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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!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My CFB Top 25: Week Four

Ok, so I wanted to go ahead and start a regular top 25 poll, and unlike the WWL or any other people that matter, I think polls shouldn't come out until at least a month into the season. Here's how I believe the top teams in the country stack up:

My Rank
Boise State4-0
Virginia Tech3-1
Southern California3-1
Ohio State3-1
Oklahoma State3-1
South Florida4-0
Georgia Tech3-1
Brigham Young3-1
South Carolina3-1

A few notable differences from the AP and USA Today Polls jump out. First, Alabama has the best win in the country, over Virginia Tech, who has also beaten two other top 25 teams. Tech's opponents have not lost a single game against teams besides the Hokies, and that puts them at the top of the one-loss teams. However, Cincy gets some brownie points from coming out of a decent Big East, and after showing some great offense and a resilient defense in the season's first month. LSU gets docked for having an inconsistent month, and they're bound to lose at least three games this season. Miami looked good until last week, and literally faltered against the perfect storm last weekend in Blacksburg. Teams I really like this week that aren't getting as much national love are Kansas, Nebraska, South Florida and Auburn. Teams I expect to falter and haven't impressed me are Michigan, USC, California (who was wiped off my list completely), and BYU. I expect to see a lot of shuffling in the coming weeks, but this is what I have so far.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why Can't We Be Friends?

"It's a big tent, and we will embrace and love everyone. I'm a big Washington Redskins fan. I'm a big Nationals fan. And I do honestly believe that a rising tide raises all boats."
-Ted Leonsis (via The Bog)

Two of my teams are going in polar opposite directions today. As discussed here yesterday, the Redskins are in a complete nosedive, bound by salary-cap handcuffs and poor management, while the Capitals are one of the most promising young teams in the NHL. I find myself depressed in such a young NFL season, expecting the boys in burgundy drown at the bottom of the proverbial NFC East barrel. The team isn't built for the future, but the present, and the present isn't coming up roses. On the other hand, I'm filled with optimism, as the Capitals expect to challenge for the Stanley Cup for this year, as well as the foreseeable future due to wonderful roster management and scouting. "Why is this so hard?" you might ask. The intelligent 'fan move' would be to put my efforts into the Capitals and their success rather than wallow in the filthy bed that Dan Snyder made.

I consider myself to be an equal fan to both organizations. I grew up idolizing Peter Bondra, Dale Hunter and Olie Kolzig. My wife still wears my old blue jersey to games (circa 1995ish), and I'll always have fond memories of going up to games in Landover with friends and family as a kid. I was as excited as anyone with the arrival of the MCI center and a pretty new sheet of ice for my favorite team, along with a Stanley Cup finals birth shortly thereafter. Capitals Nation was strong on the momentum from that 1997-1998 squad, and it carried into the early part of this decade. However, the wheels fell off. Management looked toward big free agent signings to put the Capitals over the top, and they found themselves with a mediocre squad as a result. Attendance dipped and enthusiasm waned. Then came the rebuild. Verizon was empty as I watched games from my apartment down in Blacksburg. I hated hearing the cheers of Pens fans in the stands, knowing that I couldn't make a 4 hour drive up for a game. The Caps got no love from the mainstream media, and from that neglect, wonderful blogs like On Frozen Blog and Japer's Rink were born. I've been a regular reader of OFB for over two years, and I absolutely admire their work. However, now that the Capitals are tasting consistent success, Caps-only fans (as I like to call them) are taking time away from covering their all-world team to kick the Redskins while they're down.
Don't get me wrong...the Captials have had the short end of the hockey stick for the better part of the last two decades, and these blogs were created with good reason, and blossomed due to hard work and quality reporting. But I have to argue that many of their readers, like myself, care a great deal about all of the district's franchises, and that includes (and started with) the Washington Redskins. For the better part of the 1980s and into the early 1990s, the Redskins justified their press coverage. But after developing such a rabid fan base from kids that were either born or grew up during their heyday, they began to falter. Those fans (now aged 22-35ish) stuck with the Skins through the lean years of the 90s, and continue to stick around through mismanagement and mediocrity. Championships will do that to people. If the Patriots fall off their perch in the coming decade, you can bet they will still pack Gillette Stadium with people that loved Tom Brady and Teddy Bruschi. That's what championships do. Unfortunately for the Caps, they haven't achieved that level of greatness yet, even if they've been on the doorstep and could kick the door in over the next few seasons.

All of the MSM love that the Redskins have received as a result of their fan base has caused Capitals-only fans to have an inferiority complex of sorts. They love to see their team get the coverage they deserve (which is slowly starting to come to fruition), but they also have a little too much fun at the expense of the big boy in town when they're hurting. Capitals fans, OFB, whoever holds this should be better than that. You should eat up these years of success...of championship hockey, and deservedly so. I know I will. But in the process, I implore you not to alienate a good chunk of your fellow fans by spitting on the Redskins as you pass them on the way to glory and DC Sports legend. You know how it feels to be stuck in neutral with bad signings and bad drafting. You know how it feels to be pissed off at management for throwing away thousands of dollars of YOUR MONEY at a questionable character free agent (staring at YOU Jaromir). You know how it feels to have a team take your time and devotion and only give you heartbreak. Take a second before the puck drops on Thursday to put yourselves in some burgundy and gold shoes, and maybe you'll realize that they feel a little too familiar. We Redskins fans are not in a comfortable position right now, and the Caps are our ray of hope. Don't darken it with the shadow of your schadenfreude.

Thank God For the Caps: 2009-2010 Predictions

Between the infinite sadness that is the Redskins offense and the enigma that is the Hokies offense, I say a little prayer everyday thanking God for my Washington Capitals. If I had to run through hockey season with a Minnesota Wild-type offense, I think my eyes would start to bleed and I would give up on sports altogether. Ok, maybe that last part isn't so true, but life would be a lot tougher without the boys in red. I've been spending quite a bit of time concentrating on the now #6 Hokies, and the miserable Skins, so I haven't put nearly enough effort into a full Caps preview. I'll leave that stuff up to the professionals like JP and Stephen Pepper. Over here at FFODC, I'll just make my asenine, bold, an extremely homer-esque predictions for the upcoming season.


