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   Welcome to TSLMail #219 - Friday, March 24, 2006    
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Measuring the Hokies' Offensive Inexperience
by Chris Coleman,

It has been well-documented that the Virginia Tech football team enters spring practice with a number of inexperienced players on the offensive side of the ball. Graduation and injuries have left the Hokies extremely short-handed this spring, and Bryan Stinespring and the rest of the offensive coaches have their work cut out for them.

So exactly how inexperienced are the Hokies? Let’s examine each position, starting with the biggest question mark on offense…the quarterbacks. Sean Glennon and Cory Holt have seen mop-up duty in parts of the last two seasons (Glennon in 2004 and Holt in 2005). They will enter their r-sophomore seasons a combined 12-of-23 for 217 yards and three touchdowns.

Those stats have come against the Western Michigans and Ohios of the college football world. Neither quarterback has taken a meaningful snap in a meaningful game. The last time the Hokies faced a situation like this was the 2001 season. Michel Vick left for the NFL following the 2000 season, and Dave Meyer expended his eligibility. Third-string quarterback Grant Noel and true freshman Bryan Randall were Tech’s top quarterbacks that year.

The Hokies are also in a tough spot at running back. Of all of Tech’s tailbacks that are participating in spring practice, only one has carried the football in a college game. That is George Bell, who had 42 carries for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Including carries from wide receivers on end arounds, the Hokies return just 11.5% of last season’s rushing yardage this spring, and most of Bell’s 192 yards were in garbage time.

If Branden Ore was participating in spring practice, those numbers would improve. The rising r-sophomore ran for 647 yards and six touchdowns last season. With his numbers included, the Hokies would return 29.43% of their rushing yards.

With Ore included, those numbers are similar to what the Hokies had returning for the 2004 season. Tech lost Kevin Jones to the NFL and Marcus Vick to suspension, so they lost a number of rushing yards in the offseason. 34.77% of Tech’s rushing yards returned for the 2004 season, but when you consider that Cedric Humes began the season with a broken leg and Mike Imoh was suspended for the first three games, things were actually much worse. Tech was forced to move Justin Hamilton back to tailback from wide receiver. This spring the Hokies are moving Macho Harris from the defensive backfield.

The Hokies are much stronger at the wide receiver position. Tech returns their top five wideouts from 2005. The five returnees accounted for 66.9% of Tech’s receptions last season. They also accounted for 77.3% of the receiving yards and 61.1% of the receiving touchdowns. Wide receiver should be Virginia Tech’s strongest offensive position in 2006.

Most of the losses from the receiving statistics come from the departure of Jeff King. King caught 26 passes for 292 yards and six touchdowns last season. Behind King, there is not much returning at tight end. John Kinzer has two years of experience at fullback and tight end, but he is sidelined this spring – and perhaps for the remainder of his career – with a neck problem. It is unknown as to whether he will return this fall. If he does not return, Tech will have four freshmen at tight end. Right now three r-freshmen, Sam Wheeler, Ed Wang and Richard Graham are manning the position. True freshman Andre Smith will arrive in August.

At fullback, the Hokies return their top two players, Jesse Allen and Carlton Weatherford, but between the two of them, they only played 179 snaps in the regular season, about one fourth of the Hokies' offensive plays. With the lack of experience at tight end, the Hokies may go with a one-tight-end formation more often and get more snaps for the fullbacks.

Along the offensive line, the Hokies will be very inexperienced at well. Tech knows who the starting tackles will be, but the situation is bit more unclear at guard.

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Tech’s offensive line is almost as inexperienced as the running backs and quarterbacks. Duane Brown is the most experienced player, despite the fact that he has been an offensive lineman for just one season. Danny McGrath started some games last season, so he is a veteran. Those two guys are the most experienced linemen on the team.

Of Tech’s other returning linemen, Brandon Frye has one career start, but the rest of his career he has been on the bench. Nick Marshman has seen playing time late in blowouts, as has Ryan Shuman.

Tech’s other five linemen in the two-deep have no experience at all. Sergio Render (Fr.), Aaron Brown (Fr.), Eric Davis (r-Fr.), Robert Norris (r-Fr.) and Matt Welsh (r-So.) have never played a single down of college football.

So as you can see, the offense the Hokies will trot out onto the field this spring will be their most inexperienced in quite some time. To further complicate matters, Tech will also have three new offensive coaches, and Bryan Stinespring will now be coaching the tight ends. VT will have a new offensive line coach (Curt Newsome), a new quarterbacks coach (Mike O’Cain) and a new wide receivers coach (Kevin Sherman). Only running backs coach Billy Hite will be coaching the same position that he coached last season.

If you’re expecting this group to be consistent this season, then you are probably in for a disappointment. There will be a lot of new faces on offense, and that generally means fewer yards and points. But on the bright side, it will make spring practice more interesting. Frank Beamer has already announced that the quarterbacks will be going live in scrimmages, meaning defenders can tackle them. In the past, quarterbacks have worn a yellow jersey and were not allowed to be tackled. This, as well as other factors, should help make this spring practice one of the more interesting in recent memory. Pass - Your Ultimate Ticket to Hokie Sports!

