By Rich Tandler
Coming into todays game against Virginia Tech, Virginia had a chance to play for the ACC title next week. And Cavaliers coach Mike London was willing to gamble to take that chance.Virginia was down 7-0 but they had driven deep into Tech territory with their second possession of the game. On third and six at the 10, quarterback Michael Rocco ran for three yards, setting up fourth and three at the seven.London didnt hesitate. He decided against taking the fairly safe three points and left his offense on the field.It was the opportunity to send a message to our guys up front that if youre going to win championships, if youre going to win games, youve got to be able to knock people off the ball and gain a yard, London said. They did a good job of defending it and we didnt get it.It set the tone for them to go the other way.Perhaps if London had known a couple of things about Virginia Tech at that moment he might have taken the three points.For one thing, the Hokies were more fired up for this intrastate rivalry game than they usually are. They were a bit salty about all of the attention that the revival of the Virginia program has been getting. They felt like they should be getting more respect since they were, after all, the defending ACC champs.Nobody was really talking about us, said quarterback Logan Thomas. They all were talking about Virginia, how well Virginia was going to play against us and how well they were going to do.We kind of took it as a bit of a slap in the face.Running back David Wilson added, A lot of people doubted us this week. A lot of people were ragging on us about our schedule.Of course, very few actually picked 8-4 Virginia to win the game over the 10-1 Hokies and you wont find too many observers who dont have tremendous respect for Frank Beamer and his program. But apparently some players heard some things being said during the week and they parlayed the few doubting utterances into a masterful playing of the disrespect card.The other factor going in the Hokies favor was that linebacker Jack Tyler anticipated the play that the Cavaliers ran on fourth down. He had seen something during film study in the week leading up to the game. When the Cavaliers interior linemen lined up a bit further apart than usual, he figured they would run a play they called Iso.Rocco handed off to Kevin Parks. For a brief moment it looked like he had enough of a hole to get the first down. But Tyler came knifing in and tripped up Parks. The back stumbled and came up a yard short of the first down.The gaps got a little bigger and we saw that on film and we kind of anticipated it going into the game, said Tyler. I read it quickly and just tried to dive in there and make the play and luckily he tripped over me.It probably would not have made much difference if London had taken the three points. The Hokies were in control virtually the entire game as they led 14-0 at halftime and 21-0 after three quarters on their way to a 38-0 rout. It seems likely that if Virginia had kicked a field goal there the final would have been 38-3.Beamer understood what London was trying to do but he knew his team was ready to respond. I appreciate their philosophy that they want to hammer you but I also appreciate that we want to hammer them back, he said.In recent years in this series, the Hokies have been the hammer while the Cavaliers have been the nail as Tech has now won eight straight over the Cavaliers and 12 of the last 13.
By Rich Tandler