Obviously the Capitals biggest strength, and it only got stronger in the offseason. Mike Knuble has already proven that he's the glue that Ovechkin has needed to take the first-line game to the next level. If Boudreau can avoid keeping the carebears together too much this season, the Caps should be in good shape. Alex Semin and Brendan Morrsion showed some pretty solid chemistry when they got to play together, and I think you'll see a little more of the Vancouver edition of Mo this season. I also expect to see more improvement from Brooks Laich, and hopefully from David Steckel. Don't be shocked to see Stecks learn how to score on teams other than Tampa this season. The only problem here is if the team leans too hard on Knuble for their offensive grit and otherwise try to be too fancy. That was the top problem last year, but it should be corrected.


Tyler Sloan has officially earned a spot with the big boys (as of today) and should help bolster the defensive corps with some depth. Guys like Jurcina, Morrisonn and Schultz must keep their play to a high level if they expect to see the type of ice time they saw last season. Brian Pothier came on very strong at the end of the playoffs, and should be able to shoulder a little bit of the load from Mike Green on the power play. This group is much maligned, but I think you have to put a great deal of pressure on Tom Poti this season. If the Poti of 2007-2008 shows up, the Caps should be a little more stout, but if the oft-injured edition from last year makes too many appearances, we could see a lot of 5-4 games. I think we'll see improvement to somewhere in the middle of the defensive rankings this season, but don't expect much better than that. Ideally, you'd like to see a Karl Alzner or John Carlson develop enough early in the season to squeeze a veterean out come the trading deadline.


I expect, like most, for Semyon Varlamov to start the season on the bench and wrestle the job away from Jose Theodore by Thanksgiving. People forget how poorly Theo played in the early goings last season, and he's prone to very slow starts. He can't afford to pull that stuff this year or he'll be riding the pine. I think the best case scenario is for Theo to have a strong enough season to go around 50-50 with Varlamov, keeping Varly fresh enough to take his game to another level in the postseason.

It starts out like a bear, tapers off, then has a major break for the Olympics. Those are the things to watch. Don't be shocked if this team comes out hard early, but doesn't have a great record to show for it. The schedule is frontloaded with the likes of Boston, Philly and San Jose, but they don't play Pittsburgh until 2010. How will the team handle the long break? How will Ovechkin, Semin and the other Olympic participants fare at the end of the season. It should be interesting.


Does Gabby get them motivated every night? Does he resort to "pretty play" with Semin and Ovi or does he crack down on them and ask from more grit. Will he be able to push the right buttons down the stretch? How does he handle an inept Michael Nylander on the roster. These are all huge questions.
Overall Impressions:

I think the Caps will be a better team this season. They're one year older and two playoff series wiser. It might not reflect in the points standings, but they will be a bigger force come playoff time. However, injuries could be the great equalizer. Last season, we seemed to have the injury bug throughout the season and into the playoffs. It could be the same with so many guys playing in Vancouver. That's something to watch for. Overall I look for an equally potent (but grittier) offense, a little more balanced defense, and up-and-down goaltending, hopefully settling by February or March. I think the Caps will have a tougher time with Carolina this season, but the win the Southeast. They'll take it a step further and lose to Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals this season. Here's hoping they go further.

Final Prediction:

Eastern Conference Runner-Up, 48-27-7, 103 points

Monday, September 28, 2009

Kill Me Now: Redskins Fall to Lions

I never thought it could get this bad. Never. There's always that "oh they're the Redskins and they'll suck against a bad team," but it was always lack of focus. It was never this feeling of sickness, of disgust. The Washington Redskins lost to the worst team in all of football. And they didn't just lose, they were controlled the entire game. From opening kickoff to failed laterals in the closing seconds yesterday, the Lions wanted it more, and proved that they were a better team. It wasn't one of those games like the Rams last year or the old Cardinals back in the day, we just suck. Flat out, no excuses suck. There are two Redskins I respect right now, and only two: Chris Cooley and London Fletcher. The rest have to earn it back. I've got to rant on this, so bear with me.

How on God's Green Earth does any player (besides #47 and #59) justify their fat-ass contract every week for this organization?! We all know Dan Snyder is a moron for paying these like he does, but how can they sleep at night? It's theft I tell ya. They might as well be pulling their plasma TVs, or 100 foot yachts (glares at Albert Haynesworth) right from your house. The complete and total lack of disgust on the sidelines is pathetic, and I just can't understand what is going through their heads right now. Don't tell me the Lions are a good team in the postgame interviews. Bullshit. The Lions are garbage, and they have been garbage for as long as most people can remember. Unfortunately, for as bad as that joke of a franchise is, Washington is worse. To put salt on the wounds, even if we fire Zorn, we've still got money committed to guys like Albert Haynesworth, DeAngelo Hall, and Clinton Portis for years, so good luck with a rebuild. You have to have money to build a new team. I hate to break it to you guys, but this team is done.

