Moments ago Baltimore, Maryland (Gilman School) defensive end/linebacker prospect Melvin Keihn announced his commitment to Virginia Tech. Melvin is rated as a 4-star prospect by Rivals.com and a 3-star recruit by 247Sports. Keihn, who was recruited by Aaron Moorehead, selected the Hokies over Maryland and Virginia.
Hello. Welcome to a special edition of BowlRensics. Last week we took an in depth look at the full lineup of college bowls which will allow us to be the most well rounded, knowledgeable college football fans in the universe. This week, we'll take a closer look at the Sun Bowl, its host city of El Paso and the surrounding environs. Before we get too far into it, I cannot recommend highly enough that you go read A Guide to El Paso by EPHokie which, if you actually are going to El Paso, PLEASE read that instead of this.
Moments ago Washington, PA running back Shai McKenzie announced his commitment to Virginia Tech. Shai is rated as a 4-star prospect by both Rivals.com and 247Sports. The Hokies edged out Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech for his commitment.
At 6-foot, 210 pounds McKenzie has the size to be a feature tailback in Blacksburg. It's easy to tell from his highlights that he's powerful and quick. He makes decisive cuts which will suit him well in Loeffler's / Grimes' zone rushing attack.
Last week I wrote about the play of the returning players (read: non-freshman), and how their improvement has impacted the way this team has played thus far. Many of you though, for good reason, were less focused on the old guys and wanted to know more about the class of freshmen currently in the rotation. I can't blame you, everyone gets excited about the new additions to a team. New additions mean hope and promise, regardless of whether or not hope and promise is actually coming.
At the beginning of the season, I had a lot of questions about this team (19 to be exact). Now that we're ten games into the year, I think that many of those questions have been answered. Not that there aren't anymore questions, it's just that the questions have evolved. No longer am I worried about if Ben Emelogu can create his own offense, but rather the ways in which he creates it.
As Joe previously discussed, the Bruins present a formidable challenge for the Hokies. UCLA only had three losses this season, and those three losses all came Pac-12 teams that finished in the BCS top 15. After watching the film, it is very easy to quickly draw the conclusion that the Bruins are the most talented team the Hokies have faced aside from Alabama. After confounding losses to Duke, Boston College, and Maryland, it is not surprising that most of the positive energy around the program is focused on recruiting rather than the Sun Bowl.
Most of the talk has focused on quarterback Brett Hundley, who is a bigger, stronger, and faster version of Maryland's C.J. Brown. Brown gave the Hokies fits in their worst loss of the season, but perhaps the most impressive component of UCLA's team is their fantastic defensive front seven. Using a 3-4 alignment, this group features a little bit of everything. The Bruins have tremendous size and speed, experienced leaders that also are playmakers, elaborate stunts, and a wealth of young talent. Stanford thought so much of the UCLA front that they spent most of the game playing a spread offense, which forced UCLA out of their base front.
Editor's Note: I'm happy to announce that Pierson Booher is joining the writing team. Pierson has been a longtime reader/commenter (PhillyHokie007), and understands the culture of the community here. He also enjoys Virginia Tech athletics and writes well. --Joe
Growing up in western New Jersey, college football wasn't exactly an oft-discussed sport. I was a casual fan growing up, watching guys like Desmond Howard, Ron Dayne and Kerry Collins on ABC's Wide World of Sports every Saturday. But the truth was, I struggled to truly engage in the sport because I felt no connection with a team or a player. My parents both went to small colleges, one in Upstate New York the other in Vermont, places known more for their hockey teams and record snowfalls than anything resembling football. Suffice it to say, my household was generally ambivalent when it came to Saturday pigskin. On the other hand, my grandfather had Giants season tickets through his business, and being the oldest, I reaped the benefits of that connection.
Via our friend Andy Bitter, this is some interesting and unexpected news on a Monday night. 2014 quarterback Chris Durkin from Youngstown, Ohio committed to Virginia Tech.
According to Rivals.com, Durkin had committed to Michigan State on 3/28/2013. Rivals.com rates Durkin as a 3-star prospect, while 247Sports lists him as a 4-star recruit.
Hello. Welcome to a new edition of "Foe"Rensics: BOWL SEASON or, dare I say, BOWLRENSICS. We'll take some time a bit later to dig into both El Paso and UCLA, but seeing as how you are a well rounded college football fan, you'd like to stay up to speed on what's going on elsewhere. There are so many bowls, it's hard to keep track of what's what and who's who, right? But you know what everyone can remember? To eat. Or else we would die. So I thought it would be helpful to compare each bowl to the bowl of food it most closely resembles. This should be weird.
Also, before we dive in, I just want to note that Kyle Fuller is an All-American. Hell yes.
1. Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Washington State vs. Colorado State
This is like a bowl of Pirate's Booty at a party where they are late serving dinner. Yes, you are starving/missing college football, which is pretty much the only reason you are eating this shit. But it ain't that good. Really, the only thing going for the snack and for the bowl game are the potential for pirate themed jokes (hi, Mike Leach!) and I think they've both been stretched too far at this point.
Before I start talking about what's happening with the men's basketball team, I believe that it is important to remember where this team was one year ago. Sitting at 8-1, with impressive wins over Oklahoma State and Iowa, people started to buy in to the Hokies. Some stupid people even thought that the team was so happy to be out from under Seth Greenberg that they would play above their talent level, simply out of sheer happiness (okay, that was me).
Little did we know, that would be the high point of the year. The very next game Tech went on to lose to Georgia Southern, which marked the beginning of an uber-depressing 5-18 run over the next three months. That run was full of desperate Erick Green jump shots and very little else.
Editor's Note: Bumped to the front because EPHokie did a great job putting this guide together. If you're making the trip to El Paso and have questions, she might be able to answer them in the comments.
