Tech Tidbits: Dalton Keene Pushing His Way Onto the Field, and DT Depth Questions

It seems the Hokies have lots of confidence in a young player hoping to start at H-back; less so when it comes to DT.

Dalton Keene could start at H-back as a freshman. [Michael Shroyer]

Media Day is nearly upon us, folks, and that means we're so close to football season that you can practically taste your first Lane Stadium turkey leg.

We'll have tons of quotes from players to sift through after Sunday, but for now, a few items of note from Justin Fuente's presser and around the ACC.

Dalton Keene With a "Great Chance" to Start

Fuente didn't make much news in his Friday chat with reporters, but I did want to flag his comment about the true freshman, since it does fit with a lot of what of fans and observers have predicted basically since he signed with the Hokies.

Our very own French wrote back in February that Keene could easily step in and replace some of what Sam Rogers brought to the offense, and the news that Steven Peoples has increasingly been working at tailback rather than H-back seemed to further suggest that the Hokies were grooming one of their less experienced players for the role.

Chris Cunningham got a lot of attention last year for his skill in the red zone — scoring four touchdowns on just six catches makes quite the statement, after all — but Fuente's confidence in the early enrollee indicates that Keene has enough athleticism in open space to warrant a larger role.

Fuente cautioned that he's "not guaranteeing that he's going to start the very first game," according to Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times, "but I'm telling you that he's done really well in a really tough position."

Interestingly, Fuente emphasized that H-back is "one of the most important positions in our offense" because "they have to do everything," so it's no small statement about Keene's ability that Fuente would trust him to play as a freshman.

Enrolling early plainly has its benefits, and if you're wondering if Keene has the size and strength to be effective so quickly — well, a picture is worth a thousand words:

Fuel for the Endless Mihota-to-DT Rumor Mill

Look, Vinny Mihota is a hefty dude. You don't just stand at 6'5" and 270 pounds without people assuming that you're either gonna play OT or DT at some point.

But Charley Wiles and Bud Foster have long believed Mihota is better suited at DE, and except for a few brief practice flirtations, that's largely where he's stayed. He had a fine first year as a starter, and seems like a sure bet to improve in his second season.

All that being said, I fully expect to see some #hottakes pop up about Mihota's suitability at DT, given some of what Fuente's said about the team's depth at the position, and I'm ambivalent about that prospect.

Tim Settle and Ricky Walker are an exceptional starting pair, but few positions need capable back-ups like the big uglies on the line.

So when Fuente says, per Bitter, that "we need better play out of that whole group," I fully expect the old questions about Mihota to surface. The head Hokie says a pair of redshirt freshmen, Jarrod Hewitt and Jimmie Taylor, are the prime players getting back-up reps, and there aren't a ton of other options on the roster — Darius Fullwood, now a redshirt sophomore, is still around, but that's it in terms of experienced help.

So why not move Mihota over? Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch asked him about the prospect toward the bottom of a feature on the starting DEs, and Mihota didn't seem opposed to the idea.

"I feel pretty comfortable," Mihota told Barber. "I still remember all the stuff. It's a lot of the same techniques...And I'll do whatever my team needs me to do. So it's something I feel like I have no problem doing."

That's all well and good, but envisioning some scenario where Mihota gets reps at DT (without a major injury involved) requires imagining that the staff is itching to get someone else on the field at DE. Fuente praised both Emmanuel Belmar and Houshun Gaines Friday, but is either one good enough to force his way onto the field? I doubt it.

Bottom line is, the Hokies are better suited to get Hewitt or Taylor some reps, as they'll certainly be needed sooner rather than later. I'm not saying it'll happen, but Settle has the sort of size to make NFL scouts drool, and he's a redshirt sophomore so he'll be draft-eligible once the season's done.

If Taylor and Hewitt truly aren't up to the task, then I suppose Foster and Wiles will figure something out. Just count me as skeptical that Mihota goes anywhere.

Bad News for the Bees?

It seems that the other (worse) Tech in the Coastal has lost its leading rusher from a season ago, with the team announcing Friday that they've dismissed B-back Dedrick Mills for a violation of team rules (a meaningless phrase that's ever-popular among college coaches)

Ironically, the Yellow Jackets lost their leading rusher from 2015 to a transfer back in November, so it would seem that Paul Johnson will be searching for an entirely new option in his backfield this year.

Johnson suspended Mills for a total of three games last season, so perhaps this wasn't a complete surprise for the coaching staff there. In quite the revealing report, Ken Segura of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution also notes that Johnson had taken to calling Mills "Big Chub" following an offseason weight gain (which, while a tad mean-spirited, feels very in character for Paul Johnson).

But despite all that, Mills still led the team in both yards and touchdowns in only nine games, and (when combined with the departure of QB Justin Thomas) all three of Georgia Tech's leading rushers from a season ago are now off the team.

Yet it's never entirely wise to predict that Johnson will have trouble generating yards on the ground, and David Hale of ESPN (as always) has a useful statistical representation of that.

Even still, losing a key offensive contributor just a few days before the season starts isn't the best of news for the Jackets, and that will inevitably impact the Hokies.

Anyone who says they have any clue what will happen in the Coastal this year is lying, and even if GT doesn't compete for the division, they're experts at making life hell for its contenders (and if you haven't looked at the schedule recently, take a peek at where the Hokies have to travel the very week after the big road matchup with Miami).

