At the midway point I have Virginia Tech pegged to open up at a none to shabby 6-1 on the 2011 regular season campaign. 52% of you agry, with a significant 38% calling for a perfect seven dash zip; and only 10% calling for 5-2 or worse.
The truth is that it all depends.
As in it all depends on the health of Logan Thomas and my boy David Wilson. If they manage to remain upright, mobile, agile and hostile, VT will have a very good offense in 2011, which might even flirt with being great before it is all said and done. L.T. and Wilson are two kids with a very high on-field Q-score who will bring a whole lotta flash to the 2011 Virginia Tech offensive huddle on each and every play.
That is if they both stay healthy.
As I just told Chris Coleman, I currently estimate that injury to each of them that would in theory interfere with their O&M football employment anytime beyond the month of September is prolly worth about 2 full L’s apiece.
To borrow on William Faulkner, injury to either of them would leave VT more parts sound and less parts fury.
…which incidentally would also bring three of our final five 2011 regular season opponents into reach.
(1o.22) Homecoming 2011 vs. Boston College. If there is a better Rb in the whole A.c.c. than our very own David Wilson, his name is surely Montel Harris of Flying Eagle fame. Well, at least if there is a more consistent Rb in the entire A.c.c. his name is surely Montel Harris of Flying Eagle fame. Harris may never quite be the kinda game-breaking human highlight reel that my boy David Wilson is. However, there is still plenty to see when it comes to a senior year Rb who has only managed to rush for 900, then 1,457 and then 1,243 last season. This may not be a your breathtaking variety of Rb, however with 19 games of 90 yards rushing or more, this is not your garden variety of Rb either. As the last time I checked 4.76 career yards per carry does not suck. What does suck, or at the very least might suck is who will play pitch-n-catch to keep opposing defenses honest for Boston College this season? At this point your guess is as good as mine as the trifeca of a three-way game of musical chairs at Pivot continues up on Chestnut Hill as I type. Last years 13:18 ‘rong way passing ratio simply will not cut it; nevertheless, should B.C. somehow synthesize a half-way decent Qb, they do have the other offensive parts to quietly go about their A.c.c. offensive business in a quiet yet highly effective workman like manner; thanks primarily to Mr. Harris and an A.C.C. leading 9 retuning starters on O.
The F’n Eagle defense looks pretty tight at Linebacker; I’d say having the best Middle-Linebacker (MLb) in all of D-1 football qualifies for such. 183 and 158 tackles in his last two seasons is a hint and a half from Mr. Luke Kuechley. In fact, if there is a junior year starting Linebacker who might be one and done N.F.L. ready right now his number is surely #40 and he surely plays for B.C. Upfront the Eagles must replace two dLinemen starters; same as in the B.C. secondary where both Safeties have graduated. Despite some deep-middle holes in the Eagles hind-4, and a couple of question marks up-front down in the trenches; these Eagles were #1 in rushing defense last year with a bullet and this has the look and feel of yet another high caliber B.C. stop-unit for as long as Mr. Kuechly is still standing. Additionally, B.C. has one of the top Punters in the A.c.c. and a FGK who only went 22-25 during his rookie campaign last season.
Or, in other words, this one has the look-n-feel of an ugly football game written all over it. Lottsa rushing which will wind the game clock and take the air outta the game ball. Typically, such a game narrows the gap on the high power favorite (i.e. Virginia Tech) and if you forced me to nominate a purified upset pick for 2011, I give you B.C. This one is a race to 17, first one there wins. Virginia Tech=18, Boston College=16.
(1o.29) @ Duke. Let’s see, this just in: rain is rumored to be wet and I will pick VT blind vs. Duke in any sport not named men’s hoops or lacrosse. Yah; pretty much, even out on the road VT would have to play a D- quality game to bring the Dukies within contact. However, Duke does have a could pretty decent guys, maybe even a couple who could start at Tech. At Wide Receiver Duke has a couple of real live talents as pass catchers go, Mr. Vernon is a Pro and Mr. Varner is a fringe Pro. Duke also has 68% passer in one Sean Renfree back at Qb; presuming his twice nuked knee can hold up that is. Renfree is not a runner as his -47 yards rushing in only six full games last season fully suggests; however if the Duke oLine can somehow manage to manufacture a shell of protection; Mr. Renfree can and will play pitch-n-catch with his talented starting Wideouts and move the ball downfield from time-to-time. Duke also enjoys seven of its Top-7 2010 rushers returning in 2011. That should help, that is it should help if the Duke oLine can finally run block vs. more than the bottom 2-3 teams they play in 2011.
That said, it is precisely both front-lines (oLine and dLine) that are the Tell-Tale Heart of this 2011 Duke Football squad. Phil Steele has both trench warfare units ranked 12th outta twelve in the entire A.c.c. and yes sports fan’s that is a problem. By my count Duke has precisely one single solitary frontline starter who might be able to crack the starting line-up at Virginia Tech, and he (Brian Moore) is a 2010 G playing 2011 out of position Center. Five frontline underclassmen starters outta nine ain’t helping things either men. Behind that Duke has no returning full-time starters in their second-layer (Linebackers) and only one guy at Fs (Matt Daniels) who could likely contribute in the New River Valley. As you can see, it is very difficult to nominate another A.c.c. team as being last best as defensive stop-units go on pre-season paper for 2011.
