With game week here, questions about Virginia Tech, W&M, Vick, Sims and ACC

The calendar tells us fall begins Sept. 22. Folks in these parts, and millions elsewhere, know better.

No matter what the scientists say, the autumnal equinox does not signal the change of seasons. Football does, and here in Hampton Roads it is game week.

The Bay Rivers District served us a four-game appetizer Friday, but this week we have a full complement of high school and college games, with the NFL set to debut after Labor Day.

So here are some questions and observations to ponder while monitoring point spreads and bookmarking your offshore gambling account:

•Can William and Mary topple another ACC opponent and doom its embattled head coach?

The Tribe opens Saturday at injury-ravaged Maryland, which figured to be bad before starting quarterback C.J. Brown tore an ACL during preseason practice. William and Mary's stout defense against a vulnerable Bowl Subdivision offense quarterbacked by a true freshman (Perry Hills is Brown's replacement)?

Apologize for the flashback Virginia fans, but that formula is reminiscent of 2009, when the Tribe defeated the Cavaliers 26-14. Two-plus months and eight additional losses later, Virginia fired coach Al Groh.

Lose to William and Mary, and second-year Terps coach Randy Edsall, 2-10 last season, will endure a trying fall.

•Can Michael Vick last a game, let alone a season, without significant injury?

At age 32, the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback from Newport News remains a megawatt presence — when healthy. But Vick lasted less than a quarter in each of Philly's first two preseason games and won't return to live action until the Sept. 9 opener at Cleveland.

Vick's latest ailment is a standard for him: ribs. New England Patriots linebacker Jermaine Cunningham rocked him six snaps into last week's exhibition, sending Vick to the locker room for X-rays that proved negative.

Keep Vick upright, and the Eagles are playoff-bound. If not, they'll turn to rookie Nick Foles from the University of Arizona.

•How long before Virginia faithful start clamoring for Alabama transfer Phillip Sims at quarterback?

Methinks we'll need a stopwatch to measure this one. The moment the Cavaliers go three-and-out or fall behind, especially if it's against Richmond on Saturday, fans will get restless.

And heaven forbid incumbent Michael Rocco throw an interception. Subsequent uprisings would make the protests that helped reinstate Teresa Sullivan look tame.

Rocco figures to start against the Spiders. How long coach Mike London and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor keep him atop the depth chart is the more intriguing question.

Here's a pool proposition for Virginia fans: How many times this season, during games included, will the Cavaliers change quarterbacks?

Could be four. Could be 14. I'll say six.

•Is this the year the ACC finally produces a credible national contender?

Since Florida State in 2000, no team from the conference has cracked the Associated Press' final top five. The league's highest year-end rank since was No. 7 Virginia Tech in 2005, and that squad didn't even win its division.

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