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  TSLMail #393- August 7, 2009    
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 Tech Sports News

1999 Hokies Were Almost Injury-Free
by Will Stewart,

For Virginia Tech, the #1 key to the 2009 season is keeping Tyrod Taylor healthy. If TT gets hurt and misses time, all bets are off. As we have discussed in many articles, most recently Five Players Who Must Stay Healthy in 2009, other positions need to stay healthy as well.

Ten years ago, the Hokies made a shocking run to the national championship game, and although Frank Beamer, Michael Vick, Corey Moore and company had a lot to do with that, so did an unusual lack of injuries. It's remarkable how healthy the 1999 Hokies were as they made their run to the Sugar Bowl.

Special teamers Shayne Graham and Jimmy Kibble both started every game, of course, and amongst the 22 offensive and defensive starters, an incredible 18 of them (82%) started all 12 games. Among the other four starters, only one of them missed more than two games due to injury.

Let's look at the offense first.

1999 Virginia Tech Offensive Start Chart
Position Player Starts
SE Emmett Johnson
Ricky Hall
LT Anthony Lambo 12
LG Matt Lehr 12
C Keith Short
Steve DeMasi
RG Josh Redding 12
RT Dave Kadela 12
TE Derek Carter 12
QB Michael Vick
Dave Meyer
FB Jarrett Ferguson 12
TB Shyrone Stith 12
FL Andre Davis 12
Source: VT Football 2000 Media Guide

Offensively, only Vick and center Keith Short missed starts due to injury. Emmett Johnson and Ricky Hall shared starts at the split end position, but that was due to coaches' decisions on whom to start, not injury. The only exception is that Hall did not start the national championship game because he hurt himself in practice in the days leading up to the game.

Out of 132 starts, only four were missed due to injury: Vick (1), Short (2), and Hall (1).

Here's the defensive chart.

1999 Virginia Tech Defensive Start Chart
Position Player Starts
DE Corey Moore 12
DT Nathaniel Williams
John Engelberger
Chad Beasley
DT Carl Bradley 12
DE John Engelberger
Chris Cyrus
LB Ben Taylor 12
LB Michael Hawkes 12
LB Jamel Smith 12
CB Anthony Midget 12
FS Nick Sorensen 12
ROV Cory Bird 12
CB Ike Charlton 12
Source: VT Football 2000 Media Guide

The only 1999 defender to miss starts was tackle Nathaniel Williams, who suffered from knee and shoulder injuries that limited him to five regular-season starts and the bowl game. The Hokie coaches started Chad Beasley in place of Williams three times and slid John Engelberger over from end to tackle for three other starts. Chris Cyrus started in place of Engelberger at end the three times Engelberger moved over to tackle.

Defensively, out of 132 starts, only six were missed due to injury. Whereas three offensive positions were affected by injuries to starters, only one defensive position was directly affected by an injury: the defensive tackle spot held down by Williams.

That's a total of 264 starts, only ten of which were missed because of injury. If you throw in 24 of 24 starts by kickers Graham and Kibble, the 1999 Hokies only missed ten starts out of 288 possible starts. That's just 3.5%, and that -- along with good coaching and freakish talent -- is a major reason the 1999 Hokies went 11-0 and made it to the national championship game.

In the Sugar Bowl itself, the Hokies were not so fortunate. Four days before the game, Ricky Hall broke his foot in a non-contract drill and missed the contest. Hall was VT's second-leading receiver in 1999, with 25 catches, and his replacement, Emmett Johnson, had just 10 catches on the season. Hall's absence was also felt in the return game, where he was the Big East's top punt returner. Ike Charlton filled in and did well, as the Hokies averaged 22 yards on four punt returns.

In the first half, Shyrone Stith twisted his ankle and missed the rest of the game, but the Hokies didn't miss Stith very much. Andre Kendrick took over and had 12 carries for 69 yards, including touchdown runs of 29 and 6 yards.

In the fourth quarter, Ike Charlton and Anthony Midget missed time due to injuries, and substitute redshirt freshman cornerback Ronyell Whitaker was beaten for a TD by FSU superstar Peter Warrick -- though Whitaker was draped all over Warrick on the play.

Injuries happen, and the Hokies dealt with them fairly well in the national championship game. During the season, though, Tech hardly had to deal with them at all. It was a unique season, injury-wise, and a repeat of that good fortune would serve the 2009 Hokies well. 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

2009 ACC Football Preview: Maryland

August 7, 2009
Maryland suffered huge losses in the offseason. The Terps lost their biggest playmaker in Darrius Heyward-Bey, the first round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders. They lost most of their offensive line, their top four defensive ends, top two defensive tackles, two starting linebackers and two defensive backs. Maryland has been gutted, and their chances of having a good season in an improving ACC are not strong.

Preseason Report: Loudoun County's Chase Williams
August 7, 2009
Loudoun County's (Leesburg, VA) 2008 season was a successful one, with then second-year head coach Todd Hill guiding the Raiders to a 6-5 record that included the school's first playoff appearance since 1999. Virginia Tech recruit Chase Williams racked up 163 tackles last season as a junior, in what was his first full season at linebacker. He did well on offense, too, hauling in 36 receptions and scoring five touchdowns from the tight end spot.

