Hokies fans: I've been there
It was different this time, in the press box instead of the stands of Michigan Stadium, watching a highly ranked team lose its home opener to a division I-AA opponent. For one, I'm a Michigan alum and fan, whereas I'm paid to remain objective and neutral when it comes to Virginia Tech.
But trust me, Hokie Nation. I feel your pain. You're embarrassed, seeing the team you support and love loop over and over on "SportsCenter." Commentator after commentator just piling on to your misery. You're getting text messages from Virginia, Miami or any other rival fans taking shots at you after years of being able to hold Virginia Tech's success over them. All of a sudden, everything you thought you knew about college football gets flipped upside down.
And the game, it's almost like a blur. Sure, there were times when the pesky underdog played well, but not until they started kneeling the ball in a victory formation did the possibility of a loss enter your mind.
See, I was a senior at Michigan when the No. 5 Wolverines lost, 34-32, to Appalachian State to open the 2007 season. And since my first ever game at Lane Stadium was the second time something like this has ever happened (seriously, am I bad luck or what?), I feel obligated to help you cope.
Before I go any further, I bring you a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel that appears to represent the rest of this season. The week after that loss to Appalachian State, Michigan looked even worse getting blown out by Oregon, 39-7. But the Wolverines regained their footing once Big Ten season arrived.
That 0-2 start was followed by eight consecutive wins, and Michigan was even in contention for the Big Ten title before losing its last two games to Wisconsin and Ohio State. The season actually ended on a memorable note, with Lloyd Carr being carried off the field into retirement after a 39-7 win over Tim Tebow-led Florida in the Capital One Bowl.
Considering the state of the ACC, I think the Hokies are entirely capable of having the same kind of turnaround. I actually believe this year's Virginia Tech team is eerily similar to those 2007 Wolverines.
Michigan had talked convincingly about a national championship all offseason with the return of battle tested playmakers at the skill positions (senior quarterback Chad Henne, senior running back Mike Hart, junior wide receiver Mario Manningham). Virginia Tech made its goals for the season known early and often with offensive weapons like Tyrod Taylor, the Ryan Williams-Darren Evans duo and Jarrett Boykin back in the fold.
Both were led by occasionally unappreciated head coaches with great career records, who also had a tendency to irk fans with their conservative play-calling and penchant for not winning "the big one" enough. With Michigan it was Lloyd Carr. Here in Blacksburg, it is Frank Beamer.
And even the games were fairly similar in terms of how each team lost. Michigan's offense didn't play particularly poorly, racking up 479 yards. At times, Virginia Tech looked to be clicking, gaining 238 yards on the ground and marching 94 yards on its opening drive of the game.
Each were done in by a defense that created big plays with mistakes. In the end, neither could seem to consistently wrap up a running quarterback and get stops when the game was hanging in the balance.
The Hokies will indeed have to "go back to the drawing board" as Taylor said during his postgame press conference. They'll have to find some answers to serious questions.
Can this offensive line give Taylor enough time to throw the ball or Ryan Williams room to run it? Is this defense just going through growing pains or are they developing bad habits that will last an entire season? Does this group have the motivation to pick themselves up and compete for an ACC Championship?
It's certainly going to be an interesting week in Blacksburg before East Carolina comes to town. But I want to reiterate, all hope is not lost. I should know.
September 11, 2010; 10:27 PM ET
Save & Share: Previous: Against Virginia Tech, JMU's Drew Dudzik has a magical afternoon
Next: Virginia Tech's defensive line takes a hit
Posted by: Kenbeatrizz | September 11, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: imran2u | September 12, 2010 12:01 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: rhbancroft | September 12, 2010 1:04 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Killerangel81 | September 12, 2010 2:05 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: bo11 | September 12, 2010 2:46 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: rc2223 | September 12, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: godpere | September 12, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: j762 | September 12, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: gmuhokie2009 | September 12, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: postfan1 | September 12, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: m1ke3i6 | September 12, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: northeaster2002 | September 12, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: purgoldduke | September 12, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mbhokie | September 14, 2010 12:19 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: hokiehouse | September 15, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse