News With Commentary by HC Staff

Thursday, August 17, 2000
by Will Stewart,

Football Notes

A few interesting notes have come out of practices and scrimmages, most notably the scrimmages held last Saturday and Monday.

Vick went 0-6 on Saturday and 4-10 on Monday. When combined with his 2-11 performance in the Spring Game, he has now totaled 6-27 in his outings wearing the yellow don't-hit-this-guy jersey.

None of this is cause for alarm, of course. And in fact, Vick's numbers on Monday should have been much better, but he was the victim of four drops from his receivers, an old bugaboo for the Hokies. It seems that every spring and every preseason, we hear about how many passes the receivers are dropping, and indeed, the Hokies have lost some games in the past few years because of dropped passes. The 1995 Boston College game and the 1998 Temple game come quickly to mind, and the 1996 Orange Bowl featured some key drops, as well.

It is of interest to me that everyone thinks the Hokies are bullet-proof at receiver, when I look up and down the depth chart and see only one guy, flanker Andre Davis, who posted anything resembling decent numbers last year.

Most of Tech fans' happiness with the receivers is a result of what they hear from the Tech coaches. The coaches praise the receivers up and down, calling them "the best group of receivers ever at Virginia Tech," but that remains to be seen. I for one will have my doubts until I see Emmett Johnson, Ernest Wilford, Terrell Parham, and others step up. Someone has to fill the hole left by Ricky Hall, who with 25 catches in 1999 was the only receiver other than Davis to catch more than 10 passes.

Someone probably will step up in 2000. In 1998, Ricky Hall caught 37passes, Angelo Harrison caught 18, and no one else caught more than 8. In 1999, into the void stepped Andre Davis, who caught 35 balls and overshadowed Hall.

Now Davis is the top receiver coming back, similar to Hall in 1999, and the question is, who will be this year's Andre Davis, the receiver who comes out of nowhere to catch 25-30 passes? The most likely candidates are Emmett Johnson (10 catches for 147 yards in 1999) and Parham (9 catches for 98 yards). Rumors are swirling that Johnson is injured, but so far, it's just message board stuff, nothing that has been verified by official sources out of Tech, and he did participate in Wednesday's practice.

Davis is the starting Flanker, and Johnson and Parham are both Split Ends, so Johnson and Parham are competing for that other receiver slot that will bring 25 or so receptions with it. Whoever wins it (Johnson is currently listed first on the depth chart) will join Davis as the Hokies 1-2 punch at receiver, and don't expect anyone else to catch more than 10-15 passes all season, unless Rickey Bustle and Frank Beamer suddenly decide to get crazy and start throwing the ball.

At running back, Lee Suggs is still the #1 tailback, and he ripped off a 90-yard TD run in Monday's scrimmage. Suggs ran a 4.27 forty-yard dash, the third fastest on the team behind Michael Vick's 4.25 and Larry Austin's 4.26.

Austin, the only player on the defense who can catch Suggs when he gets around the corner, has been bothered by his hamstring, so it's no surprise that Suggs outran Tech's normally hyper-fast defense. It has been a long time since the Hokies have had a starting tailback with breakaway speed. Shyrone Stith, Lamont Pegues, Ken Oxendine, and Dwayne Thomas didn't have it, and you can argue that you have to go all the way back to perhaps Roscoe Coles in the 70's for a Tech back with great speed. And I'm really going out on a limb there, because I never saw Coles play, so I'm just guessing.

In the kicking game, Carter Warley has just about disappeared. Jon Mollerup has surged into the lead, going 9-14 in the two scrimmages (makes: 36, 27, 50, 25, 26, 45, 36, 40 and 22 yards; misses: 41, 36, 42, 46 and 49 yards; that's an average of 34.1 yards per made field goal and 42.8 yards per missed field goal).

Meanwhile, Warley didn't even play in the scrimmages, due to continuing back problems (he is resting his back).

Also notable is that freshman punter Vinnie Burns averaged a whopping 51 yards on 3 punts in Monday's scrimmage.

For scrimmage reports, see the following links:

Injuries: as mentioned, Larry Austin is battling his hamstring (Coach Beamer let that slip on Monday's Hokie Hotline), and Emmett Johnson may or may not be slowed by an injury (no one at Tech is saying).

Injuries that have been publicly acknowledged by Tech personnel (see this update) are a broken hand by wide receiver Shawn Witten and a nasty high ankle sprain suffered by safety Kevin McCadam. Both Witten and McCadam will miss the Georgia Tech game and hope to be back by the Akron game. Witten was backing up Andre Davis and Ernest Wilford at Flanker, and McCadam is the backup to Willie Pile.


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