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Thanks for joining us! We write about sports, food, life and anything else interesting here in Ashburn and Loudoun County, all while cramming as many features into the site as possible.

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My Advice To The Hokies Would Be "Just Win, Baby"

When it was scheduled, I’m sure Saturday’s Liberty-Virginia Tech game was expected to be a cupcake. An easy W. A breather on the schedule.

Now – although I expect Virginia Tech to win – it could be a turning point in the program.

I mean, think of it. Imagine if somehow Justin Fuente lost to Old Dominion in 2018. Then lost to UVA in 2019 and ended a 15-game winning streak against their state rivals while being the first time Virginia Tech had ever lost to UVA as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Now imagine completing the hat trick – and losing to Liberty in 2020.

That would be tough for even the most positive of Hokie supporters to swallow.

I don’t expect it to happen. But one of the two teams is ranked in the top 25 and it’s not the boys from Blacksburg. Virginia Tech has better athletes and a high-powered offense. But it also has a defense that makes mistakes and misses assignments, like when they did so with 8 seconds left in the first half against Louisville and Javion Hawkins went 90 yards for a touchdown.

Liberty, conversely, has an offense that is averaging 38 points a game. In it’s last 3 games, it has scored 40, 38 and 56. Against fellow ACC member Syracuse, Liberty handed off to Shedro Louis on one play and he hit the hole quickly, continuing straight up the middle of the field for a 75-yard touchdown. Content to show it was not a fluke, Louis would later do the same thing on a 52-yard touchdown run against the Orange.

I’m not saying he’ll do that against the Hokies. But if there’s confusion by linebackers or in the secondary, Liberty has the weapons to go where you’re not and turn a routine run into a long scoring play. Doesn’t matter if all the teams you beat have only 4 total wins, or how many 4 star athletes you have.

Make a mistake and speed kills. Liberty has it.

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Perhaps It's Time To Recalibrate Our Expectations For Hokie Football

­­­­Mornings after a Virginia Tech loss in football are never warm, inviting situations, and last night’s defeat at the hands of Wake Forest is no different.

But this Sunday morning does seem different. Sort of a fork in the road when it comes to the potential of head coach Justin Fuente.

No, not the kind of fork that leads to people gathering up torches and pitchforks to ride him out of town on a rail. Or a hollow pledge to stop watching Hokie sports. Or refrain from donating money to Hokie athletics.

We are who we are as Hokies. My blood type will always be part Chicago Maroon and another part Burnt Orange. For good or bad, I’ve been a Hokie since the first day I walked on the campus as a high school senior in 1973, and will remain one until I draw my last breath.

That’s not going to change.

But last night’s game has caused me to admit I might have been too optimistic about Fuente’s ability to lead the program back to the heights Frank Beamer had scaled in Blacksburg. Doesn’t mean Fuente's a bad coach, as no other coach in Virginia Tech’s program got the team in the top 10 as often or in a national championship game either.

But Fuente has had an issue with discipline with his teams from his very first season. For years, we’ve made excuses, saying he needs more time to get his own players in the program. Or that he needs to get his own coaches. Or it takes time to learn his system. Seems like there’s always a reason that when things go bad, folks believe just being patient for a few more years will solve everything.

But it’s now year 5. These are his players. These are his coaches. And these results – like last night’s loss to Wake Forest – are ultimately on him. For many years, people would say you win championships with good “D”, and they were referring to defense. Now it means discipline, and it’s something that continues to plague Fuente’s teams.

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Hokies-Liberty Leads Off Noon College Football Games

I have an old friend who has been telling me for 45 years that if you're not prepared, you're dead.

So since I don't want to see anybody mortally wounded for not properly preparing for a big Saturday of college football watching, here's a list of every game to be played and includes where it will be televised. By my count, every game except one - Western Kentucky at Florida Atlantic - can be seen somewhere.

Here's the list. First part is the noon games, and if you click on "continue reading" you'll see the rest of the list: 

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MASN Will Be Showing Wake-VT at 3:30 Saturday

Just about every time Virginia Tech is scheduled to play on a Regional Sports Network (RSN), it is virtually guaranteed that all week long, people will either ask whose carrying the game in their viewing area, and some will even fret that somehow the game won’t be shown at all where they live.

