Countdown to Kickoff
by Chris Stansbury

I have been in mourning for the start of the football season since, well, the end of the last football season.  While I enjoy the basketball, baseball and NASCAR seasons, I only count the days to the start of football season. 

First of all, welcome back ECU football players and welcome to the 100 degree temperatures that many of us thought might have eluded us this summer.  The dog days (insert Michael Vick joke here) of summer are here and that's another sign that the first kickoff quickly approaches.  So that seems like a great place to start. 

I am very excited about the opener in Blacksburg.  What a way to begin the season.  A nationally televised ESPN game, with the GAMEDAY crew on hand.  This may be the first time that the pre-game coverage draws more attention than a football game, but ask any athlete and they will tell you that once the ball is kicked off or the puck dropped or first pitch is thrown, it's time to get down to business.

I have talked at length on Pirate Radio about my sadness, well-wishes, prayers, and roller coaster ride of emotions for the Virginia Tech family.  Those haven't changed, but when the ball is kicked off and ceremonies are over, it's time to take care of business.  As a realist, I know the Pirates will have their hands full.  That  may be the understatement of the year.  As a bleeding purple fan, I think we need to pull every play, trick, or scheme out of the book to stay close and have a chance at a major upset.  If it happens, sure prognosticators will not credit us with winning, but Va. Tech being too distracted in the loss.  I don't care.  I'll take the win and run out of Blacksburg.

My next thoughts of the upcoming season look to the two huge interstate battles with Carolina and State.  I am thrilled that we get UNC in week two and Butch Davis won't have a chance to mold his new team into a competitive group he hope's they will be by season's end.  I do fear that the iron fist of Tom O'Brien could take full effect on an underachieving, low disciplined Wolfpack group by October 20th.  However, I can't wait to walk into Dowdy-Ficklen stadium on these two days and see an ocean of Pirate faithful, none of which are sitting in their seats. 

The Pirate Nation has stepped up and bought more season tickets than ever before, but that's only half the battle.  We need to be the 12th man on the field.  Applauding every ECU first down, cheering and going nuts on every opposing third down and basically making life miserable for the other team. 

Another exciting/worrisome thought is the quarterback situation.  Will it be QB by committee, or will Rob Kass step up and take the position that will likely be his on September 1st?  I do take solace in knowing that our offensive line is another year experienced and the coaches say Chris Johnson seems to finally understand his role.  That will take some pressure of the signal caller, but whoever it is will still bear the burden of setting sail or sinking the ship. 

Lastly, I am just excited about game days.  I can't wait to sit in my lawn chair on the tailgate fields enjoying a Pirate beverage with my wife and boys and all our friends before making our way into the stadium.  Of course, the best coverage anywhere, four hours of the Budweiser Pre-Game Tailgate preps me for kickoff and the Bill Clark Homes 5th Quarter Post Game show is for Pirate fans to talk about the game afterward. (Shameless plug here). 

The days are counting down and we are less than a month away from kickoff of the best part of the year.  Get the purple haze ready to roll and put the cold ones on ice, FOOTBALL SEASON is almost here!

Chris Stansbury