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Fight for Old DC is a blog covering all sports in and around the District. Main focus will be on the Capitals, Redskins, Nationals, Wizards, United, and Hokies (I know they aren't DC, but it's my alma mater). Enjoy!

Monday, August 31, 2009

When Beamer Met Saban

We’re looking at an opening game against a highly-ranked SEC opponent in less than a week. They have a top-flight defense, high hopes in the SEC West, and an offense that can operate efficiently. There are future NFL picks littered in their defense, specifically on the defensive line and linebacking corps, and they have a highly-respected coach in Nick Saban. That’s a pretty intimidating way to kick off a college football season, right? Well one guy that’s had to deal with something very similar before is Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer. This is not the first time that our fearless leader has been asked to prepare for one of the best teams in the south, let alone one coached by big, bad Nick Saban early in the college football season. Back on September 1, 2002, the #16 Hokies matched up against #14 Louisiana State in the second game of their season (the opener was against Arkansas State), albeit in the friendly confines of Lane Stadium.

Back in ’02, LSU was coming off a big season that culminated in their first SEC championship in 15 seasons, as well as a big Sugar Bowl victory over Illinois. Not only did LSU feature future NFL talent on offense in Joseph Addai, Domanick Davis, and Michael Clayton, but their defense also included Randall Gay, Bradie James, and Marcus Spears. The Tigers were also breaking in a new starter, Matt Mauck (r-So.) who had spent a few years playing minor league baseball before showing up in Baton Rouge. Mauck was a 23-year-old sophomore, so he was a little more seasoned than someone else with the same eligibility. He had the difficult task of replacing Rohan Davey, who had been a standout for the Tigers in the ’01 Sugar Bowl (and was subsequently placed in the LSU Hall of Fame for his performance). It was obvious that Saban had recruited well in Saban’s two seasons, and they were poised for a big season. Beating the Hokies was their first big hurdle.

Let’s fast forward to 2009 and take a look at how Alabama has earned their #5 preseason ranking. The parallels are a little creepy. The Tide are coming off a big season in Saban’s second season at the school (like ’02) where they held a #1 ranking for several weeks, pushed Florida in the SEC Championship Game and played in the Sugar Bowl. That appearance was Alabama’s first in the Sugar Bowl since 1993 (also a 15-year difference). Saban has confidence skyrocketing in Tuscaloosa and there is good reason for it. Alabama returns a lot of talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They have Terrance Cody, who will assuredly become an NFL first-rounder as well as a talented group of linebackers. Like that 2002 LSU squad, they also return a highly-respected wide receiver in Julio Jones, like Clayton in 2002 (who also entered his second year as a starter). On top of all this, Alabama has to replace a proven veteran quarterback (John Parker Wilson), with a backup that’s spent a few years in the system (Greg McElroy). See the similarities? The rest is speculation, but let’s hope Saturday turns out a little like that 2002 matchup as well.

The Hokies jumped out to a 24-0 lead on that day led by their stingy defense, impeccable special teams and impressive stable of backs. Bryan Randall, Kevin Jones and Lee Suggs combined for 167 yards rushing on 50 attempts (3.34 ypc), so they didn’t consistently gain great yardage, but they did a solid job of wearing down the defense, which will have to be one ingredient for success on Saturday night. They also rushed for three touchdowns. The Hokie defense held LSU to 1-of-13 on third down conversions, as well as four sacks and a fumble. The special teams blocked two kicks, with one of those going out of the end zone for a safety. LSU tried to make a late charge with a rushing TD and a Clayton two-point conversion, but it wasn’t enough, as the Hokies took the victory running away 26-8.

There’s no telling that Saturday’s contest will be anything like the last time Beamer coached against Saban, but he’s developed and implemented a formula for victory against the guy, and that has to be encouraging for Hokie fans. Use a big pass rush (Worilds and Co.), a stable of talented backs (Oglesby, Williams and Wilson), as well as strong special teams to slug out a victory. If the Hokies can do those things successfully on Saturday, they have a great shot at beating a team ranked two spots ahead of them, just like in 2002.

