Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Virginia Tech Scouting Report

In past years, Virginia Tech’s roster was loaded with players biding their time before becoming mainstays in the NFL. Since 2000, VT has been a factory for successful pro football players such as Corey Moore, Lee Suggs, DeAngelo Hall, Kevin Jones and some guy named Michael Vick. The 2004 version of the Hokies lacks its usual star power, which on paper, makes this Hokie team slightly less intimidating than in the past. But don’t be fooled.Despite a 2-2 record and without a bona fide game breaker on each side of the ball, this Virginia Tech team still has the talent and depth to compete, and defeat, any team at any time. Saturday’s matchup between Virginia Tech and West Virginia has its storylines, most notably the fact that Virginia Tech is now a member of the ACC. Tech has a pair of losses (Southern California and North Carolina State) on the season, but is favored at home against the No. 6 Mountaineers. The Hokies won easily in their other two contests, defeating new ACC foe Duke after pummeling Western Michigan.Now, however, Tech must rebound from its heartbreaking 17-16 home loss to North Carolina State last week, in which kicker Brandon Pace narrowly missed a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation. WVU is 4-0, but only an overtime win over Maryland has proved the Mountaineers worthy of the lofty ranking it possesses. The teams will do battle for the Black Diamond Trophy, but if the Mountaineers want to keep the trophy in Morgantown for another year, here is what they will go up against.

In the 50th meeting between Virginia Tech and West Virginia on Saturday, Bryan Randall will be making his school record of 30 consecutive starts under center for the Hokies. The 6-foot senior spent most of last season looking over his shoulder at Marcus Vick, but with the younger Vick suspended for the season due to his numerous legal issues, Randall finally has a secure grip on the job. The problem for Randall, however, is finding a reliable target to throw to. A pair of freshmen receivers and a tight end rank as his top three receiving targets so far this season. Josh Hyman is a 5-foot-11 freshman who leads the team in receptions (10), yardage (198) and touchdown catches (two). Eight of his 10 catches came against Duke and Western Michigan.On the opposite side is Eddie Royal, a lightning-quick freshman who also returns kicks. Royal has eight catches and a score on the year, and caught two passes for 47 yards against North Carolina State last week. Tight end Jeff King had a huge game in a 24-13 loss to Southern Cal, and is used quite often in the passing game. Look for King to find his way out into the flat, often times on play action passes.Randall also looks to his running backs on occasion.For the season, Randall has completed 52-of-90 passes for 700 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions. The offensive line surrendered 10 sacks versus North Carolina State. Randall doesn’t have to worry about double-digit sacks from the Mountaineers, but there’s sure to be a greater emphasis placed on pass protection against WVU.

Grade: C+

Two years ago, Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer had Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones at his disposal.In 2004, it will be the Mike Imoh and Cedric Humes Show. Imoh and Humes possess drastically different styles, and both will see significant action against WVU’s rush defense on Saturday. Imoh has been named the starter after gaining 74 yards in his first game of the season against North Carolina State. Imoh had been serving a three-game suspension. Humes, a sophomore, was supposed to be the next in line at running back, but the bruising back has just 153 yards in four games. Humes has particularly struggled against stiffer competition, gaining only 28 yards on 14 carries against Southern Cal and North Carolina State.Imoh is just 5-foot-7 and might be more effective against the 3-3-5 defense West Virginia normally employs. Freshman John Kinzer, who is 252 lbs., will clear the way for Imoh and Humes.The most dangerous offensive weapon is Randall, who may be more effective on the ground than air. Randall rushed for 82 yards against the defending champion Trojans and 93 more against Duke, and is second on the team in rushing despite the 10 sacks last weekend.

Grade: B

After moving the ball at will versus East Carolina and UCF, the Mountaineer offense struggled to put a dent in the formidable Maryland defense. Virginia Tech has a fast and physical secondary that will limit the effectiveness of WVU’s wideouts, particularly junior Chris Henry. Safeties James Griffin and Vincent Fuller are among the team leaders in tackles, with Fuller hauling in a pair of interceptions. Corners Eric Green and Jimmy Williams are the stars of the defense.Green, a senior, has an interception to go along with a dozen tackles. Williams will present Henry with one of his most difficult assignments of the year. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior has an interception and team-best six pass deflections. As a unit, the VT pass defense allowed only USC to pass for more than 200 yards, and Duke and North Carolina State failed to eclipse 100 yards passing.

Grade: A+
VT’s defense has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher, even against running backs such as USC’s Reggie Bush and North Carolina State’s T.A. McClendon. The front seven (although VT will routinely throw an eight-man front at West Virginia) has only two seniors, and counts on production from freshmen and sophomores.Junior Darryl Tapp leads the Hokie defense up front, while rookie Vince Hall has been superb in his first four collegiate games at linebacker. Tapp and Hall are the team’s top two tacklers, with Tapp register 3 1/2 sacks and 5 1/2 tackles for a loss.Along the defensive line, Tapp will be joined by Noland Burchette at defensive end and Jim Davis and Jonathan Lewis at defensive tackle. Chris Ellis and Jason Lallis (one sack each) will provide relief along the line for Tapp and Burchette. Senior Mikal Baaqee, junior James Anderson and sophomore Aaron Rouse join Hall at linebacker.

