Loss of Darren Evans Increases Need for Offensive Creativity
Note: This guest blog post brought to you by the author of Relatively Journalizing, as a follow-up to this previous post.
Perhaps the first thing that popped into every Hokie fan's mind when news of sophomore RB Darren Evans' ACL injury reached the public was "we're screwed." But that's just a football fan's general reaction to such news, and it's all part of the ups and downs we've all come to love in the ongoing drama that is college football. In reality, as much as we wish Evans a speedy recovery and recognize his incendiary talent, one player does not make a football team (with the exception of Tim Tebow, if you ask anyone in the SEC except for Steve Spurrier).
All hope is not lost, and while the talk of a national championship is quickly fading in terms of the Hokies, there is no reason to count Virginia Tech out when it comes to another ACC championship and perhaps even an Orange Bowl win. On the other hand, a fair look at the team will reveal that the loss of Evans is not the only potential season-threatening factoid to come out of Blacksburg — but there are also plenty of reasons to still consider the Hokies as a darkhorse contender for that final BCS bowl game of the year. (Special teams have to get better, right? Coach Frank Beamer has said this might be one of his best units, a definite good thing after being out Beamerballed quite a bit last year by teams such as ECU.)
Take a look at the recent scrimmage, for example. Starting QB Tyrod Taylor threw up an INT. Now, maybe the Hokie defense is just that good, but with what we saw last year from T-Mobile and the receiving corps, reports from the pratice field just don't echo that there has been enough improvement in the passing game to make up for VT's less-than-spectacular offensive performances in the last couple of years. Of course, Hokie fans hope that T-Mobile and WRs come out and prove those who are uncertain wrong — but is the Georgia Dome, against Alabama, the best place to come out and try to work out the bugs?
That all depends on the playcalling. More on that in a moment.
What's still going well for VT? Let's face it, the Hokies lost a guy who rushed for 1,265 yards and 11 TDs in Darren Evans. But do you need to be reminded that Evans was a freshman? So who is to say that David Wilson or Ryan Williams can't do the same this year? We already know, in scrimmage situations at least, that Williams has the potential to be a spectacular kick returner, a position at which the Hokies have needed some explosiveness since the departure of Eddie Royal. Williams was rated by ESPN as the number four RB in the country when he committed to the Hokies out of high school. This guy rushed for almost 1,600 yards his junior year of high school before sitting out some of his senior year because of an injury. David Wilson, on the other hand, rushed for 2,300 yards his senior season of high school, including 35 TDs. He was also named MVP in the Junior World Championship, helping USA bring home the gold with his 8 TDs in that series.
And let's not forget about the veteran (if you can call him that): Josh Oglesby. Now, sure, he's only rushed a hanful of times for 88 yards. But he did see time under the lights of the Orange Bowl, and even that minimal experience will be key come Sept. 5. Another fun fact: Oglesby has never racked up negative yardage in a game. (Is Sean Glennon's -172 career rushing yards an NCAA record? I'll have to check that one out some time.)
The big factor is the aforementioned one — how will the inexperienced players on the roster, especially in skill positions, perform under the stress of the Georgia Dome and thousands of deep southerners screaming profanities with drawls that only Nick Saban will understand (because he's from my home state of West Virginia, of course)?
But the even bigger factor, aside from all the worries about running backs, wide receivers' hands and Tyrod's improvements in decision making (Or lack thereof? This remains to be seen.) is the one you've all been waiting for — Bryan Stinespring. Now, we'll all feel pretty stupid if we read the "Fire Bryan Stinespring" blog and then he comes out and gets the offense ranked in the top 10 this season. Heck, I think the Hokie Nation would see anywhere above top-100 mark as an improvement. However, does Stinespring have the creativity in his bones to make something happen this year? The run-up-the-middle-with-your-worst-running-back-on-fourth-down and Stinescreen calls have to end somewhere. The predictability has to end somewhere. If VT wants to compete outside of the ACC, where a great defense and clock management can win you the game, the Hokies must find an offensive coordinator who can keep up in shootouts with SEC and Big 12 schools such as the Texas' and Floridas of the world.
The Hokies still have plenty going for them, and the ACC should be a lock as long as Taylor stays healthy (yeah, I know, you probably wish I hadn't brought that up). But Alabama and a national title run? That'll all depend on the Crimson Tide's new QB and offensive line, along with a slew of other things. That's collge football, it's all about variables. And until the season really gets under way for the Hokies Sept. 5, it's all speculation.
So if this blog post didn't give you the definitive reassurance for which you were looking, just don't get too upset. Really, there's still a lot of excitement surrounding the football program at Virginia Tech this season. But if the Tide show us up next month, just try to watch your language in the midst of your frustration — nobody wants to see Beamer write you a fine.
Lesson of the Day: Just because Beamer says it's true, doesn't make it so. I know, it's blasphemy, but Beamer is such a nice, classy guy, that he'll defend any of his buddies until the end. Remember this guy? That's Sean Glennon, who Beamer said until the end would make it as an NFL quarterback. The Vikings cut him (after he came in undrafted) in June, ending his NFL career before it ever really started. Stinespring needs to prove himself with numbers on the board, not just to a friend and colleague such as Beamer.
You can find Josh DeLung writing on Relatively Journalizing, e-mail him at joshuadelung [at] gmail [dot] com, follow him on Twitter as @joshuadelung or friend him on Facebook. Or, you can challenege him to a game of NCAA 10 and see how your football skills matchup on Xbox Live — just friend him as user "Thunder Hokie".
FBS Mission Statement:
We at FBS believe that offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring bears the largest share of the blame for years of sub-par output from some of the most talented players ever to set foot on Worsham Field. We believe the main objective of the VT football program - a national championship - will escape us as long as Stinespring is making the calls. We therefore advocate the improvement of our football program through the replacement of our offensive coordinator.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Stinespring's Performance Crucial to 2009 Season
Stinespring's Performance Crucial to 2009 Season
Joshua A. DeLung
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