This week will be no different, as the Hokies’ 3:30 PM game with Wake Forest Saturday is scheduled for an RSN. That usually means NBC Sports Washington, but they are devoting eight hours of programming to “Trackside Live” that Saturday, and their second channel is focusing on the wonderful adventures of kickboxing and MMA that afternoon as well.

Fortunately, this area in Northern Virginia has a second regional sports network, and the people who brought you every minute of the 2019 World Champion Washington Nationals – The Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) - will also be showing Virginia Tech-Wake Forest.

On Comcast/Xfinity, the HD channel is 845. MASN is also channel 640 on Directv, channel 432 on Dish Network and Channel 577 for HD on Verizon Fios.

You’re welcome 😊

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With Apologies To Springsteen, This Team Was Born To Run

It wasn’t the kind of game that left you beating your chest and screaming at the world “See? We’re really good!”

But Virginia Tech’s win over Boston College last night showed a few intriguing statistics that could serve warning that this year’s Hokie team might just break its string of underperforming seasons under Justin Fuente and be surprisingly good.

Everyone knew the defense would be suspect – and it lived up to that billing last night – but there’s also been a hope if the Hokies got the right people in the right seats on the bus on offense, one unit could offset the growing pains of the other and have a special season.

Which is sort of what happened last night.

Fuente – who must have been doing it just to aim a middle finger at me for last week suggesting it was dumb to win the toss yet defer to the second half so that suspect defense could be on the field immediately – did it again last night, and BC obliged, easily moving the ball down the field. Fortunately, they held on to the football as effectively as I exercise, and an early BC fumble prevented VT from starting a game behind. Again.

Enter Hendon Hooker as the rightful starting QB and Khalil Herbert, who Fuente actually remembered to use in the first quarter this week. Those two must have been channeling Bruce Springsteen in the tunnel before the game while humming “We gotta get out while we're young…`Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run.”

Each carried 18 times. According to Hokiesports.com, Hooker gained 166 yards, averaging 9.1 yards per carry. Herbert gained 146 yards, for 7.9 yards per carry, so that duo had 36 carries and between them averaged 8.7 yards per carry. A dog with a note in his mouth can call plays when you can give the ball to either of two players and you average that kind of yardage.

Which is what gives me such hope about the season. Fuente is allegedly a quarterback whisperer who excels in the passing game. But the strength of this year’s team is a huge, talented offensive line and several great runners, and at times it seems like Fuente resists that gift, wanting to call frequent pass plays, probably because that’s his comfort zone.

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Recent comment in this post
LT Banks

run baby run

good analysis on O&D; good hope and projection; HH improve passing, backups continue to prep; no need to apologize to BS, he may f... Read More
Sunday, 18 October 2020 15:48
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Not Sure I Understand What The Hokies Were Doing Against UNC

I suppose it’s just a function of age, but the older I get, the more things I don’t understand. For example, I don’t understand some of the music my daughter likes. Or the appeal of avocado toast. Or why anyone would spend over $1,000 on a cell phone.

Then there’s the Virginia Tech game plan for yesterday’s loss to North Carolina.

Since I've never been a coach, perhaps there are secrets to the coaching fraternity I haven’t been privy to. But going into yesterday’s game, the Hokies seemed to have one big strength and one big weakness which UNC had to deal with. A proper game plan could have and should have accentuated the strength in such a way that it might have covered or at least minimized the weakness.

VT’s game plan didn’t.

The weakness was obviously the defense. That side of the ball has seriously been hit hard by COVID, with depth being so slim, walk-ons were seeing significant playing time. Add to that a change in schemes after long-time defensive coordinator Bud Foster retired, and you had inexperienced players under a new coach in a new scheme against UNC’s explosive offense.

A recipe for disaster.

Common football wisdom would say part of the solution is how you approach the game on offense. Shorten the game with long, time-consuming, run-oriented drives. Do your best to get ahead and possibly force the opponent’s offense to become more one-dimensional while trying to play catchup. Doing so then allows you to blitz more, apply pressure and possibly force a mistake or two. Keep your defense rested in the first half while battering your opponent’s defensive line, and good things can happen in the second half.

