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   Welcome to TSLMail #303 - Friday, November 2, 2007    
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   Tech Sports News

Picking 'Em Off
by Will Stewart,

Last night's five interceptions against Georgia Tech sent us scrambling for the media guides to find out the last time Virginia Tech picked off as many as five passes in a game. The answer? Against Rutgers on November 21st, 1998, a span of nine years and 113 games ago.

That day back in 1998, the Hokies creamed the Scarlet Knights 47-7 in Lane Stadium behind six interceptions. That Rutgers game is largely forgotten in VT football lore, because number one, it was Rutgers, and number two, it came between two of the more infamous games in Virginia Tech football history: Tech's 28-26 last-second loss to Syracuse in the Carrier Dome the week before, and the Hokies 36-32 home loss to Virginia the week after, in a game the Hokies led 29-7 at half time.

The Rutgers game was also surrounded by coaching concerns. No, not bad offense or blown play calls, but concern over whether Frank Beamer was going to leave for Clemson, where the Tigers had just fired Tommy West the week before.

Remember those days? Frank Beamer used to dilly-dally with other schools so often, earning himself and his assistants raises every time, that many people coined a phrase for it: Beamering, as in "Beamering your employer for more money." Beamer was pursued by Boston College and Alabama back in the day, and in 1998, the week before the Rutgers win, Beamer's name surfaced in contact with the open Auburn and Clemson jobs.

Auburn never contacted VT about Beamer, but Clemson most certainly did. Clemson asked permission to speak to Beamer the week of the Rutgers game, and Jim Weaver said yes, on the condition that Clemson wait until the end of the regular season. Concern was high, because Clemson president Deno Curtis was the president at Murray State when Beamer coached there in 1981.

After the Rutgers game, Beamer's comments about the Clemson job were typically evasive, as was his tactic back in the late 90s and early 2000s, when he flirted with other jobs.

"I'm committed to this week, this football team," he said. "They've [Clemson] asked permission to speak. I don't know if we're going to speak. We'll determine that later. But I'm not going to talk about any other program. We've got too much riding on this program for me to think about anything else other than the [upcoming game against] the University of Virginia."

Nowhere in that quote did he say "no," though he eventually did. Good thing, because the Hokies had a great season the next year, and Beamer's legendary status was cemented.

But back to the game. The Hokies picked off six passes: Michael Hawkes had two picks, Ike Charlton returned one for a 26-yard score, Jamel Smith took one 98 yards to the house, Keion Carpenter had one pick, and Loren Johnson had one.

That tied the school record, set against Florida State in 1968 and matched against Rutgers in 1992 and 1998.

Since then, the Hokies have picked off four passes eight times, but not until last night did they get over four again.

Season Opponent VT Interceptions
2000 Rutgers 4
2000 Syracuse 4
2000 Central Florida 4
2001 Rutgers 4
2001 Temple 4
2003 Rutgers 4
2004 Maryland 4
2006 North Carolina 4

How about those Scarlet Knights? They're generous, aren't they? (Never mind that in 1992, the Hokies picked off six Rutgers passes and LOST, 50-49.)

If you're like me, you want to check out the other years the Hokies played Rutgers, and see what the totals were. The Hokies played Rutgers every year from 1992-2003, and after the 1992 debacle, beat them 11 straight times. Here's the damage.

Season VT Interceptions
of Rutgers
1992 6 L, 50-49
1993 0 W, 49-42
1994 1 W, 41-34
1995 2 W, 45-17
1996 0 W, 30-14
1997 2 W, 59-19
1998 6 W, 47-7
1999 0 W, 58-20
2000 4 W, 49-0
2001 4 W, 50-0
2002 2 W, 35-14
2003 4 W, 48-22
Totals 31 11-1
Averages 2.6 INT/game W, 47-20

Sorry, please excuse me for that tangent.

Overall, the Hokies have 15 interceptions on the season, vaulting them from 42nd in the nation into a tie for 6th as I write this. The Hokies' record for interceptions in a season is 27, which is probably out of reach for this team. Over the last few years, here are the Hokies' interception totals and their national rank. In every instance, the Hokies were tied with at least one other team at that rank.

Season Interceptions Nat'l Rank
2000 23 3
2001 19 7
2002 24 1
2003 15 31
2004 19 4
2005 19 9
2006 17 15
2007* 15 6
* Heading into this weekend's games

Wow, the Hokies are good at many things defensively, including ... pickin' em off. Pass - Your Ultimate Ticket to Hokie Sports!

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For more info on TechSideline Pass, and to subscribe, click here. Updates From the Past Week

Hunter Thriving at QB; Adds Second Offer

November 2, 2007
Orange (VA) junior Quintin Hunter's outstanding play at the quarterback position continued earlier this week, when he passed for 155 yards and rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns in a 21-14 win over Louisa. The win keeps alive playoff hopes for Orange, which is 5-3 on the year and 3-1 in the Jefferson District.

Hokies Swat Yellow Jackets 27-3
November 2, 2007
After answering questions all week about whether or not they could recover from the Boston College loss, the Hokies answered the question on Thursday night. They could, and they did. Virginia Tech got a strong game from quarterback Sean Glennon, and dominated Georgia Tech 27-3 in Atlanta. The Hokies improved to 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the ACC, and control their own destiny in the Coastal Division.

