Football -thank you Coach God, inset here; check- is almost back!
Only 4o (odd) shopping days until Georgia Tech folks!
You asked for it in the poll before last, so here goes with a preview of some 2012 August football camp coming attractions.
Domesticity or any attempt at homer’ism aside, this is a damn fine looking 2012 Virginia Tech defensive team. It might just be an epic stop-unit as the latest injury news is more encouraging indeed –and fear not, I’ll P.A.T.T. that down good and hard when I hit that in part II. This is also prolly a improved 2012 special teams unit –providing Cody gets his head right and his kick on as he is back on the football team officially as often speculated by your TSL Staff truly. This may even morph into being an outright very good special teams unit providing we can field some bona fide punt and kickoff returners alike– as both of the return specialists remain unsettled at the dawn of August camp mind you.
Then there is the 2012 Virginia Tech offense, which should be good, and this should be a matter of when, not if. Health providing and likewise providing that we get through the Georgia Tech football game intact and at 1-0 and thereby gain 20 consecutive winnable quarters of scrumming wherein the 2012 Virginia Tech offense can mix-n-match, tinker-n-putter and nearly do as they please until they get their swag’ on. That may take some time however men, that may take some reps and that will certainly take nearly 100% starting-5 health upfront along the Virginia Tech offensive line for the duration.
That segues me rather effortlessly into where I want to start, and as we all know, all things begin -and if need be end- upfront, down among the trench fighters, along the offensive line.
Today’s word is: in·con·sist·ent
1. lacking in harmony between the different parts or elements; self-contradictory: an inconsistent story.
2. lacking agreement, as one thing with another or two or more things in relation to each other; at variance: a summary that is inconsistent with the previously stated facts.
That’s my month of September expectation for the 2012 Virginia Tech offensive line in 4 syllables or less. Not epic, not bad, not even a middle of the road flat-C letter-grade minds you. Erratic, out of step (per our version of zone blocking), out of sync, and quite possibly outright in-flux as the starting-5 and therefore the top-7 overall go. There will be some good moments; some effortless moments, and then there will be some yo-yo routine or inconsistently up and down moments in addition to all that. Ergo, here is what I am getting; and here is what I am expecting…
The whispers suggest that Benedict may or may not be fully ensconced at right-G just yet; and that Via has made some smart off-season re-hab progress and appears to be poised to challenge for enhanced p.t. (playing time) or possibly even challenge for the starting right-Ot spot overall. Right now, and presuming no real live attrition or injuries occur, this 2012 Virginia Tech offensive line appears to be ~7 deep and imbalanced. And by that I mean tilted in favor the left-side blockers by more than just a scoche.
Now, do be transparent with me, such is not a sideswipe attempt at Benedict at right-G and the Paint-Shop at right-Ot. This is not intended to bemoan so much as it is intended to illustrate and educate. As the left-side offensive line starters are firmly entrenched; or at least a good deal more firmly entrenched vis-à-vis than their right-side counterparts. Ditto the science-fact that Nick Becton makes the left-side a good deal more experienced all by his ownself. More on that below…no make that more on that right now and right below.
To borrow on Apocalypse Now, inside every Nick Becton there is an N.F.L. caliber baller trying to get out. Synonyms for Nick Becton include: right-sized, talented, prototypical, and the most lucrative sporting phrase of them all: “potential”. Dood is a member of the blind-side Ot glitterati as pure measurables and professional level potential fueled metrics go. Then we come to the matter of the Nick Becton antonyms: among such the following terms or phrases are numbered: overachiever, over-motivated, overwhelming. Do you see a pre-fix pattern there? Now, we see that Nick looked a bit big at the recent Virginia Tech mid-July football camp as Nick had the appearance of being at least a touch overweight. Recall as well that Nick began the spring right at 330 lbs. and that is not exactly synonymous with being in elite shape. Still, despite less than top-10 testing across the board, the Becton body is indeed willing and this one is only a question of how Nick’s mind will respond to what amounts to a contract season as N.F.L. scratch, bread, jack, or pay goes in the next handful of months. This kid is a Pro, if he wants to be; simple as that.
David Wang is a one-man blocking fundamentals football camp just looking for a place to happen. The story-line here reads: technique, technique, and even more technique. As fundamentals are his acumen and textbook technique is this former interior understudy of an offensive lineman on his worst day. The curious part is that I keep getting feelers that suggest that this Wang is not all that high, well, strung. Not temperamental enough if you will. As dood is in need of some measure of motivational Enzyte; as he needs a dose of Mean-Machine football if he truly wants to be the longest yard.
