Blue Ribbon College Football Forecast - Excerpt
by Brassey's Inc., 7/9/02
Note: The following is an EXCLUSIVE excerpt from Brassey's Inc.'s "Blue Ribbon College Football Forecast" profile for Virginia Tech. We've included an excerpt of our position analyses, as well as of our "Blue Ribbon Analysis" for the upcoming season.
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The biggest challenge facing line coach Charley Wiles this spring is having to replace the top five tackles from a unit that ranked No. 2 in the country in total defense last season. Fortunately, the Hokies had the foresight to red-shirt Kevin Lewis last season. Lewis (6-1, 281) showed he was ready to play as a freshman, but the Virginia Tech staff decided to hold him out last season to give the Richmond native three seasons to start.
Red-shirt freshmen Tim Sandidge (6-1, 272) and Chris Pannell (6-3, 256) will back up Lewis at nose tackle.
Junior Mark Costen (6-3, 275) is the only tackle on the roster who played last season and has the inside track to start. Costen, who made 11 tackles in six games in 2001, has improved his strength and should be ready to become a solid player. He will receive a strong challenge from red-shirt freshman Jason Murphy (6-2, 285). Murphy, who recorded 60 sacks during his high school career at Baltimore's Edmonson Westside High School, has added 30 pounds of muscle since arriving in Blacksburg and could be an emerging force.
The end spots are in much better shape with four experienced players returning. Junior Cols Colas (6-0, 239), a converted running back, came on strong at the end of the season and has used his strength and speed (4.41 40-yard dash) to become a top-notch pass rusher. He started the final four games of 2001 and led the team with 17 quarterback hurries while contributing 37 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss.
Colas will be pushed by junior Nathaniel Adibi (6-3, 254), who has 21 career starts to his credit and is a strong force off the edge. Adibi, who runs a 4.55 40-yard dash, had 41 tackles, 15 hurries and a sack.
Junior Jim Davis (6-3, 251) is the top candidate to start at the other end position. He tied for the team lead with 4.5 sacks last season while making 38 tackles, including eight behind the line of scrimmage. Senior Lamar Cobb (6-1, 223) has a great deal of experience and knows how to make plays and sophomore Jason Lallis (6-0, 250) came on strong at the end of last season and is looking to contribute more this fall.
Blue Ribbon AnalysisThe Hokies have more holes to fill than usual, so expectations will be down a bit. But this team is still very, very good.
The quarterback and receiver spots are a bit unsettled on offense, but Virginia Tech has the people movers up front and studs in the backfield to run the football and make the whole team look good.
The defensive interior will have a whole new look, but Lewis is a future all-conference player and Pile and Whitaker are big-play guys in the secondary. The Hokies will be inexperienced and make some of the mistakes that young teams do, but they will also have the advantage in talent over most of their opponents.
These Hokies are not in the same class as the 1999 team, but they could be in a year or two. This team could end up looking a lot like last year's. Virginia Tech probably can't beat Miami, but it certainly has more than a good chance against everyone else in the Big East. A 9-4 regular season is a step back from what some of the diehards have come to expect, but it will keep the bowl streak alive and really isn't that bad for a young team.