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Recent Comments
Tracy Lee

Another record setting day!

I agree, the coaches got away from what worked the first two weeks. I thought about it during the game. Why would you not continue... Read More
Sunday, 11 October 2020 19:58
Dave Scarangella

Agree

There were a lot of very good things that came out of that game. Like the Virginia game, would have liked to play this one at the ... Read More
Sunday, 11 October 2020 20:09
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Another Old Geezer Tale Of Back In The Day....

Since we all have a lot of spare time on our hands, I find myself thinking a lot. Like of all my 64 years, what was the best year of my life.

I’m not talking about the year that had the best events happen in your life. I mean, the year I got married was a great one. The year my daughter was born is another. Last year around November when the Nats won the World Series AND an adorable beagle/hound mix came home with me one Saturday was pretty sweet.

But best year? Probably 1974.

I started that year as a high school senior. I finished the year after one quarter as a freshman at Virginia Tech.

What made it so great? Well, those last months of being a senior in high school were very cool. Long-lasting friendships were made. We walked around the halls of Lake Taylor High School like we owned the place. There was the prom. Graduation. A summer like no other as we prepared ourselves to finally be free of the shackles our parents had placed on us. It was going to be great.

Once there, I would say those first couple of months shaped who I became as an adult. Curfews? We didn’t have any stinkin’ curfews. If we wanted to stay out until 5 AM, so be it. We were free.

But a funny thing happened on the way to all this freedom. One Saturday night, after several Fridays and Saturdays where it seemed we were staying out until 4 AM just for the sake of staying out until 4 AM, I decided I wanted to go to bed at midnight. I was scoffed at as being a lightweight, but I soon learned freedom involved the freedom to do what I wanted to do. And, I decided, I like to sleep.

As any college student encounters, there was no longer a parent waiting at the door when you came in 30 seconds before curfew to ask “have you been drinking?” So we drank. A lot. As the musical group Big & Rich once sang, we “drank enough to drown.” But after a couple of weeks of this, I tired of waking up with a bad headache due to a few calls to Ralph on the big white porcelain phone in the middle of the night.

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With Each Day, Seems We Lose More Sports Heroes Of My Youth

One of my oldest friends is a guy named Tim, and the last two days have bought back memories of a wonderful spring in 1978. Unfortunately, the memories have been rekindled because of the passing of key sports figures of that time.

“Our class is graduating,” I always say to Tim, as with each year it seems like people we knew have passed away.

One was Wes Unseld, who passed away Monday at the age of 74. It does not seem that long ago that Tim and I were long-haired students at Virginia Tech (much like we were last week until the barber shops opened again) and we were at his apartment, watching Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

For weeks we had heard that “The Opera Isn’t Over ‘Til The Fat Lady Sings” thanks to Bullets Coach Dick Motta, but we knew that day somebody would be singing. We watched on Tim’s 19-inch color television with no remote control and no cable (and don’t get me started on no computers or internet) but in our caveman-like accommodations, we were able to see that the Bullets had a slim 101-99 lead and the Seattle Supersonics had just fouled Unseld.

Back then, Wes was an incredible rebounder, but he shot free throws like I dance: not that well and not that often. He had only hit 55 percent of his free throws all season, but Wes was one of those players who just always seemed to get the job done when needed the most. He hit both free throws, and a few seconds later Norfolk State alum Bobby Dandridge slammed home a dunk and the Bullets won the deciding Game 7 105-99. Unseld would be named the Finals MVP.

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Will Always Remember The Simple Lesson I Got From Pat Dye

I was sad to learn of Pat Dye’s death today. I never met Pat, but for about 10 minutes over 40 years ago, our paths crossed.

He taught me a lesson that day I will always remember.

It was 1977, and the Virginia Tech football program was a mess. The Hokies had just finished 3-7-1 and a player had died in the athletic dormitories after being forced to run punishment drills. Coach Jimmy Sharpe and the entire staff were fired.

As is always the case when a coach is fired, the rumor mill immediately fired up as to who the potential replacement would be. I was the sports editor of a twice a week newspaper called the Blacksburg Sun (we even had T-shirts that said “now doing it twice a week”) and was also a senior at Virginia Tech, trying to take classes and work a fulltime job to pay the bills.

