I didn't have to stay up until 3:00 a.m. last night
writing up the TSL game report on VT's big win over the Yellow Jackets. I didn't
have to try to capture every single twist and turn of the game. But every once
in a while, you sense that you've just seen a game for the ages, and it's hard
to shut things off and go to bed.
Let's put this one in perspective right off the bat: The
last time the Hokies came back to win a road game in which they trailed at the
end of the third quarter was in game eleven of the 1995 season, when they erased
a 29-14 deficit and downed Virginia 36-29.
What were you doing in 1995? Well, you couldn't have read
about the game on TechSideline.com, or its predecessor, HokieCentral.com,
because they didn't exist yet. That's how far back 1995 was. VT come-from-behind
road wins are as rare as WVU bowl wins. We're talking once-in-a-decade
stuff. That's how special last night was.
With the win over GT, the Hokies went a long way towards
getting back the mojo that's been missing since the 2000 season. Momentum is a
fickle thing, and chemistry is a tough thing to force, but it appears that this
edition of Hokie football now has both. What they do with them remains to be
seen, but unlike the last three seasons, the Hokies are well-positioned to have
a solid run down the stretch.
The victory accomplished three important goals with
regards to the ACC standings: (1) it kept the Hokies in a pack of four teams at
the top of the league that have 0 or 1 loss in the conference -- Miami (3-0),
FSU (4-1), Virginia (3-1) and the Hokies (3-1); (2) it kept one game of
separation between the Hokies and NC State (3-2) in the ACC loss column; and (3)
it pushed GT down into a group of teams at the bottom of the standings with 3 or
more losses in the league.
But outside of the mathematics of the conference standings
and trying to figure out what bowl game the Hokies will attend, the win did
much, much more. Namely, it threw a lifeline to a hard-working team that has
seen more than its share of heartbreak in close conference losses in the last
three years. The number of agonizing conference defeats in the 2001-2003 seasons
are too numerous to mention in this space (sad to say), as is the number of
times Frank Beamer has told a post-game press conference words to the effect of,
"You can what-if yourself to death, we just didn't get it done."
Well, last night, they got it done. It was a rocky trip,
but once the floodgates opened, victory washed over the Hokies, stripping away
three seasons of angst and agony. The Hokies now know that getting behind, even
on the road, isn't cause to throw in the towel. They know that their offense,
through proper play-calling, short drops, and quick throws, can handle an
aggressive, zone-blitzing defense. They know that they can overcome a two-score
deficit and multiple turnovers. They know that a football game is 60 minutes
long, and they know that out of all the qualities you can have in life,
persistence may just be one thing that will get you where you want to be. I'm no
fan of the late NC State basketball coach Jim Valvano, but he had it right when
he said, "Don't give up. Don't ever give up."
Someone asked me this morning what I thought would happen
from here on out, and I answered that I think this win will galvanize this team,
and they'll roll through November stronger than they have in years. I won't fall
into the trap of predicting wins and losses, but I do know that this team is
ready to rock and roll, and if you asked them how they felt right now, I'll bet
they'd answer to a man that they want to play UNC now, not next week.
When kids are winning, they want to keep going.
As fans, though, I recommend against the tendency to want
the next game to get here in a hurry. In case you hadn't checked, the regular
season is already two-thirds over, with just a little over a month to go. We've
reached the bottom line of the Football Opponents section on TSL Links page, and
that always makes me pause and wonder where the season has gone. Like a good
book, we're so anxious to find out how the season ends, but remember, once it's
over, it's gone for good, and all we can do is wait until next September for the
next one to start.
So don't be in a rush. Savor this season. Enjoy it. The
Hokies appear to be hitting their stride. At the beginning of the season, it's
safe to say that we all had visions of the defense playing well, particularly
Darryl Tapp, Jim Davis, and Jonathan Lewis; we had hopes that Xavier Adibi and
Vince Hall would live up to the hype; we had hopes that the young freshman
receivers would turn out to be playmakers; and we had hopes that the team
chemistry was back in place, and that the Hokies would finally start putting
together some wins in close late-game situations.
Lord knows there have been an endless string of close
losses in recent years that will live forever in infamy, games that have been
rehashed on the message boards ad nauseum. Finally, in this game, the Hokies got
a remarkable victory that will serve as message board fodder for years to come.
I think that's what kept me up last night: the thought
that I had just seen something special, after all this time, and I didn't want
to go to bed. I wanted to be the last person to turn out the lights on the
message board before turning in.
Adibi's Return: I'll admit that I felt a little
trepidation that the return of Xavier Adibi was overhyped and that he might
disappoint in last night's game. Part of me knew that his speed and range were
the perfect antidote to Reggie Ball's running ability, but another part of me
realized that we were talking about a guy who had only played 23 plays and made
2 tackles on the season. How could he possibly live up to the expectations?
Silly me. Adibi is as good as advertised. Right now, he's
like Nestle Toll House cookie dough: he's really, really good, but if you throw
him in the oven and let him cook for a while, he'll get even better