Monday, January 18, 2010

Points Hard To Come By Against FSU

It was basically the same old story against Florida State on Saturday. The Hokies struggled to get quality shots in the paint and were forced to shoot long distance, which kept the score low. FSU has Solomon Alabi, Ryan Reid, and Chris Singleton patrolling the paint, all of whom are exceptional defensive players, but Alabi and Singleton are easily two of the best in the ACC. The formula for VT to beat FSU is to make their 3-pointers, force turnovers, make foul shots, and keep the Seminoles from killing us on the boards. The Hokies achieved 3 of 4, but that wasn't good enough for the win (mostly because we did so poorly on our two-point shots... our big men were a disgusting 3-17). We shot well on the three-pointers at a 9 for 22 clip (41%). We had two more offensive rebounds than the Seminoles. We forced 23 turnovers and only gave up 18 in comparison. The one key to victory that we didn't complete was shooting well on free throws. The Hokies only hit 11 of 21 (52%). If Tech had shot 81% on their free throws, we're talking about a victory instead of a loss. At any rate, the most confusing thing to me was why we shot so many two-pointers when the three-pointer was actually working for us on a night when we were getting open looks from deep, particularly in the second half where we were shooting very well from deep and we needed to climb back into the game. Instead we tried to force our way into the teeth of FSU's nasty defense and we paid the price.

So as you can see, it was a game that VT could have won, but fortunately it was nothing near a "must-win". In fact, I know that the Hokies definitely weren't favored to win that game, so the loss is fine. It's just nothing we can hang our hats on. We won't see FSU again this season (unless we're unfortunate enough to draw them in the ACC tournament), and I say good riddance to bad rubbish. We seem to play our worst against the Seminoles and the games are never very exciting. The feeling after a Florida State game is like the feeling after an exhaustive case of food poisoning. You feel terrible, but you're just glad it's over. I really like the move Seth Greenberg and Jim Weaver made by scheduling North Carolina-Central just two days after the FSU game. NC-Central is one of the worst teams in division I, so we can expect a game that will allow our starters to get some valuable rest on the bench and will allow them to get their confidence back while they're playing. The team doesn't play again until Saturday, so the guys will have almost 5 full days of rest to get ready for Boston College at the Cassell. You have to like our chances against BC at home.

I am slightly worried at this point that our team could get to 20 wins and still miss out on the NCAA tournament. It happened to Penn State last year with their 22 wins. If you don't beat anybody good, you probably aren't getting in. So unless Seton Hall, Georgia, or Iowa goes on a big run, I think we might be better off trying to steal a game against Duke or Clemson. Clemson would definitely be our best bet. Physically, they are very similar to the Hokies. They aren't going to kill you with size and they don't have the best shooters, but they are capable of scoring big in the paint, playing solid perimeter defense, grabbing offensive rebounds, and causing turnovers. We have good experience against the Clemson press and have had success breaking it in the past. You have to like our odds to steal one at home on February 6 (our only scheduled meeting against the Tigers).

Tonight's game is also the last non-televised game until March 3. Can we get a huge Hallelujah for that one? I'm tired of having to either watch a grainy internet feed or else listen on the radio and try to imagine JT Thompson's slamtastic dunks. Saturday's Raycom broadcast for the Boston College game will be at 1:30pm on the CW (YES! AWESOME!) if you live in Richmond. Check here for your local affiliate if you don't live in Richmond. Raycom claims that they will be broadcasting their games in HD, so we'll just have to see about that. I am highly skeptic. I seem to remember last year that their HD broadcast worked, but only if you didn't mind watching the game without sound.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Good Win Over Miami...?

One thing is for certain... Seth Greenberg owns Frank Haith. Going back to the 2004-2005 season, Haith's first year in Miami, Virginia Tech is 8-2 against the Hurricanes. Last night did not veer from the norm, as the Hokies jumped to a 35 point lead at one point in the first half and closed with an 81-66 win in Blacksburg. Miami's team doctor should check the Hurricanes' asses for hand prints. It was a day of offensive efficiency and defensive fortitude for the Hokies. We shot the ball better. We stopped them from shooting well. Only 2 factors in the game went Miami's way. They had 5 more offensive rebounds. They had 2 fewer turnovers. However, they could not overcome their scoring deficiency and deservedly lost last night.

