Friday, November 23, 2012
Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: The good news: Hokies, Cavs not far away
OK, now we've identified some of the problems. But when it's time to start fixing things, where do you start? Here are a few suggestions.
- Turns out Danica really is a driver
- Bowling trouble just the first sign
- NASCAR hopes to recapture its pre-recession popularity
- Super Bowl matchup providing all the hype
Lock in on an offensive identity
When I think about this season years from now, I'll remember two things: 1) the subpar record, whatever it winds up being; and 2) the fact that Virginia Tech never really identified and developed a bellcow running back.
Can you remember the last time the latter happened?
Shyrone Stith, Lee Suggs, Kevin Jones, Mike Imoh, Cedric Humes, Branden Ore, Darren Evans, Ryan Williams, David Wilson - since 1999, you've known who the Hokies were going to depend on for ground gains.
This is not a knock on any of the running backs they have now -- they can't all be Jones and Wilson. The knock is on the decision-making process of the coaches, which took way too long.
Not zoning in on one running back early and catering the play-calling to his strengths put too much pressure on quarterback Logan Thomas to carry this offense. That can't happen again.
Some will say the Hokies need to blow up their offense and start over. Perhaps. But I'd settle for Tech returning to the smashmouth, ground-based attack that worked for years. If Trey Edmonds (who is redshirting this season) is capable of being that guy next year, Tech isn't that far away from being the Tech we're accustomed to seeing.
The following is a list of offensive skill-position players in the UVa two-deep who are sophomores or freshmen: Phillip Sims (co-starter at QB), Kevin Parks (leading rusher), Clifton Richardson, Khalek Shepherd (leading return man), Zachary Swanson, Darius Jennings (receiving-yardage leader), Dominique Terrell (No. 2 in receiving yards), E.J. Scott (No. 3) and Jake McGee (No. 5).
We all know there's not a single junior or senior in the defensive secondary. Defensive end Eli Harold, who has the makings of a star, is only a freshman.
In other words, there's some talent on this roster, but it needs seasoning. Linebacker Steve Greer was a precocious and productive player as a freshman, but there's no question he's even better now. These other guys deserve a chance to blossom, too.
In two years, if Virginia isn't better than 4-7 at this point in the season, it's a reason to consider massive changes. Until then, relax and watch the kids grow.