When Virginia Tech enters Scott Stadium Saturday at noon, the Hokies will be
looking to shake some nasty recent history and prove to their fans and the media
that one loss doesn’t necessarily lead to two … or three … or more. On
Saturday, the question will be asked and answered: Is it 2003 all over again?
You know all about 2003. A 6-0 start, followed by a 2-5 swan dive finish,
including three straight defeats to end the season. That Tech team had some
talent, but what it didn’t have was leadership. When things started to go south,
there was no one on the team who stepped up and got things going in the right
The Hokie coaching staff was powerless to turn that ocean liner of a bad
attitude around during the season, but once the season was over, they set about
the task of making things right. Some unproductive personalities finished their
eligibility up or left the team early, and those that remained were told in no
uncertain terms to put self-centeredness aside and get back to “Hokie
The concept of Team United was introduced. From a strategic standpoint, a
proud defense that had suddenly become porous was retooled. The responsibilities
of the rover and whip were redefined, and players like James Anderson and Jimmy
Williams were shifted to positions where they could be more productive. In other
cases, players simply got better (Jonathan Lewis), or new blood (Vince Hall)
took over at positions that had become liabilities.
The result was the unexpected 2004 ACC championship, and all the black magic
and hocus pocus that the coaching staff had applied was put to good use by
leaders like Bryan Randall and Jim Davis. Randall’s on-field play finally caught
up with his off-field leadership and demeanor, and the result was a season that
washed away the bad memories of 2003.
Or did it?
Fess up: With the Hokies’ chances at a national championship gone by the
boards, this UVa game has got you worried. It’s Wednesday, the week of the
Virginia game, and from where I sit, Hokie Nation definitely still has a
hangover from Miami’s whipping of the Hokies. I can’t put my finger on it, other
than to say that the energy seems to have been sucked out of the program. The
hype, the excitement, the single-minded focus as the team drives towards a goal
… is gone.
This isn’t anything...
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