Sunday, August 31, 2008

Week 1 ACC Post-Mortem

Don't worry, thoughts and analysis of Virginia Tech's loss to East Carolina will come later today. Up first this afternoon: The flaming ball of embarrassment that was the Atlantic Coast Conference in Week 1.

We thought after bowl season that there was no way things could get worse for the conference. Well, they did. Perception = Reality.

Alabama 34, Clemson 10: The team with the powerful offense and impenetrable defense that was supposed to sweep through the ACC and content for a national title was completely dismantled by a tougher, better-coached Alabama team. Did you see those shots of Tommy Bowden on the sideline during this disaster? The fact he wasn't fired this morning is astonishing. Thunder and Lightning combined for 20 yards on eight carries. Four of Clemson's five drives in the first half lasted less than two minutes.

USC 52, Virginia 7:
Everyone figured this would be the story, so I won't go in-depth on this one. However, I will say this. Average yards per play: USC 7.2, UVa 3.3.

Maryland 14, Delaware 7:
Get off the bandwagon, Heather Dinich. This team is terrible. Again.

South Carolina 34, NC State 0: Things looked a lot better with Russell Wilson as QB, but that's not saying much. Could Mike Glennon be much worse than their other options?

North Carolina 35, McNeese State 27: This game was tied at 14 at the half and McNeese led 20-14 before the Heels rattled off 21 unanswered points. I give the Tar Heels points for not wilting, but this was freaking McNeese State. Why was this game close? Because the Carolina offense made it that way. Its first three drives included two three-and-outs and a fumble on the second play. The Cowboys also out-gained the Tar Heels.

Boston College 21, Kent State 0: The Eagles are who we thought they were: Good field, no hit. Their defense is stout. The offense will improve.

Duke 31, James Madison 7: Good win for the Dukies in their first game under Cutcliffe. I still say they start the season 3-0.

Georgia Tech 41, Jacksonville State 14: We'll find out a lot more about the Yellow Jackets next week against Boston College. They didn't show their hand much against Jax State and didn't run the triple option a lot. I bet that changes next week.

Miami 52, Charleston Southern 7:
The 'Canes looked like the 'Canes against a vastly inferior opponent.

Wake Forest 41, Baylor 13: The Deacs were the most impressive ACC team this week. They'll be at the top of the power poll for next week. They have to be the favorite to win the conference.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

Q&A with Kyle Tucker

Kyle Tucker is the Hokies beat writer for the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. Tucker is also the most prolific bloggers among Tech beat writers and shares his access to the team with the fan base. You can view his blog by clicking here. He was nice enough to answer a few questions from Gobbler Country in anticipation of the 2008 season.

GC: Which is the biggest challenge facing the Hokies this year: The new starters on defense, the lack of returning starters at skill positions or the toughest games for the Hokies this year all being on the road?

KT: The biggest challenge for Tech is not at receiver or running back or on defense or on the road. What will make or break this season, I think, is whether the Hokies can stay healthy. That's their toughest challenge. I believe Tech's starting 11 on both sides of the ball will include as much talent this season as any season before. But the second-string, pretty much across the board, is a significant drop-off. That's where being so young hurts them. Think about all the dominoes that fall if anybody gets injured. If Sean Glennon goes down, either Tyrod Taylor's redshirt gets burned again, or Tech is rolling with Cory Holt, who has thrown 19 passes in four years. If any starting offensive lineman goes down (except maybe Shuman, because Beau Warren is solid at center), the drop off is huge with the back-ups. At linebacker, if anyone gets hurt (except Cam Martin, because Cody Grimm has been very solid), it's big, big trouble. So … yeah … I'd say the biggest challenge is staying out of the training room.

GC: How realistic is it for the coaches to want one quarterback this year? The two-QB system worked well last year. Makes sense that they would want to play both again this year.

KT: You asked me this question about a week ago, and if I'd been quicker with my response, I could've waxed poetic on this. But now we know that the coaches ARE going with just one quarterback. It's pretty evident that both guys were going to play this year if Taylor hadn't wanted/agreed to redshirting. According to Taylor's dad, Rodney, the family decided that unless he was the outright starter this year, sharing snaps again wasn't good for his career. And coach Frank Beamer believes that having three years of Taylor exclusively as the starter after this season is great for the program. So there we are. As mentioned above, though, the whole thing flies out the window of Sean Glennon gets hurt early.

GC: What's Glennon's ceiling for this season? A season with 2,000 passing yards would be above and beyond the call of duty in my book. It would also mean he's not collecting too many late yards trying to lead comebacks.

KT: I have a hunch that Glennon pulls a Bryan Randall this season. He's a fifth-year senior who, like Randall, took a lot of heat and questioning from the fans most of his career. Then along came the more mobile, flashier option (Marcus Vick, in Randall's case) and made things worse. But like Randall, Glennon has kept plugging along, refusing to give up his job and his dream without a fight. QB coach Mike O'Cain loves Glennon, praising his work ethic and his smarts at every turn. And O'Cain thinks Glennon is ready for a great final act. I tend to agree. Nothing spectacular, mind you. The youth at receiver will probably keep Tech from going deep all that often and I'd expect the running game to dominate this offense. But I could see Glennon having numbers like: 2,400 yards passing, 60 percent completion, 18 TDs, 5 INTs. If he does that, and Tech's backs run for 2,000 yards between them … this team will be in Tampa. BIG CAVEAT: The line can't sustain a major injury. It all starts there. Glennon needs time or he won't be effective.

GC: How quickly will the freshman receivers and Ryan Williams be able to adjust to playing college football? Is there one that you think is more ready than the others right now?

KT: The freshmen wideouts will make the adjustment faster. They already are. Dyrell Roberts (mostly be default) will start. And he looks ready. Jarrett Boykin will play, as will Xavier Boyce. By nature, it's easier to play receiver right away. Yes, they have to learn routes (not terribly complicated) and block sometimes. But by and large, if a young guy can run, jump and catch, he can play early. If he screws up a block on the outside, it's not nearly as detrimental as, say, Ryan Williams not picking up a blitzing linebacker. And Williams is struggling with that: his blocking assignments and where he lines up on different plays. Williams is uber-talented, but he's hitting the freshman wall right now. And while it's still very possible he'll play at some point this season, it's not certain. The three rookie wideouts will play. So they're the obvious choice, in answering your question.

GC: Can you give us one offensive and one defensive player we haven't heard of that will be a household name for Hokies fans by the end of 2008?

KT: Well, there's hardly anyone that Tech die-hards haven't heard of. But if I had to name two guys who aren't yet stars and could be by December … I'd go with Boykin (only because you've already heard a lot about Roberts, who I think will also have a big year). Something tells me Boykin is going to be a BIG factor on special teams and that he could become a nice option on short passing plays, especially underneath routes. I could see him and his sure hands grabbing some key first-downs for Tech. Defensively, I'm going to go with either undersized LB Purnell Sturdivant (who had a tremendous preseason) or undersized DT Demetrius Taylor (same as P-Stump). Those two guys are far from prototypes for their positions (Sturd is 5-10, maybe, and Taylor is under 260 pounds) but both play extremely fast and aggressive. I think both will make noise this year.

GC: How worried should Hokie fans be about the kicking game this year?

KT: Not very. First of all, it all starts with the snap, and Frank Beamer feels better about the snapping this year than last. Second, punter Brent Bowden is poised for a monster year. He has a huge leg and was booming everything during camp. Finally, I think fifth-year senior Dustin Keys will be fine. Much like Jud Dunlevy last year. He's got a big leg and he's pretty consistent (the final scrimmage notwithstanding). Beamer doesn't seem worried in the least, so you probably shouldn't be either.

GC: Tech's margin for error seems to be pretty thin. Seems to me anything between 10-2 and 6-6 is possible. What are the best and worst-case scenarios for this team?

KT: You pretty much nailed it. Although, I think 6-6 is too low. I can't see Tech dropping that far under any circumstance. Furman, Georgia Tech, Western Kentucky, Duke and Virginia are all almost certain victories in my mind. That's six wins. I think Tech probably squeaks out the opener against ECU for a seventh. And based on recent history, you have to think Tech can take down at least one of FSU and Miami, even on the road. So I'd say 8-4 would be my worst-case prediction. And I'll go with 11-1 as the best-possible outcome. With all the youth, lack of depth and the brutal road schedule, there's at least one loss in there even if this team completely overachieves. I'd say 9-3 would thrill the coaching staff and might be enough to get 'em to Tampa. Then they'd have two games to try to pick up win No. 10 for a fifth consecutive season.

