Saturday, August 12, 2006

Turkey Talk Update

Those of you wishing to find the lowdown regarding Virginia Tech position previews as well as season opponent analysis, trust me -- it's on the way, but for you hardcore readers wonderin' what's the delay, here's my excuse:

With the start of the fall semester at Virginia Tech just around the corner (classes begin Aug. 21), all next week I will be out of town relaxing at the beach, getting my act together, if you will, before heading back to Tech. (Not that bad of a way for a 19-year-old college student to spend the last seven days of his summer after bein' on the grind for the past three months).

So, big deal Andrew, right? Well upon returning, I will be part of a new blogging network, with a completely new site, but still devoted to the same ol' Hokies. My writing responsibilities with the Virginia Tech school newspaper, the Collegiate Times, will have returned, seeing as I already have three football stories lined up, all of which are going to be published in the CT's team preview. These individual works are not to be outdone by additional team insight posted online, and actually just an overall total commitment to posting anything and everything considered Hokie.

Until then, LET'S GO ... HO - KIES !!!

Andrew Kinney
Turkey Talk

Friday, August 11, 2006

Hokie Football: CB Jahre Cheeseman Injured

Another Tech injury in the secondary. Just days after first-string cornerback Roland Minor got in a car wreck, redshirt freshman Jahre Cheeseman tore his lateral meniscus and is expected to have surgery. The 5-9, 200 prospect was reportedly coming along well, having made the most progress of anyone in the secondary during the spring training sessions. Diagnosis on his recovery time is listed at three to six weeks.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Hokie Football: Season Tickets

Keeping all you future Hokie season ticket holders out there up to date, courtesy of Hokiesports.com
Season football tickets to be mailed this week
All tickets anticipated to be delivered by Monday
August 9, 2006

BLACKSBURG - The Virginia Tech Athletics Department announced Wednesday that the 2006 season football tickets would be shipped starting today and should be completed by tomorrow. The shipping is being handled by Virginia Tech's contracted ticket printer, Weldon, Williams and Lick. The company will coordinate the shipping from Fort Smith, Ark.

UPS will begin processing the first shipment of the packages marked for Three Day Delivery today but due to the size of the shipment, some packages may not be en route until Thursday.

Individuals with post office boxes will have their packages sent via First Class Mail. The Athletic Ticket Office anticipates that most customers will have their tickets in hand by Monday, Aug. 14.

Every patron who has an email account listed with the athletic ticket office will be notified of their tracking number via email.
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They're coming ... 2006 Virginia Tech Football season tickets ... Are you ready?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hokie Athletics: 2005 - 2006 ACC Honor Roll

It's always a good thing to read about Hokie student-athletes excelling at that other reason they came to college -- academics, and yesterday I was able to do just that, as the ACC announced its 2005-2006 Academic Honor Roll, recognizing student-athletes from all 12 schools who maintained a 3.0 grade point average or better for the full academic year.

Altogether, more than 2,500 student-athletes in the conference were honored for their hard work in the classroom, with the top representation on the list from one school coming from Duke (of course) with 362 students. Tech placed 177 of their very own on the list, and of those represented by the university, 24 football players made the cut, including starters Sean Glennon, Brandon Pace, and Carlton Powell.

Hokie Football: Grohing for the Better

Al GrohJust a little letter I composed this morning to Virginia Cavalier head coach Al Groh. I'll be sure to send this out later today.

Al Groh
University of Virginia Athletic Department
McCue Center - PO Box 400837
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4837
August 8, 2006

Dear Mr. Groh,

Now I know your title as Virginia Cavalier head coach has been extremely frustrating as of late, especially with the troubled offseason you and your program have being experiencing, as well as the recent success (or lack thereof) against in-state rival Virginia Tech, so on that note, I send this letter in the highest regard and respect for your program, free of any ill will. More specifically, however, this letter pertains to the recent news regarding one of the better players on your roster, Mr. Deyon Williams.

