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Man, I Can't Wait Until Ricky Turns 40 :)

College football is quite unstable, and this uncertainty makes it difficult to have fun conversations about the sport knowing that it all might be tilted onto its head over the next 10 years.

So instead, I’d like to write a little about the past. After all, now that I’m the ripe age of 28, I can start providing some historical context that I actually lived through and didn’t just read about.

My journey to Virginia Tech football fandom began in earnest in the early-to-mid 2000s. I could start to understand the game at this age, and NCAA Football 2005 was the never-ending fix I never knew I wanted.

This was an exciting time for the Hokies. The National Championship Game berth wasn’t that long ago, the Hokies were moving into a larger conference with a better future and Tech was always competing for conference championships. BCS bowl games were a regularity. Something was amiss if Bud Foster’s defense wasn’t one of the best in the nation.

Two linchpins of Foster’s defenses in that era are two of my favorite players to ever watch — Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall. Adibi was inducted into Tech’s Sports Hall of Fame last year and this coming fall, we’ll watch his battery mate join him.

Adibi and Hall combined with James Anderson to create one of the best and most explosive linebacking corps in the country. Adibi and Hall, in particular, were especially intimidating up front. The pair started together for the first time in 2005, immediately helping the Hokies finish first in the nation in yards allowed and second in scoring defense. Tech finished first in scoring defense the following season and in 2007, the pair’s final season, Tech finished third in scoring and fourth in yards allowed.

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Hokies Depth Chart Right Now Is One Big Unanswered Question...

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech)

It’s been nearly a month since Virginia Tech wrapped up their spring practice schedule and since then, I’ve spent far too much time thinking about hypothetical depth charts and special packages that we might see in 2022.

I’ve also spent a fair amount of time coming to grips with a hard truth — this year’s roster has too many questions for my liking.

Surprisingly, my main concerns have nothing to do with quarterback. Grant Wells played rather well in Virginia Tech’s Spring Game and while Jason Brown wasn’t very productive, he spent much of his afternoon trying to escape Tech defenders.

And that’s a great place to start.

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Four Hokies Selected In Final Rounds Of The 2022 NFL Draft

This year's NFL Draft was never going to be a flashy weekend for prospects from Virginia Tech, but during the three-day event that started Thursday, several were projected to be picked during rounds 4-7 on Saturday.

By and large, the process played out as expected. Tight end James Mitchell (pictured above), defensive end Amare Barno, offensive tackle Luke Tenuta and guard Lecitus Smith were each selected by NFL franchises on Day 3 of the draft and will have their football playing dreams live on.

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From The Blue Waters Of The Chesapeake, To The Hills Of Tennessee...

The decision will not help gain a single yard, point, or first down for Virginia Tech’s football team this fall.

But when you turn on the radio for the Hokies’ September 2nd game in Norfolk against ODU and hear “From the blue waters of the Chesapeake to the hills of Tennessee, the Virginia Tech Hokies are on the air,” you’ll realize it made football season just a little bit better.

Bill Roth is back.

He will be the radio voice of the Hokies for football only, but he and Mike Burnop will now be back together to call every moment of white lines and green grass at Lane Stadium and beyond.

David Teel broke the news in the Richmond Times-Dispatch this morning, and I have to say, it may be the best news regarding Virginia Tech I’ll hear all month. Roth has been like that favorite, well-worn sweatshirt you wear on game days that just makes you feel comfortable. He was the radio voice in lean times, the radio voice in great times, and over several decades, became part of the family to many older Hokies.

He is also one of the most impressive people I think you’ll ever meet. In life, you get to come across people who are just genuinely good, and Bill is one. Poll 50 people who have had interactions with him, and odds are you’ll get 50 stories about what a good guy he is. He embraced the Hokies and all that Virginia Tech stood for from the very beginning, and has been an incredible ambassador for the school.

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Spring Has Sprung For Hokie Football And It Feels...Different

Things really are different this spring in Blacksburg.

We’ve officially rotated back to football season and nothing feels the same. Literally every aspect of the program feels dramatically different right now — and that’s a good thing.

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech)

We can start with the football program’s roster of players, which has new faces at many positions. Nobody knows who is going to play quarterback, though two of the favorites — Jason Brown and Grant Wells — are new to the town.

The lack of familiarity continues on offense. Jadan Blue probably has a starting spot locked down at wide receiver, but he’s still learning his way around campus. Da’Wain Lofton has a new number (3), but at least he knows where the position rooms are. Kaleb Smith is the lone Blacksburg vet in that position group, meaning several fresh faces are going to get a look.

The offensive line is a toss-up as you generally don’t replace three starters overnight. Johnny Jordan, Slias Dzansi and Kaden Moore are still around, but most of the remaining offensive linemen on the roster are newbies.

Linebacker might be the only spot where many of the same players are still around, but more guys are getting added to the room. Brent Pry’s preference for the 4-3 defense means the Hokies need more bodies there. JR Walker has already transitioned over to linebacker, as have the McDonald twins. One of those brothers, Jorden, has already shifted to defensive end. Who knows, more changes could be coming.

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Brent Pry Gets It. He Showed That Today On The Drillfield...

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech)

So much of hiring the right college football coach comes down to “fit”.

There’s no concrete definition of what that means, but you know exactly what I mean when I write that. Bostonian Brian Kelly is an awful fit at LSU, but the Tigers’ athletic department hired him anyway. Shane Beamer was a great fit at South Carolina, and the Gamecocks looked competent for the first time in years this season.

In sports, fit matters. It matters more so in college athletics, which is why it was critical for Whit Babcock to find someone who fit in Blacksburg. Not just anybody can be a head football coach at Virginia Tech.

We just finished learning that lesson in earnest.