GC: You recently said you expect the Hokies to go 10-4 this year. If that happens, what would it say about this coaching staff and the job they did?

It would say what most outside observers have been saying for a long while. Frank Beamer and his staff, typically (2002 and 2003 notwithstanding) get more out of their players than anyone would expect. The difference is that, thanks to the best stretch of recruiting years in program history, there's lots and lots of talent on this team. They are GOOD ENOUGH to win every game. But they're also young enough to lose a fair amount. So if this team wins the Coastal Division and picks up 10 wins, it'll be a testament to not only Beamer's ability to "coach 'em up" but also the staffs ramped-up recruiting efforts. It would signal the start of an era in which Tech truly is just reloading each year.

GC: Turning to your blog at the Virginian-Pilot Web site, whose idea was it to start the blog? Did it come from you or your editors?

KT: My first two seasons covering Tech (2004 and 2005), I drove from Norfolk to Blacksburg twice a week, every week. I was here for the Tuesday media function, that afternoon's practice, and maybe interviews the next day. Then back home. Then back to the 'burg for Saturday's game. It was brutal, driving 1,200 miles every week. I was not only exhausted, but also unable to cover the team the way I thought it should be covered. I couldn't be here every day, so I felt like my ability to break news and also write in-depth stories was greatly hindered. So I put together a proposal (including all the financials, and the fact that it would actually be CHEAPER to live here than rent cars and hotels twice a week) and pitched the idea of living here during the season. Along with that, I promised to deliver a daily blog. The bosses bit and off I went. This marks my third season living in Blacksburg. We had no idea what to expect with the blog, but it was an instant success. In 2006, we averaged 100,000 hits per month. That made living here in 2007 a no-brainer. And folks kept clickin'. 120,000 per month last fall. And the growth continues. Through the first 23 days since camp started this year, the blog had 125,000 hits. That'll probably push it over 150,000 by the end of this first month. So … thank you, Hokies. My bosses are, obviously, very pleased.

GC: I think the blog was something that's been missing from coverage of the Hokies. Someone with access to the team able to follow a 24-7 news cycle. What has the response to the blog been from fans and others?

KT: The response has been great. I get a lot of e-mails and the occasional comment on the blog (but I'd like more, so leave some comments!). I log onto all the major VT message boards, though, and the response there seems to be overwhelmingly positive. Tech fans are clearly hungry for information on their team, and I think because I strive to quickly provide every piece of available info (or all of it that I'm allowed to print), readers appreciate it and keep coming back for more.

GC: What can we look forward to from your coverage of the Hokies and the Virginian-Pilot this season? Anything new on the horizon? More videos like the one from Clemson last year?

KT: Well, I'm working on a couple of video possibilities. I may begin posting some practice clips and some post-game locker room footage. But I'm still uncertain about the technical feasibility of getting that done. My main commitment is to keep producing everything I am right now at the same level … daily blog updates and solid stories for our printed newspaper. I'm always looking for new additions, though, and am hoping to begin a "Monday Morning Quarterback" feature in which I'll solicit questions from the fans to ask one of Tech's assistant coaches the Monday after each game. I'd pick the top 10 questions (or most appropriate ones) and sit down with a coach and ask 'em. I'd like the blog to become more interactive, and that's one way I can think to make it happen. I'm always open to suggestions, though, so lemme have 'em. Send blog-related stuff to

I guess that covers it all. Thanks for having me, fellow blogger. And keep clicking everybody. Good night and good luck.

I'd like to thank Kyle for taking the time to sit down with Gobbler Country. Get inside information on the Hokies from Kyle at his blog for the Virginian-Pilot.

ECU Game Guide

Virginia Tech vs. East Carolina

Time: Noon
Date: Saturday, Aug. 30, 2008
Place: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
TV: ESPN (206 DirecTV)

Last meeting: Virginia Tech won an emotional 2007 opener against the Pirates, 17-7. The pregame featured a tribute to the victims of the April 16 shooting on campus. The Hokies came out flat and trailed 7-3 after a Chris Johnson 2-yard touchdown early in the second quarter. Macho Harris returned an interception for a touchdown late in the half to give the Hokies a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Trends: Virginia Tech has won 11 of its last 12 season openers. The only loss was on a neutral field in 2004 when its fell to USC in Landover, Md. East Carolina went 1-2 against the ACC last year (losses to VT and NC State, win over UNC) and has three more ACC opponents on its 2008 schedule: VT, NC State and Virginia. The Hokies have won six in a row against the Pirates, with their last loss coming in 1992 in Greenville.

What to expect: The Hokies' offense will be out of sorts in the first half but find a groove after halftime adjustments and calming early jitters. Glennon will have time to throw and the backs will have holes to run through thanks to a superior offensive line. The defense will do a lot of bending but little breaking. They'll give up yards on the ground, but I think ECU will have a hard time scoring once it gets to the red zone.

Hokies win if: The receivers don't have too many drops, the backs find the holes and the defense forces ECU to throw against a great pass rush and the Hokie secondary. Virginia Tech has to force passing downs on third down to let the pass rush pin its ears back. Getting pressure on the quarterback on long-yardage situations will be huge.

Pirates win if: They get on the board early, force turnovers and are able to run on the Hokies. If ECU has a high third down conversion percentage, this game will be close.

Over 40 percent of Tech's travel roster has never played in a college game...the Hokies ran for 33 yards last year against ECU, its fewest in a win under Frank Beamer...last year's game was a double disaster for the offensive line, in addition to only accumulating 33 yards on the ground, they allowed four sacks.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Macho might not play vs. ECU

This game just can't get here fast enough.

The Hokies may have suffered another setback. Kyle Tucker of the Virginian-Pilot reports senior cornerback Macho Harris is doubtful for Saturday's game with ECU due to a sprained left foot.

Harris suffered the injury in Friday's scrimmage, the last of the summer. Harris tied for the team lead in interceptions last year and is the starter at boundary corner and punt and kick return. He was also expected to play 10-15 snaps at wide receiver Saturday to make the offense more dynamic.

If Harris doesn't play, the likely starter would be sophomore Rashard Carmichael, who is behind him on the depth chart. The Hokies would then only one returning starter in the secondary, Kam Chancellor, who moves from rover to free safety.

How important is Harris to the Hokies' defense this year? I'm not sure you can measure it. With him in the lineup, the defense looks solid as long as you force the opponent to throw the ball. Without him, you're inviting the opposing offense to test two new corners.

As boundary corner, Harris is also crucial in supplying support to stop the run.

My vote is to sit him. The Hokies have enough talent and enough depth that they should be able to win another close game with the Pirates. Also, sit him for the Furman game, giving him two full weeks to recover before the ACC opener with Georgia Tech. He has to be healthy for that game. Don't risk making the injury worse.

Blogs on Glennon and Taylor

Here's what others are saying about yesterday's announcement:

EDSBS: What will Glennon do on 3rd and 31?

Dr. Saturday: (Link to post not working) Maybe Tyrod isn't progressing as quickly as expected.

Heather Dinich, ESPN: This makes Glennon and Tyrod better.

Kyle Tucker, V-P: Had a feeling this was coming.

Daryl Slater, RTD: Doesn't think Taylor playmaking would have made a huge difference for the offense.

Basically, the bloggers think this isn't a great move for the Hokies and the professional journalists think it benefits everyone. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Everything Old is New Again

Sean Glennon is a redshirt senior who, barring injury and collapse, will have the starting quarterback job all to himself this season. The last time a redshirt senior had sole possession of the Hokies' starting QB job was 1998 when Al Clark led Tech to a 9-3 record and a win over Alabama in the Music City Bowl.

That team was talented and young. They started the season 5-0 with impressive road wins over Clemson, Miami and Boston College. But Clark was hurt before the Boston College game and missed the next three games, including an embarrassing 28-24 loss to Temple.

The Hokies were 5-0 and the Owls 0-6 going into that game. Clark was a capable but unimpressive quarterback who had the reigns for parts of 1997 and all of 1998. His last season included three of the most jaw-dropping, heart-breaking losses in Tech history.

The Temple game, a last-second loss at Syracuse and an incredible 22-point comeback win by Virginia in Blacksburg. All three hurt and all three taught the Hokies something different. The Hokies' most difficult games were all on the road in 1998. They passed most of the tests, but fell at the Hokie House of Horrors in Syracuse. They also dropped home games against teams they should have easily defeated.

1998 was also the year a highly-touted quarterback from the 757 took a redshirt season and sat on the bench. When Clark went down, there was thought of pulling the redshirt off the freshman, but Michael Vick would have to wait another year before being unleashed on college football (pun intended).

