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Tag:Darren Evans
Posted on: May 12, 2011 4:11 pm
 

Eye on CFB Roundtable: preseason top 25

By Eye on College Football Bloggers

Each week, the Eye on CFB team convenes Voltron- style to answer a pressing question regarding the wild, wide world of college football. This week's topic:

We've already talked about No. 1, but the end of spring has also meant a revision of the rest of the preseason top 25, like our colleague Dennis Dodd's. What teams do you feel like might deserve a better ranking at this stage (or one at all)? What teams do you feel like might be ranked too highly?

Jerry Hinnen: There always seems to be one team from the SEC that comes from outside the preseason polls and surprises--think Mississippi State last year, Ole Miss in 2008, etc. But Dennis's 25 already includes every SEC team but Ole Miss, Tennessee, Kentucky and Vanderbilt, and I'm not sold on any of those teams as poll material. (There's a case to be made for the Vols, but only if Tyler Bray takes a major step forward, and his 5-for-30 spring game suggests that step may not be imminent.)

So I'll look elsewhere for a sleeper and mention how much I like San Diego State. The Aztecs have absorbed some heavy losses in their pair of NFL-bound wideouts and, of course, the head coach-offensive coordinator pairing of Brady Hoke and Al Borges. But Ronnie Hillman is an All-American running back waiting to happen, and senior Ryan Lindley is easily the best MWC quarterback this side of Kellen Moore. Together, they're one of the nation's best RB-QB combos, and new OC Andy Ludwig (the man behind Utah's undefeated 2008 attack) should know how to get the most out of them.

Defensively, the Aztecs should be much more comfortable in the second year of Rocky Long's unorthodox 3-3-5 scheme, and the schedule also offers the opportunity for two huge statement wins since TCU and Boise State travel to San Diego. Put it all together, and I don't think the departures of Hoke and Borges will be nearly enough to stop the program's momentum towards the polls.

Bryan Fischer: One team I think is a bit under the radar is Georgia. The Dawgs get the other division favorite, South Carolina, early in the schedule--that could be key if the Gamecocks are breaking in Connor Shaw, who has all of 33 passes to his name. I'm concerned about Georgia's running game but they have a good quarterback and the defense should be markedly improved in year two under Todd Grantham.

West Virginia is another team that can really make a move. They lose a lot from last year on defense but should be solid nevertheless. They might have one of the best offenses in the country with Geno Smith running the show and get their big non-conference game against LSU at home.

Chip Patterson: I agree with Bryan that West Virginia is a team that could cause some problems this fall. Dana Holgorsen might have done the coaching job of the year in 2010 with Oklahoma State's offense; the Cowboys did not return a single offensive lineman and his scheme resulted in the third-most productive offense in the nation anyway. Now he gets a stable full of athletes that, in many people's opinions, have been underperforming under Bill Stewart. Smith is the type of quarterback who can be a threat in Holgorsen's spread, especially once he gets familiar with the reads and changing plays at the line of scrimmage. The toughest challenge on the Mountaineers' slate is an early-season battle with LSU in Morgantown (as Bryan mentioned). I think that game is winnable, and could give them confidence headed into the back-loaded conference schedule.

Virginia Tech, though, is a huge question mark in my opinion. While I'm not sure whether they will end up higher or lower than 17, there's as much of a chance of them finishing the season unranked as getting to 10 wins. Their schedule does set up extremely well, with Clemson, Miami and North Carolina coming to Blacksburg and Florida State, Maryland and N.C. State avoided completely. But Logan Thomas needs to prove himself in a game situation, and running back David Wilson will have to work without Darren Evans or Ryan Williams to compliment him. Even if the Hokies finish the season strong, the eye test does not have them as "Top 20 good" just yet.

Adam Jacobi: After the first, oh, eight teams, I've got some major concerns about nearly every team on the list. Spring is the season for questions, of course, but it's like, "Michigan State at 11? Really? Wisconsin at 12? Really? Arkansas at 13? Really?" But you look at that list, and yeah, that's about right.

The one team that stands out to me is Notre Dame, who sort of creeps in under the radar at 19. I don't expect that sterling recruiting class to make much of an impact in Year 1, but there's a lot of talent coming back for Brian Kelly to build on. They have options at quarterback with Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees, the passing game basically only lost tight end Kyle Rudolph (who was injured for the second half of the season anyway), and four of five starting linemen return. The defense, meanwhile, is still led by Manti Te'o and returns its top eight tacklers. There's some retooling to do up the middle of the front seven, but the leadership and experience are there for the D to take a big step forward this year.

