News With Commentary by HC Staff

Friday, September 22, 2000
by Will Stewart,

Around the Big East

The college football season is about three weeks old, depending upon how you count your weeks, and the Big East is looking pretty good so far. But the league is not without its letdowns.

At the top, Miami and Syracuse have been disappointments, with the Canes losing on the road to Washington, and the Orangemen dropping a road game 12-10 to Cincinnati. But the Hokies have come out of the gate strong, blowing out a solid ECU team in Tech's only road contest so far, and rising to #4 and #5 in the polls.

But the real improvement is at the (traditionally speaking) bottom of the league, where Rutgers and Temple are both sporting winning records, Pitt finally knocked off Penn State, and a WVU team that was expected to be weak has made a statement early.

Granted, Rutgers' victories were over 1-AA Villanova and 1-A doormat Buffalo, and the Scarlet Knights have hard times ahead, but just to see them win 2 games in one season is a relief to Big East fans. Rutgers has some winnable games ahead -- they play Temple and Navy later in the year -- but they probably won't win more than 1 or 2 more games.

In Philadelphia, the news is a little different, where the Temple Owls have played well in staking themselves to a 2-1 record that could very easily be 3-1 after this weekend. Temple hosts Eastern Michigan in a game the Owls are favored to win by two touchdowns.

Only a 17-10 loss to Maryland in College Park is in the way of Temple being 3-0. The Owls dominated that game statistically, outgaining the Terps 443 to 254, and holding the ball for almost 36 minutes, but they came up short again to Maryland, as they have so often in the recent past.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh finally beat Penn State, dropping the Nittany Lions 12-0 in Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. Combined with wins over Kent and Bowling Green, that makes the Panthers 3-0 as they get set to entertain Rutgers this weekend.

In Morgantown, WVU has put some ghosts from last season to rest, thrashing Boston College 34-14 and downing Maryland 30-17. The Maryland game was closer than you might think, as WVU turned away a Maryland scoring threat with a goal line stand late in the fourth quarter, and then drove 99 yards for a touchdown that set the final margin of victory.

2-0 WVU hosts Miami in the Big East's marquee game this weekend, at 3:30 on CBS. The Mountaineers then play Temple and Idaho and could very well be 4-1 or 5-0 when they come to Blacksburg for their October 12th Thursday night game.

The news is not so good in Boston and Miami. The WVU loss shook up the Boston College Eagles, who came back with a 55-17 thrashing of Army to even their record at 1-1. They'll host Navy this weekend, in a game they should win, and then Virginia Tech visits on September 30th (3:30, CBS). The Eagles are not sure of themselves at this point, and probably won't be until they see how they look against Virginia Tech.

In Miami, the Washington loss has led to renewed cries for Butch Davis's head on a platter. The Canes have two problems: (1) Davis's continued poor game-day coaching and lack of team discipline on the field, and (2) quarterback Ken Dorsey, who has yet to play well in a big game or a road game, and simply doesn't look physically ready for college football. If the smallish Dorsey (listed as 6-5 but only 200 pounds) doesn't straighten up quickly, the Canes could drop another one this weekend in Morgantown.

As for Syracuse, they took an unexpected (to them) loss to Cincinnati on the road in week 2, falling 12-10 on a last-second field goal. Syracuse, who has settled on Troy Nunes at quarterback, had last weekend off and will play on the road at ECU this weekend (noon, ESPN2). Then the Orangemen will return home for a game against BYU on September 30th (8 pm, ESPN2). Let's just say that Syracuse is going to learn a lot about themselves and how their season is going to go in the next two games.

Meanwhile, my preseason prognostications for the Big East are looking both solid and shaky.

