Wednesday, August 23, 2006

FSU is Officially Virginia Tech's Daddy

No one can dipute that Frank Beamer has done an admirable job at the helm of the Virginia Tech Hokies. Much like Bobby Bowden, Beamer took a program with no tradition of success and built it into a powerhouse program that makes annual appearances in the Top 10. Beamer's efforts culminated in the Hokie's appearance in the 2000 Sugar Bowl, a tremendous game they briefly led in the third-quarter before falling to Florida State.

But the point of this article is not to gloat about FSU's Title-winning victory over Michael Vick and the Hokies (...or the Noles' upset win in the ACCCG last season...or the 2002 Gator Bowl...or FSU's 21-10-1 advantage in the all-time series). The point is to shed light on the impact Bobby Bowden had on Frank Beamer and the emergence of Virginia Tech as a national power.

As Mark Schlabach revealed in his recent column, FSU left a lasting impression on the Head Hokie after the Noles put a 41-14 beat-down on his team in 1988. Florida State's dominance on special teams stood out in particular to Beamer, who began to put a special emphasis on his own special teams. As a result, the Hokies great punt- and kick-return teams of the '90s were largely responsible for their emergence in the national consiousness. Virginia Tech owes FSU a large debt for their current standing among the big boys of college football (Apparently the Hokies are paying that debt back in installments, with the 1999 Sears Trophy serving as a down-payment and the 1st-ever ACCCG Trophy knocking off some interest). For the full article click below...

VaTech's success built on FSU blueprint

This article was not just a refreshing reminder that Georgia, Clemson, and Virginia Tech all owe Bobby Bowden a nice gift basket for the current health of their programs. It took me back to 1988 when Bobby was the riverboat gambler and FSU dominated their opponents on offense, defense, AND special teams. A steady stream of All-American returners paraded through Tallahassee, from Deion Sanders to Terrell Buckley to Tamarick Vanover. The Noles used to block kicks at a staggering rate, and before we were all traumatized by Wide Right there used to be rock-solid kickers like Derek Schmidt. In the 90's FSU continued to produce special teams stand-outs like Sean Liss, Peter Warrick, and 1st-round kicker Sebastian Janikowski.

While the offense has trailed off as of late, and the recent defenses - while still strong - have not yet matched the awe-inspiring units of the late 90's, the special teams tradition appears to be making a come-back. Field goal kicking is still an issue (see: 2005 Orange Bowl) but other than that special teams have sparkled lately. BJ Ward was a kick-blocking demon. Blocked punts have again become the norm. Players like Jared Hetzel, Antonio Cromartie, and Pat Watkins have terrorized opposing returners while Leon Washington and Willie Reid were both threats to score on every return. In the last six games of 2005 Florida State averaged 20.5 yards per punt return, and that includes the two-returns-for-one-yard disaster at UF. Included in those gaudy numbers are four returns for touchdowns.

Now a new guard takes over. Watkins will have to be replaced at gunner, Reid on punt returns, and someone must step in for the departed Kenny O'Neal on kick returns. But if history is any indication opposing fans must still close their eyes and hope for the best every time an FSU fields a kick. As it turns out, the Frank Beamers of the world still have a lot to learn from 'ol Bobby.


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