Reporting live from Lane Stadium in chilly Blacksburg, Va... Where the sky is dark and gray, the air is crisp (and has a feel very reminiscent to Evanston, Ill. anytime of the year) and the leaves have already begun changing colors on the trees here high up in these Blue Ridge Mountain hills.
OK, now that I've gotten the poetry and waxing prose out of the way, let's get to some pregame details.
Of course the primary note that I'll be looking for (and for deadline purposes selfishly want to see in the first few game minutes) is the Joshua Nesbitt rushing record story line. The Georgia Tech starting quarterback is just 42 yards shy of surpassing the ACC's quarterback rushing record that is still held by former Clemson signal-caller Woodrow "Woody" Dantzler. Dantzler finished his career in 2001 with 2,761 yards.
No changes on either side of the flip card.
Prior to the start of the game, the Yellow Jackets announced that they will be wearing a Mississippi State logo decal on the back of their helmets in tribute of Mississippi State defensive end Nick Bell.
On Tuesday, Bell died from complications due to a rare form of skin cancer. After undergoing emergency surgery last weekend, he was unable to recover.
The 20-year-old sophomore started the first two games this season before being diagnosed in September.
In talking to an official from Georgia Tech, I learned the idea for the decal was secured by head coach Paul Johnson, who talked to Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen on Wednesday. Both coaches admire one another after Mullen, a former assistant under Urban Meyer at Florida, communicated often with Johnson when attempting to tinker with Florida's spread scheme. The two also encountered one another last fall, when the Jackets and Bulldogs battled in Starkville, Miss. during a Georgia Tech win. Bell played in that game, as he did two years ago, when the Yellow Jackets beat the then-Sylvester Croom-led Bulldogs in Atlanta.
It also sounds as if part of the decision came -- in addition to just being a good show of college football solidarity -- because the Yellow Jackets were pleased with the way Mississippi State's staff took care of Tech linebacker Anthony Egbuniwe late in the game last season.
Good gesture by the Yellow Jackets, indeed.
Last thing, on a personal note, this is my first time here in Blacksburg, and it's kind of sobering. It's sobering to see some of the buildings and fixtures that I remembered seeing on television three years ago when the shooting took place on campus. I was actually still in college myself, just finishing up my final year, and can remember being in a classroom when my dad gave me a call wondering where I was.
It's also rather sobering because I remember following the memorials and events we had on campus all the way in suburban Chicago following the shooting. I even spoke, in impromptu fashion, during a nighttime candlelight vigit about having solidarity with Virginia Tech and how for that moment in time, us Wildcats were Hokies, too. So with the Nick Bell news and Tech's gesture, I'm very much reminded of my only other experience with Virginia Tech. Interesting night.
OK, game on. Battle of the Techs resumes in less than a half hour.
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