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-- Will Stewart Updates From the Past Week
Notes From the First Day of Practice
March 23, 2006
Spring football practice opened yesterday, and we were lucky enough to have one of our insiders on the spot. The report he submitted talked about how the new coaches are integrating into the practices, Elan Lewis' troubles holding on to the rock, and more. Check out our first look at the team that will eventually be molded into the 2006 Hokies.

Smith Making Splash on Recruiting Scene
March 23, 2006
Kempsville (Virginia Beach, VA) wide receiver prospect Mordecai “Jay” Smith is used to putting in the time and energy to become the best receiver he can be, and it’s one of the reasons why his recruiting stock has skyrocketed in 2006. He had a good teacher growing up who instilled a good work ethic and sound football fundamentals.

TSL Pass Recruiting Video: Patrick Henry RB/DB D.J. Thomas
March 22, 2006
5-9, 168-pound D.J. Thomas earned Richmond Times-Dispatch first-team all-metro honors for his junior year performance. He was named to the squad as a utility player, fitting since he plays tailback, defensive back and kick-returner for the Patriots.

TSL Pass Recruiting Video: Manchester OL Khalil Latif
March 22, 2006
Manchester (Midlothian, VA) offensive tackle/defensive lineman Khalil Latif enjoyed a breakout season in 2005, earning Richmond Times-Dispatch first-team all-metro honors at the offensive tackle position. He finished the year with over 80 pancake blocks.

2005-06 Basketball Wrap-up: Dismal Season Behind, Better Days Ahead
March 22, 2006
Nobody wants to relive the 2005-06 Virginia Tech men's basketball season. No one wants to read, once again, the litany of on-court and off-court tragedies suffered by this team. Nonetheless, we must record these things for history's sake, and that will be part of this article. But we'll also take a look ahead to next year, for the future is always brighter than the past. Having said all that, here's our take on the 2005-06 basketball season, and the state of the program.

Hokies Open Spring Football Practice
March 22, 2006
Spring practice opens this afternoon for Virginia Tech, and there will be many unfamiliar faces roaming the practice fields behind the Merryman Center. Four new coaches joined the staff in the offseason, and there will be a lot of new players moving into the two-deep on both sides of the ball. Spring practice will go a long way towards establishing this season’s depth chart. We've got news on position changes, the status of William Wall and Ike Whitaker, and notes on the quarterback race as spring practice opens.

Huskies Pound Tech Women, 79-56
March 21, 2006
Virginia Tech was knocked out of the NCAA women's tournament Tuesday night by the Connecticut Huskies, who used a 20-2 first half run to build a comfortable lead and coast to a 79-56 victory. The loss ends Tech's season at 21-10 and is the Hokies' only out of conference loss on the season.

Women's Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Connecticut
March 21, 2006
The 7th-seeded Virginia Tech women's basketball team will take on #2 seed UConn in the second round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship on Tuesday night. The game will be held at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, PA on the campus of Penn State. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:30pm and the game will be televised by ESPN2.

2006 Spring Football Preview: Special Teams
March 21, 2006
Every time you turn on the television to watch the Hokies play, you hear the announcers go on and on about Frank Beamer's special teams units. They'll remark that Tech is outstanding at blocking kicks, and generally does everything well on special teams. But that's not all true. The Hokies still do some things well on special teams, but there is room for a lot of improvement in many areas.

Lake City's Cooper Has VT Offer
March 21, 2006
One of the more intense players in the state of South Carolina's 2007 class, Lake City High School's Scotty Cooper is an aggressive, fast player who really stepped up as the leader and catalyst for head coach Justin Gentry's defense this past season. The 6-0, 205-pound outside linebacker racked up 96 tackles including 11 tackles-for-loss and four sacks in what was an outstanding junior season.

2006 Spring Football Preview: The Offensive Backfield
March 20, 2006
There will be many new faces in Virginia Tech's offensive backfield this season. Tech will be breaking in new starters at quarterback and tailback, and the coaches must also settle on a two-deep for both positions. At quarterback, the top two players are fairly obvious, but things aren't so clear at tailback.

Lady Hokies Crush Missouri 82-51
March 19, 2006
The Virginia Tech women’s basketball team routed the Missouri Tigers in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship 82-51. The game was held in University Park, Pennsylvania on the campus of Penn State. The Lady Hokies improve to 21-9 on the season with the win, and will face the winner of the UConn-Coppin State game on Tuesday.

2006 Spring Football Preview: The Offensive Line
March 17, 2006
In recent seasons, Virginia Tech's offensive line has been the most criticized unit on the team. Their struggles in pass blocking, as well as run blocking against athletic teams like Miami, Florida State and NC State, have drawn critics to Bryan Stinespring, certain players, and Tech's offensive system. This year, the offensive line has a new coach and a lot of new faces, and everyone is anxious to see how they perform.
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