Football Practice Report by N2VTFTBL - 3/24/99

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The following comments are STRICTLY my observations about what I witnessed. NONE of this information is from chatting with coaches or insiders or any of that stuff, just things I noticed and observed. I am not a football coach, nor do I claim to be a professional judge of collegiate level football talent. Please take my comments as my opinion only. Thanks.

I concentrated my viewing and observation today on 4 areas: quarterbacks, tailbacks, receivers, and defensive backs. For the most part, it was just drills today, with not a lot of contact. They did have some good scrimmage type action at the end, but that was about the time I had to leave. Here's some thoughts on what I saw.

Quarterbacks: Without question, and no doubt whatsoever in my mind, Michael Vick is THE quarterback. He just seems to exude athleticism. His passes were crisp, and tight spirals, and he really does throw the ball with a lot of zip. He drops back or rolls out quickly, with authority, and BANG, the ball's gone. Outstanding release motion, and to me, he seems to have very good field vision. Watched them run some option drills and was impressed. He really does remind me of a smaller McNabb. Speaking of which, he most definitely is at least 6 feet tall. He's maybe 6'1", but definitely not 6'2".

I observed Bustle mainly coaching him on footwork, and foot positioning as he drops back, or as he begins to run an option play. I witnessed him throw just a few passes in fast action drills that were a little low, and just a few were a little behind. Otherwise, the majority of his passes were deadly accurate, and really do arrive with some mustard on them. Definitely the strongest arm of the bunch. He "flicked" one bomb about 65 yards like it was nothing. It wasn't caught, but could have been had the receiver not let up slightly earlier in his route. His short route tosses are definitely bullets, and I was most impressed with his medium range passing, 20 to 30 yards. They don't float, they don't arc much, they just get there in a hurry with zip. Barring injury, he's our man.

Grant Noel: Just ever so slightly bigger than Vick, height wise, but definitely heavier "looking". His lower body to me just seems to be larger and heavier. By that I mean bigger thighs and calves. Throws the ball well, not quite as strong, not quite as quick release, but he gets it there pretty good too. He's not quite as quick running with the ball, but made some nice tosses. He's gonna be a good one too, I think.

Dave Meyer: Looked good. Made some nice throws, and a few that got away from him, but for the most part looked good. Looks about the same weight as last year.

Tailbacks: Three words...WE ARE LOADED!!! I love watching Stith run, and I believe that as of right now, he's definitely the starter. I'm also impressed with Suggs, Burnell, Kendrick, heck the whole lot of them ran very well, displayed some nice moves in drills, and most all showed nice hands catching passes out of the backfield. Burnell looks a tad shorter and a bit heavier than Suggs, but both just look like true Hokie Stallions to me. We've got some serious weapons in the backfield. Watched the fullbacks briefly and Ferguson looked great, right where he left off last season, and it was fantastic to see Cullen Hawkins running again. He looked like his old self again.

Receivers: Folks, the thoughts of adding Andrae Harrison to this bunch (if he's anywhere near as good as he sounds) makes me giddy. We've NEVER had this kind of size, speed, and to me most importantly, depth, at the receiver position before. Ricky Hall looked outstanding. As of right now, he's primary target #1, no question. He went one on one with Ike a couple of times and schooled him. I saw NO drops by Hall of any balls that were legitimately catchable. Was quite pleased to see Reggie Samuel still with the receivers. He made some nice grabs and plays today too. Andre Davis looked good, Terrell Parham looked good, but with a few in the hands drops (I loved this positive constructive criticism by Coach Ball to Terrell after he dropped an easy one, "Terrell, you gotta start catching those!! Your hands are TOO GOOD to drop it!") Johnson looked good, Duane Caines made some nice grabs, Gildersleeve was especially impressive catching a few of Vick's low short range bullets, I guess 'cause he's a little lower to the ground. Overall, a fair amount of drops of ones that should be caught, and Ball stayed after them all the time. But they made some NICE athletic catches too. Ricky Hall really stood out in my mind today. Toss Andrae Harrison in with this bunch in August, after they've all learned how to catch Vick, and look out.

Defensive Backs: One word...COMPETITION!! I really think it's going to bring the best out of all of them. Was most impressed with Austin and Whitaker today. Both of them just seem to be SO fast, and both are playing tight coverage. By the way, while I'm thinking about it, I liked how the new DB coach handles himself in practice. He's loud and aggressive, and constantly coaching them. He easily commands the DB's attention, and I don't know, but I get the feeling they like him. I saw some real nice plays by Corey Bird at Rover, Sorensen at Safety, and a few others that I can't tell you who they are because the jersey numbers have gotten all shuffled up again.

The most impressive play of the day was an Austin STICK coverage on one receiver (can't remember who) running a deep post pattern. Larry was in tight bump and run right on the line, swiveled his hips and was on the WR like glue for about 35 or 40 yards and then tripped in the turf (it was rainy, muddy, and nasty today). The pass was incomplete (overthrown), but had he not tripped in the turf, there's NO WAY the receiver was going to catch it even if it had been more catchable. His reaction time, and hip pivot into full run was jaw dropping.

Overall, the team attitude looked and sounded GREAT! They all seem to be pumped up and really enjoying themselves. Lots of very vocal encouragement by other players at the various positions when someone at their position would make a nice play. Ike Charlton and Anthony Midget were especially vocal in their encouragement of the other defensive backs. A very good atmosphere, in my opinion.