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UNC-VT Game Recap: The Justins Get Their Revenge...

After enjoying the emotional roller coaster that was Virginia Tech’s 17-10 victory over No. 10 North Carolina, I intentionally waited a while before I sat down and collected my thoughts. I wanted this to be as emotion-free of an assessment as one can make after such a dramatic win.

Now that I’ve taken some time, I think there are three logical conclusions to draw from the Hokies’ upset win on Friday night.

The Justins Get Their Revenge

Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente and defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton took it on the chin for the majority of the 2020 season. Fuente has been used to it, but Hamilton’s first season as coordinator unleashed a whopping amount of criticism that was mostly valid.

Friday night, those two men exacted some revenge.

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Rumors Of VT's Demise May Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

In the hierarchy of Hokie football games, there are those you want to win. There are others that you can only hope to win.

But tonight’s 17-10 victory over North Carolina was one Virginia Tech needed to win.

These last few years have seen a crisis of confidence in Hokie Nation. The glory days have drifted away to the point that it wasn’t a year or two since the football program was really good; it was a decade or two. Questions about whether Justin Fuente could coach, recruit, or even just smile in an interview were constantly asked.

Visiting teams no longer feared Lane Stadium and its fans. Even the signature moments of the team coming on the field to Enter Sandman grew great notoriety, but then you remembered when the game actually started, the team lost.

Add in the doldrums created by the pandemic that may never end, and folks during the summer talked in tones of a strange and unusual indifference when it came to the season. They needed to be awakened from this low-energy slumber by things like a huge crowd screaming its guts out so people even inches away from each other couldn’t hear what was being said. They needed a win over a top 10 team like North Carolina to give them hope this could be done more than once in a lifetime.

They needed a reason to believe.

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Recent Comments
Dave Fulton

Pundits

Thoroughly enjoyed watching your Hokies defeat North Carolina. Instead of feasting on Gobblers, the pundits ate crow.
Saturday, 04 September 2021 00:17
Dave Scarangella

I kind of enjoyed it myself :)

Could be an interesting year in the Coastal...
Saturday, 04 September 2021 00:40
Guest — Joan Jackson

Turtle Like Head

"Reared its turtle like head". lol
Saturday, 04 September 2021 10:49
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What Does Success Look Like In 2021 For Hokie Football?

A wise man once told me — actually, he tells me this all the time — that the only way you can accomplish your goals in an efficient manner is to have a plan.

In making that plan, you’ve got to outline what success looks like. What outcome could be considered a success?

That’s the spot I’m in right now with Virginia Tech football. What does success look like for this program this season?

Is it a specific win number? Is it passing the eye test? Is it competing for the Coastal title? What does competing for the Coastal even look like?

For starters, success probably includes eight-plus wins. For a program that has been flirting with .500 for three straight seasons — and falling short of that number twice — reaching the eight-win plateau seems like a reasonable goal for a team with as many questions as the Hokies.

Tech will have plenty of chances to win games. Even their toughest matchups — Friday vs. North Carolina, Oct. 9 vs. Notre Dame and Nov. 20 vs. Miami are winnable, even if unlikely.

But as we all know, all eight-win seasons are not created equal. This is where the eye test comes in. How does Virginia Tech play in their losses? Who are those losses against? Getting run off the field is way worse than losing a one-score game.

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UNC Game Will Be Excellent Test For Virginia Tech Secondary

For Virginia Tech’s secondary, Sept. 3rd's game with North Carolina is more than just a chance to start the season on a winning note.

It’s also a chance to shut down one of the best quarterbacks in the nation.

North Carolina’s Sam Howell is really good, but you didn’t need me to tell you that. His 68-14 career touchdown-to-interception ratio is also really good, but you probably didn't need me to tell you that either.

What might be of interest, however, is that while Howell is a great college quarterback, the weapons around him aren’t what they used to be.

Of Carolina’s top five receivers from 2020, four of them are no longer suiting up for the Tar Heels. Carolina’s leading returning receiver, Khafre Brown, caught just 15 passes last season. Beau Corrales and Garrett Walston are also back, but neither played a large role in the Tar Heel offense in 2020.

So, while Sam Howell’s mettle has been tested, those around him are far less proven. Thus, Virginia Tech’s defensive backs are presented with maybe their best opportunity of the season.

