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Bourbon Shots: Swagger Edition

Virginia Tech hosts Miami this weekend in a matchup that has everyone talking. Let's go around the blogosphere (and mainstream media) to find out what people are saying about this critical Coastal clash. We'll also here opinions on other ACC games and get a few random thoughts in.

Virginia Tech vs. Miami, 3:30, ABC/ESPN Reverse Mirror

Mainstream Media

Hokies' defense ready to tackle next challenge (Annette)
"The difference this year is that they’ve been giving up too many big plays -- distances like 31, 39, 61, 60 and 48 yards. Nebraska’s Roy Helu Jr. became the third running back this season to rush for over 100 yards on the Hokies. Virginia Tech hasn’t allowed that to happen since 2002. There’s a good possibility it can happen again this weekend, as Miami running back Graig Cooper is averaging 62 yards per game, and he’s got plenty of help from Javarris James. They’re just a fraction, though, of the Canes’ options."

Miami's offensive options seemingly endless (Annette)
"Twelve different players have caught at least one pass for the No. 9-ranked Hurricanes heading into Saturday’s showdown at No. 11 Virginia Tech. And six of them have at least five catches. Seven different players have scored touchdowns in wins over two ranked ACC opponents. Three different receivers have run a reverse. Miami returns nine of its top 10 leaders in all-purpose yards from 2008. Running backs Graig Cooper and Javarris James have helped the Canes to a 7-2 record when they combine for at least 25 carries. And, of course, they’ve finally got a quarterback to lead them all in Jacory Harris."

Miami brings bombs over Blacksburg (Dr Saturday/Smart Football)
"The most obvious -- and potent -- example of this has been the Canes' first down passing attack: A staggering 60 percent of Harris' passing yards have come on first down (for some comparison, 38 percent of Texas Tech's yards have come on first down). And on almost all of these -- almost all of which are downfield shots -- Whipple has put Harris in either a short roll-out (a "waggle") or used play-action. Their go-to play so far hasn't been anything complicated, as it involves one guy going deep with another on a fifteen yard square-in. In fact, the play is so common it is often referred to as "the NCAA route," because "everyone in the NCAA runs it.""

Miami's Man Defense edition (Kyle Tucker)
"Hello, hand-wringers. This is the part where we remind you of one very important detail about QB Tyrod Taylor. The kid likes man coverage. Why’s that important? Because Miami plays a lot of man coverage. So did Florida State when Taylor was a true freshman ... a game in which he completed 10 of 15 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns (and rushed for 92 more yards and a score). Miami played a lot of man-to-man last year, too, when Taylor was sharing reps with Sean Glennon. Playing mostly in the second half, he was 6 of 12 for 75 yards and ran for 43 yards and two touchdowns."

Hokies' D-line must turn up heat on Harris (Aaron McFarling)
Statistically, Tech's pass rush has been a disappointment so far this year. The Hokies tallied 35 sacks in 14 games last season, an average of 2.5 per game. They have just three so far this year, and only half of that total has come from the front four. That's worrisome, particularly when this matchup dictates that the grunts apply the majority of the pressure. Leave this Tech secondary one-on-one too often, and those tall, fleet Miami receivers will shred it like they did against Florida State. You can throw in occasional blitzes from linebackers and corners, but they must be well-timed."

Miami Presents Another Forceful Defensive Front (Mark Viera)
"Although it is only September, Virginia Tech has already faced some of the nation’s top defensive linemen. And on Saturday, the No. 11 Hokies will meet another difficult defensive front in No. 9 Miami. The Hurricanes (2-0, 2-0 ACC) have a deep rotation of speedy, athletic defensive linemen. Although its offensive under coordinator Mark Whipple has been a hot topic of this young college football season, Miami's aggressive defensive front has gained the attention of the Hokies (2-1, 0-0)."