Liken the Redskins to a dam that has a ton of holes in it. Each free agent is a finger, which blocks a little of the water, but doesn't solve the overall problem. Over the last ten years, Dan Snyder has committed his proverbial fingers to plug in the holes to keep from a major flood (by staying in the neighborhood of 8-8). What happens now that it's so bad and he's using his toes to try and stop the water, but it just keeps coming? That's the situation we're in. We're handcuffed and can't get any better, but the rest of the NFL has caught up and passed us. The dam burst yesterday.
Our pass defense is terrible. Our run defense is suspect. Our run offense is nonexistant, and our pass offense doesn't have enough competent pieces to matter. This run of mediority, no matter how unsatisfying has given way to worse. Absolute misery. When Snyder's lackies Larry Michael and Frank Hanrahan started trashing the team yesterday, you knew they were done. Snyder's supposed childhood heroes like John Riggins, Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff have given up and just flat out call the guy an idiot now. We're the laughingstock of the league...and yet I'll still be there with my butt in 414 next Sunday, because I just can't quit on them. This sucks.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Week 3: @ Detroit

I have to apologize for my lack of Redskins coverage this week, but frankly, the #9 vs. #11 matchup in college football was a little more intriguing to me. The Redskins might end up being the big story of the weekend after today's game though...but for the wrong reasons. I can't say that I would be shocked if the Skins lose this game, and as a result, I wouldn't be surprised if Jim Zorn starts collecting unemployment. I can't give a real great breakdown on this game other than the fact that Matt Stafford has been underwhelming in his first three games, Calvin Johnson is still a freak and the Lions "run game" is not anything to be very afraid of. Don't get me wrong about this one...the Redskins SHOULD roll. The problem we face is that they're the Redskins and they don't blow out teams they're supposed to. Half the time they don't even beat teams they should blow out, and I don't think this one will be any different. There are two teams we could actually see this afternoon wearing the burgundy and gold:

Team One: The locker room is in dissarray. They've lost their right starting right guard and their confidence. The red zone offense is stagnant and predictible and the coach doesn't know how to manage the clock. They struggle mightily against the worst team in the NFL for the second year in a row.

Team Two: They're fired up and ready to stomp someone out. They're tired of a fanbase that has no faith in them and a city that's starting to give up on them. They're tired of being a laughingstock. It doesn't matter who they're playing, someone will pay for the crap they've been getting.

Which team shows up today? I would love to think that the latter will end up in Motown today, but I'm worried that it'll be the former. What do you guys think? I'm gonna go with my gut and say they step up in a game they should dominate.

Redskins 34
Lions 13

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Foster Eats Jacory's Soul: Hokies WIN!



Eat it Miami.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ray Lewis Murdered a Dude

Just to remind any potential trolls bringing up the Vicks...Ray Lewis freaking murdered a guy. Just sayin'.

The Value of Mike Knuble

Let's get the hell away from football a second because, well I'm sick of talking about Miami, and I'm sure your sick of reading about them, not only here but all over ESPN's jock. I have to admit that I haven't had the evening downtime, nor the weekend downtime to enjoy seeing the Caps much since camp opened. I've been relying on the likes of JP and pucksandbooks to keep me informed about the goings on over at Kettler. On Wednesday night, with a needed break from the marching band schedule, I took advantage and watched the live stream of the Caps 6-2 thrashing of the Chicago Blackhawks. I'm not going to get too much into the ins and outs of what I saw (since it was just the jumbotron feed), but I just have to say how much Mike Knuble is going to make this team better come playoff time. The guy might not put up his usual thirty goals this season, but his grittiness in the lineup has proven to be infectious.

The closest we've come to a gritty winger (that can score) lately has been Brooks Laich or Chris Clark (which has been a stretch in the last two years). Knuble automatically makes those two guys better by being in the lineup, and he provides a great example for Laich and Eric Fehr to emulate in front of the net. While Knuble did have a pretty high-slot tally the other night, he also had his butt in Corey Crawford's face quite a bit (helping his case on one goal). I don't mean to overreact to a preseason win, but it's just nice to see a guy get his nose a little dirty like Knuble did, and to see guys like 21 and 17 follow suit. As you noticed from last night's showing without 22 in the lineup, the power play dipped to 0 for 5. They were 3 for 6 on Tuesday with him.

Boudreau insists on keeping the carebear (8-19-28) line together, despite the fact that he has to make a "they were too cute" comment EVERY TIME THEY PLAY TOGETHER. He knows that Knuble makes things happen in front of the net, and that should be enough to earn him a spot on Backstrom's right flank during the season. I think Knuble has workmanlike attitude towards the game, and that's one characteristic that a guy like Kozlov didn't bring to the table. Knuble is easily one of the most underrated but necessary upgrades we've made in quite some time. Let's just hope we'll get to see him hoist a cup as a result.
I know none of this is groundbreaking by any stretch, I just had to put it out there that I'm very excited about the prospects of having #22 in the lineup.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Week Four: It's About To Get Heavy

Here's the deal guys...I've been bombarded all week with talk about how the Hokies have no shot on Saturday. There is absolutely no way that they even deserve to step on the same field against the mighty Hurricanes, let alone put up a fight. Don't get me wrong...there is a distinct possibility (and probably always is with Bryan Stinespring at the helm) that the Hokies won't be able to put up any offense against the Canes. Hell, the defense has been spotty at best, which we all know is out of character for the Lunchpail Crew. However, I am not about to throw in the towel on a Thursday morning with Miami packing their bags for a trip to Southwest Virginia.

This is my rationale. There have not been many times that Tech has folded in the last 10 or so years under Frank Beamer, and I can probably argue that only one of those times came against Miami (2005). The only real flops that jump to mind were against an experienced LSU team (2007), Boston College (2006) with big-head Glennon at the helm, and in a complete letdown against FSU (2005). Three of those games were effectively on the road (FSU was "neutral" in Jacksonville), and two of those games saw Marcus Vick, one of the worst leaders (and people) in Tech history at the helm. Even in losses against premier opponents (I know, I know, we've lost basically all of these games), we've hung tough (2004 USC, 2004 Auburn, 2009 Alabama, 2007 BC). I just don't believe that Beamer is going to lead that group out to slaughter on Saturday afternoon. Although there's a high likelyhood that the Hokies will lose, I'm guessing it's still worth it to show up (read: stinkeye to Miami fans).

Here's why I'm giving Tech a legitimate shot to win this game (some of these may surprise you):
  • The Home Crowd- Jacory Harris probably won't even be able to hear his favorite Miley Cyrus song floating through his brain in Lane Stadium, let alone what play he's running. Hell, it will probably be so loud that the noise will prevent him from feeling the pee trickling down his leg. Good luck working in that environment Mr. '9 - 9 = 1.'

