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May 21, 2014

Spring Review: Opponents, Part II

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On Monday, we reviewed what happened during spring practice for the first half of Virginia Tech's 2014 schedule. Today, we take a look at the second half, which features games against Pittsburgh, Miami, and archrival Virginia.

Oct. 16 - at Pittsburgh

What We Know: The Panthers have a lot of holes to fill after key cogs like quarterback Tom Savage and defensive tackle Aaron Donald left for the NFL. The Panthers are young across the board and aren't sure who their quarterback will be. Redshirt sophomores Chad Voytik and Trey Anderson are battling for that spot heading into August.

What We Learned: In a very interesting move, head coach Paul Chryst cancelled the spring game in favor of having just one more day of workouts. He believed one more spring practice would be more valuable to his very young group than playing a spring game. In reality, the chances that either choice would make that big of different is low, but it's still an interesting move considering how big spring games across the country are for recruiting.

Oct. 23 - vs. Miami

What We Know: The 'Canes received terrible news this spring when presumed starter Ryan Williams tore his ACL during a scrimmage. That opened the quarterback competition to redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen and redshirt sophomore Gray Crow. The 'Canes return talented running back Duke Johnson so at least they will have him there to take pressure off of the quarterback situation.

What We Learned: There is a reason Williams was the presumed starter going into this spring. Olsen and Crow aren't quite ready for the full-time job yet. Head coach Al Golden is holding out hope Williams will return at some point in 2014, but that might be an optimistic approach at this point in his recovery. Wide receiver Stacey Coley is poised to become a big-time player for the 'Canes. He caught 33 passes for 591 yards and seven touchdowns last season but progressed further this spring and looks set to become a big part of the offense.

Nov. 1 - vs. Boston College

What We Know: The Eagles are going through a rebuilding process under head coach Steve Addazio and this year they must replace quarterback Chase Rettig and running back Andre Williams. They solved the quarterback issue over the winter when the added Florida transfer Tyler Murphy. He might be better than Rettig ever was for the Eagles, but Williams' departure leaves a gaping hole in their offense.

What We Learned: The Eagles need someone to step up at receiver as they are woefully thin at that position, especially after sophomore Harrison Jackson tore his ACL this spring. One player who could emerge is wide receiver Charlie Callinan, who caught seven passes for 98 yards. The Eagles have always had productive linebackers who rack up tackles in the triple digits and this year's linebacker is junior Steven Daniels. Daniels finished last year third on the team with 88 tackles and will likely easily surpass the century mark this fall.

Nov. 15 - at Duke

What We Know: As has been common under David Cutcliffe, Duke has one of the earliest spring sessions in the country as their spring ended Mar. 1, well before many programs started theirs. The Blue Devils are looking to keep their upward trend going after winning ten games in 2013 and advancing to the ACC Championship game. Quarterback Anthony Boone returns to lead the offense, while linebacker Kyler Brown will lead the defense.

What We Learned: This is officially Boone's team as Brandon Connette announced after spring practice that he was transferring to Fresno State. This is one of the negatives of having an early spring practice, as Connette was the star for Duke in the spring game, but shortly after he transferred and a spring session for another quarterback was lost. The new backup will be redshirt freshman Thomas Sirk, who completed 12 of 28 passes for 83 yards and ran 19 times for 30 yards.

Nov. 22 - at Wake Forest

What We Know: New head coach Dave Clawson has a lot of work to do to get the Deacs back to a bowl as the program had gone stale in the latters years under Jim Grobe. Running back Oliver Reynolds looks like the leader to start at running back; he ran for 53 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries during the spring game. Clawson likes a spread offense, which is what the Deacs ran during the final several years under Grobe, so the transition shouldn't be too difficult.

What We Learned: Clawson has a tough decision to make at quarterback between redshirt sophomore Tyler Cameron and redshirt junior Kevin Sousa. At this point, I'd give the edge to Sousa based on his ability to run as well as pass. Clawson said after that spring game that they'd give the incoming freshmen a shot at earning the job as well.

Nov. 29 - vs. Virginia

What We Know: This is a do-or-die year for head coach Mike London. He absolutely must get his team to a bowl game and maybe even beat Virginia Tech to keep his job past this season. He added some talent over the offseason in the form of five star defensive tackle Andrew Brown and five star safety Quin Blanding. The 'Hoos have a tough schedule this year but that won't be an acceptable excuse for London come December.

What We Learned: Greyson Lambert, David Watford, and Matt Johns competed for the starting quarterback position this spring and Lambert came out victorious. London has rotated between Watford, Michael Rocco, and Phillip Sims in recent years, so settling on one guy to move the program forward might be beneficial for the Wahoos. UVA did suffer a setback when tight end Jake McGee, one of their best offensive weapons, announced plans to transfer to Florida for the 2014 season.



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