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   Welcome to TSLMail #180 - Friday, June 17, 2005    
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Comparing the Experience Level of the 1999 Hokies and the 2005 Hokies
by Chris James, TechSideline.com

As a follow-up to the recent TSL Pass Article Party Like Itís 1999?, this weekís TSLMail will compare the starting experience of the 1999 and 2005 teams. Weíll break down each position and see how much experience each group of starters had going into the season. Letís start with what many people consider the most important position in footballÖthe offensive line.

The 2005 offensive line is much more experienced heading into the season than the 1999 offensive line. Between the five starters on the 1999 line, there was only a combined three years of starting experience. Keith Short, Josh Redding and Dave Kadela had started enough games to qualify for one yearís worth of experience apiece, but overall the 1999 group wasnít very experienced.

The 2005 offensive line brings seven years of starting experience to the table, including three years by left tackle Jimmy Martin, and two years by left guard Will Montgomery. The left side of the offensive line should be very good for the Hokies in 2005 with the return of such experienced players in Martin and Montgomery.

As far as their counterparts on the defensive line, the 1999 squad has a major advantage, not only in the experience of the starters, but of the backups as well. The starting group in 1999 had a total of seven years of starting experience, compared to just four years for the 2005 group. And when you dig a little deeper into each group, youíll see that the backups in 1999 had a major advantage as well. David Pugh, Chad Beasley and Chris Cyrus had played a lot in 1998, while two of the top four backups heading into 2005, Orion Martin and Barry Booker, have basically no experience at all.

At the linebacker position, there isnít as much difference as you might think. Michael Hawkes and Jamel Smith combined for three years of starting experience going into 1999, but Ben Taylor was an inexperienced true sophomore who was playing out of position at whip linebacker. Vince Hall and James Anderson each bring a year of starting experience, while Xavier Adibi was basically a co-starter with Mikal Baaqee in 2004, although he technically never started a game.

The one thing that Iíll point out about the entire front seven of each group is that in 1999, six of those seven players were seniors. Thatís about as an experienced group as you will ever see in college football. The lone sophomore was Ben Taylor. In 2005, the Hokies are projected to start three seniors, one junior and three sophomores in the front seven.

The defensive back situation in 2005 is fairly similar to that of 1999. Just like 1999, the Hokies have only two years of starting experience in the secondary. Unlike 1999, there isnít as much backup experience. Anthony Midget never started for a full year until 1999, but he had seen spot starts throughout his career. Roland Minor and D.J. Parker head into 2005 without ever having started a game. And Parker is learning a new position, making the switch from cornerback to free safety. His backup, Justin Hamilton, is moving from offense to defense. The likely starter at rover, Aaron Rouse, is moving over from whip linebacker. So while there wasnít much starting experience in 1999, there was a lot more overall experience than 2005.

Switching back to offense, letís take a look at the wide receivers. Ricky Hall earned a year of starting experience in 1998, while Josh Hyman and Eddie Royal both started in 2004. The 2005 team has the edge in experienced backups as well. Josh Morgan, Justin Harper and David Clowney each played in 2004, while 1999 reserves Terrell Parham, Emmett Johnson and Shawn Witten had no experience. Parham and Witten were freshmen, and Johnson was a true sophomore who caught only three passes in 1998. The one guy who turned out to be a star in 1999, Andre Davis, had played very little in his injury-plagued 1998 season.

At tight end, 2005ís Jeff King and 1999ís Derrick Carter both started for one full season. King also saw spot starts in 2003, and a lot of playing time in 2002. This position is basically even from the experience standpoint, with sophomores Bob Slowikowski and Duane Brown serving as backups in 1999 and 2005 respectively.

In the backfield, the quarterback and tailback situations are very similar, while the fullback position is very different. Both the 1999 and 2005 Hokies enter the season with quarterbacks who have received a lot of hype, but have yet to start a college game. Marcus has more experience than his brother Michael did in 1999, having played a lot in 2003.