  • The Return of Beamerball- While I don't believe it's been really warranted over the last few years, Beamerball is back, and it's about to block a kick. I've mentioned this before, but now that Dyrell Roberts and Jayron Hosley have proven themselves to be dynamic kick returners, teams will have to either run normal coverage to stop them, or run max protection and pray they don't get burned. Either way, the Hokies have been close to several blocks already, and I don't expect Miami to run max protection all game. They don't want to give a dynamic guy an opportunity to reverse field on them.

  • Miami Runs Man Coverage- Kyle Tucker touched on this yesterday, but Tyrod played relatively well against Miami's D last season, and ran for two touchdowns (and had a guaranteed 70 yard touchdown pass dropped by Dyrell Roberts). If his legs can buy him extra time, and he can keep his confidence up, he should be able to generate at least a little sporatic offense, if not better.

  • Josh Oglesby's fresh legs- Ryan Williams keeps getting the press, but Oglesby's great at picking up tough first downs, which the Hokies will need against a tough Miami line. Their ability to throw three good backs at the Canes should help in the second half. Especially to help out the Hokie D with TOP.

  • Stephan Virgil will be back- Virgil is our best cover corner, and Foster seems to think he's 100%. He's also one of our top 3 tacklers (as far as ability). If he has a good game, he sets up guys like Cody Grimm and Jason Worilds to get to Harris and wreak a little havok, something which is distinctly possible. Worilds will be lining up against Miami's least experienced lineman, which makes for a favorible matchup.

I'm not going to give you any more Cane love, because we got enough of it from Tom on Tuesday. Yes, Miami has the athletes. Yes, they have confidence, and a legitimate offensive coordinator. No, their egos are not in check. This Hokie team, to put it into hockey terms, has a lot of sandpaper to them. They've got guts and grit, and that goes a long way toward winning. They might not come out on top on Saturday, but I certainly think they'll make a dogfight of it. That being said, I still like the boys in Maroon to prove everyone wrong as home underdogs. Remember Clemson in 2006? This will be a similar game (with a better showing from Miami), and I think it might be JO's coming out party. Let's do this thing.

Hokies 19
Miami 17

Channel the spirit of the 2004 ACC Champs:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stupid Miami Quote of the Week: Part Deux

Jacory Harris, Miami's quarterback, darkhorse Heisman hopeful and dude with freakishly long arms apparently cannot count. When asked about his thoughts on The You's (yeah I spelled it that way on purpose) no. 9 ranking, he had this to say:

"I was happy, but we still have to stay focused, have to play Virginia Tech next and they're a great team. Our confidence is the same as it was before we played Florida State. We know what we're capable of, know we can score points. Just now we have statistics to prove it. We're very strong-minded, a humble team."

"Not too many people knew [about the ranking] – one person said it, and it was `Oh, well, we just have to get better. We don't want No. 9. No. 9 is nine spots away from being No. 1. We want to be where Florida is.' That's where we're trying to get." this kid serious? Now he's just making it too easy. 9 - 8 = 1. On top of that, I thought to include that fact the said his team is humble. Why don't you save us all the effort and tell Randy Phillips to shut the f*** up, Jacory.

Shut Up Randy Phillips

Who are you anyway? 15 career starts and 6 picks? Awesome. For a mediocre ACC team? ...better. Apparently, wins against Georgia Tech and Florida State make Miami the most wonderful program in the world. At least it was enough for this jackass to mouth off today (thanks CGB):

It don’t mean nothing to me. I don’t even know what it is. They’re good in special teams, I’ll say that, if that’s what they call Beamer Ball. Every year that we play them we always beat them in special teams so I guess it’s Coach Shannon Ball. Coach Beamer does a great job of getting his troops ready to play. We’re just ready to prove everybody wrong. Y’all are all the people jumping on the bandwagon right now. We’re not even going to push them away. We’re going to welcome them. Everybody can ride with the U right now.

-Miami Safety Randy Phillips
No, coach Shannonball is going 19-19 the last three seasons with superior talent. I'm not saying that Miami won't come in and stomp the Hokies on Saturday, but seriously? Have some grounds to talk a lot of shit before you open your mouth. In the three VT-Miami games in which Phillips was on the roster (not counting his medical redshirt, where they won by two), the Hokies went 2-1. Sounds like Miami always beats us. Apparently he doesn't remember that 44-14 beat down by our mediocre offense in 2007. On top of that, Miami hasn't scored a special teams touchdown on the Hokies since they've been members of the ACC. Come talk to me when your most important career highlight is something better than trying to knock out some FIU scrub Randy Phillips...and I hope it doesn't come on Saturday.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

VT/Miami Preview: Canes' Perspective

I recently approached Tom from over at Canespace about answering some questions about the media's new (read: old) darling, the Miami Hurricanes. As we all know, we have the 'U' in the 'burg this week for a good ol' fashioned Coastal slug fest. Here are Tom's thoughts on the 2009 edition of the Canes and how this Saturday might shake out:

1. For the uneducated Hokie fan: what do you think the biggest change has been with Mark Whipple taking over the offense this season?

Most Hokie fans are uneducated, but I am getting off track. The biggest change? How about everything! This year’s Canes offense bears no resemblance whatsoever to the train wreck that was Patrick Nix. The tragedy (can U say bubble screen on third and 17?) and drama (Bobby Drama was the nickname fans gave to Robert Marve who first got his feelings hurt and later transferred) that Miami fans had to endure over the last two years was almost unbearable.

Long time Canespace blogger Carlos was the first to call for Nix’s head and was later proven to be right as UM fans, along with Head Coach Randy Shannon, had simply had enough by the end of last season which culminated in the loss and the demonstration of the world’s worst 2 minute drill ever run at the Emerald Bowl in the City by the Bay last year.

