Sunday, August 20, 2006




Mad Jay - Pre-Season Update #1

Here are my thoughts regarding the Hokies this pre-season:

1) Ike Whitaker is 19-23 for 156 yards and 2TD's and he's rushed for another 40 yards and a TD in the two scrimmages. These are VASTLY superior to either Sean Glennon or Cory Holt's numbers (of course Glennon is going up against first string defense all the time), but other than one interception - called back due to an offside penalty - Whitaker has shown no flaw in his game. I hate making pronouncements until I see a guy play, but unless there's something I'm missing, Whitaker has to be the back-up QB over Cory Holt for the Northeastern game. I fully expect Glennon to perform in his role as starter, and I saw him play two years ago - don't lose hope my fellow Hokies, the kid can play QB at this level. But Whitaker has GOT to get some snaps as the back-up QB to get live game experience this year. If he does, he could become a force for us at QB going forward or maybe even as early as this season.

2) Branden Ore is having an amazing pre-season. Everything I've read about his maturity helped calm my nerves. After watching football religiously for so long (this will be my 28th season) I know talent, and he has bigtime talent. But his maturity was the issue and according to his teammates and Billy Hite (RB coach) he has taken care of that. Now he is averaging 5 yards/carry in the first two scrimmages against the first-string defense with an offensive line that, while better than advertised, is still far outmatched by the defense. I said it all last season and I'll say it here, Ore is the real deal and barring injury, he and Bell are going to be a BETTER 1-2 punch than Imoh and Humes were. Write it down and check back with me at the end of the season.

3) The special teams is in great hands (and feet). Brandon Pace and Nic Schmitt have been booming kicks all over the field.

4) The entire key to the Hokie's season comes down to one question with two parts - Will Stinespring base the offensive gameplan around the short passing game to the Hokie WR's and can Glennon just make the correct read and deliver the short pass accurately? Look at what happens if the answer to that is yes - if he can, the 5 receivers are so good that they will just make play after play with the ball in their hands. If they do, that widens the field and opens up the running game, minimizes the impact of not having an experienced tight end, minimizes the impact of a new offensive line (they only have to hold their blocks long enough for the 3 and 5 step drop), etc. As you all know, I am unconvinced that Stinespring knows enough to make this the gameplan. But this is so obvious that if he doesn't, the calls for his head will be too loud to ignore. The offense MUST be based on our receivers. As a group they are the best in the ACC without question and top 5 in the country.

5) When Bud Foster and Frank Beamer both talk about this defense having a realistic chance to be better than last year's defense (which by the way was best in the country), you know the defense is serious. The national media is dismissing our defensive line saying that only Noland Burchette and Chris Ellis are proven. They don't yet realize that Virginia Tech has become D-Line University. Kory Robertson, Barry Booker, Taco Thompson, Carlton Powell, William Wall, Orion Martin (who had the lone Whitaker interception), I mean the list of players there is just scary. I think VT's only weakness on defense is depth in the secondary due to a rash of injuries there. Fortunately all the injuries are Minor (pun intended, but it's bad -Roland Minor is the 2nd string cornerback who hurt his wrist), and the two deep in the secondary is expected to all be at full strength by the Georgia Tech game in late September.

6) Don't worry about the tight end position for three reasons. a) Jesse Allen is the FB. He is like having a tight end lining up in the backfield and the Hokies will just use more I-formations to take advantage of that; b) a tight end receiving threat is unnecessary this year with the receivers the team has and c) Greg Boone and Sam Wheeler (when he returns from injury) are both physical talents who showed enough in the passing game that one or the other could become a real threat as they develop during the course of the season.

Look for TSF's first official newsletter of the 2006 football season to come out the week before the Northeastern game. We'll wrap-up pre-season practice, preview the first game and the season all in one action-packed issue. See you then,



Anonymous said...

Yep yep. I think you hit it right on the head for the most part.

