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   Welcome to TSLMail #328- Friday, May 2, 2008    
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   Tech Sports News

Running Game Needs to Improve in 2008
by Chris Coleman,

For Virginia Tech to improve offensively as a unit, the running game must be more successful in 2008 than it was in 2007. The Hokies do not have a corps of experienced, senior wide receivers to turn to. Games will have to be won in the trenches, with a power running game.

The Hokies built their offensive success through the years with a power running game. Generally Tech is known for having a solid offensive line, a two-back system in the backfield, and on many occasions, a quarterback who can pick up yardage on the ground. One or more of those elements have been missing from the offense the last couple of years, and at times all three of them have been missing.

For the past two seasons, injuries have limited an already depth-shy offensive line. The offensive line in 2006 and 2007 got better late in the year as it got healthier, but the overall play of the unit has been down. In both of those years, the Hokies had just one fully capable tailback, Branden Ore, and some would argue that Ore wasnít capable for most of 2007. And finally, with Sean Glennon getting all of the snaps at quarterback in 2006 and most of them in 2007, the running threat from the quarterback position hasnít been there.

The following table shows how Techís running game has fared since 1999. As you can see, the last two years have been completely sub-par.

Rushing Totals Since 1999



National Rank

1999 253.9 8
2000 270.45 5
2001 194.73 26
2002 212.43 19
2003 209.31 17
2004 178.23 32
2005 190.69 29
2006 113.38 90
2007 133.64 82

In 1999 and 2000, Virginia Techís running game dominated. The offensive line was a very good run blocking unit, and the Hokies had a two-headed attack at running back. In 1999, it was Shyrone Stith and Andre Kendrick. In 2000, it was Lee Suggs and Andre Kendrick. Of course, Michael Vick had tremendous running ability at quarterback. There were so many weapons in the running game in those years that itís easy to see why it was so successful.

2001 wasnít quite as successful, but thatís not very surprising considering the offensive line turnover following the 2000 season, no Michael Vick, and an ACL injury to Lee Suggs in the first game. Still, Keith Burnell and Kevin Jones combined to do a good job, and the offensive line played well. Despite not having a mobile quarterback, the Hokies averaged almost 200 yards per game on the ground.

2002 and 2003 were great years for Tech on the ground, as KJ and Lee Suggs shared the duties in 2002, and Jones ran for over 1,600 yards in 2003. The line was solid in those years, and the Hokies also had mobile quarterbacks who could pick up yardage on the ground.

Things were still pretty good in 2004 and 2005. Bryan Randall was still at quarterback, and Tech's backs were solid, but not spectacular. However, the offensive line began to show signs that it was taking a step backwards.

With the graduation of four seniors following the 2005 season, Tech's recruiting and development issues of offensive linemen showed up. There was such a lack of depth that each injury forced the coaching staff to make position changes. Overall, the lines didn't have the physical nature that they had in the past either.

However, there were more problems than just the offensive line. The Hokies really only had one effective tailback in 2006 and 2007, Branden Ore. And they really didn't have Ore in 2007 until the end of the season. Not to mention that Sean Glennon is not a running quarterback. To add to all of that, Tech's wide receivers weren't very good blockers on the perimeter, which added insult to the already injured running game.

The result of all that was back-to-back seasons that produced statistical numbers that are almost too embarrassing to look at. The Hokies finished 90th nationally in rushing in 2006, and 82nd in 2007.

This year, that can't happen. Virginia Tech is going to putting a group of wide receivers on the field that have virtually no experience in a college game. A power running game has to be there to make up for a passing attack that isn't going to be as reliable as it has been over the last four years.

I think at a minimum Virginia Tech needs to average 170 yards per game, or something around that number, on the ground. If their running game is held to 2006 or 2007 numbers, then prepare yourselves to see an even uglier offense than we saw in 2006 and 2007. 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
Friday Football Q&A: May 2, 2008
May 2, 2008
We are back with another session of Friday Q&A! This time Phil Martin joins Raleigh Hokie, and together they tackle some good questions about the two quarterback system, why Tech doesn't run the option much anymore, and how inexperience at wide receiver can hurt the offense as a whole.

De'antwan Williams Scores 8th Offer
May 2, 2008
5-7, 205-pound running back De'antwan Williams, one of the top juniors in the state of Virginia, picked up his eighth official scholarship offer on Monday. Alabama is the Woodbridge star's latest offer, joining Boston College, Liberty, Maryland, Rutgers, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

Classes of 2001 through 2005 Prove Star Rankings Don't Always Matter
May 1, 2008
On Monday we ran an article that took a look at Virginia Tech's 2008 NFL Draftees and how highly-rated they were coming out of high school. Today we'll take it a step further and look at Tech's recruiting classes from 2001-05, and see how many of them went on to have success at the college level, and later in the NFL Draft.