Coastal contenders set to collide in Tech-Miami matchup (Randy King)
"Seconds after the Tech-Nebraska game ended, a swarm of Tech students burst from the Lane Stadium stands and raced onto the field in celebration. Holly Rowe, a sideline reporter for ESPN/ABC, was attempting to solicit reaction from Beamer, but the interview was cut short after only one question when Beamer started hollering "no, no, no" to someone off-camera. When asked what set him off, Beamer said Tuesday: "What happened was Holly came out, and kids were gathering around and they were kinda pushing and shoving. We just needed to settle down; I wanted to celebrate, too. But I didn't want anybody to get hurt. So that's all I was trying to do, to get the kids to calm down a little bit."

Tech cornerback Stephan Virgil looks like he's getting healthy (Norm Wood)
"Virgil, a starter who missed No. 11 Tech's last two games with a sprained left knee, was apparently full speed in Tuesday's practice and showed no lingering effects from the knee injury he sustained late in the Alabama game, according to Tech cornerback Rashad Carmichael. Now, since Carmichael doesn't have "M.D." after his name and has no formal athletic training experience to my knowledge, it'd be a bit premature to go ahead and sign off on Virgil's health based on Carmichael's report...but it looks like Virgil's knee at least passes the eye test."

Six keys to Virginia Tech vs. Miami (Darryl Slater)
"OFFENSIVE CONSISTENCY: Tech’s offense came through just in time against Nebraska, as the Hokies saved themselves with a 5-play, 88-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass with 21 seconds left in the game. Other than that, the offense did precious little. The Hokies had 11 drives before that final possession. Nine ended in Tech territory. And before the last drive, Tech had gained 195 yards in the game."

Virginia Tech football announces fund raiser (HokieSports)
"Head coach Frank Beamer and the Virginia Tech football team announced Thursday a fund raiser to support research for Ewing's Sarcoma, in honor of Mark Herzlich, a linebacker for Boston College. Team United wrist bands will be sold for $1 each this Saturday as the Hokies take on the Miami Hurricanes at 3:30 p.m., and will be sold through Oct. 9. Members of the Virginia Tech football scout team will be circulating throughout the parking lots in an effort to sell wrist bands."


OTB’s Thursday ACC Pick’em (On The B.Rink)
"I love what Miami has for backs in Cooper and James–these guys are big, but lean–physical, but fast and can be effective in the passing game too. The emphasis will be on pressuring Harris from the Hokies D and the running game will be stressed in the Miami camp this week."

Miami at Virginia Tech Prediction (The ACC & SEC Blog)
"Nobody is hotter than Harris and the Miami offense right now. If VT cannot solve their woes stopping the run then it could be a long day for Frank Beamer's team. For the Hokies to win this game, they have to win the turnover battle, keep Miami's offense off the field, and get some big plays on special teams."

Weekend Preview, Sept. 25 (
"Key for the Hokies: Keep track of the Miami’s deep threats. Harassing QB Jacory Harris isn’t necessarily a precursor to success; it must be supplemented with superior coverage."

It's About To Get Heavy (Fight for Old DC)
"I'm not going to give you any more Cane love, because we got enough of it from Tom on Tuesday. Yes, Miami has the athletes. Yes, they have confidence, and a legitimate offensive coordinator. No, their egos are not in check. This Hokie team, to put it into hockey terms, has a lot of sandpaper to them. They've got guts and grit, and that goes a long way toward winning. They might not come out on top on Saturday, but I certainly think they'll make a dogfight of it. That being said, I still like the boys in Maroon to prove everyone wrong as home underdogs. Remember Clemson in 2006? This will be a similar game (with a better showing from Miami), and I think it might be JO's coming out party. Let's do this thing."