1- I too like Ike, but I think people are sleeping on Glennon. The guys got 4.6 speed, hes as strong as an ox and he's 6'4". Combine that with a reportedly great knowledge of the offense and I think he can be special. And I mean Bryan Randall leadership taking control of his team kind of special. Maybe Ike has these possibilities too, but Glennon is on the cusp of realizing them. Our two deep at QB could be a lot better than advertised. Ahhhh, now that cool-aid tastes good.

2 Ore is a beast. Ore/Bell will exceede Humes/Imoh, and the only question in my mind is whether Bell is good enough for the combo to approach the Suggs/Jones level. Although they both seem similarly cast in the Suggs mold, it would be great if Bell develops into a back that can spell Ore without a noticable drop off. Wait... Suggs/Jones????.... no that's just silly, sorry.

3 We've been so close to blocking kicks the last couple of years. with Franks extrta effort his preseason, the UNC game will announce the return of Beamerball.

4. Exactly. Although I am still down from the recievers complete innability to get any seperation in last years Miami game, but i guess that was a pretty decent secondary they were up against. I can't wait for the return of the fake tail back toss- belly give to the FB. What?! Allen can run baby! We used to execute that play pretty well, and with everyone understandably keying on Ore, this will hopefully be a nice addition to Stini's bag of tricks... okay how about "pouch of tricks?"... "pocket?" Well darn it he can learn some tricks.

NOW, if the running game isn't complemented and opened up by 3 and 4 reciever sets with huge amounts of wr screens to Royal and Harper, as well as 3 step drop quick reads, then I will not be lying this time when I say I could call plays better. Although I have never seen us go to the 3 step drop much, with a tall QB like glennon it should be easier to accomplish. That and the shotgun with Ore and Bell/Allen in the backfield and 3 wr is a monster formation IMO, especially if stiney can figure out how to run from it. maybe some quick option type stuff too.

5. Defense... scary scary stuff. DISCLAIMER: The biggest lesson learned from 2003 was on D, everyone MUST play their role. We've had some pretty talented defenses that got undressed because the players would not commit to their roles, ala Cal moving the ball at will because no one picked up their assignment. That said, I don't see that happening this year. Also, Martin, Powell, and Robinson have all been athletic, strong and fast when I've seen them play. And the r-freshman are huge guys with loads of talent. If they are our weakness then I think we're pretty well set on D.

6. We don't need a tight end to move the ball, but I sure would love to see Boone develope into a playmaker. Ohh he can be MONSTROUS!

11.5 days!


MadJay said...

Thanks for the insightful comments. I would only add that

1) I don't think you're drinking Kool-Aid, I think if Whitaker wins the #2 spot, QB position has the potential to be in good shape

2) Jones/Suggs? I grant you that Branden Ore will likely be at that level next season, but Bell probably won't. And neither is at that level this season.

3) I agree

4) Good points. Stinespring is saying the right things on the talk shows and interviews, but he better damn well call this offense correctly this year.

5) You make a fanTASTic point about the 2003 team and how this year's defense needs to not fall into that trap. I throw Jimmy Williams in there as an example too. Last year he didn't trust his fellow defenders and he made a lot of bad plays (like the first TD pass in the West Virginia game - watch the tape). His immense talent and experience in the secondary made up for that in some regards, but IF (and I can't capitalize that enough) IF this year's first string plays as a unit, they can be better than last year's.

6) Right now Boone is the #1 tight end, but they will play Andre Smith and even use Beau Warren to block some this season. I still love the spread look with Ore and Allen in the backfield and 3 WR set. Or even an I-formation with 3 WR's is a formidable formation to defend this year.

Can't wait. Signing up for ESPN360 so I can watch the Northeastern game next weekend.

MadJay said...

Just to edit one thing about tight ends - Tech just decided to redshirt Beau Warren yesterday. Sam Wheeler has made enough progress with his injury to be able to go full speed so they have 4 tight ends now (Boone, Wheeler, Andre Smith and Ed Wang) giving them the luxury of redshirting Warren.