Liberty's Gough on the Rise
May 1, 2008
Liberty High School in Bealeton, Virginia, already boasts one 2009 class Division 1A football recruit in safety Corey Lillard, who verbally committed to the University of Virginia last month. Head coach Tommy Buzzo feels he has a second 1A level junior, though, in offensive line prospect Kory Gough.

Offer Profile: Brooke Point's Lanford Collins
May 1, 2008
Lanford Collins certainly remembers receiving his first Division 1A scholarship offer, which came from Virginia Tech. The 6-4, 240-pound Brooke Point (Stafford, VA) defensive end/tight end has since added seven more official Division 1A offers with more possibly on the way during the Evaluation Period.

TSL Audio: The Final Word, 4/30/08
May 1, 2008
EDITORIAL NOTE: The TSL Audio of Chris Coleman's regular Wednesday appearances on ESPN Radio 1430AM are now free features, available to subscribers and non-subscribers alike.
On Wednesday's show, "The Final Word With George Hunsicker", Chris and George reviewed the draft and projected the chances of success for last weekend's Hokie draft choices. (WMA format, compatible with Windows Media Player and MP3 players, 3.3 MB, 14:07).

Tincher Reaches 2,000 Strikeouts
April 30, 2008
Virginia Tech softball pitcher Angela Tincher made history on Tuesday when she recorded the 2,000th strikeout of her amazing career. In the process, she also pitched a no-hitter and ran her record to 30-6 on the season.
Also: Women's Track and Field Dominates ... Again

State's '09 Class Making Early Decisions
April 30, 2008
Over the past few years, the football recruiting process seems to start up earlier and earlier for Division 1A coaches. Coaches hope to be the first to get scholarships out to top prospects, who, in turn, seem to be trending towards making a college choice before the start of their senior season. Still, what has happened in the state of Virginia's 2009 class is surprising, as 16 of the state's top juniors have already made verbal commitments...and the Spring Evaluation Period just started.

Giles PK Awaits First 1A Offer
April 29, 2008
Steve Ragsdale retired after the 2007 season, after 30 seasons as head coach of Giles High School's varsity football team. Coach Ragsdale, who compiled 254 wins in those 30 seasons, says he has never had a place-kicker as talented as 6-0, 175-pound junior Cody Journell, an AP first-team all-state selection this past season.

Five Hokies Sign Free Agent Deals
April 29, 2008
In addition to the eight Tech players who were drafted over the weekend, five more have signed free agent contracts since the draft ended. That makes a total of 13 rookies from Virginia Tech who will be in camps across the NFL over the summer.

Granby LB/S Drawing Heavy Interest
April 29, 2008
Granby (Norfolk, VA) linebacker/strong safety Telvion Clark, a first-team all-Eastern district selection in 2007, is receiving interest from a number of ACC and Big East programs. Granby head coach Dave Hudak does not believe that any school has extended an official scholarship offers as of yet, but he expects things to be different by the end of the summer.

Tale of the '03 and '04 Classes Continues to Unfold
April 28, 2008
The 2008 NFL Draft took place over the weekend, and eight Virginia Tech players were selected. All of the players chosen came from either the 2003 or 2004 recruiting classes. This article will look at Tech's draft picks and how they were rated as high school recruits, as well as the 2003 and 2004 classes as a whole. Also, how many of Tech's 4-star recruits from those two classes have been drafted? The answer might surprise you.

Edwards Brothers Eye Tech's Camp
April 28, 2008
Marlboro County (Bennettsville, S.C.) brothers Tariq and Tyrell Edwards attended Virginia Tech's Spring Game on April 19th. Neither talented junior left Blacksburg with an offer, but the Tech staff did invite each to its June 7th camp for further evaluation.

Five More Hokies Drafted on Sunday
April 27, 2008
Five more Virginia Tech players were selected on Sunday in rounds three through seven of the 2008 NFL Draft. They join the three Hokies who were taken on Saturdy, bringing Tech's total number of drafted players to eight. That's tied for second for most Tech players taken in the draft. The 2006 NFL Draft saw nine Hokies selected.

Brown, Flowers and Royal Selected in 2008 NFL Draft
April 26, 2008
The NFL held the first two rounds of its seven round draft on Saturday, and three Virginia Tech players were selected. All were among the first 42 of the 63 players chosen in the first two rounds.
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