This year is a slightly different scenario. Glennon is a better quarterback than Clark was and Taylor has a year of experience. But there are a lot of similarities. The 2008 Hokies are young and talented, most of their tough games are on the road and there are upsets waiting at home.

The Coastal Division is very poor in the ACC this year and I still expect Glennon to lead the Hokies to the division title. Some fans may be shocked or angry that Tyrod isn't going to play this season, but we've been down this road before.

2008-09 Hoops Schedule Announced

The 2008-09 men's basketball schedule was announced today. The Hokies have bulked up their non-conference schedule after being one of the last teams left out of last year's NCAA Tournament.

Tech opens the season against Gardner-Webb on Nov. 14 in Blacksburg. It's the same Gardner-Webb team that upset Kentucky to start the 2007-08 season.

The Hokies will spend Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico, playing in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off. All of the tournament's games will be shown on the ESPN family of networks, mostly ESPNU. Tech's first round opponent is Fairfield and they will play either Missouri or Xavier in the second round. The other side of the bracket includes Memphis, USC, Seton Hall and Chattanooga. The Hokies are definitely on the easier side of the bracket.

Unlike last year, when Tech opened against Elon the day before the football team hosted Florida State, there is no weekend where you can see the hoops team and football team in back-to-back days.

The Hokies' schedule gets more difficult after the Thanksgiving holiday. They face Wisconsin at home on Dec. 1 as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. On Dec. 9, they travel to Athens, Ga., to face Georgia, the team that probably burst their bubble last season by winning the SEC tournament.

Tech opens ACC play on Jan. 4 at Duke on Fox Sports Net. The Hokies play three home games during Christmas Break. However, I fully expect the students to be in Cassell Coliseum in full force when they play UVa on Jan. 10. It's a Saturday and it's the rival so the house better be packed.

However, the Hokies also have home games against Richmond (Jan. 14) and BC (Jan. 17) during the break. The BC game is also during a three-day weekend, so I'm not sure how attendance is going to be for that one.

The home stretch of Tech's schedule is brutal. They have a road game against Clemson, home games against Duke and North Carolina and a road trip to Tallahassee to close ACC play against Florida State. Going 2-2 over that stretch would be a success.

ACC Opponents
Play Twice: BC, Clemson, Duke, FSU, UVa
Home Only: GT, UNC, NC State
Road Only: Maryland, Miami, Wake Forest

The Hokies play two up-and-comers (Miami and Wake) once, but it's on the road. They also face the odds-on-favorite to cut down the nets once, but fortunately it's at home. Last year, VT's conference schedule was fairly easy. This year's is slightly more difficult playing Duke twice.

This year's ACC tournament will be held in Atlanta, Ga.

Click here for the full schedule

Glennon to Start, Taylor to Shirt

Head coach Frank Beamer announced at today's press conference that senior Sean Glennon will be the starting quarterback for 2008 and sophomore Tyrod Taylor will redshirt.

The possibility remains that Tyrod could play in 2008 if there's an injury to Glennon or the offense is a giant ball of fail.

Glennon followed this same path by redshirting his sophomore year in 2005 when Marcus Vick was the Hokies' starter. Glennon was going to be in competition with Vick for the starting job in 2006, but Vick was kicked off the team before they started camp.

What this means is Glennon no longer has to look over his shoulder and can relax and be the starting QB. This worked out for Bryan Randall when Marcus Vick was suspended for the 2004 season. Randall went on to lead the team to an ACC title.

What this means for Taylor is he has three years to be the starting quarterback and is eligible for the NFL after the 2009 season.

The coaches are obviously confident they don't need Tyrod to compensate for the youth at wide receiver and running back. I don't want to say it seems like they're giving up on the 2008 season, but this is move that is indicative of looking toward the future.

Tyrod will have three years as the starting quarterback with young players such as Dyrell Roberts and Ryan Williams. All three will be sophomores next season. But if you're going to do that, why not play all three this year and get them familiar with each other?

I never really saw this move coming. I always thought we would need Tyrod to win in 2008. Looks like I'm going to have to completely redo those stat projections.

An E-mail from The Weather Channel

It's amazing what one pithy blog post can lead to. Yesterday, I mentioned Virginia Tech's game with East Carolina did not appear on TWC's college football page.

In my inbox this morning was a note from a TWC online product manager:

Good morning,

I just wanted to let you know that we stumbled upon your blog today and noticed your issues with our college football listings; I’m glad you were able to point out those inaccuracies regarding VT’s and BC’s schedules. Unfortunately, we rely on an outside vendor to supply our schedules and that is where the mess up occurred. I’ve contacted them and hopefully the corrections will be live on the site by the end of today. Just so you are aware, we are in the process of making a significant upgrade to our college football section. The new product will contain enhanced scheduling information, weather performance statistics for each team and additional data from a new partnership with ESPN. Make sure to check back in early October. Also, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you should come across any other errors on the site.


Philip Gargiulo, Product Manager
The Weather Channel Interactive

Apparently, that outside vendor just doesn't believe in neutral site games. The Clemson-Bama game isn't listed either, although it is being played in a dome. The new features TWC is promising are exciting. The weather-related performance stats will be great for addicted gamblers like me. Looking forward to seeing it.

Although I don't need the Weather Channel to tell me how the Hokies play under certain conditions.


No Rain:

Let's do the First Lines of the Year

Bodog, the official illegal online gambling site of furrer4heisman, has posted its lines for Week 1 of the season. Let's take a look at the ACC lines:

Virginia Tech -9.5 vs. East Carolina
NC State +13 at South Carolina
Wake Forest -12 at Baylor
USC -20 at Virginia
Boston College -10 vs. Kent State
Alabama +5 vs. Clemson

Those are the only games Bodog is taking action on right now. Which ones do I like? At first glance, not many of the ACC teams. There also aren't many lines I'm willing to touch. I'm a big fan of taking teams at home that are giving a lot of points, which is Baylor and Virginia. But am I willing to put money on either to beat the spread? That's debatable.

But in the interest of being a good sport, I'll take a stab at picking all the ACC games ATS. My picks in bold:

Virginia Tech -9.5 vs. East Carolina
NC State +13 at South Carolina
Wake Forest -12 at Baylor
USC -20 at Virginia
Boston College -10 vs. Kent State
Alabama +5 vs. Clemson

The only true road team I'm taking is USC. That's not exactly going out on a limb, but we'll see how it plays out. Meanwhile, here are some teams I really like this weekend:

Utah +3.5 at Michigan
- Hell, I'll probably end up taking the money line on this one.
Missouri -8.5 vs. Illinois
- People underestimate how big a loss Mendenhall was.
Cal -4.5 vs. Michigan State
- And the Michigan State bandwagon loses a wheel before it gets going.
Colorado -11 vs. Colorado State
- This year's Kansas? Probably not, but they'll still destroy the Rams.
UCLA +7.5 vs. Tennessee
- Home dog + hatred of Tennessee = $

The last time the Vols ventured to the Left Coast:

Monday, August 25, 2008

CT Reports Tyrod Likely to Redshirt

The Collegiate Times, the Virginia Tech campus newspaper, reports Hokie sophomore quarterback Tyrod Taylor is likely to redshirt the 2008 season and senior Sean Glennon will be the team's fulltime starter.

The paper is citing a source "close to the football team." CT reports head coach Frank Beamer will make the formal announcement at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Honestly, I think the paper is jumping the gun by claiming Taylor will redshirt. It credits the source saying Glennon will start, but only says Taylor's redshirting is "likely" and doesn't credit it to the source. They may just be trying to pull in more readers. Hell, it go me to link to it.

If this is true, Taylor will follow the same route Glennon took during his Hokie career. Glennon was Virginia Tech's backup in 2004, redshirted in 2005 and was a starter the last two seasons.

It would also tell me the coaches have confidence in the wide receivers and running backs to be good enough playmakers that the quarterback won't have to compensate.

However, what happens if Glennon gets hurt? He's not mobile and was injured during the season last year. If he goes down, will the redshirt be pulled off Taylor a second consecutive season?

Also, the decision to redshirt him means Taylor would be eligible for the NFL after the 2009 season.

Taking everything into account, I think CT is full of it. Glennon will probably be named the starter tomorrow, but I seriously doubt Taylor redshirts.

Want Weather? Don't Try the Weather Channel.

I usually use for all my football-related weather needs because they have specific team pages with forecasts. Here's the Hokies' page.

That's right. The ECU game is missing. It's not on ECU's page either. Nice job, TWC. At least you have the forecast for the South Dakota State-Iowa State game available. Great job with the Boston College game, as well. It'll be 76 degrees in Kent, Ohio, for the Eagles' game with Ken't Read, Ken't Write, Kent State. Too bad the game's in Cleveland.

The forecast for Cleveland on Saturday? Fire.

[Burn on, big river, burn on.]

According to, it will be partly sunny with a high of 88 on Saturday in Charlotte.

ECU Depth Chart Notes

Greg Boone has been nothing short of spectacular this summer as a tight end, wide out, fullback and dump truck. So I wasn't surprised to see his name at the top of the tight end depth chart in this week's game notes.

What did surprise me was Sam Wheeler was nowhere to be seen. He's listed behind co-No. 2s Andre Smith and Chris Drager. Wheeler, who will wear No. 18 and not No. 83 this year, is listed on the travel roster and will make the trip to Charlotte.

I expected a lot from Wheeler this season. He was a reliable target for Glennon before tearing his ACL against Georgia Tech. My hope is Wheeler's still not 100 percent and will work his way back up the depth chart as the season progresses.

Having two viable tight end threats will allow Boone to be moved around and utilized effectively in the offense. He's tough to tackle as a fullback and poses a problem for undersized defensive backs when moved out wide.

I expect Boone to get the ball a lot (and do a lot with it) early in the season. However, I'd like to see Wheeler get back in the mix as well.

Yes, I realize that was waaaaaaaay too much to write about tight ends.

Other goings on in the depth chart:

- Glennon and Taylor are linked by a big "OR" at quarterback, although a starter is supposed to be named tomorrow. My guess is it will be Glennon with Tyrod getting 30-40 percent of the snaps on Saturday. They just aren't announcing it so ECU doesn't know what to prepare for.

- Kenny Lewis is the starting tailback with Darren Evans as the back-up. I just don't think Lewis is an every down back. This might not work out too well.

- Danny Coale, not Ike Whitaker, is listed as the No. 1 split end, meaning we will be started two freshman wide receivers on Saturday. This goes against everything we thought from reading the scrimmage reports and quotes. It looked all along like it would be Whitaker as the starter. I expect he'll still see a lot of playing time.

- Davon Morgan is the starting rover over Dorian Porch. I'm a big fan of Morgan's. Porch is consistent, but unspectacular and I think Morgan is the better player. He'll still get beat from time to time, but is the better playmaker.

Second Verse Same as the First

A quick Monday preview of the East Carolina game.

This game two of our 2,317-year contract with East Carolina. Last year, the teams met in Blacksburg with the Hokies winning an emotion-filled game, 17-7. ECU led early in the 2nd quarter until a Pick-6 by Macho Harris gave the Hokies a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

This year's game will be played in Charlotte and I expect a very similar game. The Hokies have too many new faces to just go in and blow the Pirates out, even if they lost speedy running back Chris Johnson. It's a good thing he's gone, too. Johnson would have made our defensive tackles look like Wily E. Coyote.

Ultimately, ECU's quarterbacks, Pat Pinkney and Rob Kass will have to throw to beat Tech, which is good for the Hokies. The key to Virginia Tech's season will be stopping the run and forcing teams to throw against our secondary.

[Former ECU RB Chris Johnson]

Last year, the Pirates serves as a good litmus test for our offensive line. They will do the same this year with our defensive line. The Pirates were able to completely shut down our offense last year, a harbinger of things to come the next week against LSU.

We'll find out this Saturday where we stand with our front seven and how worried we should be about it.

Our offense will be fine. At least that's what I'm telling myself. Nope, no need to worry about how the quarterbacks will be uses, who's going to redshirt, who's going to carry the ball or who's going to catch it. No, no problem at all. We'll be an offensive juggernaut.

A juggernaut, I tell you!

[I'm the Virginia Tech Hokies, bitch.]

Final score prediction: VT 28, ECU 21.

I'm looking forward to one more year of bragging rights against my uncle. Next year the Hokies continue their series with the Pirates in their first trip to Greenville since 2000. Future sites for the Series That Won't End include Salem, Va., Wilmington, NC, and Des Moines, Iowa. And don't think for a second the tickets to Des Moines won't be included in your season ticket package.

It's game week... enjoy some YouTube to start your Monday.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

2008 Preseason Round Up

All the previews for the 2008 season have been posted. Next week we can start focusing on real, actual games. Can you believe it? CALLLAGE FOOTBAWL! It's here.

Miss anything from the last month? If so, here's everything from Gobbler Country you need to get ready for the season:

VT Position Previews
Running Backs
Pass Catchers (boy is this dated)
Offensive Line
Defensive Line

VT Stats-related Posts
Offense Stat Projection
Defense Stat Projection
QB Stat Projection
RB Stat Projection
PC Stat Projection
Importance of Turnovers
Importance of the Running Game

BCS Bowls
Big East
Big 12
Big Ten
Pac 10

Friday, August 22, 2008

Preseason ACC Power Poll 2008

This is completely different from the ACC predictions that ran every day for the past couple of weeks. This is more a reflection on how strong I think the teams are right now and less of a prediction of how I think the teams will finish. This will be updated each week.

1. Clemson
2. Virginia Tech
3. Wake Forest
4. Florida State
5. Boston College
6. Miami
7. North Carolina
8. Maryland
9. Virginia
10. Georgia Tech
11. NC State
12. Duke

- Yep. That's four Atlantic teams in the Top 5. I'm really glad the Hokies are in the Coastal this year.

- Clemson has all the hype and on paper appear to be the most dominant team in the conference. Unfortunately for Tommy Bowden, games aren't played on paper [/cliche]. The Hokies and Deacs are pretty much even, but this isn't a Wake Forest blog.

- I probably think too highly of both Florida State and Miami. But I'd really like both to have solid seasons so the talking heads will stop laying into the conference.

- Sorry, Gordo, but I don't believe in North Carolina or Butchie. They're at No. 7 by default, not because I think they're improved.

- UVa will much better than most people think they will. Georgia Tech will be much worse than most people think they will. NC State can jump up the power poll quickly with a win over South Carolina in Week 1.

Finally, a few more preseason picks:

ACC Player of the Year
Josh Adams, RB, Wake Forest

ACC Offensive Player of the Year
Josh Adams, RB, Wake Forest

ACC Defensive Player of the Year
Macho Harris, CB, Virginia Tech

ACC Coach of the Year
Randy Shannon, Miami

ACC Rookie of the Year
DeQuan Bowers, DE, Clemson

2008 National Football Predictions

Rose Bowl
Jan. 1 - Pasadena, Calif.
USC over Ohio State
- Yep, it's a rematch. Unlike the first game, I won't be watching.

Orange Bowl
Jan. 1 - Miami Gardens, Fla.
Virginia Tech over Oklahoma
- Two teams that don't perform very well in BCS games. I've been waiting for this match-up since I saw OU beat Tech 27-17 in the early '90s.

Sugar Bowl
Jan. 2 - New Orleans, La.
West Virginia over Clemson
- A second ACC team in a BCS bowl? Hooray! Oh, great, they're playing West Virginia. For some reason, the Mountaineers are really good in bowl lately after struggling in them for years.

Fiesta Bowl
Jan. 5 - Glendale, Ariz.
Texas Tech over BYU
- Points! Oogles of delicious, gooey points!

BCS Championship Game
Jan. 8 - Miami Gardens, Fla.
Georgia over Florida
- Another rematch. Yep, dat der ess-eee-see is the best got-damn foobaw conference in the whole got-damn nation. All dem utter conferences is jis playin' for sekin' place.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

She'll Be There...

Erin Andrews will be the sideline reporter for Virginia Tech's season opener with East Carolina Aug. 30 at Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium.

Earlier this month, ESPN announced Dave Pasch and Andre Ware will be calling the game on ESPN at noon EDT. Yesterday the network announced E.A. will be their sideline reporter, same as last season.

Yes, Hokie fans, we'll get see Erin Andrews next Saturday. All is well. Just don't be like this guy at last year's VT-GT game in Atlanta:

Anatomy of a Program: Our Fanbase

This is part of a series of posts just before the season that will go over certain aspects of the football program I find interesting. There will be posts on the Virginia Tech football team's peers, strengths, weaknesses and fanbase. It won't just be on-field related issues, either.

Virginia Tech has the best damn fans in college football. We're passionate, loyal, loud and sometimes go a little overboard. I drive cross country several times a year to see the Hokies play football. It's an obsession. An unhealthy obsession? Probably, but an obsession nonetheless.

