Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Tech will be tested in coming weeks

This week's Q&A-Mac is brought to you by the Virginia Tech men's basketball team: Tired yet, fellas?

Q: We're not even a quarter of the way through the ACC season, but the Hokies look worn down at times. Should they be?

A: We're about to find out. On paper, the Hokies are a much better team than Wake Forest, which visits Cassell Coliseum tonight. But this whole eight-healthy-scholarship-players thing keeps getting tested in a variety of ways. This time, we'll see how Tech responds less than 48 hours after falling at North Carolina.

Q: Earlier this week, before the UNC game, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi had the Hokies as one of his "last four in" the field of 68. What do you make of that?

A: I can't believe he has a fake bracket up already.

Q: That's it?

A: That, and I don't think the Hokies should utter the phrase "NCAA tournament" again until mid-February. I know we in the media are part of the problem because we always ask about it, but there's not a thing to be gained for Tech players even to consider where they stand at this point. It's going to take all they have just to win each game in front of them.

Q: Hey, thanks Coach.

A: No problem.

Q: Virginia travels to Duke this afternoon, three days after the Blue Devils saw their 25-game winning streak snapped. Should we hide the women and children, so to speak?

A: Yes. If the Wahoos keep the margin within 15, I'd say that's a job well done.

Q: Got any NFL upsets this weekend?

A: Give me the Ravens over the Steelers today. The other home teams (Chicago, Atlanta, New England) will advance.

Q: All-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman announced his retirement this week to little fanfare. Will you miss him?

A: Hoffman, Greg Maddux and Jamie Moyer are three of the most fascinating pitchers of my lifetime. All have succeeded with fastballs that don't approach 90 mph (at least in the pitchers' twilight years). A change-up is called a change-up for a reason -- it ought to be a surprise -- but Hoffman's was so filthy that it didn't matter who knew it was coming. Great career that deserved a little more attention when it ended.

Q: Heard new Maryland coach Randy Edsall hired LSU's offensive coordinator, Gary Crowton. How'd the Terps swing that?

A: On the surface it sounds like a coup for Maryland -- coordinator at big-time SEC program takes same job at middling ACC school -- but Crowton's passing offense ranked last in the conference this year, while his total offense was second-to-last. Not sure Les Miles was begging the guy to stay.

Q: I've seen a lot of letters in the paper lately saying you guys cover the Hokies too much. What's your take on that?

A: I understand the sentiment. What I don't understand is that letters like this pop up after headlines such as "Miserable in Miami" and "Bitter start to new year" grace the front of the section. You'd think non-Hokies would revel in those bad boys.

Q: Virginia's football recruiting has been --

A: Ahem. Hokie-related questions only, please.

Q: Martinsville Speedway has moved qualifying for the spring race from Friday to Saturday this year. Good move or bad move?

A: Good move. For years, Martinsville has counted on Friday revenue, and I can't imagine many fans will come just to see practice. But with attendance down everywhere and the truck series races not packing them in on Saturdays, this at least increases the likelihood of two decent crowds on race weekend.

Q: ESPN ranked Tyrod Taylor's touchdown pass to David Wilson against Stanford as the No. 2 play of the bowl season. Thoughts?

A: Great play. Wonder if that counts as a top-5 victory?

Q: Wow. The jokes are even weaker than usual today.

A: I know, and that's saying something. Pretty sure I'm down to eight scholarship brain cells.

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