2011 College Football Awards

Before I get started with this post I would like to take the time to address to things. 1. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of the recent shooting at Virginia Tech. and 2. I have nothing to say about Tech’s awful loss to Clemson but I can say that for the 1st time ever a team has won by losing.

The annual college football awards settle all the arguments… Whose the best QB? RB? WR? DB? LB? OL/DL? and outstanding player? These answers will be addressed tonight when the college football universe declares its best at each individual position.Today we’re gonna run through the many awards and give our predictions. Let’s start with the Bednarik Award

Chuck Bednarik Award (Best defensive player): There are 3 finalists for the award: Tyrann Mathieu,LSU; Donta’ Hightower,Bama; Devon Still,Penn State. In other words there is only 1 Finalist for the award…. THE HONEY BADGER. Mathieu has not only been the best defensive player in the country but also is in the race for the Heisman Trophy ! Honey Badger should win by a landslide.

Biletnikoff Award (Best WR): Comes down to 3 awesome play makers who will all be major impacts in the pros. You’ve got Justin Blackmon from Ok. State, Ryan Broyles from Oklahoma and Robert Woods from USC. Look at it this way… Broyles is hurt so he is out for me, Woods plays for USC who is under serious NCAA probation and they are not able to be ranked knocking him out leaving only 1 superstar, Justin Blackmon. If he doesn’t declare for the draft (Highly unlikely) will be Heisman frontrunner in 2012.

Davey O’Brien Award (Best QB): Like the Biletnikoff it features 3 absolute monsters. Andrew Luck out of Stanford, Case Keenum from Houston and my personal favorite RG III, Robert Griffin III from Baylor. All 3 are straight up gunslingers that want to throw until their arms fall off. This will come down to numbers not all time (Keenum would win 18,312 career passing yards) but this season. The stats are Completion %,TD’s and passer rating. All of the numbers point to Griffin. Sure Luck is going to be the number 1 overall pick in the draft and people love him but Griffin had better numbers and won. Also he showed up in the tight situations that Luck failed in.

RG III

Doak Walker Award (Best RB) Again 3 finalists but all 3 bring very different styles to the table. There’s power with Wisconsin’s big back Monte Ball who has rushed for an astounding 32 TD’s this season with over 1,700 yards gained. On the lopsided theres

Hokies and Wahoos playing for more than bragging rights

With 8 seconds left on the game clock in Doak Campbell Stadium Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins lined up for a 43 yard field goal attempt that would give the Seminoles a victory over the Cavaliers of UVA. For only the 4th time all year Hopkins missed the kick wide right. The impact of this missed field goal could be felt not only in the Sunshine State but also in the great state of Virginia 625 miles away in Blacksburg. The impact can be characterized as both one of joy and one of fear. Joy because it means that the annual game between VT and UVA will have bigger implications than in recent years. Fear because of what can happen to the Hokies season with a loss to UVA, something that hasn’t happened in 2,550 days (That’s 7 years ! )

Davon Morgan and friends celebrate 2010 Cup win

Last years game as seen in the photo above was played in Blacksburg and won by the Hokies 37 – 7. Even though the Hokies have dominated the rivalry a lot has changed since the last time these two met. In the off season UVA and coach Mike London dominated the state of Virginia in recruiting. Taking recruits like CB Demetrious Nicholson , RB Clifton Richardson and WR Dominique Terrell from the tidewater/ Virginia Beach region of the state that the Hokies have been controlling for years. Nicholson has been the most productive of the group with 50 tackles and 2 interceptions coming into Saturdays game. This early production is only a sign of whats to come of the Hoos 2011 recruiting class.

Nicholson is one of many players thriving in Mike London’s defensive scheme that is ranked 28th in the nation for points allowed per game(20.1). Led by junior LB Steve Greer, who has 94 tackles on the season, the Cavs have used speed and athletisim to mess with the opposing QB especially in the red zone. Another bright spot for UVA has been the play of QB Mike Rocco and RB Perry Jones who have each provided sparks when their team needs them most. Look for Jones to have a tough day going against a Hokies defense that has allowed and average of 3

Perry Jones

.3 yards per carry this season. UVA will have a shot to upset their hated rivals and win more than just the Commonwealth Cup.

For the Hokies to avoid the upset and the embarrassment that the Cavs are planning to give them they must do 3 things perfectly.

