2007 Monday Thoughts: Virginia

Ever since the Hokies flattened Georgia Tech in Atlanta on November 1st, I’ve
been confident that VT was going to win out the rest of its regular season
schedule. In each of their last three games, the Hokies have gotten off to a
good start, then have either fallen behind or have been threatened. Each time,
I’ve calmly waited for them to turn things around and pull away, and each time,
they haven’t disappointed. When it’s late in the fourth quarter and you’re
taking a knee, then you’ve closed out well, and this team has learned how to
close out.

In looking at my comments in the
game preview
, one statement stands out:

The only concern for the Hokies is coming to play and not turning the
ball over. If Tech plays hard and doesn’t set UVa up with short fields, this
matchup favors VT in almost every phase of the game.

In addition to that statements, which we’ll examine here in a moment, I was
interviewed on an AM station in Seattle (that sounds odd, but it’s a station
that calls me up 2-3 times a year, usually whenever the Hokies have a big game),
and the host asked me what I thought was going to happen. My answer was,
“All else being equal — and it pretty much is — the Hokies have more
playmakers at wide receiver. I think Tech’s wide receivers are going to make
some plays, and that’s going to be the difference.”

Lastly, throughout the game, although you have to give Virginia some credit,
I felt the Cavaliers only got something when the Hokies gave it to them. Except
for a few instances in which the Cavaliers strung together some plays on offense
and made the Hokies pay for their mistakes, Virginia Tech controlled this game
from start to finish.

We’ll take a look at all of that, plus the turning point in the game.

“You Can Feel the Fear”

After Virginia picked up one first down in their opening possession, the
Hokies marched smartly down the field and scored easily to make it 7-0. Tech
started with a reverse on the punt, Eddie Royal flipping it to Justin Harper,
and the Hokies got a 43-yard return and set up shop on UVa’s 41 yard line.

From there, it was easy-breezy for the Hokies to score. Sean Glennon opened
with a 16-yard down and out to Eddie Royal, a play that was open all day long,
and Tyrod Taylor finished it off with a nifty nine yard TD carry. The TD drive,
which was only four plays, was almost all Eddie Royal. He caught two passes for
24 yards and sealed off the Virginia cornerback to clear the way for Tyrod.

That was followed by a UVa three and out, then a 12-play field goal drive by
the Hokies. Four possessions in, Virginia had 14 yards of offense and one first
down, in 2:31. The Hokies had 84 yards, six first downs, 6:42 time of
possession, and a 10-0 lead.

Scott Stadium was pretty quiet.

My old college buddy Bruce, who can get off some pretty good lines, surveyed
the field, leaned over to me, and said, “You can feel the fear in this

You sure could. Every college football fan knows that feeling, that
“it’s going to be tough to come back from this one” feeling. Hokie
fans felt it when Georgia Tech charged
out to that 21-0 lead
over VT last year in the span of 11 minutes.

That feeling never goes away, even if you come back to take the lead, which
Virginia did. Even when your team comes back, you still remember that smack in
the mouth you got right out of the gate, and you’re worried.

Hoos Storm Back, With a Little Help from Tech