That to me is most dichotomous indeed; as you typically see mastery of elementary or entry level fundamentals as a staple of worker bees everywhere. To wit, I’m not so sure I buy that rap on David Wang; as leverage is his friend, getting under his pads at south of 5`12“ will be difficult at best and his run blocking is bowling ball good indeed– if he and his 12-gallon head can only learn fold-block to the second-level well enough. Recall that last year the whispers were saying that Mr. Wang was pushing at least one of -if not both of- the fifth-year senior starters at Guard. Not to mention pushing 351 lbs. in the push-jerk lift this spring. That’s good enough for me as me thinks that David Wang will be a good enough left-G for you.
Andrew Miller is a 3 year starter at Center and a possible all-A.c.c. kinda guy right now; if not before his senior campaign next season. He has that natural offensive lineman pear shaped body that just gives him an ideal center of mass downstairs which means he will always be blocking downhill. Only real knock I’ve heard is that he does not quite possess the fleetest feet and that this sometimes interferes with his fold-blocking to the second level. Be that as that may be, he heart does not interfere with his fold-blocking to the second level either as this dood is a one-man cardiologist clinic as the veritable antithesis of the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. Dood has heart to spare and he also plays with a little piss and vinegar in him. By my numerology (or count), right now Andrew is the forth or third best Beamer era starting Center at Virginia Tech ever. He may or may not ever supplant Jim Pyne, though who has and Mr. Miller does have a shot at supplanting no.2 and no.3. As #74 is a downright solid drive blocker, he rarely makes mistakes in pass-blocking and his line-of-scrimmage reads and blocking calls are more important than ever before what with rookie starting Guards flanking him on each shoulder and a nugget (or rook’) starting Ot out on the right-side as well. Mr. Miller is a Remington Award pre-season candidate, and he is every bit as hard-nosed as he is rough-n-tumble on the inside. Almost a touch dirty at times, though you simply must prefer that temperament to a pitter-pat approach as trench-fighters go.
Miller was also the 2011 spring-ball newcomer of the year; and he is the former AAA state champion wrestler who hails from a family of wrestlers. So you do not dare question is motor or his “leverage”. Even Frank can not say Mr. Miller has failed to “execute” on either one of those. Mr. Miller benches and front-squats over 400 lbs. which is most impressive when you consider that he has had a heretofore unpublished shoulder surgery back in 2009. Last year he had some hip (flexor) issues which did nothing to enhance his ability to get to linebackers on the second-level. Although he did play though all of that and that tells you even more about his heart. The only real questions I see here are: … is Mr. Miller a Pro caliber baller or not and can we spell him a bit (with Farris) in 2012 in order to save Andrew some wear-n-tear? Right now the first part is a definite maybe, even if Mr. Miller is just a hair undersized as the N.F.L. goes; and the second part really does depend on the next part of this write-up.
Right-G however I’m not so sure about, as one could dare to say that I’m sweating that one out, at least a little bit. That brings us to Mr. Benedict the much ballyhooed Georgia Bulldog to Blacksburg Va insider pipeline transfer who we all hope is healthy enough (nuked knee) to hold down the right-G fort in 2012.
“…if is the middle word in life”, and that just brought me back to Francis Ford Coppola’s epic Vietnam era for the second time in this article. IF this kid only had a clean bill of health, this might just be the first-best offensive lineman on the whole entire Hokie football team as pure blocking capacity goes. Double-nickels, or #55 is that good in terms of abilities quite plural on lone from the aforementioned Coach God. However, that was one completely gutting nuclear knee injury ago. Said injury was described in the following disparaging terms between the hedges: “catastrophic” and “nerve damage” (as in: foot/ankle). On top of all of that, said knee injury was so vulgar that it also tore his hamstring in the process! Ever heard of that one before? Me neither and that’s not good news folks and that was the prime mover from Ot (his home spot) back inside to right-G where he is covered up in football terms. i.e. he has a help blocker on each shoulder, just in case that knee gets tricky indeed
Benedict is a lot of things, he is strong like bull—a 440 lb. front squat on only one good knee is about 250 more lbs. than most standardized human beings can do on two good knees. He is also quite aggressive and wiling to physically go nose-to-nose with you sans any and all blink. You can see this in his UGA practice and scrimmage videos alike. There is a little bit of nasty in play here inside this Jacksonville kid. You can also see that said knee injury impales his pass-blocking more than it does his run-blocking at this stage of recovery from a flat out appalling senior year mid-season high school knee explosion. IF/when Mr. Benedict engages you in helmet-to-helmet run-blocking, you will be the one tapping out; not him. However, his footwork and both his vertical and especially his lateral mobility are a bit less certain at this time. Hence we see what should have been a truly stalwart D-1 Ot prospect scrapping his way back as best he humanly can at right-G. Now, make no mistake, Benedict just like all Scottish highland melee fighters is a scrapper indeed. Though whether or not his bad wheel can always get to you in order to duke it out toe-to-toe remains to be seen; so here is prayerfully wishing Mr. Benedict the best in terms of football and life long recovery alike. The mind and raw talent are most willing indeed; the only question mark is his (right) knee; and that’s about a size 32 font question mark to talk true.