First of all, let me be the one to praise you for your coaching skills in turning Mr. Williams into such a talented prospect, with the young man currently having several impressive accomplishments to his name, all of which I am sure you are familiar, such as ranking amongst the top three in the conference last season in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. The time you have spent nurturing this talent seems to have been well spent, and for that I commend you.

That being said however, I found it appropriate to mention a brief recommendation to you and your program on behalf of Mr. Williams' recent injury -- the stress fracture to his foot that he suffered earlier this week.

As I continue, please do realize that I say the following not knowing, perhaps, every detailed aspect of background information on the following issue, but, in addition to possessing a legitimate amount of football knowledge, as well as having read the report regarding Mr. Williams' injury, I have accumulated enough information on the topic to come up with a simple conclusion, which I offer to you.

Today's local area newspapers reported on Mr. Williams' injury, and for the following example, let's refer to the work of the renowned Hampton Roads newspaper, The Virginian-Pilot, whose sportswriter Ed Miller was all over yesterday's incident, writing about the costly loss of Williams that your program now has to address.

After reading the first few lines of the piece, which announced Williams had succumbed to a serious injury, being the devoted Hokie fan that I am, I grinned, for I always find it satisfying to relish in the misfortunes of your program. All in all though, Williams' particular story wasn't too much of a shock, seeing as all programs encounter injuries, and there really isn't anything you, as a coach, can do to prevent such things from occurring.

Or so I thought, until my eyes scrolled over the next line of the said article, which read something like this:
Williams, an All-ACC candidate, had been practicing since camp opened Friday but complained of soreness in his foot. Virginia head coach Al Groh said he did not recall which one.
Immediately upon finishing that sentence, I stopped reading. Though I'm sure no other readers found that statement as nearly offensive as I did, I couldn't contain myself, forcing me to go as far as to type up this letter and speak my mind, giving you a simple piece of advice, perhaps letting you 'Groh for the Better'.

Which leads me, Mr. Groh, to my point. In regards to Mr. Williams' injury (and do correct me if I am wrong here), but wouldn't it have been ideal to pay a tad bit more attention to the needs of Mr. Williams, arguably your best offensive player, especially when he specifically told you he was in pain, as to avoid him suffering a major injury only days later?

On the contrary however, I know football players are expected to maintain an invincible, 'Bad to the Bone' mentality, showing no signs of weakness and playing through any degree of pain, but in this case -- during a mere training session in early August, is the participation of a player, and one of your best ones at that, all that necessary? Would it have been too much of a detriment to your program to let Mr. Williams sit out a week or two to recover? Regardless how you answer, now you've lost his skills for almost two months -- the estimated amount of time a player with an injury of this sort needs to fully heal.

In conclusion, though my opinions and background reasoning throughout this letter have been thorough and detailed in nature, my suggestion for you comes as a brief, simple bit of advice. I am sure you are kicking yourself for the way this incident has unfolded, so the following words are most likely an utter reiteration of what you have been thinking over the few days to do about the situation. Had you taken the simple time to address Williams' mild situation (when it was first presented to you), you quite possibly could have prevented his resulting injury. Your lack of judgment and decisive action just sums up the overall mediocrity of your performance during your tenure in Charlottesville, and things don't look to get better for your team anytime soon..

So, Mr. Groh, without further ado, here's my advice:

Just quit.

Sincerely,
Andrew Kinney
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
Class of 2008

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Hey, there's always NASCAR.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Hokie Football: Catchin' Up

Several events in regards to Hokie football transpired over the weekend while I was out of town (and unable to access any computer with internet connection capability), so here's a quick recap of what I missed:

  • With less than a month remaining before Virginia Tech's home opener against Northeastern, the Hokies held their first fall practice Friday afternoon. The team workout, which reportedly had a total turnout of more than a hundred players (105 to be exact, 17 of them being D-1A college football newbies), lasted two hours, and featured each player practicing in helmets, jerseys and shorts. Practices featuring full pads for the Hokies are set to begin today.

    Following Friday's team workout, Hokie Boss Frank Beamer didn't seem too impressed with his team's overall performance, stating:
    "It was a typical first day ... we didn't throw the ball great, we didn't catch it great, the timing was off a little bit ... I think the effort's good, the attitude's good, but we've got to improve on some football."
    Again, just like Beamer's recent comments about VT's special teams last week (see the article below), his remarks aren't much for Hokie followers to fret upon, seeing as he's just going on another one of his typical rants, and in all fairness, it was the team's first official get-together since spring training ended in mid-April.

    In injury notes, Tech's secondary took a big hit talent-wise as starting cornerback Roland Minor, one of the few returning leaders from last season's top-ranked Hokie defense, suffered knee and wrist injuries following a car wreck while riding around his hometown of Washington D.C.

    According to team trainer Mike Goforth, Minor's wrist required surgery Friday to insert pins that will remain there for a period of four to six weeks, with a full recovery expected to take almost two months.

    Tech's costly loss of the experienced returnee in Minor comes at a time when the abundance of talented starters with playing time under their belt is limited, and the redshirt junior's injury will undoubtedly prompt defensive coordinator Bud Foster to rethink a few coverages heading into the earlier part of the year.

    Last year, Minor served as a talented sidekick to All-American cornerback Jimmy Williams in the defensive backfield, and on the season, the duo, combined with safeties Justin Hamilton and Aaron Rouse, combined to form a pass defense that ranked second in the nation in terms of opponent passing yards per game (149.1), second only to Miami (148.2). Also of note from that secondary was the fact they managed to only allow a total of eight scores through the air, good enough for third in the nation, all the while snatching a smooth total of 19 picks in the process, with Minor recording for three.

    Despite the fact Minor was (and, in fact, still is) expected to play an instrumental part of Foster's lockdown pass defense this year, expect true sophomore Victor Harris, one of the few freshman from last season who got to see significant playing time, to step in and fill the void left by Minor's injury.

    Victor Harris Overall, the kid's cocky, and rightfully so. He's got the speed (4.4), the durability (6-0, 200), and the swagger (his nickname is 'Macho' for crying out loud), to really emerge on the ACC scene as a star. After taking his first year to make the adjustment to college from the high school level, word is that he's developed significantly over the off-season, and is ready to showcase his improved skills come September.

    Much of Harris' time on the field last year was spent getting reps in at defensive back as well as spending significant time on special teams. Those around him have realized the tremendous amount of athleticism and potential he possesses -- Beamer and Tech's coaching staff have known this ever since welcoming the five-star recruit to Blacksburg, and are anxious to let him blossom on the season as a starter.

    One obvious example of Beamer's determination in attempting to utilize Harris' talent took place earlier this year during the team's spring training sessions. With top rushers Brandon Ore and George Bell out nursing injuries, Beamer and his staff worked the rising sophomore at running back -- point being, they had to get the kid on the field some way or another.

    Looking at Harris' new found situation though, heading into the team's season opener next month, his desired starting spot at right cornerback, playing opposite junior CB Brandon Flowers, basically fell right into his lap. Expect him to have a strong August training session, taking the time to soak in his newly acquired role and heavily prepare for the team's September season kickoff.

    Come to think of it now, as September rolls through, it'll be a relief for the young Hokie that his first few games as a starter are against some very weak competition in Northeastern, Duke, North Carolina and Cincinatti. Also a plus for Harris and the Tech secondary is by the time Georgia Tech's phenomenal supreme being at wide receiver, Calvin Johnson, and his Yellow Jackets buddies come to town, Minor should be back and ready to go, and hopefully every other Hokie will be too.

