Football Scrimmage Report by Wandering Hokie - 4/8/99

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Make no mistake, the offense got the best of the defense yesterday, and it was not a fluke. Barring a host of injuries, the Hokie 'O' will be able to spread the field and overcome the impotence they have displayed the last two seasons. Either Vick or Meyer can bring a new dimension to the passing game, and by fall I believe Noel could as well.

I have been to a bunch of these scrimmages the last two years, and I never have seen the defense as PO'd as it was yesterday. Yet, they could not stop the offense on emotion alone like they could in past years. This can only be good for both teams. Last year the offense could not effectively practice because they could not sustain a drive. The defense never had to stop a sustained drive in practice. I love the defense, but it sure was nice to see players like Andre Kendrick taunting the 'D' for a change. They have taken a lot of insults in practice the last two years.

I saw where HokieBrad speculated that perhaps the 1st team 'O' faced the 2nd team 'D'. That was not the case. It was 1 versus 1, 2 versus 2, and 3 versus 3 the whole scrimmage. The interior 'D' was somewhat hampered by the absence of Carl Bradley and Nat Williams, both wearing the blue shirts indicating minor injuries. I also never saw David Pugh. However, with Engelberger and Beasley, the 1st team tackles were still quite capable. The only other absences I noted on 'D' were Summers (2nd) team and one of the linebackers (Hawkes?), but there were legitimate potential starters on the VTD at every position on the field. Whitaker and Charlton played corner on the 1st team. Samuel appears to be the #2 free safety now, with Pile on the 3rd team. Can you say depth?

The offense also had some absences. Among the players I never saw were deep threats Ricky Hall and Emmett Johnson, injured tailback Lee Suggs, fullback Jarrett Ferguson, and Center Keith Short. I didn't have a roster, and there have may have been number changes, so if I missed someone, forgive me. All told, I think the absences hurt both groups.

Running Game: Wow! Has Burnell got some moves or what? Granted, he was facing the 3rd team 'D', but he was also running behind the third team OL. He can stop and change directions faster than any Hokie back I can remember. We all know about Stith and love to watch him. Shyrone makes me envision a bowling ball wiggling through prospective tacklers. Burnell is different, he can completely reverse his field in a millisecond. Kendrick surprised me with his tough goal line running, he looks stronger. At fullback, Wayne Ward threw him a great block on the LB that sprung Andre for a three yard TD. I was impressed with Wayne's blocking so soon into his time at FB. He could be a breakaway running threat at that position like Marcus Parker was, while being an effective blocker as well.

Passing Game: I was amazed at how well the QB's got the ball downfield without two of their best deep threats. However, as Meyer's stats indicate, most of the deeper passing success came against the 2nd team. Which brings me to:

DB's: Samuel still needs more time at safety, and Larry Austin's size could be a liability. Vick threw the ball well, but Whitaker and Charlton are tough at CB. Both have the athleticism and cockiness required to survive and succeed at that position. The free safety position is up for grabs in my opinion. The athletes are there, but not the instincts yet. I still wouldn't be surprised to see Midget given a shot there with Whitaker playing so well.

OL: The competition brought by numbers of healthy bodies has brought a new intensity to OL play. There was more time for the QB's for sure, although still not as much as you would like. However. consider the 'D' they are facing. The backs we have this year will not need much of a seam. Wednesday, they were hitting that seam. Whether the return of Nat and Carl will change that remains to be seen.

As the 'O' is starting to experience success, I see them developing the same "team spirit" that the 'D' has had. It doesn't matter who makes the play, they all celebrate as one.

DL and LBs: Depth and talent galore. No worries here.

I am cautiously optimistic that VT can win another Big East championship this fall.

-- Wandering Hokie