2008 Spring Football Game Preview

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Virginia Tech’s spring football game will take place in Lane Stadium on
Saturday at 2pm. There will be a lot of new faces on both sides of the ball. To
get you ready for the game, we offer you this 2008 spring game primer, including
a link to a roster card for both teams.

Roster
Card (PDF format)

Several Hokies will be wearing new numbers this season, and in case you
haven’t heard about it, here are the changes.


New Numbers in 2008

Name

Position

Old Number

New Number

Davon Morgan

Rover

31

2

Jason Worilds

DE

43

6

Sam Wheeler

TE

83

18

Davon Morgan takes over the #2 vacated by Josh Morgan, while Jason Worilds
switches to #6. Sam Wheeler will wear #18, but he is still out with a knee
injury.

There will be a number of other players that you might not be familiar with
that will be playing big roles. Here is a list of guys that you’ll be seeing in
action for the first time.


New Faces

Name

Position

Number

Cris Hill

CB

9

Danny Coale

WR

19

Josh Oglesby

RB

25

Alonzo Tweedy

FS

30

Darren Evans

RB

32

Hunter Ovens

LB

40

Kenny Younger

FB

48

Barquell Rivers

LB

52

Demetrius Taylor

DT

56

Courtney Prince

DT

59

Blake DeChristopher

OT

62

Jaymes Brooks

OG

68

Greg Nosal

OT

75

Will Alvarez

OG

76

Brandon Dillard

WR

80

Patrick Terry

WR

83

Ervin Garner

WR

85

Chris Drager

TE

86

Khalil Latif

DT

92

Andrew Lanier

TE

94

Justin Young

DT

96

Most of the players on that list are r-freshmen. You’ve probably heard of all of
them, but not everyone is familiar with what number they’ll be wearing. There
are a few older guys on that list, such as walk-on r-junior Brandon Dillard, who
has his chance to start at wide receiver this year. Kenny Younger is a junior
fullback who will see plenty of action, while Alonzo Tweedy and Courtney Prince
are true freshmen who grayshirted. Demetrius Taylor is a r-junior who is getting
the first major action of his career.

As usual, there are injuries in the spring. Here is a list of players who
will not see action in the spring game because of injury.


Injured

Name

Position

Injury

Ryan Shuman

C

Knee

Sam Wheeler

TE

Knee

Chris Drager

TE

Knee

Kenny Lewis

RB

Shoulder

Jahre Cheeseman

RB

Leg

Kwamaine Battle

DT

Shoulder

Most of those injuries are on offense, as you can see. They have all given other
offensive players the opportunity to step up.

Special Rules

  • Four 8-minute quarters
  • Quarterbacks are live
  • Kicking game is live
  • 1-minute timeout after punts
  • No trick plays allowed
  • No more than 5 men on a pass rush

Things to Look for, Position by Position

There aren’t a lot of conclusions you can take out of the spring game. The
team is usually divided up, and each team will have an offensive line that isn’t
used to playing with each other, and each quarterback will have half of his
usual complement of receivers. Don’t look at points scored, or total offensive
yards, or anything like that, because they aren’t likely to be all that
impressive. In the end, the game doesn’t matter all that much. Dave Meyer was
better than Michael Vick during the spring game back in 1999.

Quarterback

There will be no yellow jersey on the quarterbacks. They are going live,
which means they can be tackled to the ground. That will be good for Tyrod
Taylor, who can make plays with his feet.

That will not be good for Sean Glennon in this particular game. Glennon will
only have two offensive line starters in front of him (Wang and Render), and
he’ll be facing the best pass rusher at defensive end, Jason Worilds. To top it
off, his starting center will be a walk-on.

However, Glennon does have the better wide receivers to throw the ball to in
Brandon Dillard and Zach Luckett. But will he have time to make those throws?
We’ll see.

Again, take the spring game with a grain of salt. Like I said before, Dave
Meyer was better than Michael Vick in 1999 spring game. Don’t take much stock in
the final stats for each guy. Try to pay attention and see if the quarterbacks
make the right decisions, and if they throw the ball into coverage.

Running Back

Virginia
Tech will have just three tailbacks for this game. Darren Evans and Josh Oglesby
will be on separate teams. Evans seems to be winning that battle right now, but
Oglesby is an explosive guy who is more than capable as a runner. Comparing
their performances will be interesting.

Pay attention and see which offensive linemen each back has blocking for him.
Evans will play on the white team, with Sean Glennon. He doesn’t have the most
starting linemen, but he does have the best starting lineman in Sergio Render,
and he’ll be facing Tech’s weakest group of defensive tackles. Oglesby’s
starting line features three offensive line starters, as well as Jaymes Brooks,
who is probably Tech’s best backup right now.

This is a big day for both Oglesby and Evans. Both guys have a chance to earn
playing time, since Kenny Lewis will likely not be 100% to start the season.
They have a chance to make a statement on Saturday. Evans led Virginia Tech in
rushing during scrimmages, carrying the ball 39 times for 181 yards, a 4.6 yards
per carry average.

Try to watch the tailbacks in the passing game, when they stay in to block.
That’s important to running backs coach Billy Hite. Also, watch how each
player runs the ball, not necessarily how far he runs it.

Dustin Pickle will play tailback for both teams. He’ll have a very busy
afternoon.

At fullback, Kenny Jefferson leads the group, but Devin Perez and Kenny
Younger will be on the field a lot as well.

Wide Receiver

Brandon Dillard is Virginia Tech’s fastest player, and he’s been the most
consistent wide receiver recently. He is also the best play-making wide receiver
on the roster. Watch to see if that trend continues on Saturday. Also, watch to
see if the coaching staff uses Dillard to return any kicks.