  1. Don’t go for the big hit just make the tackle: The Hokies have struggled with wrapping up ball carriers this season and it has lead to big runs and plays. Fortunately this only happens a few times over the course of a game but it usually results in a score for the opposition.
  2. The O-LINE must buy some time for Logan Thomas: In Tech’s Thursday night win over UNC Logan Thomas was outside of the pocket more than he was inside of it, Sure he works well on edge and utilizes his feet but he would benefit greatly with a few extra seconds to make a clear decision on where to throw the ball. A sloppy game by the big boys up front would be fatal to Techs chances.
  3. Don’t be complacent: So many times when a team is ranked highly and predicted to win by many experts they become happy or content with what they have and don’t strive for more. It’s what knocked my own High School team out of the playoffs this year and its what can certainly destroy any hopes that the Hokies have of an ACC Championship and a BCS Bowl appearance.

The Hokies should win this game with the play of David Wilson and Logan Thomas in recent weeks. Sure UVA’ s defense has been pretty good and they have a lot of momentum building to the game but they have yet to see a QB of Thomas’ size, speed and athleticism. Tech will have to play perfect and score early silencing the Wahoowaa in Charlottesville and crushing any hopes that they have of an upset.

My prediction is that the Hokies will win over UVA for the 8th straight year but it will be very very close and could come down to the final minutes of the game. Techs special teams will give them the slight edge and the leg of Kicker Cody Jounell will show the country that the Hokies do belong (something that Oregon, Oklahoma State and Alabama failed to do).

In addition to predicting this game I also have some picks on the other rivalry games of week 13

Arkansas will beat LSU on their home field.

Auburn will beat Alabama in Auburn in what will be the best Iron Bowl to date.

Oklahoma State will beat Oklahoma in Bedlam

If my 1st two picks are right look for the Hokies to move into the top 3 with a realistic shot at a BCS Championship game berth. But for any of that to happen Tech must 1st take care of UVA and maintain control of the Commonwealth Cup.

Happy Thanksgiving to all and enjoy your football weekend !

 

Hokies dominating early 2012 recruiting

With the 2011 college football season right around the corner elite programs have already started their building a stellar 2012 recruiting class. One of these programs is Virginia Tech who currently has 20 verbal commits heading into the middle of July. Of their 20 pledges so far 3 are 4 star prospects by rivals.com (J.C. Coleman, Deon Clark and Jarontay Jones). These 4 star prospects can be impacts on the field by their freshman years at Tech. The top 3 recruits for tech all play different positions and will be used in different ways. We’ll start with Speedy J.C. Coleman out of Chesapeake, Virginia

  1. J.C. Coleman : (RB 5’7, 169 lbs and a 4.4 40 yards dash time) – Coleman is currently ranked the 3rd overall running back in the 2012 class nationally. What makes this speedy back so good is his ability to change directions moments before coming in contact with defenders. As you can see in the youtube video I have found he his one hard back to catch and shows signs of a young David Wilson , who will be the starting  back for this year’s Hokie Squad. Coleman chose Coach Beamer and the Hokies over 7 other schools who had given him an offer (UVA, WVU,Old Dominion, Maryland , FIU ,Vanderbilt and Duke). Coleman is currently the head of this 2012 class and will be a major success once he comes to Blacksburg.

    2.   Deon Clarke : (LB 6’2 ,205 lbs and a 4.5 40 yard dash time)- Clarke is an intresting prospect to say the least. He brings alot of size to the table standing 6’2 but not much weight to him weighing in at only 205 lbs.Like J.C. Coleman, Clarke is a local state prospect (Chesterfield,VA) .But even though he isn’t extremley solid he can still pack a pretty powerful punch. He is ranked the 14th best LB prospect in the 2012 class and just makes the cut for the top 150 prospects (142nd ranked). One of the major benefits for both Clarke and this Hokies coaching staff is that he has a ton of potential and with the right coaching (Bud Foster especially) he can become an elite LB in the ACC Conference. Clarke was also highly recruited by other schools within the confernece (Miami,UVA, Maryland, NC State and Duke).

LB Deon Clarke

 3.  Jarontay Jones: (DE 6’2 , 240 lbs and a 4.6 40 yard dash time)- Of all the recruits that the Hokies have gotten verbal commitments from Jarontay Jones appears to be the most suprising. A native of Stone Mountain,GA Jones has been a target of many bigtime SEC schools such as Georgia, Auburn, Florida and South Carolina among others. Jones is a player of raw speed and power that just flat out gets to the ball on almost every play. With his height and size he is a bit of a problem for O-linemen to handle and keep out of the backfield. But discounting his size a 4.6 40 time for a high school prospect at DE is quiet remarkable and hard to believe. To prove his talent I have found a youtube highlight reel of his Junior season on the gridiron. Jones will add to an already young, fast and powerful defensive front in Blacksburg.

