How are things looking in Blacksburg? Is Logan Thomas an NFL prospect? How will this game play out? For all of that and much more, here is our Q&A with Gobbler Country.
SOTU: Usually around this time of season, you take a look at the ACC's Coastal standings and the Hokies are at or near the top. What has gone wrong this year, and what will it take for Va Tech to return to the top of the ACC?
GC: What hasn't gone wrong? Terrible offensive play-calling/execution, terrible officiating, and yes, believe it or not even terrible defense (at times). What will it take? Well, I have lost all confidence in the guys up in the booth. O'Cainspring (a combination of Bryan Stinespring/Mike O'Cain the offensive coordinator/guy who does what an offensive coordinator is supposed to do) have been woeful. In fact, look up woeful in the dictionary and you'll see their mugs. They have the offense at a near all-time low, no matter what the stats say. Defensively, the Hokies can't defend the pass. They can't tackle, and up until three weeks ago against Duke, their vaunted defensive line had been hibernating through the first six games of the season. So a lot has gone wrong. The Hokies certainly didn't need any help from the joke of an ACC officiating crew a week ago to help them look bad, they know how to do it all by themselves. However, possibilities still remain. If Tech wins out they still control their own destiny. Lose once and it becomes muddled. To do that several things have to happen. They cannot turn the ball over at anywhere near the rate they have been to return to the top of the ACC. They have to get better play-calling and execution on offense, particularly on the offensive line. Defensively, they have to keep up their pass rush they have exhibited over the last two games which will hopefully result in Tech's secondary being less terrible.
SOTU: Which players/units on the Va Tech have been surprises? Which have been disappointments?
GC: The biggest surprises (at least if you mean in a good way) have been Kyshoen Jarrett and Jack Tyler. Jarrett played sparingly (mostly special teams duty) a year ago, and even then looked like he wasn't ready for the field. But as a true sophomore in a new position nonetheless (in fact, his position was changed a second time just before the season), Jarrett has been one of the Hokies' best two defensive players. Tyler, a former walk-on, is all grit and hard work. He is starting this year due to an off-season injury to last year's starting backer Tariq Edwards, but even since Edwards has gotten back on the field, the coaches have said Tyler is playing too well to take him off the field. He's among the leaders in the ACC in tackles per game and total tackles, and had 17 against Georgia Tech, a game in which he was probably Tech's MVP. Without those two, who knows where the Hokies would be. We could be talking about a two-win team at this point. As for the disappointments? Everybody else.
SOTU: How do feel about QB Logan Thomas as an eventual pro prospect?
GC: I feel completely torn about what I have seen from Logan Thomas. I bought in to everything I heard about him in the off-season and the pre-season, because after all I had watched him a year ago and had seen what a tremendous player he can be. But, as he struggled through the first half of last season, and now the first two-thirds of this season, it really becomes a question of which Logan Thomas is real and which is the aberration? I've never compared him to Cam Newton, because despite his size, he isn't that player. That's not to say he's not capable of being better than Cam Newton (although, I don't know if he is), but rather that he is just not the same type of player. They are completely different. Thomas is more Ben Roethlisberger or my personal comparison favorite, a better version of Josh Freeman, than he is Cam Newton. Having said that, seeing the good version of Logan Thomas lets me know he is CAPABLE of being that good. But can he consistently be that good? That's what is in question. Everyone who knocks him should know that he did put together the best statistical season for a quarterback in Virginia Tech history a year ago, so his praise was not unfounded. But, likewise, those who think he is going to be the next Cam Newton or the best thing since sliced bread need only watch this year's version. I am convinced he'll be a pro quarterback, and a starter at some point. But how good/where he will be drafted is up in the air. I tend to believe he'll be back next year as he has previously said on many occasions, so we still have plenty of time to find the answer to my question above about which Logan Thomas is the real one.
SOTU: What is your all-time favorite memory in the Miami - Virginia Tech series? Least favorite?
GC: Oh man, well, let's see. I guess I've got two, the first of which is probably my true favorite Miami-Virginia Tech series memory, the second is just entertaining. The first is in the 2001 meeting in Blacksburg, when trailing by 8 with just over six minutes left, Eric Green blocked a punt and Brandon Manning housed it to draw the Hokies within two. The reaction to that play actually registered on the Richter Scale. Even with the expansion since then, I maintain that Lane Stadium has never been louder. Of course we all know how that one ended. The other favorite memory I have of the game came during the 2003 meeting, when my friend and former Virginia Tech fan (who was converted to a Miami fan via their baseball program) called me and left a message while watching the game. It was halftime before I realized he had called, so I listened to it and heard the best voice message in human history. It went as follows: "Hey asshole. It's 0-0 in the second quarter, and my 'Canes are going to win...(silence and sputtering) WHAT!? NO! FUCK! NO! GOD DAMMIT! Whatever, we're going to win anyway--click." That message of course was during DeAngelo Hall's strip and score of Roscoe Parrish, putting the Hokies up 7-0. Unfortunately, though I saved the message, this was in the days before smart phones and before people considered the value of these things. Ultimately, when the phone went kaput, so did the message. But I don't know if I've ever laughed so hard over anything else.
SOTU: Who are the 3 best players in the history of the school regardless of position?
GC: Wow...that's a tough one. If we're going talent, obviously Michael Vick is in the top three. If we're going production, I'd go Bruce Smith, Corey Moore and Lee Suggs. If we're going talent, I'd say Michael Vick, Kevin Jones and Bruce Smith.
SOTU: Finally, how do you see Thursday Night's game playing out? Who wins and by what score?
GC: I'm making this pick by going against every thing I have seen this season, and going with everything I knew before this season. I've got the Hokies winning a close one, 34-28. Miami's going to score. They've proven that. But if the Hokies' defense keeps up some of the things they've been doing over the past few weeks (i.e. pressuring the quarterback and not looking like they're trying to throw the game with their play in the secondary), I don't know if they can score enough to offset their own defensive inadequacies, no matter how bad the Virginia Tech offense decides to be. I have about a 50% confidence level on this though, so if Miami does pull the "upset", I won't be shocked. The only shock will be about how far the team/program continues to fall.
Thanks again to the guys over at Gobbler Country for working with us. Be sure to look out for our answers to their questions later in the week.