Continuing our move from left to right across the post-spring starting frontline, that brings us to Mr. Vinston Painter or the Paint-shop as I am fond of referring to him. 6`6“ and a very jacked up 3o4 lbs. of potential does not suck. Though just like the girl who makes you wait, you have to wonder when Vinston will be finally be ready to actually put-out. As thus far he is the posterchild for the: “look like Tarzan play like Jane” expression indeed. First off the team bus? You betcha; and the bus is none to happy to see him go. Vinston Painter has been all that and yet not exactly first at much of anything else beyond that oh so lucrative and sometimes blinding word of: potential.
Make no mistake, Vinston has all of that. To be square, he is a faster and yes, a stronger version of Nick Becton with more raw physical tools, no matter how unearthed they may be. Don’t believe me, just ask his testing results. A team wide second best in the front-squat (5oo lbs.), third best in the bench press (430 lbs.), a fifth best power-clean (331 lbs.). All have conferred and they have all told me to tell all of you that they all agry. This kid more than has the skillz to pay the bills. He is an one man electric company in and of his ownself and if that is not enough for you try his high 4.9 forty on for size. Indeed. This kid is amped up and loaded with voltage and if I dare to continue the electrical analogy, the current vibes read a little better as leadership, motivation and confidence alike all go. To take that point to its more than subtle fruition, I am told on good authority that nobody has ever pass blocked James Gayle any better than Vinston Painter did this spring.
As we say in boxing, styles do make fights and Vinston’s style with his uber wingspan (i.e. long arms) and mega strong upper body are all ‘rong for even the highly loquacious Mr. Gayle. On the other hand, one would love to see big ole #71 learn to (finally) stay low in run blocking and live inside the offensive lineman training chute this summer. If Vinston can do that, he will be the extremely rarefied one-year starting r-senior who is one and won, as opposed to simply being one and done when it comes to raking in N.F.L. bucks.
The rest of the 2012 oLine:
It’s time for the chickens to come out of the hen-house and do more than just hunt-n-peck. Get in the cat-birds seat, be the cock of the walk. Or as George Orwell’s epic Animal Farm novel once put it: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
Ergo, all things being equal, go ahead and expect Farris to push Benedict at right-G and Via to at least pressure Painter at right-Ot. Am I willing to go so far as to predict that either or Farris or Via beats their starting superior out? No Sir, at least not just yet; although one of those upwardly mobile depth-chart scenarios, or maybe even both of ‘em are not exactly umpossible as 2012 rolls further and further along. Or to put it another way, we are looking for zebras’ now that all the horses have runaway.
What that above epic blast means … I do not know? Though I do know that that is one cool-modine epic blast and I further know that this 2012 Virginia Tech offensive line does have some sorting out left to do it before it morphs itself into its final starting incarnation. Whatever and whenever that means is to be determined and that may not be determined until after the Georgia Tech game film is graded mind you.
In the mean time however I do look at it this way. Mr. Farris has a tight football looking first name. Do you wanna start a fight with a 6`3“ 310 lb. bowling ball kid from a place called “Rockbridge”? Me neither. And wasn’t one of the coolers (aka bounces) in Roadhouse that teamed up with Patrick Swayze named: “Caleb”? You know the one, the good ole boy looking big one who looked like he would kill you if he fell on you, never mind if he actually managed to connect on a punch and actually hit you. That’s Caleb to me. Maybe not the first-off the bus stereotypical kid, maybe not a high Q-score kid, maybe not the made for TV sexxy kid like say a Logan Thomas or a James Gayle are. However, this is a damn solid drive-blocking savant who would be effectively wasted as a pure back-up Center. As Virginia Tech and Curt Newsome are recalcitrant to actually sit the starting Center (Miller) down in terms of maintaining the continuity as ball-security goes when attempting to get a good mesh on the hike from Center to Qb. Or to put it another way, Miller plays the whole game at Center until he does not. That said, I’m not real sure if Caleb is anything less than our second-best Guard in hiding at Center and that might actually be code for being much closer to being 1a good at the end of the day. Caleb may not be a next level kinda guy, though he is reliable, surefire, Dinty Moore stew guzzling kinda Guard who will almost certainly be a 2 years starter at some point in his Virginia Tech career. Maybe sooner rather than later.