And I'm not unique among the fanbase. There are plenty of fans that put forth a lot more time and effort into attending Virginia Tech games. Tailgating at Virginia Tech is on-par with some of the best game-day atmospheres in the country. We take our Hokie football very seriously.

But, my main problem with the fanbase is the expectations of many Hokie fans. It doesn't sit well with me that some are content to contend for a conference title every year and not really ever have a shot at the MNC.

I think fans should expect more. Fans in places like Oklahoma, Florida and Ohio State expect to content for a national title every year, whether its realistic or not. The Hokies aren't nearly on the same level of those programs. But until you start expecting greatness, you won't be great. I'm sure the coaching staff expects greatness, but the fans seem to be content with going 10-2 every year.

I'm not. I want this program to be in contention for national titles. Until we win one, we'll be a second-tier program. This year my expectations are a little tempered because of the influx of new faces and concerns at key positions. But there's no reason for expectations to be sky-high for the 2009 and 2010 teams.

The 2008 version of Hokie football is very good. It may not be great, but I expect them to have a chance to win every game they play this year.

Hokie fans are the best around. But its time to start expecting more from the program. Virginia Tech has come a long way from where it was in the early 90s. Now they have the facilities and the conference affiliation to play with the big boys. It's time for the program to take the next step.

2008 ACC Football Predictions: ACCCG

2008 ACC Championship Game
Dec. 6, 2008
Raymond James Stadium - Tampa, Fla.

Virginia Tech over Wake Forest

- The key for the Hokies will be stopping the run against the Deacs. The last couple years the Deacs have been at their best when running to the outside, which helps Virginia Tech. The Hokies have one of the better run-stopping secondaries in the country with Macho Harris and Kam Chancellor. Like last season's title game, I see the Hokie defense bending, not breaking and making plays late to win the game.

- The Hokies finish the year 11-2 and head to the Orange Bowl (sound familiar?). The ACC gets its first BCS at-large berth as Clemson heads to the Sugar Bowl. Wake Forest finishes the year 10-3 heads to Jacksonville.

Bowl Projections

Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech
Sugar Bowl: Clemson
Peach Bowl: Florida State
Gator Bowl: Wake Forest
Champs Sports Bowl: Miami
Music City Bowl: Virginia
Meineke Car Car Bowl: North Carolina
Emerald Bowl: Boston College
Humanitarian Bowl: Maryland

- The Peach Bowl gets FSU for the first time since 1983, the Gator Bowl gets Clemson for the first time since 2001 and the Champs Sports Bowl gets Miami for the first time.

- The Meineke Car Care Bowl gets an in-state team for the fourth time in five years and the Tar Heels for the first time since 2004. Maryland gets shipped West for the second consecutive year and BC heads to San Francisco.

Deacs Unveil 1/4-Scale Model of Suites

by furrer4heisman
Gobbler Country Times-Picayune

Wake Forest cut the ribbon on Deacon Tower, its one-quarter scale model of an actual press box and suites, Tuesday and gave tours to the media and fans.

Construction on the tower began in 2006 and it was built at a cost of $48 million. It's one of several renovations to Wake's Corporate Name Field.

"We're very proud of the facility," a Wake Forest spokesman said. "It's a great symbol of where we are as a football program."

The tower is 125 feet high and contains 22 suites for Wake football donors.

"Oh, it's so cute," Florida State fan Dora Speers said. "Look at the Deacs with their little suites. They have miniature chairs and everything. I just want to pinch their cheeks and take them home with me."

Speers was later informed the Deacons planned on hosting fans in the suites during football games. She gave a quizzical look, shook her head and then walked away.

"It's almost a to-scale replica of what we added to one of our end zones," Clemson fan Ronnie Natlee said. "I don't know if they were going for a scale replica of it or a one-fourth replica of our actual suites."

Wake's replica suites include a working press box as well as club seats for 628 Wake Forest fans to wait for basketball season with a false sense of entitlement.

The Demon Deacons kick off the 2008 football season at home against Baylor on Aug. 28.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Anatomy of a Program: Our Weaknesses

This is part of a series of posts just before the season that will go over certain aspects of the football program I find interesting. There will be posts on the Virginia Tech football team's peers, strengths, weaknesses and fanbase. It won't just be on-field related issues, either.

1. Our Location
As much as I love Blacksburg, it's easy to see why some recruits wouldn't. When it's not a game day, it becomes a sleepy little hamlet that's a good fur-piece away from the nearest large city. There's a reason Miami is able to bring in a lot of 5-star recruits.

2. Coach Beamer's Loyalty
You don't see a lot of turnover on the Virginia Tech coaching staff. Sometimes that's a good thing. Other times? Not so much. The best coaches are willing to adapt to the changes in college football. And those that can't or are unwilling to adapt are usually quickly shown the door. Look at Auburn. Tommy Tuberville brought in a new offensive coordinator this year to run the spread. Sometimes loyalty can get in the way of progress.

3. Customer Service
The BCA refund debacle. The crackdown on fun. The lame "Hokies Respect" cartoons. For the love of God, this is college football. It isn't the Sydney Opera House. We're going to boo Miami when they run out of the tunnel. We're going to have the occasional adult beverage and toss a football around in the parking lot before the game. We're going to thrust our pelvises forward in an attempt to surge our offense across the goalline. When compared to Wisconsin, "Stick It In" is pretty PG.

4. Perception
There's an easy fix for this one: Win the big games. Don't just hang with USC, knock them off. Don't just make a BCS game, win it. Beat No. 2 Boston College at home. Win at Florida State. Beat and SEC team in its own backyard. The Hokies have had plenty of chances for a program and statement-making win. So far they've come up short.

2008 ACC Football Predictions: Week 14

Week 14 in the ACC
The ACC goes a somewhat respectable 2-2 against the SEC during rivalry week. Virginia Tech, Clemson and Wake Forest all get to 10 wins. The ACC finishes with nine bowl eligible teams. It had eight teams go bowling in 2007.

Bye Weeks

Game of the Week
Florida over Florida State

Nov. 29
Virginia Tech over Virginia
Boston College over Maryland
Miami wins at NC State
North Carolina wins at Duke
Clemson over South Carolina
Georgia over Georgia Tech
Wake Forest over Vanderbilt

ACC Standings after Week 14

WAKE 10-2, 6-2
FSU 9-3, 6-2
CLEM 10-2, 6-2
BC 6-6, 3-5
MARY 6-6, 3-5
NCST 3-9, 2-6

VT 10-2, 6-1
MIA 8-4, 5-3
UNC 7-5, 5-3
UVA 6-6, 4-4
GT 3-9, 1-7
DUKE 3-9, 0-8

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Anatomy of a Program: Our Strengths

This is part of a series of posts just before the season that will go over certain aspects of the football program I find interesting. There will be posts on the Virginia Tech football team's peers, strengths, weaknesses and fanbase. It won't just be on-field related issues, either.

1. Coaching Staff
College kids come and go, so it's important for the head coach to be the face of the program. You couldn't ask for a better face of the program than Frank Beamer. He's an alum who represents everything the team and school strives to be. With Bud Foster and the rest of the coaching staff, the team is in good hands.

2. Fiscal Conservatism
You can rail against athletic director Jim Weaver for a lot of things. It seems as if he's trying to make Blacksburg a no-fun zone by outlawing the Stick It In cheer and cutting down on some tailgating activities. But he keeps the program in the black and helped get us into the ACC. I believe Weaver's legacy will be getting into the new conference. And that's as good a legacy as anyone associated with Hokie athletics has ever left.

3. Fans
We're fanatical and we care. About EVERYTHING. We're ACC football fans with an SEC problem. That's not saying we belong in the ACC, just that we take our football just as seriously.

4. Bill Roth
A true professional, a great Hokie and one of the better play-by-play guys you'll ever listen to. Not bad for a Syracuse grad.

5. Work Ethic
Playing for the Hokies means brining a blue-collar, hard-working demeanor to the playing field. You're not given playing time under Beamer and Foster. You earn it. There's a reason Tech isn't ever mentioned as having a top recruiting class but still wins 10 games a year. The players work hard with both Beamer and strength coach Mike Gentry to become better players.

2008 ACC Football Predictions: Week 13

Week 13 in the ACC
I think Maryland will win at home against FSU. They play much better at home than on the road and Florida State isn't good enough to have just one regular season loss going into the Florida game. Could they be caught looking ahead to the Gators? It's possible. Wins by Wake and Clemson give us a three-way tie yet again in the Atlantic. Wake holds the tie breakers and heads to Tampa. Virginia's loss to Clemson gives Virginia Tech the Coastal title. Both divisions are decided before Week 14.