Malcolm Delaney looked good, despite still feeling pain from a sprained ankle. He had a career-high 9 assists and put up a solid 28 points with good shooting percentages across the board. Dorenzo Hudson continued his poor outside shooting, going only 1-5 from the 3-point line, but he played well otherwise and was stout defensively. Jeff Allen was very good, putting up a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. He got extremely careless with the ball though, giving it away 5 times in the game... he had as many turnovers as the rest of the Tech starters combined. JT Thompson also had an excellent game off the bench... he racked up 8 rebounds and 8 points. Terrell Bell should get to share the game ball with Delaney for having one of his best games in a Tech uniform. Bell shot 3-3 on his 3-pointers and had 13 points overall. He grabbed 8 rebounds and led the team with 3 blocked shots. Bell is one of the best shot blockers on the perimeter that I've ever seen. Most guys come over in the paint on weak-side help to get blocks... Bell goes straight up with the jump shooter to get his. Most wing players will get called for fouls when they try to block jump shots, but Bell is rarely in foul trouble proving that he can do it and do it cleanly.

So the good news is that we won, and beat a ranked team no less (#23 in the nation). The bad news is that this win won't hold up by the end of the ACC schedule. Miami's best wins this season are against the good-but-not-great Wake Forest Demon Deacons, which was a 1 point home victory, and mediocre Minnesota and South Carolina teams. The other teams that Miami beat are laughable at best. Virginia Tech's wins aren't any better, but the difference is that we dominated Miami, and I think that we are a better team overall. I guess the rest of this paragraph is just speculation, but I think we are far better suited to play well in the ACC than Miami is. They have a favorable schedule, only playing Duke, UNC, Clemson, and Georgia Tech once, but they don't have anyone who can score in crunch time when the team really needs him. This is also a team that lives and dies by the 3-pointer, and if it's not going in (like last night), they can't win. The ACC has much better defenses than Miami saw in the first half of their season and you can expect their three-point percentages to drop, which also means their losses will pile up. So once again, I don't see this win as being a good win for the Hokies when tournament selection time is upon us (it's the most wonderful time of the year).

However, our game on Saturday has a better chance to be a good win. FSU is #25 in the rankings right now and they have decent wins over Marquette and Georgia Tech. Florida State is a better team than Miami. They have better players than Miami. So far, those players have not been able to gather a signature win for the Seminole faithful, but I think they will in the next few weeks. Florida State has one of the best frontcourts in the ACC and their backcourt has progressed a lot despite losing Toney Douglas to the NBA/graduation after last season. Wins away from home are also helpful for the selection committee. I am a little scared about our frontcourt going toe-to-toe with Solomon Alabi, Xavier Gibson, Chris Singleton, and the rest of the talented 'Noles, but I like our backcourt much better than the Seminoles, and as we saw against UNC and Miami, it's usually backcourt play that either helps or hurts the Hokies (from either team). FSU has lost back-to-back ACC games, so I do think they will end up winning this one. I will definitely be cheering hard for the maroon and orange though.

Now let's get to my final point... can we get some TV coverage for these games?? The game against Miami was nowhere to be found. The game against FSU is not being shown either nationally or locally in Richmond (although you might be able to find it at a bar because I think it's being shown locally in Florida). And, of course, the game on Monday against North Carolina-Central will not be shown on TV because they suck. From that point on, we have at least 11 straight games with TV coverage and possibly the remaining games will be on TV if someone picks up the game against NC State in Blacksburg. I find it hard to believe that the viewership would be lower for these games that aren't slated to be broadcast on TV than some of the other crap you see. If any of you participate in the Nielsen ratings, make sure you're tuned into whatever Hokie basketball games are on... I want to have total ACC coverage next season.

