2013 Season Preview: It Can’t (Probably) Be Worse Than Last Year
Know what was really great about last season? It was last season. Kickoff is only days away, and we have a serious case of tailgate fever. It seems like just yesterday we needed overtime to beat mighty Rutgers in the Weebles Wobble But They Won’t Fall Down Bowl. Yeahhhhh!!!! We are the Weebles Bowl Champions!!! It could have been worse. We could have lost to Rutgers. Wasn’t not playing Rutgers one of the main reasons we left the Big East?
10 Things That Were Great About Being Terrible Last Year
1. Extra tailgate time due to lack of urgency and need for additional “coping assistance.”
2. Even the Austin Peay game could be exciting.
3. Section 7, loud and proud.
4. Not having to worry about Logan Thomas going pro.
5. Radio timeouts are shorter than TV timeouts.
6. Remembering Ponchoman.
7. Not being Notre Dame.
8. Not just being Miley.
9. Bitter Beamer Beer Face.
10.Did we mention extra tailgate time??????
But the greatest thing about being terrible last year was that not even our fearless leader could deny it any longer….our offense couldn’t win in D-III. Enter Scott Loeffler with two Fs, stage right. Of course, his Auburn Tigers went 3-9 last year, but who cares? We’ve only been asking for this for the better part of a century. And now we have it….Scott Loeffler with two Fs Fever. Hallelujah.
Side note: we’re pretty sure our off-season coaching changes have placed us perilously close to the NCAA limit for coaches with facial hair.
For those whose of you whose twelve session online therapy course, “Dealing With Losing: Don’t Jump Just Yet, Tiger” hasn’t been as successful as ours, let’s review the state of affairs of Hokie football. While we were pretty bad last year, we’ve been worse. A lot worse. Preceding the Beamer era, our claims to fame were Bruce Smith, a game-winning field goal over N.C. State in the New Peach Bowl, and my great-grandfather’s 7-0-0 season in 1918. Today, we are one of only three teams to go to 20 straight bowl games (Florida, Florida State). We have dominated the ACC going 57-15 in the regular season since joining the league, playing in five of eight ACC Championship games, and winning four conference titles. We spent the better part of 1999-2006 contending for national titles. We finished ranked #9 in 2007, #15 in 2008, #10 in 2009, #16 in 2010, and #21 in 2011 (which would have been a top 15 finish had we not been robbed in the Sugar Bowl OT loss to Michigan). And we did it all with mostly B- recruiting classes and an offense so outdated, so incompetent, that it defied even Dr. Seuss’s imagination.
Sure, going 7-6 sucked, but it wasn’t 2-8-1. It is a brand new year, and we are fired up. It looks like another fine tailgating season in Blacksburg, and a return to glory is right around the corner. Let’s take a look at 2013, the year of Returning To Glory.
Aug. 31 vs. Alabama (Atlanta). Ummm, #WTFWeaver? This is not the Return To Glory we had in mind. We just got done losing six games last year. Your brainiac solution is to open with the #1 team in the country? This is a disaster. Alabama is going to beat the living crap out of us. Did you seriously not watch a single game last year? Do you understand this team is coached by Nick Saban? Yes, Weaver, the same Nick Saban that has won four national championships at two different schools including three of the last four. He’s making those crazy Alabamans forget Bear Bryant for crying out loud. Oh, that’s not a problem you say, we beat them in 1998. They had Andrew Zow at QB back then. Have you heard of A.J. McCaron, who has quarterbacked them to consecutive national championships? Oh that’s not a problem you say, we were leading them 17-16 in the fourth quarter in 2009 in this exact same stadium. The same stadium in which we blew the biggest lead in Peach Bowl history to UGA because you refused to trade Sean Glennon during the regular season for the indefensible justification that it was “not allowed by NCAA rules?” Well, you are building us a badass new scoreboard. Maybe we can trust you. So, we did a little research on this Alabama program and low and behold we were wrong to think we could. It turns out Alabama has won 26 of their last 28 games, and they are going to be better this year than they were last year. Way to stop the pain, Weaver. 0-1.
