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coleryan
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College Football Preview: Virginia Tech vs. (1) Alabama

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On 08/24/2013 03:11 PM in NCAA Football
BangtheBook.com Week One College Football Preview: Virginia Tech vs. (1) Alabama

When the college football season kicks off all eyes will be on the Alabama Crimson Tide. Head coach Nick Saban has built a dynasty in Tuscaloosa and they have reloaded once again as they attempt to make a run for another National Championship. Standing in their way of a perfect season in week one is the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Virginia Tech vs. Alabama Odds: As far as the college football odds are concerned, Alabama is the favorite to win everything. They are favored to win the SEC West, they are favored to win the SEC and they are favored to win the National Championship. So it goes without saying that they are favored to win the game in week one against the Hokies.

The odds for this game opened with the Crimson Tide as (-17.5) point favorites over the Hokies. With the raising popularity of Alabama, the early betting money has poured in on the favorite and that number can now be found at (-20.5) if not higher, at some of the top-rated online sportsbooks.

The Tide always comes equipped with the best players in the country. Quarterback A.J. McCarron leads an offense back on to the field that he is very familiar with, as he becomes one of the most successful quarterbacks in school history.

One of McCarron’s top pass-catchers Amani Cooper will be back in the fold but without Eddie Lacy out of the backfield and a revamped offensive line, the Tide may take a few games to find their rhythm. The same can be said on defense.

The Tide is always among the top teams in the country when it comes to defense, but the secondary is thin and has no depth coming into this game. Saban will have his team ready and by week five they will once again be a well-oiled machine, but Virginia Tech may be able to take advantage of the early adjustments by the Alabama coaching staff.
Although the Hokies would love to pull off the upset, head coach Frank Beamer has seen his Hokies team fall on tough times of late. After years of dominating the ACC and the college football rankings, they managed to finish a lackluster 4-4 in the ACC a year ago.

Mobile quarterback Logan Thomas returns to lead the offense but will need improved play from the offensive line. It also should be noted that Thomas lost many of his weapons. Gone are playmakers Marcus Davis, Corey Fuller and Dyrell Roberts, leaving sophomore Demetri Knowles (19 receptions, 240 yards, one TD) as the top returning receiver. That is not exactly the type of offense that can beat a Tide defense.

The trends show that the Crimson Tide are 10-4 against the spread (ATS) in their last 14 non-conference games and the Hokies are 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 non-conference games.

If Alabama hopes to win another national title it all starts with this game against the Hokies.

Cole
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Pfile Nickname thehitman
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08/24/2013 05:48 PM
Thanks for your write-up(s)
Never, ever criticize someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes........for at that point they will be a mile away. And you'll have their shoes !
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Pfile Nickname coleryan
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08/24/2013 08:06 PM
Glad to help! I will post more write-ups and info for all of the big games as well as the college football gameday thread every Saturday!

Cole
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08/25/2013 03:34 PM
After Saturday’s closed scrimmage at Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech’s sports information staff simply handed out team stats to the media, with no individual information, a departure from past years.

The Hokies were equally secretive in Wednesday’s scrimmage. Shortly after that workout, Tech removed a highlight video from the team website not long after it was posted.

“Our game plan versus Alabama shouldn’t be a public thing right now,” head coach Frank Beamer said. “So that’s where we are. … I think you need to try to use every advantage you’ve got.”

Secrecy has been a theme lately, particularly on offense, where the number of words in many of new coordinator Scot Loeffler‘s post-practice interview answers can be counted on one hand. Although the Crimson Tide has some familiarity with what Loeffler will try to do based on his time at Auburn last year, not everything Tech has planned is known.

“I think you do have an advantage early on when an opponent hasn’t had an opportunity to see what you’ve been working on,” said offensive line coach Jeff Grimes, who also coached at Auburn last year. “You know obviously Alabama knows certain things about us, but the rest of it is probably best left unsaid at this point.”

The team stats told some of the story of what happened in the stadium, where the Hokies did two quarters’ worth of work, trying to finalize their travel squad.

Tech scored three touchdowns on passes, throwing for 191 yards in the 50-play scrimmage, but the running game left a lot to be desired. The Hokies had negative 16 rushing yards, set back by five sacks for 41 yards in losses. Take that yardage away and Tech still ran the ball 23 times for 25 yards. In all, the Hokies averaged only 3.5 yards per offensive play.