  • The USA Today Coaches' Polls were released on Friday, listing the Hokies as 16th on the list. Definitely a bit higher than I (and everyone else) would have expected, but it's nothing to get riled up about -- they're just preseason rankings, y'all.
  • Sunday, August 06, 2006

    Hokie Football: Switcheroo

    Here's an article, courtesy of The Virginian-Pilot, which mainly focuses on the current status of ex-Hampton Roads quarterbacks Greg Boone and Kam Chancellor, who are currently undergoing what many Hokie football players are doing -- changing positions. With the concept of both players most likely not being able to become a factor in the QB battle as well as possessing substantial size and speed, leave it to Frank Beamer to find one way or another to best utilize their talent, in this case, at tight end.
    Two area high school QBs likely will be playing new positions for Va. Tech
    By KYLE TUCKER, The Virginian-Pilot
    August 6, 2006

    BLACKSBURG - Greg Boone and Kam Chancellor both left South Hampton Roads as heralded high school quarterbacks. Each hoped the Hokies would give them a shot under center.

    And, to an extent, they have.

    Boone, the former Oscar Smith star, handled a handful of snaps in practice as he redshirted last season, then tossed a few more passes during the spring.

    Chancellor, a recent Maury grad, is Tech's fourth quarterback through two days of fall practice.

    But two factors should see both at new positions by the time the season starts.

    First, the battle for the starting quarterback job is a three-man race with Sean Glennon, Cory Holt and Ike Whitaker - all of whom have a better grasp of the offense than Boone or Chancellor.

    Second, and perhaps more important, both local products have bodies and abilities that are conducive to playing elsewhere.

    Boone, a redshirt freshman, is 6-foot-3, 275 pounds (he wants to drop 15 of those) and surprisingly agile. Sounds like a tight end, right?

    Given that Tech doesn't have a single experienced player at that position, Boone has already made the switch and could compete for the starting spot.

    "I'll be on the field this fall," he said. "I can't sit anymore."

    And Chancellor, a true freshman who has wowed the coaches since arriving this summer, could be soon to follow.

    At 6-foot-4, 218 pounds, Chancellor's athleticism is hard to ignore. In summer testing, he ran the 40 in 4.54 seconds, bench-pressed 320 pounds and had a 30-inch vertical leap.

    After Saturday's practice, Beamer pulled Chancellor and fellow true freshman Zach Luckett, a muscular 6-foot-3 player recruited as an athlete, to the side.

    He watched both work at defensive back and receiver against each other.

    "Those big guys that are fast, I'd kind of like to get them on the field," Beamer said.

    Wednesday, August 02, 2006

    Hokie Football: Beamer's Special Thoughts

    Here's hoping we don't see this sight too often, or better yet, any at all, in 2006.

    While skimming through the pages of today's sports section in the Daily Press (Hampton, Virginia's local newspaper to which I frequently refer to), I was quick to discover the following article on Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer, written by veteran sportswriter David Teel, one of the paper's premiere staff members who regularly contributes pieces covering the Hokies.

    In the write-up, Teel illustrates Beamer's preseason concerns with VT's special teams, particularly in regards to the talents of kickers Brandon Pace and Jared Develli, by saying:
    "I want to make it clear," Beamer said. "I think we've got to get better in the kicking game."
    To be honest, Beamer's remark comes off as a bit of a surprise, seeing as Tech's kicking game features two of the conference's best in Pace and Develli, who are both coming off stellar years with impressive season statistics that Teel specifically points out later in his writing.
    "...Develli produced 29 touchbacks in 64 kickoffs; (while) Pace made 19 of 22 field goals and scored a school-record 108 points, this after a first-team all-conference season in 2004."
    Beamer's concerns aside, after witnessing Tech's special teams have a solid 2005 season, I can't really picture the strengths of that unit, the kicking and punting game in particular, falling off much at all, seeing as both Pace and Develli, as well as one hoss of a man in punter Nic Schmitt are all returning, and shouldn't be too hesitant in getting back to business from where they left off.

