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   Welcome to TSLMail #248 - Friday, October 13, 2006    
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Hokies Running Game in Serious Decline

by Chris Coleman,

A lot is being made about the decline of discipline within Virginia Tech's football program, but there is another factor that has been even more important in Virginia Tech's last two losses, particularly against Boston College. The Hokies' running game has been in severe decline this season, and they have been forced to throw the ball a lot more than they generally do.

Want proof that Tech's running game is bad? Check this out:

Rushing Offense Since 1999
Year Yds/Game National Rank
1999 253.9 8
2000 270.5 5
2001 194.7 26
2002 212.4 19
2003 209.3 17
2004 178.2 32
2005 190.7 29
2006 91.7 ?

The numbers above (except for the last line) are truly outstanding. Any football team that can rank at least 32nd in the nation in rushing for seven consecutive seasons is doing something right.

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The worst that Virginia Tech has done running the football since 1999 was 178.2 yards per game in 2004, which ranked 32nd in the nation. That's a pretty good running game throughout the years, but it has come to an end this season.

Tech entered the BC game ranked 90th nationally in rushing offense, but they will fall even further after Thursday's performance. After last Saturday's games, 91.7 yards per game would have ranked 99th in the nation, so the Hokies are in danger of falling out of the top 100 in rushing offense. That's probably never happened, at least not since the early 1970s when Don Strock was the quarterback and Tech was a passing team.

The 33 yards the Hokies gained on the ground against BC represent the second lowest total from a Virginia Tech team going back to 1999.

Worst VT Rushing Performances, 1999-2006
Year Opponent Yards Result
2001 Pitt 15 L
2006 Boston College 33 L
2004 NC State 36 L
2005 FSU 41 L
2006 Georgia Tech 42 L
2001 FSU 43 L
2002 Syracuse 55 L
2003 WVU 65 L
2005 Miami 77 L
2001 Syracuse 90 L
2005 Georgia Tech 97 W

Notice that when the Hokies don't run the ball well, they almost always lose. That has been the case no matter who is playing quarterback. The table above shows the 11 lowest rushing totals since 1999, and the Hokies hold a 1-10 record in those games. They are 0-10 in their 10 worst rushing performances.

Also, notice that two of the 11 worst rushing performances have come in 2006, and we're only halfway through the season.

And if it seems like Virginia Tech's rushing attack has regressed during the course of this season, it's not you. It has.

2006 Rushing Stats
Game Yards Yards Per Carry
Northeastern 111 4.1
UNC 117 3.9
Duke 102 3.1
Cincinnati 145 4.4
Georgia Tech 42 1.6
Boston College 33 1.2

That's downright ugly. One reason that the rushing stats have regressed is the level of competition has gotten better. But at the same time, the Tech offensive line should have made more improvement as the year moved forward. Their pass blocking has gotten better, but the running game hasn't come around. Not by a long shot.

Is there any good news? Virginia Tech's next opponent is Southern Miss, and they don't have a very stout run defense. They have allowed 143.6 yards per game on the ground, which ranks 74th in the nation. They also rank just 64th in total defense, allowing 332.4 yards per game. If the Hokies are serious about getting their season together offensively, next week is their best chance.

What's the biggest reason for the collapse of the running game? The Hokies lost three full-time starters after last season -- Will Montomery, Jason Murphy and Jimmy Martin. A part-time starter, Reggie Butler, is also gone. That's a lot of new faces on the offensive line.

But still, let's look back to 2001. The Hokies were in the top 10 in rushing offense in 1999 and 2000, and they lost four full-time starters following the 2000 season. Dave Kadela, Matt Lehr, Josh Redding and Anthony Lambo were outstanding run blockers, and all got a shot in the NFL. Kadela and Lehr are still playing in the NFL.

There were a lot of new faces on the 2001 line, but they still managed to put together a good year, averaging 194.7 yards per game on the ground, which ranked 26th in the nation.