Michael Via (most of) you are a bit more familiar with. He is a utility jack of all trades player who can and has played all three home offensive line positions since entering Virginia Tech after the 2007 high school football season. Only caveat here is health as Michael has endured two different A.C.L. tears and that is three too many in my book. However, there are some more handsome mathematics on the side of one #67 Michael Via. Numbered among them would be his 568 career snaps, and the fact that Michael is the only returning 2012 Virginia Tech offensive lineman not named Andrew Miller to have ever started a single solitary football game in Chicago-Maroon in his life. Three football games back in 2009 if you are keeping score at home in point of fact. My only concern is that Michael is more parts Ot and less parts Guard, especially when it comes to helmet-on-helmet drive blocking at the point of attack. As Michael is not exactly a heavyweight sized Ot to begin with and that makes him more of a bantamweight sized Guard at a relatively mere 283 lbs. Such allows, or causes Michael to be overpowered upstairs at times on the inside as we saw vs. Clemson last year. This suggests that Michael should lend himself to backing up both sides at Ot; while leaving the G’s and C to Farris. Also, do not sleep on the fact that the rest of the back-up Ot’s are at least a half a season away at best. Maybe more at worst.
Conclusions and illation:
A blind man can see it with a cane, and most of you are seeing it already –aren’t you? Recall the pass blocking foibles of this 2012 starting-5 Virginia Tech offensive line from this past spring. Now note the more than passing (pun intended) curiosity in seeing just how far or how much Farris can push Benedict at right-G and just how much Via can press the Paint-Shop at right-Ot.
Well, in a turnabout reverse pace, here’s genuinely hoping they do not!
And here is why…
As the Bitts used to tell me “over there”, “it’s all in the maths” and if Farris and/or Via beat either Benedict or Painter out, Virginia Tech’s offensive maths effectively read -2 plus, or maybe even closer to minus 3 and change. Why is that you ask? Because, Benedict can only play right-G and Painter can only play right-Ot at this stage of their respective Virginia Tech careers. On the other hand, Via can play a most useful five offensive line spots and Farris can play a right nifty all three internal (G-C-G) offensive line spots just fine thank you very much. You sum all that up and you are suddenly +8 as back-up Swiss Army pocket knifes go. Or, to put it another way, should injury or simple noticeable blocking superiority force Farris to start at right-G, and Via to start at right-Ot –suddenly Becton, Wang and Miller may have to go the distance and run the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes back-to-back-to-back. As they will be a whole helluva a lot fresher in early September compared just how plum tuckered out they will be come late November when their collective old-school needles will read far-left while sputtering along over on “E”. That’s “E” as in empty and possibly broken down. That’s not good and that is precisely why it is oh so very much better indeed that Benedict and Painter remain entrenched as the right-side offensive line starters from the word “go” and for the remainder of the duration. That allows Farris and Via alike to slide up and down the orange and maroon line-of-scrimmage and that gives all five of Newsome’s starters a breather as opposed to leaving the entire left-side sucking air. And yes, it would be positively delightful to see Shuman and or Arkema make some blind-side strides in about 15 days. In lieu of that, this is a 7-deep offensive line at best, which can in theory go 7+ thanks to the interchangeable nature of Farris and Via. However, should Farris and Via have to start, we will effectively be less than 7-deep and that could very well leave the entire oLine gasping and reaching for the O2 mask come late November. In conclusion, this is either a pretty good 2012 Virginia Tech offensive line that is just barely deep enough to rotate 7 guys which will keep the starting 5 fresh enough. Or this is a very average or C+ garden variety of a 2012 Virginia Tech offensive line that will be much fresher at the opening of business for the trading session otherwise known as 2012 than it will be at the closing bell in about 120 days worth of time.
Bear it or bull it, take thy pick…
2012 Virginia Tech offensive line letter-grade (pre-August): right now this is a very sporting C+++ offensive line that the Hokies are set to deploy. The kicker here is that this particular oLine has at least a full letter-grade swing in it as both ceiling and floor go alike. Such will be predicated entirely upon pass-blocking improvements (or lack thereof) and or the necessary facilitating health (or lack thereof again).