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TSLMail #350- October 3, 2008    
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 Tech Sports News

Darren Evans Off to a Good Start
by Chris Coleman,

If you haven't been keeping up, Darren Evans has scored six touchdowns in his first five games as a Hokies. He's scored at least one touchdown in every game he's played, including two at Nebraska on Saturday night. Evans has turned into Tech's top redzone threat. It's obvious when watching the game, and it's even more obvious when you break down the actual numbers.

The following table shows Evans' numbers in the redzone so far this season, including game-by-game stats and season totals.

Darren Evans Redzone Stats
















Georgia Tech




















* No lost yardage in redzone this year

Evans has been pretty effective in the redzone this year, with all six of his touchdowns coming from within the 20 yard line. However, perhaps the most impressive stat is that he has not lost any yardage in the redzone. That's impressive, considering the defense is packed up tighter to the line of scrimmage on most occasions.

Based on the first five games, Evans looks like a good bet to get it in the endzone again on Saturday against Western Kentucky.  That would give him a touchdown in six straight games.  That's exactly what you want out of your top redzone option.

Now let's take a look at how Kenny Lewis has fared in the redzone, and make the comparison.

Kenny Lewis Redzone Stats
Opponent Carries Yards YPC TD
ECU 2 5 2.5 1
Furman 6 16 2.67 0
Georgia Tech 0 0 0 0
UNC 4 16 4.0 1
Nebraska 3 -7 -2.33 0
Totals 15 30 2.0 2

Obviously not quite as successful for Lewis, and 11 of his 30 yards came on one run. He is a better back in space, with the defense not so packed in around the line of scrimmage. His most successful runs this season have been to the outside. In fact, both of his redzone touchdown runs were to the outside.

In the redzone, Evans has 18 more carries than Lewis. Overall, he has 20 more carries (77 to 57). Between the 20's, Evans has just two more carries than Lewis this year. It looks like Billy Hite likes them both evenly between the 20s, but in the redzone, Evans is his guy. The offense becomes more run-oriented inside the redzone, and he's the best back with the ball in his hands, so giving it to him down there is the right thing to do.

It's probably not fair to do this to Evans so early in his career, but he is looking more and more like a Lee Suggs type running back when he gets into the redzone. He has a nose for the goalline, and always has a forward lean. He has excellent balance and he knows how to run in a way that defenders rarely get a clean shot on him. They always seem to just glance off of him.

As far as I can tell, no Virginia Tech freshman tailback has scored a touchdown in each of his first five games. With the number of good backs the Hokies have had, and their emphasis on running the football throughout the years, it's safe to say that Evans is off to an excellent start to his career.

Now let's compare Evans to some other top freshmen backs of the Beamer Bowl Era.

Top Freshman Tailbacks








Kevin Jones






Branden Ore






Shyrone Stith






Darren Evans






Ken Oxendine





So far, Evans is right up there with some of the best runners in Tech history. His yards per carry is lagging behind a bit, but he's already scored as many or more touchdowns in his first season that every other guy on that list. Before the year is out, it looks like he'll be behind only Kevin Jones in total rushing yardage.

It's still early, but things are looking good so far. 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
ACC Weekend Football Preview: Week 6
October 3, 2008
Tomorrow brings yet another day of ACC football, and Chris Miller gives us the preview on this weekend's games. UNC will take on UConn in a key out-of-conference matchup, while Florida State and Miami will battle in a game that could knock the loser out of the race in their respective division.

David Wilson Starting to Roll
October 3, 2008
Virginia Tech running back recruit David Wilson has certainly found his groove in this 2008 season. The George Washington (Danville, VA) star has rushed for a total of 602 yards and 10 touchdowns over the past two games, which, not coincidentally, have been GW-Danville victories.

A Difference in Attitude
October 3, 2008
Two years ago, I witnessed three of my friends enter into a signed agreement late one fall evening. The agreement was between two Virginia Tech alumni and an Alabama alumnus. My Alabama friend made a claim that his Crimson Tide would win another football national championship before Virginia Tech's program could win its first.

Phil Martin Q&A: Thursday, October 2, 2008
October 2, 2008
Since there isn't much Western Kentucky film to study, we thought a special Q&A session with Phil Martin would be a good addition this week. Phil talks about Tech's developing passing game, gives his evaluation of the true freshmen in the program, and offers up his take on where the Hokies are as a team right now.

Ike Whitaker Suspended
October 2, 2008
Virginia Tech announced on Thursday afternoon that wide receiver Ike Whitaker has been indefinitely suspended for violating team rules. As is customary, Frank Beamer said there would be no further comment on Whitaker or his situation.