“Overall, you’ve got some breakdowns,” Beamer said. “But I think it’s one of those things that you learn from and you go get ready to play Alabama and see where we are as a football team. That’s what I say every year about this time, but that’s what it is.”

All told, Beamer said he thinks 10 true freshmen and 17 redshirt freshmen will be on the travel squad for Alabama. “That’s a lot of guys who have never been in a game and certainly have never been across from a team like Alabama,” he said. “But we’ve got to start somewhere and see where we are and then build from there.”

– Although there were no individual stats from the scrimmage, Beamer said receiver D.J. Coles looked like his knee wasn’t affecting him much.

“I thought D.J. Coles looked like his old self, about the first time I’ve seen him where I thought he’s looked like a guy that catch it and juke,” Beamer said. “He was playing at a very high level for us before we got hurt.”

– Grimes named a starting five offensive line earlier today. That group, from left to right, is Jonathan McLaughlin, Caleb Farris, David Wang, Andrew Miller and Laurence Gibson.

– McLaughlin is the first true freshman offensive lineman to start for the Hokies since 2006. Beamer hasn’t a true freshman tackle begin the season as a starter in his time at Tech.
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Pfile Nickname coleryan
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08/26/2013 07:34 PM
The two-time defending champions look to start their trek towards a three-peat vs. the Hokies in what could turn out to be a pretty one-sided affair. Virginia Tech is dealing with injuries and has one of the game’s biggest enigmas at quarterback in Logan Thomas. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide has little to worry about in their opener outside of chemistry along the offensive line.

When Alabama has the ball:

A.J. McCarron is back for a chance at a third title and could shatter school records in the process. He’ll be throwing to Amari Cooper and handing the ball off to T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry and a host of versatile backs. Alabama lost three All-Americans from last year’s offensive line, but could have two new ones in left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and Anthony Steen.

Virginia Tech isn’t bad on defense per se and Bud Foster has some talent to work with — namely Jack Tyler at linebacker, Kyle Fuller at cornerback and James Gayle – but the opposition is simply too deep and talented to defend for four quarters.

When Virginia Tech has the ball:

Thomas was supposed to be the top quarterback in the nation last year in the eyes of several scouts, but after a season with 16 interceptions and completing just 51 percent of his passes, the shine is off the 6-foot-6, 260-pound quarterback. Outside of having a disappointing quarterback, Tech has to settle on the offensive line, find a consistent ground game (which was absent after David Wilson departed), and establish a go-to receiver. This is far too many questions heading into a game against the top team in the country.

Alabama has the best group of linebackers in the country with Mosley and Adrian Hubbard poised for All-American seasons, and both are on the Butkus award watch list. This will be a game to fine tune the secondary with Geno Smith suspended and to establish a pass rush in preparation for their Sept. 12 game at Texas A&M more than anything.
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08/27/2013 03:47 PM
Nick Saban said he's looking forward to seeing how the offensive line performs against Virginia Tech. “When you have new players at any position, you're always anxious to see how those players sort of respond to the challenge, take the bull by the horns,” Saban said. “You don't really know that, especially in guys that haven't played that much until they go out there and play. I think game experience is what gives guys the confidence to be able to trust and believe in doing it and knowing that it's going to be the best way they can have success. Do I expect this offensive line to play well in this game? Absolutely.”




Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer said scouting Alabama has not been a fun experience for him and his staff. Beamer was half-joking, but he drove his point home nonetheless when asked why the Hokies would play the Crimson Tide. “You can look at it one of two ways,” Beamer said. “I think you get a very accurate assessment of your football team. It's not many times that you actually play the No. 1 team in the country, so there's a lot to play for.”

