Sunday, October 29, 2006

Special Shout Out


My esteemed colleagues will bring you a full preview of the Clemson game shortly, but there is a special point (and player) that needs highlighting. Lost in the importance of the victory and all of the stars of the game is the fact that Brandon Gore received a gameball from the coaches and as far as I'm concerned he was the MVP of the game.

Ryan Shuman has had a pretty bad 2006 football season. The sophomore guard was playing miserably and then against Southern Mississippi he finally had a good game. Fortune did not smile upon him though as with 4 minutes left in the first quarter against Clemson he tore his ACL and is now out for the season. We all feel bad for the young man who has worked hard and is making improvement, but the cold hard truth is that he and guard Sergio Render have been the weak links on the offensive line this season.

But in stepped Brandon Gore, to fill in for Shuman at left guard. Gore is a senior with one start in his career and this season he's been spelling Sergio Render at right guard because of Render's poor play and the fact that Render's a freshman who hasn't been ready for the college game thus far. And now that Gore was going to be playing at left guard, Render would have to step up his game against Clemson and he did. But MY GOD, if you go back and watch the tape you will be awed by what Brandon Gore did on Thursday night.

This 350 pound man, who has only been playing sparingly, facing the "best" defense in the ACC, proceeds to have not a single false start or holding call against him. He proceeds to not allow the man he is blocking to be in on a tackle or a sack until midway through the 4th quarter when the game is already in hand. That last sentence was so unbelievable that I had to go back and watch all of the Hokies offensive series again just to be sure. On a night where the Hokies Branden ORE had a huge game and ball control was critical, the backup guard was nothing short of dominant. He blew his man off the ball time and time again. He picked up blitzing linebackers. He was phenomenal to the point of me wondering just what the heck was this coaching staff doing not starting him earlier this season, this man who gave up one single tackle in an entire game against Clemson.

And so Ryan Shuman will be back next season to take over at center (Shuman's natural position) for Danny McGrath. I don't know where Brandon Gore will be, since he will have used up his eligibility. I hope he continues to play well enough at guard to justify some attention in the late rounds of the NFL draft. But what I do know is that last Thursday night in Blacksburg, VA, he put on one of the better performances by an offensive guard that I can remember seeing and he did it as a backup filling in for an injured starter. Thanks to the heart and ability of Brandon Gore, Branden Ore was able to have a huge night and lead the Hokies to a big win.

No comments: