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   Welcome to TSLMail #279 - Friday, May 18, 2007    
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   Tech Sports News

ACC Returning Nine Starters at Quarterback
by Chris Coleman,

The ACC will return a lot of experienced players in 2007 after a down year in 2006. The conference suffered through a down year offensively, partly because half of its teams were playing with first-year starters at quarterback. Nine ACC teams bring back their starting quarterbacks for the 2007 season. Statistically speaking, which returning quarterbacks are the best?

ACC Returning Starters at QB
Name Year Comp.-Att. Pct Yards TD-INT Eff.
Riley Skinner (Wake) r-So. 171-260 65.8% 2,051 9-5 139.6
Matt Ryan (BC) r-Sr. 263-427 61.6% 2,942 15-10 126.4
Sean Glennon (VT) r-Jr. 170-302 56.3% 2,191 11-11 122.0
Kyle Wright (Miami) r-Sr. 152-250 60.8% 1,655 8-7 121.4
Drew Weatherford (FSU) r-Jr. 175-312 56.1% 2,113 12-11 118.6
Thad Lewis (Duke) So. 180-340 52.9% 2,134 11-16 106.9
Jameel Sewell (UVa) r-So. 143-247 57.9% 1,342 5-6 105.3
Daniel Evans (NCSU) r-Jr. 163-307 53.1% 1,843 6-11 102.8
Cam Sexton (UNC) r-So. 57-136 41.9% 840 4-8 91.7

Only two of the nine returning QBs are seniors. BC's Matt Ryan, who most consider the best quarterback in the ACC, and Miami's Kyle Wright are the two returning senior starters this year in the conference. Well, we think -- reports from Miami during spring practice indicated that Wright hasn't been able to shake off junior quarterback Kirby Freeman. There is a chance that Freeman could still beat out Wright.

The surprise of last year at quarterback was Wake Forest's Riley Skinner. He took over the starting reigns after Ben Mauk was injured in the season opener. He went on to lead the Demon Deacons to the ACC Championship and an Orange Bowl appearance. On the way, he set 10 Wake Forest passing records and easily led the ACC in passing efficiency.

The common perception is that Skinner is a quarterback in a gimmicky system, and the best thing he does is not make mistakes. That's not totally true. Wake's system is different, but Skinner has talent. He's very accurate, a good decision maker, and he can make pretty much any throw on the field with precision. As long as he's there, Wake has a chance to go to a bowl game.

The reason Skinner and Ryan are at the top in passing efficiency? Their touchdown-to-interception ratios played a big part. Ryan was +5 and Skinner was +4. No other returning starter in the ACC was better than +1.

Skinner was easily the best of the first-year starters a year ago, beating out Sean Glennon for the honors.

Top ACC First-Year Starters Returning for 2007
Name Year Comp.-Att. Pct Yards TD-INT Eff.
Skinner (Wake) r-So. 171-260 65.8% 2,051 9-5 139.6
Glennon (VT) r-Jr. 170-302 56.3% 2,191 11-11 122.0
Lewis (Duke) So. 180-340 52.9% 2,134 11-16 106.9
Sewell (UVa r-So. 143-247 57.9% 1,342 5-6 105.3
Evans (NCSU) r-Jr. 163-307 53.1% 1,843 6-11 102.8
Sexton (UNC) r-So. 57-136 41.9% 840 4-8 91.7

Judging by passing efficiency for the first-year starters, there was Riley Skinner, then Sean Glennon ... then everybody else. Skinner and Glennon were the only first-year starters in the conference who did not throw more interceptions than touchdowns last season.

Some interesting stats stand out. NC State quarterback Daniel Evans was a popular pick for a future ACC star at times last year. He led the Wolfpack to a couple of late-game wins, and people were singing his praises. But the end result? 11 interceptions, just six touchdowns, and the next-to-worst passing efficiency of all quarterbacks returning for 2007.

Also, Duke might have something to work with at quarterback in the future. Although Thad Lewis threw 16 interceptions, he did complete over 50% of his passes and threw for other 2,000 yards. That's not bad for a true freshman that wasn't surrounded with much talent. This year all 11 starters return on offense for Duke, and they should be able to put more points on the board.

Tech fans are probably wondering what they can expect from returning starter Sean Glennon. Although his numbers on the whole were average, his efficiency rating is third best among the nine returning starters, and it was behind only Riley Skinner for first-year starters in 2006. Many though Ike Whitaker would challenge Glennon for the starting job in spring practice, but that competition never materialized.

In 2007, Glennon will be one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the ACC. He'll be a r-junior with a year of starting experience under his belt. Only Matt Ryan, Drew Weatherford and Kyle Wright will have more starting experience than Glennon, and he still managed to finish higher than them in passing efficiency in his first year as a starter.

Sometimes it's not fair to judge improvement on pure numbers. After all, Matt Ryan was arguably the ACC's top quarterback last season, and he threw just five more touchdowns than interceptions, and his efficiency rating was only 4.4 points better than Glennon's. Probably the best way to judge a quarterback's improvement is touchdown-to-interception ratio. It shows that he's reading defenses better, and making better decisions in the pocket.

In spring scrimmages, Glennon showed improved pocket presence and footwork, better decision making and a willingness to get rid of the ball quicker. All those traits indicate that the Hokies should have an improved quarterback in 2007, but we won't know for sure until the season begins. 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

NCAA Softball Preview

May 18, 2007
Craig Fain, a Virginia Tech graduate (2002) and Tennessee graduate (2006) who has years of experience working with the Virginia Tech and Tennessee softball teams, brings us a detailed preview of this weekend's NCAA Softball Regionals in Columbus, Ohio, matching the #1-seed Hokies up with #2-seed Ohio State, #3-seed Cal State Fullerton, and #4-seed Canisius.

Top DB Plans to Camp at Virginia Tech
May 18, 2007
The Evaluation period has gone well for junior defensive back Robert Blanton. Part of one of the top high school defensive backfields in the country, the 6-1, 175-pound Blanton has tallied over 20 Division 1A scholarship offers and has seen numerous head coaches make their way through Butler High School (Matthews, N.C.).

16 Offers for Dowtin
May 17, 2007
Fork Union Prep standout Marcus Dowtin has quietly become one of the most heavily recruited rising seniors in the Commonwealth. The 6-2, 205-pound RB/DB/LB, who recently demonstrated his outstanding athletic ability at Fork Union's spring evaluation session, is now up to 16 Division 1A scholarship offers.

ACC Revenue Sharing a Huge Boon to Tech Athletics
May 17, 2007
Recent published reports have released the ACC's latest revenue sharing data, and financially, Virginia Tech's move to their new conference has been better than expected. The latest numbers are for the 2005-06 fiscal year, when the Hokies didn't yet receive full revenue sharing, and they still received a significant amount more than they did in their final year in the Big East.

Hokies Target Talented Defensive End
May 17, 2007
Following a monster junior season in which he racked up 98 tackles including 21 sacks, William Blount (Maryville, TN) defensive end T.J. Walker has racked up significant interest from a handful of top Division 1A programs. This includes Virginia Tech, a program he has shown strong interest in at this point.

Inside the Numbers: Rating the 1999 Recruiting Class
May 16, 2007
In our last article in this series, the 1998 recruiting class was by far the most productive class that we've rated. There was a lot of star power in that class, including Michael Vick and Lee Suggs, and a total of five All-Americans. Tech followed that up with the 1999 recruiting class, and it also contains a lot of names that Tech fans recognize. But were they as productive as the 1998 class, or most of the classes before them? The answer is surprising.

Cavs and Hokies Battle for Roberts
May 16, 2007
Virginia and Virginia Tech may not go head to head for as many in-state prospects as you may think, at least in terms of both schools being heavily in the running until the end. But the Cavs and the Hokies are prominent forces in the race for Smithfield wide receiver/defensive back target Dyrell Roberts, who currently is high on both programs.

Bennett Tops West Potomac's Prospect List
May 15, 2007
Of 6-9, 290-pound left tackle Jimmy Bennett, West Potomac (Alexandria, VA) head coach Eric Henderson boasts, "I'll probably never coach another kid like him again." Certainly, Bennett is West Potomac's top 2008 recruit and has received scholarship offers from top 1A programs. But Henderson boasts several other prospects to keep an eye on as well.
more & ESPN Radio AM 1430 Form Media Partnership
May 15, 2007 and ESPN Radio AM 1430 in Blacksburg have formed a media partnership. This alliance brings two major sports outlets together to better serve Virginia Tech fans. Under the terms of the partnership TSL staff will appear on ESPN Radio 1430 AM, and ESPN Radio will provide audio files for posting on

Tech Targets in Southern Invitational
May 15, 2007
Virginia Tech is already off to a good start in the 2008 class, having landed dynamic guard/forward J.T. Thompson and guard Shamarr Bowden. But, especially in light of the recent news on Gus Gilchrist, Virginia Tech could be looking to add another in the 2008 class. Several potential targets were in Charlottesville this past weekend for the Southern Invitational, which featured potential Tech targets for future classes as well.

Gilchrist Flip-Flopping Shows Nasty Side of Hoops Recruiting
May 14, 2007
For those who know a little bit about Virginia Tech's recruitment of basketball player Augustus "Gus" Gilchrist, the announcement late last week that Gilchrist wants to back out of his Letter of Intent to Tech isn't a big surprise. For the Hokies, recruiting Gilchrist, signing him, and getting him to campus has been an uphill battle all the way, and this latest turn of events is no exception.

Donovan Miles Closing in on 5th Offer?
May 14, 2007
6-1, 225-pound Brooke Pointe (Stafford, VA) rising senior linebacker Donovan Miles emerged this spring as one of the top defensive prospects in the state of Virginia. Each of the first four programs to receive video - Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia - responded with a scholarship offer. More videos have been sent out recently and, while head coach Jeff Berry awaits word from those schools, one other program seems very close to offering.

Hokies Win ACC Softball Tournament
May 13, 2007
The Virginia Tech softball team earned the #1 seed in the ACC Tournament thanks to their work during the regular season, and they lived up to their billing by beating Georgia Tech 2-0 to win the ACC Tournament on Sunday afternoon. The Hokies, seeded #16 in the NCAA Tournament, will face Canisius on Friday in Columbus, Ohio.
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