The talent is there, at least in the starting lineup. Jermaine Waller seems to have put his injury issues behind him and will anchor the unit opposite of 2020 Freshman All-American Dorian Strong. Waller was one of the best cornerbacks in the country two years ago and pairing him with a seasoned Strong gives the Hokies one of the better cornerback duos in the nation.

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We All May Have Jumped The Gun On Comcast, ACCN

For a brief hour or two last night, ACC fans weren’t in Iowa. They actually WERE in heaven.

Thanks to the word being spread throughout social media, the biggest block of ACC fans who have not been able to watch the ACC Network – those who have Comcast/Infinity as their cable provider – were ecstatic after turning their televisions to an obscure channel and seeing the network in their homes.

Last night if you went to Channel 1322 on your Comcast guide, all you saw was a channel that said SEC Network, and all of the blocks of programming said “OFF.” But if you pressed on it any way, you got the three pulsating buttons you normally see while the cable box is searching, and after about 45 seconds, you saw the ACC Network.

The programming that was on was routine and boring, but that wasn’t the point. After two years of Comcast refusing to carry the ACCN, the channel at least was now coming into homes like mine in Ashburn without having to stream it on an app with a friend’s log-in. The long struggle to be like other neighbors with Cox, Verizon, Dish Network, DirecTV, etc. seemed to be over.

“Seemed” being the key word.

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This Is The Season For Dax Hollifield To Realize His Potential

Readers of DullesDistrict.com will remember the end of the 2018 recruiting cycle, when Dax Hollifield was on the fence about where he was going to play football.

Despite his affection for Stanford and affinity for North Carolina and South Carolina, nothing outweighed Hollifield’s love for Bud Foster and Virginia Tech. As a four-star prospect, I was thrilled to see him signing up to play in the maroon and orange.

But as Hollifield enters his fourth season in the program, we haven’t quite seen that caliber of player just yet.

If it’s ever going to happen, this is the season.

Hollifield was the victim of the hype that surrounded him, as well as poor depth at both linebacker positions. He and Rayshard Ashby were in their first and second seasons respectively, and were already the best linebackers on the roster.

While Hollifield has always been better suited to play mike, or middle linebacker, he was a better option as an outside linebacker than Ashby. And so started Hollifield’s career of playing out of position.

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Now We Know: Radford Reunites With Buzz At Texas A&M

Well, that didn’t take long.

Less than 48 hours after having all his legal issues settled in a Montgomery County court room, Tyrece Radford officially said goodbye to Virginia Tech’s basketball team, announcing on his Twitter account he was going to reunite with the man who recruited him to Blacksburg – Buzz Williams – at Texas A&M.

“I want to say Thank You to Virginia Tech for allowing me to be a part of this family. I am extremely grateful for my time here. Thank you to the coaching staff, my teammates, my advisor Alise and the entire Hokie Nation!” Radford said in a graphic that included him already in a Texas A&M uniform.

“I am proud to be a member of this community and to have earned my degree while in Blacksburg. After discussions with my family and closest mentors, I have decided to continue pursuing my dreams by transferring to Texas A&M and finishing what I started 3 years ago. Go Hokies & Go Aggies!”

As mentioned in this story from yesterday, it has been speculated for some time that Radford had made contingency plans pending what happened in Monday’s hearing. Some thought it was a distinct possibility he might have all charges dropped for probation violations stemming from an early February DUI conviction, but others were not so sure if the University’s judicial system would still allow him to play.

Now seeing Radford going to Texas A&M would seem to confirm that, because it’s doubtful after Monday’s hearing that he got a call from Williams Monday night, got photographed in a Texas A&M uniform Tuesday, and tweeted it out today. It would seem to have been in the works for some time.

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Doug Johnson

Excellent Job!

You really did a terrific job staying on this story, picking up on obscure facts and connecting the dots, as you said. It was a g... Read More
Wednesday, 18 August 2021 20:10
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It's Time To Concede Tyrece Radford Isn't Coming Back

I think it’s time to concede that Tyrece Radford is not coming back to play basketball at Virginia Tech.

There’s certainly nothing official to confirm that, but there’s 8 seconds left in overtime and the odds are certainly pointing in a negative direction. Yesterday, Radford appeared in court, and as this rather thorough story by Mark Berman of the Roanoke Times points out, all of his legal issues were dismissed.

