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OL - the VT Achillies Heel?

  • I know we are building a new program and we have to look a little deeper for areas of success than the hillbillies in Blacksburg, but might their OL be the source of their undoing in the years to come? Looking at their recruiting classes, they did very well in 2010 with Gibson, Shuman,and Ferris. Those three are potentially very good - I saw Shuman play football and basketball and think he is a very good athlete and has a great bloodline. I saw Arkema play and was not impressed, but assume he will be a servicable role player. Beyond that, the (c)Hokies landed one OL in the 2011 class and two in the 2009 class. I know VPI has a tradition of converted TEs moving to the OL, but looking at the recruiting rolls, they look to be a bit thin in the years to come.
    I don't care if Wilson or Coleman is running the ball or how versatile your QB is, if you do not have the road graders up front, you are not going to be a contender.

    On the flip side, the UVa staff has built a very strong OL and a stable of kids to fill the holes when the seniors graduate....remind anyone of the way George Welsh ran his OL? GW always had kids ready to go on the OL. Maybe the (c)Hokies have a master plan for making this a winnig strategy, however, on paper they have some dark cloud overhead looking at their OL depth in the coming years. I like our talent, our depth, and our coaching much better.

    The recruiting tide is turning...our OL could be much better in the coming years. Additionally given the talent we are bringing to the program on defense I think we can win the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball next year. We are going to be very competitive against those clowns sooner rather than later.

  • Every year I think VT is gonna have a crappy line and somehow they piece it together. I wouldn't say their line play has been fantastic in recent years, but they always seem to be able to compensate for shortcomings. Maybe that won't be the case with LT being less mobile that TT, but I'll believe it when I see it.

  • I think we beat them this year and many to come.

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  • I'm not sure the O-line situation in Blacksburg is as dire as you're hoping.

    Based on Rivals ratings In 2010 VT took 2 (4-star) players in Shuman & Gibson and one high 3-star (5.7) in Arkema. Farris, also a high 3-star (5.7) was recruited in that class, but greyshirted, and actually didn't join the team til this spring, thus, he's essentially a 2011 recruit - still has 5 years of eligibility.

    In the 2011 class we brought in high 3-star, Farris, and Jake Goins, a mid 3-star (5.6) who was also recruited and offered by UVA.

    That's 5 linemen in the last two classes with only one rated below a 5.7. Not bad if you ask me.

    Many VT fans were upset that about finishing 2nd to UNC for Kiaro Holts and Landon Turner, prompting somewhat of a chicken little response, but I don't think things are all that bad. We need to do well in this class, and that has been a little slow and has some folks concerned, but there are still quality linemen on the board.

  • Over that same period, we've taken 7. We already have 2 this year and, depending on who wants to jump on board, wouldn't be surprised to see us take another 2 or 3 this year.

    Recruiting 10 OL every 4 years isn't gonna get you there player.

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  • I agree that some of those players were highly rated coming out of HS. But, on the OL moreso than any other position, HS rankings mean less than elsewhere on the field. It is often said that the OL is one of the absolute hardest positions to try and rate these big kids, because so many of them don't fully grow into their bodies, or mature slower, or whatever the case may be. But, it can be said that it is harder to say that this guy would be a 3* OG than it is to say that someone is a 3* WR. Because you just don't know. I mean, look at Branden Albert. He was rated a 2* coming out of HS, but he prepped and was all of a sudden a 4*, because people had more opportunities to see him, and he grew and learned the position. Ryan Shuman for you guys was also a 2*, and he turned out pretty well. So, to me, on the OL stars mean less than they do elsewhere. Of course we would all love to have a 5* OT over a 2*, but this is one position where stars are not quite the slam dunk they are at other positions, QB, etc.

    I am (Obviously) hopeful that your OL will be bad. But, I can assure you that ever since you guys hired Curt Newsome, VT fans have been less than enamored with him as an OL coach. We all know that you hired him for his recruiting ties, and to keep him out of Charlottesville. In fact, he now only coaches OGs and OCs, not the whole OL anymore. But, my basis for my statement comes from watching many VT games over the years, and personally observing how horrendous their OL has been in certain situations. Tyrod, running for his life, and actually being able to escape as many times as he did, saved VT a lot last year, and in the past. I don't see the line being any better, and I certainly don't see Logan Thomas having the ability to do what TT did with his feet. On top of all of this, I just don't believe that David Wilson is going to be that between-the-tackles runner that you lost in Evans and Williams. WHat I wrote was definitely an opinion piece, and I very well could turn out to be really wrong. BUT, I don't think that anything I wrote is impossible, or even improbable for that matter. Time will tell.

