Saturday, October 09, 2010
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Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Former Virginia coach full of sound bites

This week's Q&A-Mac is brought to you by Al Groh: Still providing the money quotes that echo throughout the commonwealth.

Q: What was your favorite quote from Al Groh this week as he prepared to lead Georgia Tech's defense against his old team?

A: That's a tough question. There are simply so many. "I am just not ready to retire from me" was really strong. Also a big fan of the one where he broke out in third person: "There is no dilemma or no secret analyzing how Al Groh thinks."

Q: You mean there's one better than that?

A: Oh, yes. When Groh was asked about trying to simplify things this week given his unit's recent struggles, here's what he said: "We try to be analytical and a little introspective, which involves self-criticism as well as self-reinforcement at certain stages."

Q: Simplicity, thy name is Al.

A: Exactly.

Q: The Groh subplot aside, do the Cavaliers have a chance today?

A: I think they do. Georgia Tech has not impressed. But then again, I thought UVa would keep it close against Florida State last week, and we saw how that went. Having former VMI coach Jim Reid as their defensive coordinator should aid the Cavs in stopping the option. The better question is how UVa's offense will fare, and that's been impossible to predict.

Q: The combined record of Virginia Tech's next three opponents is 5-10, starting with today's matchup with Central Michigan (2-3). Besides win the games, what's the No. 1 thing the Hokies need to do over the next three weeks?

A: Start better. By the time they get to November -- when the key Coastal Division games against Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami will be settled -- the Hokies need to know they can strike early on offense and defend well from the opening kick. First-half deficits like those against Boise State (17-0), East Carolina (10-0) and N.C. State (17-0) have become a disturbing trend.

Q: Coach Frank Beamer said this week that we should primarily credit the opponents for Tech's struggles early in the games. Buy that?

A: No. Sure, the opponents always have something to do with the results. But that's not the message I'd want to send if I were Beamer.

Q: What message should he send?

A: That if they're as good as they think they are, they ought to be able to exert their will immediately -- against any opponent. Don't forget that Tech fumbled on its second play from scrimmage against Boise State and set up another Broncos score by having a punt blocked. Tech needs to hold itself accountable for such issues.

Q: Kansas coach Turner Gill has implemented a new curfew policy that forbids football players from seeing women after 10 p.m. during the season. Thoughts?

A: That's one heck of a recruiting tool there. Come to Kansas, where we don't trust you! I appreciate the attempt to promote discipline, but that's more than a little harsh. Can't see him sticking with this more than a year before deciding it's not realistic.

Q: Perhaps he got an advance copy of that "thesis" from Duke ...

A: Let's not go there.

Q: What did you learn during the first few games of the MLB playoffs?

A: That Tampa Bay's lineup is really bad. Willy Aybar (.230 batting average, 6 home runs, 43 RBIs) is your DH? Kelly Shoppach (.196-5-17) bats seventh in the order? Even the Pirates would laugh at that. Winning the AL East with sticks like this was nothing short of miraculous.

Q: Can you imagine a Braves dugout without Bobby Cox?

A: Hard to. And that's why it's easy to pull for the Braves during Cox's final go-round. But even when he retires from managing after this postseason, I'm confident of one thing ...

Q: What's that?

A: That he'll never retire from him.

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