Thursday, September 4, 1997

Druckenmiller to Start Against the Rams on Sunday

For San Francisco and Jim Druckenmiller, the future is now.

When the Niners drafted Druck in the first round this year, they had hoped to give him a couple of years to develop behind an aging and injury-prone Steve Young. When financial difficulties delayed Druck's signing, he fell to third on the depth chart behind Young and Jeff Brohm, so it did indeed appear that Jim Druckenmiller would get to carry a clipboard as long as necessary.

Not so. Due to a concussion suffered by Young and a cracked/chipped bone in Brohm's throwing hand, both of which were inflicted in Sunday's opener against Tampa Bay, the Niners are forced to throw Druck to the wolves in only the second NFL game of his career. He will start in Sunday's 1 p.m. game (I don't know if that's Eastern or Pacific time) against the St. Louis Rams.

With the complexity of the Niners offense and the lack of time Druck has had to learn it, not to mention the poor quality of San Francisco's offensive line and the absence of the injured Jerry Rice, I can't think that this'll be pretty. But in the long run, as long as a few bad experiences don't shake the legendary Druckenmiller confidence, this early start to the young stud's career can only be a good thing, in my opinion. At the risk of sounding like Forrest Gump, I'll start a sentence off with "Momma always said...."

Momma always said, "We learn by doing."

Starting Sunday, and for an indefinite amount of time, Druck will "learn by doing." I, for one, will be glued to ESPN's NFL PrimeTime Sunday night at 7:00 to see the results.

Joe, Pressey Reportedly Quit Football Team

I was informed at the end of last week that senior cornerback Tony Joe and freshman wide receiver Adrien Pressey have both quit the Hokie football team. As of Wednesday this week, neither player had returned, so I decided to go ahead and post the news.

Joe was a JUCO transfer who never cracked the lineup at Tech. He was listed on the depth chart as Tech's fifth cornerback behind Anthony Midget, Loren Johnson, Ike Charlton, and Larry Green. Joe's only game duty was on the punt return team, and his heart apparently just wasn't in it anymore.

I hear that and my first impulse is to think, "Yeah, but just hang in there and travel with the team! This is big-time college football! I'd kill to be in your place!" But it's not that simple. When you're busting your butt in practice every day, and the playing time doesn't come your way, and there's no pro career in the future, I can see why the impulse would be to hang it up and concentrate on other things. After all, football is not easy. It's all in how you look at it, and if Tony Joe's not motivated any more, then I can understand that, and he should get on with his life.

The reasons why Pressey would leave are unclear. He is a freshman with his whole career in front of him. One possibility, due to the fact that Pressey is from Delaware, is homesickness, but given that Pressey spent last year at Hargrave Military Academy, this doesn't ring true. At this point, any other guesses would be mere speculation, and I won't speculate.

Good luck to Joe and Pressey in the future.

Injury Report

Punt snapper Shane Beamer appears to be the only Hokie at this point who is iffy for next Saturday's game against Syracuse. Whip linebacker Cory Bird (shoulder) and tailback Ken Oxendine (neck) are both fine and have practiced the last two days with limited contact. Sean Sullivan (knee) and Derek Carter (back) both missed practice on Wednesday, but should be ready to go. Sullivan is the more iffy of the two. Derek Smith, who was banged up going into Saturday's game and then had to leave the field at one point, has practiced the last two days and should be able to play.

By the way, when Smith left the game, his replacement, redshirt freshman Josh Redding, threw a great block to spring Marcus Parker for his first long run - a run which looked like a TD if you watch the tape.

Beamer's injury, a broken finger, will be evaluated next week. If he is unable to go against Syracuse, his backups are holder Caleb Hurd and freshman Anthony Lambo. Hurd has been the more consistent of the two in practice, but neither player is game-tested at the position.

Turkey Bites

  • Al Clark was named Big East Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against Rutgers, which included 147 yards passing and 118 yards rushing. He is the first quarterback to exceed 100 yards passing and rushing in the same game since Steve Casey did it in 1978 against West Virginia (101 yards rushing and 130 passing).
  • Speaking of Clark, his 80-yard TD pass to Marcus Gildersleeve on Saturday earned them the "AT&T Long Distance Play of the Week" award.
  • Dwayne Thomas and Maurice DeShazo have surfaced in Roanoke. Both former Tech players were featured recently in a Berglund car dealership ad in a recent Roanoke Times. Thomas and DeShazo are car salesmen for Berglund in Roanoke, and Berglund is trying to entice Hokie football fans to come in for a look around by featuring the two of them in the ad.


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