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College Football Spotlight

The Great Debate

October 05, 2003|Jay Christensen, Jim Rhode

NO. 4 VIRGINIA TECH IS 5-0 AND COULD BE BOUND FOR THE SUGAR BOWL.

ARE THE HOKIES FOR REAL?

POINT: Virginia Tech is a fraud. Most teams start their season in September. Unfortunately, the Hokies begin play in November. They've beaten five teams with a combined record of 13-13, one of the victories over James Madison. It might as well have been Dolly Madison. Virginia Tech plays five of its first six games at home. Not until a Nov. 1 game against Miami -- at Blacksburg, of course -- will we get an indication of the level of football Virginia Tech is playing. Of course, the Hokies have been breaking down film and practicing for the Hurricanes since practice began this fall while munching on the Dolly Madisons of the world. Right now, Virginia Tech is no different from Northern Illinois -- both are flies holding invitations to the BCS picnic. Corrective measures will take place. It's only a matter of time before true identities are revealed.

Jay Christensen

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COUNTERPOINT: These aren't last season's Hokie Pokies, who started 8-0 but couldn't turn themselves around after a 28-21 loss to Pittsburgh at Blacksburg -- losing four of their last six games. Yes, the Hokies' early-season schedule is softer than the Pillsbury Doughboy's midsection, but don't poke fun at them. Quarterback Bryan Randall's name isn't tossed around in Heisman discussions, but he is good enough as a passer and runner to keep Michael Vick's brother Marcus from starting. Kevin Jones gives Virginia Tech the game-breaking running back that principal rival Miami now lacks with the season-ending injury to Frank Gore. And the defense that was steamrollered by Miami, Pittsburgh and Syracuse last season will bring the heat this time around. There's a new attitude with a sack-happy veteran defensive line, a roll-the-dice linebacking corps led by Vegas Robinson and an athletic secondary that features DeAngelo Hall, cut from the mold of former Georgia star Champ Bailey. And no coach is better in the nation at getting big plays from his special teams than Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer. It will be four-on-the-floor (Syracuse, West Virginia, Miami and Pittsburgh -- teams that defeated Virginia Tech last season) in consecutive weeks as this Beamer maneuvers through BCS gridlock to reach New Orleans.

-- Jim Rhode

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