Safety first, kids. Don't go to Juarez. Just don't. I don't care what you've heard - NO. Also, visiting Lower Valley (far East side) isn't a great idea, nor is driving Paisano after dark.
El Paso is located in the high desert - the elevation here is 4000+ feet above sea level. For those of you who live at or near sea level, it's not going to be fun when combined with the low humidity. Drink a LOT of water. Really. Bring a refillable bottle of water and keep it topped off all day, every day. Also not fun at this elevation is the sun - if it's at all sunny, please wear sunscreen. You will burn much faster here. Finally, the lip balm of your choosing (I'm a Burt's girl, myself) will be greatly beneficial. (Also, if you're prone to nosebleeds or are sensitive to low humidity, consider asking your hotel for a humidifier to put in your room. It'll make life so much nicer.)
Perhaps the most manic relationship between the staff and the fanbase this season was between new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and those that wear orange and maroon. Loeffler was hired after coordinating a dreadful offense at Auburn. That poor year stands in stark contrast to Gus Malzahn's offensive revival that has Auburn on the verge of a national championship. Based on his season at Auburn, many fans didn't have confidence in Loeffler turning around an offense that sputtered under the combined leadership of Bryan Stinespring and Mike O'Cain. With an offensive unit depleted by injuries, defections, and inexperience at the skill positions that was expected to adopt a complex, multiple scheme, Loeffler faced a major challenge right off the bat. How did he fare in his first season on the job, and is this the true Scot Loeffler offense?
How much did everyone pay attention to UCLA football throughout the season? I watched them blow past Nebraska 41-21 in early September because that game was on the TV in the bar next to the one broadcasting the Hokies. Outside of that, I didn't watch much Bruins football. For my own edification, I watched UCLA's games against Stanford (L 10-24), Arizona State (L, 33-38), and USC (W, 35-14).
UCLA (9-3, 6-3) finished runner up to Arizona State (10-3, 8-1) in the Pac-12 South. The Bruins were ranked 17th in the final BCS Standings. Of the teams they played ranked in the final BCS Poll UCLA lost to no. 5 Stanford, no. 10 Oregon, no. 14 Arizona State, and beat no. 25 USC.
By a measure of traditional statistics, UCLA is a balanced and formidable opponent.
All of the bowl projections throughout the week that had the Hokies heading to El Paso to play UCLA held true. According to the AP, Virginia Tech will play UCLA in the Sun Bowl. The game will be played Tuesday, December 31st at 2:00 PM ET and will be broadcast on CBS. UCLA is a 9-3 team that went 2-3 against the Top 25 and spent most (if not all of, it's too early on a Sunday to confirm) its season ranked.
Earlier in the week Sun Bowl Executive Director Bernie Olivas said this about the Hokies then potential bid, "A lot of scenarios point to Virginia Tech towards us and we would be extremely happy with that".
Those movies or TV shows when it's about to hit the fan, but a character calls a timeout to puff one last cigarette. It's a stick of a last meal conveniently kept in a pocket. Put 'em down, but gently. Back to the action.
(Don't watch if you don't want a Breaking Bad spoiler.)
The ACC Championship Game is tomorrow night. I expected Virginia Tech to represent the Coastal right up until DeVon Edwards picked off Marquise Williams to seal Duke's division championship. Until that moment, in my mind, it was always when, not if Duke would lose. However, the Blue Devils stunned the Hokies at the end of October and never looked back finishing the season on an 8-game win streak; a perfect record in October and November. Impressive for a program that only got press in Virginia for beating Virginia.
Florida State is one win away from being back. (Some may argue two wins, but if a program plays in the national championship game, it's undeniable that it's nationally relevant.) The last time FSU was this close to being back was over a year ago, before they lost at North Carolina State.
Last time we checked in, our heroes were on their way to Brooklyn in order to play the best team in the country. Did I have confidence in them? Of course not! But that game happened, and then they played three more games after that. Let's look at a few quick game summaries before we break this team down.
Michigan State 96, Virginia Tech 77: This was probably many of y'all's first endeavor into watching this team. Well, what you witnessed was somewhat of a bipolar game in which some things went incredibly right, and others went "Oh God, just burn it all down" wrong. What went right? Jarell Eddie was unconscious in the first half, knocking down a ton of jumpers, and with the help of Adam Smith, kept the Hokies competitive for most of the opening half. In fact, an Eddie three-ball cut Sparty's lead to three with just three minutes left in the half. That, however, was when the wheels fell off the bus (which, apparently, was on an elevator). State went on a 10-0 run to extend their lead to 13 going into halftime, capitalizing on a few poor turnovers and bad perimeter D (two of the things that went extremely wrong, another being the eight shots taken by Devin Wilson and Ben Emelogu combined, but I'll get to that).
The Hokies finished the season on a positive note with a decisive if ugly win against the pretenders from the University of Virginia. Congratulations to the seniors who finished their career with four wins against the bow tie neighbors to the north. Nothing about the 95th edition of the Commonwealth Cup was pretty, but the Hokies succeeded in achieving victory with a combination of superior effort, some trickery, and a significant helping hand by a University of Virginia offensive staff which managed to do everything but hand Bud Foster their playbook with a silver bow prior to kick off.
The Hokies did not finish the game unscathed. Trey Edmunds had an outstanding game, but was lost until fall practice with a broken tibia early in the fourth quarter. Brandon Facyson, who UVa did not seem interested in challenging with the exception of a go route prior to the Edmunds touchdown run in the second quarter, suffered an AC joint sprain. Now, Virginia Tech enters bowl season looking for a way solidify depth because of injuries, while also using the extra weeks of practice to identify which players are most likely to replace the ten key contributors who will be playing their final game for the Hokies.
Coffee is on me this morning.