The Commonwealth of Virginia's Ultimate Blog

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Report from Blacksburg

Yes, Addison, I was actually in Blacksburg this weekend. Sorry I missed that tailgate, buddy, but the owning the state of West Virginia in football makes up for it.

This was my first trip to Blacksburg this season and it didn't take me long to remember why, even though I've been visiting since before I can remember, it never gets old. I love the cool mountain air. I love watching the fog creep over the hills. I love looking out that big picture window into the prettiest backyard in the whole wide world. Mostly I just love the way it feels like home when I'm there.

The football aint bad either. The excitement of gameday in Blacksburg is like nothing else I've experienced. Folks get up early, and the smells of cooked meats of all varieties begin to fill the air. Automobiles festooned with Chicago Maroon and Burnt Orange file into their assigned parking spots as elaborate tents, flags, grills, and coolers emerge from within. Complete strangers greet each other as long-lost cousins as excitement gives way to anticipation. The fans will cheer for any cadet, cheerleader or Marching Virginian who happens to wander by their spread. They'll greet the team at "The Walk" before making their own way to their seat prior to kickoff. They'll offer quiet reverence to "The Star Spangled Banner" then turn around and crank up the decibels for "Enter Sandman." For my money, nothing can compare to a fall saturday in Lane Stadium.

Of course, after all that preparation, we expect to watch our Hokies win. Our Hokies usually oblige. This saturday, the Hokies (6-0) clinched their 13th consecutive bowl appearance, good for the 5th best current streak in the nation. Only Michigan, Florida State, Tennessee and Florida have been to more consecutive bowl games than VPI. Coach Frank Beamer also got his 183rd career victory, good for 3rd best among active coaches, behind only Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno.

Needless to say, we Hokie fans are execting a little bit more than any old bowl berth from our team this year. Virginia Tech right now sits as the #3 team in the nation and #1 in the ACC's Coastal division. But with #6 Miami, #14 Boston College, and a road game against rival Virginia remaining on the schedule, there is still a lot of football left to be played. Hopefully, the 11-day layoff before playing @Maryland will help the Gobblers heal up those bumps and bruises and work on tightening up a run defense that allowed 164 yards on the ground to Marshall team that had been averaging about 90 rushing yards per game. As the Hoos can attest, the game in College Park will be no picnic. The Hokies had better be ready for a Terps team that will be seeking revenge for last year's 55-6 whupping in Blacksburg.

Now for the goofy stuff:

Funniest penalty of the day: Late in the game Marshall Cornerback Chris Royal was called for a personal foul for retaliating against a Hokie player who had been getting in his face. The funny part is that the Hokie was Royal's younger brother, Eddie, a wide reciever for Virginia Tech. I can't blame Chris, though, having first-hand experience myself on how annoying younger brothers can be.

Strangest stat of the Day: Yesterday marked the first time this season that a Virginia Tech running back had rushed for more than 100 yards in a game. Despite the fact that the Hokies usually have a vaunted ground attack, the strange part of this stat is that the running back who accomplished the feat was third-stringer Branden Ore. Ore ran for 146 yards and a TD with co-first stringers Mike Imoh and Cedric Humes sitting on the sideline nursing injuries.

Dumbest sign of the Day: I saw many, many folks around Lane stadium wearing hokie-colored "Kilgore for Governor" lapel stickers. The one person I saw wearing a Kaine sticker had a sign that read "Kilgore is a Wahoo." For the record, Kilgore attended Clinch Valley College in Wise, which is now known as UVA-Wise, and received his law degree from the College of William & Mary.

Ironic Football-related Item: On Friday night, I turned on Friday Football Extra to watch the highlights of my undefeated alma mater winning yet another game in convincing fashion. I had to chuckle after seeing that the show was sponsored by Radford University. Radford has no football team.

Tailgate Food Item Award: This was a tough choice as the Hokie faithful had their best wares prepared for this game. After much consideration, the top prize goes to the "Hokie Smokies." For the uninitiated, Hokie Smokies are sausage links wrapped in bacon. Nothing says agricultural college like multiple pork products. God I love this school.

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