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  • Please note that VT brought in 3 linemen in the 2009 class, not 2 as the OP stated. David Wang is listed as a DT in the 2009 class, but he is the #2 LG as a rs-SO.

  • All great points VB. I'll add that they better figure it out and be concerned because it really seems like in 3-4 years, our DL has the potential to be the bedrock of our team. We took a major haul last year and are well positioned to potentially do even better this year along the DL.

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  • Ian,

    Because UVA took 7 and we took 5 in the last two classes we are doomed? Most of the players you took were either highly underrated or just marginal players. I won't offer judgment on which one it is, because I'm to close enough to the situation to know,

  • VB,

    I'm one of the Hokies that believes much of the Taylor "running for his life" issue was a product of not seeing the middle of the field well, thus holding the ball too long. No doubt he was Houdini at times and slipped out of a lot of sticky situations, but many of them could have been averted by standing tall tall in the pocket and unloading the football quicker.

  • cvillenomo said... (original post)

    Ian,

    Because UVA took 7 and we took 5 in the last two classes we are doomed? Most of the players you took were either highly underrated or just marginal players. I won't offer judgment on which one it is, because I'm to close enough to the situation to know,

    Don't remember saying you're "doomed". But if you take 5 every 2 years, and we take 7 every 2 years, simple math tells you we're going to be in a much better place than you along the OL in the near future. Head to head, if I were you, I'd be particularly concerned because of the DL talent we brought in in 2011 and will continue to do in 2012.

    Time will tell, but I feel very good about our ability to find good OL talent and then develop it when it gets here. I agree with VB above, stars don't mean much along the OL.

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  • Don't take this as a knock on you cville, but what you are saying is what is so annoying about most Hokie fans. I'm not bashing you, because it sounds like that is genuinely what you think and believe. But, most Hokie fans that I talk to, or read their posts use what you are saying to justify why they think your offense will not miss a beat, and will actually be better with LT than with TT. You can't even argue with them, opr present a counter point because then they just start bashing UVA. Look, maybe you guys are all correct, and I am wrong. But, it gets annoying when your fanbase keeps saying how much better this kid, who has never started a game will be over a 5* 3 year starter who is your winningest QB in school history. Perhaps TT didn't see the middle of the field that well, and that is what accounted for a lot of those sacks. But, you take away his elusiveness and ability to escape pressure by getting a "Tall Pocket Passer" in there, and how many sacks did he avert with those two qualities that LT does not have? VT has had athletic running backs playing QB for as long as I can remember. But, LT is not the norm for your Offense, and I absolutely am dumbfounded when I hear VT fans say that the Offense either a) won't miss a beat, or b) will be even better. I truly believe, after years of watching VT football, that LT will get beatenb up, many, many times because I just don't think your team has, for the longest time, been a good pass-blocking team. You always seem to be able to run the ball, and that will most likely continue. But, you have 2 new starters in there, taking over for past All-ACC guys, and you don't expect a huge dropoff??? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

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  • ianwiese said... (original post)

    Don't remember saying you're "doomed". But if you take 5 every 2 years, and we take 7 every 2 years, simple math tells you we're going to be in a much better place than you along the OL in the near future. Head to head, if I were you, I'd be particularly concerned because of the DL talent we brought in in 2011 and will continue to do in 2012.

    Time will tell, but I feel very good about our ability to find good OL talent and then develop it when it gets here. I agree with VB above, stars don't mean much along the OL.

    Ian

    Looking at the recent DL talent you've brought in, I'm not sure what there is to worry about.

    According to Rivals in 2009, you brought in 5 DE's and no DT's. I'm assuming some of those were Grohs 3-4 DE's and will were shifted over to DT's. Only one was even a high 3-star. We brought in 4 defensive linemen and all were rated High 3-star players. We actually had 5 commits, but Rhodes didn't meet the school entrance requirements and ended up at Loisville.

    In 2010, you brought in a single defensive lineman. One.. and he was a low 3-star. We brought in 4, including two 5.8 (4-star) players, an another 5.7, and a 5.5. The 5.5 is actually starter, Derrick Hopkins.

    In 2011, you brought in 7 on the DL. 2 were high 3-star players, and 4 were mid to low 3-star, and 1 was a 2-star. We brought in 7 players including a pair of 4-star players, and 2 high 3-star players.

    In the 2012 class you have one defensive lineman, and he's a good one, but not so good that I feel I should be worried about it. We also have one top shelf DL commit in this class.

