One thing is for sure: Tech does make it interesting.
After what seems to be the obligatory lousy First Half, this time matching the 0-17 Boise State deficit, Tech finally got their heads into the game and proceeded to roll over NC State 41-13 for the 41-30 final. If this Hokie team ever figures out how to begin games like they finish them, they might be pretty decent.
This marked the ninth time Frank’s Tech team had defeated one coached by Tom O’Brien. That makes TOB Frank’s preferred whipping boy. algroh only lost eight times before he was algrohed and Butch has only been beaten by Frank seven times. Between them, those three sure have done a crackerjack job of boosting Frank’s numbers.
That also might explain the quick postgame handshake between the two; A Tech coach hadn’t seen that kind of brevity since Fallback Dave would stick a hand in Seth’s general direction. At least TOB made eye contact, although the impression was sure given that these two are not the closest of friends. Frank pounds Ralph Friedgen just like he does TOB, too, but the postgame meetings seems a little more collegial.
O’Brien couldn’t have been overly thrilled at the way Tech won, either. The Hokies did it with their two lines, the much-maligned offensive one finally opening enough holes for Darren Evans to pile up 160+ yards and Tyrod to scamper for over 120. After a rocky start, the defensive front gradually turned up the pressure on the Pack’s Russell Wilson, forcing him into numerous interceptions and hurried throws. Considering that the calling card of O’Brien’s Fredo teams were their strength on both lines, the rebuilding job at State is not quite done yet.
The Boise game still rankles and Frank’s record now includes the caveats of ‘he not only lost to Temple, but to JMU, too,’ but Tech’s team does seem to be getting better, which has been a hallmark of Frank’s teams, except for those times it was not. Matching the ten straight won in 1995 might still be a bit of a stretch, but Tech is now 3-2, on the plus side of the season’s ledger for the first time and, most importantly, 2-0 in the ACC.
They also now hold a victory in what has been a rarity in the ACC, an exciting game in a frenzied environment. While these types of contests are par for the course in the football-crazed SEC, they have been just a bit hard to come by in our basketball-first league. The atmosphere in Carter-Finley was electric, easily the best football one in that state, far surpassing the more subdued ones seen across the RTP in Kenan, the eerily-quiet crowds at Groves, or the handful of fans in Wallace Wade who can no longer keep glancing over at Cameron [darn football buildings. How dare they hide Coach K's arena?] counting down the minutes until Duke fields a team that actually wins. The ACC badly needs less of the latter and more environs like that presented by the Pack. State even managed to get most all fans on the same color page, a trick that is becoming increasingly trickier for Tech.
Across the RTP from Raleigh, Know Nothing Butch didn’t seem to miss his Lost Boys too much, beating ECU exactly the same way Tech had, pounding them after a close First Half. Butch continues to audition for the Sgt. Schultz role in a Hogan’s Heroes remake ["I know nothing"]. Or, maybe he can cop a spot on a new generation of Capital One commercials, although ‘What’s in your wallet?’ was not a question he seemed to have asked of Blake. ‘What’s in your term paper?’ wasn’t asked too often, either. Well, coaching jobs are liable to be tough to come by for Butch after this one. The claims of ‘I cleaned up the Canes’ don’t seem to be impressing all of those NCAA investigators who have taken up near-permanent residence in Blue Heaven.
Up in Hooville, while the Hoos can still claim that they are the only one of the state’s big boys not to have lost to a I-AA little feller this year, things got just a bit tougher as they entered ACC play. The cries of ‘this is all algroh’s fault’ will likely be heard often on Mr. Jefferson’s Grounds this year. They should be especially amusing this week, as the Hoos prepare to face college football’s highest-paid Defensive Coordinator. Will Hoo AD Craig ‘Tubby, where’s Carl’s money when you need it?’ Littlepage drop off algroh’s latest paycheck while in Atlanta this weekend?
Football trips to the RDU metroplex are my favorite ones since Tech joined the ACC. This one was no exception. Late Friday afternoon we hooked up for cocktails with the State alum and good friend who comments often on this page, known as JDan Wuff. That turned into dinner at what has become my new favorite Triangle restaurant, The Pit in downtown Raleigh. I always enjoy meals in which someone else pays, as JDan graciously did, but the food [barbecue] was especially excellent, too. So was the company. We were joined for dinner by the incomparable BobLee, who continues to increase his popularity among the Tar Loons during the Butch Mess by leaps and bounds. A dinner party consisting of two Hokies, a Wolfpacker and a Tar Heel was just that, a party. The laughs were many.
Tech’s and my next trip to RDU is a month away, following four straight home games. The next three include some Directional Michigan, Wake and Duke. It has been described as the ‘easy’ part of the schedule. That was what was said about JMU, too. We shall see, but Tech does seem to be improving. After the debacle against the Dukes, it would be hard not to.