But there is much more to the story than that, as it looked to me as if Radford has already decided to put Blacksburg in his rear-view mirror. As previously written about in this story and a follow-up here, Radford’s issues involve alcohol, and his latest problems involve a positive reading on an ignition interlock device while he was already on probation.

He had been suspended for these issues from playing for Virginia Tech for several weeks back in early February before a deal for probation was reached in both court and the Virginia Tech student judicial system, which allowed him to come back and finish the season. His latest troubles center around a May 3rd positive reading on the device, and Berman’s story notes that during Monday’s hearing there was also a second positive reading on July 3rd, which would be two violations of his probation agreement.

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College Notebook: Cavanaugh Remembers Bobby Bowden

In nearly 40 years as a college football coach, including stops at five different ACC programs, it's no wonder that Jim Cavanaugh had some thoughts on the passing of distinguished former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden.

"It's funny,"said Cavanaugh, who spent most of his career under Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech. "I coached against [Bowden] when he was at West Virginia and Florida State. He knew who I was but he knew me more as Chuck's friend."

When Cavanaugh was on the staff at N.C. State, one of his colleagues was Chuck Amato, twice the assistant head coach at Florida State sandwiched around his six-year tenure as the head coach at State.

"I coached against [Bowden] on both sides of the ball, on offense when I was at N.C. State and North Carolina, and then defense at Tech," Cavanaugh said.

'The ol' boy could recruit. He had good players, and I'll tell you this: they played hard. He also had a great staff, too, now. I think, sometimes, that gets lost in the shuffle with some of these big-time guys. They could coach 'em up, too, now."

Cavanaugh worked at so many places that it's hard to remember, but he does remember a stint at Maryland and going up against a Bowden-coached West Virginia team.

Bowden got to Florida State in 1976 and Maryland left the ACC in 2015.

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Tonight's The Night: Hokies To Watch During NFL Preseason

For fans hungry to watch their favorite pro football team, the preseason begins tonight for most of the NFL, and when the games begin, Virginia Tech will be well represented.

Currently, there are 25 former Virginia Tech players on NFL rosters. This year, there will be a few more guys playing significant roles than there have been recently – especially given the program’s impressive representation in the 2021 NFL Draft.

From VT To WFT

The Washington Football Team has rostered a few Hokies for the past few seasons, and although the faces have slightly changed, the WFT will still have more than its share of Virginia Tech players. Kendall Fuller remains one of their starting cornerbacks, while Logan Thomas (who recently received a three-year, $24 million extension with the team) is their top tight end (No. 82 at right).

Tim Settle will be one of their second-team defensive tackles for the third consecutive season, and Justus Reed (an undrafted rookie) has joined him this offseason as a reserve defensive lineman.

Cornerback/part-time kick returner Greg Stroman is also on Washington’s roster for the fourth year, but he is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

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Barno Heads Up A Defense That Could Be Surprisingly Good

The 2020 college football season was full of things most fans are still trying to forget.

Chiefly among them was limited to zero fans in the stands.

Experiencing a player’s performance while in the stadium is entirely different than watching it on television or streaming it on your smartphone or computer. So when it comes to this season, I’m excited for people to have the opportunity to watch Virginia Tech’s players in person.

Amare Barno is one of those players, and Virginia Tech fans came close to never witnessing him play in person, which would have been an outright shame.

Barno is probably the most talented edge rusher to wear a Virginia Tech uniform since the mid-to-late 2000s. The Hokies have had some good ones since then — James Gayle, Dadi Nicolas and Ken Ekanem come to mind — but none of them had the ceiling that Barno does.

That potential almost landed Barno in the NFL Draft this spring, but Barno ultimately decided to return to Virginia Tech and try and improve his draft stock. Barno’s return is a godsend for the Hokies, who have enough talent on the defensive front to make a difference on gamedays.

Barno plays a large role in that — the JUCO transfer registered 6.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss in 11 games in 2020, leading the Tech pass rush. His speed and length off the edge makes him someone that opposing coordinators will have to scheme heavily against each week.

But alongside Barno are some talented players with a chance to break out. Norell Pollard and Mario Kendricks both return at defensive tackle, as does Josh Fuga. Clemson transfer Jordan Williams is in the mix there as well, giving Tech a solid two-deep that allows defensive line coaches Bill Teerlinck and JC Price to keep their interior players fresh.

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