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News Nuggets, 01.03.05
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Compiled from staff reports and electronic dispatches

Tech sack artist looks to Baghdad for inspiration


01.02.05: Utah domination of Pitt exposes BCS ... Petrino backpedals as LSU zeroes in on Miles ... More...
01.01.05: Cards hang on in Liberty Bowl shootout with Broncos ... Utes poised to cap off perfect season in style ... More...
12.31.04: Offensive juggernauts collide in Liberty Bowl ... Tire Bowl goes flat for North Carolina ... More...
12.30.04: Boston College tests ACC waters in Tire Bowl ... Syracuse reverses field, ousts Pasqualoni ... More...
12.29.04: Petrino flirts with LSU on eve of Liberty Bowl ... Power indexes: Conference ratings... Team ratings ... More...
12.28.04: Utah carries banner of have-nots into Fiesta Bowl ... Tampa slaying perplexes victim's friends ... More...
12.27.04: Vanderbilt football star slain by gunfire in Tampa ... Tulsa coach resigns with C-USA on horizon ... More...
12.26.04: Tulane rewards Scelfo with contract extension ... Big Ten pushes for instant replay for all of I-A ... More...
12.25.04: Chang, Hawaii spoil UAB's bowl debut in shootout ... Memphis bumps West up to $800K per year ... More...
12.24.04: BCS produces sequel to 'Night of the Living Dead' ... Cincy torches Herd in frigid Ft. Worth Bowl ... UAB makes bowl debut against prolific Warriors ... More...
12.23.04: Bowling Green shakes off Memphis in GMAC Bowl ... Primetime bowl preview: Bearcats vs. Herd ... Tranghese: BCS not interested in playoff ... More...
12.22.04: Up-and-coming programs tangle in GMAC bowl ... Petrino hits jackpot with new pact at U of L ... College basketball power indexes ... More...
12.21.04: Cold, hard facts about health swayed Majerus ... Basketball panel tinkering with RPI formula ... More...
12.20.04: GMAC Bowl history sets stage for Tigers-Falcons shootout ... Memphis reinstates Banks after one game ... Mounting attrition challenges Pitino, Cards ... More...
12.19.04: Houston AD livid with Nebraska over cancellation ... Duke cans offensive coordinator Galbraith ... Majerus retreats back to TV booth ... More...
12.18.04: Wolfpack's Hodge not short on self-esteem ,,, James Madison rushes to I-AA championship ... More...
12.17.04: Nebraska icon Osborne irked with aloof AD's ... William & Mary QB captures Payton Award ... More...
12.16.04: Pirates hawking hoops tickets with a twist ... Majerus ditches TV gig to rescue Trojans ... More...
12.15.04: Bowl season kicks off with Southern Miss victory ... Marshall linebacker suspended for bowl game ... More...
12.14.04: Preview: USM, North Texas kick off bowl season ... Former ECU assistants McFarland, Brindise land jobs ... McLendon to bolt Wolfpack for NFL draft ... More...
12.13.04: Musical chairs at full tilt as coaches change jobs ... List of Division I-A coaching changes ... Heisman Trophy chronology 1935-2004 ... More...
12.12.04: Title game of the Heismans set ... All-time Heisman winners list ... Blue- Gray Classic scratched again ... More...

NEW ORLEANS — Charles Tapp II gave a dog tag to his little brother, a token to take along when he ``goes to battle'' for Virginia Tech.

But Darryl Tapp knows the stakes are much higher for his older sibling, an Air Force officer who was shipped to Iraq midway through the football season.

``I try to stay away from looking at the news or reading the papers,'' the younger Tapp said. ``I don't want my mind to wander.''

Darryl has done a good job of staying focused, leading the Hokies in sacks, tackles for losses and hurrying the quarterback. He was voted to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference team at defensive end, a major reason that No. 9 Virginia Tech (10-2) won the league championship and a spot against third-ranked Auburn (12-0) in Monday night's Sugar Bowl.

But Tapp's thoughts are never far away from his brother, who was deployed to Iraq on Oct. 13 — just four days after Darryl had six tackles, including a sack, in a victory over Wake Forest.

Charles Tapp is an Air Force captain and budget officer, working in Baghdad with a unit that is helping set up a new Iraqi government. While not on the front line of the deadly battle with insurgents, the 30-year-old still must cope with the daily threat of violence.

``There are inherent dangers of being in the International Zone,'' Tapp wrote in an e-mail from the Iraqi capital. ``But not as dangerous as (it is for) some of our Marines and soldiers engaged directly with insurgents.''

He doesn't want his 20-year-old brother to be concerned about what's happening in Iraq. On Sunday, a spate of attacks killed at least 29 Iraqi soldiers, police officers and civilians.

The Tapps e-mail each other frequently, with Charles sending along pictures of himself and his unit. He also tries to call Darryl before and after every game — if nothing else, to be a reassuring voice on the other end of the line.

``I have asked Darryl to focus on the things he can control — his academics and football,'' Charles Tapp wrote in his e-mail. ``I do hope he draws strength from knowing that I and the men and women in the armed services are serving for him, other Americans, and our international neighbors to make the world a better place for all people. But I know these are all easier to say than to do.''

Before shipping out, Charles tried to comfort his brother by telling him that he wouldn't be serving on the front lines of the Iraqi war. He also gave a dog tag to Darryl, ``so that he could see a physical reminder when he 'goes to battle on the field' that I am with him.''

