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Al Groh vs. Tech: A One-Sided Affair
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #409, November 27, 2009
Al Groh took over the Virginia head football coaching position in 2001, and the Virginia Tech-UVA series has been lopsided ever since. In eight head-to-head meetings with Frank Beamer, Groh has managed just a 1-7 record, with the Hokies showing their dominance on many occassions.
Groh began his UVA coaching career with a bang, signing highly-touted recruiting classes featuring players such as Ahmad Brooks, Kai Parham, Michael Johnson and others. Much of UVA's recruiting success came at the expense of the Hokies. As time has progressed, Frank Beamer and his coaching staff have reasserted their dominance in in-state recruiting, and as a result many Tech-UVA games haven't been particularly competitive.
2001 was the first meeting between Al Groh and Frank Beamer. The Hokies were a very talented football team, featuring an outstanding defense and offensive playmakers such as Kevin Jones and Andre Davis. Both of those players big games in Scott Stadium in 2001.
Tech jumped out to a 31-0 halftime lead, with Andre Davis making huge plays in the passing game. He only caught three passes, but they went for 126 yards and he scored two touchdowns. Kevin Jones was the workhorse on the ground. The true freshman had 37 carries for 181 yards and a touchdown. UVA came back in the second half, but the Hokies held on to win 31-17.
In 2002, the teams met in Lane Stadium in terrible weather conditions. The temperature was in the 30s, the wind was blowing over 20 miles per hour at times, and there was even some snow. The Hoos had a good team that year, with many of Al Groh's signees making an instant impact on the field.
Tech won the game 21-9, despite three turnovers. Justin Hamilton blocked a punt which true freshman defensive end Darryl Tapp returned for a touchdown. The Hokie defense limited the UVA offense to 208 total yards, and Lee Suggs ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns in his final game in Lane Stadium.
2003 marked Al Groh's only win over Frank Beamer. The Hoos won 35-21 in Charlottesville, despite a 14-7 halftime lead for Virginia Tech. The Hokies blocked a punt late in the game for a touchdown that would have made the score 28-28, but Vincent Fuller lined up offsides, negating the touchdown.
The Hokies ended the 2003 season poorly, Al Groh was making major inroads on the recruiting trail, and Tech was returning precious few starters for 2004. It looked like the series might be turning around in favor of UVA.
However, since that 2003 game, it's been all Virginia Tech. The teams met in 2004 in Lane Stadium with a share of the ACC Championship on the line. The Hokies turned a 0-0 halftime score into a 24-10 win, with Bryan Randall throwing two touchdown passes on his Senior Day to r-freshman wide receiver Josh Hyman.
The Tech defense held UVA to 299 yards of total offense and recovered two critical fumbles. They sacked Marques Hagans three times and held him to 111 yards through the air.
The 2005 meeting was the most lopsided game between Beamer and Groh. The talented Hokies marched into Charlottesville and beat the Hoos 52-14 behind a dominant running game and a great defensive effort. Branden Ore and Cedric Humes each had over 100 rushing yards on the day, with George Bell tacking on 72 yards for good measure.
Quarterback Marcus Vick threw for 170 yards and two touchdowns, and UVA fans steadily exited Scott Stadium throughout the fourth quarter. It was a particularly big win for Tech because they were coming off a tough 27-7 loss to Miami at home in perhaps the biggest game in Lane Stadium history.
The 2006 game was one of the more boring games in the history of the series. Tech won 17-0 at home. Bud Foster's defense, which finished the season #1 in the nation in total defense, limited the Hoos to 112 yards of total offense. Kenny Lewis, Jr. and George Bell did a fine job in place of the injured Branden Ore, running for 79 yards and 41 yards respectively.
The 2007 game decided the Coastal Division Championship, with UVA turning out an unexpected strong team. Tech won a tough, physical game 33-21 in Charlottesville. Branden Ore ran for 147 yards, his highest output of the season, while Sean Glennon threw for 260 yards on just 13 completions. True freshman quarterback Tyrod Taylor ran for two touchdowns.
It was a tough game, but the Hokies scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win it. The Tech defense limited the UVA offense to just 241 yards, and the Hoos averaged less than three yards per carry thanks to six sacks by the Hokie defense.
Tech pulled out a tough 17-14 game in Lane Stadium last season. Virginia led 14-7 at haltime behind Vic Hall and the wildcat offense, but Bud Foster made adjustments defensively and the Hokies outscored the Hoos 10-0 in the second half to come away with the win.
Saturday's game is likely the last meeting between Al Groh and Frank Beamer. History says the Hokies should come away with a pretty easy win, but Groh's players want to send their embattled coach out with a win. If Tech wins, they'll continue their complete domination of the Hoos, which 10 years ago no one could have seen coming.
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