Bye Weeks

Game of the Week
Maryland over Florida State

Nov. 20
Miami wins at GT

Nov. 22
Virginia Tech over Duke
Wake Forest over Boston College
Clemson wins at Virginia
North Carolina over NC State

ACC Standings after Week 13

WAKE 9-2, 6-2
FSU 9-2, 6-2
CLEM 9-2, 6-2
MARY 6-5, 3-4
BC 5-6, 2-5
NCST 3-8, 2-5

VT 9-2, 6-1
MIA 7-4, 4-3
UVA 6-5, 4-3
UNC 6-5, 4-3
GT 3-8, 1-7
DUKE 3-8, 0-7

Monday, August 18, 2008

Hokies Make Late Run at Fulmer Cup

by furrer4heisman
Gobbler Country Times-Picayune

With only a week left to accumulate Fulmer Cup points, the Virginia Tech Hokies launched a late charge early Sunday morning.

Projected starting wide receiver Zach Luckett was charged with a DUI after blowing a .16 and driving with a revoked license and was awarded four points by Fulmer Cup chief executive Orson Swindle. It was the first point-scoring citation by a Hokie this season.

"It may be to late to win the title, but we feel like we can make a run," head coach Frank Beamer said. "We can't let our rivals have all the fun."

Both West Virginia and Virginia have 19 Fulmer Cup points and are in a tie for third behind Missouri and Alabama. West Virginia briefly flirted with first place before having points redacted due to the perpetrator having been removed from the roster following spring practice.

"I just don't know if we'll be able to catch those two," Beamer said, referring to the Mountaineers and Cavaliers. "At this point it may take one of the freshman running a meth lab and prostitution ring out of his dorm."

Beamer apologized to Hokie fans were expecting the team to bring home the hardware.

"We just can't recruit the kind of bad apples those schools are able to bring in," he said. "It may be another two or three years before we're able to compete for a Fulmer Cup crown again."

Anatomy of a Program: Our Peers

This is part of a series of posts just before the season that will go over certain aspects of the football program I find interesting. There will be posts on the Virginia Tech football team's peers, strengths, weaknesses and fanbase. It won't just be on-field related issues, either.

The easiest way to define a program is to compare it to others. What programs are similar to Virginia Tech's? Well, the Hokies have a rabid fanbase that considers the program to be on the up-swing. However, the Hokies have never won a BCS bowl despite usually being in the picture for the conference championship. Here are the teams in other BCS conference that I think the Hokies resemble:

Conference: Big East
Comparison: West Virginia
Both teams are fairly close geographically and have rabid fans, WVU's just have more of a predilection toward violence. I don't believe for a second WVU is above the Hokies as far as level of the programs, but I'll give it to the Mountaineers that they've won their share of big games recently. Of course, they've also lost their share of big games (just like the Hokies).

Conference: SEC
Comparison: Auburn
Both programs are usually in contention for a conference title. The Tigers haven't won a national title since 1957, but did win a BCS bowl game (against the Hokies in 2005). Fits the mold of consistent winner with a passionate fan base that hasn't gotten over the hump yet. Close second would be South Carolina.

Conference: Big Ten
Comparison: Wisconsin
The Badgers have won BCS bowls, but not since 2000. Both the Badgers and Hokies have tremendous game-day atmosphere and a tradition that includes a lot of winning, but no national titles. Second place: Iowa.

Conference: Big 12
Comparison: Kansas State
The Hokies and Wildcats started emerging as college football powers around the same time in the mid-90s. Though K-State has fallen on hard times recently, the Wildcats are usually in contention for a conference title and have a passionate fan base.

Conference: Pac 10
Comparions: Oregon
Hostile home crowd? Check. Crazy fanbase? Check. Recent success? Check. Inability to make the jump from "Cute Up-And-Comer" to "National Power"? Check. Ducks, turkeys. Same difference. Second place: Oregon State.

2008 ACC Football Predictions: Week 12

Week 12 in the ACC
Virginia Tech takes control of the Coastal with a win at Miami. The top three teams in the Atlantic all win. My only concern with the Hokies' game in Miami is their ability to stop the run. Miami has a great stable of running backs. I think this game will be similar to the teams' game in 2006. A tight contest settled late in the game. As a Hokie fan, I have to pick them to beat the 'Canes. While both teams are young, Tech's defense will be able to make the plays late in the game that make the difference.

Bye Weeks
Georgia Tech and Virginia

Nov. 13 and Game of the Week
Virginia Tech wins at Miami

Nov. 15
Florida State over Boston College
Clemson over Duke
Wake Forest wins at NC State
North Carolina wins at Maryland

ACC Standings after Week 12

FSU 9-1, 6-1
WAKE 8-2, 5-2
CLEM 8-2, 5-2
MARY 5-5, 2-4
BC 5-5, 2-4
NCST 3-7, 2-4

VT 8-2, 5-1
UVA 6-4, 4-2
MIA 6-4, 3-3
UNC 5-5, 3-3
GT 3-7, 1-6
DUKE 3-7, 0-6

Friday, August 15, 2008

I'm Disappointed in Big Daddy Drew

Two Virginia Tech football features are out today. First, The Quad. The New York Times blog puts the Hokies at No. 15, just like the rest of America. Paul Myerberg thinks we'll win our division and 10 games.

Next, the preview at has several tidbits about the Hokies, most of which Hokie fans already knew. One that I didn't? Sean Glennon is fourth among active ACC QBs in career passing yards.

Finally, there's Deadspin. Big Daddy Drew wrote a hater's guide to the Top 25 and most of them we're pretty funny and creative. The one that wasn't creative was his pithy jab at the Hokies:

15. Virginia Tech

Awesome campus-wide alert system you people have. Apparently, the only security alarm in Blacksburg is a guy hollering atop a donkey.

First of all, I'll never think April 16 is funny. No Hokies will. But my main issue isn't that he's making light of the tragedy, it's I expected more from BDD. His shots at Mizzou, West Virginia and Arizona State had me rolling. His shot at Tech was just lame.

And for the record, Drew, it's a mule, not a donkey.

2008 VT Stat Projection: Pass Catchers

According to Wednesday's quarterback stat projection, I have to account for 218 receptions, 2,760 yards and 17 touchdowns for the pass catchers. This includes the bevy of inexperienced wide receivers, the cluster of unproven running backs and the solid, steady and reliable corps of tight ends.

Last year, the receivers caught 184 passes for 2,383 yards and 13 touchdowns in the regular season.

The Tech offense usually uses its tight ends about as often as Travis Henry uses protection. However, you have to figure they'll see a few more balls their way since Sam Wheeler was on his way to becoming a favorite target of Glennon's before tearing his ACL and because everyone else is so green.

As for the receivers, I think Zach Luckett will emerge as the go-to guy with the former quarterbacks, Ike Whitaker and Cory Holt also emerging as targets. As for the running backs, Kenny Lewis appears to be the best pass-catcher among them, although Ryan Williams could see the field as a flanker early in the season.

For the purpose of this projection, we'll look at the five receivers I expect to make the biggest impact in 2008 (Luckett, Whitaker, Holt, Dyrell Roberts and Danny Coale), the top two tight ends (Wheeler and Greg Boone) and the top two running backs (Lewis and Williams). We'll assume those nine will account for 200 receptions, 2,670 yards and 17 touchdowns and 18 receptions and 90 yards going to other players in mop-up duty, etc.

Regular Season Only

Wide Receivers

Zach Luckett in 2008
45 Rec, 710 Yds, 5 TDs
15.8 Ypc

Ike Whitaker in 2008
35 Rec, 480 Yds, 3 TDs
13.7 Ypc

Danny Coale in 2008
25 Rec, 320 Yds, 2 TDs
12.8 Ypc

Dyrell Roberts in 2008
15 Rec, 220 Yds, 1 TD
14.7 Ypc

Cory Holt in 2008
15 Rec, 190 Yds, 0 TDs
12.7 Ypc

Tight Ends

Sam Wheeler
25 Rec, 360 Yds, 3 TDs
14.4 Ypc

Greg Boone
10 Rec, 145 Yds, 1 TD
14.5 Ypc

Running Backs

Kenny Lewis
20 Rec, 160 Yds, 1 TD
8.0 Ypc

Ryan Williams
10 Rec, 85 Yds, 1 TD
8.5 Ypc

2008 ACC Football Predictions: Week 11

Week 11 in the ACC
Florida State takes control of its own destiny by beating Clemson and having Wake Forest lose to Virginia. North Carolina gets back on track with a home win over Georgia Tech.