Ocean Lakes Jr. WR Boasts Four Offers
October 2, 2008
One of the top juniors in the state of Virginia, Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach, VA) wide receiver Justin Hunter has now received four Division 1A scholarship offers according to head coach Chris Scott. While the 6-4, 180-pound Hunter is living up to his hype as a top prospect, several other players - including seniors Shamarko Thomas and Brandon Sharpe - have played major roles in helping the Dolphins to a 5-0 record thus far in 2008.

Football Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Western Kentucky
October 1, 2008
The Hokies return home to Lane Stadium to play their sixth game in as many weeks. This time the opponent is Western Kentucky, a team in the middle of the transition from 1-AA to the 1-A ranks. The Hilltoppers have not been successful against the 1-A teams they have played this year.

2010 Profile: DL Derrick Hopkins
October 1, 2008
Much like his older brother, Antoine, Derrick Hopkins enjoyed success on the varsity football level very early on his high school career. The 6-1, 295-pound junior, a defensive tackle and offensive lineman out of Highland Springs (VA), earned second-team all-district honors as a freshman and followed that up by earning first-team all-metro honors at defensive tackle his sophomore year. So far in 2008, the talented prospect is continuing his success.

TSL Audio: The Jerry Miller Show, 9/30/08
October 1, 2008
Jerry Miller and Chris Coleman went over the big Nebraska victory in yesterday's show, including the strong performances by the VT running game and Tyrod Taylor. Jerry also treated listeners to a tape of Mike Gundy's "I'm a man! I'm 40!!" rant, which never gets old (WMA format, approx. 3.0 MB, approx. 13 minutes long).
The Jerry Miller Show appears on The Sports Addict Radio Network every afternoon from 1:00-3:00 pm in Blacksburg (1430 AM), Charlottesville (840 AM), and Bluefield (1050 AM), and from 2:00-4:00 in Martinsville (1160 AM).

Nebraska Game Analysis: Young Hokies Coming Together
September 30, 2008
That was a memorable experience. Despite the Nebraska tradition and the huge "Sea of Red", there was a quiet confidence among the Hokie fans in attendance. Sometimes you just have a feeling, and Saturday night was one of those nights. The Hokies went into a very tough environment and played near mistakefree football to outlast the Nebraska Cornhuskers 35-30. It was a bit of a breakout performance for the Tech offense and another strong performance by the Tech defense. And all of those Hokies left the stadium feeling a new level of confidence in a young team that appears to be growing up in a hurry.

Hokie Hotline Notes for 9/29/08
September 30, 2008
Monday night's guests featured running backs coach Billy Hite, athletic director Jim Weaver, and head football coach Frank Beamer. The coaches reviewed the win over Nebraska, and Weaver reported on the 2009 season opener in the Georgia Dome.

Checking in with Bethel Star James Gayle
September 30, 2008
James Gayle turned a lot of heads - most importantly, the Tech coaches - at Virginia Tech's July camp, showing off quickness, athleticism and speed. The Bethel (Hampton, VA) product, a defensive end recruit for Virginia Tech, has demonstrated his athletic abilities and versatility on the gridiron as well... especially this season.

Top 1A Programs Pursuing Ankrah
September 29, 2008
Jason Ankrah, a 6-4, 240-pound defensive end out of Quince Orchard High School (Gaithersburg, MD), is a highly recruited senior prospect. He is rated a 4-star prospect by and boasts double-digit scholarship offers, but for now he is primarily focused on four schools in particular.

Monday Thoughts: Nebraska (Free This Week!)
September 29, 2008
Late last week, after Chris Coleman and I had predicted a VT loss in Lincoln, a message board poster challenged me to make "Monday Thoughts" a freebie if the Hokies pulled out the win. Fair enough, TSL'ers, here's a free Monday Thoughts. And you're not getting a stripped down version, either; this is the real, 8-page deal. Just one favor: If you like the column, click the Subscribe link above and sign up for more. You won't regret it, and you can get on board for just five dollars a month, the price of a combo meal at Wendy's (but much less fattening).

Hokies Return to the Rankings; Morgan Lost for the Season
September 29, 2008
Virginia Tech returned to the Top 25 following their 35-30 win over Nebraska on Saturday night. The Hokies had been out of the rankings since their loss to East Carolina in late August.
Also: Davon Morgan Out for the Year; Shuman Honored by the ACC

Around the ACC: Week 5
September 29, 2008
Saturday was a very interesting day in the ACC. Wake Forest was knocked off by an opponent that appeared to be overmatched, while Virginia Tech and Florida State had big wins over the Big 12. Games in Miami and Clemson also had a major impact on the ACC standings, and the results were somewhat surprising.

Improving Hokies Down Nebraska 35-30
September 28, 2008
Lincoln, NE - Virginia Tech went into Lincoln on Saturday night and beat Nebraska 35-30 in front of a crowd of 85,831. The Hokies dominated the stats until late, when Nebraska tacked on a late touchdown to make the game closer than it actually was. Tech is now 4-1 on the season, and still holds a 2-0 mark in ACC play.
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