Locker Room: It was a spirited affair

      It was a very exciting football game, evenly matched. If they played 10 times, it would be hard for either to have an advantage, but that’s what makes it a good game. Virginia Tech held on to defeat West Virginia this time, 31-24 and the game was such a spirited affair it made you wonder why they no longer play very often.

       There is a two-game home and home series down the road, but this is another one of those games that was lost during conference expansion because of things like footprints and the number of television sets in an expanded area. The two very things that ESPN found out the hard way don’t matter as much as they thought, and the investment too high. The ACC has learned that regardless of population base and number of big screens, people in the New York area just don’t get excited about Syracuse and Boston College football.

     But the rivalry was renewed Sunday evening, and it resulted in a great battle and both teams had questions answered, and provided a good look at what the rest of the season might hold in store.

       West Virginia quarterback Will Grier is the real deal. If he had the type of speed receiving corps that had been in Morgantown the past few years, he would have been more lethal. Grier can spin the football, and very impressive after a more than 600-day layoff. He made numerous outstanding throws, but he left some big plays on the field that he might not leave down the road.

     However, Josh Jackson proved to be just the kind of quarterback Virginia Tech was hoping for as well. He doesn’t have the arm that Grier has, but it’s certainly good enough and will no doubt get stronger and better. He’s also a good runner, and appears to be a solid field general. He made no glaring mistakes, not even one.

       The Mountaineers have three good looking running backs, but were not able to establish a consistent running attack because Bud Foster’s defense stacked the line of scrimmage, but because of the lack of speed receivers on the outside for WVU, the Hokie corners held up well on deep balls. Tech’s passing attack is a bit more conservative, but I believe it will open up as the season progresses and some of the young receivers get involved, and the Hokies have a set of hard running tailbacks, not game breaker types, but if you are looking to control the line of scrimmage, they fit nicely.

       Both defenses have considerable promise, but Tech is stronger up front, would like to be a little deeper in places, but the Hokies defense will be stout all season. The d-backs played extremely well. The Edmonds brothers are outstanding. Settle is a horse down in the pit. WVU’s defense is a hit or miss. If it hits, you get a big play, if it’s a miss, at times it will give up a big play. An overall edge to the Hokies here. Best example. Game is tied 17-17. Following kickoff the only receiver Tech had really thrown the ball to, Cam Phillips, was running wide open down the sideline, no Mountaineer defender within 15 yards. If WVU was going to cover anybody on the field, it should be #15, but there was a blown coverage and the most obvious player was wide open. Such plays get you beat.

       Special teams were a bit weak for both teams, and there were opening game mistakes for both squads, but this was a fun football game, a very spirited affair. The stadium was packed, parking lots full hours before kickoff, leaving one to wonder if there was anyone in charge, but such is life around big cities. Both teams have much potential. Both teams have hurdles during the season. But both are definitely going to be competitive in their conferences, the ACC and Big 12. It was exciting, colorful, and intensely played. It was a game we need to see more of.

Other Stuff:

       Monday evening. Take away two fumbles and Georgia Tech might have put something like 52 on Tennessee. Credit the Vols for the rally, but they were lucky, and GT very unlucky…………Unlucky? The biggest thing to come out of the Alabama-Florida State matchup was a crucial season ending injury to a quarterback that FSU simply cannot do without, and after just one game, in this opinion, national title hopes are gone. Clemson now is the top heavy pick to win ACC again, and don’t bet a sawmill dollar against them to repeat either…………..Texas A&M. How to you explain this team. Recruits well. Has talent, but dumb stuff just happens every year. Usually it’s late, but it came early this time. A powder puff looking UCLA team was totally physically over-matched, but scored 35 points in the fourth quarter to win. Twice balls were thrown up for grabs that should have resulted in easy interceptions for the Aggies, but they don’t, and both end up being almost hilarious touchdowns for UCLA. Heads will roll in College Station……………And Texas was supposed to surge back to prominence in the very first year under the guidance of new coach Tom Herman. He even had his players take sledge hammers and destroy the old locker room. They built a new one. They have money in Texas. So they give up half a hundred to Maryland. Apparently they need players in Austin………….Notre Dame and Georgia will play for the first time since the 1981 Sugar Bowl this Saturday. There have been numerous really interesting matchups early in this college football season and this is another one. Also Auburn at Clemson should be a dandy. Auburn should take a clue from Alabama, don’t play strong out of conference teams on the road, and insist on a neutral site……………The NFL season opens up this week. Compared the past few days of college football, the NFL feels ho hum.

Locker Room

By Dan Callahan

The Patriot