    Following what Frank had to say, I see the scenario as this: At this point and time, with only a month remaining before Virginia Tech's season opener, Beamer is trying to inspire and motivate his special teams to stay focused in their preseason training and work harder than ever prior to September's opening kickoff, thus reiterating their importance to the team in the process.

    One of Beamer's main claims to fame was his personal connection to the success of his special teams, whose game-breaking performances over the years garnered huge attention for the program. With the unit's style and success becoming so recognized, there success went as far as to even have a specific nickname coined after them in BeamerBall.

    Back to Beamer's comments though, ultimately, there shouldn't be any real worry for Hokie fans about Beamer and his ranting, seeing as he has also been notorious for being a perfectionist when it comes to Hokie special teams, seeing as he has taken on the sole title of special teams coach and views their performance as a direct reflection upon himself.

    All that being said, here's what Teel had to say, you can take a look at the article in its original state here, or read below.
    Beamer's worries special
    by David Teel, Daily Press
    August 2, 2006

    Virginia Tech football faithful, not to mention coach Frank Beamer, know their list of preseason concerns by heart: inexperience at quarterback, tight end and guard; lack of depth at tailback, linebacker and the defensive line.

    But as the Hokies await Friday's opening practice, Beamer raises another issue.

    "I want to make it clear," he said. "I think we've got to get better in the kicking game."

    Huh? Beamer bemoaning his special teams? That's like Exxon Mobil carping about its second-quarter profit ($7.64 billion, but who's counting?).

    If there's been one constant during the Beamer era, poised for its 20th season, a top-shelf kicking game is it.

    "That's the part of college football that (Beamer) put as much emphasis on, and brought to the forefront, as anybody," Boston College coach Tom O'Brien said. "Everybody would give lip service to it, but (he) actually made it work."

    So well that the Hokies blocked 62 kicks during the 1990s, more than any other Division I-A program. So well that kick returners such as Andre Davis and DeAngelo Hall, and placekickers such as Shayne Graham and Brandon Pace, have orchestrated many a victory.

    Moreover, Tech boasts what Beamer considers the best group of kickers he's coached: punter Nic Schmitt, kickoff specialist Jared Develli and Pace. Schmitt averaged 43.2 yards per punt last season and placed 15 punts inside the 20-yard line; Develli produced 29 touchbacks in 64 kickoffs; Pace made 19 of 22 field goals and scored a school-record 108 points, this after a first-team all-conference season in 2004.

    Still, Beamer's not happy. Not happy with coverages and returns. Not happy with a decline in blocked kicks.

    Nor should he be. The Hokies haven't returned a kickoff or punt for a touchdown in either of the last two seasons, and last year they ranked 88th nationally in kickoff returns, 62nd in punt returns. Their third-quarter meltdown in the ACC championship game began when Florida State's Willie Reid scored on an 83-yard punt return.

    Most worrisome, blocked kicks, the staple of Beamerball, have slowed to a relative trickle. Last season the Hokies blocked two field goals and a punt, matching the second-lowest total of Beamer's tenure. In the last three seasons, Tech has blocked 11 kicks; in the previous three seasons the Hokies blocked 22.

    "We've been back there ... and haven't quite gotten them blocked," Beamer said.

    Only one player on this season's roster has blocked a kick in a college game. Sophomore cornerback Macho Harris deflected a punt in the 2005 regular-season finale against North Carolina.

    Have opponents finally caught on to Beamer's special-teams legerdemain? He doesn't believe so. "We've just got to perform," he said.

    More so because with new starters at quarterback (either Sean Glennon, Cory Holt or Ike Whitaker), guard (some combination of Nick Marshman, Sergio Render and Ryan Shuman) and tight end (Sam Wheeler), Tech's offense may stagger out of the gate. If the kicking game can generate touchdowns and/or good field position, the untested offense can afford some missteps.