Later he was asked in what areas Alabama was weak? “Haven't found one yet,” he said. “When your kickers are good, offensive personnel is excellent ... I don't think they have a weakness. They're just as solid as the day is long.”
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08/28/2013 01:49 PM
Expect Henry and Tenpenny to find the field early and often on Saturday. Nick Saban talked about the running backs, "Really, Altee [Tenpenny] and Derrick Henry have gotten the most reps and are probably most prepared to be able to play right now. We have confidence in both of those guys that they can go in and play well." The 6'3", 238-pound Henry is the more intriguing of the two. While he enrolled early and broke his leg in spring practice, Henry has the size to be a force in short-yardage and goal-line situations. But with 4.54 speed in the 40-yard dash, he is surprisingly fast for a big guy. Could he be a potential short-yardage specialist for this team, especially when Fowler shifts over to H-back against Virginia Tech? Absolutely, and he will likely ease into a true No. 2 role as the season progresses.

For now, though, that job may be Tenpenny's. At 6'0", 207 pounds, he's a true all-purpose back who provides nice insurance for Yeldon. He'll likely serve as a true backup right off the bat and gobble up those second-team carries if and when the Crimson Tide run and hide late in games.

Saban and Nussmeier are going to have their hands full with this group. All of them are talented enough to earn carries and diverse enough to allow the staff to get creative in how they're used. Yeldon is the unquestioned No. 1 and can handle the load, but the coaching staff doesn't need him to.
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08/29/2013 02:40 PM
Cody Journell is not in Virginia Tech’s football pantheon with such stars as Bruce Smith, Michael Vick and DeAngelo Hall. But if not for Journell’s last-second field goal that beat archrival Virginia in the 2012 regular season finale, the Hokies’ streak of 20 straight bowl games under coach Frank Beamer would have come to an end. But even though Virginia Tech edged Rutgers – on a Journell field goal in overtime – in the Russell Athletic Bowl to finish 7-6, last season was the most frustrating for the Hokies since before many of their players were born.

Having lost their No. 1 running back to the NFL a year early three years running, the Hokies couldn’t run the ball. When they became one-dimensional on offense, quarterback Logan Thomas cracked, throwing more interceptions than touchdown passes. And that lack of production left the defense on the field too long.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity,” said Beamer, who called the top-ranked Crimson Tide the best team he has faced during his 27 seasons at Virginia Tech. “What happens [by opening] with Alabama, I think your football program is better. I think your summer workouts are better. Preseason practices are better. And regardless of how that game turns out, I think your program’s better. … You better make sure you can execute against Alabama. [They] can make you look bad in a hurry if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Redshirt freshman running back Trey Edmunds – son of former standout Maryland tight end Ferrell Edmunds and one of seven new offensive starters – should rev up the running attack, which should help restore Thomas’ game to the fine level it was on in 2011.

Beamer, the winningest active coach and the sixth-winningest ever of a major conference program, turns 67 in October. The 1969 Tech graduate took over a program in 1987 that had been to just six bowls. Once he first guided the Hokies to postseason in 1993, they haven’t stopped. Only Nebraska, Michigan, Florida State, Alabama and Florida can top those 20 straight bowls.

This year’s team doesn’t seem likely to become Beamer’s sixth to finish the season ranked in the top 10, but topping last year’s 7-6 record is a near-certainty. Tech should be better than Carolina, Duke, Georgia Tech (in a record 27th Thursday night affair), Maryland, Pitt and Virginia. So if the Hokies can beat Coastal Division favorite Miami on the road, they should, pardon the pun, coast to the ACC Championship Game, probably against the Florida State-Clemson survivor. And that would certainly extend that bowl streak to 21.
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08/30/2013 02:06 PM
Starting Hokie tight end Ryan Malleck suffered a labral tear in his left shoulder last week and will be forced to miss the season after catching 17 passes for 174 yards last season. He joins running back Tony Gregory (knee) and outside linebacker Ronny Vandyke (shoulder) as Virginia Tech starters to suffer season-ending injuries in August.

Starting cornerback Antone Exum is out while recovering from an ACL injury. Co-starting running back J.C. Coleman is questionable (ankle) with offensive lineman Mark Shuman (knee). Coleman is the Hokies' second leading returning rusher, behind Logan Thomas.

Starting safety Kyshoen Jarrett (hamstring) and wide receiver Charley Meyer (hamstring) are both listed as probable.

On the Alabama side of things, star wideout Amari Cooper will play after a foot injury caused him to miss some practice time. He considers himself "95 percent recovered." Cooper led the Tide last season with 58 receptions for 999 yards and 11 scores as a true freshman.
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