This year Hurricane fans are totally infatuated with Mark “Miracle” Whipple who has the Miami offense on the attack every single down. Every play is NFL designed and approved and the Hurricanes have shown no sign of slowing down after scoring big points and big wins at FSU and at The Shark (Landshark Stadium) against Georgia Tech. Miami fans have fallen in love with offense all over again and it feels really good to score, if you know what I mean!

In case you didn’t know, Whipple helped develop Ben Rothlisberger when both were with the Steelers and he has now worked his “miracle” with UM QB Jacory Harris. The Miracle Whip has whipped (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) young Jacory into shape in just a matter of months.

Harris, who is only a Sophomore, has the “Whiplash” (I know, I know) offense running at a very high level and is already getting Heisman talk after just two games. Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

2. We know guys like Jacory Harris, Javarris James, and Graig Cooper, but who is one guy that we should really look out for on Saturday afternoon?

Well at Canespace we have an annual feature called “Legends of the Fall” where all of the bloggers pick an offense and defensive star before the season starts. Outside of the three well known players you mentioned above the leading vote getter was WR Laron “Big” Byrd who wears UM superstar Michael Irvin’s old #47 jersey at Miami. Byrd is a fast, tall and lanky WR that has a knack for getting open deep and scoring often.

The Canes most electrifying player is probably #3 Travis Benjamin. T-Ben, who plays WR for Miami is among the Hurricanes five fastest players and also returns punts for UM. And, it says right here that #3 will break one for a TD against The Hokies Beamer ball be damned!

Others to keep your eye on are WR Thearon Collier (#28) who lines up in the slot and works into seams over the middle and former UM basketball player turned football star TE Jimmy Graham. Graham who wears #80 and has earned the nickname of “Liger” (half lion/half tiger) caught his first, but not his last, TD of the year against GT last Thursday. When asked how he felt about that after the game he replied: “I like scoring six better than two.” U go Jimmy!

3. Give me three reasons why Miami wins this game, and three why they lose it. Are you guys even giving us a chance in this game?

The Canes win because:

1. The Whipple Effect. The Canes will outscore the Hokies.

2. The Canes proved they can stop a running QB against FSU (Ponder) and stop the run against GT. Your QB sucks and therefore your offense has no chance.

3. We will match your special teams’ intensity and score on a punt return to get The Big Mo swung in our favor. T-Ben to the house!

The Canes lose because:

1. Beating three ranked teams in a row is too much to ask of the young team.

2. The game is in Blacksburg, not the 305.

3. Jacory shows he is human after all, has an off night and throws a pick six in a close, low scoring game in the fourth quarter.

4. I know that Miami faithful love to brag about the national championships and NFL talent that your program produces, but is there any jealousy over the Hokies ACC fortunes so far? Do you guys consider us a rival or do we fall well below the Gators and Seminoles?

First, VT deserves all the credit in the world for their ACC success. I was at the ACC title game in Tampa last year and watched you beat Boston College. Miami is yet to win an ACC crown, so we have no room to brag yet, but that should change this year or maybe next.

Miami fans see GT as a rival, but nowhere near the level as the Florida Gators or Seminoles.

The top three MOST hated teams by any real Canes fan are (in this order): Florida Gaturds, Notre Shame and Ohio State Suckeyes. FSU and VT come next but only after we drink another Landshark beer, or six. There that’s better!

5. Just for our DC blogging purposes: favorite former Cane on the Redskins (Sean Taylor can also be included in this vote)?

Sean Taylor hands down. Don’t get me wrong, we love Portis (that dude is a trip!), Moss (speed, baby, speed), McIntosh (steady, consistent, unsung hero) and others but to Canes fans, Taylor was The Man.

I was at Doak Campbell Stadium back in 2004 for the now famous “Rain Game” where Sean simply took over and dominated the game like I had never seen before. His sudden, senseless and tragic death (just as he was beginning to peak with the Redskins) hit the Hurricane family very, very hard.

I have written several pieces about that loss and have provided links here:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lackluster Effort: Skins Outlast Rams

If there's one thing I can tell you about yesterday's game at FedEx Field, it's that the boo birds were out in full force. The anemic Redskins offense seemed to hit an invisible wall around the 8 yard line against the Rams, and the fans really let them hear it. As I mentioned in the preview, the Rams were a typical letdown opponent for the Skins, and as the middle-aged gentleman behind me pointed out all game, we got those S.O.S (Same Old Skins). Booing the offense in their home stadium while in the victory formation is certainly a new phenomenon in DC. I'm not used to seeing fans so upset with a mediocre efforts (hell, I've probably been to 150 Redskin games and they've probably lost at least 80 of them). The booing was absolutely merciless. It didn't fall on deaf ears either:

BACKUP Linebacker Robert Henson: "All you fake half hearted Skins fan can .. I won't go there but I dislike you very strongly, don't come to Fed Ex to boo dim wits!! No I didn't play but I still made more than you in a year and you'd [gladly] switch spots with me in a second, I was talking to the fans [who] said the crazy stuff, I'm use [to] heckling but I've never been booed in my own stadium. Again that was for the half hearted but if everyone wants to jump in come on."

You know what, I do agree that we won the game, and the booing was excessive with a team kneeling to secure a victory. My wife and I clapped and sang Hail to the Redskins at the end, but it also didn't mean that I was thrilled with the offensive effort. The defense played a strong game overall, and the only guy I booed was Justin Tryon. Surprise, he's a joke. On offense, every single guy this side of Chris Cooley deserved an earful. Cooley was the most reliable, consistent target on the field, and the play calling was absolutely horrendous. Henson needs to understand that the boos were for Jim Zorn's offense and his idiocy, and not the defense. On top of that, to second a point that Brian Mitchell made on Postgame Live, SHUT UP AND GET ON THE FIELD BEFORE YOU RUN YOUR MOUTH. Calling out fans for not making as much money as you is childish, and the you will probably never hear the end of this one.

