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|Welcome to TSLMail #180 - Friday, June 17, 2005||
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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|
Football Recruiting - A Different Perspective, Part 3: Evaluating Quality of Recruits by Number of Offers
Party Like It's 1999?
Wins Another National Championship
Bryan Randall Rookie Diary #9: A Month of Practices Nears its End
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