  • VBHoo24 said... (original post)

    Don't take this as a knock on you cville, but what you are saying is what is so annoying about most Hokie fans. I'm not bashing you, because it sounds like that is genuinely what you think and believe. But, most Hokie fans that I talk to, or read their posts use what you are saying to justify why they think your offense will not miss a beat, and will actually be better with LT than with TT. You can't even argue with them, opr present a counter point because then they just start bashing UVA. Look, maybe you guys are all correct, and I am wrong. But, it gets annoying when your fanbase keeps saying how much better this kid, who has never started a game will be over a 5* 3 year starter who is your winningest QB in school history. Perhaps TT didn't see the middle of the field that well, and that is what accounted for a lot of those sacks. But, you take away his elusiveness and ability to escape pressure by getting a "Tall Pocket Passer" in there, and how many sacks did he avert with those two qualities that LT does not have? VT has had athletic running backs playing QB for as long as I can remember. But, LT is not the norm for your Offense, and I absolutely am dumbfounded when I hear VT fans say that the Offense either a) won't miss a beat, or b) will be even better. I truly believe, after years of watching VT football, that LT will get beatenb up, many, many times because I just don't think your team has, for the longest time, been a good pass-blocking team. You always seem to be able to run the ball, and that will most likely continue. But, you have 2 new starters in there, taking over for past All-ACC guys, and you don't expect a huge dropoff??? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

    I understand your frustration, but as a close follower of VT football, I can say with all honesty that this offense is poised to outperform last year's offense. Wilson and Thomas will have to stay healthy for that to materialize, but aside form that, I don't see any barriers. After watching Thomas take command of the offense throughout spring practices, & scrimmages I really have no doubt. Mike O'Cain has already made a difference in our offense as the play-caller, because he likes to spread the field much more and pass the football around with quick reads. Stiney's play-calling was a lot more focused on run-first, and setting up the deep ball with play action. Thomas unloads the football much sooner in most cases than Tyrod. Partly because of play selection, and partly because he has better field vision, and partly because he got to learn the college game before being pressed into duty, rather than learning on the fly as a true freshman like Taylor - who suffered many bad habits due to it. I know that's one of those things that you'll have to see with you're own eyes, before you'll believe it - I'd feel the same way probably.

    I'm not saying this because I'm crossing my fingers and hoping it will happen - it was very apparent this spring that he knows how to quickly survey the field, and deliver strikes. We have big, experienced WR's and it isn't hard to find them when you're 6'6." Keep in mind that Thomas is a top-shelf athlete as well. No, he's not a twitchy guy like Taylor, but he's not a statue either.

    This post has been edited 3 times, most recently by cvillenomo 3 years ago

  • I agree VB24.. ask any hokie and they'll tell u the offense will be better w/o their all time winningest qb in school history.. and david wilson will be better than evans/williams

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  • Now you've turned it into a pissing match about who has more stars along the DL. I don't care about your DL. The thread is about your OL. I was talking about your OL vs. our DL down the road, where I think we have an advantage at this point in time, unless you start recruiting some more big uglies. Instead of actually refuting my point intelligently, you have to make comparisons, even including 2 classes recruited by Groh in your argument, long after he'd burned as many bridges as possible.

    We're accumulating some serious talent along the DL, and if you don't recognize that, then you aren't paying attention. Expect each of these guys, barring injuries, to be stars at UVA:

    Chris Brathwaite - Class of 2010 (to put it in terms Hokies understand, "underrated sleeper stud")
    Vincent Croce - Class of 2011
    Marco Jones - Class of 2011
    David Dean - Class of 2011
    Mike Moore - Class of 2012

    We are the clear leader for Eli Harold, and I believe we lead for both Tyrell Chavis and Nigel Williams. I hope we can score Courtnye Wynn. That's a sick D-Line with a healthy mix of strength and speed.

    That's not to take anything away from the other guys who have been recruited along the DL. Thompson Brown and Diamonte Bailey could both end up playing another position. Rob Burns needs to add some weight, but certainly has some intangibles. And Romero's listed as DE, but will see time at OLB.

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  • ianwiese said... (original post)

    Now you've turned it into a pissing match about who has more stars along the DL. I don't care about your DL. The thread is about your OL. I was talking about your OL vs. our DL down the road, where I think we have an advantage at this point in time, unless you start recruiting some more big uglies. Instead of actually refuting my point intelligently, you have to make comparisons, even including 2 classes recruited by Groh in your argument, long after he'd burned as many bridges as possible.

