Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ore's VT Career Over

Coach Beamer announced today that the Hokies and starting running back Branden Ore are parting ways. This makes Spring Practice even more interesting for the Hokies as they now look to replace four wide receivers who saw significant time and Ore, who carried most of the rushing load in 2007.

I liked Ore and thought he could have become one of the better running backs in Tech history. I thought that being at 100 percent combined with a healthy and more experienced offensive line was going to lead to a tremendous season in 2008. Now, we're left to wonder what could have been.

Ore was never considered a "bad kid", but had a number of incidents that preceded today's announcement by Beamer. Before the 2006 season, Ore was sent home to refocus on football. He did and made first team All-ACC. This season, he was suspended for the first quarter of the Orange Bowl for being late to a practice and also testified in a federal drug case involving one of his friends.

The Hokies start Spring Practice March 26 and will hold their Spring Game April 19. The first cracks at starting tailback will likely go to juniors Kenny Lewis and Jahre Cheeseman. Lewis started in place of Ore in the Orange Bowl in 2007 and against UVa in 2006 when Ore was injured. Cheeseman is a converted cornerback, who had the Hokies' longest run from scrimmage in 2007 when he scored on a 70-yard run against Georgia Tech.

Lewis (5-9, 205): 111 rush, 420 yds, 3.8 avg, 6 TD
Cheeseman (5-10, 209): 21 rush, 133 yds, 6.3 avg, 1 TD

Other contenders will include redshirt freshmen Josh Oglesby and Darren Evans and true freshman Ryan Williams. The idea of Williams contributing early will get Hokie fans blood pumping. He was one of the stars of this year's signing list and played in the U.S. Army All American Bowl.

However, Williams is the only contender on the list who will not be involved in Spring Practice. Unless he is worlds ahead of the other four in the fall, he will likely still be redshirted.

I think the dismissal of Ore will also have an effect on the quarterback situation. I believe the coaches will see the need to play Tyrod Taylor more, or even start him, to help the running game. It will be like early in 2007 when Taylor was taken out of his redshirt and inserted as the starter after the LSU game.

The offensive line was struggling and the mobility of Taylor suited the Hokies' needs. Now, as the team's leading returning rusher, I believe Taylor will again be called upon by the coaches to help the running game until the running back situation is straighted out.

It will be interesting to see what will happen to Ore, as well. He could try to make the NFL's supplemental draft. He could also transfer to a lesser division, like former Hokie George Bell did. Bell and the Hokies parted ways on better terms than Ore before last season. The oft-injured tailback went to D2 Catawba, where he ran for 715 yards and helped lead the Indians to the second round of the D2 playoffs.

Either way, I hope Ore's career doesn't end here. I hope he is able to get back on track and find a place where he is a good fit. He was a solid running back who had issues that have forced him to not finish his career as a Hokie. While Tech will miss him, hopefully it will work out in the long run. The Hokies have five and a half months to figure out what they will do to replace Ore's productivity. Just like when the Hokies booted Marcus Vick off the team before the 2006 season, I think its better to be faced with this problem now than in August.

Ore's Career Numbers
Total: 617 rush, 2,776 yds, 4.5 avg, 31 TD
ACC: 388 rush, 1,664 yds, 4.3 avg, 20 TD
Home: 329 rush, 1,677 yds, 5.1 avg, 17 TD
Away: 288 rush, 1,099 yds, 3.8 avg, 14 TD

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