Sept. 7 vs. WESTERN CAROLINA. A directional school, a I-AA opponent and a ridiculous mascot? That, friends, is what we in the business call a scheduling trifecta. Exactly the Jim Weaver early season opponent we have come to love and desperately need to heal our damaged psyche. We assume we will be too lazy/hungover from Atlanta to even write about this game, so we’ll use up some of our jokes now (legal disclaimer: in the event we do write about this game, The Tailgate Fever Empire, LLC reserves the right to reuse any previously distributed jokes, references, clichés or amusing anecdotes (it’s Western Carolina and we are really going to be struggling for material unless they have a roster full of George George IIIs to make fun of – get in your teepee, George)). Western Carolina are the Catamounts. If you guessed this some type of cat that lives in, on, around, or near a mountain, you are sort of correct. According to the internet, wild cats of the catamount variety include (but apparently are not limited to) the bobcat, the cougar, and the lynx. Why in the world aren’t they the Western Carolina Fighting Lynxes (we assume it has something to do with a lack of clarity concerning the plural of lynx, which may or may not be lynxes….we made it up, sorry)? Anyway the Lynxes are absolutely horrendous. Leal might actually get to start because we could be up four TDs before the offense ever sees the ball. DO NOT MISS THIS GAME. While we completely understand the desire to skip this one, it could be worse…we could be playing East Carolina. The enduring lesson of last season is a simple one: don’t overlook easy blow out victories, objects in mirror may be further away than they appear. WC plays in a beautiful, intimate 13,742 seat stadium, which makes us wonder why this isn’t @Western Carolina. Back to .500, 1-1. Fight on! You Catamounts.
Sept. 14 @ East Carolina. SON OF A…! Why is this team still on our schedule? More importantly, why is an away game against this team on our schedule? Know what good can come from playing @East Carolina? Absolutely nothing. Unless you enjoy dressing like a pirate (http://www.200yearstoolate.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/sexy-pirate-costume-79-p.jpg ) 100 Canadian dollars to the first person who puts one of those damn yellow, plastic swords where the sun don’t shine. 2-1.
Sept. 21 vs. Marshall. Marshall was 5-7 last year, but they will be one of the most improved teams in all of college football this year. Expect them to compete for the C-USA title. Having said that, they are still Marshall. 100 Canadian dollars to the first person who dumps a bucket of green slime on their friend’s head at the tailgate. 3-1.
Sept. 26 @ Ga. Tech. Thursday night, ESPN, @ Ga. Tech, on four days rest. What could go wrong? This team is a constant pain in our ass. Defensively, Bud Foster has figured them out and will contain them. The problem is that you only get 7 or 8 possessions, so we can’t afford to waste them. Playing a game EVER on 4 days rest is moronic. This game is the key to our entire season. We hate the jalopy, but we love our chances. 4-1. Shut it, Bumble Bee.
Oct. 5 vs. NORTH CAROLINA. Did you think we would ever be about to type “UNC is the marquee home game of the season?” Neither did we. At least it is a Maroon Out. Logan Thomas wraps himself in the Baby Blue Blankie after a huge game. Write it down. 5-1.
Oct. 12 vs. PITT. Wasn’t not playing Pitt every year precisely why we left the Big East? The good news is that Pitt sucks. The bad news is that it doesn’t matter. We proved last year, and approximately 97% of the other times we’ve played Pitt, it doesn’t matter how bad they are, Pitt is a huge problem for us. So, of course, the ACC put them in our division. Want to know what else sucks? Playing Pitt, ever. Damn you, ACC. Damn you, Pitt. Damn you, Weaver. 6-1.
Oct. 26 vs. DUKE. See any previous year’s Duke preview. 7-1.
