The last of the teams on Virginia Tech's 2010 football schedule finished their spring football practices this Saturday. Division rival Georgia Tech and Boston College both held their spring games and another ACC team not on Tech's schedule, Maryland, did so as well.
BC and UMd's spring games saw the battle for the starting quarterback job become even murkier. Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets' starting quarterback didn't see the field and the rest of the team only saw it for one half. The games also saw standout performances from GT RB Anthony Allen, BC QB Mike Marscovetra and UMd WR Torrey Smith.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Allen switched from A-back to B-back this spring and if Saturday's performance is any indication, the Yellow Jackets won't miss Jonathan Dwyer too much at that B-back spot. Allen ran for 91 yards on 15 carries to help White top Gold 27-7 in a game that was halted at halftime by a thunderstorm that moved through the Atlanta area.
With starting quarterback Josh Nesbitt sidelines by injury, backup Tevin Washington took center stage. Washington had three rushing touchdowns and also connected with Stephen Hill for a 70-yard touchdown pass. He finished the day with 35 yards rushing on 10 carries and 122 passing yards.
Nesbitt wasn't the only thing missing from Georgia Tech's spring game according to From the Rumble Seat:
I think there was only one fumble (Allen). Usually the Spring game is a bouquet of interceptions and fumbled pitches. Anyone that remembers the Chan years remembers the Spring game being about as fun as a root canal because the offensive effort was so putrid. We're to defenders popping running backs in the backfield and mistiming on the deep patterns. This season's Spring game felt different. The offense had a purpose.
The Jackets struggled on defense as they adjust to Al Groh's complex NFL-style 3-4 defense of doom and destruction. However, Barrel of Rum asks observes to ignore its struggles because they're still learning the new system and, well, it was facing the Georgia Tech offense:
Don't get hot & bothered about the defense; it's a work in progress. They had a rough day on Saturday. Plenty of defenses will against us this season. We really will know more in the Fall. Until then, relax & feel secure in the knowledge that we can't be any worse than last year.
The winner of Virginia Tech's game against Georgia Tech will be the team whose defense improves the most and is the healthiest when the two teams meet Nov. 4. The Hokies are looking to replace key cogs from last year's defense and build depth on the line. The Yellow Jackets are adjusting to a formation the Hokies have had success against when Terrence Cody isn't playing DT.
It'll be interesting to watch the progression of the two defenses throughout the season. If the two teams met today (with Nesbitt and Ryan Williams healthy) it would be an offensive shootout of historic proportions.
Boston College Eagles
I had the chance to watch the video stream of the first half of BC's spring game because I'm a huge, huge dork. During that half I was extremely impressed by Marscovetra, who is battling Dave Shinskie for the starting quarterback job. To me, the biggest difference was in the body languages of the two. Marscovetra was poised and confident in the pocket while Shinskie never seemed comfortable.
Marscovetra completed 13 of 16 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown to lead the offense over the defense, 42-41. By comparison, Shinskie was 6-for-12 for 50 yards. Most of Marscovetra's damage (including the touchdown) was against the No. 2 defense, but he also led an impressive drive with the No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense. Two throws by Marscovetra on his touchdown drive stood out to me. He executed a play-action pass, stood tall in a collapsing pocket and delivered an impressive deep ball. Then he threaded the needle between two defenders, finding his tight end in the end zone for the touchdown.
But while he had a great spring game, the starting QB spot is still Shinskie's to lose according to BC Interruption, as Jeff and Brian took time from comparison shopping electric mowers vs. gas mowers to break down the Eagles' spring game:
This is great that Marscovetra made the most of his opportunities. However, we must not forget that he was going against the second team defense, which, considering injuries and everything contained many third stringers. [...] Marscovetra has had plenty of opportunities last season and in the offseason to overtake Shinskie but has not come close to doing so according to Spaz and many others.
Running back Montel Harris also looked good in the spring game, even though he only registered 21 yards on six carries. He ran hard and also had two catches for 20 yards. The BC defense was again without Mark Herzlich, who could return in the fall. However, its returning stars played well according to Soaring to Glory:
I enjoyed hearing "tackled by Luke Kuechly" and "tackled by Kevin Pierre-Louis" today as often as I did. Get ready to hear that a whole lot more in the fall.
The BC defensive and offensive lines are always solid and if they get Herzlich back next year its defense will be scary. However, what's kept them from being a great team the last two years has been the quarterback spot. If Marscovetra can continue to improve and eventually win the BC QB job, the Eagles will return to the form they showed in 2007 and 2008.
If Shinskie is still BC's starter when the two teams meet Sept. 25 it will be very good for the Hokies even though they haven't won in Chestnut Hill since 2002.
The Terps ... uh ... struggled in 2009 and look to start making progress in 2010. The guy who will be under center to try and lead that progress wasn't decided on Saturday according to Testudo Times:
One of the major things to watch for was the battle between (Jamarr) Robinson and (Danny) O'Brien, and neither really gained much more ground than they had before. Robinson threw for 143 yards on 11-18 with one touchdown and two interceptions, though it should be noted he had Torrey Smith on his side. O'Brien wasn't quite as impressive statistically, with 93 yards on 10-16 and one TD with two interceptions, but he came away with the win with an arguably less impressive cast of players. The fall will be critical in determining where they fall on the depth chart.
O'Brien led White to a 21-13 comeback win over Red. White also saw running back D.J. Adams run for 70 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. He was the highlight out of the backfield as Da'Rel Sc'Ott and Davin Meggett had limited carries. Smith was the star of the show for Red with four catches for 90 yards, including a 25-yard TD catch from Robinson on the first drive of the game.
If they game seems like it was boring, that's because it was according to Patrick Stevens' D1SCOURSE blog:
Defensive coordinator Don Brown admitted he was getting bored running nothing but schemes out of the Terps' base defense, so it was difficult to get a read on a guy like Joe Vellano since he was only being asked to play his assignment. Offensively, the Terps threw deep and ran a few end arounds, but were relatively vanilla. What was interesting was how much the first team offense played, even getting reinserted for a last-minute drive that ended with a Robinson interception.
Though Maryland's offensive line looks to be improved and it has some fire power at the skill positions, I don't think the Hokies will have to worry about the possibility of playing Maryland in 2010. It does look like the Terps will avoid a completely disastrous season that could put Fridge's job in jeopardy, though.