Sports Videos, News, Blogs

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Miracle in Morgantown

Usually around mid-August, I find myself with the itch. I count down the hours until the college football season starts. The best way to pass the time and help keep myself happy until opening kickoff is to find old clips of games. Usually they’re video compilations from seasons, but sometimes those don’t do enough. Today I wanted to just post one video to help remind us all what it feels like to earn a shot at the National Championship. In 1999, Shayne Graham, the red-haired kid from Pulaski County kicked the Hokies to victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers, giving one state a sense of euphoria, and another disgust. The feeling of Graham making that kick will probably never leave me, but I can’t wait to dig it out again the next time we find ourselves playing for a national championship. Here is the final drive, led by Michael Vick and capped off by Grahams 44-yard kick.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bama Week

As of 8:00 PM this evening, we will have exactly one week to prepare for the beginning of the college football season. September 5 has been circled on the calendar of Hokie fans for a long time and with hopes high after a second consecutive ACC Championship and subsequent Orange Bowl victory, Hokie Nation is basically foaming at the mouth for the season to start right now. Needless to say, this is the biggest game in the country on opening weekend, and there will probably be more media coverage than you’ll have time to wade through. For this week, and this week only, I’ll do my best to throw out some final interesting nuggets leading up to the game, as well as essential links for the football crazed. At this point, here are some good starting resources for reading about the 2009 edition of your Hokies as well as game previews, and season previews:

Kyle Tucker is the leading beat reporter/blogger for the Virginian Pilot, and he brings you daily updates and interviews from practice. Today he looks at the solid Whip/Rover dept on the Tech roster. [Virginian Pilot]

Gobbler Country explores the key reasons why Hokie Nation MUST taste victory in Atlanta next Saturday. [Gobbler Country]

Illinois Hokie over at FBS explores how the Hokies can navigate their way from #7 to the National Championship Game in Pasadena. [Fire Bryan Stinespring]

Doesn’t have anything to do with ‘Bama, but TNE explains why we hate Miami. [The North Endzone]

College Game Balls explains some deficiencies in NCAA 10…my only big gripe is that EA’s Tim Tebow > Tecmo’s Bo Jackson. [College Game Balls]

Football Girl contemplates the question on every Hokie’s mind this week. [The Football Girl]

Eight in the Box (a solid ‘Bama blog) examines exactly how the Hokies overcame Bryan Stinespring’s ineptitude last season. [Eight in the Box]

Roll ‘Bama Roll has a solid SEC West Preview to look at…gives good insight on the 2009 Tide. [Roll ‘Bama Roll]

Recap: Redskins Downed By Pats 27-24

Images Courtesy of CSN

Well my score prediction was pretty damn close to being right. The wrong team put up 27, but that’s still pretty good. Last night was a mixed bag, but when you’re a middle-of-the-road team against the Patriots, that’s not such a bad thing in the preseason. I have that benefit of a Madden-like view in my FedEx seats, so last night afforded me a nice opportunity to compare how Tom Brady ran through his progressions in comparison to Jason Campbell. Campbell surprised me a bit last night. He was very methodical and didn’t seem to stare down his receivers. He kept a decent rhythm and saw the field pretty well. In the stadium, Campbell was knocked often for holding onto the ball too long (shocker), but JC actually managed to get the ball out most of the time. The only time he took shots, the secondary had great coverage, and there wasn’t a lot he could do. He also did a good job of avoiding staring down receivers. In comparison, Brady is just too damn good. I’ve only seen him play live once before, and he’s taken his game to such a higher level since the last time I saw him (which was early 2000s at some point…I’m too lazy to look it up). Don’t get me wrong, he’s always been good, but his ball placement was perfect for a guy that’s sat out for a year, and he was INCREDIBLE with staring down a receiver and delivering the ball to another guy. Once Randy Moss opened things up in the middle of the first, Brady used him as a decoy to perfection. It was damn impressive. Here are a few of the other things I noticed.

  • Colt Brennan can only be an effective QB outside the Red Zone. The fact that his throws look like a gunshot don’t help his case near the goal line. Both of his interceptions (last week and this) in the red zone were bullets that actually needed some loft under them. When you hit NFL corners in the chest, they’re going to make you pay.
  • Devin Thomas is running like a man on a mission. His kickoff returns even had a lot of intensity, and he looks like he has something to prove. He’s not blowing away people with his stats, but he certainly looks more focused than last year.
  • LaRon Landry is a rangy player, but he can never replace the size of Sean Taylor. Taylor would have at least been able to contest Randy Moss on that second touchdown with his height. Brady just placed the ball perfectly over Landry into Mosses hands.
  • Santana Moss just abused the New England corner on that play where Campbell overthrew him. His speed was just nasty on that play.
  • The line seems to be gelling in pass protection. They’re giving Campbell at least 3-5 seconds to roll through his progressions, and that’s encouraging, but they have to get better with the run blocking.
  • Marcus Mason SHOULD make this roster. He runs with a head of steam, he’s fast and he’s smart. He laid a wicked block on a New England corner on a screen pass, and I think he’s earned his keep.
  • DJ Hackett played his way off the roster last night. While Colt didn’t throw an ideal ball on that pick, Hackett didn’t come back to the play AT ALL. Not a strong showing.
  • Don’t get too alarmed with the secondary. Greg Blache gave the corner going against Randy Moss (typically DeAngelo Hall) help on one play, at best. Typically Moss was one-on-one or lined up in the slot and covered by a backer and a safety. Blache ran a very basic defense until late in the second corner, so I’m not panicking. It wasn’t an encouraging performance, but it wasn’t a season-defining performance either.

