We are all going to Blacksburg. Some of us will drive six or seven hours using the road as therapy to release our pent up tensions. Some of us will book a flight or ride with the friend who has the private plane. Some of us are already there having staked out our recon position deep in enemy territory. Many of us will fly on the wings of our imagination aided by cathodes and integrated circuits. But we are all going to Blacksburg. Count on it. And count on blood.
This is the start of our Labor Day Weekend. There will be trips, picnics, camping and a last stroll on the beach for many. But Labor Day night we will all come in from the camp fires, literally and figuratively, and circle around the glow emanating from Lane Stadium. If you are a true football fan, no matter who you follow, you will be there. If you are a true Jacket fan, you will continue reading after the jump.
At the beginning of the game certain things will be a given. If Coach Johnson wins the toss he will defer until the second half. The first time Tech gets the ball we will strain our eyes to see what formation Tech is really in. Without getting too complicated with this, Tech will tell us a lot by the size of the gaps in the offensive line. The first play will be another give away. Is Coach Johnson springing something new to get a psychological advantage early in the game or is he more concerned with getting his own players into a rhythm before he starts "airing out" his playbook? True Tech fans will lean forward a little more to see what kind of blocking schemes are incorporated on the first drive.
Here is where we will have our first moment of euphoria. The signature piece of the spread option has do do with who you leave unblocked so that you can get a mismatch against the defense. But for Paul Johnson it is not just about reading the defensive end. If the defense plays "cloudy", that is, not giving the quarterback a clear read or giving away who on the defense is committed on a play, he is going to unleash the dogs of war.
Count on it.
Probably by now, if you have been coming to this site for any length of time at all, you know that Tech only runs a true option on about 30% of its plays. The coach's real intention is to get a defense to "play honest." Cheat or over commit and this year's offensive line is going to hit you with "smash mouth football" -so fast you will be picking yourself up off the ground before you realize that the blocking scheme just changed.
It can happen that fast. And with this year's elite offensive line that means Tech has dozens of blocking schemes that it can mix in on any given play. There will be blood.
Virginia Tech is going to have a major disadvantage this year on defense in spite of the fact that they are highly, and rightly, touted. It is their corner backs who will need to play with their heads on a swivel, as coaches like to say. Crash the line from the corner and you will miss the cut block flying in from your blind side against your outside leg. Do this and you may find yourself watching an A back streaking down the sideline for a touchdown as you grab the pain in your leg that has ended your night on the field.
No one wants to see bad injuries. Let us pray there are none. But Virginia Tech better know that this year's team will not be man-handled. This team can not only play with speed, this is a team that is ready to add the next layers of play calling that the coaches have had in mind ever since they began to recruit their own players. Packages, blitzes on defense, stunts on the line and "cherry picking" formations in the secondary are ready to go. On offense, zone blocking, double teams and man-on-man smash mouth will be interchanged constantly. Some blocks will be pancakes and some will be influence blocks. But on every play someone is going to deliver the unexpected blow. Oh, there will be blood.
Now let me tell you four things to get excited about as well as one important thing that you can do when you go to the game (Remember, we are all going to Blacksburg). To me these are not just about Monday's game; these are about the new era beginning at Tech.
First exciting thing. Special teams will be much better. Do not be surprised if Tech's starting field position on a given series improves by an average of ten yards over last year. That means more options for the offense, no pun intended, as well as a longer field for the opposing team to try to drive on.
Second exciting thing. If Tech can get the field position and the opportunities it is looking for don't be surprised when Synjyn Days trots out on the field and lines up in the pistol formation. The coaches have repeatedly said they want to get him on the field but they have been very coy about what position. I have a hunch.
Third exciting thing. Though Hokie fans have been adamant that their offensive line is in good shape even with the loss of all those starters, do not believe it for a moment. It takes game experience as a starter through the course of a season to master pass protection. Practice games will not get it. Look for T.J. Barnes to play the best game of his career.
Fourth exciting thing. Attaochu has something to prove in this game. That's Jeremiah, as in the wrath of a biblical prophet, Attaochu. Virginia Tech's green offense is going to be looking on every play to see where he is and figure out how they can stop him. It will be futile for them.
So here is what you can do at the game. Believe. We are going to win this thing. Do not get discouraged or pull out the old bag of grumbles. Just as light can become a particle or a wave depending on the properties of the observer, combine your quantum mechanical engineering skills to focus all the energy of pent up Jacket rage on the poor hapless Hokie quarterback who is destined to fumble, get sacked, and get intercepted. The string theory that we are going to prove Monday night is that great football programs don't start with great players, they start with the fans believing in those great players.
But is is going to demand some of your blood to make this happen.