the lofty ones expressed last August, it still exceeds what the rest of the ACC has mostly been playing for since Tech joined.


  1. Will Stewart — November 3, 2009 #

    I’ve got my hand half-raised, Jim. I won’t say I “saw it coming,” but I wasn’t surprised. This one was making me nervous all week. Any opponent with a defensive front-7 as good as UNC’s makes me nervous. I texted a buddy when it was 7-0 Heels and said, “Well, I was afraid of this, and here it is.”

    The biggest surprise to me was how easily UNC’s horrid offense handled VT’s defense, which isn’t up to usual standards, but geez, UNC was 114th coming in. I didn’t expect VT to score much (I predicted 20), but I barely expected UNC to score AT ALL. Silly me.


    Jim Reply:

    I saw a few allusions to how nobody was taking this game seriously, but, actually losing? Even FSU’s lousy defense shut down UNC when they had to.


  2. John — November 3, 2009 #

    Had a bad feeling when I saw the schedule in August – classic let-down game, only we also got deflated the week before. “Wheels coming off” game? Tech just isn’t that good, year after year. We’re actually a perennial top twenty team (bottom half), it seems to me, which isn’t bad at all, but it’s a long way from the touting and weaufxing that started after the Vick coming out party.
    Keeping expectations low might have been a better plan, in retrospect, but it doesn’t build new stadium facades and enable re-seat auctions to the better-heeled bandwagon set at the expense of the long-faithful, who actually knew how to cheer. One day, probably next season if the economy continues to nose-dive, we will see a mostly-empty SEZ, and good seats available along the fifties.


  3. Greg — November 3, 2009 #

    I suspect the bigwigs over in the VT bean counting dept are already worried about those reduced contributions. I usually send mine in about mid December. This year, for the first time, I received a nice letter from those fine folks telling me that if I don’t pay, or reduce my givings, I’LL BE MOVED!!!!! Interesting. I was a SH when I got my SEZ seats. Then, I increased my donation level to GH. I plan to drop back to the bare minimum of SH for 2010, both from my company likely not giving us a pay raise and maybe no bonus this year AND the poor performance of the Hokies. My question – if I got SEZ tickets as SH, then moved up to GH without changing seats and now back to SH, which whas the level I was when i got those seats, then how the hell are they going to move me???????

    On a personal note, I really have trouble turning over my really hard earned dollars at a higher level when the product being provided by the VT football staff is not worthy of those dollars IMHO of course. I’m really tired of hearing the continual drum beat of 10 win seasons when all the while those 10 win seasons are accompanied by marquis losses to the USCs, LSUs, Georgia’s, Kansas’ Bama’s even ECUs and now 114th-ranked offense UNCs of the world. I love the Hokies. My heart bleeds O&M, but I am finally saturated completely with the never-ending propaganda from Merryman, only to be followed by results inconsistent with that propaganda. Time to let the bigshots know it by my reduced contributions. Maybe small, but if repeated by the thousands of Hokie fans out there, maybe it will get somebody’s attention..

    Ok Jim – now tell me how Polyanna I am. :-)


  4. Greg — November 3, 2009 #

    Hey Jim, BTW, I think you need to correct the date at the top of your post. Back on 10/03/09, things were a lot more positive.


    Jim Reply:

    Everybody is off their game, me included.


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