College Football TV Viewing Guide (Beer Control Offense)
"First lets get this out there, VT can not win without 1, likely 2 td's scored or setup (inside the 15) by the defense or special teams. CAN NOT. The O is not there and won't be there against a defense with kind of athletes (even if the Hokies have that caliber as well.) Bud's D is shaky, DT Graves is likely out or ineffective with a bum ankle, so this does not look good. 0 sacks, o hurries is the stat line for Jacory Harris' OL. Incredible. VT has 1 sack or something small. Ruh-roh. Couple that with poor tackling and being out of place on D is really hampering this unit as well. The Hokies will tackle better and will get a mileage out of being a home dog, but in the end the poor O won't be able to get it done. If there were a nite game ... man, it would be a tougher pick. By the way if Miami wins they will be the Coastal champ with only UNC left on their sched of the contenders. A must win for VT. Confidence factor, high."

Game 4: Miami Preview (The North End Zone)
"This is the game when the defense needs to make some noise. We are currently ranked way lower than 1st in total defense (77th to be exact, a spot usually reserved for our offense). Our team is still built around defense, and a lot of the struggles have been because of the terrible offense."

Virginia Tech vs Miami Game Back in Spotlight (VT Fan)
"I personally think its a bit premature to declare Miami as officially "back". After all, they've only won 2 games, one due to a dropped last second FSU touchdown pass and the other a home win over Georgia Tech who is currently being re-evaluating by everyone who had them as one of the ACC's elite teams in 2009."

Five Reasons Why Miami Beats Virginia Tech (Canespace)
"Reason #2: Virginia Tech Is Over-rated - I am not saying this will be a huge blow out has some have suggested, although I wouldn’t be shocked if it happened, but Virginia Tech is once again over-rated. They lost to Alabama, beat up on powerhouse Marshall and then beat a "decent at best" Cornhusker team on the final play. I for one think VT is overrated every year. I know they are the defending ACC champs and they win 9 – 10 games a year and all, but they don’t win in the big games. Even when they start off the year 8-0 they find a way to self destruct. This year is no different. Tyrod Taylor is to VT what Chris Rix was to FSU, a QB that will never get any better, no matter how you hype him up. VT is predictable and lacks any real playmakers and have been exposed by Bama and Nebraska already. Now Miami gets to push them even further down the rankings."

A look around the ACC (StateFans Nation)
"Obviously a huge game as the national media has jumped back on the Miami bandwagon. VT and points in Blacksburg against an ACC opponent that we beat the last two years? On principle, I will take VT and the points."

ACC Football (All Time EDT)

North Carolina at Georgia Tech, Noon, Raycom

UNC Preview (From The Rumble Seat)
"Key to victory really falls on our defense. We've got to force turnovers. In 2008, the Heels had -2.2 turnover margin in losses. The Heels are at an even 0 turnover margin on the season and the Jackets HAVE to put it into the negatives if we're to have any success against a vaunted UNC defense. Field position will be key and big turnovers and special teams will be huge."

High Stakes In Atlanta On Saturday (Tar Heel Fan)
"For UNC, this game is all about opportunity. UNC’s 3-0 start this season is the best opening win streak since 1997 when the Heels started 8-0. With a hapless Virginia team the following week and FCS team Georgia Southern after that, UNC has a good shot at starting the season 6-0 should they beat Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Yes, the back half of the schedule is brutal but nothing builds confidence better than getting off to a hot start. In terms of the ACC race, UNC can kill multiple birds with one stone. For starters it is an ACC win and puts UNC in the mix with the winner of the Miami-Virgina Tech game being played later in the day. Secondly, a win against Georgia Tech all but knocks the Yellow Jackets out of contention and at minimum places them behind UNC in the pecking order going forward."

South Florida at Florida State, Noon, ESPNU

Can the Noles avoid the Bulls' horns? (Tomahawk Nation)
"I'm scared of this game. Not because I think USF is good, but because I think the Seminoles are in a bad spot. Riding high off their 54-28 win over #7 ranked BYU, FSU is banged up. Really banged up. They are without DT Moses McCray and DT Justin Mincey. Their only healthy defensive tackles are undersized senior Kendrick Stewart, promising freshman Jacobbi McDaniel- who has a bum MCL, and the high on energy but low on effectiveness Budd Thacker. Additionally, both rovers, senior Corey Mangum and freshman Nick Moody are banged up. Additionally, FSU's lame duck defensive ends coach, Jody Allen, continues to hold a grudge and insists on starting the worst starter in my lifetime (both '85)- walk on defensive end Craig Yarborough."

