In Spring Hope Rings Eternal - Speculation and Thoughts on Recent News

Coach Beamer released some interesting news yesterday regarding transfers and the updated roster, just two days away from start of spring practice. He confirmed other moves that have been known for awhile, so I'll just focus on what came out yesterday.

One special note, I feel like whenever any bad allegation comes out about a player it gets emphasized over all the good that goes on. With that I would like to give a big shout out to the fact that Chris Drager not only puts the team first making a position change in his senior year but is also a Rhodes Scholar candidate. I can only imagine how hard it is to let alone play a high level of football, as well as learn a position on both sides of the ball, while being a great student.

Transfers

I feel like the biggest impact of the transfers of Austin Fuller, Sykes, and Gibson was felt with Sykes moving on. First off I have to say I never like to see players leave VT and I'm just looking at it from a pure football perspective. With Gibson I felt like he would miss a lot of time with the injury causing him to miss spring. Couple that with what seemed like play that wasn't up to par with his soph season and the improvement of Tariq Edwards and Chase Williams. Austin Fuller wouldn't get much playing time here at WR and it's seems in his best interest if he wants to play to move on. Sykes would've provided really important and possibly critical depth at FS being the backup to Whitley, who missed a few games last year because of injury, since now it seems we would have to play a frosh either in the FS or Rover spot if Whitley goes down.

Outside Linebacker Battle

As far as the movements I love Patterson moving to whip. Interesting thing is that now the whips are designated with the OLB tag when previously they were just LB on Hokiesports (I choose those 2 links also as comparison between Patterson and another previous big whip in James Anderson). Nick Dew was also moved to the whip position to provide a really good fiery competition at the spot along with JGW and Tweedy.

Ordered just by size, no idea how coaches currently view depth chart

No. Name Height Weight Class Possible Strength
14 Dominique Patterson 6' 2" 223 r-Fr. Size
43 Jeron Gouveia-Winslow 6' 2" 195 r-Jr. Experience at position, returning starter, season improvement
27 Nick Dew 6' 2" 194 r-Fr. Coverage skills
28 Alonzo Tweedy 6' 2" 185 r-Jr. Open field tackling, great performance on special teams, outstanding athlete

Looking at the whip LB competition and position in general I think that could end up being a big storyline in the spring. The position grouping is now different with with rovers being part of the defensive secondary coached by Torrian Gray and the outside linebackers being taught by a Coach Cornell Brown, who has experience as a NFL linebacker. Whips and rovers were previously grouped together and coached by Coach Cavanaugh and were very similar pre-2004 defensive changes, but since then there have been changes to rovers becoming more like a traditional strong safety while whips stayed as a hybrid between a SS and LB. Anything about changes to the alignment or responsibilities is pure speculation at this point, but signs point to a possible change to the whip position. One thing that seems to possibly counter thoughts of changes is that besides Patterson the rest of the OLBs are more like the typical safety size than linebacker size which leads to the question of, if there was a big change why not move another big player to OLB (also I was really surprised that JGW lost 10 pounds from last year).

Heavy D

One thing I noticed from the roster on Hokiesports and compared to the previous depth chart is that we could possibly be quite bit heavier on defense than previous years.

Looks like we have very close to prototypical size on defense but judging from workout numbers have speed as well

Position 2010 Weight 2010 Starter 2011 Weight 2011 Projected Starter Difference
ROV 196 Morgan 217 Exum 21
DT 278 Graves 298 D. Hopkins 20
OLB 207 Gouveia-Winslow 223 Patterson 16
LB 246 Taylor 252 Taylor 6
DE 250 Friday 253 Collins 3
CB 170 Hosley 170 Hosley 0
CB 186 Carmichael 185 Fuller -1
LB 232 Gibson 229 Edwards -3
DE 255 Drager 251 Gayle -4
DT 302 A. Hopkins 299 A. Hopkins -3
FS 195 Whitley 187 Whitley -8
Total 2517 2564 47

Beamer said today that right now the projected starters at LB are Bruce Taylor at mike and Tariq Edwards at backer, so I assumed that in this projection, and also this is pure speculation to put Patterson at the whip spot. With those assumptions we would be 47 pounds heavier and specifically 35 pounds heavier on the front seven. Speculatively, being heavier up the middle and having more experience we should return to being a top run defense.