Monday, January 11, 2010

VT v. UNC and Referees

It was a tag team effort last night, and Virginia Tech lost to the duo of North Carolina and The Men In Stripes. UNC used Ed Davis' inside presence to keep VT out of the lane and Will Graves & Larry Drew2 used a late flurry of 3-pointers to defeat the Hokies. The referees used ticky-tack fouls, phantom fouls, and no-calls to keep Tech down and out. It was a back and forth effort run with admirable precision by both UNC and the MIS. Remember the Buffalo Wild Wings commercial where the referee pretends to be reviewing the play but is really asking the people at the bar what to do, and the fans ask him to extend the game so everyone at the bar can enjoy more wings and drunken debauchery before the game ends? This game was kind of like that, except the fans at the bar are all wearing Tar Heel baby blue and they don't want to stay longer, they want the ref to give their team the win. The game was a lot closer than the 78-64 score indicates, which is a shame... VT led for most of the first half and for a short while in the second half before going ice cold from everywhere, including the free throw line, and getting no help from the refs when they drew contact on drives to the hoop. There was a point late in the second half where VT was down by five points and Ed Davis "blocked" a shot from Cadarian Raines that had already hit the backboard before Davis touched it. By rule, that is goaltending and should have been 2 points for the Hokies. Instead of getting 2 points, the block triggered a fastbreak for UNC where Will Graves hit a 3 and then another 3 from Drew2 put UNC far enough ahead to waste time and sit on their lead the rest of the half, forcing VT to foul. Referees should never be the focal point of the game, but these refs were intent on forcing the direction of play. It seemed as though they had decided that VT could get fouls if the Tar Heels fouled away from the hoop (in one-and-one situations), but never on drives to the hoop or other fouls in the lane. On the other hand, every little touch and bump that we had against UNC would be called a foul no matter where it happened. I guess I am done talking about referees... I just hate when they factor into the outcome of a game. They're supposed to be invisible and even the pro-UNC Comcast announcers were pointing out their errors that were in favor of Tech. I promise that I am not being a sore loser here... this really happened.

Zebras aside, you can blame the rest of the loss on cold shooting from the Hokies. Dorenzo Hudson was 0-6 from the 3-point line and looked like he had zero touch on his shot. To be fair, he was trying to earn free throws on a lot of his misses, but the refs weren't helping him by making the correct call. None of the other Hokies really helped out with outside shooting either. Even taking out Hudson's piss-poor effort from outside, the rest of the team was only 4-12 from deep. VT on the whole played incredible defense in this game, Hudson included. Jeff Allen made life miserable for Deon Thompson, who is definitely one of UNC's top two players if not their best player. However, Thompson and company also held Allen to just 4 points for the game. It seemed like he got blocked every time he went up with the ball. The Hokies just didn't seem to realize that you can't fade away from a shot-blocker like Ed Davis. He's monumentally gifted in that department and you always need to go straight into a shot blocker rather than away from one. Davis owned the paint in the second half. VT got Deon Thompson to foul out late in the second half, but the damage had already been done by that point. There were times in this game that I was so frustrated either with the refs or with VT's play that I visualized throwing my beer bottle at my 46" flat screen. But then I kept visualizing myself sleeping on the couch that night and shelling out $2,000 for another TV and decided it probably wasn't worth it.

The Hokies got pantsed in front of a raucous crowd at the Dean Dome, but there is still some good news, in two parts. First, this is not a game that VT was expected to win, so the loss doesn't hurt our NCAA tournament resume. Secondly, I think you can expect a more competitive finish when the Tar Heels visit Cassell Coliseum on February 4... mostly because it will be a home game for VT, so the referees should at least call the game even in that one. Also, UNC seemed to feed off of their crowd late in the game when Graves and Drew2 were hitting dagger three-pointers, so they won't have that advantage in our house. VT has Miami on Wednesday at 7pm in Blacksburg, so let's hope our crowd will be extremely fired up for Tech's ACC home-opener! (The word "home-opener" just made me giggle... just thought I would share).

In the meantime, Hudson should practice his BEEF. That's Balance (square yourself to the hoop), Eyes (keep them on the hoop), Elbow (square your elbow straight up and down, in line with your knee), and Follow-Through (make that hand look like you are waving Confederate soldiers off to war with your handkerchief).

Friday, January 8, 2010

Worilds leaving for the NFL

Virginia Tech defensive end Jason Worilds has declared for the NFL draft. Worilds would have been a rising r-senior and played his best football in 2009. This is a bit of a stomach punch for the Hokies because we are also losing our other starting defensive end, graduating senior Nekos Brown. This leaves only 3 Hokies with game experience at defensive end. R-senior Steven Friday registered 3.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss this season. Converting from tight end in 2008, r-junior Chris Drager really flourished in 2009 at his new position of defensive end, coming on strong late in the season and registering 2.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. R-sophomore Isaiah Hamlette also had a couple snaps at defensive end, but did not register a tackle. The loss of Worilds means that 3 out of the starting 4 players on the defensive line are leaving after this season, with only John Graves remaining.