Nov. 2 @ Boston College. Dear ACC, thanks for the scheduling FU. We love returning to BC two years in a row. Wasn’t not playing Boston College every year precisely why we left the Big East? Please add the Superfans to the list of mediocre programs that we insist on making looking good. 8-1. Cue Sweet Caroline dance-a-long.
Nov. 9 @ Miami. Didn’t we just play @ Miami last year? What the hell? Miami is going to be a beast this season. They may still be a year away, but they are on the verge of returning to the Miami we love to play. The Va. Tech-Miami rivalry really made our program (and ESPN’s college football coverage – recall they once could only get the Big East to play on their network – if you ever need a topic to talk about with Chris Fowler and you’ve already discussed how dreamy Kirk Herbstreit is, this is your go-to). They are the team to beat in the ACC this season. We said it. We regret it, but we said it. 8-2.
Nov. 16 vs. MARYLAND. Crab cakes and football; that’s what Maryland does. Except football. Good luck losing 7 games a season in the Big Ten. We expect it will feel similar to losing 7 games a year in the ACC. 9-2. Adios, turtle.
Nov. 30 @ Virginia. Two weeks of rest for UVA. Bitching about Weaver is our third favorite hobby, but this bit of scheduling idiocy actually pays off. For reasons mostly instinctive and partially due to the bourbon and cokes so kindly delivered by Colleen, our friendly Alaska Airlines flight attendant, we are worried about this one. We’ve beaten them 9 times in a row and 13 out of the last 14. Even the Cavaliers will get tired of losing sooner or later. Fortunately, with a ten win season and a possible ACC Championship game berth on the line, we predict another decisive victory in Charlottesville. And this little piggy cried BooHooHoo all the way home. 10-2.
2013 promises to be an interesting season. That 10-2 prediction could easily be 8-4 with losses to UNC and Ga. Tech. Anything worse than that, and it will be another grouchy offseason. 9-3 or better has to be considered a victory considering the significant transition we are undertaking, A major coaching overhaul is a huge deal in Beamer World. It is something he isn’t comfortable with but that he knows needs doing. Such changes rarely succeed immediately. Instead, it will take a while for the new offensive coaches to adapt to us and for us to adapt to them. It might be 2014 before it works, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a hell of a lot of fun in the meantime. Sure the home schedule sucks, but who cares? It is a home game in Lane Stadium. You live for this. And if you like to travel, you’ve got two potential trips to Atlanta, a November game in Miami, yet another opportunity to laugh at the Hoos in Hooville, a 21st consecutive bowl game, and a partridge in a pear tree. We aren’t saying its all sunshine and rainbows, we are just saying things aren’t that bad. If you disagree, you should have Colleen bring you another bourbon.
With new coaching blood comes new enthusiasm that will show up on the field and in recruiting. These coaching changes were the right move. Sadly they were just four or five seasons overdue. But that’s the cost of having a guy like Beamer. He is our guy, and he is loyal. On net, we like his way. We like being a Beamer-type positive program. Does that mean we are USC or Alabama? Maybe not, but the point we are making is being Va. Tech is still pretty good, and it could be an awful lot worse. We could be UVA. We win, and we win with class. That ain’t bad.
So, what kind of team do we really have this year? The real answer is who the hell knows. It is going to be a work in progress and the injuries haven’t helped. This has to be Logan Thomas’ team. As goes Thomas, so goes our season. And that’s why we are so cautiously optimistic. We expect a good season from him. Third year starters in their senior season usually have big years (see Bryan Randall and the D-word). They have exciting sophomore years that exceed expectations. Then they try too hard in their second season at the helm and underperform the elevated expectations. By that last, senior year, they have learned and matured, and it is their team (remember, we all were very frustrated with Bryan Randall after his second season starting). The winners deliver, and Logan Thomas is a winner. If you’ve forgotten, watch this clip.