A huge positive is that it looks like we could have great size and experience at DT with 3 players around 300 pounds in Hop, Skip, and Battle that have playing experience. One thing that stood out to me DT-wise is that Nick Acree lost a good bit of weight, my speculation is that he focused his first year of Gentrification on quickness and will just try to add back good solid weight which shouldn't be too much of a problem with his 6'5 frame. With Acree being down to 276 he is around the same size as Hamlette and Tucker which I imagine are around the same in the 2nd tier of depth that have to prove themselves this spring. With JR Collins being listed at 253 it will be interesting how much he is used on the inside although Demetrius Taylor played inside around that weight.

Other Odds and Ends

Some notes on numbers are that Ricardo Young is taking over the #5 spot and Oglesby is going to be #2. I think it takes confidence and guts for a young player specifically at QB to take over that #5 right after it was owned by arguably the QB with the best career at VT. I'm sure many people, like me, with #5 jerseys will be cheering extra hard for him now to possibly get that backup spot. I wonder why J.O. changed his jersey number to #2 but I'm sure that some people from my class that had Jimmy Williams jerseys will be happy to pull them out when Oglesby uses the truck stick on a few runs.

I feel like no article on VT football in 2011 is complete until mentioning Logan Thomas. Logan Thomas is listed at 6'6 and 245 pounds and to put that in perspective Ben Roethlisberger is listed at 6'5 and 241 pounds (I'm biased but I think Thomas carries his weight a lot better). Looking at the rest of the roster for comparison LT, and yes to me he's the LT, is bigger than all but one of our LBs and he will likely be the tallest player on the field unless Via wins a starting spot. If LT breaks a run into the open field I take pity on whoever has to try to take him down one on one.

As far as injuries go Greg Nosal is out for the spring and the coaches will be careful with Dyrell Roberts so that he will fully healthy and be able to go full yurt in the fall (you are going to have to ask him the definition of yurt). David Wang will be the starting left guard in the spring while Nosal is out.

I'm really pumped for the spring game and I'll be at VT in less than a month (hopefully in an orange "David Wilson Eats Chick Fil A on Sundays" shirt) anticipating watching some rising stars and seeing leadership from the returning veterans to fill the void of Tyrod, Rock, and Graves leaving for the NFL.

DISCLAIMER: Blog posts may not have been written or edited by The Key Play staff.

Comments

Yurt

Saw this tweet:

"@Dyrell_Roberts I am so #weaaaakkkkk right now. I got the writers for the team saying #Yurt when they talk about me in articles lol #YurtBoyz we in here!"

I'm intrigued by Dominique Patterson. Like you said Joe we haven't had a big body at Whip since Anderson, and that worked out pretty well. I like that fact we're getting bigger across the board too. We definitely got mauled by Boise and brutalized by Stanford. FSU and BC both have bigger offensive lines and if we're serious about competing for another ACC Championship, let alone the National Championship, we need bigger bodies to play as fast as we do now.

Spring time thought

Will arguably our best wide receiver corps ever suffer as a result of a new quarterback, annually inconsistent line play, and teams stacking the box to stop the run?

Each year I buy wholesale into the "this o-line is going to be great" because, normally, it can't get any worse. But if they can't pass block well, and we continue to run slow-developing pass patterns, then I'm afraid that LT will get eaten alive, especially by dominant defensive lines. Yes we return 80% of the line with an upgrade at center, but these are the same guys who couldn't block JMU. And as for LT, what he has in arm strength, I think he lacks in the Tyrod-type ability to place throws perfectly in coverage.

Utilize LT's cannon arm and let Dyrell and DW turn on the burners. Do that often enough and teams will stop stacking the box.

Uh Oh

Lanier is winning me over:

Nick Acree

Saw Nick Acree at a party at our Appt complex. He has lost A LOT and I mean A LOT of weight since I saw him at the Orange Bowl. He looks like he is about down the Backer or Mike weight right now. Hopefully Mikey Goforth can pack some solid lbs back on him this spring and summer. Still looks intimidating as ever though. And I am still trying to figure out what the Yurt thing means myself. I looked it up and all I could find was that a Yurt was something Genghis Khan used when he was rolling around slaying Mongolia.