Having been at the helm of Virginia Tech since 1987, Frank Beamer is entering his 28th season as the head coach of the Hokies. His Week 1 coaching rival, Nick Saban, did not even get his first head coaching gig until a few years later, in 1990, with Toledo. Saban has only been at Alabama since 2007.
Beamer also trots out Logan Thomas under center, a 6-foot-6, 260-pounder that looks far more like a linebacker than quarterback. The senior’s arm is stronger and he is more mobile than Alabama’s 6-foot-4, 210-pound senior starter A.J. McCarron.
However, as the Tide and Va. Tech prepare for their Aug. 31 collision in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Beamer’s experience and Thomas’ sheer size seems to be the only advantage the Hokies have on paper.
Alabama is coming off its second consecutive national title, while Tech recently wrapped up a disappointing seven-win campaign. Along with McCarron, the Tide boasts elite upperclassmen talent at several positions. Tide fans are most worried about their team’s offensive line. However, stepping up for departed stars Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker and Barrett Jones along the offensive line are the Kuodjiando brothers, Anthony Steen and junior Austin Shephard.
Linebacker C.J. Mosley leads the way defensively, but defensive backs Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Vinnie Sunseri are All-Americans in the making.
Virginia Tech could not be in a more opposing situation as we count down the days before kickoff. The team’s best defensive player, cornerback Antone Exum, had been hoping to be 100% healthy after suffering a torn ACL. However, it was not meant to be, and he will be watching from the sidelines.
To compound matters, Beamer will not have the senior leadership to lean on like Saban will. In fact, nearly 40 percent of the players he is taking to the Georgia Dome are either true or redshirt freshmen. That means a lot of teenagers are going to be playing their very first college football game against national championship-winning 20-year-olds.
But that’s exactly the point: The Hokies are playing. No matter who is out, who has graduated or how young the players are, this team is not forfeiting. Games are not won or lost on paper.
They are not won or lost based on the number of championship trophies being shown off in some case hundreds of miles away from where the game is being played.
The game is won on the field, by those that have worked harder, prepared longer and simply decided that they wanted it more.
The Hokies will have their chance to knock off the nation’s No. 1 team, but will they?
We have no idea, but perhaps you do. It’s time to Settle It.