Friday, February 4, 2011

Football Signing Day Reactions

I was talking with a buddy earlier today... let's call him Salty J to give him a bit of anonymity. Salty J was worried that the Hokies would not win another ACC championship anytime soon due to the loss of players like Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Williams, and Darren Evans, coupled with the fact that the VT coaching staff has a very mediocre recruiting class coming in for next season. I'm wondering if this is the sentiment of most Hokie fans? Personally, I am not the least bit concerned, and here's why: VT has never really done a great job of recruiting, and they are still able to be competitive in the ACC (and before that, the Big East) consistently since the days of Michael Vick. A few headliners for this year's signing day are:
  1. KyShoen Jarrett, a defensive back from PA. VT and secondary coach Torrian Gray have created a dynasty here at Tech for cornerbacks, and Jarrett is just the next in that line. Gray has also already received a commitment from a fantastic cornerback recruit for 2012... Donaldven Manning.
  2. Kris Harley, a defensive tackle for Indiana.
  3. Robert Lockhart, a wide receiver from Florida.

You know, I could go on listing names, but really I think I am just at a point where I trust our coaches to recruit the right players for their system, and then coach them up. We take some shots at Frank Beamer for not being able to beat the big programs, but the truth is that there's a reason behind all of the consecutive 10-win seasons. Beamer, Bud Foster, and maybe even Bryan Stinespring are good at teaching their system to their players and getting them to buy in. Look at the recruiting classes that Miami and Florida State have had over the past several seasons... they are always fantastic, and those teams have been losing pretty consistently to Virginia Tech.

Frankly, I think we're fine. There were no big running back recruits for 2011 because those guys were expecting Williams, Evans, and David Wilson to be sitting in the way of their playing time when they were being recruited. Well now things are very different with Williams and Evans both going to the NFL (where they will certainly both be drafted), and high school running backs are going to take notice. You can absolutely count on a major RB recruit being signed by VT for the 2012 class. The truth is, the only positions where 2011 recruits can come in and contribute quickly are defensive back (because our corners have a history of leaving early for the NFL), tight end (because we lost our one good TE), and defensive line. VT has entrenched starters at linebacker (Rivers, Taylor, Gibson), offensive line (DeChristopher, Brooks, Miller, Nosal, Lanier), quarterback (Thomas), running back (Wilson), and wide receiver (Boykin, Coale, Roberts, Davis, Boyce). If I were a top-rated recruit and saw that logjam, I would probably stay clear of VT too.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Look Ahead

After suffering an extremely disappointing loss to Georgia Tech and grabbing a decent win at home over Miami, the Virginia Tech Hokies are sitting at 4-3 in the ACC and are in good position to finish with a conference record that contains more W's than L's. Make no mistake, this team is limited and has zero chance of a magical NCAA Final Four run, but that doesn't mean there is nothing to enjoy about this team or that there's nothing to look forward to this season. Here's a plain look at what is going on with VT basketball right now.

  • Mostly due to the fact that there are no dominant mid-major teams like in recent years past (Butler, Memphis, Gonzaga, etc), there are likely to be several more at-large spots in the NCAA tournament that will go to teams from power conferences, and I'm not just talking about the 4 extra play-in game spots. And yes, that term "power conferences" somehow still includes the ACC. My gut and ESPN's Bracketology[tm] tells me that if the season were to end right now, the Hokies would be an NCAA tournament team.
  • So what does that mean? Can the Hokies just keep the status quo for the rest of the season... losing games they are expected to lose while winning games they are expected to win in order to stay in the field? Not exactly. What is outside of the team's control is how all of the other teams play from here on out. VT's wins over Florida State, Penn State, and Oklahoma State look pretty good right now, but they could look a lot fuglier in a month's time if one or two of those teams start tanking.
  • I'm starting to think that the best thing for Virginia Tech, besides a win at home against Duke, would be for the ACC teams that VT has beaten to win against Duke as well. Scratch that... I mean the ACC teams who are in the RPI top 100 and have lost to VT. I think it would be a bad thing if Wake Forest were to upend Duke. Duke did so well in their out-of-conference schedule that they could probably lose a few more games without feeling much of a repercussion in the RPI.
  • As good as Malcolm Delaney is (and he's incredibly good), I am just now starting to realize that he's basically anti-clutch. Delaney is the one to work for a shot in just about every last possession of every game against a quality opponent when the Hokies need a win, and I have no memories of him coming through for VT. Some guys fold under pressure and some guys get better under pressure. I'm sad to say, I think Delaney falls into the first category. I have to imagine that 'Zo Hudson will be the guy to be shooting the last shot next season, and I think he'll rise to the challenge like he did a few times last season.
  • If one more guy gets injured, this season is finished. Greenberg has done a great job in helping the team to limit fouls with the zone defenses, but eventually they are going to get in foul trouble and need their bench players to contribute in order to win. Manny Atkins has been contributing pretty consistently, but Eddie and Garland can't be counted on at this point and giving either of them extended minutes looks iffy right now. Then again, Erick Green became a completely different player with extended minutes... maybe the same thing would happen for Eddie or Garland.
  • Garland doesn't have the handle to be a point guard at this time in his career. The guy is a turnover machine and looks extremely uncomfortable against active defenders. I have a feeling that he's always going to be an undersized shooting guard, which isn't necessarily a terrible thing if he can learn to defend point guards since Erick Green has the size to defend shooting guards. The thing I like about Garland is that the kid really looks like a natural scorer. If you let him shoot, he's going to score a lot. I just don't know if he isn't better off being the go-to guy on a team like Ball State, Lehigh, or Central Michigan.