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While the 2004 Virginia Tech defense has been outstanding, it isnít difficult to see that the 2004 Virginia Tech offense has left a little to be desired. Quarterback Bryan Randall is putting up his normal statistics, but Tech doesnít have that power running game that they are used to.
Think back throughout the Beamer Bowl Era, and you will remember that Tech almost always has an NFL running back in the backfield. Ken Oxendine, Marcus Parker, Shyrone Stith, Lee Suggs, Kevin JonesÖevery one of those guys was drafted by the NFL, and they all were big time producers for the Hokies while they were in college. Take a look at the leading rushers and their statistics from the Beamer Bowl Era:
So whatís wrong this year? A couple of things. Number one, the offensive line isnít as good as in years past. Losing possibly the best offensive lineman in school history in Jake Grove will do that to a unit. Number two, and probably most importantly, Tech doesnít seem to have an NFL caliber running back on the depth chart this season. How many times have you found yourself thinking after a decent run, "Kevin Jones would have broken that."?
Mike Imoh has come in and done a very nice job for the Hokies this season. Imoh has rushed for 408 yards on 103 carries and 2 touchdowns, an average of 4.0 yards per carry. He has rushed for 81.6 yards per game.
Pull out your calculators, because itís time to do some math.
Using Imohís current average per game, he is on pace to rush for 734 yards during the course of the regular season. Throw in the bowl game, which is counted in season statistics now, and that number rises to 816 yards. (I rounded the .6 up to make it an even 82 yards per game in this case) That would be the lowest number of rushing yards by a starting tailback at Virginia Tech since Lamont Pegues in 1998, and they didnít count bowl game statistics back then. Just using Imohís 734 yards during the regular season and it will be the lowest since Dwayne Thomasí 673 yards in 1995.
However, Imoh was suspended for the first 3 games of the season against USC, Western Michigan and Duke. Had Imoh played in those 3 games and averaged his normal 81.6 yards per game, he would finish the regular season with 979 yards rushing. The bowl game would take the total rushing yardage up to 1061. Not a bad year for a guy that wasnít the projected starter.
The worst part about Imohís stat line is his 4.0 yards per carry average. That is the worst for a Virginia Tech starting running back since Ken Oxendine averaged 3.8 yards per carry in 1997. Ox was playing on a team that was limited even more offensively than the 2004 squad, if you can imagine that. That 1997 team had a patchwork offensive line (zero offensive linemen recruited in 1995 was taking its toll) and a quarterback in Al Clark who was never 100%. Add the early-season injury to Shawn Scales, Techís only play-making receiver, into the mix and youíve got the ingredients to a poor offense.
With Imohís size, or lack thereof, you would expect him to be the slice and dice type backÖone that doesnít initiate contact, but will run around you. Imoh doesnít quite fit that bill. He breaks a lot of tackles, more tackles than most 220 pound backs, and he is shifty. He just doesnít have the breakaway speed of a guy like Darren Sproles from Kansas State, who is very similar to Imoh physically.
If I had to compare him to any Tech back from the past, it would be Dwayne Thomas. My take on Imoh is that he is a solid back who is playing behind an average offensive line, and he lacks great speed. Imoh is fast, but heís not Kevin Jones fast. See what Iím getting at? Put him behind last yearís offensive line and Iíll bet he would be having a very good year right now.
While youíve got your mind on statistics, letís take a look at some more, specifically the receptions at the wide receiver position. The 2003 unit combined for 130 receptions, 1903 yards, 14.6 yards per catch and 14 touchdowns (DeAngelo Hall, Mike Imoh and Marcus Vick are included in this). Thus far, the 2004 group has combined for 65 catches for 1096 yards, 16.9 yards per catch and 10 touchdowns.
Breaking out the calculator yet again, we see that this yearís group is on pace to catch 106 passes for 1781 yards. They are also on pace to catch 16 touchdowns.
So while this group isnít on pace to match last seasonís reception total (thatís what having 4 freshmen and no Ernest Wilford will do to a team), their yards per catch is higher and they are on pace to score more touchdowns than last yearís group. So while they havenít shown quite as much ability to get open and make as many catches, they appear to already show the knack for big plays.
Despite the fact that the receivers arenít quite as productive
as last yearís group from a receptions stand point, Bryan Randall has found other places to go with the football. Jeff
King has 14 receptions for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns. In 2003, the tight ends combined for 16 receptions for 262 yards
and 3 touchdowns. Throw Jared Mazzetta and Duane Brown into the mix, and the 2004 unit has 24 catches for 347 yards and
3 touchdowns. The tight ends are picking up the slack big time for the offense, and their stats will only increase as
the season goes along. They currently project to catch 39 passes for 564 yards and 5 TDs, big improvements over 2003
across the board.
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|TechSideline.com Updates From the Past Week|
Guide to Enjoying the Sights and Sounds of Chapel Hill
Carolina Game Preview
TechSideline.com Recruiting Report Archive, 11/3/04 (Audio)
Georgia Tech Game Analysis
Tech Talk Tuesday (Audio) for 11/2/04
The Great Race is On
Hotline Notes for 11/1/04
Still Playing Great D
Revisiting the Keys: Georgia Tech
Staying Up Late
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