Lastly, I really like the Irish's schedule. The only truly worrisome game is the season finale at Stanford; the rest of the games are winnable. That's not to say the Irish are definitely going 11-1 in the regular season -- that's not happening without a ton of luck -- but it's a nice very-best-case scenario.

BF: I think the top 10 is pretty much standard for everyone. Sure, you can change the order and move teams around, but you can't argue with those 10 teams much.

After that, I have an issue with Auburn at 15. I know they're the defending champions, but they lost a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, and the Tigers have a very tough schedule where they could take some losses. I'm also not sold on Utah after watching them collapse down the stretch last year, and they've had a ton of guys sit out this spring with injuries. I'd swap them in the rankings with USC -- who has depth issues but also has Matt Barkley and Robert Woods throwing the ball around -- or UCF.

AJ: Here's something I want to know -- what do you do about Ohio State if you're a voter? Do you ding them since the Buckeye Five are suspended for five games? Do you un-ding them when they come back? How many spots does Jim Tressel's situation cost them? What's the protocol here?

Tom Fornelli: I would have them lower on my rankings, personally. Losing some of your best players and your head coach for five games is a big deal, even if those games are against MACifices that shouldn't prove much of a test to the Buckeyes. Either way, those players and Tressel aren't there to start the season, so we should treat Ohio State as if they're not there. And do you see Ohio State being a top-25 team with Joe Bauserman?

JH: Disagree. I don't think there's a "protocol" on how to deal with the Buckeyes' current (unprecedented) situation as it relates to preseason polls; your guess is as good as mine is as good as anyone else's. But I don't think dropping them out of the top 25 all together is fair. Until we hear otherwise from the NCAA, the Buckeye Five and Tressel won't miss any more than the first (mostly winnable) five games. Dropping them entirely -- under the mere assumption Tressel, Pryor, et al are a dead team walking -- seems to put the cart before the horse.

TF: Seriously, though, I need somebody to explain to me why Arizona State is suddenly the cool team to vote for. Do people just really like their new uniforms? Is Vontaze Burfict sitting over their shoulders as they fill out their brackets? This is a team that won six games last year, with those six wins coming against Portland State, Northern Arizona, Washington, Washington State, UCLA and Arizona. Arizona is the only impressive win on that list, and it was a one-point victory in double overtime. This is a team that may have a lot of returning starters this year, but they're returning starters from a team that wasn't exactly a world-beater last season. Also, after losing quarterback Steven Threet to injury, the guy who has to lead that returning-starter-filled offense is still new.

JH: You didn't even mention their plague of torn ACLs this spring. I wish I could disagree -- the Sun Devils have had a ton of bad luck the last couple of seasons -- but they strike me, too, as a prime candidate to disappoint.




Posted on: February 22, 2011 11:49 am
Edited on: February 22, 2011 2:54 pm
 

O'Cain takes over offense in Hokie shakeup

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Bryan Stinespring has been a Virginia Tech assistant for 18 years and has been Frank Beamer's offensive coordinator since 2002. If ever Beamer was going to change the latter arrangement, you'd have expected it to come following the 2007 and 2008 seasons, when Stinespring's attack finished 100th and 103rd in total offense, making him public coaching enemy No. 1 among Hokie fans.

But then Tech vaulted to No. 50 in 2009 and 42nd in 2010, and even those numbers don't do Stinespring justice; the Hokies finished 20th this past season in yards-per-play. The calls for Stinespring's job had gotten noticeably less audible. So he was safe for 2011 at least, right? Wrong :



That's Kyle Tucker of the Virginian-Pilot reporting that the Stinepsring era has officially ended in Blacksburg: he's been moved to position coaching with the tackles and tight ends, with Mike O'Cain taking over as the Hokie play-caller. (Curt Newsome will also move from coaching the entire offensive line to just the guards and centers, apparently.)

The news will likely be welcomed by Hokie fans on two fronts: not only is their object of coordinating scorn removed from the play-calling duties, but O'Cain seems like a quality replacement. The quarterbacks coach at Virginia Tech since 2006, O'Cain has several years of experience both as a head coach (at N.C. State) and an offensive coordinator (at Clemson). How much of an improvement he can make in the Hokie offense without the services of Tyrod Taylor remains to be seen, but it seems unlikely that he doesn't have the chops to better Stinespring's spotty record over the long haul.

The question remains, though: why now? Why throw this kind of curveball just when it seemed like Stinespring was getting his feet underneath him? The answer probably lies in the departures of Taylor and backfield mates Darren Evans and Ryan Williams; if Beamer wanted to make a change, starting over with a new quarterback and new running backs seems like a better time to do it than in the middle of Taylor's superstar tenure.

So Hokie fans finally get what they want in the coordinator's chair. Now we'll all see if they get what they want on the field.