Back to the offense...It seemed to me that we only ran to the right side ONCE in the entire second half. The biggest concern I have for the offense coming out of this game is the overall lack of confidence that Jim Zorn shows in Stephon Heyer, Will Montgomery (even though he's not the starter), and Jason Campbell. If you think enough of Montgomery to be in the game, you have to give him a chance to block. The only time I saw the run game go to his side, Clinton Portis had around an eight yard run. Secondly, if you have first and goal at the ~8 (which we did at least three times), mix up the damn playcalling. Run left, draw, throw away/run left does not constitute variety. Every defensive coordinator in America knew what plays were coming, let alone Steve Spagnuolo, who saw the Skins twice last year. It's just getting to be a big fat joke. Unless something is fixed quickly, the Redskins might get more than boos the next time they come to Landover. Losing to the Lions is not all that unreasonable now.

Your Sieve of the Game:

Devin Thomas, Wide Receiver. Didn't make it onto the box score (except for one kick return), but dropped a guaranteed touchdown and almost tipped it up for an interception. Dude was on the field today and contributed NOTHING. Runner Up: Fred Davis (1 catch, -2 yards)

Voldemort Was Wrong: Hokies Win!

I thought it would be prudent to allow this one to settle in before I actually wrote about it. I'm sure Hokies all across the country woke up on Sunday morning and thought...damn that was an awesome dream. I really wish we could have pulled that one out. Then they turned to their local sports station and saw that Tyrod actually DID save the day. Holy God. I still don't fully believe it as I type this sentence, and I didn't believe it as I put Danny Coale as the background on my phone last night. That was some straight Angels-in-the-Outfield shit right there. Wow. Now as I've soiled myself and cried with joy a little bit. Onto a little analysis...

I really think that God said, "Welp, the defense really doesn't deserve to walk away losers in this one. The offense might be me-awful, but I'm gonna give 'em a break." Enter TT. I looked at my wife as he stepped up into the pocket and said "we need a friggin' miracle if we're going to win this game." It happened. More importantly, the Hokies put themselves in a position to allow it to happen. Bud Foster deserves a lot of credit. He was working without his top cornerback, against a red-hot quarterback, and his adjustments forced Lee into a mediocre game. 11/30 for 136 yards and 2 INTs was far from ideal in Lee's first real test as the starter. Foster's pressure and schemes did a lot to cause that poor play. Nebraska's tight ends were expected to kill the Hokie defense, and Foster managed to mask his weakness well enough to get by. Helu Jr. ran all up on the defense, but some of that was a result of trying to keep play in front of the defense. I though Carmichael played a really gutsy game with 8 total tackles and a pick. He needs to learn to GET DOWN, but that was a pretty good day overall. On the line, the tackles must get better. Nebraska got a good chunk of yards up the middle (although part of that was Johnson playing a little cautious I think). Nekos Brown had a very solid afternoon, and I thought Kam Chancellor played very well. Overall I give the defense a B, mostly for holding Big Red to five field goals. They did enough to win the game but weren't mind-blogglingly good.

The offense is a different story. It's obvious that there's talent on that side of the ball, but something isn't right. I think that the mistakes obviously killed a few drives, and there were more than a couple drops. Overall I'd say the offense did not appear mentally prepared enough for the game. We all have to remember that our skill positions are still primarily freshman and sophomores, and they're learning. They have been pretty disciplined over their first 15 games, so there was bound to be a letdown at some point. However, they need to be coached up for big games better. I actually didn't think the playcalling was horrendous, just predictible. My biggest problem is that there were minimal halftime adjustments made, and that led to a VERY rough second half. Also, Jaymes Brooks gets the "sieve of the week" award on the offensive line. I'm pretty sure he just tried to roll into Suh's shins on that final touchdown play. Weak. Entire Game D/Final Drive A-

Speaking of which, Nebraska is a damn good team. They are big, fast and talented, and the Hokies should be pumped that they were able to go toe-to-toe with them. I would be shocked if they didn't win the Big 12 North, and wouldn't be surprised if they pulled an upset over Texas or Oklahoma in the championship game. They are going to be a very solid team at the end of the year. Suh is an absolute monster (better than Cody...I think), and Lee has the right weapons to have a very strong offense. Hats off to them. Their coach however...

...was mistaken. Voldemort had to be sick to his stomach during that one red zone posession. You know the one I'm talking about. Where the cameras were shaking beause the stadium was so damn loud. As much as he didn't want to show weakness to his team, he set off a bomb by calling out the Hokie faithful. It's probably not fair to say that those 10 yards were the difference in the game, they had an impact. I'm proud of you guys that were there. Voldy's a good coach, but he kicked his own ass two years in a row against VT.

Lastly, are specialists not allowed to work out at Nebraska? Alex Henery, their kicker/punter looks like he could be beat up by a sixth grader. Don't get me wrong...he's a solid player, but Nic Schmitt would have eaten that dude for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and freaking fourthmeal. My wife looked at me and said she thought she could take him out back and beat his ass. Dude's arms are as thick as my thumbs.
Overall it was an awesome win, and a hell of an exciting finish, but I'm terrified. Unless the offense can have the greatest practice week of their lives, they're in for trouble against the Canes. Ryan Williams better eat his Wheaties. Same with Tyrod, because he might be running for his life all night. Unless the defense can come up with a superhuman effort and the crowd is at least as raucous as Saturday, we could be in for a long game. Just try and enjoy this win while we can. Next week might not be so fun.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Week 2: St. Louis