FSU vs. USF Gut Prediction (Scalp Em)
"USF has everything to gain in this match up. The Noles have nothing to gain. A win is expected, a loss throws the season back into a bit of turmoil and doubt. It’s a trap game for FSU, but I have to believe that the Noles are focused on the task at hand and will get the job done on Saturday. I’m confident in a Seminoles victory tomorrow, and I’ll stick with the preseason score prediction (with some help from the ABOUT TO FAIL BULL)."

Wake Forest at Boston College, 2:00, ESPN360

Boston College-Wake Forest Game and the Big Finish (BC Interruption)
"Brian: There was clearly nothing to be happy about when evaluating Shinskie on Saturday either. You could tell he was very unsure of himself under center. I'm not very happy with this decision, but hopefully two things happen on Saturday: one of these two guys will elevate his game and Spaz will feel comfortable in selecting one of the two as the starter. I fear if this goes on much longer, it will be a long, long season."

BC-Wake Forest preview (Eagle in Atlanta)
"As frustrated as we all were last week I don’t think hope is lost. Our defense validated our beliefs that they would be strong. If we can just manufacture some points I think we can win this. I think this will be another close BC-Wake classic with BC holding on for the win."

Pittsburgh at NC State, 3:30, ESPNU

Wannstache Week: Mixed Signals (Backing The Pack)
"None of Pittsburgh's opponents have been able to establish anything on the ground, and that includes those tricky Midshipmen, who were limited to 129 yards on 46 carries. They put Navy in a bunch of 2nd-and-long and 3rd-and-long situations, their talented defensive line was able to tee off, and the results for Navy were predictably disastrous."

TCU at Clemson, 3:30, ESPN360

TCU Preview (Block-C)
"The local media outlets and message boards have beat the hell out of the fact that we did very poorly in the red zone last week against Boston College. However, a very important fact is being overlooked: Boston College has the fourth ranked defense in the entire nation right now. Of course that’s just on paper only four weeks into the season. The Tigers played a great defense that stalled an offense with a potential Heisman candidate carrying the ball and still managed to score on seven separate occasions. A lot of noise has been made about TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes. He will get a sack or two but expect Clemson to employ a double team that will receive helpful down blocking from tight end Michael Palmer and backfield smash-mouthing from Rendrick Taylor."

Rutgers at Maryland, 3:30, ESPN360

A Look Ahead to Maryland-Rutgers (Testudo Times)
"Actually, this game is a must-win for both teams. Maryland needs something positive to cling to, a turning point that can right the season after an awful start. Rutgers needs the win to re-assert themselves against a major opponent after the ugly Cincy loss. Emotions should be running high for both teams on Saturday, and both should have a sense of urgency."

Virginia vs. Its Own Personal Demons

Which coaches? (From Old Virginia)
"All of which would be forgotten in two seconds if he were hired. He's done nothing but kick ass at every stop. Two Division II national championships. (Grand Valley State is a Division II powerhouse, thanks to Kelly who built that program from the ground up.) He took Central Michigan from a program that won three games every year to MAC champs in three years. They're still enjoying the fruits of that labor. He took Cincinnati to the Orange Bowl. In short, everywhere he's been, he's taken that team to heights they've never before achieved. The Brian Kelly years at three different schools, short though they may have been, have been the pinnacle, which they may have matched since but never topped. The man can coach."