  • Solid: I said WVU would surprise people, and so far, they have.
  • Shaky: I said BC would win at WVU. Wrong.
  • Solid: I said Syracuse would finish 5th in the league. That looks like it might be dead-on.
  • Shaky: I said Pitt would be #6. Gulp. There's still a chance for this one to come true, but it's looking doubtful.
  • Solid: I picked Miami and VT #1 and #2.
  • Shaky: I picked Miami #1 and VT #2. This could still happen, but don't lose faith in the ability of Butch Davis and Ken Dorsey to hand the victory over to the Hokies.
  • Shaky: I picked BC #3. That loss at WVU throws this prediction into the trash, unless the Eagles can play strong all the way from here.

That's a few more "shaky's" than "solid's", but there's till plenty of football left to go. But picking BC #3 and Pitt #6 may prove to be my undoing. Hey, at least I wasn't boring!

Updated OL Depth Chart

As I detailed in a recent News and Notes item (OL Depth Chart Notes, September 11th), I'm keeping a close eye on how much playing time the offensive line backups are getting this year. I figured what the heck, why not go all the way and track it here on HokieCentral?

So I made up a spreadsheet that lists all the offensive line players whose names appear in the hokiesports.comthenewspaper depth charts. I'll update the spreadsheet each week, and it will be linked from the left-hand border of the Football Page, in the Team Info area (look for the "OL Depth Chart" link).

The latest revision, updated through the Rutgers game, can be seen by clicking here (it will open up in a new browser window, enabling you to click back and forth between the chart and the comments here).

The OL depth chart through the Rutgers game reveals some interesting things:

  • As far as I can tell, the Rutgers game was the first game that saw Tech rotating complete sets of offensive linemen in and out together. The starters rotated in and out together and played 45 snaps, the second-stringers rotated in and out together and played 26 snaps, and the third-stringers rotated in and out together and had 15 snaps. This totals 86 snaps per position.  I can't explain why all positions except RT had 86 snaps (45+26+15), while RT only had 71 snaps (43+28, with no third stringer listed). It appears that Tim Selmon, the third-string RT, was left off the depth chart for at least the Rutgers game, maybe more.
  • Exceptions to this are that RT Matt Wincek replaced Dave Kadela for a couple of plays (giving Wincek 28 snaps and Kadela 43 snaps), and backup center Jake Grove played a series or two with the starters, giving him 33 snaps and starter Steve DeMasi 38 snaps.
  • All positions are three-deep, with the exception of right tackle, which is only two-deep. The interesting note about this is that up until the Rutgers game, Thenus Franklin was listed as the fourth-string left tackle. He didn't play in either the Akron or ECU games, and then didn't appear on the depth chart for the Rutgers game.
  • The coaching staff's favorite backup OL's are obviously Grove and LT Anthony Davis. Percentage-wise, they have played more downs than the other second-stringers. Davis has been a total stud since arriving last year, and I think the coaching staff may be grooming Grove to start over DeMasi next year, which would make Grove a three-year starter at center (he's just a redshirt-freshman this year).
  • One position where next year's "projected" starter is not getting significant playing time is at left guard. LG is the only position where the starter and the backup are both seniors. The third-stringer, Anthony Nelson, is the projected starter there next year (if you look at the depth chart), and he is only getting 11% of the snaps there. But OL Coach Bryan Stinespring told Doug Doughty of The Roanoke Times that one of the backup right guards, Luke Owens or Jacob Gibson, will likely move over to left guard next spring, and that "both could start" in 2001. He means that after one of them moves, one might start at right guard and the other at left guard. This implies that Nelson is not necessarily slated for a starting job in 2001. Nelson has made great strides and has reshaped his body in Tech's strength and conditioning program, but may simply not be ready for prime time yet, whereas Owens and Gibson appear to be closer.
  • The previous comment goes a long way towards explaining why Owens gets the fewest snaps (22%) of any second-stringer on the OL, whereas Gibson gets more than any other third-stringer (15%). It's not that Owens isn't worthy of getting more snaps -- it appears that Stinespring just wants to get more snaps for Gibson.