Duke does have a fair to middlin’ Kicker in Mr. Snyderwine; who does have a Lee Major’s bionic leg which was accurate enough to tally a 85% percentage on FGA’s last season. Accordingly, last year Duke was within 6 points or less of notching four extra wins; and further more, in the past three seasons we have seen Coach Cutcliffe amass a rather impressive 12 full wins out of Dukes 22 football wins in the entire last decade of play down in Durham North Carolina with just enough spotty talent and just enough shrewdness to play to his few upstanding strengths. Sadly, for Duke fans, this 2011 Duke club is just not that strong in future Professional terms and even with a semi easy first half schedule, caving three more notches in his win post for 2011 will be a daunting task indeed for Coach Cutcliffe. Virginia Tech=38, Duke=6
(11.1o) @ Gah.Tech. For all of Bud Fosters well deserved national acclaim and notoriety as the most dominate D-1 defensive coordinator in the last decade or so of college football history; the one bugbear that is routinely glossed over by the communication and journalism majoring O&M regional media is the objective fact that Bud Lite is a Gap-based system. Not an individual assignment based system via trade. Will gets the A-gap, bourbonstreet gets the B-gap, Chris gets the C-gap and Raleigh gets the D-gap. Not Fullback, Qb, Pitch, and Counter (or the trailing or reversing A-back on the triple part of the Flex-Bone triple Option).Yes, 12 days of prep does help, yes the superstar talent level is down, down in the ATL, and yes yet again; all things being equal I’d rather play Georgia Tech in game number one before P.J. and company get a good mesh on their pitch integrity, increase or decrease their Belly play spacing, and before they nail down the trailing triple option timing down pat.
On offense, the Wrambling Wreck returns 7 starters with 5 back on D, or 12 starters overall, which is code for fewest returning starters in the entire A.c.c. In 2009 Georgia Tech out-gained A.c.c. foes by 68 yards per game, and then by 92 yards per contest in 2009. Last season that number plummeted all the way to +5.6 per game. Ergo, one might argue that the Atlantic Coast Competition is (finally) beginning to figure Cyrano Jones of Trouble With Tribbles fame out a little bit. That said, do be fully awares that Gah.Tech does return no less than three full Rb’s who averaged 6.2 per carry last season. That does not suck; although there does not appear to be a prototypical meat-grinder of a Fullback or A-back to churn and power his way up the A-gap gut on the traditional Belly-Play at this time. Right now the first and second-string A-backs go 206 lbs. and 211 lbs respectively. For my three cents in life that’s just not enough beef on the first Option of the Triple-Option despite having two U.S.D.A. approved starting Guards (in Mr. Uzzi and Mr. Jackson) which could very well form the leading Guard duo in the whole A.C.C. Finally, this 2011 G.T. offensive unit looks extremely suspect at Wr right about now. Such appears to paint a very unbalanced picture on paper at this stage of the game for the offensive Yellow Jackets who are no longer a custom fit in terms of textbook or fundamental Flex Bone individual parts.
On defense Georgia Tech appears to weaken the further you move away from the LOS (line of scrimmage) and there is nothing stellar in any of their three stop-unit layers to begin with. G.T does return all 3 starting down linemen in Al deGroh’s 3-4 defensive set. Left-De Jason Peters is the best of the lot and the rest are workman like at best and do recall that you must play at least 6-deep at all times in any 3-4 defensive set in order to keep the defensive frontline locked, cocked, and ready to rock. By my count these Yellow Jackets are much closer to going 3-deep than they are to going a legit 6-deep up-front. In Linebacking terms Georgia Tech has two solid looking starters and two shaky looking question marks. In the Secondary the Yellow Jackets will be breaking in no less that 4 full starter’s 3 of which are true-Sophomore debut players. The kicking game does not look much better as Phil Steele’s 11th ranked special teams unit ranking for the A.c.c. suggests.
All of that to say that this 2011 Gah.Tech football squad sure looks like the low-water mark in Coach P.J. four seasons in Atlanta as individual raw talent on both sides of the ball goes. Yes, GT will be better later on in the year, and yes raw pigskin prowess appears to be down across the Wrambling Wreck board. Although this remains a suspect match-up for Bud Lite schematically speaking, I do like the O&M individual talent edge to carry the day, or should I say that Thursday nite inside of Bobby Dodd Stadium in an rather odd looking football game on ESPN national TV. Virginia Tech=25, Georgia Tech=15.
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At this point I have VT slated to go 9-1 with two games remaining in the regular season and a potential A.c.c. title game rematch with Florida State still very much on the line as I fully expect the 2011 Coastal Division winner to be no better than 6-1 and very possibly 5-2 at the close of this year.
Id est, I am lukewarm at best if VT will sweep B.C. and U.N.C. at home and the Bud Foster schematic foible otherwise known as Gah.Tech out on the road down in the ATL. It seems to me that with two good defenses and one puzzling anti-Gap based offense, that there is likely to be at least one L in there somewhere or another. Maybe even two if L.T. and or Wilson are out for the season; or if L.T. suddenly plays like a rookie year t-sophomore starter after all.