TSL Audio: The Len Martez Show, 10/31/07
November 1, 2007
On Wednesday evening's show, Chris Coleman and Len Martez went over the BC game and previewed the Georgia Tech game. Talking points for the GT game included which quarterback would be best to go against GT's blitzing offense, and what it's going to be like breaking in Beau Warren at center against the Jackets (WMA format, compatible with Windows Media Player and MP3 players, 3.1 MB, 13:09).

Becton Sets Two Official Visits
November 1, 2007
Big Nick Becton, a 6-6, 290-pound offensive/defensive line recruit out of New Hanover High School (Wilmington, N.C.), has scheduled two of his allotted five official visits. The talented senior is not sure if he will make all five official visits, although that looks likely at this time. Which two schools will definitely receive officials?

Free Article: Keys to the Game, Matchups, and Game Projection: Georgia Tech
October 31, 2007 is pleased to provide Phil Martin's excellent game preview article, normally a pay TSL Pass feature, free for all TSL visitors. What do the Hokies have to do to win at Georgia Tech Thursday night? What are some of the criticial matchups to observe in this game? How does Phil, a pretty sharp prognosticator, see this one ending up?

Football Game Preview: Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech
October 31, 2007
Virginia Tech will look to get back on track this Thursday night when they travel to Atlanta to take on the always dangerous Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Despite the loss to Boston College, the Hokies still control their own destiny in the ACC. Wins over Georgia Tech, Miami and Virginia would give Tech the tiebreaker over all other Coastal Division contenders and guarantee them a spot in the ACC Championship Game.

Q&A with Eddie Whitley
October 31, 2007
Butler (Matthews, N.C.) senior and Virginia Tech verbal commitment Eddie Whitley learned this summer that he had a torn ACL, an injury that he underwent surgery to repair, forcing him to miss his senior season. The 6-1, 175-pound cornerback recruit, a significant part of one of the best high school defensive backfields in the country last season as a junior, took some time to discuss his injury, how his rehabilitation is coming and his future at Virginia Tech. He is the latest subject of TSL's "Q&A."

Football Update
October 31, 2007
With a tough road matchup looming against Georgia Tech tomorrow night, we bring you the latest available info on injuries, stats, and what the Hokies need to do for the rest of the season in order to win the Coastal Division and make the ACC Championship Game.

Free Article: BC Game Analysis: Breaking Down a HeartBreak
October 30, 2007 is pleased to provide Raleigh Hokie's excellent game analysis article, normally a pay TSL Pass feature, free for all TSL visitors. How did Tech bottle up Matt Ryan for so long? Were the Hokies playing a prevent defense at the end? What could VT have done differently to win the game? All these questions and more are addressed by one of the best analytical minds trained on Hokie football.

Hokie Hotline Notes for 10/29/07
October 30, 2007
Presented by Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech: Monday's show included athletic director Jim Weaver and head football coach Frank Beamer. Weaver brought news about the FSU start time and the construction date for the new basketball facility, while Beamer updated fans on Tyrod Taylor's status and his thoughts on the BC game.

Westover Star Still Solid to Virginia Tech
October 30, 2007
Westover (Fayetteville, N.C.) cornerback recruit Lorenzo Williams remains very solid in his commitment to Virginia Tech - a commitment he made back in July, when he became the 12th high school senior to pledge to the Hokies. In fact, having gotten to know Tech's coaches a little better and having attended a football game in Blacksburg for the first time, Williams is more excited than ever to be a Hokie.

Monday Thoughts: Boston College
October 29, 2007
It has been four days since Matt Ryan's TD pass late in the rainy Blacksburg night brought an end to one of the most thrilling games in recent years for the Hokies. A game like this, decided in the last fifteen seconds, is ripe for second-guessing, and as the days go by and things settle in, I find myself giving more and more credit to Matt Ryan. I also find myself questioning the Virginia Tech coaches and thinking that the offense was a big reason the Hokies lost.

A New Position for Boyce?
October 29, 2007
Xavier Boyce's senior season certainly did not go as planned. He was ruled out for the season because of a separated left shoulder, an injury he suffered in the third game of the year...he would play in the fourth game, but has not played since. The 6-3, 200-pound senior, a Virginia Tech recruit, has kept a good attitude, though, and has further reason to get excited about his future.

Around the ACC: Week 9
October 29, 2007
It was another wild weekend in ACC play, as two Coastal Division teams suffered their first ACC losses of the season. Also, two Atlantic Division teams because bowl eligible on Saturday. It should be a fun month of November, as three ACC teams are just one win shy of being bowl eligible, and another is just two games away. How will it all shake out? Time will tell.

Greenberg Lands Hidden Valley Star Junior
October 29, 2007
Image: Ben BoggsVirginia Tech is off to an early start in the 2009 men's basketball recruiting class. Yesterday, 6-4, 185-pound guard Ben Boggs verbally committed to head coach Seth Greenberg, choosing the Hokies over offers from Davidson, James Madison, and William & Mary and interest from Michigan and UNC-Wilmington, among others.
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