TSL Round Table #2
by TechSideline.com, 6/18/02
For our "TSL Round Table" feature, we have selected a small panel of site fans and message board posters completely at random and without rhyme or reason (so don't be offended if you're not one of them), and each week, we'll pose them a question and run their answers here on TSL.
This week's TSL Round Table question: Who will be VT's leader in passing, rushing, receiving yards and sacks this year? To make the question more interesting, predict the number of yards your passing, rushing, and receiving leaders will have, and the number of sacks your sack leader will have.
Dan Ramsey: OK, here goes. NOTE: All of these figures include our bowl game, so figure on a 14-game season
I'll say that Bryan Randall will be our 2002 passing leader and will throw for 2,100 yards (or about 150 yards per game over a 14-game season). Noel will get some reps and will throw for about 1,000 yards.
I'll say that Lee Suggs will be our 2002 rushing leader, followed very closely by Kevin Jones. I see Suggs with about 1,800 yards (128/game avg.), Jones with 1,400 (100/game avg.), Bryan Randall with about 400 yards, and Cedric Humes with about 300.
I think that Ernest Wilford will surprise everyone and have a big senior season and finally realize his potential. I see him leading the team with 40 receptions (2.8 per game) for 750 yards.
Finally, I'll predict that Jim Davis will lead the team with 10 sacks this year.
Chris Hoover: When I got this question, I thought there were two ways to answer these questions: either guess wildly, or look at the stats from last year, consider the news from spring practice and the summer workouts, weigh in some factors from past seasons and then make some meagerly educated guesses. I'll attempt the latter and when that's not going so well, I'll go with the former. Now, here are the picks:
Passing leader - Bryan Randall, with 1600 - 2300 yards. Honestly, I'm picking Randall mainly because of Grant's knee. I just don't think that Noel, who wasn't extremely mobile to begin with - and who will have a knee brace further hampering his mobility - will be able to maintain the starting job throughout the season. It's just a matter of when Randall gets it. If Randall starts the full season, I'm thinking he'll end up with around 2300 yards, averaging a little more that 175 yards a game. With our RBs, I don't think he'll be throwing that much.
Rushing Leader - Lee Suggs, barely, with 1100 yards. This one was tough. Do the coaches try to get Lee back to where he was before, or do they play Lee and KJ as true "co-#1s" and split time evenly? Looking to the past, I see our coaches' loyalty towards senior players and I think that with Lee's injury, the coaches are going to want to help him prove himself as much as possible. I think Lee and KJ will be close though. Unless one is truly head and shoulders better than the other, both will get plenty of carries. I think KJ will be a close second with around a 1000 yards.
Receiving Leader - Kofi Boateng, with 700 yards. Just kidding. Seriously, Ernest Wilford, with 600 yards. This one is wide open. Our leading returning receiver is Shawn Witten with only 161 yards last year and we've got roughly 46 receivers who could conceivably step up. I'm going with the underdog - and scapegoat - here and picking Wilford. With so many guys catching passes, he won't get a ton of yards, but I think he'll step it up, finally, and make some big catches for us.
Sacks Leader - Jim Davis, with 7 sacks. I'm taking the easy way out here and just going with the co-leader from last year (4.5 sacks, same as Taylor). I was tempted to go with the unknown and pick big Jimmy Williams at DT. But I'm hopeful that the DEs will make us forget their less-than-stellar play of the last two years and will be reminding us of DE greats Brown, Moore, and Engelberger.
Chris Schooley: This is much more difficult than I originally thought. Will a DE finally separate himself from the pack? How close in skill level are Suggs and KJ? How will the QB situation effect the WR's? Lots and lots of questions, but luckily, a deep talent pool to find some answers. I guess that's why we're seeing so much doubt in VT in the preseason rankings. Nobody outside of Blacksburg knows Cols Colas, Justin Hamilton or Bryan Randall.
Passing: It just makes too much sense to assume Bryan Randall will be the starter this year. He's more mobile, he has all his ACL's intact, he didn't have five turnovers in the Miami game and he will be around for the 2003 (Title) season. So, I'll go with Grant Noel, assuming he gets the first start, but misses a couple due to his one working leg. Based on Noel starting 8 games, I'll go with 1573 yards, about 300 more than Randall. (Uggghhhh, the QB issue makes me feel a little ill.)
Rushing: Lee Suggs is the man, Kevin Jones still runs too high. Suggs, 1207 yards, Jones, 1011. (But I'm really looking forward to seeing how much KJ has improved from Year 1 to Year 2)
Receiving: I'm tempted to go with my new favorite player, Justin Hamilton, but I won't because the QB situation is so volatile. I'll go with 'Breakout 19'. Ernest Wilford has wayyyy to much talent to continue to drop easy balls. EW goes for 795 yards.
Sacks: Colas has the attitude. Adibi's had the offseason that previews a breakout year. Cobb is the oldest. But I'll take the happiest one. Jim Davis always seems to have a smile on his face, and always seems to be on the field. In case you missed it, Beamerball.com is showing something interesting on their depth chart. Colas and Adibi were listed at co #1 at the Stud End position, but Jim Davis has been consistently listed as #1 at End all Spring. To me, that says they are looking to get Adibi on the field more, maybe because Davis is starting to separate. Jim Davis will be on the field the most of any DE's, and turns in 12 sacks.
Sandy Cormack (Baltimore Hokie): Passing: Bryan Randall. The person Grant Noel calls 'a solid backup' will lead VT in passing with 2,000 yards (not much, but I'll believe our 'new offensive philosophy' when I see it). Kicking and screaming, Noel will be dragged off the field.