Bye Weeks

Game of the Week
Florida State over Clemson

Nov. 6
Virginia Tech over Maryland

Nov. 8
Virginia wins at Wake Forest
NC State wins at Duke
North Carolina over Georgia Tech
Notre Dame over Boston College

ACC Standings after Week 11

FSU 8-1, 5-1
WAKE 7-2, 4-2
CLEM 7-2, 4-2
MARY 5-4, 2-3
BC 5-4, 2-3
NCST 3-6, 2-3

VT 7-2, 4-1
UVA 6-4, 4-2
MIA 6-3, 3-2
UNC 4-5, 2-3
GT 3-7, 1-6
DUKE 3-6, 0-5

Thursday, August 14, 2008

2008 VT Stat Projection: Running Backs

In Monday's stat projection for the offense as a whole I predicted the Hokies to average 155 yards per game on the ground. Multiply that by 12 regular season games and that's 1,860 rushing yards that need to be accounted for by Virginia Tech's ball-carriers.

Last year, the Hokies tallied 1,638 rushing yards on 482 carries (3.4 Ypc) in their 12 regular season games. How will the Hokies average 155 yards per game this year? Easy. I think the yards per carry will up significantly in 2008. The offensive line is much better and with Tyrod Taylor scrambling for yards, you'll see a significant rise in yards per carry.

If you read Wednesday's stat projection for the quarterbacks, you saw that I predict the Hokies to throw four more passes per game this year as opposed to last. Lets say the Hokies run the same number of plays this year as last year. That means they would have to rush for 1,860 yards on 438 carries in 2008. That puts the team yards per carry at 4.2 yards per carry, an improvement of almost a full yard over last year's team.

Again, I think this is possible because of Tyrod's rushing ability, the improved offensive line, and fewer sacks taking away from the yards per carry. Basically, you'll see a lot fewer carries for Glennon this year. He had 66 in 2007.

I'll focus the individual projections on the four players I think will get the most carries in 2008: Kenny Lewis, Jahre Cheeseman, Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Williams. While Darren Evans and Josh Oglesby are good players, there just aren't enough carries for them.

Between mop-up time rushing yards, rushing yards for receivers and quarterback sacks, the Hokies had 112 rushing yards on that weren't accounted for by the top four rushers. I think that will stay the same this year (less reverses but less sacks). Since there are more backs competing for mop-up yards (but mostly to keep these numbers round), let's say the top four rushers for the Hokies need to combine for 1,740 yards (120 yards to others) on 390 carries (48 to others) in 2008. That would be just under 4.5 yards per carry. Last year, the top four rushers for the Hokies had 1,524 yards on 385 carries during the regular season (4.0 Ypc).

Regular Season Only

Tyrod Taylor in 2008
90 Car, 550 Yds, 6.1 Ypc, 7 TD

Jahre Cheeseman in 2008
140 Car, 550 yds, 3.9 Ypc, 7 TD

Kenny Lewis in 2008
90 Car, 320 yds, 3.5 Ypc, 3 TD

Ryan Williams in 2008
70 Car, 320 yds, 4.5 Ypc, 4 TD

I think you will see Cheeseman as the primary back early in the year with more and more of his carries going to Williams as the season progresses. Lewis will stay in the same role as the third down back or change of pace back for the duration of the season.

2008 ACC Football Predictions: Week 10

Week 10 in the ACC
Clemson, Wake Forest and Florida State all remain in a three-way tie atop the Atlantic. However, Clemson and Florida State need Wake to drop a game because the Deacs hold the tie breaker over both. Miami gets a big win on the road against Virginia. Its game against Virginia Tech in two weeks could be for the Coastal division title.

Bye Weeks
Virginia Tech, Maryland, NC State, North Carolina

Game of the Week
Clemson wins at Boston College

Nov. 1
Florida State wins at Georgia Tech
Wake Forest over Duke
Miami wins at Virginia

ACC Standings after Week 10

WAKE 7-1, 4-1
CLEM 7-1, 4-1
FSU 7-1, 4-1
MARY 5-3, 2-2
BC 5-3, 2-3
NCST 2-6, 1-3

VT 6-2, 3-1
UVA 5-4, 3-2
MIA 6-3, 3-2
UNC 3-5, 1-3
GT 3-6, 1-5
DUKE 3-5, 0-4

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Stephens Impressive in Practice

Freshman linebacker Allen Stephens from Halifax County High School has been getting a lot of pub on Kyle Tucker's blog recently. According to Tucker, Stephens "plays violent," which is a big compliment for a Tech linebacker.

Tucker also reported yesterday that Stephens was one the heaviest hitters among the defensive players at Tuesday's scrimmage. This guy is going to be a stud. That's how we do things in South Boston, Va., people.

2008 VT Stat Projection: Quarterbacks

In Monday's projection for the offense as a whole I said the Hokies will average 230 yards per game this year through the air. Multiply that by 12 regular season games and you get 2,760 passing yards that need to be accounted for by the two quarterbacks.

As I've said all along, I expect the dual-quarterback system to win out with Glennon as the starter getting most of the snaps. I expect he'll flourish in his senior year and collect about 65-70 percent of the Hokies' passing yards. Tyrod will obviously have a lot more yards on the ground because that's what the Hokies will need from him.

Last year, Glennon threw for 1,462 yards in the regular season while Tyrod threw for 888.

Regular season only

Sean Glennon 2008
145-225, 1,800 Yds, 11 TD, 4 INT
64.4 Comp%, 8.0 Ypa

Tyrod Taylor 2008
73-128, 960 yds, 6 TD, 3 INT
57.0 Comp%, 7.5 Ypa

Last season, Glennon completed 60.9 percent of his passes and averaged 7.5 yards per attempt. Tyrod completed 53.7 percent of his passes and averaged 6.9 yards per attempt.

Last year Glennon and Taylor combined to throw 305 passes in the 12 regular season games. This projection has them combining for 353 passes. That's an increase of four passes per game. I believe this is reasonable because Glennon will be be involved more than last year, where he didn't play in one game and barely saw action in four others. In 2006, he threw 276 passes in the 12 regular season games he started.

Also, the Hokies' running back situation will call for more passes. All five potential backs are unproven or have no previous game experience.

These numbers would give Glennon just over 65 percent of the passing yards and almost 64 percent of the passing attempts. Will that be enough to placate the redshirt senior and third year starter? If the team's winning, probably. If it's not, changes will be made, one way or another and feelings will be hurt. But, that's the risk with the two-quarterback system. When the team's winning, everyone's happy. When it's not, no one is.

2008 ACC Football Predictions: Week 9

Week 9 in ACC Football
I don't think the Hokies will be able to win in Tallahassee, however, they'll get help when Wake wins at Miami. Maryland suffers a let-down after beating Wake and falls to NC State. In the Billionaire Bowl, Duke can't get a road win against Vandy.

Bye Weeks

Game of the Week
Florida State over Virginia Tech

Oct. 25
North Carolina over Boston College
Maryland over NC State
Wake Forest wins at Miami
Virginia wins at Georgia Tech
Vanderbilt over Duke

ACC Standings after Week 9

CLEM 6-1, 3-1
WAKE 6-1, 3-1
FSU 6-1, 3-1
MARY 5-3, 2-2
BC 5-2, 2-2
NCST 2-6, 1-3

VT 6-2, 3-1
UVA 5-3, 3-1
MIA 5-3, 2-2
UNC 3-5, 1-3
GT 3-5, 1-4
DUKE 3-4, 0-3

Miles to Go Before We Sleep

The line from the Robert Frost poem (a favorite of mine and my grandfather) can be applied to both myself and the Hokies. I'm pulling an all-nighter in order to watch the U.S. soccer team take on Nigeria in Beijing. That's probably about as good an idea as going across the middle on Kam Chancellor, but hell, let's see what happens. I'm probably going to be struggling tomorrow, considering I've got to work 9 to 5 and then go to my dad's 50th birthday dinner. Should be fun.

The Hokies also have miles to go before they sleep. They held their first scrimmage Tuesday and the results left something to be desired according to the published reports. A lot of mistakes were made by a lot of young players. First, we'll get to the good. Then we'll sift through the waist-high sludge of bad.

Never underestimate blocking

Two parts of the game that usually get over-looked but are very important are pass blocking by running backs and run blocking by receivers. If either party blocks well, they are well on their way to being on the field in Virginia Tech's offense. The coaches stress pass blocking among their running backs and run blocking by the receivers is a very important part of the system.