Don't have a ton to say about this one. This preview isn't really going to involve the Rams because...well...they're completely awful. The only way the Redskins lose this game is if the act like the Redskins and choke it away (I'm glaring at you Pete Kendall). Here's what the burgundy and gold needs to accomplish to get some confidence back today.
  • Win the battle in the trenches. Chris Long is a joke. Mow him over Chris Samuels. Clinton needs to rush for 125+ today. Campbell needs time to throw and make said throws.
  • Get some separation on the outside. Yes, we all know Cooley is reliable, but you have to throw to your receivers (and not just ARE) to be successful in the NFL. Campbell must establish a rhythm with Moss and Kelly today.
  • Get pressure on Mark Bulger. At least 3 sacks for some confidence, and I think we need to see at least one from Orakpo, so I can finally start calling him Osackpo.
  • Decent play calling. Jim Zorn, like last year's opener couldn't call the game to save his life. Maybe there's just something about the Meadowlands...or Tom Coughlin. Or he isn't all that good against good defenses...We must do better than the standard "run-run-pass-punt," and not only resort to the standard Randle El option pass. It's awful and he never knows what to do with the ball. Everyone in the stadium knows what's coming when you call it, so why would the defense be faked out? Call something else JZ.
This game comes down to focus and talent. The Redskins should have the latter, but the former has been called into question. The Redskins will either lose by a field goal, or win by 20. Unfortunately my brain is telling me it's the first. Skins struggle...Campbell starts to hear the boo birds.

Redskins 21
Rams 17

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Week Three: Shuck The Corn

Today marks the biggest non-conference game in Lane Stadium since 2004, when arch-rival West Virginia came into Blacksburg ranked #6 in the AP Poll. Lane has seen other highly-ranked oppenents since that day, but each of them has been a conference opponent. However, there is one game in particular that reminds me of today, and that makes me feel pretty good about our chances. Georgia Tech came into town in 2005 with high hopes, ranked #15 in the nation. They had a pretty good offense with a great weapon in Calvin Johnson and a stout defense. Their special teams were expected to be solid as well. Gameday was in Blacksburg that day since our Hokies were #4 in the country (but unproven to that point). On the back of two pick-sixes and a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown, the Hokies kept the crowd happy early and often on the way to a 51-7 blowout. Here are a few reasons why we have a shot to make this an avalanche today.
  • Our defense has been beaten up about big plays so far, and I don't anticipate Nebraska will have many, if at all today. But lit a fire under their butts this week. I also think we're still faster on defense and should matchup OK outside of the TE/LB pairing. Jake Johnson needs to have a big game, as does Cody Grimm.
  • We're due to block a kick. Nebraska isn't scared about this, but I would be. We've been ripping off big returns on punts, so that means teams can't max protect if they want to cover well enough to prevent a big play. Less protection with this unit could spell disaster. Pick your poison Bo.
  • Ryan Williams will continue to be dazzling. Suh may be the 2nd best tackle we see all year, but we won't run at him. Williams should have a big day if the receivers can maintain their blocks on the perimeter. Also look for some option out of the gun to keep the Huskers on their toes.
  • We have a big advantage at tight end as well. Greg Boone is a proven commodity, and paired with Wheeler and Smith's experience, the Nebraska linebackers could be in for a tough day. If the line can wake up and pass block, look for a big day out of one of these three guys.
  • Nebraska isn't giving our corners any love. If Stephan Virgil goes, he's going to make them pay for that. All the talk around their camp is about how Macho Harris torched them last year, but they don't know us well enough to realize how deep we always are at corner. Look for a strong showing from Carmichael if Virgil can't go. He'll be playing boundary corner regardless.
  • Our crowd is pissed. We should see a frenzy, even for a 3:30 game. Procedure and delay of game penalties will write their ticket to a loss.
However, I don't anticipate a blowout, I just think it COULD be possible. Here's why it'll be close:
  • Suh is a beast. If Nebraska can squash out the outside run and force the Hokies inside, Suh can handle the rest. We need to run early and often to get some confidence.
  • The aforementioned pass blocking might kill us. Stiney has to run bootlegs and rollouts to protect Taylor. If he doesn't, we might see JuJu today. That = not good.
  • Jake Johnson could get abused by the Nebraska tight ends. He had trouble against Marshall, and that could spell trouble.
  • Nebraska's offense is capable of the big play, and if we go down by more than a touchdown, we aren't built to come back.
I think we'll see something in the middle. I expect to see 14-24 points from the offense, and probably about the same from the Huskers. The difference will be a defensive score or big special teams play. Let's show 'em what we're known for Hokies! Boykin and his giant hands block a punt and it's returned for a touchdown. That's our difference.

Hokies 27

Huskers 20

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bo Pelini Has a Lapse in Judgment

No, I’m not talking about his game-clinching 15 yard penalty towards the end of the fourth quarter last year: a penalty that contributed to his team’s ultimate 35-30 loss to Virginia Tech. I’m talking about poking a bear…a Chicago Maroon and Burnt Orange-clad bear. Hokie fans often hear JUST how loud they are, but they certainly do not rest on their reputation alone. Just this week, Pete Carroll told assembled media after the Ohio State game that Tech fans were the loudest he’s ever heard assembled on the road. We’ve been called the loudest group of fans in America, and that’s considering that we only seat 67,000+ fans in Lane Stadium in comparison to some of the 90,000 plus behemoths of the Big 10 and SEC.

Unfortunately, some coaches don’t get the message. Larry Coker gave us grief before the ’03 and ’05 meetings with Miami, and those were two of the loudest crowds in Tech history (although ’05 didn’t turn out so well). I can’t imagine he enjoyed the treatment that his Canes received. In 2007, Jeff Jagodzinski as mentioned here before, decided to say things like “They have lights, right?” as well as “The fans will not be a factor" and "we just came from Notre Dame, the crowd will not effect us.” Anyone that was in Lane on that rainy night knows that the crowd caused several procedure and delay penalties. It was near impossible to hear yourself think, let alone get plays called out to your offense if you were Matt Ryan. They won that game, but Jags learned that the crowd WAS a factor in the game. Now Bo Pelini decides it’s a good idea to say something this week? Here goes nothin’:

I don’t even know how many people that stadium holds but they’re not playing. It’s 11 on 11 when you walk out on the field.”