At first glance, this one might send a lot of people into panic mode. Now before we all start taking our cyanide pills, I'd just like to remind everyone that Bud Foster has always been able to produce good defensive ends. From John Engelberger, to Corey Moore, to Nathaniel Adibi, to Darryl Tapp, to Chris Ellis, to Jason Worilds, we have been stacked throughout the years, so it's crazy to think that we don't have upcoming talent just waiting to shine. Will that talent be as dominant as Jason Worilds for this next season? No, absolutely not. But that doesn't necessarily translate to losses for the Hokies. On the contrary, I think we will be just fine and I think we should still be expected to be the best team in the ACC next season.

As I see it, here are the players that the Hokies are losing next season and the level at which we will miss them...

Key Losses:
Jason Worilds
Cody Grimm

Tough Losses:
Greg Boone
Ed Wang
Sergio Render
Stephan Virgil
Brent Bowden
Matt Waldron

Easily-Replaceable Losses:
Kam Chancellor
Dorian Porch
Cordarrow Thompson
Cam Martin

A lot of you might give me crap for putting Kam Chancellor in the "Easily-Replaceable Losses" category, especially considering he's our top-rated NFL draft prospect, but I really could care less. I think he was possibly the most overrated player we have ever had at Virginia Tech. He has incredible size and decent top end speed, yes. He could hit harder than just about any free safety we've ever had. The one thing he lacked was the ability to read a play quickly (which is why he never put up good interception numbers) and he failed so many times on gap-responsibilities this season it'll make your head spin. And the cherry on top is the number of times he was beaten deep for long touchdown throws. When you're the free safety, that is the number one thing you CAN'T give up. I would take Willie Pile over Kam Chancellor 10 times out of 10 and Pile was nowhere near the size of Chancellor. I think that whoever replaces him can do equally well if not better, so that's why I listed Kam in that category.

I really am looking forward to the draft though. It's not so tough to believe that Cody Grimm is being listed as a late round draft prospect since the NFL is enamored with speed and size rather than ability, but I have no doubts that Grimm will eventually become a starter at strong safety in the NFL (and before that happens, a pro-bowl-level special teamer). Making others believe in him is the challenge Grimm has faced all his life, and we can't expect it to be any different in the athleticism-crazy NFL. Good luck Cody. Go get 'em, tiger. Er... Hokie.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Zo's Coming-Out Party

41 points. 20-21 from the free throw line. 3 of 7 from the 3-point arc. While VT's leading scorer and team leader Malcolm Delaney was watching from the sidelines with a boot on his foot, Dorenzo Hudson was busy beating Seton Hall by doing what he does best... driving to the basket and playing tenacious defense (in a 103-94 overtime defeat of Seton Hall). You could see it in his face... he was having a great time and loving his newfound role of floor general, and his confidence has never been higher. This is the Dorenzo Hudson we thought we were getting two years ago; a guy who could score the basketball and take over in crunch time. It took a little longer for the real 'Zo to show up than expected, but I think we can all agree that we're pumped about him arriving. Will he stay for long or will the ghosts of self-doubt plague 'Zo in ACC play? I guess that's what the rest of the season is for, but it looks like Hudson has finally shook off the uncertainty and took hold of the gift set before him.

When you watch the game film, Hudson actually didn't shoot the ball all that well. He banked in a three pointer that he almost certainly didn't mean to bank in. He only shot 41% from the floor and he committed 4 turnovers. Those numbers aren't the worst, but they don't jump out at you either. What does jump out at you is the free throws. He had 21 of them and made 20. Those are not late-in-the-game, foul-the-other-team-to-stall free throws either. I would say from memory, at least 17 attempts were during times when the teams were battling and not intentionally fouling. That means that our boy Dorenzo was forcing the issue. He was taking advantage of defenders being in bad defensive positions and CREATING fouls. These are extreme comparisons, but all the best players do that. LeBron, Kobe, Dwayne Wade, etc... they all go to the basket and look for contact when the open shots are not there. This is something we need Hudson to keep doing. In reality, the ideal Dorenzo Hudson game is not a game where he takes 22 shots. You want your best shooters taking the majority of the shots, and unfortunately 'Zo isn't there yet. The ideal for him is a game where he takes around 8-10 shots, but goes to the foul line 8-10 times as well. And if the other team refuses to foul him, he needs to make them pay by hitting the shot. I am very encouraged by his latest performance, but I want to see consistency. I want to see him look for contact every game.