Run blocking has apparently shot former quarterback Ike Whitaker way up the depth chart. Whitaker was involved heavily with the first-team offense, according to Kyle Tucker of the Virginian-Pilot, due primarily to his run blocking abilities.

With a nickname like 'Macho' you have to be good

Macho Harris is living up to both his nickname and his number (No. 1). Harris wasn't expected to play a lot on special teams, but due to injury got in on a couple of kick block situations. All he did was block to field goals.

This guy is an absolute beast. Please get him some time at receiver. The more opportunities Harris gets to make plays, the better.

Bringing the heat

The good news on defense, other than Macho Harris, is the defensive ends appear to be just as good as advertised. Orion Martin and Jason Worilds will cause a lot of indigestion for a lot of opposing offensive line coaches.

No news is good news

As far as I can tell from Kyle Tucker's blog from the game and the official story on, there were no interceptions or fumbles from either Tyrod Taylor or Sean Glennon. If there had been, Tucker would have mentioned it. He's the hardest working guy covering the Hokies and doesn't miss a whole lot.

Mistakes were made

The question is, does our lack of playmakers mean Taylor needs to see more snaps at quarterback or does our lack of a decent running back mean Glennon needs to see more snaps at quarterback? Read Tucker's blog to see which running backs made which screw-ups. You need a program to tell.


Positives are also negatives

The backs did a lot of east-west running, which didn't sit well with running backs coach Billy Hite. When they did go north-south, they found a lot of room to run, which may not be a good thing considering they were going against what's supposed to be our front seven in 2008.

No news is also bad news

None of the receivers did anything spectacular. That's not what I like to hear. I like to hear about guys like Brandon Dillard establishing themselves as playmakers in the spring game. Somebody needs to step up. Good thing this was only the first scrimmage. And it seems like most of it was used to see who is still in the conversation at running back.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

2008 VT Stat Projection: Defense

Lot of new faces out there. Two new starters in the secondary. Another, Kam Chancellor, is at a new position. Two new starters at linebacker, although both are redshirt seniors. Three new starters on the defensive line and not much depth at defensive tackle.

This will be the big test of Bud Foster's abilities as a defensive coordinator. He's earned the reputation as one of the best, if not THE best in the country. If he cranks out another Top 10 defense this year, he's King Bud in my book.

While I believe the defense won't be as stout as the last four years (how could it?), it won't be a significant step down. Foster's an excellent coach and the Hokies have much better talent than they did in 2003, the year of which we will not speak.

My primary concern is at defensive tackle. Although, freshman Vinston Painter's move from the offensive line to defensive tackle alleviates some of that concern. He will provide depth and from all reports, he's going to be an excellent player.

The linebackers won't be as athletic as the last four years, but they'll get the job done. The pressure will be on the secondary to maintain its dominance. The linebackers helped a lot in pass coverage last year.

However, I think the Hokies will put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, which will help the secondary out. Should be a solid year for the defense. Last year, the Hokies gave up 296.93 yards per game, good enough for No. 4 in the country and No. 1 in the ACC. It was the third consecutive year the Hokies led the ACC in total defense and the fourth consecutive year the Hokies led the conference in scoring defense.

2008 Hokies Rush Defense: 115.0 YPG
2008 Hokies Pass Defense: 200.0 YPG
2008 Hokies Total Defense: 315.0 YPG

If the Hokies had given up 315.0 YPG in 2007 they would have ranked No. 12 in the country in total defense. I think the rush yards per game will be higher this season because the front seven is inexperienced and faces more run-oriented teams this year in Nebraska and the new Georgia Tech. They last gave up that many YPG on the ground in 2004, when they gave up 115.23 YPG rushing, ranking No. 21 in the country. That year, they faced teams with tremendous rushing offenses like USC and Auburn. NC State also had TA McClendon that year.

Still, a defense ranked in the Top 15 would be good for this team if the offense is able to improve as I think it will.

Non-Con Games to Watch

Here's a pithy look at some non-conference games to circle on the calendar in both the ACC and around the country:


Aug. 28: NC State at South Carolina
- Both teams have major issues at quarterback. How many different QBs will see the field in this one? Six is a possibility.
Aug. 30: Clemson vs. Alabama (Atlanta)
- Will Clemson's O-line be able to open holes for Davis and Spiller against a quality SEC opponent?
Aug. 30: Virginia vs. USC
- Shouldn't be very close.
Aug. 30: Virginia Tech vs. East Carolina (Charlotte)
- This won't be a gimme. A lot of new faces for the Hokies. A lot of familiar ones for the Pirates.
Sept. 6: Miami at Florida
- Can Miami keep it respectable against Tebow, Harvin & Co. in The Swamp?
Sept. 6: Wake Forest vs. Ole Miss
- The Rebels should be improved under Houston Nutt. But Wake should win this one.
Sept. 11: North Carolina at Rutgers
- Rutgers beat UNC in Chapel Hill, but that was with Ray Rice. This will be the first big test of how good the Tar Heels are.
Sept. 13: Maryland vs. Cal
- Two teams with QB questions.
Sept. 20: Georgia Tech vs. Mississippi State
- The Bulldogs were one of the most-improved teams in the SEC last year. The Yellow Jackets are installing a new offense. Should be fun to watch.
Sept. 20: Miami at Texas A&M
- The Aggies were out-classed by the 'Canes last year. But Texas A&M's new president is desperate for a win over Miami.
Sept. 27: Florida State vs. Colorado (Jacksonville)
- Colorado will be a lot better in 2008. So will the 'Noles.
Sept. 27: Virginia Tech at Nebraska
- See you on O Street.
Oct. 11: North Carolina vs. Notre Dame
- Everyone thinks the Irish will be one of the more improved teams of 2008. We'll see.
Oct. 25: Duke at Vanderbilt
- A road win in the SEC would be a big boost for the Blue Devils.
Nov. 8: Boston College vs. Notre Dame
- Another home game for the ACC against the Irish. BC has the defense. But can they put up enough points?
Nov. 29: Florida State vs. Florida
- A home game for the 'Noles against a Florida team that will be in the hunt for a championship game bid.


Aug. 30: Missouri vs. Illinois (St. Louis)
- Missouri beat rivals Illinois and Kansas last year. The Illini and Jayhawks were selected for at-large BCS berths. The Tigers went to the Cotton Bowl. This made me laugh for a long, long time. Right up until the Hokies lost to KU.
Aug. 30: Utah at Michigan
- Could the Wolvies drop consecutive home openers? It's possible. A win here and Utah is a treat to run the table. They have a very good defense.
Sept. 1: UCLA at Tennessee
- First game for Slick Rick and Norm Chow at UCLA. Tennessee will have a new quarterback.
Sept. 6: Texas Tech at Nevada
- Points. Lots and lots of sexy points.
Sept. 13: Oklahoma at Washington
- Stoops doesn't have good luck with true road games against the Pac 10. Can Jake Locker and the Huskies pull off the upset?
Sept. 13: Wisconsin at Fresno State
- We'll find out how good both teams are in Week 3.
Sept. 20: Georgia at Arizona State
- The 'Dawgs make a trip west of the Mississippi to face one of last year's most improved teams.
Oct. 25: Auburn at West Virginia
- A lot of tough road non-conference games for the SEC this year. Both of these teams will be title contenders.

2008 ACC Football Predictions: Week 8

Week 8 in the ACC
The first full slate of six conference games comes in Week 8. I'm picking Maryland to upset Wake Forest because Wake will have just played two tough opponents in the four weeks leading up to this one and because Maryland is always good for an upset at home. Last year they beat Boston College in College Park. Also, look for Virginia to hold serve at home against North Carolina. This will be a good game as by Week 8 I think the 'Hoos will be decent enough to beat teams that are at their level, like the Tar Heels.

Bye Weeks

Game of the Week
Maryland over Wake Forest

Oct. 16
Florida State wins at NC State

Oct. 18
Virginia Tech wins at Boston College
Clemson over Georgia Tech
Miami over Duke
Virginia over North Carolina

ACC Standings after Week 8

CLEM 6-1, 3-1
WAKE 5-1, 2-1
FSU 5-1, 2-1
MARY 5-2, 2-1
BC 5-1, 2-1
NCST 1-6, 0-3

VT 6-1, 3-0
MIA 5-2, 2-1
UVA 4-3, 2-1
GT 3-4, 1-3
DUKE 3-3, 0-3
UNC 2-5, 0-3