Friday, August 14, 2009

1st Scrimmage Eve

Well, the first week of pre-season practice is under the Hokies' collective belts and there have been quite a few developments thus far (and one tragic one in the loss of Darren Evans to a knee injury for the season). Let's do a quick rundown on 10 quick hitters before the first scrimmage tomorrow:

1) David Wilson is so real it's not even funny. The kid is camped out in the film room, and pestering everyone with questions, so his head is on right. And then out on the field - oh my heavens. He has made people look silly, ranging from walk-ons to scout teamers, to starting rover Dorian Porch on a little out route where he sent Porch in the completely wrong direction. Knowing who to block is still a challenge for the young man (as it is for all young RB's) but he has no problem getting physical on whoever he's blocking. We love what Wilson is all about right now and there's no way he isn't returning punts and kicks as early as the season opener.

2) Ryan Williams has recovered from showing up out of shape and looks back to his old buzzworthy ways. Always tough to tackle, he needs to take his blocking more seriously and improve in catching out of the backfield.

3) Logan Thomas elevated himself right into the QB competition tied with Clayton for the #2 spot. I laughed when I first saw this but seeing some footage from practice, umm, this kid really can fling that ball. He throws very hard and very accurately but he still needs a ton of work on his footwork and obviously Clayton is ahead mentally right now. Still, I can't wait to see what these two do in the scrimmage tomorrow.

4) Xavier Boyce has overtaken Jarrett Boykin for one of the starting spots at WR right now and that had better wake you up because it's not like Boykin is having a poor showing out there. In fact, there's a great clip I saw on where Boykin was matched up against Rock Carmichael in one-on-ones and he absolutely toasted Rock on a post route. Still, Xavier Boyce has taken an incredible leap in his game from the spring to now. He's catching balls like he's covered in tree sap, he's blocking impressively and he is as smooth as whipped butter running his routes. I still can't help but believe that this is just a ploy to really push Boykin for the next few weeks considering that Boykin has shown he can get it done in live game situations, but we shall see.

5) No matter who's starting, the riches at WR are beyond belief. DJ Coles is as advertised thus far. What a burst he has! He needs to improve his route running and ball skills, but again, so does every new WR. The kid is going to be a player. And Marcus Davis has left the backup QB position in the dust as he's completely focused on WR and it shows. In fact, the Hokies have 4 guys at WR (Boyce, Boykin, Coles and Davis) who are 6'3" or taller, 225 lbs or more, vertical leaps of 38" or better and are fast. If I see a single red zone series this season that doesn't score a TD and it didn't include one jump ball fade pass attempt to one of these guys my brains are going to melt and start leaking out of my ear.

6) Cam Martin is just destined to wonder "what if". His knee has been acting up and despite having all the physical and mental tools to be a great whip LB, he just can't get healthy. He really needs reps to knock the rust off of sitting the whole spring, but his knee is just too sore right now. We really hope Cam is able to get healthy and contribute to this team in the fall as he is a valuable asset when at 100%.

7) Speaking of whip, Cody Grimm is looking phenomenal and Alonzo Tweedy and Jeron Gouviea-Winslow have made ENORMOUS strides this summer to really give this position some real depth as well as promise for the future.

8) Rock Carmichael (despite getting lit up by Boykin) seems to have almost sewn up the spot at field corner. Cris Hill is struggling in the mental aspects right now and as I've been saying for a while, Eddie Whitley is honestly going to be a better free safety which is where he's getting the reps right now. Whitley is that high football IQ guy who loves to hit and be a leader and that is what the free safety position is all about on the Hokies. With the young talent/speed coming up at CB, the Hokies are better off keeping Whitley at FS so he can get game snaps at that spot this season with Kam leaving it vacant next year when he goes on to the league.

9) There's been a lot of talk about the o-line and they've looked very good. Blake DeChristopher is holding off a hard charge from Andrew Lanier at RT and the rest of the positions are pretty solid with at least 8 guys who are worthy of playing in games when it matters.

10) I still haven't seen the intensity of practice like I would have expected. The team looks good and smooth but there hasn't been a lot of intensity in middle drills or blocking drills. With the competition for some positions at stake, I expect the first scrimmage will be different and we'll see some people flying around out there. The team needs to push (especially only doing one full practice a day) to make sure they can match the intensity level that Alabama is going to bring to the game on September 5th.

And at this point, that's what we're going to do - see what happens at the scrimmage tomorrow. The coaches are going to be deciding on redshirts and determining who's going to get the reps for the remainder of practice.



Gerard said...

Wow - great synopsis - thanks for the awesome update!

MadJay said...

No problem, Gerard, it's why we're here and thanks for coming by!

Anonymous said...

This gets me so pumped up, bring on the tide!!!