UPDATE: Though it appears to be little more than semantics -- and the salary/prestige of the title involved -- multiple reports suggest that though O'Cain will definitely call plays for the Hokies in 2011, Stinespring may still retain his "offensive coordinator" title (even as he works prdominantly with the tackles and tight ends).


Posted on: January 9, 2011 3:40 pm
 

Ryan Williams is going pro

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Virginia Tech now has a couple of running backs it'll need to replace in 2011.  Earlier this week Darren Evans announced that he'd be leaving Blacksburg to enter the NFL Draft, and now Ryan Williams has decided to give professional football a shot as well.  Williams made it official on Sunday morning, letting Virginia Tech know that he was not going to return for another season.

“It came down to what I felt like was the best decision for me,” Williams said. “When they say you have the potential to be a first rounder, that’s something that’s hard to pass up. This has been my dream since I was 6 and I’ve never wanted to do anything else. This is an opportunity to help out my family and especially my brother. 

“I want to thank Coach Beamer for giving me the opportunity to play. I remember when he came for my home visit with a No. 34 jersey and he told me I’d look good in it. I just thank him for the opportunity to play for his team. I also have thank Coach Hite for the opportunity to play in his backfield and for teaching my how to block and Coach Stinespring for allowing me to play for his offense.”

Williams burst on to the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2009, rushing for 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns.  Injuries hampered him a bit in 2010, as he finished the season with only 477 yards and nine touchdowns.  Still, he's been told that he's likely to go in the first two rounds of the NFL draft, and that's a hard opportunity for anyone to pass up.  Particularly when you play a position that's known to have a short shelf-life.
Posted on: January 6, 2011 4:02 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2011 4:07 pm
 

VT's Evans declaring for NFL Draft

Posted by Chip Patterson

After the Orange Bowl, Virginia Tech running back Darren Evans made it clear that he was going to seriously consider his options regarding the 2011 NFL Draft.  The redshirt junior has one year of eligibility left with the Hokies, but has been leaning towards turning pro for some time.  On Thursday, he made his decision official via a school release.

“After sitting down with family, I’ve decided to declare for the NFL Draft,” Evans said in the official release. “I felt like this is the best opportunity for me and my family. This was a tough decision because Virginia Tech was good to me and my family and I had fun. I was blessed to play at Virginia Tech and at that level of football. I have plans to graduate and I will, but the NFL has always been a dream so it’s hard to pass it up right now.”

This decision makes sense for a couple of reasons.  Evans got married last winter, and the opportunity to provide for his young son is not something that he is prepared to risk.  He tore his ACL the summer before the 2009 season and it forced him to miss the entire year.  He has been dinged up a few times this season as well, but nothing serious enough to greatly jeopardize his status.  Still, one more injury to his knee could shut the window of opportunity to play professionally.  During his redshirt freshman season, Evans was the ACC Rookie of the Year and Orange Bowl MVP.  When he returned to the lineup in 2010, he shared the backfield duties with 2009's star Ryan Williams and sophomore David Wilson.

“I’m very happy for Darren and his family,” running backs coach Billy Hite said. “At the same time, I’m very sad because of the kind of player he is and he’s an even better person than he is a player. We’re really going to miss him in our football program and I obviously want to wish him the best of luck with his future in the NFL.”
Posted on: October 10, 2010 1:07 am
Edited on: October 10, 2010 2:09 am
 

What I learned from the ACC (Oct. 9)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. Florida State Is In The ACC Driver's Seat - Everyone seemed to bail on the Seminoles after getting run by the Sooners, but Florida State is actually sitting pretty well after steamrolling the Hurricanes 45-17 in Miami.  The FSU committee-style running game continues to succeed, with the Seminoles racking up 298 yards rushing against Miami.  Jermaine Thomas rushed 16 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns while sophomore Chris Thompson added 14 carries for 158 yards and a touchdown.  The Seminoles may not be the air-attack that was projected before the season, but they are still dangerous.
 
2. No Reason To Panic In Raleigh - Emotions run high the N.C. State fan base, and as great as things looked before the Virginia Tech game, the Hokies did their best to pop the Wolfpack's balloon with their 41-30 come from behind victory.  But no need for worry, the Wolfpack are right back on track with their 44-17 rout of Boston College on Saturday.  Russell Wilson was grooving, completing 38 of 51 passes for 328 yards and three touchdowns.  No worries, one home loss does not mean N.C. State is still not a dangerous threat in the ACC.

