TSL Round Table #9
by TechSideline.com, 8/29/02

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:  Based on what you saw in the Arkansas State game (and any other data you want to use), who do you think should start at QB for the Hokies? Grant Noel or Bryan Randall?

Sandy Cormack (Baltimore Hokie): Unfortunately we didn't get to see much of either QB, but what we did see didn't impress. Each had a nice TD toss. Noel didn't do too much else. Randall looked better and ran the option extremely well (considering the quality of the opponent). Neither, however, has taken control of the position. I guess that is what I've been looking for - someone to wrest the position from the other. Randall showed better skills but not quite the confidence, and he missed a couple of receivers badly.

Since last year, clearly Randall has improved most, but he had the most ground to make up. I'd rate them pretty much even - I can't give Randall the nod based on ASU. But I think he has the most upside and just needs the reps to overtake. I expect Noel to start against LSU, but I expect Randall to play as well. I think it's just a matter of time until Randall takes control. And that is better for us in the long run, as I see the next two-three seasons as pivotal in our program.

Dan Ramsey: Based only on what I saw in the Arkansas State game, I would say Randall should start. I say this primarily on the basis of what he can do with his feet. Bryan looked very good running the ball Sunday and seems to be at least as good as Noel at passing it, although it is difficult to infer much from the limited number of passes that each one threw. However, it certainly seems clear that Randall's arm is much improved from last year. The TD pass that he threw to Imoh was a very nicely thrown ball, as was the incompletion to Richard Johnson (at least, I think it was RJ) down the left sideline when Johnson broke in instead of out.

Simply put, I think that the two QBs are pretty close in passing ability right now, Randall has a huge advantage in terms of his mobility, he has both of his ACL's intact, and has much more upside at this point than Grant. So, if it were up to me, I'd make Bryan Randall the starting QB.

Jim Alderson: It is to my continued irritation that I must report that, once again, the coaching staff has failed to solicit my opinion and advice on the decision of which quarterback to start. This failure to seek my counsel on this matter and all others is clearly unacceptable. Who do they think they are? I demand that this outrageous snub be rectified at once. I demand that Coach Beamer and the entire offensive staff come by and ask my opinion; considering that what I think is of such monumental importance, practice can wait.

When they ask, I will tell them that I agree with the decision to start Grant Noel, as he seems to provide the best opportunity for success this season. I very much admire the mental toughness he has shown. I also am in accord with Bryan Randall seeing action, because, let's face it, Grant's knee could blow at anytime [and if it unfortunately does, let's hope it happens while he is trotting off the field after a bowl game]. That I agree with the professional football coaches Tech has employed to make such decisions is not of paramount importance, however. It is that I have not been asked.

When the coaches finally come to their senses and ask my opinion, I will also tell them that it is important to maintain a clear line of communication, not just with me but with everybody else, including, most importantly, the team, that Grant is the starter, Bryan will play, and there is no quarterback controversy. The last thing Tech needs is quarterbacks being changed with the same frequency as corps commanders were replaced in 1914 in the French Army.

Kent LaRoque: Because of his experience, I think we have to go with Noel as long as he remains healthy and can move the team. However, my sense is that the LSU game will force us into having to play Randall a lot, primarily because of the speed of LSU. I think we'll need Randall's mobility against LSU if we are to have any offensive diversification.

The other reason I think we go with Noel as long as we can is that I am now convinced that our coaches want to redshirt Marcus Vick. The longer we can play Noel and Randall in some dual role, relying on Will Hunt only when absolutely necessary, then our opportunity to do that increases.

Now, I do think we play each game and each year as they come, but Frank is clearly thinking ahead to our 2003 team and likes what he sees. You could argue that Marcus will be more effective next year with a year under his belt, but I think Frank wants him on the sidelines learning this year and in the weight room cutting about .2 or .3 off his forty time. You combine his pinpoint passing with a little more speed and quickness, and we'll be in New Orleans in early January 2004 playing for it all...

Ben Shapiro (Beerman): Arkansas State didn't show me anything about any of our quarterbacks. There was no pressure, no reason to ever throw the deep ball, and not enough pass plays called to let me get a read on anything at all. The only thing I learned watching this game was that Lee Suggs' knee looks to be healthy, and that Grant Noel doesn't need an ACL if he doesn't have to scramble.

Chris Hoover: First, I think you have to look at what we need to win the game and the risk/reward factors of both QBs. Against an opponent like Rutgers or Temple, or maybe even WMU or BC, where a solid, but non-spectacular performance by the QB is probably all that's needed to win the game for us, I think Grant Noel is the "safe bet". However, in a game against a tougher opponent like LSU or Texas A&M, where you will likely need a big play or two from your QB and you are willing to accept the possibility of some "erratic" QB play in order to better your overall chances, then I think Bryan Randall is the way to go.

If the basis of comparison is strictly the Arkansas State game, I think you have to go with Bryan Randall. His stats were much better than Noel's (albeit Noel saw very limited action) and while Randall had a couple of poor throws, he also showed some nice touch on a few balls. Most importantly, he was able to effectively run the option (crucial with the quality we have at TB) and tuck the ball and pick up positive yards when nothing was open.

I think the biggest advantage Noel has over Randall is big game experience and maybe decision making. Hopefully it was just nerves over his first significant playing time, but Randall looked a tad jumpy against Arkansas St. What's he going to be like in front of 65,000 fans against a top opponent? Meanwhile, Noel seemed to learn from the Miami debacle and came back with a much smoother effort against FSU in a New Year's Day bowl. I don't think he'd be as fazed by LSU as Randall and maybe that's what Beamer and company are thinking by having Noel start. See how Noel does and if can't get it done, then let Randall come in off the bench with a little less pressure.

After all the analysis, I'm thinking that Beamer's approach (if I'm reading it accurately) of starting Noel - with Randall ready to go - is probably a good one. It gives Noel a chance to run our complete offense to see what works and what doesn't and takes any pressure of starting off Randall. However, I would have a quick hook on Noel if he's not performing and we get down early. I would not want Randall coming in facing a 10 or 14 point deficit against LSU thinking he had to win the game all by himself.

Steve Aikens (SteveinBaltimore): I didn't see anything Sunday that I hadn't seen before. Both Grant Noel and Bryan Randall, as passers, are far from spectacular. Neither connects consistently on the long ball. And both of them miss their share, or more than their share, of easy passes too. Noel's throw behind the receiver on the first 3rd down of the game, and Randall's woefully short pass to the feet of the receiver on the screen play, are primary examples.

But I think we saw one major difference between these two guys Sunday, and that's what Randall can do with his feet. He gives a defense more to worry about -- and when the deep ball is lacking from your game, anything extra you can make the defense concern themselves with is important. So I don't feel any different today than I did after the spring game: I think Bryan Randall is better suited to QB the Hokies this year. The added bonus that he is younger and any experience he gains this year can help the team in 2003 and 2004, is just icing on the cake.

Got a suggestion for a question you want our Round Table to answer? Send it to will@techsideline.com!


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