With regard to Patriots fans, they were very classy. And smart. I’ll lay off them for the time being. They knew when to clap, and when to shut up. They supported their team but weren’t obnoxious, and considering it was preseason, that’s pretty good. I’ve also figured out that the dumbest 1/3 of Redskin fans show up for preseason because they’re given tickets by season ticket holders. I can’t wait for regular season fans.

No thoughts from the mini-feed this week, since there weren’t any Pats fans that said anything stupid. Good for you New England. Just wait for Philly week. Speaking of Philly, there were three Eagles fans in my section heckling Pats fans and cheering for the Redskins. Three thoughts for those people:

  • Get a life…spend your Friday night doing something better than attending a preseason game where your team is involved and screaming at a guy that isn’t even giving you crap. Plus beer is cheaper at home.
  • You don’t have an argument. You’re talking crap to two organizations that have won a championship in the last 50 years…waste of time. Don’t feed me “what’s happened in the last 10 years” either. Your organization is three steps below the 1990s Braves. Not a whole lot to brag about.
  • You spent your evening rooting for a division rival, against a non-conference team. That’s not fandom, it’s idiocy.

Also a random side note, I’ve been reading back through the comments, and it’s good to see people have posted a few. They’re definitely welcome. I don’t care if you disagree, you call me an idiot, or whatever…I don’t write this blog to have everyone tell me how amazing I am. Please, keep them coming.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Preseason Week 3: New England

Preseason week three…if any preseason game means jack, it’s this one. Starters typically play at least a half and should be putting in the final tweaks to prepare for the regular season. I’ll be up in Landover again tonight, and there are a few things I’m looking for…

  • Please don’t rain again. Misha and I stuck it out for the full game last week, and it was a soaked mess. I’d rather NOT sit in the rain again tonight.
  • Jason Campbell HAS to show some accuracy and it has to be beyond the first down marker. It seems that Campbell has earned the reputation of a guy that can’t hit receivers downfield, and only completed over 60% of his passes last year because of check-downs. That’s a fair assessment right now. Campbell missed on two long ball shots last week (underestimating Malcolm Kelly’s speed, apparently…) and really didn’t contribute anything significant. This is his last true tune up if he doesn’t want to get worked in week 4. We should all pray that we don’t need to see more of him next week.
  • Running Back competition: Dorsey or Mason…who steps up with Rock out of the lineup? This is their big audition.
  • What can Albert Haynesworth do in a XXXL jersey? He complained that he couldn’t breathe well last week which is why he took fewer snaps. Let’s hope they made the jersey big enough this time so we can see #92 eat Mr. Butt Chin Brady for dinner.
  • Thomas, Kelly, and Mitchell, can continue to inspire optimism, and will one of them take a step beyond Randle El and become the #2 guy? That would be ideal.
  • The big grudge match of Daniel vs. Brennan will be one to watch, although the competition is overhyped/overvalued.
  • Finally, can Brian Orakpo continue to impress? He’s gotten nothing but praise since he donned the burgundy and gold. Let’s see him pull some Osi Umenyiora moves on that New England line tonight.

I’m excited that I don’t have to deal with any Pittsburghers this week, as well as taking two of my teacher friends (although one is a Pats fan). It should be a good time. The only thing I can think of to give New England crap about is the fact that they cheated their way to their rings. Joe Gibbs would have never done that. I will always hate Bill Belichick for the way he ran the score up on ole Joe just to be a dick...oh and New England had about 1400 real fans before 2001. They were AT BEST third in the pecking order (behind the f*ckin' saaawxxxxx and the Celtics) until Tom Brady came around, so not many people from New England can claim that they're long-time dedicated fans. Oh and I hate them because Matt Wallace is a bandwagon fan and I like to see him suffer. That's right Matt...I hope butt chin breaks his leg tonight, just so I can be there to see it.

All that hate is in partial jest. It's just a preseason game, so let’s just hope the offense can look polished and the defense can continue to look dominant. A win would be nice, but isn't the be-all, end-all tonight.

Redskins 27
Patriots 24

Come on back for thoughts from the mini-feed and a recap.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

10 Days...

Watch this and watch it now. If this doesn’t get you pumped, shove your headphones in your ears, put your volume up to 11 and blast Enter Sandman…the journey begins in 10 days…(HT College Game Balls)