At tailback, Cedric Humes started most of last season, but because of his injury was only effective towards the end of the season. Because of his health, he is still a relative unknown to the national scene, much like Shyrone Stith was in 1999. Senior Mike Imoh has nearly a full year of starting experience, much more than backup redshirt-junior Andre Kendrick had going into 1999.

At fullback, the 1999 Hokies had two experienced players in Jarrett Ferguson and Cullen Hawkins. Tech returns Jesse Allen for 2005, but because of changes to the offense, Allen did not see as much playing time as a typical Tech starting fullback. Allen has no backup with experience.

Looking at entire units, the 1999 defense had a grand total of 12 years of starting experience, while the 2005 defense has eight years. The 1999 defense was definitely more experienced among the starters, and that margin grows when you take a look at the backups.

Offensively, the 2005 group has 12 years of starting experience, doubling up the 1999 offense, which entered the season with just six years. To take that a step further, no one on the 1999 offense entered the season having started for more than one season. Thatís a pretty inexperienced group overall, but Tech came together behind an amazing quarterback (Vick), a tailback that no one had heard of (Stith), and a blazing fast young receiver (Davis).

In the end, the 2005 team takes the title for most combined years as a starter, with a final tally of 20 to 18. This doesnít necessarily mean that 2005 will be better than 1999, or even that they will be more experienced. Depth is an issue in 2005, and generally I think the 1999 team had more experienced backups. That could be key in 2005 if injuries play a factor.

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   TechSideline.com Updates From the Past Week


Good Samaritan Bowl All-Star Game Report
by Phil Martin, 6/16/05, 12:00 pm
The first Good Samaritan Bowl, played at the Navy-Marine Corp Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, MD pitted high school stars from the Baltimore and Washington, DC areas against one another. The West squad was quarterbacked by VT signee Ike Whitaker (right), who was under pressure all game and had a bad night: 4-of-23 with three interceptions. The East squad was headlined by a Maryland signee and former VT recruiting target, DT Melvin Alaeze.
in TSL Pass

Football Recruiting - A Different Perspective, Part 3: Evaluating Quality of Recruits by Number of Offers
by Phil Martin, 6/15/05, 3:25 pm
In the first two articles we looked at Techís overall recruiting, first in head-to-head competition and second by location. Tech has an impressive record head-to-head against the recruiting competition and obviously does very well in-state, but are the Hokies landing the top recruits on their board and fulfilling their positional needs? How does Virginia Tech do for the top players as opposed to lesser recruited players? Now that Tech is in the ACC, are the Hokies recruiting a higher-caliber player? This article will attempt to address these questions and more.
in TSL Pass

Party Like It's 1999?
by Chris James, TechSideline.com, 6/13/05, 10:30 pm
Itís only the middle of June, but the hype machine is already cranking out the story lines. Marcus Vick returns to Virginia Tech and will take over the starting quarterback job. Virginia Tech has a strong team, and is looking to defend their ACC Championship. The Hokies will have to get past Miami and Florida State this year to win the conference. You know the deal. It happens every year now-a-days. But this year is a little different.
in TSL Pass

Jullien Wins Another National Championship
by Chris James, TechSideline.com, 6/13/05, 11:50 am
Spyridon Jullien won his second national championship of 2005 on Friday, winning the hammer throw at the NCAA Track and Field Championships held at Sacramento State. Jullien previously won the national championship in the 35-pound weight throw during the indoor track season.
in News and Notes

Bryan Randall Rookie Diary #9: A Month of Practices Nears its End
by TechSideline.com, 6/10/05, 3:35 pm
After coming back from the mini-camp, when we got back up here the practices and everything have pretty much been the same. Weíre practicing three times a week. Usually itís Monday, Wednesday and Thursday practices starting out at 7:30 in the morning. Special teams meet at 7:30 in the morning, then offense and defense will go at 8:00 to probably about 10:00. Then we have a special teams practice before the regular practice around 10:30, then everybody on the whole team will get together and we practice around 11:00.
in TSL Pass

 
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