Hokies’ Schedule Worries Some, but Poses Few ChallengesIt may have taken the ACC forever, but the 2013 football schedule is here and Hokie fans are already up in arms about it.
Courtesy of hokiesports.com
Everyone knew about the team’s opening date with the defending national champs in Atlanta, as even players and coaches have begun to adopt the popular #BEATBAMA hashtag, but the rest of the team’s schedule came as a bit of surprise to many.
To start with, there’s a noticeable absence of a Thursday night game in Lane Stadium, marking the first time there hasn’t been one in Blacksburg since 2001.
Many fans, particularly students, outraged by this, and while I get the frustration, it shouldn’t be a total surprise.
Sure, I was looking forward to having one last Thursday night game for my senior year, but those matchups aren’t exactly the most profitable in college football these days.
For all of the sport’s popularity, the NFL remains the top dog, and given the league’s new commitment to Thursdays, the ratings just aren’t the same for the lowly ACC anymore. Even conference power Florida State didn’t earn a Thursday night date, making it pretty clear that the conference is punting the night almost entirely.
Furthermore, it’s not like last year’s 7-6 squad is inspiring a lot of confidence from the nation at large. Diehard fans may recognize the team’s potential for improvement in 2013, but I doubt the rest of the country feels the same.
The only home game that even makes the slightest amount of sense for a Thursday night contest is October 5th, when UNC comes to town, but I have a hard time believing casual fans would rather watch that than the NFL game that will be running concurrently.
The bigger problem is the fact that the schedule ends with three of the final games on the road. This is probably a consequence of the final date being in Charlottesville for the UVA game this year, considering this has happened twice before when the teams heads to Hoo-ville in 2009 and 2011.
The silver lining here is that the team went 4-0 over that stretch in those seasons, but those were veteran teams instead of the youthful roster the team will be fielding next year. If things are least bit close in the Coastal as the year winds down, which is a distinct possibility if UNC and Miami keep up their momentum from last season, then these games away from could be a big handicap.
But all of this obscures the fact that this is an incredibly winnable schedule for the Hokies.
Obviously, all of this is presupposing the fact that Logan Thomas looks more like his 2011 self than the 2012 trainwreck and that the offense matures in a hurry, but it’s not as if the team has a whole lot to deal with in terms of their opponents.
Alabama is an awful tall order to start the season, but from there, things get easy quickly.
East Carolina has given the team some trouble in the past, especially on the road, but it’s bookended by comfortable home dates with West Carolina and Marshall.
The team gets North Carolina and Pittsburgh at home, both teams that beat the Hokies on the road last year, and another easy home match with Duke.
Sure, there is the potential for trouble in having to play on short rest against Georgia Tech on the road, and in having to travel to distant Boston and Miami in consecutive weeks, but it’s not like any of these teams are conference titans these days.
There’s no Florida State on this schedule, nor Clemson, meaning that the onus is on Frank Beamer to whip this team into shape.
This isn’t a schedule that’s going to impress anyone, so it’s up to the team to try and limit their losses to the kickoff game and one tough road game at the very most.
If Thomas can’t end his career with a bang with this schedule, then he definitely doesn’t deserve a place in the pantheon of great Tech quarterbacks, and if Frank is looking for another BCS bowl berth, the ACC seems willing to accommodate him.
All they need to do now is play the games.
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