Erick Green got a lot of time at the point guard spot with Delaney out. Green was harassed incessantly by Jordan Theodore (an excellent on-ball defender) every time he brought the ball up court. Sometimes it took Green 15-20 seconds to make his first pass. He ended up fouling out of the game in overtime because of offensive fouls where he was trying to shed his defender, but he'll learn from that, and it is a good lesson to learn. He just needs to turn as many times as his defender makes him turn and not get frustrated. Other than that, Green was terrific. He hit a big 3-pointer during regulation play and had a key block in overtime. He missed two free throws that would have iced the game and kept us from going to overtime, but you have to expect jitters like that from a freshman.

Jeff Allen was the low-post rebounder and scoring threat that we needed him to be, and he stayed out of foul trouble for most of the game. He played with 4 fouls through all of overtime and never fouled out, while still grabbing rebounds in traffic helping the Hokies to dominate.

Cadarian Raines showed the kind of skills he is capable of bringing to the table with the best performance of all the freshmen in this game. There was a stretch where he deflected two passes that turned into steals (I'm not sure why Raines didn't get credited with the steals since he caused those turnovers) and blocked a shot for another turnover in about a 3 minute stretch. He was extremely productive in his 7 minutes of play and I think will be a much bigger contributor that people realize.

Manny Atkins made some big mistakes (like passing off to Hudson on a 3-on-1 fastbreak when he had Erick Green wide open on his left, but passed to Hudson on his right, where Hudson was covered by a defender whose feet were already planted, and Hudson had no choice but to run into the defender for a charge). Atkins will learn to make the right pass in situations like that, but he made up for some mental errors by nailing some big shots near the end of regulation and in overtime.

JT Thompson had a quiet, but solid game. The same goes for Victor Davila. You could even say that Terrell Bell played solidly despite his 1-5 shooting effort. He made both of his free throws in a clutch situation and pulled down 6 rebounds (3 offensive, which tied the game high).

Our next game is against UNC in Chapel Hill. That's a tall order, pun intended. The Tar Heels boast 5 rotation players who stand 6'10" or higher. VT has zero players in the rotation who are that tall. Oh, and UNC's best inside presence, Deon Thompson, isn't counted in that group as he's "only" 6'9". The good news is that 3 of those UNC players are true freshmen and haven't quite "put it together" yet. John Henson is a scary prospect, but for now he's weak in the paint and scores mostly on outside shots and open clean-up buckets. He doesn't have a post-up game. The Wear twins are nothing to be concerned about. They may get much better over their time at North Carolina, but right now they are just average substitute players at best. They cannot create their own shot and aren't particularly quick-of-foot for their size. The players we should be scared of are Thompson, Ed Davis, and possibly Tyler Zeller.

Consequently our best inside presence is not our tallest... Jeff Allen is the key to battling North Carolina on the boards. If Allen gets in foul trouble, we will be hard-pressed to keep UNC from a smorgasbord of offensive rebounds. JT Thompson and Terrell Bell will need to pitch in, particularly when they are playing the 3. They will need to crash the boards on every play. Victor Davila needs to do a much better job of boxing out and grabbing rebounds. He is prone to go for weak side blocks that never materialize, and when he does that, he leaves his man open to grab the loose ball. Also, Davila won't be much of a factor on offense... be ready for this. Ed Davis is a FORCE when it comes to blocking shots, and he's not going to let Victor get any good looks down low.

The key to winning for Tech is guard play. Ours are better than theirs, if Delaney is able to play, and we will need to get UNC's best big men in foul trouble. Hudson and Delaney need to take the ball right into Thompson and Davis's chests and make sure they are not set so the foul is called. If Malcolm is still hurting and can't play, then I would say we're about even on guard play and likely to lose. Sunday will be a very interesting game regardless. There's a chance that Malcolm Delaney (VT), Will Graves (UNC), and Marcus Ginyard (UNC) will all sit out. There's also a chance that they all play. I think those particular players either playing or not-playing will be the real factor to which team wins. With Delaney, I am calling this a Hokie win, regardless of whether Graves or Ginyard plays. If all 3 are out, I am still taking the Hokies. If Delaney is out, but either Graves or Ginyard plays then I'm taking UNC for the win. Let's hope those G's stay out of the game. GO TECH.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2010, where Frank Beamer has his first back-to-back bowl win in his Virginia Tech coaching tenure. That's kind of an absurd statement given how long he's been in Blacksburg and considering the number of bowls we've been to, but it's the truth. And it all happened a little over a year since he vowed that the Hokies would start taking their bowl games more seriously. I don't think it's a coincidence that this mentality has translated to wins in bowl games. All of these years, Virginia Tech fans wanted to prove that their team could play with anyone in the country if they were properly prepared and properly drilled, and this latest win over Tennessee is our "proof in the pudding."

