Let's say you're strolling through a trailer park. It's a lot more run-down and seedy than your average trailer park, and the tooth-to-inhabitant ratio is alarmingly low, and most of the front lawns have FUK UVA signs in them and there're turkeys running all over the place, taking shits on the front steps. Every so often somebody in a truckers' hat hucks a cinderblock in your direction or waves an unloaded shotgun at you, and you suspect it's because you're wearing your V-sabres. Then you see a well-kept actual house in the middle of the madness, occupied by a guy who invites you in for bourbon and cornhole. Sure, the place is decorated in maroon and orange and the picture of Thomas Jefferson on the wall has darts in it, but the bourbon's good and the chatter is - to borrow a phrase - jocular.
You've entered Gobbler Country, an oasis in the desert. It's where to go for Hokie info when you aren't specifically trying to find something to piss you off. (Also, f4h and I would be the only Virginians who liked hockey if we actually lived in Virginia. But, I think specifically because a Hokie and a Wahoo can only find so much common ground, he really hates the Red Wings. Go figure.)
As always, the other half of the Q&A is where to go to get a sneak preview of what I think about issues that are important to the enemy. Go now or go later, but go.
1. No matter what colors they wear I don't think you'll find anyone interested in this game who thinks UVA has a chance, but that wasn't the case after JMU. How would you have felt about this game if it was one week after the JMU game?
-- If this game had been in Week 3, I probably still would have thought we were going to win. There were a lot of things not involving football that went into that game against JMU, but the bottom line was they had a great game plan, which they executed perfectly, and we had a poor game plan, which we executed poorly. At the end of the day, that's why we lost.
If the next game's against UVa, I'm probably just as worried going into the game as I was going into the ECU game. I picked us to win that game by two whole points and we wound up covering a 19.5-point spread. I would have had the same hope as I had going into that game: That the offensive line wouldn't play as bad as it looked in the first two games and that Bud Foster would have gotten the tackling (or lack thereof) fixed in the six days between JMU and UVa.
2. How has the rebuilt VT defense panned out this year? Up to snuff with the standard Bud Foster deals?
-- Actually this isn't your typical Bud Foster defense. We've all but abandoned the 4-3 that we usually play and have played a lot of nickel this year with Kyle Fuller or Antone Exum in as the nickel back. This is because our replacement for Cody Grimm at whip linebacker, Jeron Gouveia-Winslow has been ... uh ... well, let's just say inconsistent. So we've had to change the way we've done things.
Because we are now playing basically a 4-3-5 (ed. - I think he means 4-2-5) and our linebackers aren't playing well against the run, we're giving up uncharacteristic chunks of yards on the ground. It might be worse than it was in 2003 when guys like Derrick Knight and Quincy Wilson were gashing us. What we do, have however, is an excellent secondary that includes Jayron Hosley, who leads the country in interceptions right now. Those turnovers have played a big part in the current winning streak.
3. How much of a legitimate scare is Mike London putting into the Hokie staff and Hokie fans about recruiting in the state of Virginia?
-- I think it's a legitimate scare because there's that luster that comes with having a new regime. That and London is apparently a good recruiter who has a lot of ties to the Hampton Roads area. That's why it's so important to beat you guys by 50 this year and nip that right in the bud.
There are some Hokie fans who are fairly scared of London and the fact he could take some recruits who would usually go to Tech. I probably think so more than most Hokie fans, but I think the right level of concern is somewhere between thinking he doesn't matter and thinking the sky is falling.
4. If there were one thing that could go terribly wrong for VT (injury, exploitable weakness, etc.) to give UVA a real chance at winning, what would that be?
-- If you guys run the ball down our throat and we turn the ball over, things could get dicey. That and if we come out flat (hahahaha, just kidding, we always come out flat) because the Coastal is already secure, that could amplify it. You guys aren't without talented players.
I like Keith Payne a lot because he runs hard and is tough to bring down and there a lot worse receiver combinations out there than Burd and Inman. The secondary isn't bad, but losing Dowling hurts, but there are guys out there who can make plays. I mean you beat Miami for crying out loud.
The exploitable weakness is our run defense. If you guys can run the ball, keep Tyrod on the sideline and not force Verica to win the game for you, you're going to have a chance in the end.
5. You know I think maroon and orange is the worst imaginable color combination, but even so I thought the look that VT unveiled a year ago with the numbers that sort of matched the VT logo wasn't a bad look. Has that uniform been totally ditched in favor of the throwbacky ones you wear these days?
-- I was one of the few Hokie fans who liked those, especially the home versions. Those have been shelved permanently, which I'm fine with because I love the throwbacks. I was calling for those for years and I'm so glad those are what we wear now. Maybe you guys can break out those throwbacks you wore a couple years ago with white helmets and asymmetrical, cattywampus striping for the Commonwealth Cup. Those looked pretty slick.
6. Who is the heir apparent at quarterback?
-- Logan Thomas. He's a redshirt freshman this year who was originally recruited as a tight end. When he first arrived on campus, he didn't really have a natural position. He's too big for receiver, but not really big enough for tight end. The guy's just a football player. But he has some speed and played QB in high school, so that's where he is. He played like a freshman in the spring, but came in for one play against Miami when Tyrod Taylor got his clock cleaned a threw a bullet to Danny Coale to convert a third-and-long.
Right after that play I got a text from Joe over at The Key Play that said, "I now expect three MNCs from Logan." Good luck, kid.
7. Do you think Beamer will eventually fill the empty national title trophy case? Do you think playing in the ACC hinders that effort any?
-- As a fan, I have to emphatically say yes, but if I were a neutral observer, I'd probably say no simply because it's damned hard to win a national title. It's even harder if you've only been relevant for the last 15 years. In the grand scheme of things, the Hokies are still building the program. I like the direction things are heading, but every program needs an outside catalyst to get over that hump. We need some fresh blood in the program with new ideas and to help us adjust to the changes going on in college football.
I actually think playing the ACC helps. Look, Virginia Tech isn't a program that can make the BCSCG with a loss. But being in a BCS conference, if we go 13-0, have one decent non-conference win and are one of two BCS unbeatens left, we're probably going to that game. Then it just comes down to winning one game.