2006 Monday Thoughts: The Georgia Tech Game

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I had a strong suspicion going in that the Hokies would lose this one — I
picked GT by the score of 17-10, underestimating VT’s offense and overestimating
VT’s defense — so mentally, I had already taken the next step, wondering,
“How will this team deal with a possible loss?” As we know from
experience, it’s not so much the losses that determine a season, as it is the
response to those losses. When things go sour, how do you respond, both during
the game and after the game? That’s the major theme of this week’s “Monday
Thoughts.”

Two things, right off the bat: Number one, with the youth that VT has at some
key spots, my interest in what this team does isn’t all about this season, but
also about the future. How this team handles things this year will not only
determine their record in 2006, but it will also set the tone for next season
and beyond. More on that in a minute.

Number two, as has been pointed out elsewhere by the coaching staff, players,
and media, some of Virginia Tech’s best seasons have started out with a
tough-to-swallow loss or two. The best examples are the 1995, 1996, and 2004
seasons.

  • In 1995, VT lost home games to BC and Cincy, then became road warriors
    (trivia: Tech only played five home games that year!) on their way to a
    Sugar Bowl win.
  • In 1996, the Hokies absorbed a humiliating 52-21 Carrier Dome pounding
    from Syracuse in September, then rebounded to close strong and go to the
    Orange Bowl.
  • In 2004, a home loss to NC State threatened to derail the season, but the
    Hokies responded with a home win against #6 West Virginia and went on to the
    ACC championship and a Sugar Bowl berth.

Let’s look at the downside of losses, and how they can derail a season:

  • In 2001, Tech was 6-0 and ranked #4 when Syracuse beat the Hokies in Lane
    Stadium, 22-14. VT lost four of their last six on their way to an 8-4
    season.
  • In 2002, VT was 8-0 and ranked #3 when Pittsburgh stung the Hokies with a
    come from behind victory, again in Lane, 28-21. Tech bombed and finished
    10-4.
  • In 2003, the Hokies were 6-0 and ranked #4 when WVU blasted them in
    Morgantown,
...