Stuff Only I Care About

Good Colt, Bad Colt (Burnt Orange Nation)
"The Snap Shots series continues, this time with a look at Colt McCoy's execution on two iterations of a similar play, one ending with a 20 yard gain... the other with an interception. The video quality I used is pretty poor, but you should be able to get the ideas."

Tennessee vs. Ohio: game preview (Rocky Top Talk)
"If the Vols had any notion of using this game to boost Jonathan Crompton's confidence by giving him practice reps throwing the ball, they might want to reconsider against a defense that is surprisingly ball-hawkish for the MAC. On the other hand, Tennessee should be able to run the ball fairly well, especially if they're able to get past LBs Keller and Renfro."

Alabama vs Arkansas Overview (Roll 'Bama Roll)
"There are two majors reasons for that: One, Arkansas looks to be a much better team this year than they were a year ago, and two, last year's game was much closer than the scoreboard indicated. Lopsided score notwithstanding, last year's game was actually played pretty evenly by the two teams, and the massive disparity on the scoreboard resulted from four major players all going Alabama's way. Those four plays were Glen Coffee's long touchdown run, Casey Dick's two interceptions (while driving) that were returned for touchdowns, and Terrence Cody's goal line stand to end the first half, and all of them directly resulted in Alabama touchdowns. Don't expect all of the big plays to go the Tide's way this year, and thus a much closer game this time around."

Preview: Indiana (MGoBlog)
"So maybe it's more relevant that Indiana was 91st in rushing defense last year. They were 35th after three weeks against—hey!—Western Kentucky, Murray State, and about-to-be-rampant-through-the-MAC Ball State. How did that work out? In their never-ending quest to wear Javon Ringer's legs down to tiny nubs, Michigan State went for 236 yards on 52 carries. So… yeah. For the 15th-ranked rushing defense they are not exactly intimidating."

Buchholz is coldly efficient (Globe)
Amalie Benjamin, who I love and in a heartbeat would give up my hard-drinking, road-tripping bachelor ways for, says Clay Buchholz has the Red Sox riding high heading into their series with the Yankees. "That good roll got the Sox a win. As they head to New York playing far better than they were the last time they graced the Yankee Stadium turf, the Red Sox saved a split at Kauffman Stadium, taking last night’s game by a 10-3 score in front of 20,807. With a loss earlier in the day by the fading Rangers, the Sox cut two off their magic number, shrinking it to just three heading into the weekend’s series against the Yankees."

Predicting Sabres Opening Night Roster (Die By The Blade)
"In the last couple of days we have heard a lot of talk about the Sabres possible line combination's. We have also heard talk about the play of the rookies and who might be able to crack the Sabres lineup. Will Nathan Gerbe make the team? How about Tim Kennedy? Does Tyler Myers have a chance? Mike Weber, any chance he makes it?"

 Kristin Chenoweth won an award; needs a job (The Lost Ogle)
"Yeah, this would probably be the appropriate time to mention that Clark Matthews and I have been writing our first ever TV pilot. The name of the show is "Kristen Chenoweth Nude!" The plot line is pretty simple. Basically, me and nude Kristin Chenoweth play lurid Oklahoma City police detectives who solve crimes and stuff. Every now and then, Clark Matthews will show up as an angel or something and help guide us with trivial clues. Our goal is that this show will appear on cable. You know, so it will win awards and stuff."

Deer Creek District Preview (Bob Przybylo)
"Feels like Deer Creek will be fighting an uphill battle in this district. El Reno and Lawton Mac haven’t given anyone any reason to believe they won’t be the top two teams. The Antlers have had trouble scoring this season, totaling 41 points in their three games. Injuries have plagued Grant Gower’s group, and there just isn’t enough depth this year to overcome that. Defense has been solid, except for second half against Shawnee. Michael Coleman has been a surprise, leading the team with 29 tackles. If junior Colten Sander can stay healthy, anchored by a strong offensive line, Deer Creek should still be in the mix of the playoff hunt. Teams that could surprise would be Duncan and Chickasha."