I went out to Home Team Grill to watch this game with some friends. I almost considered just recording the game on DVR and watching it the next day because it was New Year's Eve, but I'm glad I watched the game instead of partaking in other diversions. That atmosphere couldn't have been better and the drink specials were pretty solid. I've recently become a big fan of Bud Light Golden Wheat... frankly, it just tastes good. Was that considered a plug? Can I get paid for that?

It was a dominant performance by the Hokies, particularly in the second half. The first half showed that Tennessee had a lot of talent and could make your team pay if it made mistakes. And VT made some mistakes, particularly in our ability to tackle on defense. I have to believe that Frank Beamer and Bud Foster spoke about that at half time and stopped the bleeding right there. Admittedly, I did not come away terribly impressed with Tennessee safety Eric Berry. He's being listed as a top-5 NFL draft talent. I didn't see anything in that game that would lead me to believe he's even a first-rounder. I know it was just one game though, and I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he already checked out mentally and was thinking of his new huge house and his new Lincoln Navigator (with OnStar!), I really don't know.

I can't really think of too many things that I didn't like about the Hokies' play in this game. The play-calling by much-maligned Bryan Stinespring was adequate if not good. There were a few head-scratchers, but most of the calls were defensible. I think, overall, he put our offense in good positions to win. Ryan Williams ran very well and his stats don't really show you everything he did. He had a somewhat modest 117 yards on 25 carries, but you have to consider how many of those runs were short power runs to either get the first down, push us towards the goal line, or get over the goal line. David Wilson ran well late in the game and I like the idea of red-shirting him next season. Wilson obviously WON'T like the decision, but our backfield is extremely crowded right now with Darren Evans coming back, Ryan Williams setting records, and Josh Oglesby being another sound option. It's in Wilson's best interest to give himself an extra year of eligibility so that he can take over the starting RB role when he's a junior (or if he's really impressive and Ryan Williams leaves for the NFL, a sophomore).

Tyrod Taylor was excellent in running the offense and showed some arm power on that long throw to Jarret Boykin that set up a field goal at the end of the first half. I'm really excited about having Tyrod for one more year. He showed this year that he is finally starting to "get" his position. What he needs to continue to improve on is consistency and passing accuracy. Taylor's wide receives get better with every game and I think he really has a chance to put up some ungodly numbers next year. Boykin, Danny Coale, and Dyrell Roberts will all be back next year, as will Xavier Boyce and Marcus Davis. Taylor's familiarity with these guys will be about as high as it can possibly get.

The offensive line has been disappointing at times, but you can't say they had a bad season. Particularly in the bowl game, the line gave Tyrod plenty of time to throw the ball. Sometimes he just takes too long to get rid of it. We'll miss Sergio Render and Ed Wang as they will be leaving for the NFL as seniors, but I think there is good talent coming in to replace them.

Defensively, the Hokies were mostly dominant against the Volunteers and our best players on defense were the ones who shined. Cody Grimm was all over the place and Jason Worilds made Jonathan Crompton's life pretty tough on Thursday. John Graves was back and in good shape physically for possibly the first time this year, and his play showed that. Kam Chancellor showed his typical form, which is strong against the run, but lacking when it comes to covering speedy wide receivers. He got beat on a long pass for probably about the 15th time this season. I know he was supposedly a good team leader and that he's got great size for his position, but I don't think I will be that sad to see him leave for the NFL. I think we can upgrade at free safety with one of our younger guys.

I have to say I'm really looking forward to next season. We have basically all of our key players coming back and we should look even better barring injuries. It's going to be hard to temper my national championship expectations for next season, but the media will be looking at the Hokies even more closely. Frankly (pun intended), I am excited for Beamer's boys to take the field. Fall can't come soon enough, but for now, at least we have Virginia Tech basketball to occupy our time. GO HOKIES!