So youth and inexperience only means so much. The 2001 line overcame those flaws. The bottom line is that the Hokies need to get better now, and not wait around until they get older and more experienced. Pass - Your Ultimate Ticket to Hokie Sports!

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For more info on TechSideline Pass, and to subscribe, click here. Updates From the Past Week
Hokies Beaten Down in Beantown
October 13, 2006
Chestnut Hill, MA -- #17 Virginia Tech traveled to Boston College in hopes of rebounding from the 38-27 loss to Georgia Tech. Instead of rebounding, they now find themselves in a deeper hole after getting drubbed 22-3 by the Eagles. It was Virginia Tech's first road loss in ACC play and their first Thursday night loss since 1995. The Hokies drop to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in ACC play, while BC improves to 5-1, with a 2-1 mark in conference play.

Game Projection: Virginia Tech at Boston College (and Others)
October 12, 2006
Senior center Danny McGrath did a nice job summing up the importance of the Boston College game in an interview on Tuesday, "I think the common thought around here is that this one decides whether we're going to Boise or Georgia. And, of course, we're still in the race for the title. So the better thought is that we still have everything to play for. We've made a lot of great memories here for us and the fans over the last two years, and we haven't been undefeated for any of those. So hopefully we can get us a win at Boston College and set ourselves up for great October to put us right back in the thick of things."

Brooks Impressing on Offense and Defense
October 12, 2006
Heading into this season, Jaymes Brooks has primarily been used as an offensive guard by Denbigh Head Coach Tracy Harrod. This season, however, Harrod has used the athletic 6-2 1/2, 295-pound Brooks at defensive tackle as well as offensive guard -- a move the three-star prospect has enjoyed.

Bourbonstreet's Championship Series (b-streetC.S.): Week 7
October 12, 2006
Florida movin' up, wvu movin' down, and Boise State hanging around. That's the gist of this week's b-streetC.S. update. Bstreet also brings us a VT/BC prediction. (Note to readers: chance of precip. tonight has dropped to just 10%.)

Recruiting Notes: Another Prospect from Varina?
October 12, 2006
Varina High School is certainly a target for the Virginia Tech coaching staff in almost every recruiting class. That's especially the case this year, as the staff has targeted three recruits -- DB Davon Morgan, DE/LB Jamar Jackson and DT Bud Tribbey -- with another potentially on the horizon. Check out which other Blue Devil may be in the coaches' sights, the latest on Davon Morgan's injury and Jamar Jackson's latest scholarship offer.

Josh Hyman Arrested, Suspended
October 12, 2006
Virginia Tech will be without one of their top receivers on Thursday night. WSLS reported on Wednesday night, and other media sources verified, that Hyman was arrested last Friday for a DUI and did not travel with the team to Boston College on Wednesday.

Keys to the Game and Matchups to Watch: Virginia Tech vs. Boston College
October 11, 2006
While future rivalry games against Miami and Virginia may stand out in Hokie fans' eyes, as well as a big contest with current ACC favorite Clemson, the Boston College game may well be the most important game of the season. Virginia Tech is at a pivotal point in the season in which the Hokies may contend for the ACC championship, or fall into a mid-tier bowl slot. A lot is riding on this game with BC and both teams must win to stay in title contention.

Hokies Rounding Out Strong 2007 Basketball Recruiting Class
October 11, 2006
The middle of October is just about here, and that means the start of basketball season is around the corner. Virginia Tech has a senior laden team this year, which should lead to a good season on the court. Seth Greenberg and staff have also had a good offseason on the recruiting trail, hauling in what appears to be the best recruiting class since Greenberg's arrival in Blacksburg, and perhaps the best in school history.

Young Hoping for State Championship Success
October 11, 2006
In 2004, the Northwest Jaguars (Germantown, MD) captured the 3A state championship. The team was led then by quarterback Ike Whitaker, now a red-shirt freshman quarterback at Virginia Tech. Northwest, 5-0 heading into this Friday’s match-up versus Magruder, is hoping to repeat its 2004 success and is being led by another future Hokie in defensive lineman Justin Young.

