Monday, April 20, 2009

Spring Football - Part 2

Well another week of spring practice with one more to go and the Hokies are really starting to get some things ironed out. 

First of all, Ryan Williams looks like he has locked up the 2nd part of the 1-2 punch at running back this fall. Oglesby is impressive, but Williams and Evans will be the backfield in 2009. And by all accounts (including footage from Saturday's scrimmage), that is a ferocious combination. Despite playing hurt, Williams was effective both running the ball and in blocking. The only thing preventing him from being named officially by Coach Hite is because Hite wants the competitive juices flowing in fall practice leading up to the Alabama game, but it's clear to anyone that Williams will be on the field as the 2nd RB.

Secondly, Ju-Ju Clayton established himself as the backup QB in the scrimmage. Marcus Davis' big plays this spring have all been with his feet, while Clayton mainly buys time with his scrambling ability to find someone downfield. It is the difference between an athlete and a QB and Davis is most definitely an athlete. Now he's an amazing athlete and I would love to see him on the field but he has a ton of work to do at receiver to get on the field this fall just because of the very high level of play from the receivers right now. I'm glad the coaches made the right move today in officially naming Clayton the backup. My honest opinion is that they knew after the first week, but wanted to keep pushing Clayton instead of letting him think he had the role all sewn up and the results from the scrimmage on Saturday speak for themselves. Kudos to Coach Beamer and staff for managing that better than I would have.

Jake Johnson showed me more in this scrimmage than I've seen so far this spring, but meanwhile Bruce Taylor took a step backward. Quillie Odom at backer reminds me of Corey Gordon at whip a few years ago - a physically imposing player with all the measurables who just doesn't seem to be picking up Coach Foster's schemes.

The area I am starting to get concerned about is both safety positions. Kam Chancellor is a definite 1st or early 2nd rounder at starting free safety so he's fine, but his backup Lorenzo Williams is totally lost right now. And at the rover position, Dorrian Porch hasn't taken a step forward from last season and Davon Morgan appears tentative in returning from his injury. The deep middle is an area that is normally where big plays happen against the Hokies with their coverage schemes and tight safeties supporting the run. They've GOT to have stronger performances from safety and rover to keep those opponent big plays to a minimum in 2009.

And finally, I'm more than relieved to say that the offensive line took a major step forward from the first scrimmage. Even after losing Jaymes Brooks at right guard to a high ankle sprain, all that did was give more snaps to Vinston Painter who doesn't always know where to go, but good heavens he clears a hole when he gets there. The line was providing running room and pass protection more consistently. But there's a major caveat here - Jason Worilds is still out at DE recovering from his shoulder surgery. We'll learn a lot more about the offensive line when Worilds comes back and Graves can move back inside. That will be an upgrade at end and tackle and we'll see what the offensive line is truly capable of facing those more formidable forces. 

Well there's one week of spring practice left before the Spring Game. Jake Johnson needs to take another step forward, Ju-Ju Clayton will get all the 2nd team snaps in practice and Eddie Whitley and Cris Hill both get another shot to try and establish themselves as the number one at field corner over Rock Carmichael who has missed most of spring practice focusing on academics. I am excited to see what unfolds and how the team performs on Saturday!



Illinois Hokie said...

MJ, I've been excited about Painter since he signed his LoI. We are getting 500 pound gorillas for our o-line. Now let's see what Newsome can do with top-tier talent.

Also very excited the farce of a competition for backup QB is put to rest. Now the coaching staff can focus on developing Davis as a receiver/H-back type player. With Davis and Prince Parker and the additions of LT and DJ Coles we're gonna have some HUGE targets for Tyrod and Ju Ju to toss it up to.

You know we won't get an official on starting field corner until the end of summer, because Beamer won't let Foster name it until the upperclassman gets a fair shot to earn it, but the seniority system inherent in the Lunch Pail has worked perfectly well thus far, and at this point we're guaranteed Whitley will see significant playing time this fall.

MadJay said...

Yep, field starter won't be official until fall. Whitley will be in for mop-up duty (if the Hokies have any of that this year) and on special teams.

I don't think Prince Parker figures in at all at receiver this year and I'd be stunned to see Logan Thomas at receiver to be frank (remember we are dealing with Stinespring here and Thomas will probably be working on some form of the Wild Turkey). But you're right with Boykin, Davis and Coles that's a ton of size at the position.