News With Commentary by TSL Staff

Wednesday, September 29, 2004
by Stefan Adams,

VT Rankings in the National Stats

In the wake of Saturday’s 17-16 loss to North Carolina State, the Virginia Tech football team found itself in different locations in several polls and statistical categories. With respect to the national rankings, the Hokies slipped from the fringe of most Top-25 polls to outside of the top 35 (Tech sits at 39 in the Coaches Poll).

Several players who had tough days on Saturday found themselves falling in the Division-I statistical leader categories.

Senior punter Vinnie Burns averaged 38 yards per punt against the Wolfpack, nearly eight yards lower than his average entering the contest. The result was a drop in the national rankings from 4th to the 15th highest rated punter (his new average is 43.78 yards, down from 46.7).

The 192 total yards amassed by Tech on Saturday dropped their season average from 401 yards per game to 348.75. If Tech could have maintained their average, they would be ranked 42nd instead of 74th.

On the flip side, Saturday’s game resulted in rises in statistical rankings, primarily on defense. The Hokie defensive unit is currently ranked 15th in the nation for total yards allowed, yielding just 226.25 yards per game. Tech’s last opponent, N.C. State, ranks first overall with an average of 165.33 yards allowed.

Saturday’s opponent, 4-0 West Virginia, allows 298.75 yards per game which is good enough for a ranking of 31.

Junior defensive end Darryl Tapp ranks 22nd nationally in sacks with 3.5. That nearly equals the total amount of sacks the entire Mountaineer team has accrued in their four games (just four sacks, three of which came against JMU last weekend).

Junior cornerback Jimmy Williams sits at 13th in the nation in passes defended with seven—one intercepted and six deflected.

Freshman Eddie Royal’s three punt returns for 107 yards increased his season total to 170 total punt return yards in 12 attempts. His average of 14.17 yards per return ranks 20th-best in the country. The nation’s top punt return man hails from the ACC: Devin Hester of Miami has averaged over 48 yards per return through the Hurricanes’ first three games (two for touchdowns in one game against Louisiana Tech).

The 15th ranked Hokie defense will have its hands full this weekend when West Virginia shows up. The Mountaineers’ ground attack is averaging 276 yards per game, which is ninth best in the country. Tech’s rushing defense currently stands at 45th.

Considering both teams have only played four games, these numbers may be misleading.

The Hokie defense has faced potential Heisman candidates Reggie Bush from Southern California and T.A. McLendon from North Carolina State, while the West Virginia offense has not faced a rush defense ranked above 64. East Carolina is ranked 117, Central Florida is ranked 108, Maryland is ranked 64 and James Madison is D-I AA.

Therefore, something will have to give come the final whistle on Saturday.

Mike Imoh Named Starter

It only took junior tailback Mike Imoh 14 carries on Saturday to be named the starter against West Virginia on Saturday.

Imoh returned to the lineup against North Carolina State after serving a three game suspension. The 5’7, 197-pound back from Fairfax had 74 yards on the ground against the nation’s top-ranked defense.

Imoh broke six tackles on his 14 carries on Saturday and impressed coaches with his elusiveness. Imoh was also in the lineup on kickoff returns and punt return formations.

Last season he was the nation’s third best kickoff returner.

Imoh gives the Hokie backfield a much different look. His backups, juniors Justin Hamilton and Cedric Humes, are much more vertical. Imoh is a much shiftier runner who can hide behind his blockers and bounce runs outside if nothing gives way in between the tackles.

Hamilton has carried the ball 36 times for 137 yards in the four games and Humes has 41 touches for 153 yards. The two backs combined for eight carries against the Wolfpack and picked up a total of just one yard.

Two Game Times Set

The Virginia Tech athletic department announced two times for upcoming Hokie football games.

Tech’s October 16 homecoming matchup against Florida A&M will begin at 1 pm, and the Hokies’ road test against Wake Forest on October 9 will kickoff at noon and be aired regionally by Jefferson-Pilot Sports.

No television has been planned for the Florida A&M game.

Several other ACC teams will also be televised the weekend of Tech’s game against Wake Forest. The ACC televised games include: Georgia Tech at Maryland (3:30, ABC) and Florida State at Syracuse (7:00, ESPN2).

Game times for the Wake Forest and Florida A&M games have been added to TSL's various football schedule postings.


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