There are ofcourse some other bigtime guys coming to Blacksburg in 2012. Defensive Backs like Donaldven Manning and Davion Tookes are ranked in the top 30 for the postion overall , The offensive side of the ball will not only feature J.C. Coleman but also QB Brenden Motely of nearby Christiansburg and WR’s Mark Irick and Mario Nixon who both stand over 6’3.  As always the offensive recruits look good but this class’ strongpoint is definetly on defense with numbers on the Defensive Front, Middle and Backfield.14 out of the 20 recruits being targeted for their talents on the defensive side of the ball.

So far I give this Hokie class a solid A when it comes down to grading. They so far have answered all their needs but lack recruits for the offensive line which may come back to haunt them if they sign more Defensive and offensive skill positions over talent in the trenches. They do only have 5 spots left if things stay the way that they currently are so I would look for maybe 1 0r 2 more 4 star prospects to commit then the remaining spots saved for offensive linemen.  No matter what the Hokies are pretty set for both the present and the future.

In Logan we Trust

Over the last 15 years in Virginia Tech Football history the Quarterback position has been played by several talented athletes. From the cannon arm of Jim Druckenmiller back in 1995 to the speed and elusiveness of  Tyrod Taylor in recent years and everyone in between. position of Quarterback has been a major strength for the Gobblers and will continue to be an exciting area to watch when Tech takes the field.

This year the Hokies will continue their tradition of  athletic quarterbacks with the beginning of a new era in Hokie Football… “The Logan Era”. Back in the summer of 2009 at Brookville High School, Lynchburg, Virginia a star was born. Then ranked the number 1 wide receiver in the 2009 recruiting class by Rivals.com Logan Thomas, A young and athletic 6’6 monster had all the coaches in ACC country  drooling over his size, speed  and overall potential . In combines and summer camps Thomas worked out as everything from a WR to a QB.  No matter what the drill the 4 star prospect displayed both amazing skill and awareness with and 4.6 second  40-yard dash and an amazing 3.4 GPA in all testing areas. Out of the 10 schools the Logan Thomas had shown a major interest in, from the beginning it seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would end up in Blacksburg which was made official on November 6th of 2008.  Logan Thomas was only 1 small piece of a larger recruiting class that included now RB David Wilson and CB Jayron Hosley in addition to another 19 players (9 who currently start).

Logan Thomas started out his career with the Hokies in 2010 after redshirting his freshman season. Thomas immediately contributed to Tech’s efforts as a giant 6’6 deep threat target for Tyrod Taylor and served as his backup. Even though he only made 1 reception for a TD in 201o Thomas still made his presence felt but even more so in the backfield. While serving as the backup QB Thomas had many opportunities and made the most of them with 46.2% cmpletion rate and just over 100 yards passing(most of his playing time came during blowouts which led to more rushing attempts than passing attempts in the later parts of the game ).

 What LT brings to the table is the perfect combination of size (6’6,  233 lbs) ,agility(4.6 40 yd dash) and potential (#1 ranked Va prospect, #1 TE prospect Rivals and # 19 overall by Rivals). With these tools the Hokies QB is getting a lot of attention and praise as the  next “Cam Newton” in college football. Heres a little comparison of Thomas and Newton side by side….

                   Logan Thomas                                             Cam Newton

                                                                                               

  Size:                           1.   6’6 233lbs                                                                              1. 6’5 248 lbs

Speed:                         2. 4.6 seconds 40 yd dash                                                      2. 4.5 seconds 40 yd dash

Throwing motion: 3. Over the top (Gunslinger)                                                      3. Over the top (On the run ; Scrambler)

Strengths:               4. Potential and mechanics with good running ability      4. Potential , leadership and just flat-out raw power and skill

 As you can see from the comparison above young Logan has a lot in common with Cam Newton who very well could be the number 1 overall selection in this 2011 draft by the Carolina Panthers. The one major difference that I see between Thomas and Newton is the character of the two. On the Newton side of things we all have heard the controversy and all the nonsense that came up halfway through his Heisman season this year at Auburn. On the flip side of Thomas this kid has all the opportunity in the world with an experienced receiving core and a great and explosive back (David Wilson) in the backfield.

 With that being said as a Hokies fan and a College Football fan in general I am really excited and am looking forward to watching the development of a young 4 star recruit into the latest and greatest Hokie and NCAA QB and premier player. 