    We're accumulating some serious talent along the DL, and if you don't recognize that, then you aren't paying attention. Expect each of these guys, barring injuries, to be stars at UVA:

    Chris Brathwaite - Class of 2010 (to put it in terms Hokies understand, "underrated sleeper stud") Vincent Croce - Class of 2011 Marco Jones - Class of 2011 David Dean - Class of 2011 Mike Moore - Class of 2012

    We are the clear leader for Eli Harold, and I believe we lead for both Tyrell Chavis and Nigel Williams. I hope we can score Courtnye Wynn. That's a sick D-Line with a healthy mix of strength and speed.

    That's not to take anything away from the other guys who have been recruited along the DL. Thompson Brown and Diamonte Bailey could both end up playing another position. Rob Burns needs to add some weight, but certainly has some intangibles. And Romero's listed as DE, but will see time at OLB.

    No pissing match. You said we needed to be worried with all the DL talent you're bringing in. While I can't argue that your overall team talent might have gotten a bump with last year's class, I don't see anything drastically improved as far as the d-line line talent you've brought in. All I can go on is the rating system of independent sources, and unless it's players we recruited and/or offered scholarships, or were relatively high-profile recruits, I don't know much about them. I just don't see a need to worry, that's all.

  • cvillenomo said... (original post)

    No pissing match. You said we needed to be worried with all the DL talent you're bringing in. While I can't argue that your overall team talent might have gotten a bump with last year's class, I don't see anything drastically improved as far as the d-line line talent you've brought in. All I can go on is the rating system of independent sources, and unless it's players we recruited and/or offered scholarships, or were relatively high-profile recruits, I don't know much about them. I just don't see a need to worry, that's all.

    I hope the coaches at Tech have the same attitude you do about the players we are bringing on our defensive line. Depending on the recruiting service- Vincent Croce (3 or 4 star), David Dean (3 or 4 star), Mike Moore (4 star but with most SEC and Big Ten schools offering, probably a legitimate 5 star), Thompson Brown (3 star but was mentioned by Rivals as a sleeper who could be one of the top five DE coming out of high school). We lead for Harold (solid 4 star) and that leave Wynn who I think we get in the end (3 or 4 star). Not to mention Rob Burns (3 star who's 6 ft 7 in with 4.7 40 yard dash), and Marco Jones (3 star). Mike London is a defensive minded coach who was a great defensive coordinator during the 2006 and 2007 seasons when we won with our defense. He was also a defensive line coach with the Houston Texans so this man knows D-lines. Yep! I agree with you. Nothing at all to worry about. If we could just get the coordinators at Tech to think the same thing. I don't think that will happen. The changes to the staff during the off season tells me everything I need to know. You guys had the worst recruiting class since joining the ACC and a big part of that was Mike London. Don't get me wrong, I think you guys have a very solid team in Blacksburg but I do believe your days are numbered when it comes to dominating the ACC. You guys will get your share of talent in the state and should be able to beat us each year in recruiting (with lower academic standards, you should)but the battles will be much closer and you guys wont get players by default because of Groh. By sharing talent with UVA , the disparity between the two clubs will close but if I were you, I wouldn't worry about it. It's just UVA.

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  • That's the best post you've ever put up blacksburghoo. Upvote, agree 100%.

    I'm more than willing to conceed our '09 and '10 classes would pale in comparison to about every legitimate program in the country. This conversation starts with the rebirth of our program starting with the '11 class and I think cvillenomo and the rest will become aware of that in 2013.

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  • blacksburghoo said... (original post)

    I hope the coaches at Tech have the same attitude you do about the players we are bringing on our defensive line. Depending on the recruiting service- Vincent Croce (3 or 4 star), David Dean (3 or 4 star), Mike Moore (4 star but with most SEC and Big Ten schools offering, probably a legitimate 5 star), Thompson Brown (3 star but was mentioned by Rivals as a sleeper who could be one of the top five DE coming out of high school). We lead for Harold (solid 4 star) and that leave Wynn who I think we get in the end (3 or 4 star). Not to mention Rob Burns (3 star who's 6 ft 7 in with 4.7 40 yard dash), and Marco Jones (3 star). Mike London is a defensive minded coach who was a great defensive coordinator during the 2006 and 2007 seasons when we won with our defense. He was also a defensive line coach with the Houston Texans so this man knows D-lines. Yep! I agree with you. Nothing at all to worry about. If we could just get the coordinators at Tech to think the same thing. I don't think that will happen. The changes to the staff during the off season tells me everything I need to know. You guys had the worst recruiting class since joining the ACC and a big part of that was Mike London. Don't get me wrong, I think you guys have a very solid team in Blacksburg but I do believe your days are numbered when it comes to dominating the ACC. You guys will get your share of talent in the state and should be able to beat us each year in recruiting (with lower academic standards, you should)but the battles will be much closer and you guys wont get players by default because of Groh. By sharing talent with UVA , the disparity between the two clubs will close but if I were you, I wouldn't worry about it. It's just UVA.