Football Game Preview: Virginia Tech at Boston College
October 10, 2006
In two days, you'll find out a lot about the Virginia Tech football team. It was tough to get much of a read through the first four games. And even last week against Georgia Tech, the Hokies were probably capable of playing better than they did. We'll all have a better understanding of where this team is after they play a solid team like Boston College on the road.

Four-star Hoping to Reschedule VT Visit
October 10, 2006
6-0, 190-pound Gerald Jones, a dynamic athlete out of Millwood High School (OK), missed his September 29th flight to Blacksburg and thus did not make his previously scheduled official visit. The four-star prospect is looking to reschedule an official to Virginia Tech, however, and is eyeing a visit for next month.

Another 4-Star Talent Commits to Greenberg
October 10, 2006
Chalk up another four-star prospect for Virginia Tech Head Coach Seth Greenberg. Greenberg has added yet another top talent to his already impressive 2007 recruiting class, as 6-4, 185-pound guard/forward Dorenzo Hudson has committed to the Hokies.

Hokie Hotline Notes for 10/09/06
October 10, 2006
This week's Hokie Hotline guests were the big three: Athletic Director Jim Weaver, head men's basketball coach Seth Greenberg, and head football coach Frank Beamer. Weaver covered various administrative topics, Greenberg brought everyone up to date on the basketball team, and Beamer talked about the upcoming Boston College game.

Monday Thoughts
October 9, 2006
It's hard to believe the Virginia Tech football season is almost half over. Next week's "Monday Thoughts" will concentrate on evaluating VT at the halfway point of the season, but for this week, I've got a few random thoughts on the Hokies, plus some ruminations on the ACC so far this year.

Hokies To Face Southern Miss In Primetime
October 9, 2006
The Virginia Tech athletic department announced on Monday afternoon that Virginia Tech's game against Southern Mississippi on Saturday, October 21 has been picked up by ESPNU. They game will now kickoff at 7pm.
Also: ACC in the Polls, TSL Game Watching Party, Standouts of JV Games

Bourbonstreet's ACC Capsule: Week 7
October 9, 2006
At the more-or-less midway point of the season, BStreet gives us his ACC bowl projections, which are interesting stuff (Orlando, anyone?). In this week's games, there are a few interesting in-conference matchups, with Virginia Tech-Boston College being the headliner, but the out of conference matchups are dogs: Clemson-Temple, Miami-FIU, and UNC-South Florida. In-conference, in addition to VT-BC, you've got Maryland-Virginia, Wake-NC State, and the always-compelling FSU-Duke tilt. BStreet takes a look for us.

Is Tech Targeting Finney?
October 9, 2006
Virginia Tech is just one of the programs keeping a close eye on Hargrave Military Academy wide receiver Ben Finney. Finney, a standout football and basketball player for I.C. Norcom (Portsmouth, VA) last year, may have several 1A options by the time his stint at Hargrave is over.

Game Projections: Week of October 7
October 6, 2006
Virginia Tech has a much needed week off before facing Boston College next Thursday, but this weekend's slate of games features a number of big match-ups for Hokie fans to watch. The SEC has a couple of huge games in Florida/LSU and Georgia/Tennessee, while the Big 12 has their annual blockbuster in the Texas/Oklahoma rivalry, as well as a couple of other important contests. Oregon and California will square off to see who is the legitimate challenger to USC this year and the ACC will see if Wake Forest is for real as the Demon Deacons host the Clemson Tigers.

Bruce Taylor Takes in First VT Game
October 6, 2006
Star junior linebacker Bruce Taylor did not have a great weekend last week. First, Myrtle Beach High School (S.C.) lost last Friday night and then Virginia Tech fell to Georgia Tech on Saturday. The losses did not discourage Taylor, however, as he very much enjoyed his first-ever game experience in Blacksburg.
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