Since arriving in Iraq, Charles has passed along some of the lighter side of war to his younger brother. For instance, the captain has gotten so used to lugging around a gun, he joked in one of their conversations, that he'll probably have to carry one of those Super Soakers when he gets back home.

``All the time, he's reminding me to focus on things I can control,'' Darryl said. ``He keeps telling me that he'll be all right.''

The Virginia Tech coaches were amazed at how well Tapp held up after his brother was sent into harm's way. If anything, it seemed to motivate the junior even more.

``I'm sure that's on his mind all the time,'' defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. ``The one way he can show that he appreciates his brother — because his brother has been a role model in his life — is that he goes out, performs and works the way he does.''

Tapp was nicknamed ``Fast Forward'' by his teammates, a testament to his work ethic.

``The one thing about Darryl Tapp is that he knows one speed,'' Foster said. ``That's full speed, in everything he does.''

Over in Iraq is one proud brother. Charles has been able to watch all five of Virginia Tech's televised games since he was deployed, joined by those who work in the office. They've dubbed themselves the Baghdad branch of the Virginia Tech Hokies Fan Club.

The eight-hour time difference made it a little tough for Charles to get up for a pair of Thursday night games (it was 3:45 a.m. in Baghdad), but he managed. He'll set the alarm early again on Tuesday, determined to watch his brother play in the Sugar Bowl.

``I will be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the game,'' Charles promised.

He also passed along a message to his little brother.

``Darryl, you know how proud of you I am,'' Charles wrote. ``And even though I'm miles away, know that I am with you in spirit, and will be watching from kickoff until the last whistle is blown.

``I love you, Chief. See you in a few weeks.''

Meyer bids adieu as Utah relishes perfection

TEMPE — Urban Meyer paused a few times to collect himself.

Saying goodbye was hard enough. Doing so after a 12-0 season was almost too much.

The fifth-ranked Utes sent Meyer to his new job at Florida with one last nearly perfect performance, beating Pittsburgh 35-7 Saturday night in the Fiesta Bowl.

``All the speaking, all the work, all of the people — just trying to get them interested in Utah football. And we've done that,'' Meyer said. ``There's an interest in Utah football.''

Like never before.

The first team from a non-BCS conference to play in a Bowl Championship Series game didn't disappoint against the Big East champion Panthers (8-4), scoring on half of its 10 possessions. Utah will be one of at most three unbeaten teams in Division I-A.

In just two seasons, Meyer took the Utes from a group that underachieved under former coach Ron McBride to the elite of college football.

``Going undefeated is hard to do. There's a lot of good football teams out there,'' Meyer said.

The Utes had to fight the system and their low profile throughout the season, briefly falling out of the top six spot they needed in the Bowl Championship Series standings but eventually securing a berth in one of the four big-money games with an 11-0 regular season.

And the 12th victory was the ideal ending. Pittsburgh had no answers for Utah's spread offense, which overloaded the Panthers with options, shovel passes and deep routes. Alex Smith, Utah's first Heisman Trophy finalist, picked apart Pitt by completing 29 of 37 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns.

He also ran the option with just as much precision, gaining 68 yards on 15 carries to lead Utah to 467 yards.

``This last season, every time at the opening of the game some defense has some brand new scheme for us, and it became pretty obvious pretty quick that Pitt was going to pressure us and crowd the line of scrimmage,'' said Smith, who might decide to skip his senior season and head to the NFL.

``So when they are going to do that with this offense, you're going to have some big plays. Luckily, the guys around me made it so easy on me.''

Smith certainly didn't hurt his draft status Saturday, completing 78 percent of his passes and not turning the ball over.

Paris Warren caught a Fiesta Bowl-record 15 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns. His second score came off a lateral from Steve Savoy, who caught a screen pass from Smith and pitched it to Warren coming around the left side.

The Panthers never saw it coming — much like the rest of Utah's attack.

``They dropped a lot of people back and tried to keep everything in front of them. We just took advantage of what they gave us,'' Warren said.

Pitt fell into the same situation most of Utah's opponents did this season: falling behind early and trying to rally. The Panthers made it tougher on themselves by offering little protection for quarterback Tyler Palko.

The Utes sacked Palko nine times, another Fiesta record, and held Pitt to just one touchdown — a 31-yard pass from Palko to Greg Lee that cut the lead to 28-7.

It was not such a great sendoff for Pitt coach Walt Harris, who is leaving to take over Stanford.

``They are a very good, very explosive team and it was a tough game for us,'' Harris said. ``We did not match up physically the way we needed to in order to stay in it offensively.''

Saturday's sendoff turned into a party for Utah fans, who made up at least 75 percent of the sellout crowd of 73,519 at Sun Devil Stadium, giving it a red hue. Utah hadn't gone unbeaten and untied since 1930.

So Meyer's farewell message was simple: Enjoy it.

``It was a great game against a very good team and I told our players,'' Meyer said, before pausing briefly. ``People can take a lot from you; they can never take the fact that you're 12-0.''

News Nuggets are compiled periodically based on material supplied by staff members; data published by ECU, Conference USA and its member schools; and reports from Associated Press and other sources. Copyright 2004 and other publishers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Page Updated: 02/23/2007 12:20 PM


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