“…and down the stretch they come!”
As Spring Practice 2014 is in its very final week, this after some O&M hand wringing over the latest offensive performance via the Virginia Tech offense itself.
However, and per always, there’s more to it than meets the Eye. And as we all know, the Eye in the Sky does not lie. The camera or game-tape always talks true, it is the greatest and finalist arbitrator of them all. And yet, in all subjective fairness, there was more to this suddenly bearish offensive market last Saturday down in the New River Valley.
Let’s take a closer look and let’s see what we can see…
- wind, as in the Lane Stadium passing aerodynamics were “…all outta whack” last Saturday. As the South Endzone, and the uneven and not even fully horseshoe enclosure add-in seating design does not get its credit as a aerial assault -or kicking- spoiler. Just ask uva at the end of 2012.
- oLine injuries discontinuity, 40-60% of our paper starting oLine was dinged, dented or simply put out of public scrimmage#2.
- whereas coach Foster has recovered the services of a couple of scrappers already this spring. i.e. two ships passing in the night
- really feel for my boy Alston “legacy, yes I’m related” Smith, who I feel is the sleeper pick as the most talented offensive lineman on the team, and a pure mechanic at guard just look for some training room health to happen.
- musical chairs at Qb’s: notice that the Qb1 role was juggled back-n-forth several times last Saturday as M.Leal and B.Motley both took turns holding the lead reins and as caddy or back-up understudy running with the even more porous second-string oLine.
- hitting a wall: gotta wonder out loud as well if any of our first time Fab-5 offensive freshman and super-sophs were hitting something of a proverbial first time truly thrown into a full-fledged D-1 loaded for bear contact-sport wall? Some of them are not (yet) full acclimated to D-1 B.c.s. power-conference speed, hitting and absorption of the same.
- let us give credit where credit is due, Bud Stout is getting better and better as the Spring wears on and this years batch of Bud Bock is set to become fully sprung. Clarke is playing better and is the vastly more physical choice at ‘backer, Green and Frye and even Riley have been bringing the wood and laying the same J.Holmes style. My boy Dadi is an entire forest unto himself; even if he occasionally can not see the target for the tree.
- all of this with our top-2 blocking Te’s over on the sidelines making just as many blocks as I have this spring, least we forget.
- ditto the fact that for the entire cadre of Mars’ Williams hoopla, it is still entirely possible that our 1 and 1a Tb talents will not be cleared for participation until sometime after the 4th of July holiday weekend. There is that.
Or in other words, as Dr. Asani used to tell me as an undergrad at Virginia Tech: “don’t worry, be Hokie!” That to me was a maturing defensive effort and simply an off day from a comparatively far less healthy offense with a windy trip up courtesy of mother-nature too boot. No worries. The O is better, the D is the same … just how bad is all of that?
Kicking however has me a little bit concerned. Branthover has a great leg, most bionic leg on the team and has since the day he arrived. He can kick it from here to Tennessee, only thing is it might occasionally land in Kentucky. And do you really wanna rob Peter to pay Paul? As Branthover is quite possibly an all-A.c.c. talent as a pure Punter goes; and I’m not sure I wanna muck around with nor detract from that. Let him practice that (singular) version of leg-use and -if at all possible- let someone else mind the P.A.T. and FGA store. That, and he has a tendency to launch low, boring, tunneling kicks that are just a bit easier to deflect or outright block. (READER’s note: though do notice the new found height at Dt on our kick-block group, which is (suddenly) seriously flirting with impoverished man’s N.b.a. power-forward sized front-line in a hurry). Now however Branthover is hurting and I for one would not cry if Hinshaw, Kristensen or Ludwig made a move up the kicking depth-chart.
Kristensen has legitimate mid-60’s range and he might wanna argue a bit with my labeling Branthover as leg #1. In fact if there were such a thing as leg strength to body-mass ratio, this kid wins such going away, as he is a scrawny looking sort, all less a very XL sized right-leg.
In case you did not recognize the name, Lidwig has enough leg to have kicked-off for us all of last campaign. That does not suck, nor does the fact that he can take over punting duties in a pinch; and that virtually gar-ron-tee’s (pardon the equipment pun) him a utility spot on any traveling-roster beyond kick-off duties in and of itself. Lidwig was said to be a better punter than he was kicker coming outta high school; so it remains to be seen if he will settle in at either specialty spot from here on out.
Remington Hinshaw was 68% as a D-1aa FG kicker for the neighboring fellow in-state Richmond Spiders last season. Virginia Tech was 57% on FGA’s overall last year, so 68% is an 11% improvement no matter how you slice it (pardon the pun, again). Hinshaw I freely confess I need to get eyes on a bit more in person, though he does have next level experience and he is currently listed as the starting Kicker; at least for the moment.
Don’t sleep on my almost boy Joel Caleb; either folks. He’s slowly, and quietly, been getting better and better –or should I say more and more acclimated to the Tb position itself. This kid is a pure hitter. Yes, Mars’ Williams and Trey Edmunds are both bigger looking, physically speaking. Their metrics speak to this and neither one of them is in any way shape or form contact shy. To be sure, however, in a street fight? Any of you can take Mars’ and Trey all you want. The hitter who as Filo Bedo once said: “…hails from a family of hitters” is Joel Caleb. Make no mistake here. He is also prolly the rawest Tb of the lot. Dude needs some more time on the grill, some more seasoning if you will. Nevertheless, the most pure onslaught based football player in the Tb lot is Joel Caleb; and this vulgar of a pure hitter needs to see the field, one way or one position or another. Good vision, good natural raw-bone fast-twitch funded strength and he was knocking people on their wallet’s in blitz pick-up last season with no idea in the world on how to properly block! 32” vertical, 4.29 shuttle time, and Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Florida, “the” Ohio Sate, Florida State, Alabama and Virginia Tech can’t all be ‘rong.
2013 VT K’s=3, for 58%, 2014 Kickers=???