Enter Brent Pry, who in the span of just a few days seems to have confirmed that he is the right fit at Virginia Tech.

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He's Back! And Ricky Has A Few Resolutions To Share...

First and foremost, I hope that you and your loved ones enjoyed your holiday season. Christmas and New Year’s are important holidays on the calendar for my family, and it almost always means a trip west to see Father LaBlue on his Tennessee farm.

After my return, I, like many of you, watched Virginia Tech get demolished on national television. And to make matters worse, the ACC Network replayed the Hokies’ abomination for the few freaks who get off on bad football.

But all that is in the past now. As the calendar turns, so does Brent Pry and Virginia Tech.

I imagine that nothing is going to be the same. Did Justin Fuente ever tweet out a rallying cry to the fanbase after an abysmal performance? Did the Hokies ever walk up to a premier Power 5 program and take one of their best coaching assistants?

I didn’t think so.

So with a new year and a new coaching staff comes new resolutions for the Virginia Tech football program. Here are my recommendations:

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I Don't Just Like The Hire Of Joe Rudolph; I LOVE It...

There are a lot of things Hokie fans can say they’ve been concerned about over the past few years, but the one question I’ve had trouble answering of late has been these three words: Who are we?

During the hey day of the Frank Beamer days, it was an easy question to answer. The Hokies were tough defensively with Bud Foster’s attacking defenses. They earned the nickname DBU for all the defensive backs the Hokies sent to the next level. They were a hard-nosed running team that got you two yards when you faced 4th and 1.

And above all else, they were stable and consistent. Meet the staff one day in Blacksburg, then come back five years later, and 95 percent of the staff would still be the same. Virginia Tech had a brand, and it meant many of the things.

The last few years, that changed and certainly contributed to why the program changed head coaches two months ago. But today, with the formal announcement that Joe Rudolph has been hired as associate head coach/run game coordinator/O-line coach, it sure looks like Virginia Tech is about to go back to the future.

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After Yesterday's Game, A Change WILL Do Us Good....

It was only a few minutes after Virginia Tech’s 54-10 loss to Maryland that the question arrived on my phone via text.

“Do you think,” asked the text, “that this was the most unsatisfying season you’ve seen as a Hokie fan?”

It’s an interesting question. It didn’t ask if this was the worst season. Or biggest disappointment of a season. Just if it was the most unsatisfying.

Since I’ve seen more than 50 seasons of Hokie football, I had to think for a few moments. That season in 1973 when the team went 2-9 and lost to Alabama 77-6 was a pretty bad one, particularly in light of the team under Charlie Coffey having a winning season the year before. But in that situation, I was a new Hokie fan – so I didn’t have much to compare it to – and change was immediate. Coffey had a bad year, and the next year he wasn’t the coach.

Then there was the famous Frank Beamer season of 2-8-1 in 1992, where just about every close game went against them. A 50-49 loss to Rutgers was that team’s version of the 77-6 loss to Alabama 19 years prior, and the Hokies only beat two teams – James Madison and Temple.

But even then, I can’t say it was unsatisfying. In at least 5 of those games, Virginia Tech had a better than average chance to come out the winner, no matter whether you wore orange and maroon colored glasses or not. You could see the potential, and when Beamer made some changes on his staff, the next year began the streak of 27 consecutive bowl game appearances.

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Who I Would Play In The Pinstripe Bowl For The Hokies...

The Hokies have released their depth chart ahead of Wednesday’s Pinstripe Bowl against Maryland, and with the amount of roster attrition that has taken place since the end of the regular season, it seems a difficult task in trying to put a particularly inspiring team on the field.

Despite all of that, however, I think there are some alternatives that should be considered.

As always, depth charts are unofficial. What you see above may not be reflected in the players’ on-field usage during Wednesday’s game. In some cases, maybe we should be hoping that the pecking order at some positions changes on game day.

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So Far It's Been Defense First, Offense Second For Hokies

Following Brent Pry being announced as Virginia Tech’s new head football coach, he was quick to address the defensive side of his coaching staff. Tuesday’s announcement was perhaps the most shocking, but it might’ve been the best – and most heartwarming. It also underscores how unconventional, yet smart his approach in hiring a staff has been.

J.C. Price – who has quickly become a spokesman for the program, thanks in large part to his stint as the interim head coach – and Pierson Prioleau were quickly retained by Pry. Soon thereafter, Shawn Quinn (Savannah State head coach/defensive coordinator) and Derek Jones (Texas Tech co-DC and defensive backs) were brought on board.

The latest addition is Chris Marve. The 32-year-old up-and-comer was most recently the linebackers coach at Florida State, after stints in similar roles at Vanderbilt and Mississippi State from 2016-19 and as a graduate assistant at Vanderbilt for the two prior seasons.

Given how early it is in Marve’s career, it’s tough to gauge how good of a coach he is. However, Florida State’s run defense improved by more than 50 yards per game this season compared to 2020. He also guided Willie Gay Jr. to a second-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft during his tenure as a run game coordinator in Starkville, Mississippi.

Marve has been viewed as a rising star for a few years. He was named to the 247 Sports “30 under 30” of coaches in 2017 and 2018, as well as ESPN’s “40 under 40” in 2018.

Perhaps more relevant within the context of his new job, Marve was a highly-productive linebacker at Vanderbilt from 2008-11. He was also a team captain in his final two seasons – the last of which came under the James Franklin regime, with Brent Pry as their co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.

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Ricky LaBlue

Ricky LaBlue

A longtime sports fanatic, Ricky is now channeling that passion into the world of sports media. Meet Ricky LaBlue.

Stephen Newman

Stephen Newman

The only things he loves more than following Virginia Tech and Washington sports teams are dogs. Meet Stephen Newman.

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