3. The Tar Heels' Unlikely Hero -  North Carolina running back Johnny White's journey has taken him all over the field for the Tar Heels in his career.  White has lined up at running back, wide receiver, defensive back, and on the coverage team in his tenure at Chapel Hill.  In the midst of NCAA investigation-related suspensions, White has emerged as one of the cornerstones of the North Carolina team at starting running back.  White continued his run in the 21-16 victory against Clemson with 89 yards rushing and 90 yards receiving with two touchdowns.  White was not expected to contribute like he has, but the senior has stepped up in tumultuous times for the Heels.   

4. Virginia Tech's BCS Hopes Are Not Dead - Another team that got written off early, the Virginia Tech Hokies are still alive after falling out of the polls early in the season.  With a 2-0 conference record, the Hokies are still at the top of the ACC, competing for a spot in the Orange Bowl.  After last week's comeback win against N.C. State and the 45-21 deconstruction of Central Michigan, VT has the confidence back to step up and reclaim their spot among the nations elite.  No Ryan Williams has been no problem for Beamer's crew, with Darren Evans and David Wilson rising to the occasion in his absence.  

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Posted on: September 30, 2010 8:39 pm
 

Ryan Williams out this weekend for Virginia Tech

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Those wondering about the availability of Virginia Tech's all-conference tailback Ryan Williams may wonder no further; the all-conference tailback was ruled out of his second straight game by the Hokies today as Williams continues to recover from a hamstring injury.

Hamstring injuries have a nasty habit of lingering for indefinite amounts of time, and aside from trying to help the healing process along with therapy like ultrasound stimulation, it really does come down to nothing more than patience and careful monitoring. 

Fortunately, though, there may be no position in all of college football where a certain team has an embarrassment of riches than Virginia Tech has at running back. Even without Williams, Virginia Tech can depend on Darren Evans (2nd team all-ACC rusher as a freshman) and David Wilson (Virginia Tech's most productive rusher this season). Considering QB Tyrod Taylor and FB Josh Oglesby are both still healthy, the Virginia Tech backfield is still one of the most formidable in the nation.

Posted on: September 25, 2010 1:40 pm
 

Hokies up 7-0 on BC at half

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While not having Ryan Williams available this week seems to be slowing down the Virginia Tech offense a bit this week, his absence hasn't stopped them from carrying a 7-0 lead into halftime against Boston College in Chestnut Hill.  Though they've been given quite a bit of help from Boston College miscues.

Darren Evans is responsible for Virginia Tech's lone score, punching it into the end zone from three yards out on the first play of the second quarter.  Also, while he hasn't been spectacular, Tyrod Taylor has been efficient without his top running back behind him, completing seven of his nine pass attempts for 109 yards.

Though the real story of this game has been Boston College's mistakes in the red zone.  After driving down the field midway through the first quarter the Eagles had a first and goal from the Tech ten-yard line.  After failing to get in on their first two plays, quarterback Dave Shinskie was intercepted by Jayron Hosley in the end zone.

Then to make matters worse, at the end of the half the Eagles had a first and goal with 15 seconds left in the half and no timeouts.  Shinskie dropped back to pass, but after being unable to find an open receiver, he took off for the end zone.

Only to come up a foot short and be tackled in bounds keeping the clock running.  So instead of being up at least 10-7, Shinskie's mistakes have BC down seven at the half.


Posted on: September 18, 2010 4:47 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2010 5:16 pm
 

Virginia Tech finally gets that elusive 'W'

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It may have taken three weeks, but the Virginia Tech Hokies are finally on the board with their first win of the season.  While it probably doesn't completely remove the sting of last week's embarrassing loss to James Madison -- or the accompanying t-shirt -- it surely helps bring Hokie Nation back in off the ledge a bit.

What had been a back and forth first half in Blacksburg quickly turned into Virginia Tech domination in the second half, as the Hokies dominated the game's final 30 minutes, outscoring East Carolina 28-3 after halftime.  The Pirates did extend their halftime lead to 27-21 before the Hokies just took over.

With the Hokies missing Ryan Williams, David Wilson stepped right in and took over, scoring the touchdown that gave Virginia Tech a 28-27 lead, and they never looked back.  A few minutes later Wilson found the end zone again to extend the lead to 35-27.

Rashad Carmichael provided the final nail in the coffin early in the fourth quarter when he picked off a Dominique Davis pass and took it back 68 yards to the house.  Carmichael would strike again later, picking off another Davis pass.  On the very next play Tyrod Taylor hit Jarrett Boykin for a 69-yard touchdown to make it 49-27.

After that all the Hokies had to do was run out the clock.

Of course, while finally getting on the board with a victory is nice for Frank Beamer and the Hokies, there still could be some bad news when we find out how bad Ryan Williams' hamstring injury is.  Though Darren Evans and David Wilson did fill in quite nicely, finishing with a combined 165 yards and three touchdowns.

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