The last couple of seasons, Virginia Tech's stands would be full of students, fans, and alumni screaming at the top of their lungs, "Fire Stinespring," referring to the team's offensive coordinator, Bryan Stinespring.
Were they warranted? Well, an offense that ranks out of the top 100 for three years in a row isn't something to brag about when you're supposed to be one of the ACC's best teams.
However, 2009 has been a different story. Fans, students, and alumni aren't exactly yelling, "We love Stinespring," in the stands, but they're very happy with the offense they're seeing on the field so far.
It wasn't until Tyrod Taylor's 81-yard pass to Danny Coale against Nebraska—that would later set up an 11-yard touchdown pass to Dyrell Roberts that would put the Hokies up 17-16—that Hokie Nation could breathe a sigh of relief.
Just think. If that play didn't happen, Viriginia Tech would have at least two losses, no National Champoinship hopes, with, potentially, the costal division and ACC Title still in their sights.
But Hokie fans are becoming spoiled. When you win three out of five conference championships in your first five years in the conference, including back-to-back conference championships, it's hard to get excited for the same bowl each year.
This year has been different for Hokie fans, though.
Stinespring seemed to leave a dark cloud over Blacksburg for the last couple of years and it left everyone related to Virginia Tech football angry, complaining about Stinespring, and blaming head coach Frank Beamer for keeping him around.
One thing Stinespring has always been good at is recruiting. You can credit Stinespring for bringing in some of the best players Virginia Tech has had in the last few years, but when people saw what was happening on the field, no one cared.
Now, Stinespring has an experienced quarterback in Taylor—who's, wait for it, the nation's 10th-leading quarterback in pass efficiency (if I had predicted that at the beginning of the season, or anyone else for that matter, you would have thought that I had lost my mind)—a running back who's the nation's fifth-leading rusher—and he's a freshman—and a wide receiver whose hands are bigger than XXXL (Jarrett Boykin) to go up and make great catches in clutch time.
You add an impressive showing to the special teams, and Virginia Tech is finally a team that can put up points—34 points per game that is.
If anyone came into this season saying the Hokies offense would look better, play better, and mean more to the overall success of the team than the Hokies defense, you wouldn't have believed that person.
The fact of the matter is that the offense has outplayed the defense for Virginia Tech this season. Quite a change for a team's offense that has been abysmal for three straight years.
A reporter asked Taylor in Tuesday's weekly press conference about him being the No. 1 guy and not having to look over his shoulder. Taylor said it has felt no different to him this year, but he did say that he knows that he's the leader of this offense, which is the biggest difference from last year.
Something else that favors Stinespring from last year to this one: Leadership was something that seemed to be lacking the last couple of season's and now that Stinespring has his guy under center, things have been going differently for the Hokies.
If the Hokies keep winning, and they have a decent challenge this week in Atlanta, then everything should fall into place. And believe it or not Hokie fans, Stinespring will be near the top of the list of people to thank if the Hokies finish the rest of the season undefeated.