Rushing: Lee Suggs. Or Kevin Jones. But probably Suggs. Prediction - one of them has a 1,200 yard season and the other still manages 1,000.
Receiving: I am tempted to predict who has the most drops...but I'll stay true to the spirit of the question and say Richard Johnson (which is more wishful thinking than anything) with 700 yards. That's all? See my answer to "Passing."
Sacks: If I already predicted Cols Colas's breakout year, I guess he'll have to be my sack leader, with 13.
Jim Alderson: Gee, the quarterback position doesn't seem to generate much discussion, and certainly needs to be addressed. I am still waiting for the coaching staff to call and ask my opinion, which is that Tech very much needs the experienced leadership of a healthy Grant Noel in the high-profile OOC games against LSU and Texas A&M, while the athleticism of Bryan Randall would come in handy in the early games where Tech has a definite speed advantage, Arkansas State, Marshall and Directional Michigan.
A healthy Noel is going to be hard to come by, however, so I imagine Randall will be the starter as Tech moves into the BE schedule. This will be even more of a run-oriented team than usual, and I predict Bryan Randall will lead but will only pass for 1200 yards.
A healthy Lee Suggs will combine with Kevin Jones to give Tech the best tailback tandem in the country. Lee was superb in 2000, but KJ came on very strong by the middle of the year, and when you consider he gained almost one thousand yards without benefit of a redshirt year or the luxury of a running quarterback to draw defensive attention as Suggs had the previous year, and how much better Jones will be after an offseason in the Tech program, we are perhaps looking at a dominant back in the Hershel Walker mold. I generally look at how much the tailback position gains rather than individual stats, and it should amass 2000 yards this season, with Kevin Jones ringing up 1200 of them.
Things get a bit dicey when one considers Tech receivers this year. The coaching staff still seems to be waiting for somebody to step up, and my guess is the 'receiver by committee' approach means nobody will have gaudy numbers, with Richard Johnson the best of the bunch with 450 yards.
With new faces in the middle of Tech's defense, it is vitally important to get strong play from the ends. Nathaniel Adibi, as he moves into the second half of his Tech career, steps his game up a notch and leads the team in sacks with 6.
Kent LaRoque: If I could predict these answers, I'd be one of the few people making money in the stock market. Anyway, here goes...
Leading Passer: Bryan Randall. I think we'll open it up on offense, throw more often and when teams least expect it. Randall, embarrassed last year by his sore arm, will be more confident and composed this season. You got to like the element of mobility he gives our offense. I look for him to average over 200 yards a game; in fact, let's go with 215 a game, 2,795 on the year.
Leading Rusher: Kevin Jones. Lee Suggs, assuming he's 100% and not too tentative, will be the better back in short yardage situations because he runs lower than Kevin, but he will break an occasional long run. Kevin will amass more yards because he'll have more "breakaways". I'm betting he's cut some time off his 40 number and will look less like a stallion and more like a sprinter...once he breaks containment, ring up 6. He'll have at least ten 100+ yard games, averaging close to 120 per contest for the season. That's 1,560 for the year on a 13-game season.
Leading Receiver: Fred Lee. He knows how to get open and do something with the ball after the catch. He's a play maker, pure and simply. Now seeing an athlete like Justin Hamilton will be great too, but Fred will put a lot of excitement into every reception. He'll have 800 yards this year.
Sack Leader: While most will go with Cols Colas (and he's an excellent choice), I'm picking Jim Davis. I remember him against Clemson and how he flattened Willie Simmons on two straight plays. Most teams will have to focus on Adibi and Colas, which will free up Davis. 11 sacks on the year for Davis, maybe 12.
These are difficult choices because we have so many excellent athletes on our team this year. I believe we're in for a great season and will be as strong as ever on defense and special teams, and much more creative on offense.
Will Stewart: I'm going to make my picks by selecting the players I think will lead, and then assigning them totals that are in line with what Hokie players have done in the recent past (with an allowance for a 13-game season).
Passing: Bryan Randall, 1800 yards. Despite Grant Noel's confidence that he'll be the starter, and the coaching staff's public posturing to that effect, I think that in the end, Randall will get more playing time. He won't tear it up, but he'll be effective.
Rushing: Lee Suggs, 1100 yards. Suggs is one of just four running backs to total 1,000 yards since Cyrus Lawrence did it back-to-back in 1980 and 81. Suggs will do it again, but he won't get as high as his 1207 yards in 2000.
Receiving: Justin Hamilton, 500 yards. Tech's leading receiver typically doesn't even total 700 yards. Antonio Freeman, for example, only had 644 yards in 1993, a year in which the offense was very effective and had over 2,000 yards passing. He had 703 in 1992, and other than that, only Andre Davis (with 962 yards in 1999) has had more than that in the last 20+ years.
Sacks: Cols Colas, 9 sacks. Picking a sack leader from the pack of defensive ends is as hard as predicting a receiving leader.
Summary of Picks: Here is a summary of what the different Round Table panelists picked:
Note that we took the liberty of using Dan Ramsey's 14-game stats as 13-game stats (sorry, Dan, I was too lazy to do the math), and of assuming for Chris Hoover that Randall would start all season long (giving him 2300 yards passing).
Also note that if our ever-optimistic panelists are correct, 2002 will be the first year that the Hokies have ever
had a 2,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher, and 700-yard receiver in the same season (VT media guide statistics go back
to 1952). But remember, they're working with a 13-game regular season.