Hokies recap and a look into the Yankees offseason

Longtime no see. I greatly apologize for not posting anything in a while. A lot has happened since my last post.  RB’s Ryan Williams and Darren Evans have left the Hokies for the NFL  and the Yankees are starting to get their roster set for the 2011 campaign which looks to be even more competitive than last seasons. We’ll start with the Hokies …

To think Virginia Tech started out the season 0-2 with a close loss to Boise and a massacre loss to James Madison in Blacksburg. Tech went on to win their next 11 games in brilliant fashion under the leadership of senior’s Tyrod Taylor and Andre Smith who made the Hokies a dual threat of passing and running the ball. Another key part to the year was the inexperience on the defensive side of the ball. Over the course of the season Tech had 3 sophomore linebackers playing in almost every game this season. Even though it sounds like a major problem young talent like MLB Bruce Taylor ,  Jeron Gouveia-Winslow and even Redshirt freshman Jack Tyler who showed everything that it takes to be a playmaker in Bud Foster’s defense .

        (#58, JACK TYLER)

             The Hokies ended their season with a beating from the Stanford Cardinal and finished the season with a record of (11-3). This loss disappointed all of Hokie Nation and was very tough because it was the final game for QB Tyrod Taylor and RB’s Darren Evans and Ryan Williams.  Looking on the bright side of things the Hokies have a lot of young talent at almost every position including returning junior RB David Wilson who got very little playing time with Williams and Evans in front of him but he did take full advantage of his opportunities. Another key to Tech’s success in 2011 will be the QB position and who will be taking the snaps. The favorite right now for the role is Logan Thomas, who was originally a TE that offensive coordinator Brian Steinspring turned into a QB. Thomas stands at a towering 6’6 and can move with tremendous speed and elusiveness.  The recruiting class that is incoming for the Hokies includes talent on the defensive side of the ball mainly at on the D-line and secondary. The leader of the class right now is DT Kris Harley out of Indiana. Harley isn’t the biggest D-lineman (6’2,265 lbs) but he is very powerful and looks to be good down the road.  Now on to the Yankees….

        The New York Yankees have been relatively quiet this offseason with only two major signings (Catcher, Russell Martin and RP Rafeal Soriano).  What the bombers will have to depend on this season is young , home-grown talent for their outfield and pitching rotation. I do like this strategy but it is going to take time and I don’t see success this year with the team that they have especially in the rotation. One decision that I love is the decision to keep top prospect and future star Jesus Montero who I think will be worked and utilized in many key situations as the season rolls on.  One decision I hate is the signing of mediocre talent like Pedro Felicano and Andruw Jones. I feel like the Yanks could have and really should have taken advantage of all the premier options out there. Guys like Jayson Werth,Carl Crawford , and Cliff Lee could all be wearing the pinstripes if the Yanks stepped up and got the job done. Now as a result the Red Sox are fully loaded and look to be the heavy favorites for the title this year. Overall I give the Yanks a B+  grade for this offseason .

 

Bowl picks week 1

Its my favorite time of the year… BOWL WEEK! Even though I want a playoff system I still love Bowl Week. I enjoy watching different conferences compete against each other in a National televised event that everyone will be watching. Most people say they hate it but why?? Don’t you like seeing a classic game like Notre Dame vs Miami in the Sun Bowl? Many are calling it “Catholics vs Criminals ” which was an annual game back in the 80’s and 90’s. Another good smaller bowl this season is a good South Carolina team taking on a motivated Florida State squad. I also like this as an ACC fan it gives my conference a chance to beat the best conference out there right now. Another conference battle is between the Big 10 and the SEC. In total there are 9 SEC teams in bowls (Auburn, Arkansas,Alabama,Florida,South Carolina,Georgia,Tennessee,Mississippi State and Kentucky). They also have two teams participating in BCS games. Arkansas is in the Allstate Sugar Bowl and Auburn who would’ve been in the Sugar Bowl if Cam Newton never transferred is competing for the overall championship against Oregon on January 10th .Another conference with 9 teams in action this bowl season is the ACC(Virginia Tech,Miami,Florida State,Clemson,North Carolina,NC State,Maryland,Georgia Tech and Boston College) which is led by conference champs Virginia Tech who is in the Discover Orange Bowl. If you match the two conferences up head to head clearly the SEC is better at the top. But as you go down to teams like Georgia,Tennessee, Kentucky and even Florida I think that the ACC teams could beat them. Maryland vs Tennessee or Clemson vs Florida…. You’ve gotta admit they would be interesting matchups. But today we are gonna pick the first wave of Bowl games. This weekend there ae 3 bowl games (New Mexico,Humanitarian and New Orleans). These game will feature teams from smaller conferences like the Sun Belt,MAC,Mountain West,C-USA and WAC. The 1st matchup of this bowl season is a battle between the Mountain West and C-USA. Representing the MTN West will be BYU who will be joining the independents next season. UTEP will be carrying the flag for C-USA and will have a home field advantage in New Mexico. The next game on tap is the Humanitarian bowl between Northern Illinois (MAC) and Fresno State (WAC). I saw bits and pieces of the MAC Championship which featured N. Illinois against Miami (Ohio). Even though N.Illinois lost the game they still looked very good,especially RB Chad Spann who rushed for over 1,200 yards this season. Fresno was featured in a big game against Illinois of the Big 10 and won. The player to watch for the Bulldogs is senior QB Ryan Colburn who has thrown for over 2,500 yards this season. The final bowl of the week is in the Big Easy where Troy (Sun Belt) and Ohio (MAC). This game will be close like the other 2 games of the week. The Troy offense is ranked 12th in the nation in Passing Yards with true Freshman QB Corey Robinson who has thrown for over 3,000 yards this season as a Freshman!! For the Bobcats WR Terrence McCrae who leads the team in TD receptions (9) will be a major factor against a weak Troy defensive unit. McCrae is also 6-4 and can jump so we may be seeing him at the next level.

