Small Pleasures: The Insight Bowl
by Kevin Cuddihy, 12/29/03
Hello and welcome to the Insight Bowl edition of Small Pleasures. Definitely not the way I wanted things to end up, but we go with what we're given and make the best of it. I still enjoyed the heck out of the season, had some great times with friends, and already am looking forward to the Hokies' first year in the ACC!
As always, we start Small Pleasures with a nod to the opponent to keep with Jim Weaver's Hokie Respect theme. This week Vincent Strang gets the nod, Cal's "mighty midget" who walked on at a buck-thirty and according to the announcers was Cal's most inspirational player. He scored their last touchdown, and the way his teammates reacted you could tell just what they thought of him. A great ending to his season.
Enough of that respect stuff! Let's move on to the Hokies. First up I wanted to list the Hokie seniors, plus two underclassmen playing their last game for the Hokies. Michael Crawford, Chris Shreve, Carter Warley, Ernest Wilford, Keith Willis, Jake Grove, Doug Easlick, Garnell Wilds, Jacob Gibson, Steve Canter, Nathaniel Adibi, Robert Peaslee, Cols Colas, DeAngelo Hall, and Kevin Jones. Thanks to ALL of you; you'll be missed.
First up from the game is one of those seniors. On Tech's first touchdown, a short option run for Bryan Randall, Randall runs behind Jake Grove into the end zone. Where's Grove by the time Randall scores? Pushing his man five yards deep into the end zone, taking him completely out of the play. Oh yeah, he's good.
On Tech's second TD drive, Randall got to showcase his arm and what he's learned in two seasons as Tech's starter. Scrambling under a heavy rush, Randall spotted Chris Shreve deep downfield. Instead of heaving the ball as he has in the pass (normally resulting in an underthrown ball at best and an interception at worst) Randall stops, plants, and only then does he throw a strike to Shreve to put the Hokies inside the five.
By the way, great to see both Chris Shreve and Keith Willis, two players many posters on the board (and in the case of the former, one poster in particular) thought were underutilized, end their Hokie careers with strong performances.
On Tech's fourth TD, another senior stepped up for a Small Pleasure. This time it was Ernest Wilford. But on a day where he set records for receiving, it was a run block that caught my eye. On Kevin Jones' 11-yard touchdown, it was Ernest Wilford sealing the outside lane for KJ down at the two, allowed Kevin a clear jaunt to the end zone. Both of these guys can look forward to playing on Sundays next year, and I can't wait to watch them.
Lastly, on a defense that struggled most of the day I wanted to compliment Eric Green on one instance of discipline. While the team seemed to lack the necessary discipline most of the time, late in the second quarter Green refused to bite on a halfback option, staying with his man deep and forcing the back to eat the ball for a loss. Cal would go on to score later in the drive, but since this is Small Pleasures, we'll ignore that part and applaud Green for his play midway through the drive.
As an aside, I wanted to personally thank each of the people who signed up for Project Thank You prior to the bowl game. We reached our goal of getting four letters to each and every player, and even went over that to get a FIFTH letter to each of the departing seniors. That's over 450 letters sent to our players at the end of the season.
Thanks as well to all of you who've followed Small Pleasures from the start. We'll see you next year as the Hokies take on the Trojans of USC in the BCA game from FedEx Field! Go Hokies!