We might not be playing, but we will be a factor Bo. Now this is not the worst comment we’ve received from an opposing coach, by far. It’s not even really bad, but a coach shouldn’t lend himself to bulletin board material if he can help it. I understand that a coach shouldn’t sound afraid or intimidated before a game, but it’s not that hard to show respect without weakness. A comment like “Certainly the crowd is loud, but we’re doing everything we can to be ready” would be sufficient. Pays tribute but shows your guys you’ll overcome it. I agree that our fans probably get a little too stirred up over such comments, but I’m certainly not going to complain when Lane turns the volume knob up to eleven as a result. The reason I love Hokie Nation so much is that we treat ourselves as a part of the game. As a result, we DO affect the game (blown calls from the sideline, false starts, delay of games, etc.). Just like in a locker room, we use facebook, blogs, and e-mail to stir up the troops with comments like this. Just like in previous years, an opposing coach has given us that extra motivation to scream that much louder, to jump up and down more enthusiastically, and make his life a living hell come Saturday. Let’s do it Hokies!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jim Weaver is Sheila Broflovski

For the theme of September, I thought it would be fun to do a little riff off of my favorite show and put a DMV personality to characters in South Park. We’ll start with minor characters and build up to the main characters. I’ll give a description of each character, the personality (or personalities) and why they compare.

This one goes out to all the Virginia Tech students that have had to endure the tyrannical reign of Jim Weaver as the head of the athletic department. Our old arguments against ol' Weaver were his overall annoyance with any kickoff after 12 PM, and managing to arrange 15 year long contracts with programs like East Carolina. Fortunately, Weaver's scheduling ability has somewhat improved (although Furman and W. Kentucky were WEAK last season). Unfortunately, while not working out deals to play Alabama and Boise State, Weaver has sucked all the fun out of Blacksburg. This is where our comparison comes in:

Sheila Broflovski is a stay-at-home mother. As a result of hearing something shocking or inappropriate, she is often heard exclaiming "WHAT, WHAT, WHAT!?", saying each word in rapid succession and putting more emphasis on the last "what". Sheila has been depicted as being a huge fan of Barbra Streisand.

Like Sheila, Jim Weaver supposedly wants "the best" for athletic events in Blacksburg, and has done quite a bit towards in improving our status as a major competitor in multiple sports (i.e. new basketball facility, baseball facility, soccer stadium). However, his overprotective nature has carried over, and consequently pissed off a large percentage of Hokie Nation. Like Sheila, who forbids Kyle from going to heavy metal concerts and seeing naughty movies like Terrance and Phillip, Jim Weaver wants no part of any debauchery and merriment that could take place outside, or inside Lane Stadium on gamedays. He has all but banished tailgating from campus, told fans that they cannot throw footballs in the parking lots, and eliminated the fan-favorite "Stick It In" cadence. He even threatened the drumline with expulsion from the Marching Virginians if they played it. Luckily, he has his hands so far up Dave McKee's butt (who would be cast as Gerald, Sheila's husband, and is the "director" of the MVs), that McKee even threatened one of my good friends who is an MV and started a Facebook group protesting Weaver's tyranny.

But that's not all. Jim Weaver took the fight to our pregame entrance. He insisted that both teams run out of their respective tunnels together, as to prevent booing from the fans. BOOING. At a football game. Sounds kind of like how Sheila didn't want her son to play hockey even though he was born in Canada. The sportsmanship aspect is one thing. Don't go picking fights with opposing fans. Welcome them to Blacksburg, but when their team runs on the field, you boo and scream until your lungs hurt. Weaver also tried to do a "We Are Marshall/Penn State" deal after the 4-16 shootings, which I still find lame and not exciting. I like our "Let's Go Hokies" better any day of the week. But while Weaver is an overprotective, oversensitive sissy, he does seem to have the good of the athletic department at heart.*

*I would just like to acknowledge that I wrote an entire post about Jim Weaver and didn't flip out or make a Parkinsons joke. Guess he wouldn't want me to shake things up...ZING! So much for that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Redskins Fall to DSRL: Quick Thoughts

Image Courtesy of the Washington Post
Again, sorry for the delay on this, but the week has been hectic so I’m a little behind. Here are my quick hits from the Redskins 23-17 loss to the New York Giants.

  • I still don’t think Eli is worth $100 million. His receivers are young but better than they’re given credit for. That being said, our defensive backfield was HORRENDOUS all day, and LaRon Landry really made the only play that set up D-Hall’s INT. We have to step it up.

  • Tackling was awful. Smoot just reminds me of Deion Sanders so much in that regard. We have to wrap up and quit going for strips. The defense is pressing for big plays.
    Albert Haynesworth in particular did his job on two 3rd and ones and one 4th and one in the first half. His size, penetration and strength single-handedly killed two New York drives. That’s why you make the money.

  • However, pass rush left a lot to be desired. Eli still had plenty of time to find open receivers, and didn’t have to check down often. Brian Orakpo was nowhere to be found. The Skins need him to have a big week against a sub-par St. Louis offense. He needs to build some confidence.

  • Malcolm Kelly’s blocking was good, his route running wasn’t. He couldn’t gain separation, and he and Santana seriously disappointed. If they continue to put up numbers like that, the Skins will be lucky to win four games this season.

  • Jason Campbell single handedly lost the game. He didn’t do anything terrible or great, except for his fumble. He had about six yards in front of him on the strip-turned-touchdown by Umenyiora, and he didn’t step up into the pocket. His Madden-type awareness on that play was about a 7.

  • The offensive play calling was weak and predictable. Run-Run-Pass-Punt, Repeat. Not good. I liked the fake field goal, but that was the brightest spot of the day.

Feels kind of like last year's opener. We don’t have a bad team, but probably not a good one either. Campbell protects the ball and we win by a score of (wait for my genius from the preview) 17-16. The defense did not lose the game. If the receivers get going next week, we should coast, but we all know how Washington franchises play against serious underdogs…