News With Commentary by TSL Staff

Friday, September 3, 2004
by Will Stewart,

Royal Takes Over Top Spot on Depth Chart

Eddie Royal's fast start in the Virginia Tech football program continues. Just 11 days after the start of classes in his freshman year at VT, Royal has been named #1 at the flanker position. To accommodate the move, the Hokies coaches have switched Josh Hyman from flanker to split end, where he's listed as #1 opposite Royal. Also notable is that Chris Clifton and Richard Johnson, after getting the most snaps against USC at split end and flanker respectively, have been bumped to third string.

The depth chart shifts come as a result of disappointing performances by Clifton and Johnson against the Trojans. Clifton dropped two passes, including a key drop that would have given the Hokies first down inside the USC 20 yard line early in the game. Johnson led the Hokie receivers with three catches for 27 yards, but he made a critical mistake at the beginning of the fourth quarter when he ran a five-yard pattern on 3rd and 8 and was tackled short of the first down, forcing the Hokies to punt.

Johnson also was unimpressive on punt returns, letting most of USC punter Tom Malone's punts hit and roll. He returned one punt for 10 yards in the game, and Royal has been getting extensive work at punt returner in practice this week.

Behind Royal is fellow true freshman Justin Harper, and #2 behind Hyman is another true freshman, Josh Morgan. In all, the current depth chart lists three true freshmen and one redshirt freshman (Hyman) in the top four receiver spots.

Hyman was arguably the star at receiver against USC, catching one pass for 12 yards and a touchdown, plus having a nice 32-yard reception nullified by a questionable pass interference call.

If the current depth chart stands, Harper and Morgan will get their indoctrination into college football against Western Michigan on September 11th. Between the two of them, they played just one snap on Saturday, by Harper. Royal only took 10 snaps from the receiver position against the Trojans, but Hyman had 42 snaps, third among the receivers to Clifton (47) and Johnson (45).

Offensive Line Depth a Concern

Notable against USC is that the Hokie offensive line backups didn't play a single snap against the Trojans. Jimmy Martin, Reggie Butler, Will Montgomery, James Miller, and Jon Dunn played all 69 snaps in the BCA Classic.

Against Western Michigan September 11th and Duke September 18th, look for the backups -- LG Jason Murphy, C Danny McGrath, RG Mike Parham, and RT Brandon Frye -- to get snaps. Butler is listed as the backup at left tackle behind Martin, with true freshman Nick Marshman (6-5, 334) listed third.

Randall Closing in on Total Offense and Passing Records

Bryan Randall had 235 yards of total offense against the Trojans, and while that wasn't enough to move him from #4 to #3 on Tech's all-time total offense list, he is closing fast on #3 Will Furrer. Randall has 5,494 yards of total offense, just 288 yards behind Furrer's 5,782 yards. Maurice DeShazo, VT's starting QB from 1992-94, stands first on the list with 6,105 yards.

To take over the #1 spot on the total yardage list, Randall would need to average a mere 56 yards of offense per game over VT's last 11 regular-season games. Over his two years as a starter, Randall has averaged 188 yards of offense per game, which would put him on pace to break the record against West Virginia on October 2nd of this year. If Randall continues at that pace of 188 yards per game, he'll end up with over 7,500 yards by the end of the regular season.

Randall also has a good shot at breaking the Virginia Tech career passing yardage record, currently held by Don Strock with 6,009 yards. Randall has 4,397 yards passing, which means he would need 1,613 yards to top Strock. To break that in the regular season, Randall would have to average 146 yards passing per game, and if the Hokies go to a bowl, that average drops to 134 yards per game, since bowl game stats now count in NCAA statistics (as of 2002).

For more on Randall's quest to break the total offense and passing records, see today's TSLMail.


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