Unfortunately, he can’t do it alone, and there are a lot of questions on offense. First and foremost is our O-line (breaking news). Bottom line, we aren’t there yet. But an O-line can develop through the season. If they become good (and there is talent, it is just unproven), we will be a good team. Having said that, we are TERRIFIED of the matchup of this O-line with Alabama’s D-line. At running back, injuries and suspensions have thrust the spotlight on r-Fr Trey Edmunds. He was our running back of the future which unexpectedly might be now. J.C. Coleman is questionable for the game. He has been injured and hasn’t gotten reps, so either way, we are going to see Edmunds. He’s very talented, but he needs experience and a line that can block. If he gets it, he could be our next star RB. Thomas has D.J. Coles and Demetri Knowles at WR this season. The potential is there, but this unit is inexperienced, so the jury remains out.
When it comes to the Defense, we are probably the biggest spoiled brats in college football. In the last 121 games, we have given up 290 yards per game which ranks us third nationally, and Bud Foster will get it done, yet again, this year. The D-line will be one of the best we have had in years (and that’s where we’ve not lived up to our rep the past few seasons). James Gayle, Luther Maddy, J.R. Collins, Dadi Nicolas (nominee for name of the year), Derrick Hopkins, and Tyrel Wilson – expect to hear all of these names a lot. Injuries have plagued us at LB (Ronny VanDyke and Tariq Edwards) and this is where we could be weak. It depends on how the backups develop. We are thin at DB, but the first team is excellent, especially when Antone Exum returns from injury. The starters against Alabama will likely be Kyle Fuller, Kyshoen Jarrett, Detrick Bonner, and Kendall Fuller (who has impressed enough to start as a freshman).
Speaking of Beamer, where in the world has Beamerball been? Primarily because of our success, college football has changed, and it has become much more difficult to block kicks, especially punts. As a result, Beamer has shifted his focus to dominating in the return game. Kyshoen Jarrett will return punts, Demitri Knowles will return kickoffs, and both are explosive. But like you, we yearn for the good old days when we blocked 12 kicks in 12 games. Cody Journell will kick field goals again; A.J. Hughes will punt; and Mitchell Ludwig van Beethoven will handle kickoffs.
This Alabama team is so good that we expect them to dominate the SEC and win an unprecedented third consecutive national championship. Unless of course, we upset them. Can’t happen? Neither could this. Speaking of the SEC, wondering just how tough that conference has gotten? Well, their new trophy is a guy ramming his helmet into an opposing player’s groin. Ouch.
McCarron returns at QB. T.J. Yeldon takes over full time at RB for the Tide, and he is poised to be their next superstar at that position. We must slow down their running attack, taking away their ability to play-action, and then we must force turnovers to give our overmatched offense opportunities. Our D is the key to keeping us in a game that could otherwise be a blowout. If they can, LT & Co. have to take advantage of every opportunity we get. Last time, Bama gave us this game on numerous occasions (settling for FGs, turnovers, giving up special teams plays). We actually should have beaten them, but we didn’t capitalize, and, eventually, their superior talent overtook us. If we can limit their offense and take advantage of every chance we get, we can win this game. But it could also get out of hand quickly.
We will travel 17 redshirt freshmen and 17 true freshmen to Atlanta this weekend, and many of them will see the field. It will be a great opportunity to see how much heart these young kids have, but they also have to stay smart. Being overly emotionally in a game like this can get you into trouble. This is a really important game for the program. Too many times, we’ve played like crap in these games. We really need a good performance and to keep this one close. It is the opening game against the #1 team in the country…everyone is watching. Damn, we are fired up.
No matter what happens Saturday, we hope you are there to enjoy the spectacle with us. Eight months of pent up excitement. Hope, dreams, unicorns, and this. The season is here, and tailgate fever is pulsing through our veins. LET’S GO!
Va. Tech 24, Alabama 21, OT.
Copyright 2013 by puffins. All rights reserved.