Q&A With a Hokie Blogger
Todd and I are still putting the finishing touches on our official game preview for the JMU vs Virginia Tech clash this weekend. In the meantime, we reached out to the Hokie blog, Gobbler Country, to give us a fan’s take on the 2010 Hokies. Check out the blog for great coverage of this week’s JMU opponent, including a Q&A with JMUSB. Big thanks to Gobbler Country and Go Dukes! Also, Nova/DC Duke Club has hooked up with Bailey’s at Ballston Mall to show every game accessible this season again. That means you can even join fellow Dukes for this ESPN3 telecast, although it’s not clear whether we’ll be segregated from Hokie fans. (Big Al’s in the West End for you RIC folks). Hope to meet some readers.
Most college football fans really respect the fact that Beamer and the Hokies are willing to schedule power programs out of conference, like USC, Alabama, and Boise State. Would you like to see Tech continue with that strategy or take a different approach and schedule some less challenging out of conference opponents to open the season?
I really like the idea of playing teams like Boise State out of conference. I think it’s important to challenge yourself before you get into conference play so you have a better idea of what your team looks like. What I’m definitely not a fan of is playing those teams on the opening week. In the last three years we’ve started 0-1 because we were trying to work new guys into the system and had inexperienced players getting thrown into the fire.
Wither the coaching staff needs become better at having these younger, inexperienced players ready for the first week or we need to just play Little Sisters of the Poor to open the season. Playing these games right away makes the offseason more fun and exciting, but they do you no good if you consistently struggle at the beginning of the season.
It was a tough loss to Boise State, but as outside observers we saw plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the 2010 Hokies (Jarrett Boykin’s play for example). Now that you’ve had a few days to digest the loss, what were some of the positives you take away from the game?
On offense, it’s that Tyrod Taylor is an outstanding quarterback. His final four passes were incomplete on Monday, but he connected on 15 of his first 18 attempts. That tells me that he wasn’t just whistling Dixie when he said he wanted to complete 70 percent of his passes this season. We weren’t able to go deep very often against Boise State, which is one of the reasons they were able to clog up our run game. If Taylor stays this accurate consistently through the season, though, it should mean big things for the running backs.
On defense, there’s a lot of speed and talent. Our problem right now is the mental aspect of the game and fundamentals. We made a lot of bone-headed mistakes on defense against Boise State and missed who knows how many tackles. If we can get that fixed and stay healthy, I think the defense will be fine.
Tell us about how Tech fans view this game with JMU. It’s a game that Tech is obviously expected to win, but won’t earn them much credit with pollsters. On the other hand, if Tech lost it would be crushing in the polls. What is the upside from the fan’s perspective?
The upside is, assuming you take care of business, you’re going to figure out what the ceiling is for this team. If we have some of the same errors we had against Boise State, like the missed tackles and missed blocks, then that’s something that’s probably going to plague us through the year. And if we can pull away early we’ll get a good look at some of the younger players and what they can bring to the table.
The problem is it’s not like we’re playing Campbell or VMI. If JMU plays mistake-free football, it could easily make this a competitive game. JMU’s got a good coach, plays in the toughest conference in FCS and doesn’t shy away from playing up to FBS. You’re a dangerous team, but one that Tech should beat if it doesn’t crap the bed.
Was is just a case of the Hokie offensive line just running into a tough opponent early in the season against Boise, or is there any real cause for concern?
Haha, the offensive line is always a cause for concern for me. We were missing our starting left tackle in Nick Becton and his replacement, Andrew Lanier, didn’t play very well. Plus, we were matched up against a very talented, physical front four that made it difficult for us to do the things we like to do offensively.
This is a problem we’ve run into every year. We’ve never had much depth on the O-line and key injuries early will always effect its performance. Unfortunately, we’ve had a run of early injuries on the line in recent years. Both run and pass blocking will probably be a problem until we get Becton back.
I’m really interested to see how the line performs this week. If they struggle again, this could be a long season.
How do you feel about Virginia Tech playing in the ACC? Tech is a perennial favorite to win the conference, but clearly has a more passionate football fanbase than many of the other conference schools. Are you happy with that, or would you rather see the Hokies move to a “football first” conference?
I think the ACC is the best fit for the Hokies geographically and probably culturally as well. Yeah, the ACC is always going to be a basketball-first conference, but when you look at how far the road trips would be in the SEC, you see that it probably wouldn’t work. We’d be outliers, just like Arkansas is now in that league. Playing in the SEC would be a lot of fun and probably fill our coffers a little more than the ACC, who knows, the cost of travel might off-set that. I’m completely content to be in the ACC.