Sunday, April 23, 2006

Mid Off Season Update


"Mad" Jay provides some mid-off season insight.


A Mid-Off Season Update
by "Mad" Jay

It's been a while my Calm and Beloved Reader, but it's taken some time
for me to make sense of a Spring filled with many changes. Virginia
Tech Football 2006 is going to be a vastly different ride than the one
we have become accustomed to, so let's get right to it.

First of all, let's talk recruiting. Many of you with whom I have been
speaking have voiced great concerns over the Hokies' recruiting class.
While I agree that there were very few big names or national top 100
players that signed to this program, I genuinely believe the team had
a very solid recruiting class. Some grave concerns and frustrations I
have are that the school wasn't even in on some of the biggest
in-state names and I sincerely hope that isn't the beginning of a trend.

Let's start with the brightest area which is the defensive side of the
ball. The additions of Jason Adjepong and John Graves along with 2004
signee Steven Friday will anchor the defensive line for years to come.
There were no significant recruits in the defensive secondary or
linebacking corps, but those units are very young and so those aren't
pressing needs yet. Talk to me about that next season. If we don't
sign some talented LB's or DB's next winter, THEN I will likely be
sick with worry.

On the offensive side of the ball, again there were no strong skill
position players signed in this class. And yet QB, RB and WR are
again, positions where we are very young, talented and deep. Next
season is where we need to focus on those. Let me be clear that we
will also need to recruit tight end very hard. Unless Ed Wang makes
very significant strides, and John Kinzer's neck is football ready, TE
could be our weakest position on the football team right now. Where
the Hokies did add was on the offensive line with the addition of
Sergio Render (another class of 2004 signee) and the highest ranked
recruit of the class, Aaron Brown. The offensive line, which was an
area I was highly concerned about headed into this year, has a lot of
potential and I am excited to see what they can do. I believe Brandon
Frye's performance against Elvis Dumervil in the Gator Bowl has
already had positive effects on him this year as he set some
weightlifting records this winter.

I have never been one to believe that you have to have a class filled
with 4 and 5 star recruits to be successful. You need players that fit
your program. In the case of the Hokies that means players who have a
lot of potential to grow and who are willing to work harder than at
other programs to reach that potential. But at the same time, next
season the team will have needs in what I call the "high athleticism"
positions - LB, WR, TE, DB. And that means the Hokies need to be the
leading school for at least two or three highly ranked recruits over
the course of the 2006-2007 season. A big win hosting Clemson on
Thursday night football later in the season will go a long way in that
regard and I expect the atmosphere at that game to be electric.

The main reason this season will be different is because of the
coaching changes. I think Tech did both very well and very poorly in
their off-season changes in the coaching staff.

I am extremely happy with the addition of Torrian Gray (defensive
backs) to the staff. I think that is a significant upgrade from
Lorenzo Ward due to Gray's experience as a Hokie and as a successful
NFL secondary coach. Luring him back to Blacksburg was brilliant. I
think that Mike O'Cain replacing Kevin Rogers at QB coach is an even
trade. And I wish Rogers the best of luck in the NFL.

Where I am extremely disappointed is the loss of Tony Ball and the
choice of Kevin Sherman for WR coach. Let me get this straight - VT
has one of the top WR lineups IN THE NATION and definitely the top in
the ACC. And the best the school could do was get the WR coach from
Wake Forest. You know - Wake Forest the 11th best (out of 12) in
passing yards in the conference. Wake Forest whose BEST receiver was
17th in the conference in receiving. Why didn't the school pull a Taco
Bell and think outside the bun? What's Antonio Freeman up to these
days? Surely there was a better option available to coach this stable
of WR's - the best the school has ever had?

And just so you folks don't think I'm slipping, here's the call for
Brian Stinespring's head. The reaility in today's college football is
that the school couldn't demote him to O-line coach and name a new
offensive coordinator brought in. I like Curtis Newsome's addition to
coach the offensive line and the right solution for everyone was to
let Brian Stinespring go and bring in a new offensive coordinator. But
this choice may just work out in the long run. You see, all of
Stinespring's duties except offensive coordinator have been removed.
That means he can focus full-time on the playbook and playcalling. If
the offense is ineffective he will try and hide behind the fact that
it's a new quarterback this year, but do not fall for that. This is
Stinespring's year to make it or break it. I hope I am HORRIBLY wrong,
but I think Stinespring just isn't cut out for offensive coordinator
and I am afraid that we will all see that this year. Hopefully we just
have to live through it for one more year. Stay strong my brothers and

Watch for me to strike again after the spring game where we will
wrap-up the spring and begin looking towards summer preparation. As
the theme will be the entire year, it's time to take the next step.



"Mad" Jason Oakley
Brian "Where's The Ice?" Wrenn


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