Dillard and Zach Luckett are tops on the depth chart right now. However, they
aren’t being split up. Instead, they’ll both play on the white team with Sean
Glennon. Luckett is inconsistent, making impressive plays one day, and dropping
easy passes the next day. I don’t think he’s a natural receiver (I want him at
whip linebacker, and so does Coach Cav), but he is one of Tech’s best two
receivers right now. However, I think Luckett is a "lights on" player,
meaning he’ll show up in games, but not in practice. With people watching,
hopefully he’ll play well on Saturday.

As a group, watch the receivers block downfield. Last year’s group was
inconsistent in blocking, and this year’s group is young. Even if they aren’t
quite where they need to be as route runners, they need to be willing to sell
out in the running game.

Also, watch #85, Ervin Garner. He’s the smallest guy on the field, but he’s
also one of the fastest. I don’t think he’ll get much time at wideout this year,
but he’s being talked about as a kick and punt returner. See how much time, if
any, he gets there on Saturday.

Tight Ends

Watch Tech’s tight ends in this game and how they are used. Greg Boone will
be used as an H-back quite a bit, and might even take a handoff or two out of
the shotgun formation. Andre Smith is primarily a blocking tight end who doesn’t
see a lot of time in the passing game. R-freshman Andrew Lanier is the best
natural receiving tight end that will play in the spring game.

The Hokies have three very different tight ends, and they are all used in
different ways. Just a hunch, but Andrew Lanier will have a nice day. He is my
surprise of the spring on the offensive side of the ball.

Offensive Line

Watch
how physical the offensive line plays. Don’t just watch to see if they get beat.
See if you can tell if there is a different mentality in that group this year. I
don’t expect much running room, because I’m sure the starters will be split up,
and some of the lineups will feature guys who aren’t used to playing each other.

That’s the main thing I’ll be watching when I watch the OL on Saturday. I
want to see if they want to be mean and nasty this year. So far this spring,
they’ve been a much more physical group. That’s a good sign as we head into the
summer, where they will hopefully get bigger and stronger.

Defensive Line

Virginia Tech’s starting defensive line looks good right now, but the Hokies
don’t have much depth. They have just one reserve at defensive end, and another
one at defensive tackle, that they can depend on.

At defensive tackle, I’ll be watching Cordarrow Thompson and Demetrius
Taylor. They’ll both be starting for the white team. Thompson has dropped 30
pounds and is a much different player now. I want to see how low he keeps his
pad level, and how quick he is off the ball. I still want to see more of how
well Taylor can hold up against bigger offensive linemen, but he’s been very
impressive so far this spring.

At defensive end, I’d like to see Steven Friday step up and show that he can
play some this year. I’ll also be watching to see how many sacks Jason Worilds
gets. If the previous scrimmages are any indication, he’ll be in the backfield
quite a bit.

Linebacker

I’m convinced that Brett Warren and Purnell Sturdivant will be good
linebackers for the Hokies this year. However, they are seniors, so I’ll have my
eye on some backups. I’ll be looking at Barquell Rivers to see how he performs
at mike. He started out the spring a little slow, but he looked much improved
during last Saturday’s scrimmage.

I also want to take a look at Hunter Ovens, who is currently #3 at backer. He
is small for the position (5-10, 209). I want to see how he looks in the spring
game, because I haven’t heard much about him from the previous scrimmages.

The Hokies have a couple of solid walk-ons at linebacker in Jonas Houseright
and Mark Muncey. You’ll probably see Muncey at mike and backer for the white
team.

I don’t have any concerns at whip. Cam Martin and Cody Grimm can both do the
job at that position. Both will be starting on Saturday.

Defensive Back

I
want to see Macho Harris facing Darren Evans in a one-on-one battle on the
boundary, with Evans running downhill with a full head of steam. I want Macho to
prove that he’s physical enough to handle the boundary corner position, which
often requires the player to lineup and play like an extra linebacker. I know
Stephan Virgil is physical enough to handle the position, but Macho hasn’t
proved it yet, in my eyes at least.

Besides that, there are some interesting lineups at cornerback. For the
maroon team, Cris Hill is starting at field corner, with Rashad Carmichael at
boundary. For the white team, it will be Stephan Virgil at field, and Macho
Harris at boundary. Hmmmm…Carmichael isn’t a natural boundary, and Virgil
isn’t a natural field. It seems like those guys should switch teams. Maybe the
coaching staff is just experimenting. Either way, I’ll be watching to see how
Virgil does in space, and how Carmichael holds up on the boundary.

Kam Chancellor is taking over at free safety. Look to make sure there are no
busted coverages. The other free safety will be walk-on Ron Cooper, who has had
a pretty good spring. He’ll be wearing #37 on defense. Don’t get him confused
with Michael Reid, who is #37 on offense.

At rover, Dorian Porch is the starter. I want to see him a little more in
pass coverage. I already know he’s good against the run.

Special Teams

Who will handle the kick and punt return duties? That I don’t know. Macho
Harris is the top pick at punt returner, but the Hokies really need to find
someone else there, just in case. Boundary corner is a lot more physical than
field corner, and Harris will also be playing some wide receiver. That’s a
pretty heavy load, and that’s before returning punts and kicks.

As far as the kicking game, we hear plenty about field goals and punter.
However, who is going to be the guy kicking off for Tech? The Hokies need
someone who can put the ball in the end zone. That’s another thing to look for
on Saturday.

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