    The critical early test will come at North Carolina in the season's second week. The Tar Heels won three of four home conference games last year, and in 2004 extended the visiting Hokies until the final horn before losing 27-24. That game turned dicey when UNC blocked a Vinnie Burns punt for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

    "In the last 10 years I think one of the biggest changes in college football is that people have concentrated on special teams much more," Beamer said. "I mean everyone. Ten years ago you had a chance to get a little advantage on people because maybe they didn't emphasize them as much as you did."

    Virginia Tech needs that little advantage more than ever.

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Hokie Football: Rackin' Up Recruits

    With Virginia Tech's official summer training sessions just around the corner, and the Northeastern season opener looming in the near future, it's safe to say that the Hokies' coaching staff has been extremely busy over the past month, with perhaps no bigger testament to this statement being the recent results produced by VT strong safety and outside linebacker coach, Jim Cavanaugh.

    Cavanaugh, currently going on his 10th year with the program, also serves as the team's recruiting coordinator, a title he earned back in 2002. His full acquiring of the job was undoubtedly a direct result of the major role he played in bringing Michael Vick to come play for the Orange and Maroon. Cavanaugh's current list of other recruits he has brought into Blacksburg doesn't look too shabby either, as in addition to Vick, he has landed the talents of 2004 ACC Player of the Year Bryan Randall, both Nathaniel and Xavier Adibi, plus standout defensive linemen Jonathan Lewis and Chris Ellis.

    Lately though, Cavanaugh has been on a roll in attracting new talent to the Burg, as the coach has been racking up a boatload of recruits -- an ACC-leading 21 to be exact, with 19 of those recruits coming throughout the month of July.

    Since acquiring quarterback sensation Tyrod Taylor on July 22, eight additional recruits have declared their verbal commitments to Virginia Tech, with the following four having announced their decision during just yesterday alone:

    NamePositionStarsHeightWeight40HometownStateStatus
    Ellison, RhettTE* * *6-5230N/AMountain ViewCAVT Commit
    Latif, KhalilOL* * *6-32904.92MidlothianVAVT Commit
    Prince, CourtneyDEPending6-22605.0BrandywineMDVT Commit
    Tweedy, AlonzoDB* *6-11734.5RichmondVAVT Commit

    After having to endure all the controversy, speculation, and let-downs over this past year with VT, Hokie readers should be relieved to see things starting to come together for the program, especially in regards to the team's recruiting practices and success. Tech's roster future is shaping up in a promising fashion, with the potential for several more big name recruits to declare themselves future Hokies highly likely to occur.

    All in all, things couldn't be going any better for Cavanaugh and his 2006 recruiting campaign, except perhaps for the factoring in of a successful regular season, conference title win and Bowl Game victory.

    But all that happening is purely another story, and good enough to cause a migraine. Let's just take this time to focus on the good news rolling in for VT, and save the headaches for later.

    Monday, July 31, 2006

    Hokie Football: Familiar Faces, New Places

    Just a few snapshots of former Hokie standouts Marcus Vick, Jimmy Williams, and Daryl Tapp in their respective NFL training camps over the past weekend.
    71526457DB005_Miami_Dolphin_8_41_19_PM
    DAVIE, FL - JULY 30: Wide receiver Marcus Vick #16 of the Miami Dolphins reaches up to catch a pass during training camp at Nova Southeastern University on July 30, 2006 in Davie, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

    71519766BW001_falcons_6_32_56_PM
    FLOWERY BRANCH, GA - JULY 27: Cornerback Jimmy Williams #4 (Left) and wide receiver Michael Jenkins #12 of the Altanta Falcons go for the ball during the Atlanta Falcons training camp on July 27, 2006 in Flowery Branch, Georgia. (Photo by Barry Williams/Getty Images)
    71522779OG025_Seahawks_Camp_7_55_00_PM
    CHENEY, WA - JULY 29: Defensive end Darryl Tapp #55 of the Seattle Seahawks looks to tackle running back Josh Scobey #33 as fullback David Kirtman #34 blocks during training camp on July 29, 2006 at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)