Gazelle Group Offers BCA Refunds

The Gazelle Group, organizers and promoters of the ill-fated BCA game between VT and GT, have finally released their ticket refund policy. The bottom line is, you're going to have to send them your ticket stubs, so those of you who threw yours away, you're out of luck.  Here is all the information that you need, plus a printable form for mailing in your stub(s) and requesting a refund:

Refund Press Release - the Gazelle Group, 9/20/2000

Printable Refund Request - requires Adobe Acrobat Reader

Arkansas QB Will Hunt Commits to Hokies

After two silent months on the recruiting front, the Hokies finally received another commitment, this one coming from Will Hunt of Sprindale High School in Arkansas (click here for more details).

Hunt is one of several QB targets that the Hokies are concentrating on this year. The list includes in-state players Bryan Randall and Michael Robinson, and Coach Beamer stated on Monday's Hokie Hotline radio show that Tech will sign at least two quarterbacks this year.

Not only that, but an on-line article quoted Hunt as saying, "Coach Bustle told me their next starting quarterback would come from my class."

In other words, the Virginia Tech coaching staff doesn't see current backup Hokie QB's Grant Noel and Jason Davis as the heir to Michael Vick's throne. Both came in with high expectations, but they apparently aren't working out. Noel is getting more and more comfortable with the offense as time goes by, but his arm strength is average, and I think the VT coaching staff, along with coaching staffs all over the country, have fallen in love with QB's that are more mobile than Grant Noel.

I'm not sure what the story is with Davis, who appeared to be a very good athlete when he was recruited. He didn't look very good in the 2000 Spring Game, but you can't draw conclusions from that, because he had only been here a few months (Davis arrived in January of 2000) and was playing with players from the bottom of Tech's depth chart.

VT likes to redshirt QB's, so if the next starting QB is coming from this year's recruiting class, he won't be ready to play until the 2002 season. This means that if Vick leaves after this season (and who knows how that's going to go), Tech will probably wind up with Noel or Davis as the starting quarterback next year, and it might be a lame-duck year for whoever is picked.

HokieCentral is Moving to a New Server

HokieCentral will be moving to a faster and more stable server within the next few days. We hope this will be a smooth transition, however, we expect about an hour of down time during the course of this weekend. You may get a failure to connect to our server, or are unable to post on the message boards for that period of time.

Not only will the new server be faster and more stable, but it will have some capabilities that will enable us to implement some new recruiting coverage functions that we've been wanting to put in place. They may take a while to get ready, but at least we can get started now.

We will attempt to schedule this down time during the afternoon on Sunday, so you can still have Saturday to converse about the games of the day here at HokieCentral. We ask that you please be patient during this transition.

After the transition, you will need to delete and re-create ALL bookmarks (that's "favorites" for you IE users) to our website, especially the message boards. Our IP address will change, so your older bookmarks may not get you to the right location on the new server. If you have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to email me at [email protected].

Other Web Site Notes

You have probably noticed that some new ads have been running at HokieCentral lately. I think they have vastly improved the performance of the site overall, especially the message board. The new ads load faster, and they are only located at the top of each page, not the top and bottom like the old ads were.

The ads are being served from a third-party ad server, which pays for two things:

1.) number of ads served -- an ad is served every time an article or message board post is read, so the more things you click on here at HokieCentral, and the more you visit, the more money we make.

2.) ad click-throughs -- our deal includes a special premium for ad click-throughs, so please take the time when you visit the site to click on an ad or two.

Please help support the web site by visiting often, staying a long time, and clicking an ad or two while you're here.

On an unrelated note, please take time to examine HC's Football Page, which has had yet more links placed in the left-hand border. You will see the following new links there:

  • "" links -- this is a new category of links that will route you over to, the official web site of Virginia Tech athletics. From there, you can see a media guide, statistics, game notes, and VT's "MV2K" Michael Vick web site.
  • "Big East" links -- these are relatively new. They contain a link to the Big East web site, where you can get up to date BE standings and news. There is also a link to the USA Today's Big East football page.
  • "Team Info" links -- I have added a link to the OL Depth Chart, as described above.


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