News With Commentary by HC Staff

Monday, September 11, 2000
by Will Stewart,

Hokies Move Up to #8 in Both Polls

After losses by Georgia and Miami last weekend, the Hokies find themselves at #8 in both polls this week. Previously, Tech had been #9 in the AP Poll and #10 in the ESPN/USA Today Poll, with the difference being that the Georgia Bulldogs were ahead of the Hokies in one poll, but not the other.

South Carolina took care of the Georgia problem, and the Washington Huskies took care of the Miami problem. SC knocked off Georgia 21-10, and Washington beat Miami 34-29. Miami dropped to 14th in the coaches poll and 12 in the AP poll.

As a sidebar, it may interest you to know that last year, as they entered their third game, a September 23rd contest with Clemson, Tech was ranked #8 then, as well. So they are not ahead of last year's pace.

Once again, the Hokies find themselves the highest-ranked team in the Big East, which I believe has been the situation at some point in the season every year since (and including) 1995. Even in 1997, when Tech had an inexperienced, injury-riddled team that limped to a 7-5 record, they were ranked #12 at one point, just prior to the disastrous Miami of Ohio game.

It's a dangerous thing to think, but the more college football that I watch, the more I find myself thinking that the Tech football program is one of the best in the country. From recruiting to coaching to TV exposure to fan support, things have never been as good for the Hokies.

Sure, in years like this one, when they're putting a lot of inexperienced players on the field, losses may happen. I'm not suggesting that the Hokies are ready to finish in the Top 5 for the next decade or so. But Thursday's business-like demolition of a pretty good ECU team has me wondering how far the Hokies can take it this year.

The fact of the matter is, though, that Miami's loss to Washington doesn't really do squat in helping the Hokies to achieve their season goals. I imagine that Tech's team goals go something like this: (1) win the Big East and go to a BCS bowl; (2) go undefeated in the conference; (3) go undefeated overall; (4) play for a national championship; and (5) win a national championship.

Miami losing to UW doesn't get the Hokies any closer to any of those goals.

I also imagine that Hokie fans are split down the middle on how they feel about the Miami loss. A November 4th showdown between a (hopefully) undefeated Tech team and an undefeated Miami team would have been a very exciting, very hyped, very fun game to play. But Washington wouldn't have been the only team to stand in the way of Miami making it to November 4th undefeated. They have an October 7th home date with FSU, as well.

Not to mention that the Hokies have much ground to cover between now and then, as well.

But while some fans are mourning the fact that a wished-for matchup of undefeated Big East teams is now guaranteed of not happening, others are taking great glee in yet another early collapse by a much-hyped Miami team. It is not the least-bit surprising that the Canes dropped the game at Washington. They have made a habit of losing big games early in the season the last few years and quashing the annual "Miami's back" hype. Perhaps now the media will learn.

But again, none of this has any bearing on the November 4th Hokies-Hurricanes matchup. Both teams have a lot of time to work on their relative weak spots before they meet. For the Hokies, that's defensive consistency and punting, and for the Canes, that's quarterback (where Ken Dorsey is looking shaky) and two peskier, harder-to solve problems: team discipline and game-day coaching, neither of which are likely to clear up in two months' time.

OL Depth Chart Notes

One of the items I highlighted in my 2000 football preview as an area to watch is the substitution patterns on the offensive line. Tech has substituted liberally on the defensive line for years now, but typically didn't do nearly as much substituting on the offensive line.

It's an area to watch in 2000 because the Hokies have four senior starting offensive linemen (all but center Steve DeMasi), and that is the only group on the team that will suffer heavy losses going into the 2001 season. If Michael Vick sticks around for next year, the Hokies will have a legitimate national championship contender for 2001, so getting good experience for this year's backup offensive line is critical for next year.

So I looked at my depth chart from the Akron game with an eye towards what substitutions had been done on the offensive line. The depth chart is one item that appears to be available only in hokiesports.comthenewspaper, and not anywhere on-line.

Without further ado, here's the OL breakdown for the Akron game:







Anthony Lambo


Anthony Davis



Matt Lehr


Joe Marchant



Steve DeMasi


Jake Grove



Josh Redding


Luke Owens



Dave Kadela


Matt Wincek


Other players: Jeff Hartzog played 5 plays at LT, Anthony Nelson played 8 plays at LG, Ricky Hudson played 8 plays at C, Jacob Gibson played 15 plays at RG.

Among the first-line backups, only Luke Owens played less than 10 snaps, and note that Jacob Gibson had 15 snaps at the same position. For whatever reason, the coaches gave Gibson, the 3rd-stringer, more snaps than Owens.

It's no secret that the coaches are high on Davis, a sophomore, and the depth chart shows it. He played almost as many snaps as Lambo. Among the backups, only Marchant is a senior, so I look for Anthony Nelson, the third string LG, to get more snaps as the season goes along.

Turkey Bites

BCA Bowl refunds: the Gazelle Group, who organized and promoted the canceled BCA Bowl, has a web site with a BCA Bowl sub-page on it. On that page, they announce that there will be a ticket refund policy announced soon, so if you're waiting on that, bookmark the page, and you might even want to get put on their notification list (it explains how on the refund sub-page).

"Punt Safe": one of the more interesting things that I learned from watching "Virginia Tech Sports Today" on TV this past weekend is that the Hokies apparently didn't even have their punt return team in the game on Andre Davis's 87-yard return for a TD against ECU. As you know, the highlights include Bill Roth's voiceover of the call, and Bill said that Tech had their "punt safe" team in the game, which is a unit consisting of the defense, with Davis substituted for one of the normal defensive players. The "punt safe" team is in to defend against fakes. It's pretty remarkable that Tech had a return for a TD when that wasn't even the focus of the team that was out there.


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