Hokies Ranked 7th in Preseason Coaches' Poll
August 7, 2009
The USAToday Top 25 Coaches' Poll has been released, and the Hokies are ranked #7. Chick-fil-A Classic opponent Alabama is ranked #5, setting up a big showdown between the Hokies and Tide in Atlanta on college football's first weekend. The ACC has four teams in the top 25, with the Hokies easily being the highest-ranked team in the league.

The Latest on Zach Zwinak
August 7, 2009
Linganore (Frederick, MD) running back/linebacker Zach Zwinak has earned offers from top programs throughout the country, including Boston College, California, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, Stanford and Virginia Tech, among many others. The 6-1, 225-pound rising senior may be thinking seriously about at least narrowing his list of schools before the start of the 2009 season.

End of a Quiet Offseason
August 6, 2009
With a top ten ranking and one of the most difficult schedules in the country, the 2009 Hokies are justifiably part of the preseason national championship discussion. This brings back memories of the 1999 Hokies, who had the talent and leadership to navigate the pitfalls of an entire season and make the championship game. But there's another reason the 2009 Hokies bring back memories of 1999, at least for us: this offseason was the quietest in a decade.

Checking in with 2009 Recruit Kory Gough
August 6, 2009's Phil Martin attended last month's action-packed VHSCA all-star game in Hampton. Following the East squad's 38-31 victory, Phil had positive things to say about Virginia Tech offensive line recruit Kory Gough, a standout out of Liberty High School in Bealeton. Gough, who will enroll at Tech in January of 2010, looks to continue what has been a positive off-season before heading to Blacksburg.

Hokies Open Preseason Practice Today
August 6, 2009
Virginia Tech begins preparations for the 2009 football season this afternoon when they open preseason practice in Blacksburg. It will be the first of 22 preseason practices, including three full scrimmages, before game week practice for Alabama begins on August 31.
Also: Freshmen assigned initial positions, Logan Thomas begins at quarterback, Lewis has surgery again

2009 Virginia Tech Football Preview: Offensive Line
August 6, 2009
This time every year we talk about the Virginia Tech offensive line and how they should be better in the upcoming season. Well, it's time to say it again. This Tech offensive line should be better in 2009. The Hokies have good individual talent in their starting lineup and more depth than usual. The big question mark is whether that will translate to improved performance on the field.

In-State Recruiting Analysis, Part 3
August 5, 2009
The first two articles in this series have provided a quantitative, "macro-level" view of recruiting in the state, but the one aspect that this analysis does not address is the quality of the recruits at an individual level. The next two articles will provide a "micro-level" view of recruiting by evaluating individual players. This article will provide a "re-ranking" of the players in the 2001-2002 through 2003-2004 recruiting classes to see who really won the recruiting battles in-state earlier this decade.

2009 ACC Football Preview: Georgia Tech
August 5, 2009
Georgia Tech finished the 2008 season with a 9-4 record, an impressive showing in Paul Johnson's first year. They were able to run their flexbone offense with much greater efficiency than anyone thought, and they've got almost their entire team returning for the 2009 season.

2011 Target: LB Trey DePriest
August 4, 2009
Springfield (OH) linebacker recruit Trey DePriest heads into his junior season having enjoyed nice recruiting success this off-season. "The schools that have offered are Cincinnati, Michigan, West Virginia, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma. Ohio State called and said he will have an official offer on September 1st and so did Alabama," said Springfield defensive coordinator John Cupps.

2009 Virginia Tech Football Preview: Defensive Line
August 4, 2009
Virginia Tech returns three of four starters on the defensive line, and preseason practice will pick up right where spring practice left off. Defensive line coach Charley Wiles will attempt to create some depth at both defensive end and defensive tackle. The Hokies were thin at both positions last year, and they can't afford any major injuries up front this year.

2009 ACC Football Preview: Florida State
August 3, 2009
Florida State returns eight starters on offense and should be much improved on that side of the ball. There are some gaps to fill on the defensive side, but Mickey Andrews puts a stout defense on the field every year. FSU will be in contention for the Atlantic Division Championship.

4-Star Guard Reflects on Commitment to VT
August 3, 2009
East Ridge (Clermont, FL) rising junior guard Robert Brown feels he found the "perfect situation" in Virginia Tech, which is why he verbally committed to Seth Greenberg in mid-July. The 6-4, 178-pound prospect, ranked a 4-star prospect by, is Tech's first commitment in the 2011 recruiting class.

Martin Makes Final Visit, Eyes Decision
August 1, 2009
Roanoke Rapids (N.C.) rising senior Kareem Martin, one of the top defensive end prospects in the East, trekked to Virginia Tech yesterday for what likely will be his last college visit before committing. The 6-6, 230-pound prospect hopes to know his college destination by the end of the month.

2009 ACC Football Preview: Duke
July 31, 2009
Duke was an improved football team last season under first year head coach David Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils went 4-8, with a 31-3 win over Virginia, as well as a 10-7 road win against eventual Music City Bowl Champion Vanderbilt. They were very close in a number of games, losing to Northwestern by four, Wake Forest by three, NC State by 10, Virginia Tech by 11 and North Carolina by eight.
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