Grade: B+

West Virginia’s deep threat of Chris Henry will be negated by VT’s strong foursome in the secondary. With the Hokies struggling to develop any kind of consistent passing game, that leaves the outcome of the game to the trenches. Since Virginia Tech’s offensive line is coming off a horrific game, there is no clear-cut starter at running back and Randall poses the greatest threat on the ground. On the other side, WVU’s rushing offense ranks in the top 10 in the nation, and Kay-Jay Harris ranks in the top 5 nationally in rushing, even with a nagging hamstring injury. History suggests Frank Beamer teams struggle when coming from behind (only 14-50 when trailing at the half) and struggle when they are out-rushed (13-49). If WVU gets on the board early and takes the raucous Lane Stadium crowd out of the equation, and the rushing game is at its best, the Mountaineers should retain the rights to the Black Diamond Trophy and keep intact its perfect season. Just don’t expect a win to come easy. Tech will be as ready as ever.

Prediction: West Virginia 27, Virginia Tech 24.


First off, a FBL Championship Update.

Another huge day by Tank University has given the U a 7-2 lead with five days remaining. Here are the stats.

Tank University: .282 ave, 55 runs, 16 homers, 52 rbi, 5 stolen bases, 7 wins, 4 saves, 97 k's, 3.53 era and 1.27 whip
Gruck All Stars: .260 ave, 44 runs, 14 homers, 57 rbi, 8 stolen bases, 5 wins, 4 saves, 48 k's, 5.80 era and 1.40 whip.

Gruck has already been helped out by a strong performance by Freddy Garcia that should close the pitching categories. This one is still going to the end.

In other news...I wrote a massive scouting report on Virginia Tech today for Thursday's edition of the DA. I will try and post the article on here later tonight for those who cannot find a DA. I'm less nervous than I was about the game, but still a little on edge. Remember, WVU is 11-1 in its last 12 games. Virginia Tech is 4-7 in itslast 11, and would be 2-7 in its last 9 if it wouldn't have overcome Temple, 24-23, in overtime late last year.

I have finally be sucked in by reality shows. The first, the Surreal Life, is the most entertaining reality show ever. Unlike other shows, its characters are both lovable and interesting, and always stirring the pot somehow. For those unfamiliar with the show, it airs on the king of all networks, VH1, and stars Dave Coulier (uncle joey from full house), Ryan Starr (American Idol), Charo (Loveboat), Brigitte Neilson (Rocky IV, Beverly Hills Cop II), Jordan Knight (New Kids on the Block) and my personal favorite, Flava Flav. This eclectic group is non-stop in their quest absolutely nothing.

The other reality tv show is on ESPN called I'd do anything. The shows premise basically consists of three sets of two people, one of which is performing some impossible stunt in sacrifice for their partner, who has a specified sports dream. The individual who comes out on top enables the other person to finally live out their sports dream. Seeing my roommate crying from laughter as a charging bull drilled a man trying to shoot a basketball will forever live as one of the greatest reality tv moments of all-time.

That's all for now. Check back tonight for the Scouting Report, if interested.

1 day till Bush-Kerry debate.
3 days till Virginia Tech.

Song of the Day: Ben Harper & the Blind Alabama Boys "Church on Time"

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Championship Update...

Since Davey is an idiot and screwed up his lineup in the middle of our Fantasy Baseball Championship game, I am forced to manually keep his stats to try and save his ass. I am going to post the results here because it is easiest.

Tank University 45 12 42 4 .259 7 84 2 3.17 1.20
Gruck All Stars 39 13 54 8 .269 5 48 4 5.80 1.40

That's right. It's 5-5 heading into the final six days of the season. The first tie-breaker is ERA, which is a virtual lock for Tank University at this point. Wins, saves, homers, runs and average are still up in the air, and maybe RBI and WHIP. It should be interesting.

In other sports news, the Redskins stumbled into the cellar of the NFC East after just three games...My Monday column received its first negative feedback, as a gentleman (or woman) had the audacity to send me a hateful e-mail in criticizing my character, calling me a John Kerry-like football prognosticator by insisting I picked Maryland so I could win either way and telling me that the Challenge the Guru contest was my whole life. Not to be outdone, he managed to mention several pieces I have written over time (suggesting he always reads the DA) and create a new e-mail address ( using my name (Charles McGill) and not signing the e-mail with his real name (hardcore). Can this person be a bigger coward?...My friend Nick dropped me a link to today, in which a columnist suggested that the Pitt Panthers were in line to take the Big East title in football and go to the BCS. One problem. The columnist stated that the Gator Bowl was all Pitt's if it won its six conferences games, including the finale against WVU. The Gator Bowl? Come on...this guy is the associate sports editor. If Drewy Rubenstein made this kind of blunder, I would show him the door. The guy closed his column by saying the Pitt-Furman game was the best he's ever seen in person. That seals it for me...Rich Rodriguez was on Max Kellerman's new show on FoxSports this morning. Kellerman did everything he could to make Rich call Michael Holley an "idiot," which was worth the time to watch the three-minute segment. Rodriguez didn't go as far as saying West Virginia would win the National Championship, but insisted it would be a team nobody expected. Hmm.

2 days till the first Bush-Kerry debate.
4 days till Virginia Tech.

Monday, September 27, 2004

First post...

I have officially joined the blogging community. The Mark Cuban's and Nick Tolomeo's of the world have pulled me into a web I'm certain to never escape.

Hopefully my daily ramblings and musings will provide a constant source of entertainment in the future. I'm not sure what I will write about, but I am sure it will contain my thoughts from the world of sports, interesting and embarrassing stories about my friends and an occassional tirade. All good readings.

But for now, I must go watch the Redskins dismantle the lowly Cowboys on MNF.

5 days till Virginia Tech.