To make a few extra bucks, I also wrote some stories for United Press International, and the bureau chief in Richmond and I had become good friends (which we still are to this day). He asked if I had a story on who the potential replacements were I could send him, and given that I could write it for my newspaper, then send it to him and get an extra $15, the story moved to No. 1 on my priority list.

Back in the days before social media, rumors of who the next coach would be were usually rumors sportswriters themselves started. I’m not sure that’s changed any since that day, but if you looked at a map and tried to rationalize who would be a good coach and was nearby, East Carolina’s Pat Dye seemed like a logical choice. A columnist in the Greensboro News & Record had pretty much said the same thing, so as far as I was concerned, Dye was the leading candidate to become the next Hokie Coach.

These were the days of Watergate, and if you saw “All The President’s Men,” where Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman were tirelessly calling everybody on the planet to chase down a lead, then you too – if you were at the young age of 21 as I was – did the same thing.

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The Wheels On The Hokie Bus Are Going Round and Round....

Back in my corporate days, there was an expression about getting the right people in the right seats on the bus that was used repeatedly when an organizational problem needed to be fixed.

It never really worked because the people who needed to be moved out of their seats on the bus were the very people making the decisions and leading the meetings. As a result we would end up spending a lot of time in meetings to essentially rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.

If you look at Virginia Tech’s resurgent football season, however, I strongly suspect that plan was successfully executed a month or so ago.

Or, to be precise, about the time Jerry Kill joined the staff.

I don’t know for a fact if he is the impetus for the change. But something clearly has changed in Blacksburg, and the Hokies have managed to turn the ship around without burning down the house and starting all over again. This generally comes about when someone with an outside eye comes into a situation, points out the tools are there to accomplish the goals set, but that the talent may not be being used optimally.

In other words, getting the right people in the right seats on the bus.

Virginia Tech’s 45-0 thrashing of Georgia Tech Saturday seemed to be one more data point in Blacksburg that the bus is now correctly organized and heading down the right road. Yes, Georgia Tech is not a very good football team, so the win in and of itself is not a great surprise.

But the Hokies have played other teams not considered good football teams this season – Old Dominion and Rhode Island come to mind – and they struggled. Over the last two years, I can’t really recall a game where Virginia Tech came out, executed well, and dominated a team they were supposed to beat. There have been times the Hokies have looked like they would have struggled even if you put a high school team out on the grass of Lane Stadium.

They have in the past been a collection of football players. But not necessarily a team.

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This Was An Evening To Enjoy An Ice Cold Bud....

On a freezing evening in Blacksburg, long-time defensive coordinator Bud Foster was being mobbed by some players, while others maneuvered to be in position to douse him with a cooler of ice and even colder liquid, all to celebrate a huge upset win over Wake Forest on a day set aside to honor his legendary career.

Because everyone enjoys an ice cold Bud, right?

Now that I’ve managed to work in that absolutely awful pun, man, what a game. If you had to write a script for today, you’d have it so the defense would return to the aggressive days of old and toss that 98-pound weakling of a 3-man rush in the round file; they’d hold Wake Forest to its lowest output in yards and points for the season, and the offense would come up with several big plays so Bud could ride off into the Montgomery County sunset a winner.

Which is what happened.

Despite Wake being the favorite, Virginia Tech won 36-17 and beat a ranked team at home for the first time in 10 years (Miami and Nebraska were ranked in 2009 and the Hokies won both). Much like the Washington Nationals were declared dead after a 19-31 start, the Hokies were embalmed and buried after losing a Friday night game to Duke by 35 points, prompting many fans to change their favorite two-word cheer from “Go Hokies” to “Fire Fuente.”

Things were looking pretty dark for both.

But the Nats came back and won the World Series. This Hokies team isn’t shooting that high, but they’re now coming back to life too. With three games left, Virginia Tech is 6-3 and still controls its own destiny in the Coastal. They’ve won four of their last 5 since the Duke debacle, and had it not been for the insane clown posse that also goes by the name “ACC Football Officials,” could easily have won 5 in a row and the Hokies would be ranked next week.

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