    I'm not saying you're bringing in slouches, I'm saying the assertion that we should be "worried" about your DL (that while possibly upgraded, is far from demonstrating any sort of dominance) is silly at this point. You're still not bringing in the talent that Miami, Clemson, UNC, and FSU are bringing in on the DL, and we don't necessarily "worry" about them. We respect them, but don't worry about them. We, with good reason, feel confident that on most Saturday's, we can field a team that should win. We may not field the most talented team, pe say, but with coaching and preparation, we have a pretty good chance of winning every time we take the field. Nonetheless, I can't say that your talent won't improve, but to say it's to the point that we should "worry" is a bit premature...don't ya think?

    On one hand the Hoo's are tired of Hokies saying this and that, but the life of a Hokie fan is constantly hearing about how Miami is "back," and FSU is "on the rise," and UNC is "on the verge of something special" and how Clemson's going to "finally put it all together," and now you guys are telling us we should "worry." So far, we're still coming out on top most of the time.

    I look forward to the resurgence of this Rivalry. I'm not eager to give up any wins to you guys, but I wouldn't mind seeing a little more competition. I won't hold your optimism against any of you, so I hope you won't hold my skepticism against me. I'll try to keep my presence here respectful, but I can't promise I won't touch a nerve now and again.

  • cvillenomo said... (original post)

    I'm not sure the O-line situation in Blacksburg is as dire as you're hoping.

    Based on Rivals ratings In 2010 VT took 2 (4-star) players in Shuman & Gibson and one high 3-star (5.7) in Arkema. Farris, also a high 3-star (5.7) was recruited in that class, but greyshirted, and actually didn't join the team til this spring, thus, he's essentially a 2011 recruit - still has 5 years of eligibility.

    In the 2011 class we brought in high 3-star, Farris, and Jake Goins, a mid 3-star (5.6) who was also recruited and offered by UVA.

    That's 5 linemen in the last two classes with only one rated below a 5.7. Not bad if you ask me.

    Many VT fans were upset that about finishing 2nd to UNC for Kiaro Holts and Landon Turner, prompting somewhat of a chicken little response, but I don't think things are all that bad. We need to do well in this class, and that has been a little slow and has some folks concerned, but there are still quality linemen on the board.

    Depth is the real issue and you made my point for me, you also counted Ferris twice. I watched Arkema play and was very underwhelmed and predict he will be a career back up. I also think the the VT OL coaching is not good. OL has been a weakness for you and is getting weaker. I don't doubt that VT can post 3-4 good OL in the coming years. But OL is about playable depth and player development. I don't see either headed in the right direction for VT.

    This post was edited by ETBass 3 years ago

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  • ETBass said... (original post)

    Depth is the real issue and you made my point for me, you also counted Ferris twice. I watched Arkema play and was very underwhelmed and predict he will be a career back up. I also think the the VT OL coaching is not good. OL has been a weakness for you and is getting weaker. I don't doubt that VT can post 3-4 good OL in the coming years. But OL is about playable depth and player development. I don't see either headed in the right direction for VT.

    I didn't count Farris twice, I mentioned him twice. Shuman,Gibson, Farris, Arkema, & Goins make 5 in two years, just like I said. I mentioned that Farris greyshirted, and that's why he's mentioned twice, but he was not "counted" twice.

    As far as coaching goes: There was a problem with the type of players we had when Newsome got here. They were to big, and slow, and couldn't move their feet the way they needed to to run a zone blocking scheme. It's taken a few years to get the right kind of guys in here. Further, Newsome is only coaching centers and guards now, and Stinespring will handle the T's & TE's. That should allow a lot more one-on-one time to correct technique errors specific to each position. Time will tell what improvement we see from that move.

    Our Depth has actually never been better as we fully expect to play 9 guys on the front this fall. (Becton, Lanier, Nosal, Wang, Miller, Via, Brooks, DeChristopher, Painter). Now, it's certainly possible that we could see some depth issues come up again in a few years, but I am not concerned about depth for at least the next 2 seasons, and by then I think/hope we can head off any of the depth concerns that may arise.

    This post was edited by cvillenomo 3 years ago

  • I know you think vt will be better this year and as a fan you should. However, when you lose a three year starter at QB, who was All-ACC, and two All-ACC RB's generally your offense does not improve. Also Stanford showed the blueprint for beating your defense, it was the same thing UVA did when they beat VT with Schaub. You also say your line is set but if you don't have a LT then it is not set.