The Virginia Tech Maroon-White Spring Game is quickly approaching as the team held its final media availability on Tuesday after practice. If you were watching ESPN this past weekend you probably caught both the Alabama and Auburn Spring Games, both of which were fairly entertaining. But of course it's just a Spring Game. Watching those two SEC powers tune-up got my blood flowing to see the Hokies gear up and toss the pigskin in Lane for what hopes to be a decent crowd. Honestly, I'm anxious to see how many people show up, the last two years haven't been the best advertisement for a meaningless exhibition. And looking forward, I'm anxious to see if ticket sales for the regular season drop even more than they did last year, especially student tickets. They shouldn't be giving them away for free, folks. I want to see some more school spirit among the student body! But that's a whole other subject. Back to spring practice:
Here's a final look at the depth chart going into Thursday:
Nothing much has changed here in the past few days. But there are some battles to watch during the Spring Game. Look for who gets the most snaps under center between Brenden Motley and Mark Leal as Motley is still listed as the number one quarterback. I think it'll be pretty even as the other scrimmages have been, with freshman Andrew Ford seeing some snaps also.
Next, pay attention to the running backs and if Marshawn Williams can wow the crowd and coaches some more with his bulldozer running style or maybe he might show his quickness and turn on a dime to cut one up the field for six. I'm expecting something big from Williams. It's showtime kid! Meanwhile, J.C. Coleman will see a good amount of carries, but I'm curious to see how he's used. Will he be an every down back? What type of packages will they work him into? They could split him out to the slot and use him in the motion. Anything's a go with his speed and agility.
Then look for the mixing and matching along the offensive line with the experienced Hokies and the freshmen Augie Conte and Wyatt Teller. I'm anxious to see what variations of the line offensive line coach Stacy Searels can come up with to achieve a cohesive unit that can execute.
Even though the linebacker spot seems to be solidifying with Chase Williams, Deon Clarke, and Josh Trimble as starters, the competition behind them is heavy with the talent of Ronny Vandyke, Dahman McKinnon, and Derek DiNardo. This will be a deep position battle even throughout the fall much like the offensive line.
Finally, the placekicker battle is filled with drama once more. Head coach Frank Beamer has gone back and forth on Michael Branthover and Rimington Hinshaw over the past week. Hopefully, we'll see some consistency with field goals and PAT this Saturday.
Reloading of the Defense:
The big statistic that stands out here is Tech's loss of seven seniors who all started at some point in time. How is a team able to replace those players and reload at those positions? I think it all comes down to the fact that Virginia Tech's coaching staff is one of the top in the nation. Bud Foster knows how to coach up his players and get them ready for game time. There's no difference this year with the abundance of talent the Hokies have. The defensive line is anchored by defensive tackle Luther Maddy along with defensive end Dadi Nicolas. The linebackers are showing nice skills and talent and are looking to emerge as play makers. Meanwhile, the secondary returns two fabulous freshman now as sophomores. It all comes down to coaching and the development of players during their careers, which Virginia Tech is great at.
For a while it was said that Tech's preference was an athletic lineman who can move, but the past few seasons haven't been much of a success for the offensive line. Now looking at Tech's line, players are pushing the 300 pound mark, including Wyatt Teller, Augie Conte, Alston Smith, David Wang, Caleb Farris, Jonathan McLaughlin, and Brent Benedict, which is said to be NFL size. The past few national champions have had lines consisting of mainly 300 pounders as Tech has sometimes been undersized. As long as the lineman can maintain athleticism and quickness while gaining size and strength there's no where to go but up for Stacy Searels and his big fellas.
Hokie Draft Stock:
With not much happening in spring practice this week, it felt right to share this little tid-bit about Mel Kiper's insight on hopeful Hokies to be selected in the NFL. Cornerback Kyle Fuller received an invite to attend the first day of the NFL Draft in New York and is most likely promised a first round selection. Kiper seems to think he'll be selected anywhere between 18-31, which seems fitting. The guy is a great football player and flies all over the field. His talent is far too great to ignore
Meanwhile, Logan Thomas has risen on Kiper's Big Board and believes the mountain of a quarterback will be selected in the third round based on his skill set at the quarterback position. I believe I had Thomas being selected in the fifth round or so, but if a team wants him then they'll gamble early. I just don't see how Thomas can be drafted higher than Tyrod Taylor. Sorry.
No word on defensive end James Gayle, but cornerback Antone Exum is looking at an early to mid-day three in the Draft, which is something I agree with. The injury is too much to ignore and a big gamble.
But overall, this looks to be a decent class for the Hokies.
Well, the time has finally come as the Maroon-White Spring game is less than three days away. Can the offensive get things rolling and remain consistent? Will the Lunch Pail Defense be top ten in the nation? Maybe well get some hints on Saturday. Get your grills ready. It's football time!