Point is, the division is unpredictable — every meaningful Coast contender but Duke is breaking in a new starting QB — and this news only adds to that uncertainty.

This may be a football blog, but I leave you with the ever-unsettling sight of bearded, non-bald Buzz.

Comments

Strong, very strong.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

From the photo it looks like Keene is taking a snap? Direct snap? Or practice passing?
BOLDER PREDICTION: Keene to Cunningham Touchdown this year.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

VT: Home of the FB to FB touchdown.

Sometimes I like to leave off the /s just to mess with people.

That's not Buzz. There's no way that's Buzz.

Holy shit that's Buzz.

I scrolled down without reading and when I saw that picture, I was like "who the f*** is that?". Then I thought about it and realized it was Buzz lol. I had seen an earlier picture of him growing some hair; is he pulling a Brian Urlacher?

Let's Go

HOKIES

Buzz looks great with hair and a beard.

All we have to see is Buzz scampering about the court and we'll know it's him.

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

I won't be convinced until I see him dancing on a logo again.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

#DancingBuzzAtFEDEX

... I thought he'd already won the job.

Hope that ain't no Mr. Ray thing Buzz is sporting, cause if it is, he'll be losing that new doo faster than Howard Cosell lost his tupee during the Ali-Frazier scuffle the first time he's sprinting down the court, chasing down a ref. Not so sure I like it - part of Buzz's notoriety is his baldness, so this will take a while to get used to.

"That man was violating a city ordinance, and I was just doing my duty to enforce it." - Mike Curtis

"..because anytime you go upside a man's head, or a woman's, they have a tendency to blink their eyes.." - Deacon Jones

Its football season! Not glamour shot season!

Where is Lawson?!

We will find some tackles to spell Settle and Walker. The pressure those two are going to put on the opposition is really going to help the backups when they come in. The backups just have to be solid not spectacular, and with the experience at LB and safety that will help

As long as the defense goes three-and-out and the offense runs long, efficient drives, I don't see the need for backups.

"Our job as coaches is to influence young people's lives for the better in terms of fundamental skills, work ethic, and doing the right thing. Every now and again, a player actually has that effect on the coaching staff." Justin Fuente on Sam Rogers

But for real though, backups would be nice. Foster prefers rotating in the two deep to give the big boys some rest. In our defense, our 2nd team defensive line is more of a "second line" in a hockey sense than a group of backups.

Buzz looking dapper

Not gonna lie, I think Vinny is better suited for DT. At least move him over when Tim and Ricky need a break. IMHO I think he's a good DE but lacks the speed to be a great DE. Maybe the coaches feel he's to tall for a DT and wouldn't be able to get good leverage against the O-line. Thoughts?

Pour some Beer on it

I think this is really dependent on Gaines, and now luckily Belmar. Vinny tends to get dinged up during the season, so I wonder if this is partly motivation for other DE's to step up. There are certain pass-play situations in the past where Bud has moved DE's inside and played a heavy pass rush DL.

It was clearly noted in Dadi's senior year that teams were taking advantage of our lack of run-pressure on Dadi's end of the DL. Size is needed, and I think Gaines can have a very solid career if he stays consistent. That seems to be the x-factor here: trusting Gaines and Belmar, they have the ability if they can be steady. And Vinny is no slouch either. If he can play the full season I see him having a big year, but we have to have a 2-deep prepared along the DL for all possibilities.

But Charley Wiles and Bud Foster have long believed Mihota is better suited at DE

I don't think this is an accurate statement. Wiles begrudgingly moved Mihota to DE when depth and injuries piled up. He kept saying that Mihota didn't have the "twitch" to play DE. There were many topics discussing it on here.

Now at this point, I doubt they want to move him back to DT given that he's so good against the run and generates pressure, but they were against him being a DE from the jump.

Edit: http://www.thekeyplay.com/content/2014/march/29/defensive-line-note-vinn...

"We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior" Stephen M.R. Covey

“When life knocks you down plan to land on your back, because if you can look up, you can get up, if you fall flat on your face it can kill your spirit” David Wilson

So I assume Alex will do another segment on media day, but Bud said during his press conference Mihota has

Great twitch, why they like him at DE, but he also has size and may need to play some DT, especially if there are any injuries.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

I feel like this is just "coach Talk". Great twitch isn't what comes to mind with Vinny.

Pour some Beer on it

Yeah. Would have some disruptive twitch as an undersized DT, but doesn't possess the protypical DE twitch.

I expect him to say something like that now, but that doesn't change the history of the situation. In fact, that statement is in direct opposition to when Wiles moved him inside saying that he didn't have the "twitch".

He ended up being a good DE and they were wrong on the original assessment. I'm not really sure what your trying to point out though.

"We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior" Stephen M.R. Covey

“When life knocks you down plan to land on your back, because if you can look up, you can get up, if you fall flat on your face it can kill your spirit” David Wilson

Thank you. Good to remember the history of this decision

So is there any word about sobszac? Sp?

February..'96...the steak: ribeye, the whiskey:Lagavulin 16, the lady next to me: a bit**.....

He's not listed on the roster on hokiesports.

Shit

Where is Lawson?!

Our defense is playing at its best when the back up D-lineman come in and make plays. We have lacked that depth for a few years, first at DE, now at DT. Someone will emerge, but if we get a sack from a backup in this game, we will probably win.