Chad Spann
 
 

Bowl week 1 picks 

New Mexico Bowl: BYU vs UTEP  (2:00 P.M. ,ESPN) BYU

Humanitarian Bowl: Northern Illinois vs Fresno State (5:30 P.M. ,ESPN) Northern Illinois

New Orleans Bowl: Troy vs Ohio (9:00 P.M. , ESPN) TROY

 

Championship Weekend

Bruce Taylor

Marcus Lattimore

This weekend 3 major conferences (ACC,BIG 12 and SEC) will have their annual Championship Game. Out of these 3 games the one with the most impact or greatest storyline is by far the 4 O’Clock game between (1) Auburn and (19) South Carolina. If Auburn can pull it out they will advance to the BCS National Championship where they will meet either Oregon or TCU depending on the result of the Civil War (3:30 ABC). The other major storyline in this SEC throw down is the controversy over Heisman hopeful and Auburn QB Cam Newton (We’ll save that for next time). The other guy to watch besides Mr. Newton is South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore. He wears number 21 and runs with pure power and amazing vision. To make things even better he is a in state 5 star recruit who will shape this program for years to come. For that reason I am gonna give the Gamecocks a chance but he’s gotta have the greatest day of his young career.   The second championship game of the day is for the ACC. This game features my team, (15)Virginia Tech  and the (21 )Seminoles of Florida State. I like this matchup especially being a tech fan because of the 3 or 4 man rushing attack of the Hokies. This attack usually starts of with RB’S Darren Evans and Ryan Williams, Then as the game rules on speed back David Wilson gets some touches and opens up a whole new element with Tyrod Taylor in the option offense. This will work especially good against FSU even though their average Corner runs a 4.4 they have had trouble stopping the run all year. On the flip side when the Noles have the ball they let their senior QB Christian Ponder sling around the pigskin to variety of fast and physical receivers. My matchup to watch is the Seminoles vs The Crowd. Even though it says neutral site it is projected to be an 80% Tech crowd in nearby Charlotte,NC. If FSU can quiet the crowd early with some scores they will really make Tech work for it but if the Hokies “Lunchpail” Defense led by sophomore LB Bruce Taylor can get the place rocking early and often this game could be over by Halftime. The final Conference Championship game of the day is in the Big 12 between (9) Oklahoma and (13) Nebraska. This game is definitely intriguing and a major toss-up. From the North you’ve got the Cornhuskers who are power team with the usual down hill back (Roy Helu Jr.) but have a very talented yet uncharacteristic Quarterback for a Nebraska team (Taylor Martinez) who can rush for close to 100 yards in a game. Then from the South you’ve got the Sooners who run a fast spread offense and like every single season they will win by scoring close to 50 pts a game and having an explosion of raw speed and talent in their backfield (Landry Jones and DeMarco Murray) . My key for this Heavyweight Bout is the Nebraska Defense vs Landry Jones. The Huskers will have to hit Jones early and often to make the Sooners become one dimensional up front with just draw plays or sweeps to Murray which they should be able to stop. If they fail Jones will have a monster day and keep the 11 guys on the other side of the ball guessing and on their heels the whole game.   

Landry Jones

My Picks

SEC Championship 4:00 (CBS) South Carolina vs Auburn     Pick: South Carolina

ACC Championship: 7:45 (ESPN) Florida State vs Virginia Tech    Pick: Virginia Tech    

Big 12 Championship:8:00 (ABC) Nebraska vs Oklahoma Pick: Oklahoma